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Old 09-12-2008, 10:25 AM
Peter A Goldsbury AikiWeb Forums Contributing Member
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Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

INTERLUDE
IV: Iemoto and Iwama

An earlier column (Column 5) finished with O Sensei retreating to his Aiki-en (Aiki Farm) in Iwama, leaving his son Kisshomaru in charge of the Tokyo dojo. There are a number of problems relating to Morihei Ueshiba's...
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Last edited by akiy : 10-20-2008 at 03:21 PM.
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Old 09-15-2008, 07:54 PM   #50
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

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Rennis Buchner wrote: View Post
Probably going way off topic here, but outside of Ellis' comments, has there been any looking into the use of the symbols and their meaning predating Ueshiba's use of them? For example my own ryu (dating from about 1600) uses all three together with an additional two (those being a straight line and basically a 90 degree "L"), the names in Japanese being 方圓曲直鋭, with the symbols matching as 方 ,圓 ,曲 "L",直"l", 鋭 . If I recall correctly Karl Friday's "Legacies of the Sword" discusses what seemed to be similar terminology of five (without showing the symbols) as well. Does Ueshiba's usage of these symbols generally follow the standard as they appear in different arts? And is there any sign that Ueshiba at some point used all five? All of my books relating to Aikido are on the other side of the planet so I don't have much to go on in the library off hand.

Adding to the drift,
Rennis Buchner
Hello Rennis,

One problem is that Ueshiba explains the symbols in terms of kotodama theory. He uses the the circle, square and triangle, but also three more: cross in a circle in a square; circle bisected four times; same bisected circle in a square. This is all in the (as yet untranslated) Takemusu Aiki volume. Clearly kotodama theory would be the place to look.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 09-15-2008, 08:57 PM   #51
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

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Doug Walker wrote: View Post
Josh, I think the trouble we are having is you are looking at individual kata i.e. three kata named sho, chiku and bai.

I like the idea of SCB=3in1=TriCirSqare but I can't limit it to just 3 individual kata. I don't see that.
Doug, I apparently haven't been clear, and for that I apologize. Getting a big bogged down in minutia, I guess.

I am not looking at three individual kata as the whole of "Sho-chiku-bai no kempo". Rather, I'm looking at the three Hikitsuchi kata so named because I think they provide a viable clue as to why Ueshiba used that name.

I'm looking at it this way. Ueshiba referred to "Sho-chiku-bai no kempo". Okay, what does that mean? Why "Sho-chiku-bai"? Well, it certainly isn't referring to the trees themselves. What examples do we have of him using it?

Professor Goldbury has provided some of those examples, but they don't exactly suggest why "sho-chiku-bai". OTOH, Meik Skoss and Ellis Amdur say that there are three kata in Hikitsuchi's ken called Sho, Chiku, and Bai, and that the first represents Irimi (triangle) , the second Tenkan (circle) , and the last Osae (square).

Now, as Professor Goldsbury has pointed out, how much of this is direct from Ueshiba, and how much is extrapolated by Hikitsuchi, we don't know. But forget the three kata themselves for a minute. Here we have a clear connection made between the words Sho-Chiku-Bai, and Ueshiba's favored symbols . We further have connection between Sho-Chiku-Bai and Irimi, Tenkan, and Osae, basic principles of aikido engagement.

So, from my perspective (admittedly on the outside looking in at your kenpo), it doesn't matter how many or what kata one might have in one's swordwork. Being called Sho-Chiku-Bai would seem to suggest that it represents these fundamental principles of aikido: and/or Irimi, Tenkan, Osae. (Noting of course that often in these kinds of situations something can have multiple, layered meanings.)

Of course, this isn't "the answer". It's merely a suggestion, a clue, a lead to follow. I suspect "the answer", like the meaning of , can only come through one's personal understanding of one's personal aikido.

Consider everything else I've written on "Sho-Chiku-Bai" (produce, grades, etc) as providing idiomatic background, so one doesn't assume it just refers to mere trees.

Josh Reyer

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Old 09-15-2008, 09:18 PM   #52
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Rennis,

One problem is that Ueshiba explains the symbols in terms of kotodama theory. He uses the the circle, square and triangle, but also three more: cross in a circle in a square; circle bisected four times; same bisected circle in a square. This is all in the (as yet untranslated) Takemusu Aiki volume. Clearly kotodama theory would be the place to look.

Best wishes,

PAG
Thanks for the reply,

Interesting, I'll have to look into getting a Japanese copy of Takemusu Aiki then. While some of the details differ, we similarly have various combinations of the symbols used together and separately. Square in a circle, triangle in a circle, two triangles merged to form a 6 pointed star inside a circle, circle bisected by the straight line, circle within a circle, cross, etc. I get the impression that Ueshiba wasn't breaking new ground so much as playing with and putting his own spin on possibly well established themes.

As an aside, I've only just recently started reading aiki related things in Japanese, but in English we often hear of the idea of "not clashing" and such, but was there any particular phrase that Ueshiba was fond of using to express this idea? I ask because over the years I've found an awful lot of "common ground" philosophically between the ryu I practice and aikido and one of the major tenants of our ryu is something known as 不当之矩 which was one of the first things that really grabbed my attention in the "well this sure sounds familiar" sense several years ago.

Drifting....
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Old 09-15-2008, 10:35 PM   #53
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

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The event cannot be considered in isolation, but it fits into a a notable series of likely eye-opening events leading to the retreat to Iwama. In 1940 he attends a Manchurian demonstration in honor of the 2600th anniversary of the Empire. That gave him a glimpse of the state of the Empire on the mainland and the demoralized military there after the Nomonhan disaster in 1939 (30% casualties) led to having the humiliation of having to seek terms with the Soviets over Manchuria/Mongolia (the reverse of the plan they intended against the British in Southeast Asia).

The Doolittle raid is in April 1942. Also in April of 1942 the Honkeiko mine disaster brings to light the working conditions of Chinese slave labor in Manchuria, under "enlightened" Japanese rule, in an event far too large to escape notice to anyone who actually visited Manchuria. In August 1942 he attends another Manchuria demonstration, and sees the further effects of Nomonhan, which by then is realized in treaty terms finalized with the Soviets in October of '41.

On one or the other of his Manchuria trips given his long Kempeitai connections, it is conceivable that he heard of aspects of Unit 731 and its associated labs. The headquarters and at least one other lab were in Manchuria and one in Inner Mongolia). These labs were using live human subjects testing biological and chemical weapons and reputedly also engaged in human vivisection. e.g. --http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...Depravity.html This possibility brings a certain characteristically Japanese depth of understatement to the quote: "Up till today not all karma of cause & effect in Japan have been managed properly."

The sequence also suggests that he may have been privy to rumors of Unit 731 in the 1940 visit that troubled him so deeply (he had his second vision that year, remember upon his return), that he made efforts during his 1942 visit to find out if the rumors had any basis in truth. Reputedly, 1942 was the year that Gen. Ishii tested largescale dispersants for biological weapons on live subjects. That kind of thing is hard to completely hide. There was at least one medical journal article in the States reporting the rumor of this test in the latter part of 1942.

On his return home from Manchuria in 1942 he suddenly moves to Iwama -- essentially into someone's unprepared garden shed. If he did discover anything reliable about Unit 731 in August 1942 a sudden abandonment of his tattered tatemae -- and unexpected retreat from the social reality that produced such a horror is completely understandable. It is the kind of thing he would likely have had difficulty sharing, even with his son. To whom does he reach for aid? A deep transformative recourse to divine salvation from such evil is the rule rather than the exception in human experience. Paul on the Damascus Road comes to mind. Former personal associations with those perhaps involved in it certainly call for far more than mere abjuration.

This is much supposition but the repeated chronology of "Manchuria = powerful vision" has some explanatory force to suggest that something deeply troubling was disclosed to him in Manchuria.and its nature more strongly felt the second time. The nature of the thing that propels an otherwise stable person into having divine visions is usually very traumatic. Something on the scale of progressive disillusionment that this history suggests, culminating in a revelation of any of the activities of Unit 731 would certainly fit the bill for anyone of even modest moral sensibilities.

In this context, the consuming fire he feared and remarks to his son about may be a concern about the just retribution of karma for the entire nation. And, yes, I rather doubt that possibility would sit too well with the Hiroshima town council.
Yours is a very interesting line of thinking. I understand well that you yourself do not see the events in isolation, but the extent to which this can be said of Morihei Ueshiba is open to question. I do not think it is clear to what extent the operations of Unit 731 were common knowledge in the Army, or to what extent Ueshiba knew about these—and whether it would have mattered to him. You simply assume that it would—in the light of what he later states about aikido and killing. Certainly they were not common knowledge among the general population and even now the Japanese government is very loath to admit publicly that anything like that actually happened.

I do not give the vision of conflagration in Tokyo the same value as you do. From the evidence I have read, it was common knowledge that the war had entered a serious phase in 1941, but it is not at all clear that it was common knowledge that the war was going badly at this point. Given his links with the Navy, it is possible that Ueshiba understood that war with the USA was not such a good move, but even Yamamoto Isoroku was prepared to fight to the death, against what he saw were increasingly difficult odds. Given his links with the Army, it is also possible that Ueshiba understood the issues being debated of whether to strike north, or south. And we know that it was Hideki Tojo who wanted to hold out to the bitter end in 1945. Air raid practices in Tokyo and Osaka had been held ever since 1928 and the practice was extended in 1937, but the effects of the Doolittle raids were discounted in Japan. The point was more that they had entered Japan’s sacred space than that they had done any damage. So I do not think that the threat of a conflagration of Tokyo, and by extension Hiroshima, was the prime motivation for the move. In the Takemusu Aiki volume Ueshiba contrasts the budo training in the Army with his own—and finds both wanting, as of 1940.

The issue is how you analyze and connect the evidence and it is clear to me that you and I think differently.

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Old 09-15-2008, 10:42 PM   #54
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

Sho Chiku Bai is also mentioned by Saito Morihiro in his Traditional Aikido.

"Ken has three characters called Sho (Pine), Chiku (Bamboo) and Bai (Plum). These characteres are independent of each other and yet are linked up together to produce variations, the basic form of which is Kumi Tachi (Matching Exercise)."

Vol 5, pg. 22.

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Old 09-15-2008, 11:27 PM   #55
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

Thanks for persisting Josh. I think we are on the same page.

-Doug Walker
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Old 09-16-2008, 12:44 PM   #56
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Yours is a very interesting line of thinking. I understand well that you yourself do not see the events in isolation, but the extent to which this can be said of Morihei Ueshiba is open to question. I do not think it is clear to what extent the operations of Unit 731 were common knowledge in the Army, or to what extent Ueshiba knew about these—and whether it would have mattered to him. You simply assume that it would—in the light of what he later states about aikido and killing. Certainly they were not common knowledge among the general population and even now the Japanese government is very loath to admit publicly that anything like that actually happened.
They were certainly not common knowledge, but I believe the running thesis is that Ueshiba had more than common access.
Certinaly by the time of the 1940 plague-food airdrops and 1942 dispersant tests (thousands of subjects), word had leaked through China missionary/medical societies back to the States to be reported a medical journal in Colorado. 1942 was the time of at least eleven documented gas attacks along the North China Railway.

The difficulties of research into this are remarkable. Our own government has been, shall we say, less than forthcoming, because of the war crimes amnesties granted to the likes of Ishii. A fairly good work surveying the sources and these difficulties is found here: http://www.aiipowmia.com/reports/unit731essays.pdf. Personally, I do not believe that the issue is likely any time soon to be resolved above the level of suggestive speculation, given these complexities.

As to the nature of the change, I do not assume merely from his statements about killing -- I read what he said in specficially and contextually significant mythic terms -- as he had to have understood it. This all comes from what seems to be a critical series of episodes in Manchuria.

Looking at the arc of his work from Budo and Budo Renshu, these read much more like what one would expect of an ardent utopian nationalist, and imperialist, with strong traditionalist leanings. Arguably, one could say he abandons his utopianism with the break from Deguchi in the mid-thirties, and perhaps leans even harder on his nationalism and imperialism.

In the imperial family demonstration in 1941, though, he is oddly reticent to do it, if his nationalist imperial beliefs are untainted at that point. He has to be persuaded by Takeshita his patron who had set it up. This is in the interim of the '40 and '42 visits to Manchuria, but it is unclear if it was before or after the visit in '41. I have never seen a list of the attendees at the demonstration , but it is known that Prince Tsuneyoshi of the Takeda no miya (first cousin to the Showa Emperor, grandson to Meiji) WAS directly associated with the unit 731 project, at first in Manchuria and then later in the Southern Army at Saigon.

The tone radically changes at Iwama and this change, the visions and the move all hinge around the repeated visits to Manchuria in '40, '41 and 42. Ueshiba had seen war in Manchuria in 1904-05 -- he was no delicate philosophe. Something truly life-changing was revealed to him in Manchuria, much more than the ordinary consequences of war and death. Surely the national chastening at being held to a costly draw by the Russians at Khalkho/Nomonhan, whom they had a generation before humiliated, played a part. But, the visions and the strong belief in the need for divine rescue was more profound than mere disappointment in the progress of imperialist cause.

You had asked if I would provide a mythic exposition on the forty three tutelary kami. I have now read the part in "A Life in Aikido" where a few of them are summarized by Kisshomaru. I will at least attempt to show the gist of such an approach to this issue. Sarutahiko is the chief and first so let's start there and apply it to the particular problem of the Manchuria/Visions/Iwama chronicle.

That he expressed it only in mythic terms indicates that his change of heart would not be socially acceptable in conventional terms. Certainly, he was capable of writing and expressing himself more directly and objectively, as his two early works showed. Thus using myth was either choice or necessity. The retreat into religious mystery is a classically Japanese resolution of an irretrievably broken tatemae -- or a substitute for it. I don't pick the mythic as a basis for understanding this aspect of him out of my preference, but his, since it appears he had no other accceptable choice of expression.

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
I do not give the vision of conflagration in Tokyo the same value as you do. ... So I do not think that the threat of a conflagration of Tokyo, and by extension Hiroshima, was the prime motivation for the move.
You see the move as a consequence of the vision of conflagration. I see the vision of conflagration and the move both as consequences of something else, revealed by his "karma" comment and the close association of the three successive Manchuria trips (I had forgotten about the '41 trip) to the radical religious turn in his practice and understanding of his purpose.

And I think, respectfully, you may not have considered the scope of the audacity of his visions as they concern the Emperor's position. Where you seem to ascribe a pragmatically surreptitious continuity of the yamato damashii in his mind -- I see radical, indeed, epic disjunction -- from what he said and did about it after Manchuria, specifically, not merely after the War was lost and a new tatemae regime is in force to appease the foreign occupation with "make-nice" words.

The message of Sarutahiko reveals a command of Amaterasu. That is appealing ABOVE the power of the Emperor. This is a serious break with the ordinary yamato-damashii Emperor ideology one expects and sees in Budo and Budo Renshu . The Emperor alone is supposed to be the vehicle informing humanity of the divine will. Norinaga would be turning in his grave.

THIS mythology matters a great deal. The war was the DIRECT command of the Emperor. Stopping the war went directly against the command of the Emperor. This is a "Big Deal" (tm) culturally, socially, legally, religiously and metaphysically.

The visions purport to place Ueshiba's role, as a delegate of divine Amaterasu, the highest embodied heavenly kami, under the direct command of Sarutahiko, the highest earthly kami. Quite literally, the powers of Heaven and Earth have commanded him to countermand the Emperor by undertaking a divine task -- not a practical human one.

Sarutahiko is the kami of righteousness and justice -- i.e. this signals something is really badly wrong if he is personally on the scene -- and really badly wrong with the entire earthly order -- from the Emperor on down. To end the war the Emperor had begun -- Ueshiba by his visions is claiming superior moral and spiritual authority to the divine Emperor in order to do it. A REALLY Big Deal (tm).

Only a reaction to something tremendously and systemically wicked could possibly have called forth such a radical break with Japan's deeply held conventional moral ans spiritual hierarchy, with which he was formerly very attached and in agreement with. It is as close as one can come in purely Japanese cultural terms to a "Damascus road" moment. The Shrine and Aikido are his divine tasks -- to Japan (first) and the world (second), respectively.

And not only did the war end. In terms of myth, the Emperor was forced by an earthly power (thus also under the mythic authority of Sarutahiko) to abdicate from his divinity as the price of his human position. As such, the successors and followers of Sarutahiko begin their quest to reestablish his restored rulership of the earthly realm -- standing on the Ame no Ukihashi, as he did, mediating between the powers of heaven and of earth -- in place of the line of emperor to whom Sarutahiko had surrendred that position long ago.

Since the Emperor, consider as kami, was a kind of "living shrine" embodying the yamato-damashii- his abdication un-ensrhines him -- the yamato-damashii is symbolically broken from its source in Amaterasu -- as Ueshiba's mythic account gives it to us. Thus, in these terms, the enshrinement of Sarutahiko in the Aiki shrine and by extension in Aikido itself is a restoration a newer (and older) spirit of righteousness and justice now about in the land.

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The issue is how you analyze and connect the evidence and it is clear to me that you and I think differently.
You have a very appropriate scholarly detachment and the laudable suspension of any particular conclusions awaiting a full survey of the evidence. I come from a forensic background. Therefore, haziness of evidence does not deter me from coming to some preliminary conclusions at least at one level of inference beyond the available evidence, based on both objective and subjective analyses -- if nothing else, so as to frame inquiry looking for more evidence. Without a working theory, facts just sit there and do not direct you anywhere; without filling a theory up with some weighty facts, theories are wicker frameworks that just blow away. History is the acts of people, and therefore understanding their rational AND non-rational subjective motivations personal understandings is at least as important as their objective interests and concerns.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 09-16-2008 at 12:53 PM.

Cordially,

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Old 09-16-2008, 09:05 PM   #57
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

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They were certainly not common knowledge, but I believe the running thesis is that Ueshiba had more than common access.
Possibly. I think the issue is how much access.

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You have a very appropriate scholarly detachment and the laudable suspension of any particular conclusions awaiting a full survey of the evidence. I come from a forensic background. Therefore, haziness of evidence does not deter me from coming to some preliminary conclusions at least at one level of inference beyond the available evidence, based on both objective and subjective analyses -- if nothing else, so as to frame inquiry looking for more evidence. Without a working theory, facts just sit there and do not direct you anywhere; without filling a theory up with some weighty facts, theories are wicker frameworks that just blow away. History is the acts of people, and therefore understanding their rational AND non-rational subjective motivations personal understandings is at least as important as their objective interests and concerns.
You have explained the difference between my own methods and your approach very clearly. This column presents Morihei Ueshiba in his own words as far as possible and leaves the reader to judge. The fact of the move to Iwama is right there, with the texts. I think the political situation in Manchuria is a different matter. I do not think we know to what extent Manchuria was a factor in Ueshiba's decision to move to Iwama. The evidence is lacking.

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Old 09-17-2008, 03:34 AM   #58
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
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One of the points of this column was to attempt to explain the intense focus on weapons training in Iwama, at this stage in the Founder's life.
Do you have an insight into the Founder's reluctance to teach weapons outside of Iwama after the war?
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Old 09-17-2008, 09:44 AM   #59
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote:

Do you have an insight into the Founder's reluctance to teach weapons outside of Iwama after the war?
I think this is a complex question and there are no ready answers. In the column I have tried to present the evidence that Morihei Ueshiba considered Iwama to be a special place, where he consorted with his tutelary deities. In my opinion, he regarded his own training with weapons: sho-chiku-bai no ken, to be an essential part of this association--at least at this time. Notice that I have not said "taught". Rather, he appears to have trained with Saito Shihan as his partner.

Apart from the Kumano Juku, of Mr Hikitsuchi, Iwama seems to be the only dojo where was such an intense focus on weapons, especially sword--at least for a decade or so, until he started to visit other places, and until weapons came to have lessening importance later in his life. There is also the undoubted fact that he had in effect given over the Tokyo Dojo to Kisshomaru and did not interfere with the running of the dojo. Of course, he would teach there, and taught there increasingly often, but the Tokyo Dojo was not a laboratory/shrine for him.

It is true, however, that nearly all his senior students did train with weapons--and developed their own systems. Saito Sensei was preeminent, but not the only one to do so.

I have not really answered your question, but I do not think that Ueshiba's occasional anger at bad practice amounts to a total ban on teaching weapons outside Iwama. I think you would need to search out the interviews with the senior students like Tamura and Tada Shihans.

Best wishes,

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Old 09-17-2008, 09:57 AM   #60
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
IApart from the Kumano Juku, of Mr Hikitsuchi, Iwama seems to be the only dojo where was such an intense focus on weapons, especially sword--at least for a decade or so, until he started to visit other places, and until weapons came to have lessening importance later in his life. There is also the undoubted fact that he had in effect given over the Tokyo Dojo to Kisshomaru and did not interfere with the running of the dojo. Of course, he would teach there, and taught there increasingly often, but the Tokyo Dojo was not a laboratory/shrine for him.
More than one person who experienced Saito Sensei's instruction in both Tokyo and Iwama has told me that when he taught weapons classes in Tokyo, if Ueshiba Morihei was also in Tokyo, a lookout would be stationed. If the Ueshiba was sighted heading for the dojo, the weapons would be put away before he entered.

Tatemae is a curious thing; still and all, the above seems like a useful observation to have on the record.

FL

Last edited by Fred Little : 09-17-2008 at 10:02 AM. Reason: copyediting
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Old 09-17-2008, 10:00 AM   #61
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

Hi Peter, I'm currious about this statement
Quote:
Apart from the Kumano Juku, of Mr Hikitsuchi, Iwama seems to be the only dojo where was such an intense focus on weapons, especially sword--at least for a decade or so, until he started to visit other places, and until weapons came to have lessening importance later in his life.
It is my understanding that Shirata Sensei had quite a focus on weapons, and that his embodiment of that focus was quite well respected by experienced weapons people. Am I off base here, or is the time period under discussion what excludes Shirata Sensei and his dojo?

Best,
Ron

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Old 09-17-2008, 10:40 AM   #62
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

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Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Hi Peter, I'm currious about this statement

It is my understanding that Shirata Sensei had quite a focus on weapons, and that his embodiment of that focus was quite well respected by experienced weapons people. Am I off base here, or is the time period under discussion what excludes Shirata Sensei and his dojo?

Best,
Ron
Hello Ron,

In the Founder's writings, the cut-off point is the training with the phantom swordsman in 1940 and 1942. Before this time weapons were taught in the Kobukan and at one point Kendo specialist Kiyoshi Nakakura was his son-in-law. Shirata Sensei was an early student at the Kobukan and clearly studied weapons there. Later on, he also picked up tips from Morihiro Saito. However, I am less certain whether O Sensei taught weapons in Yamagata, where Shirata was situated, after the war. Remember that there was a major gap in Shirata Sensei's public aikido training. I think it is pretty clear that Hikitsuchi Sensei learned something called Sho-chiku-bai ken, and Shirata Sensei and Nobuyoshi Tamura both talk about this training. With Tamura, this would certainly have been after 1942 and probably with Shirata Sensei also. Where would they have done it? To judge from Fred's post, clearly not in the Tokyo Hombu under O Sensei's eyes.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 09-17-2008, 10:46 AM   #63
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

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You have explained the difference between my own methods and your approach very clearly. This column presents Morihei Ueshiba in his own words as far as possible and leaves the reader to judge. The fact of the move to Iwama is right there, with the texts. I think the political situation in Manchuria is a different matter. I do not think we know to what extent Manchuria was a factor in Ueshiba's decision to move to Iwama. The evidence is lacking.
You are certainly correct, the objective goes as far as you take it and not much further at the moment. But -- in understanding a man, as they say, walk a mile in his moccasins. When I address issues of mechanics I seek a high degree of objective description (admittedly, annoyingly so to many, perhaps). When I am examining motivations and intentions, it requires, in my experience, an interior approach that steps one pace beyond the objective. Since he expressed himself mythically, it seems appropriate to seek his understanding mythically and at face value in its own terms. I am not about to worship Sarutahiko or commune with O Sensei as the embodiment of Murakumo-Kuki-Samuhara Ryu-O, but he did feel that way, those thoughts begin to dominate his discussions not merely post-war, but specifically post- 1942. They have meaning and consequence that are useful to examine in their context.

To put the issue on point however, given the prior association with Genyosha, Sakurakai and all manner of passionate Emperor devotees, is it not the case that something fairly terrible had to have occurred to have him express an plain intention to assist in opposing the divine Imperial will, as opposed to merely satisfying the Occupation authorities that he became politically opposed to the war after 1942?

If one would suggest that the point is in fabricating a cover up or figleaf for his prior associations in service of a new tatemae after the Occupation -- why do so (at that point) in such subtle, mystical terms that mean little or nothing to Westerners ? Why not simply point to the retreat to Iwama, say that he became disillusioned and opposed to the war and that was why he removed himself from public life. Put to you another way, and in your terms-- what evidence is there that would suggest this mythological exposition is in service of tatemae and not honne?

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 09-17-2008, 11:08 AM   #64
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

Thanks for the speedy response Peter. Maybe Allen can share some history on the weapons practice of Shirata Sensei. Although often downplayed now days, John Stevens has taught me a version of the sho-chiku-bai kenpo and as I remember he stressed that it contained the possibility of a more free form back and forth than is usually seen in aiki-weapons kata. I think he also referenced a non-aikido source for some of it. If I get to see him this fall I might try to get some more info on it.

Best,
Ron

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Old 09-17-2008, 12:58 PM   #65
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

This will be my first post on this site; my thanks for your consideration of my question:

I've been reading the exchange between Professor Goldsbury and Mr. Mead, and it seems to me two somewhat separate issues are cojoined in their discussion.

> One is whether O'Sensei's move to Iwama was in any way related to events in Manchuria;

> The other is whether we can understand the move more fully by attempting to understand his motives and actions in a "mythic" and situational context. As I understand the argument, this analysis rests on an examination of Japanese mythology; Ueshiba's religious beliefs; and the social context in which he expressed those beliefs, understood in cultural context.

I think the exchange has established that the Manchurian thesis is an interesting one that can't be "proven" based on the historical record; but so far the invited "mythic" analysis seems embedded in the discussion of whether O'Sensei was reacting in some way in part to events in the war in China.

One may dispute, accept, or entertain for entertainment's sake the hypothesis that events in Manchuria are relevant to the move to Iwama. However, that still leaves unanswered how O'Sensei's visions, statements, and actions would have been viewed by someone who shared his beliefs and cultural understanding.

Professor Goldsbury, what do you make of Mr. Mead's proposition that Ueshiba's revelations amounted to what I will call a "heavenly indictment" of the Emperor giving his imprimatur to the decision to go to war based on your understanding of the deities he discusses? Does this line up with the textual evidence of what Ueshiba reported?

This discussion reminds me of the analysis of an anthropologist named Marshall Sahlins about Captain Cook's arrival in Hawaii, and how the resulting conflict was ennacted by each side based on very different cultural understandings.

Sahlins makes what I found to be a very cogent argument that to the Hawaiians, Cooks arrival coincided with and evoked as reinactment the arrival of a particular deity; hence his initial reception as an avatar of that deity. Subsequently, when Cook returned, he happened to return at the point in the mythic cycle when that deity is ritually killed, and Cook's actions upon return were subsumed into this mythic "text" by the Hawaiians, who eventually attacked and killed Cook (and reportedly ate his heart).

Similarly, I agree with the idea that understanding O'Sensei's decision (to the extent possible) should focus on bth the "mythic" and situational context of his visions.

I'd be curious about other's reactions to this analysis -- does this help us undertand?

Cordially,

David Henderson
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Old 09-17-2008, 03:03 PM   #66
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

Hey Ron!
If you can't make it when Stevens Sensei visits this year I was going to ask him about it also. This thread has me curious about the source for his interpretation. Hope you can make it though! It'd be good to train with you again.
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Old 09-17-2008, 03:15 PM   #67
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

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To put the issue on point however, given the prior association with Genyosha, Sakurakai and all manner of passionate Emperor devotees, is it not the case that something fairly terrible had to have occurred to have him express an plain intention to assist in opposing the divine Imperial will.....
The underlying problem with this analysis is that one of the core Oomoto-kyo doctrines relates to the deity Ushitora-no-konjin, "the hidden god", a male deity whose position was improperly taken by Amaterasu-Omikami. In this line of Oomoto doctrine, the essential problem with Japan was precisely its rule by a royal line associated with a female deity who improperly usurped the central role that rightfully belonged to a deeper, and more profound, male deity.

Accordingly, the tatemae that follows from this theological principle is the public accession to the pretensions of the Emperor and the use of the "black box" associated with the Imperial line (that same black box discussed at length in an earlier essay), and the honne that would follow is the critical necessity of the Emperor's displacement in order to achieve yo-naoshi; in this regard, Ueshiba's deeper self-identification with Susanoo-woo-no-mikoto and with Ame-no-murakumo-kuki-samuhara-ryoo must be regarded as critical and -- perhaps-- definitive in regard to any mythopoetic analysis.

Any argument that there was some essential change in Ueshiba's own views would have to find a way to address (and set aside) both core principles of the theology to which he adhered, and the personal identifications which he maintained both before and after the move to Iwama.

Best,

FL
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Old 09-17-2008, 04:39 PM   #68
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

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I think this is a complex question and there are no ready answers. In the column I have tried to present the evidence that Morihei Ueshiba considered Iwama to be a special place, where he consorted with his tutelary deities. In my opinion, he regarded his own training with weapons: sho-chiku-bai no ken, to be an essential part of this association--at least at this time. Notice that I have not said "taught". Rather, he appears to have trained with Saito Shihan as his partner.

Apart from the Kumano Juku, of Mr Hikitsuchi, Iwama seems to be the only dojo where was such an intense focus on weapons, especially sword--at least for a decade or so, until he started to visit other places, and until weapons came to have lessening importance later in his life. There is also the undoubted fact that he had in effect given over the Tokyo Dojo to Kisshomaru and did not interfere with the running of the dojo. Of course, he would teach there, and taught there increasingly often, but the Tokyo Dojo was not a laboratory/shrine for him.

It is true, however, that nearly all his senior students did train with weapons--and developed their own systems. Saito Sensei was preeminent, but not the only one to do so.

I have not really answered your question, but I do not think that Ueshiba's occasional anger at bad practice amounts to a total ban on teaching weapons outside Iwama. I think you would need to search out the interviews with the senior students like Tamura and Tada Shihans.

Best wishes,
I have written about this else where but it is relevant to the discussion here... In the post war period you see a divergence between the training offered to the general student body and the training offered the students considered as the uchi deshi at the Hombu Dojo (the fact that these people might not have been the same kind of "uchi deshi" as the prewar deshi is another discussion that's been made at length).

My exposure to post war uchi deshi comes via my exposure to three of the students from that time, namely, my own teacher, Saotome Sensei, my Assistant Chief Instructor's (Kevin Lam) teacher, Imaizumi Sensei, and Chiba Sensei.

Both Kevin Lam and I were both told that there were sword classes of an optional nature that were made available to interested uchi deshi at the Hombu Dojo. Clearly, teachers like Yamada Sensei, although of the same generation, chose to not attend as there is no evidence of this in their teaching.

Both Kevin and I asked who taught these classes and were immediately rewarded with responses that strongly resembled the testimony at the Watergate hearings. In other words, no answer was given, memories were suddenly cloudy (this from people who normally remembered everything about their training in those years with great clarity).

The fact remains that both Saotome Sensei have a bunch of sword material which clearly came from Kashima, Yagyu and Itto Ryu sources. Saotome Sensei's, as is his wont, has been highly personalized. His forms are his own but the elements came from somewhere and are very different from Saito Sensei's work at Iwama. However, Imaizumi Sensei's students actually have notebooks with forms that are straight out of Itto Ryu and Imaizumi Sensei never studied Itto Ryu formally.

Chiba Sensei also has quite a lot of sword work that does not resemble to any large degree what was taught at Iwama, although he also has some that does seem to derive from that work. I was never able to ask him about where he learned his sword. I am not directly familiar with Kanai sensei's sword work but he had the reputation of being an excellent swordsman and he was of that same generation as well.

Anyway, it is my own guess that O-Sensei, and perhaps also his son, Kisshomaru, arranged for instructors to come in and do classes for some of the deshi. That is the only way I can account for material in their sword work that clearly derived from various koryu, even ryu that no one seems to think O-Sensei had studied... It isn't even a matter of individuals sneaking off to study sword elsewhere, as did happen as I understand it, because there are tremendous similarities between what the deshi at this time put into their sword work (the ones who did much sword anyway).

I think it is very much a mistake to think that O-Sensei discouraged weapons training outside of Iwama. The evidence would run counter to that. Although all of the uchi deshi from Hombu had the chance to train at Iwama regularly when they attended O-Sensei during his stays there, at least the teachers I mentioned have a large body of material which did not come from that training.

Given O-Sensei's unstructured style of teaching, there is no way that this material was simply acquired in the instructor classes offered by the Founder. So I am left with the fact that this material exists, no one will say exactly where it came from, it must have been sanctioned by the Founder or at the very least, his son, and that this training was not offered to everyone training at the Hombu Dojo because only a very small number of folks seems to have done it.

So, whereas weapons training became downgraded and even removed from Hombu's general instructional offering over time, it is clear to me that weapons training was considered important for the developing professional instructors when O-Sensei was still alive. Those teachers from that period who journeyed overseas maintained that emphasis with their students. Each of the teachers I mentioned has produced students who are quite capable, at least by Aikido standards, in their weapons work.

In the face of all of this, I cannot see how one could maintain that weapons training was discouraged outside of Hombu or that the Founder did not want people doing weapons training.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 09-17-2008 at 04:45 PM.

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Old 09-17-2008, 05:33 PM   #69
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

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Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
It is my understanding that Shirata Sensei had quite a focus on weapons, . . .
Yes, this was my experience. Easily on a par with Saito and others that I am familiar with.

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Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Maybe Allen can share some history on the weapons practice of Shirata Sensei.
Unfortunately I cannot share much for the following reasons: a) When I first went to Japan in 1986 my Japanese was minimal at best. b) As my Japanese improved I was receiving so much input (incredible volumes) that my focus unfortunately was on trying to master that, rather than avail myself of opportunities to ask Sensei important historical questions. c) My scope of training, access and correspondence with Shirata sensei was from 1986 until 1993 when he passed.

Consequently, I can, and do, teach much (maybe all, I don't know maybe I missed something) of what Shirata sensei taught of both ken and jo to the best of my ability, but there is much that I don't know about its history. This is why I have, and will continue to, ask the questions that I do. There is much that I don't know that I probably SHOULD know.

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Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Although often downplayed now days, John Stevens has taught me a version of the sho-chiku-bai kenpo and as I remember he stressed that it contained the possibility of a more free form back and forth than is usually seen in aiki-weapons kata.
My understanding is that Shirata sensei referred to "aiki-ken"
[that is 'the ken of aiki' NOT a referent to particular teacher's collection of ken kata . . . not even O-sensei's collection of ken kata. I feel comfortable asserting this because Shirata sensei constructed certain parts of the ken kata he practiced and taught himself (over time) and referred to it as "aiki-ken." Also, there are certain kata that clearly come from Koryu that were taught, practiced, and referred to as "aiki-ken" . . . why? I suppose because they were done with Aiki. Furthermore, I think this corresponds with what O-sensei tells us about the sum of Aikido. Aikido isn't kata. However, kata can have Aiki.]
collectively as Sho Chiku Bai Kenpo.

So as I understand Shirata sensei's ken, Sho Chiku Bai doesn't specify specific kata.

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Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
. . . and as I remember he stressed that it contained the possibility of a more free form back and forth than is usually seen in aiki-weapons kata
My understanding, and practice, is that this is true for ALL kata. Each person has a predetermined roll and action to perform, the outcome is NOT predetermined. (Although, one must keep in mind the goal of growth such that things are ramped up depending upon the individual's respective development and abilities.

Furthermore, taking the example of Shirata sensei, we also practice with shinken as well as following the precedent set forth in the Kobukan (Shirata sensei was one of the few jujutsu students that also participated in the Kendo section.) we practice with Shinai and Kendogu as well (both fixed and free practice.)

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
I think he also referenced a non-aikido source for some of it.
I certainly wouldn't be surprised by this (see above) but would sure love to hear what specific sources he names! Also, Peter mentioned that Shirata wasn't bashful about training under Kohai like Saito Sensei if he thought there was something to learn. I've been told that Saito sensei isn't the only Kohai that Shirata sensei learned from. So it would be interesting to connect all of those dots.

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Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
If I get to see him this fall I might try to get some more info on it.
Please do share whatever you learn. Certainly Stevens sensei had both more linguistic ability, time, opportunity, and societal clout (being a professor is a big deal in Japan) than I ever did to facilitate the presentation of these sorts of inquiries to Shirata sensei.

Other, closer and longer time students of Shirata sensei would be good sources to tap as well.

Well Ron, I hope you are willing to trade honest limited answers for suggestive innuendo and hyperbole . . . 'cause as you can see, limited answers is all I have to offer!

I hope to learn more in the future. Maybe you'll be filling me in!

All the best,
Allen

Last edited by Allen Beebe : 09-17-2008 at 05:43 PM. Reason: Cleaning up typos

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Old 09-17-2008, 05:45 PM   #70
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

HI GEORGE:

If Morihei and Kisshomaru had arranged for the teachers to come in and give lessons in ken, why would Chiba, Saotome and Imaizumi suddenly become vague about who was teaching? Wouldn't these be officially sanctioned classes under Hombu guidance, and therefore there would be nothing to be embarrassed about? Chiba is quite clear that Morihei himself told him to study iai. Is there some other dynamic at work with the three shihan you mentioned, that brings in this Watergate hearing quality?

best,

R
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Old 09-17-2008, 05:51 PM   #71
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

George,

The three Koryu that you identify are the three I recognize as well, and interestingly my understanding is that Shirata sensei rather avoided training at the Hombu dojo after the war (as a matter of preference, not ego, as one can tell by the fact that he did regularly train with Kohai). Which, again, begs the question: If not from O-sensei, where did this all come from?

BTW, I hope to see you in November for the seminar your hosting!

Thanks,
Allen

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Old 09-17-2008, 05:58 PM   #72
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

Raul,

Good question. The name that popped instantly into my mind that all persons might disavow themselves of is Tohei sensei. He might not be everyone's first thought as a weapons guy . . . but he did teach weapons and he did have high authority in the Hombu dojo and he did become an "unmentionable."

He also trained at a dojo that taught Muto Ryu (descendant of Itto Ryu) although I can't recall if he trained in Muto ryu along with the Misogi stuff . . . ?

Just talking off the top of my head.

(That wouldn't explain where the Itto (if any) that exists in Shirata sensei's ken came from though. I don't know that there is a Shirata/Tohei connection at all.

Like I said . . . just brain dumping,
Allen

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Old 09-17-2008, 06:07 PM   #73
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

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The underlying problem with this analysis is that one of the core Oomoto-kyo doctrines relates to the deity Ushitora-no-konjin, "the hidden god", a male deity whose position was improperly taken by Amaterasu-Omikami. In this line of Oomoto doctrine, the essential problem with Japan was precisely its rule by a royal line associated with a female deity who improperly usurped the central role that rightfully belonged to a deeper, and more profound, male deity. ... Ueshiba's deeper self-identification with Susanoo-woo-no-mikoto and with Ame-no-murakumo-kuki-samuhara-ryoo must be regarded as critical and -- perhaps-- definitive in regard to any mythopoetic analysis.
Delving into that is a much wider discussion; the narrow issue here is that he explicitly claims the warrant of Amaterasu mediated by Sarutahiko for the position that he takes against the war (and I argue against the divine aspect of Imperial authority (not his temporal position it is important to note). It is the difference between heresy and treason, in this setting. This is even spoken of in the versoin of Takemusu Aiki lectures given at AJ :
Quote:
Our work is the work of the Great God. Our achievements, in so far as concerns this world, are offered to the authority of the Emperor. The same is the case for our bodies too.
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=639 . His effort is only to challenge the divine mandate, not the temporal order -- by building the Aiki Shrine, underlined by the fact that it is a divinely effective task -- not a practically effective one. The distinction is clear; the Emperor retains temporal, physical authority, but his divine sanction is not affirmed. It is replaced by a direct personal association with the "work of the Great God" We need not get into a sidebar on the nature of that entity in this discussion. The break with the Emperor cult seems fairly clear.

If it is tatemae it needs explaining why this tatemae is adopted to contrven prior belief before the war ended, and then why and to what purpose it is doing triple duty in three distinct positions of possible conflict to which it might apply 1) before the war ended (after 1942); 2) during the Occupation, and 3) after the Occupation and the resumption of Japanese rule.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 09-17-2008 at 06:14 PM.

Cordially,

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Old 09-17-2008, 06:54 PM   #74
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

Mr Henderson,

Many thanks for your post. I have given a few responses.

Best wishes,

PAG

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This will be my first post on this site; my thanks for your consideration of my question:

I've been reading the exchange between Professor Goldsbury and Mr. Mead, and it seems to me two somewhat separate issues are cojoined in their discussion.

> One is whether O'Sensei's move to Iwama was in any way related to events in Manchuria;

> The other is whether we can understand the move more fully by attempting to understand his motives and actions in a "mythic" and situational context. As I understand the argument, this analysis rests on an examination of Japanese mythology; Ueshiba's religious beliefs; and the social context in which he expressed those beliefs, understood in cultural context.
PAG. The Manchurian connection is an interesting hypothesis, in much the same way that Baignent's & Leigh's hypotheses about Christ's bloodline and the Holy Grail are interesting and make a very interesting film/movie. The evidence for the historical accuracy of Ueshiba's 'Manchurian connection' and its link with his move to Iwama is quite another matter--and this is my prime concern. In this respect the 'Manchurian connection' is of a piece with Ueshiba's instructing at all the various military schools. We know he did this, we can speculate that he did this because of his many connections with high-ranking military officers. However, how this teaching commitment connected with "Japanese mythology; Ueshiba's religious beliefs; and the social context in which he expressed those beliefs, understood in cultural context," is something that we would need further evidence to find out. We have some idea about the 'budo' of the military from what Ueshiba himself tells us.

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David Henderson wrote: View Post
I think the exchange has established that the Manchurian thesis is an interesting one that can't be "proven" based on the historical record; but so far the invited "mythic" analysis seems embedded in the discussion of whether O'Sensei was reacting in some way in part to events in the war in China.
PAG. The analysis is certainly embedded in Mr Mead's discussion, but I would be surprised if such a "mythical" analysis can be shown to connect directly with events in China. I think that this would require far more evidence then we possess at present.

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One may dispute, accept, or entertain for entertainment's sake the hypothesis that events in Manchuria are relevant to the move to Iwama. However, that still leaves unanswered how O'Sensei's visions, statements, and actions would have been viewed by someone who shared his beliefs and cultural understanding.
Do you have anyone in mind here? Masahisa Goi, perhaps? Certainly not his son Kisshomaru, who has presented by far the most detailed evidence to date, apart from Morihei Ueshiba himself. I think that Kisshomaru viewed his father's "visions, statements and actions" with great sensitivity and even sympathy, but I think it is clear that, though he did share his father's "cultural understanding", he did not share his father's beliefs.

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Professor Goldsbury, what do you make of Mr. Mead's proposition that Ueshiba's revelations amounted to what I will call a "heavenly indictment" of the Emperor giving his imprimatur to the decision to go to war based on your understanding of the deities he discusses? Does this line up with the textual evidence of what Ueshiba reported?

Cordially,

David Henderson
PAG. I would think that it is a "heavenly indictment" of Emperor Hirohito, only to the extent that is was a "heavenly indictment" of those who sought to interpret and carry out the 'Imperial Will'. To suggest otherwise is to misunderstand the ramifications of the Emperor System, as it developed from the Meiji Restoration to the Pacific War. I have argued elsewhere that Ueshiba was well and truly in the "black box", but he remained in the box despite the visions, as did Tojo, Konoe, Tomita, and all the military officers surrounding the Emperor. The fact that the deity mentions a message from the great deity of Ise, adds to the strength of the message; it does not amount to any "indictment", heavenly or otherwise. This reads too much into the available evidence.

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