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Old 03-18-2007, 11:04 PM   #130
David Orange
Dojo: Aozora Dojo
Location: Birmingham, AL
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,511
Re: Dan, Mike, and Aikido

Dan Harden wrote: View Post
You had a plethora of men surrounding Ueshiba, sitting there under his direct tutelage and many lectures. Yet oddly enough, probably his two best; Tohei and Shioda, went elsewhere for their own enlightenment. With those that remained clearly stating they did not understand him. What remains of Ueshiba is his pointed to two places. Daito ryu and esoteric Shinto practices.
Interesting thread going, Dan. A lot has been happening on Aikiweb since I was able to log in.

I am convinced that you have something very worthwhile and I'm trying to work out a way to come and see you.


You left out one big fellow who was close to Ueshiba for many, many years. I speak, of course, of Mochizuki Sensei, whom the daito ryu regards as a daito ryu master--one of only two men, including Tomiki, to get a scroll from Ueshiba.

Of course, Mochizuki did go elsewhere and he did start his own style--but to the very end, he had pictures of two men on his dojo wall: Kano and Ueshiba. And like all the others, he did call his art aikido.

These discussions go back and forth on the matter of technique and fighting. And I understand that fighting is not the end-all, be-all for any kind of training, but usefulness is the ultimate purpose.

I can say that Mochizuki Sensei had plenty of choku fudo, but he never made a big deal out of being "immoveable". He never demonstrated the unbendable arm, the jo trick, standing and being pushed, sitting cross-legged and having people push against his head--none of that. The fact is, while Ueshiba agreed to "show the lie" to the Emperor, Mochizuki Sensei preferred not to show it. And while the things mentioned above are not lies, he did consider them, more or less parlor tricks in that context. In other words, if he wanted to show an ability, he showed it in his technique--his sword work, his aikido, his judo, jujutsu, karate or whatever else he was doing. I never saw him give any kind of demonstration of anything like Tohei did.

The point being that, as everyone has agreed, the skills you describe do have limits--when they run up against someone else with the same kinds of skills, developed to a similar or slightly higher level. And I think that those powers were relatively common when Mochizuki was young, but relatively uncommon the older he got. Many of those with the abilities died well before the war. Many were killed in the war. Japanese society, moving fruther from the samurai times, lost the mindset and deadened the ability of the Japanese youth to learn them. And the Japanese budo, having come through the SCAP restrictions, either lost the necessary elements or hid them where few have found them since.

But if they are core elements of budo, largely based on skills trained through sumo methods, then we get to a point where they are, indeed, baseline skills and not unique to any art. However, there is a reason that the arts have different names. They take very different approaches to using the human resources of mind, two arms, two legs and a head. There is a big difference between karate and aikido, between karate and ken-jutsu and between ken-jutsu and ju-jutsu.

And I do believe that, as Ushiro Sensei said, the traditional training methods contain all that is necessary to develop the skills he has--which have been repeatedly presented as representative of the "baseline skills" of so much recent discussion. Ushiro Sensei said that he got his skills by practicing the kata of Okinawan karate.

And I believe that the traditional training methods of judo will develop similar power and immoveability. And if you can find someone who goes deep enough to the really traditional training methods of aikido, those will develop it, too.

In my opinion, the problem is that those methods are not known by many people and they are not dilligently followed enough to produce the results. In modern judo, for instance, there is a big emphasis on sport and training specialized techniques, emphasizing the right or the left side of the body, while in traditional training, the emphasis was to develop all the techniques and to be able to do them with both right and left and without weight classes.

Deemphasizing equal right and left-side training could, alone, be what takes modern training away from teaching what you do.

Anyway, Mochizuki Sensei taught in the very traditional way. He didn't like to see anyone develop too much of a "tokui" specialty waza. I remember one guy at the dojo who had a beautiful technique that he could do almost at will on almost anyone. I remarked on that to Sensei and he seemed to disdain it. He said, "Yeah, but that's the only technique he has." The guy had developed that one thing so far. He could probably do all the other techniques in the judo repertoire but apparently none of his other techniques approached the level of naturalness he had with that one technique. And the original intent of the judo method was that a high-level man would reach that level of naturalness throughout a broad range of hand techniques, hip techniques, leg techniques and sutemi waza. And when he had that, he would have the kind of thing you're talking about.

And so, since "the skills" alone were beatable by someone else with "the skills," his approach was to develop those skills by a broad development of the full range of technique--and in his case, not just judo techniques, but judo, aikido, karate, ju-jutsu, etc., all informed by ken-jutsu and backed up by koppo.

Now, it's rare to find anyone with that kind of breadth and depth because society now does not much allow it and it provides so many distractions and undermines all serious self-development. So we find judo people who are good with particular techniques on their right side only, with other techniques on their left side only, and not very good at many other aspects of judo. We find aikido people who have trained for twenty or more years who would be in big trouble if a really dangerous kind of person attacked them.

So I think it's a good thing you're doing and it's good to see that so many people are making that accessible. But I guess I'm saying "Don't throw the master out with the baby and the bath water." Aikido has something real and deep and powerful. But it may not be in the techniques you can find at a local dojo. You might have to go to Japan to find techniques that even contain that essence anymore. So when I say you have to look deeply, that may mean that you have to look somewhere else. But these days, even if you go to Japan, there aren't many left who ever saw those old times and the people that came from those times.

So I'm certainly not against you. It has always been the duty of a budoka to develop himself as deeply as he could. And that has always meant to "find out for yourself" what is real and develop yourself in truth. Those who are guardians of hierarchy won't like it, but KFC doesn't like it when you go to Arby's for lunch. Who cares?

Best to you.


"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"
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