Re: The Word "Aikido"
Thirty-six years ago...
That would be around 1975, right? One of the notable people I remember about the old NE Aikikai Dojo in Central Square is Fred Wagstaff. Did you know him? He used to teach occasionally and would always use Steve Carrabino as uke. He also occasionally talked about the street fights he got into in NY. He and Fred Newcomb made an interesting pair: completely chalk and cheese.
One of the things I remember about the NE Aikikai in Central Square is that we never questioned what aikido really was. I mention Fred Wagstaff because he used to organize an annual event in Boston, entitled Warrior Arts of the Orient, which always featured Kanai Sensei (these were the days of his distinctive hairstyle) who always did iaido and aikido. Other arts were demonstrated, but we all assumed that aikido was an art with martial credentials that never needed to be questioned.
I think we simply accepted that aikido was the art we practiced and I think we all strove to do it as well as the top people in the dojo, from Kanai Sensei downwards. Once, when someone mentioned reading books about aikido (the place was usually the dojo common room, or the restaurant below the dojo to which a core group retired after practice), Kanai Sensei commented, in English, "Why you need read books? You have me."
So it was just a word, but, of course, the art had a meaning, an importance, a significance for each individual, but this was not something we talked about: it was simply taken for granted. I remember a dojo party, when I asked Osawa Kisaburo Sensei whether it was easier for Japanese to practice aikido, given the culture etc, but he pondered the question, looked at me with some curiosity (I suspect he was told I was one of those Harvard types), and said No. I don't remember any searching questions about the meaning of aikido, but this was before all the stuff about Aiki as Aiki had been published.
Of course, this was the time of the Great Split, but the reasons for this were beyond us kyu mortals and I myself read K Tohei and K Ueshiba with equal enthusiasm.
Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 07-22-2011 at 07:11 AM.