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Old 07-22-2006, 12:47 PM   #26
ChrisMoses
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Re: Who wrote the BS?

Quote:
Mark Uttech wrote:
I believe the Tohei/K Ueshiba split was simply 'ego vs. tradition'. Koichi Tohei, being the chief instructor at the hombu dojo, thought that the title of 'Doshu' should naturally pass to him as he was the chief instructor. But tradition was that the title of 'Doshu' remains in the family.
Aikido's structure bears little on koryu (what I think of when I hear 'tradition' in budo), and I'm unaware of any other budo that uses the term Doshu. There may be some, but I've never heard the term used outside of Aikido. In my sword line, for example, the teaching responsibilities were divided among various regional shihan who had received menkyo kaiden while the hereditary title of soke remains passed down to figureheads within the family. This is one 'traditional' way of resolving instruction/administrative/hereditary issues within a ryuha. Having a hissy-fit and splitting is another. Koryu guys love that stuff, tell a Katori Shinto Ryu guy that you learned from (anyone other than Otake and now Relnick) and sit back and watch the sparks fly.

Certainly there was a lot of ego involved, but I feel it's inacurate to describe this as a question of ego vs. tradition. I'd say there was a lot of ego on both sides of the split, but also understand that there was a bit more going on.

This reminds me some of Peter's recent post in the "Flavors" thread on e-budo about how "the Japanese (and especially Japanese martial arts experts) are singularly ill-equipped by their culture to deal with conflict resolution, where this does not involve actual fighting. Negotiation is almost never a meeting of equals: it is invariably a power-play between the more powerful and the less powerful, the overriding aim being to preserve the tatemae: the impression of wa or harmony." [I intentionally parsed this to keep from coloring this current discussion prematurely, I hope you don't mind Peter.] I found your comment refreshingly direct, espescially how, at least in the PacNW, Aikido is often held up as a methodology for teaching conflict resolution. Thank you for your candor and honesty.

This also reminded me of a story my teacher told me about Bernie Lau. Paraphrasing, when Bernie was investigating how to modify his aikido to better suit the police tactics which made up his day to day, he received a call from one of his Hawaii Aikido teachers. The teacher (name witheld because I'm terrible with names) told him that he had gotten into a fight with another senior instructor at the dojo. Bernie immediately asked what techniques had been used, interested to see how two senior aikidoka had chosen to lock horns. He replied to the effect of, "No, we were fighting, no aikido, just punching and kicking." Wee, conflict resolution!

Wow, that post was all over the place, sorry for the continued thread drift.
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Old 07-22-2006, 04:19 PM   #27
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Who wrote the BS?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Hello George,

So, what about the Tohei/K Ueshiba split? Would you explain this split in the same way.

I think this split is really fundamental and neither side has been able to resolve the resulting conflict.

Best wishes, from a believer.

PAG
The split was very Un-Japanese in a sense in that the differences became overt and were perceived as irreconcilable. Usually the Japanese will go to great lengths to avoid this type of disruption. You can understand why when you see how seriously they treat a break like this when it does happen. Friends like Saotome Sensei and Imaizumi Sensei not speaking to each other for 25 years… Tohei undergoing an almost Stalinesque disappearance from the official histories of the development of the art…

I agree that there were fundamental differences… I see three main strains coming out of post-WWII Aikido: the old man, Morihei Ueshiba as the great spiritual leader who can show amazing technique but really shouldn't be called a teacher in that he didn't really teach. Then you have Tohei who really was a "teacher" but wanted to be a spiritual leader. He tried to systematize the instruction regarding the internal aspects of what the Founder was doing. Then there was Saito in Iwama who was also a teacher and systematizer, but focusing on more on the outward expression of the form of technique.

I think that Tohei's aspirations to be a spiritual leader forced the split. Saito went quite far in his own direction, starting the "Iwama Ryu", giving out his own ranks, etc. But you can see that the more conservative Japanese approach of avoiding direct conflict won out with their handling of the Saito dilemma. They simply ignored the issue until his death and then immediately brought the hammer down and reigned in the folks who were going too far a field. Hitohiro has chosen to keep the Iwama Ryu alive, on a much reduced scale, but the consequences are nothing like it would have been if his father had chosen to bolt.

I really think that the deciding factor was ego driven… Yamaguchi Sensei was tremendously influential, had a very unique approach to teaching his Aikido, yet managed to exist within the Aikikai framework with minimal friction. Tohei saw himself as a "bigger" force. I really think he saw himself as more of an equal to O-Sensei in terms of what he was trying to attain. That would have forced a split. There's no way that could have been quietly hidden away within the larger structure. Whereas, as troublesome as Saito Sensei's independence was for the Aikiai group cohesion, it was never allowed to reach an impasse that would have forced an overt acknowledgment of the distance between them.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 07-22-2006, 04:57 PM   #28
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Re: Who wrote the BS?

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote:
I found your comment refreshingly direct, especially how, at least in the PacNW, Aikido is often held up as a methodology for teaching conflict resolution.
Well, Aikido is an excellent methodology for looking get conflict resolution. It's just not conflict resolution as understood by many of our dear friends in the West. Terry Dobson's first book was titled Giving In to Get Your Way. Inherent in that title is a very sophisticated, but often ignored aspect of Aikido conflict resolution, namely, I get to win. If I can win without you perceiving that you've lost, great. The Japanese are so fundamentally hierarchical in their thinking about social relationships that a Western style of conflict resolution a la Tom Crum, Magic of Conflict, etc wouldn't really be a good fit for them.

This is actually one of the places at which Aikido as philosophy and Aikido as Budo run into problems. Many Westerners look at the philosophical ideas and derive their idea of what Aikido as a martial art is from their very Western understanding of the meaning of these ideas. Often this results in a take on Aikido as a martial art which isn't really a form of Budo at all. Chris, you are as familiar with this issue as anyone...

Other practitioners of the art start with the premise that Aikido is Budo and they train that way. Their understanding of how the art works in the context of Budo informs their ideas about what is meant in the philosophical expressions concerning the art. I, personally am more comfortable with this approach, but it puts me I a position in which my take on things is different than many of my peers.

I remember clearly when Saotome Sensei stated that one aspect of conflict resolution was that your enemy was dead and there was no more conflict... That is an aspect of Aikido that is missing in the way in which many people interpret the philosophy that underlies tha practice.

The emphasis on the individual in the West, especially in America makes the interpretation of harmony largely an issue between individuals or sets of individuals. The Japanese view of harmony, and I believe the one that is more an accurate reflection of the harmony sought in the context of Aikido, is the collective harmony. As individuals we are to put ourselves into harmony with the will of the Kami. Not being in harmony with this cosmic balance causes difficulty, suffering and destruction. But this has little to do with how a couple of individuals handle their differences. In fact, as far as I can tell from reading the writings of the Founder, the stated ideal of Loving Protection of the World can include the destruction of the person or persons who are breaking the harmony. Restoration of the balance might very well occur because the disharmonious elements have been "removed". This understanding is inherent in our technique if one trains in a certain way. It will be absent if one trains with a different idea in mind.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 07-22-2006, 05:16 PM   #29
crbateman
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Re: Who wrote the BS?

Interesting points, George. It's going to take me a while to get my head around them. Do you see Tohei Sensei being a "spiritual" leader in his own organization? I am friends with one of his most longtime direct students, and I'm not sure there is a feeling of spiritual deification there, although there certainly is one of great loyalty and respect, not unlike that which I see in other arts directed to those of considerable accomplishment and charisma, or within other lines of Aikido, such as is (or was) enjoyed by Saotome Sensei, Yamada Sensei, Saito Sensei, Shioda Sensei, and other notables within their own groups. Do you think Tohei fell short in the Ki Society of what he was trying to achieve, through ego or other motivation, within Aikikai? I wonder if, instead, he was simply frustrated that the Aikikai hierarchy was, in his view, so strongly opposed to the concepts of "ki" being held aloft as the foundation of Aikido, and indeed the foundation of the universal construct. To be told to smother something he personally believed in so strongly would be cathartic to most anyone. I'm not sure anyone will ever be able to understand fully what went on back then, as even the descriptions of many who were closely in witness to it have changed over the years, and many would say it was an episode best forgotten. I've talked to a lot of people, and can appreciate both sides, but I still am not sure I'll ever understand it, or even decide which side was more in the right. It was, and continues to be, an incredibly polarizing thing. Wish I had answers, but still only have questions.
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Old 07-22-2006, 05:35 PM   #30
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Re: Who wrote the BS?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
I remember clearly when Saotome Sensei stated that one aspect of conflict resolution was that your enemy was dead and there was no more conflict... That is an aspect of Aikido that is missing in the way in which many people interpret the philosophy that underlies tha practice.
Is it really true that if your "enemy" is dead there is no more conflict? What if your enemy has friends or family who want to avenge his death? What if you live in a society that considers murder a crime? Seems like the death of your enemy could be the beginning of your problems, rather than the end.

Last edited by G DiPierro : 07-22-2006 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 07-22-2006, 06:27 PM   #31
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Re: Who wrote the BS?

Quote:
Giancarlo DiPierro wrote:
Is it really true that if your "enemy" is dead there is no more conflict? What if your enemy has friends or family who want to avenge his death? What if you live in a society that considers murder a crime? Seems like the death of your enemy could be the beginning of your problems, rather than the end.
As you point out, the circumstances would determine whether the destruction of ones enemy returned a system to balance or destabalized it further. In the case of a sexual predator coming into my home, yes, his destruction would most likely restore some balance to the system. However, looking at what is happening in the world scene, our invasion of Iraq in the name of destroying a clearly evil dictatorship, has destabilized the whole region and will almost certainly result in more deaths than the regime itself was responsible for by the time the whole thing is over. Rather like the old "We had to destroy the village to save it" from the Viet Nam days.

I am not in any way championing violence or killing as a desirable solution to problems. I am merely pointing out that as Budo, this possibility is contained within the art of Aikido. Restoration of the balance for the collective would outweigh an the desire to resolve particular individual conflict in a way that was necessarily postive for both parties.

It would be the cultivation of the various ethical virtues that should be a result of proper training which would determine the quality of the choices made when conflict occurrs. It's just not a matter of wishful thinking, let's all hug and sing Kumbaya, I'm ok, you're ok, if I'm just nice to you, you'll respond, fuzzy thinking that passes for some ideas of what Aikido philosophy is about and which, if used as the basis for understanding Aikido training, takes away any semblence of real Budo from the art.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 07-22-2006, 08:45 PM   #32
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Re: Who wrote the BS?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
However, looking at what is happening in the world scene, our invasion of Iraq in the name of destroying a clearly evil dictatorship, has destabilized the whole region and will almost certainly result in more deaths than the regime itself was responsible for by the time the whole thing is over. Rather like the old "We had to destroy the village to save it" from the Viet Nam days.
It could be argued that the region was already destabilized. The war between Iraq and Iran or Iraq invading Kuwait are not examples of a stable region. If Iraq went unchecked there is no telling how many people would of died from Hussein's ambition.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
I am not in any way championing violence or killing as a desirable solution to problems. I am merely pointing out that as Budo, this possibility is contained within the art of Aikido. Restoration of the balance for the collective would outweigh an the desire to resolve particular individual conflict in a way that was necessarily positive for both parties..
If you practice the techniques of Aikido, regardless of the style, are you preparing ( unknowingly?) for the possibility of violence or death whenever you use Aikido in a conflict?
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Old 07-22-2006, 08:58 PM   #33
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Re: Who wrote the BS?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Restoration of the balance for the collective would outweigh an the desire to resolve particular individual conflict in a way that was necessarily positive for both parties..
I not sure I understand. The collective can be thought of as a single entity, but is really made of many individuals. Isn't the balance of the collective dependent on the balance of the individuals of the collective?

Last edited by dps : 07-22-2006 at 09:10 PM.
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Old 07-22-2006, 09:43 PM   #34
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Who wrote the BS?

[quote=John Matsushima]One thing that has been discouraging in my training is how when I look back on my beliefs and "knowledge" that I thought I had months, years before (sometimes days), I realize that I had it all wrong. I was so passionate and studied and practiced so hard to find the answers, but I realize now that had it all wrong. Maybe in the future, I will feel the same concerning what I think I know now. [quote]

I do not think the realization comes so radically, or perhaps I should say that process of realization, the hermeneutics, if you like, also changes. Sure, you get teachers who tell you that O Sensei's aikido was constantly changing, so much so that there appears to have been nothing that was constant, but we know that that's not right either.

The Greeks wrestled with this Everything Changes - Nothing Changes dilemma ever since Heraclitus and it has affected the 'western' concept of truth ever since.

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Old 07-22-2006, 09:57 PM   #35
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Who wrote the BS?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
You look at Aikido politics and the worst offenders are the ones that have the strongest belief that their particular understanding of the art is the correct one or is the one that O-Sensei taught...

It's fine to let ones ideas provide direction for ones practice and ones life. But its best if those ideas serve as the basis of exchange between people, bring them together rather than push them apart. When your ideas about how thngs are creates distance and conflict between you and the other folks who care about the same issues, then you are holding on too hard.
Hello George,

Apologies for dropping you in it with the Tohei question, but the ensuiing discussion has been very constructive and beneficial. It is curious that when I read your paragraph (the first one quoted above), I immediately thought of the Tohei split and of the fact that it is a common belief that aikido politics are somehow remote from one's daily training in the dojo. In my experience nothing could be further from the truth.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 07-22-2006, 10:34 PM   #36
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Re: Who wrote the BS?

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote:
Interesting points, George. It's going to take me a while to get my head around them. Do you see Tohei Sensei being a "spiritual" leader in his own organization? I am friends with one of his most longtime direct students, and I'm not sure there is a feeling of spiritual deification there, although there certainly is one of great loyalty and respect, not unlike that which I see in other arts directed to those of considerable accomplishment and charisma, or within other lines of Aikido, such as is (or was) enjoyed by Saotome Sensei, Yamada Sensei, Saito Sensei, Shioda Sensei, and other notables within their own groups. Do you think Tohei fell short in the Ki Society of what he was trying to achieve, through ego or other motivation, within Aikikai? I wonder if, instead, he was simply frustrated that the Aikikai hierarchy was, in his view, so strongly opposed to the concepts of "ki" being held aloft as the foundation of Aikido, and indeed the foundation of the universal construct. To be told to smother something he personally believed in so strongly would be cathartic to most anyone. I'm not sure anyone will ever be able to understand fully what went on back then, as even the descriptions of many who were closely in witness to it have changed over the years, and many would say it was an episode best forgotten. I've talked to a lot of people, and can appreciate both sides, but I still am not sure I'll ever understand it, or even decide which side was more in the right. It was, and continues to be, an incredibly polarizing thing. Wish I had answers, but still only have questions.
Hello Clark,

I think there is a proverb: You cannot have two queens in the same beehive. When there are, the Japanese way of handling the problems caused is perhaps different.

Over the years I have lived here, I have often wondered why the three pairs of concepts: tatemae/honne; uchi/soto; omote/ura are so fundamental for understanding Japanese culture. After all, the values attached to the Public and the Private (of which the three concepts are different aspects) exist in every culture. In Japan these concepts are almost like pre-cognitive 'frames' (in Goffman's sense), through which every potential conflict is seen. These conflicts are hardly ever seen as 'win-win' situations, in the sense implied by Terry Dobson and the aikido 'self-help' manuals. The winners ( = the powerful) win; the losers ( = the powerless) lose, but the point is do both 'gracefully', so that the tatemae of 'wa' is preserved.

You can see this in the ancient texts like the Kojiki and Nihon-shoki. The background to the early stories is the constant problem posed by the 'earthly' deities, who prevent the 'heavenly' deities like Masakatsu Agatsu from descending from heaven to 'rule' the land. The latter eventually do so and 'wa' is established, but only after these pesky earthly deities have been 'pacified'.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 07-22-2006, 11:42 PM   #37
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Re: Who wrote the BS?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Hello George,

Apologies for dropping you in it with the Tohei question, but the ensuiing discussion has been very constructive and beneficial. It is curious that when I read your paragraph (the first one quoted above), I immediately thought of the Tohei split and of the fact that it is a common belief that aikido politics are somehow remote from one's daily training in the dojo. In my experience nothing could be further from the truth.

Best wishes,

PAG
Hi Again Peter,
I need to make this one short as I leave for Colorado Summer camp in the wee hours.

I have found that there is a very direct relationship between the amount of passion people have for their activities and the amount of damage they are apt to do to each other. This becomes even more extreme when you are talking about belief systems like religious faith. Then the sky is the limit when it comes to our capacity to slaughter each other.

In Aikido, when someone is very serious and makes the various sacrifices entailed with training for all of ones adult life, there is alot invested. Szcepan's ideas about "best" are natural. Obviously I made the best choices... of teachers, of time spent, etc Otherwsie I would have made different choices. Now that I teach, I, of course, do the best job teaching and what I teach is my idea of what is best or I would be doing something else.

I spent some valuable time in my previous marriage going to some group counseling. The single most valuable thing I got out of it was that our capacity to delude ourselves about things is really remarkable, almost without limit. The other was that we ALL do the same stuff. It really changed my point of view. There's no way I would decide that some idea of mine was important enough to damage another person for. I watch as people's deeply held ideas about the proper way to train makes virtual strangers out of each other. These are people who have more in common with each other than with any other group of people yet they can hardly stand to deal with each other because they have different ideas about what Aikido is about.

I have to say that I am extremely proud to have as one of my teachers, Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei. He is doing more to bring different Aikido people together than any other senior teacher that I could name. He has his own Aikido and it is powerful and passionate but he uses it to help bring people together and not push them apart. He is in the lead on the same path I am trying to follow.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 07-23-2006, 06:12 AM   #38
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Re: Who wrote the BS?

Aikido is a refinement of your beliefs (a bit like Karl Marx would describe as the dialectic in politics). Through experience you change what you think, but then you have another experience and swing more the other way. Over time you realise that there is more depth to a particualr element than you first realised. For example I don't think either soft or hard aikido (having trained in both 'types') is the question as regards effectiveness. It is certain aspects of both training methods which are necessary.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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