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Old 11-19-2006, 08:56 PM   #110
David Orange
Dojo: Aozora Dojo
Location: Birmingham, AL
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,511
Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Dan Harden wrote:
Hi Dave
First Up I appreciate the time it took you to put together such a long reply. Even though we completely disagree it just goes to show it can be done and still remain friends eh? To completely disagree but do so with respect is something I wish more folks could manage.
Absolutely, and I do want to meet up with you and see what you're doing. However, as I've said, from the descriptions, it sound much more like what I've experienced from Chinese martial artists than from any Japanese artist I've ever met. (and very few Chinese stylists, for that matter).

Dan Harden wrote:
First up what you call Aiki.... I call basic jujutsu or Judo. It isn't aiki to me at all.
Well, Minoru Mochizuki called it aiki and he was a long, close friend of Morihei Ueshiba. Also, while I was in Japan, the daito ryu published a commemorative magazine to go along with a demonstration. Mochizuki Sensei was featured prominently in that magazine. The daito ryu listed him as one of about eight very prominent masters. I'll dig that magazine up and give some more detail later. Anyway, I don't know what you're doing but I do know what he did and how he explained to me, in detail, what the essence of aiki is and I'm not concerned that you think I don't understand what it is. I'm also not angry or offended. I'm challenged, but not to re-think what aiki really is--only to learn more about what you are doing.

When I was living at the yoseikan, there were two other uchi deshi there, one a yoga man who had been uchi deshi at a Japanese yoga dojo (that's what they called it). The master of the system was a good friend of Mochizuki Sensei's and Sensei used to go and give little seminars to the students at the yoga school. This one guy was young, very strong, very limber and had developed a lot of internal skills through yoga. He came to live with Mochizuki Sensei and was able to advance very quickly.

The other uchi deshi was a skinny Japanese fellow who was a student of shiatsu. He was on track to be a shiatsuist, maybe a seikotsu-in. He used to show me things in magazines about guys who specialized in hara development and he talked about the amazing feats they were able to do. But while we understood hara to be the center of all Japanese arts, this kind of hara training was understood to be a separate field of specialization. Doing it didn't make them masters of aiki but doing full-out aikido and judo also would not take you to the level of hara mastery those guys had.

Still, as I said in an earlier post, I've been able to move around some pretty big and strong men in my time and aikido has never failed me. I don't need it to be any more than it has been to me.

Still, I am intrigued by what you are doing and I'm interested in learning more about it, specifically from you because I've been able to deal with you better on an intellectual basis than with some others. So again, looking forward to meeting.

Dan Harden wrote:
So for you to identify that and go "Oooohh look look, Aiki in a child" Is to me just saying "See a child can do my art." Its not something I'd be bragging about anytime soon.
Well, I don't say a child can do my art. I do say that all the martial arts in the world are based on human nervous system qualities that all healthy children manifest from the time they can stand up and walk. I can illustrate the roots of karate and judo in child movement just as well as I can show aiki. It doesn't reduce the art to say that children already have the "roots" of it. But it does cue me to the fact that there is a better way to train the responses than we see in most martial arts schools.

Really, Mr. Miyagi, in The Karate Kid, was showing the same idea in the way he trained Daniel without the boy's realizing it. When that movie first came out, I thought that the polish and snap and sharpness were the important parts and I ridiculed the movie for showing Daniel progressing to a high level in a mere six months. Now I realize that that movie really did show a lot of the truth of karate (though I still don't put any stock in that standing on one leg kick).

Dan Harden wrote:
So saying to me (your quote)
" So I think you're talking about something other than aiki in these things you describe." Is really just another way of you saying the equivilent of: Dan this is all I know of what Aiki is. Since I don't know about, and haven't felt anything more profound- its all I can relate it to."
Well, considering that Mochizuki Sensei showed me some pretty profound things and explained a lot of it in tiny detail, I don't feel bad about that and I still don't think that what you're talking about is essentially aiki. It sounds like those skills would make anyone better at whatever art they were doing, including tai chi and judo, aikido, karate, xing yi or whatever. But it won't necessarily make one better at facing a sword.

Dan Harden wrote:
Again, these skills are of a higher order. They have less to do with the other guy and more to do with ourselves.
I won't deny that I could use some of that. A lot.

Dan Harden wrote:
The rest of the blending stuff is nonsense if you don't develop your self first.And there are far more efficient ways to move then that stuff.
Maybe so, but that stuff has served me very well for the past thirty years. Birmingham is currently rated #6 in the most violent cities in the US. I've been all over this town and in lots of places I should never have gone. The aikido I learned through yoseikan has gotten me through some very bad encounters, let me recognize traps before I walked into them, some others after I had walked into them but before they could be sprung. Whatever the violent types needed to see, my aikido training had supplied it for me.

Well, really, like Ueshiba, I attribute most of that to God's mercy, but part of that mercy was that He made me a direct student of Minoru Mochizuki. And, frankly, I believe that part of it is in letting me get to know you.

Dan Harden wrote:
These skills need to be explored where ever we may find them. Others are finally contributing and describing what they are doing and/or others in Aikodo finally getting out and experiencing them: Ledyard, Murray, Holz, Moses, Fong, Hassenpflug, and a few others in Aikido who choose to be silent and remain behind the scenes are reporting what they have found. In fact, don't you find it even in the least bit odd, or strange, that no one.....not one, has reported back that these skills are baloney? Rather the opposite is true, they are reporting back in a consistent voice.
I don't find it odd or strange at all. I believe you can do what you say. But I also believe that, as you admit that you're still discovering a lot about it (as Mike Sigman also admits), you're having to draw a lot of conclusions and I don't think these are always correct. I think what you're doing would be a big help to aikido, but good aikido training will give people a tremendous amount of benefit--almost superhuman abilities--without the specific training you advocate. Because you don't claim that it makes you infinitely undefeatable, do you? Do you suppose you could neutralize Akebono? Or the current #1 yokozuna in Japanese sumo? It is, after all, all relative.

Dan Harden wrote: appears they report these skills are profound and essential to what aiki really is. That you do not see it or can even fathom it as being Aiki is understandable.
I can accept that the skills are profound, just not that they are essential to what aiki really is. Either that or I have developed a lot of those skills despite many people's claims that I have not. I can move people bigger and stronger than myself with the skills I learned in yoseikan. I have stopped many attacks by unbalancing the intended attacker mentally and stopping his ability to organize himself to attack. I did live and train and actually taught some in Japan with a judan meijin and rolled regularly with his top shihan.

In fact, I think the truth is that aikido (yoseikan, at least), judo and jujutsu, do develop those skills to some degree. What you're describing appears to be just a more intensive specialization in that particular area of development.

Dan Harden wrote:
And this goes to what is being taught. It is indeed what Ueshiba learned from Takeda in the first place. But you cannot learn in a vaccuum. You mentioned Ueshiba's quote about people who get it ....can do what he does in months. Takeda said the same thing. So did Sagawa.
So .......where are the people doing it? If it was supposedly taught?
Well, he did tell outright in that article what the secret is. And it is a frame of mind. A frame of mind which babies, by the way, possess in spades.

Dan Harden wrote:
I'd not settle for anything less in my life. I'd be out searching and finding them wherever I could.
Well, Dan, that's exactly what I did when I was young--when everyone else I knew was developing a career and building retirement accounts. And after twenty years of that, I found myself in Japan with a lot of "real life" problems that martial arts could not solve for me. I had a lot of trouble when I came back from Japan and it went downhill from there until 2000, when I got into my current job. In the past six years I've had to develop a career where people at my age were retired from twenty years in the military or had law degrees or Master degrees and some real incomes. I had my pen, my sword and a family to support.

Now, at age 51, I'm a project coordinator in epidemiology and a study coordinator in an international biostatistics study. I can't pour more into traveling around when I want to--not to mention getting the time off work. I appreciate what I have and I'm interested in learning more, but that's really less important than meeting my house note and building my retirement fund. So I hope you will remain favorably disposed toward me until I can catch up with you and see first-hand what you do.

Best to you.


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

"Eternity forever!"
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