Thread: Ai-nuke
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Old 07-26-2018, 08:55 AM   #84
jonreading's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido South (formerly Emory Aikikai)
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,155
Re: Ai-nuke

The question begs to be asked, why did Ueshiba not see it as paramount to pass on the Aiki that he learnt from Takeda?
As I have seen stated elsewhere on other threads by Dan, Takeda passed it on to more than Ueshiba, as Sugawa shows. But O'Sensei chose not to pass it on after the war it seems. Why not? Once again, perhaps he surpassed that in both technique and spirit.
And if it was only taught before the foundation of Aikido, why bring it back into Aikido at all? Because the prewar students could do it?
And why choose Tohei, a man that didn’t study Aiki as his tenth Dan technical director?
What changed in the founder during and after the war? I think there was evidence that he taught different things before the war, as can be seen by Shirata and Shioda both being able to represent internal power from the Daito Ryu syllabus but that wasn’t Aikido, at that time, that was Aiki budo, or Aiki jujitsu, or whatever the founder called it before the war, before the creation of Aikido. Before Iwama.
To say that there was even prewar Aikido is an oxymoron, as Aikido was established after the war.

So if you want to study Aiki budo or Aiki jujitsu or Daito Ryu, why study Aikido at all?
Since I posed questions, its only fair that I answer them, too.

First, I think there is a lot of speculation about much of the transmission instruction from Ueshiba. Clearly, there is his diminished presence in Tokyo following the war that points to his lack of participation in the Tokyo dojo. There are a bunch of good articles that shed some light on how much he was not around the Tokyo dojo in the 50 and 60's. I think there is also some consideration that Ueshiba had to balance his instruction as a daito ryu teacher, and his personal art, aiki budo. I think once it became aikido, it would be reasonable to expect Ueshiba would need to develop a curriculum that did not run afoul of his daito ryu instruction. Finally, I think its reasonable to also consider that 30 years changes a person - I would expect Ueshiba to be a changed person from his early teaching in the 30's to the time of his passing in the 60's. I think its hard to selectively choose a point in time to point to his teaching and disregard the other times. Speculate away, but I think it is tough even prove to me he choose not to pass on aiki, let alone a significant choice.

I think the time period in Ueshiba's life, his closeness to daito ryu, and the culture of Japan in the 30's through the war influenced both Ueshiba's instruction and the students in the dojo. I think you have to stick a giant firewall in your chronology once you start talking about martial instruction in occupied Japan following the war. You also start to see Ueshiba's diminished presence in Tokyo. You also start to see instructors who did not have access to the earlier training methodologies. You also start to see the political stress between the newer Tokyo students and the older students. I think you actually have a stronger claim that the post-war dojo did not teach the aiki training, rather than Ueshiba chose not too. This is of course supported by consistent claims from students who could not understand what O Sensei was saying when he did visit, and O Sensei's occasional rants about the instruction not being what he did. I think both generalizations are true. If I had difficulty in an advanced chemistry class, would you argue that the chemistry class was poorly taught? Or, possibly that my education was not sufficient to understand the content? Obviously, both answers could be accurate and also inclusive of each other.

For me, there is a critical element in the early 50's - Aikido is for everyone. You have this martial art elevated to a "cultural" art as occupied Japan tried to show the world it wasn't bad. But there is one problem... not everyone could do the stuff O Sensei (and his earlier generations) could do. Heck, even some of the serious students who wanted to do what O Sensei could do and had better access than most people struggled with this proficiency... But here's this "silver bridge" promise looming with people from around the world ready to throw each other around a mat with the wave of a hand. Not to mention this message came from the Aikikai. The curriculum had to match the message and so then we see the fortification of Aikikai curriculum and a unified system of training - which is not what O Sensei did. Also, political things enter the scene here and you see students politely and discreetly leaving the aikikai scene. To answer your question about Tohei Sensei? Why not select him? He was attractive, willing to engage the promotion of aikido, recorded in the earlier videos, and capable of demonstrating aikido.

I think Ueshiba's status after the war was more affected by his Japanese nationalist socio-political views and his ultra-religious political ties which made him unwanted in occupied [modern] Japan. I think his influence in the Tokyo dojo diminished and the aikikai had firmly made a commitment to teach an art to 100% of a training population - something which is as ludicrous as it sounds.

So why study aikido at all? A great question, since there are other methods of training aiki and using aiki in other fight systems. Why train in Japanese arts instead of Chinese? What about Indo-Chinese arts? As an honest question, I think this is very important. For me, aikido is a method of movement that is natural, productive, healthy, and effective in basic martial context. It fits my lifestyle and it also happens to fit my moral and spiritual beliefs. But the rub is that you have to have the aiki internal engine. Your body has to move the right way in order to successfully use it for aiki-do.

The argument has never been about aikido. The argument is about whether we know enough about how to move our body that we can understand aikido. There was a quote about how O Sensei could look at another martial art, or another "do" and he would exclaim, "aha! I know this!" I think he one time gave a dancer a compliment of the sort. Why? How could he do this? Because he knew how the body works and saw the dancer did, too. I will often use a parlor trick to explain this point... Here it is...
Rotate your arm as far as you can without assistance. Stick it out and turn. At some point, I ask the person, "is that as far as you can turn?" "Yes." "Okay." Then I take the arm and continue to rotate it, usually a significant amount - a "stretch" like a PT would manipulate you. I then say, "yep, look at the mastery you have over your body. Such a command of understanding how your body works that you can't even turn your arm as far as it can go." I say think teasingly, because the extra rotation that the person cannot actually control is usually pretty large (athletes and body people usually perform better, btw).
Why do I use this trick? Because its natural. A good analogy to the trick is stretching to touch toes. Many of us cannot touch our toes any longer without first stretching. Some cannot touch their toes without first conditioning their bodies for a period of time. So if you wanna touch your toes? Learn how to make your body do it.

Aikido was made for people who know how to use their bodies using the aiki body movement methodology. Its not a substitute for learning how to move the body, but there is overlap and that's the murky training that we talk about.

Last edited by jonreading : 07-26-2018 at 08:59 AM. Reason: spellin'

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