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Old 08-30-2009, 10:48 AM   #1
David Orange
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Sagawa's Aiki

There's a lot of discussion lately about the book "Transparent Power," by Tatsuo Kimura, concerning the late, great Yukiyoshi Sagawa and his unique type of aiki.

And while there are a number of threads already available on "the book," I would like here to discuss Sagawa's use of the term and the power of "aiki" and how it differs from any aiki definition I have encountered since beginning aikido training in 1974 and including my time with Mochizuki Sensei from 1990 to 1995.

First, Sagawa clearly presented aiki as a "power" or a "force" that he could direct into the other person and not as anything depending on a "relationship" between two people. He did stress the importance of clean tai sabaki and being able to avoid being hit by the opponent. But he stressed that that skill, in itself, is not aiki.

Like kiai, Sagawa's aiki was something within himself that he could direct at, to and into another person to neutralize their strength and make them unable to apply their strength against him. He did this not by tai sabaki, but by applying aiki power to them.

Sagawa's aiki had several very distinct functions:

first, it entered the opponent's body imperceptibly and disrupted their sense of gravitation, making their nervous system unable to respond to his physical movement

he emphasized that the opponent must never be able to sense his physical efforts or the opponent would be able to respond and resist

This would be consistent with Ueshiba's statement that "there is no resistance in aikido"

But that should not be understood to mean that neither party should resist or that resisting is "wrong"

It means that when real aiki is applied, the opponent is unable to resist and that is a far cry from the type of training where the teacher gets angry if he feels any resistance from a student.

I have always said that if one can feel the aiki technique being applied, the aiki technique is being applied incorrectly and that the partner must resist that kind of improper technique so that the one applying the technique will know that he has made a mistake. Without a partner who resists when he feels anything to resist, one would never understand that his aiki is in fact wrong and thus could not improve it.

This is the very meaning of the term "Transparent Power." It cannot be perceived by the opponent.

By applying aiki, Sagawa did not simply "avoid" his attacker's power. He disabled the opponent's ability to apply it, whether the opponent was in front of him, behind him, pushing him or picking him up, or merely touching him. Sagawa could apply aiki even through a piece of paper to throw people, or through the collar of a loose sweater. So let's be clear that this is not the same kind of aiki found in common aikido practice and it is not tai sabaki based.

So what is it and how can we develop it?

First thing, I think, is the practice of aiki age, which is lifting one's hands straight up when grabbed from the front, two-hands-on-two. This is not the typical kokyu dosa practiced in most aikido dojos. It does not involve twisting of the hands or arms as they are raised. It is letting the partner grab both your hands with both his hands, then simply raising both your hands straight up between you to the level of the opponent's throat or chin. It was the first thing students at Sagawa's dojo had to practice and learn.

Done properly (as I experienced when I grabbed Rob John's wrist), the opponent is unable to resist this straight-up lift. He cannot feel it beginning and he gets no signal, cue or opportunity either to tighten his grip or to release it. But the lift is so powerful that it drives the opponent strongly up and back. From there, the aiki man can softly bring his hands down and the opponent, unable, still, to release his grip, will be brought down sharply with a whiplash effect. At any point in this up-down movement, the aiki man can split the direction of his hands or change the angle and lead the opponent off balance for a throw. But without being able to transparently input this kind of power through aiki age, all technique will be based in "stuffy" or "unclean" power, as Sagawa described it. Timing and movement based technique can in the best cases approximate or appear superficially the same as transparent power, but anything less than perfect timing and movement will give the opponent the opportunity to fix his strength on you and cause your technique to break down.

Sagawa did claim that he was the only person remaining in the world who could do real aiki and very strong and experienced martial artists frequently found themselves powerfully thrown even though they could never feel Sagawa applying any strength to them. However, at the yoseikan hombu, at least one person, Kyoichi Murai, was able to throw me by my own grip and he clearly had a similar kind of ability. He just never explicitly showed me how it was done and the yoseikan in those days did not teach in such a way as to develop it.

So this is not a "book" discussion but a discussion of a very unique approach to aiki and how to develop and use it.

Comments, please.

David

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

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Old 08-30-2009, 10:52 AM   #2
David Orange
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
There's a lot of discussion lately about the book "Transparent Power," by Tatsuo Kimura, concerning the late, great Yukiyoshi Sagawa and his unique type of aiki.
For those completely unfamiliar with the appearance of Sagawa's aiki, here is an Aikido Journal film for reference:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSriwM4XIDo

David

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

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Old 08-30-2009, 05:47 PM   #3
eyrie
 
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
First, Sagawa clearly presented aiki as a "power" or a "force" that he could direct into the other person and not as anything depending on a "relationship" between two people.... to neutralize their strength and make them unable to apply their strength against him....[by entering] the opponent's body imperceptibly and [disrupting] their sense of gravitation, making their nervous system unable to respond to his physical movement...
David, that seems like a clear description of hua jin (neutralizing jin) to me... which, as you know, is an aspect of the one jin.

Quote:
a discussion of a very unique approach to aiki and how to develop and use it.
Unique how?

Ignatius
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Old 08-31-2009, 02:44 PM   #4
David Orange
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

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Ignatius Teo wrote: View Post
David, that seems like a clear description of hua jin (neutralizing jin) to me... which, as you know, is an aspect of the one jin.
Yes, it does. Too bad I don't know how to do jin, though.

David Orange wrote:

"a discussion of a very unique approach to aiki and how to develop and use it."

Quote:
Ignatius Teo wrote: View Post
Unique how?
I've just never known anyone in aikido to describe aiki as a literal power that goes from nage into uke. I've always heard it described as more like a "condition" that results from moving harmoniously with the other guy.

As Sagawa describes it (and as was said of Horikawa), aiki is a power that you inject into the other person's nervous system even without any physical motion at all.

I find that pretty unique, though as you say, it seems consistent with CMA use of jin.

Thanks.

David

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

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Old 08-31-2009, 05:24 PM   #5
eyrie
 
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

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David Orange wrote: View Post
I find that pretty unique, though as you say, it seems consistent with CMA use of jin.
That is the point I'm making. It's the same point that certain others have been making. Although, aspects of what makes the aiki in Aikido unique, is well... "unique", the use of "neutralizing jin" as it is described in Aikido as "aiki", is not unique to Aikido, and is entirely consistent across the spectrum of Asian MA. IOW, it isn't some CMA "fad" tacked onto Aikido... It's just that sometimes, it's necessary to look from outside, in order to look in.

The problem is that, the idea of neutralizing has morphed into this concept of "blending harmoniously", which although technically accurate, has taken on an entirely different meaning to neutralizing by (subtly) inputting power into someone, to negate their power.

Ignatius
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Old 08-31-2009, 05:37 PM   #6
David Orange
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

Quote:
Ignatius Teo wrote: View Post
That is the point I'm making.
Actually, when I said it's "unique" I mean that it's a unique definition of aiki. Aikido people don't describe it like that and don't use it as Sagawa did. So I really meant it for those who wanted to consider "the meaning of aiki" again. But instead of another "What is Aiki?" thread, I thought I'd let Sagawa define it for us and let us see if we can reconcile our own understandings of aiki with his.

I've trained with both Ark Akuzawa now, and Dan Harden. Ark, of course, actually trained with Sagawa and Dan is involved in daito ryu. And what I felt from both those guys was a degree of power very unusual in aikido.

Quote:
Ignatius Teo wrote: View Post
The problem is that, the idea of neutralizing has morphed into this concept of "blending harmoniously", which although technically accurate, has taken on an entirely different meaning to neutralizing by (subtly) inputting power into someone, to negate their power.
Right. And I hope this thread can shake down some recognition of that fact and maybe help some aiki people look a little more beyond the surface. Sagawa's long association with Takeda and his own hyper-serious development of aiki are not things to be by-passed lightly.

Thanks.

David

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Lao Tzu

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Old 08-31-2009, 07:53 PM   #7
Mike Sigman
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
I've just never known anyone in aikido to describe aiki as a literal power that goes from nage into uke. I've always heard it described as more like a "condition" that results from moving harmoniously with the other guy.

As Sagawa describes it (and as was said of Horikawa), aiki is a power that you inject into the other person's nervous system even without any physical motion at all.

I find that pretty unique, though as you say, it seems consistent with CMA use of jin.
David, I agree with your posts. I think the idea of "aiki" as a singular type of power is simply a misunderstanding of the idea that there is a power that when used properly in regard to an incoming force causes "aiki". It's a misunderstanding and I tried (half-heartedly) to archive the idea that some people are misusing the term "aiki" as a power itself, by not being clear.

In the same sense "kokyu-power" is being misused also. The power of "kokyu" is the same power that is used to create "aiki". "Kokyu" denotes the breath-related training that is used to develop the "jin" as it increases in power. As Ignatius mentioned, there is only one jin. The old saying is that "there are many jins but there is only one jin". That jin skill is the basis of "aiki", of "kokyu-nage's", of "fajin", of Tohei's "ki-tests", and so on. There is no separate power that is "aiki-age" and "aiki-sage"... those are just examples of the force-skills known as "jin". "Aiki" is a particular way of blending the jin with an opponent's attack so that the opponent's own power is used to throw/technique him. There should be, as you noted, no resistance.

FWIW

Mike Sigman
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Old 09-01-2009, 01:43 PM   #8
DH
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
Actually, when I said it's "unique" I mean that it's a unique definition of aiki. Aikido people don't describe it like that and don't use it as Sagawa did. So I really meant it for those who wanted to consider "the meaning of aiki" again. But instead of another "What is Aiki?" thread, I thought I'd let Sagawa define it for us and let us see if we can reconcile our own understandings of aiki with his.

I've trained with both Ark Akuzawa now, and Dan Harden. Ark, of course, actually trained with Sagawa and Dan is involved in daito ryu. And what I felt from both those guys was a degree of power very unusual in aikido.

I hope this thread can shake down some recognition of that fact and maybe help some aiki people look a little more beyond the surface. Sagawa's long association with Takeda and his own hyper-serious development of aiki are not things to be by-passed lightly.

Thanks.
David
Hello David
I have no intention of shaking things down or out or debating with anyone. I hope -while you were reading Sagawa's book- you recognized so many familiar debate points from over the years, so we can move forward in our own discussions.

*Aiki as a body skill
*Sagawa denying the stress on kokyu power as aiki -thought it's not that simple a statement --kokyu is valuable as an add-on to the the more complex aspects of IP skills. Training is not always the same as practical application at speed.
*His continued mentioning of being unthrowable -with 5th dan judoka not being able to throw his white belts yaada yaada
*Training under full force pressures as the only way to truly learn (no matter what some recent posters think)
*Aiki against MMA -as a skill that must -by its nature- work in fighting. (now think of the nonsense on E-budo with certain well known members talking about aiki as "fine motor skills" failing under stress It's just a reflection of their own level of understanding ten years ago.
*Now that you see page after page after page of reference to body aiki, training the body, taking on judoka and wrestlers, him stating flatly that focusing on techniques is stupid, and stating over and over that people in DR "just don't get it"
Also worthy of note is Sagawa also stating that you can watch someone move, in video or see pictures etc., and you know..."they don't have a clue."
In light of his own comments and his own work not being taken seriously on occasions maybe you can see why the mere mention of training this way with certain popular people on that other forum and others like them about what aiki really is had led to some interesting threads there - some of which I hear were "dissapeared" and/ or heavily edited. BTW did you catch Sagawa referencing the dilemma of people who were "deeply initiated" or invested in their aiki arts and what happened time and again when they felt his aiki? How's this for real life matching the book; one of those well known guys from that other board who has said similar things on-line and was arguing this stuff with me? His own teacher went to Sagawa and shed tears after meeting Sagawa's "body aiki"-face to face. In many ways some of the "debates" you see on-line are truly hilarious and prove as empty as an old coat.
Not everyone is like you. You stepped-up, (several times) spent hard earned money, traveled and put your body where your mouth and brain was. I knew it when we first starting talking on ebudo that you would be one of the people who would. It's in your nature.

I stated in another thread about M.A.B.S.
The next phase is going to be I.M.A.B.S.
The subject of internal training and aiki is not a simple one. I suggest that folks keep their eyes and ears open to information-that's always a good thing- but in the end, were one to be considering appropriate information that is practical and applicable for the Japanese aiki arts-I'd follow George Ledyard and Bill Gleason's advice -and recently to include more teachers who are out there testing's advice as well.
To stick with the people who can deliver internals/aiki; with weapons and without, under pressure and stress in many environments (think of what you personally know and have seen) and who can present others that they have taught with similar skills.. There may be some well known and well meaning guys out there; some of whom posses good information but just so-so skills, and others who have good fighting skills but in the end are really just external fighters. It might prove to be difficult to find someone with internal skills/aiki who has honed them in fighting in pressured environments that can relate to the aiki arts. It just isn't that common. It's no wonder it is recently being downplayed here to be of questionable worth. We need to be smart about these things. Many feel that they have already been misled to one degree or another; why take another false step that can costs many more years. It's wise to be careful about assessments of skills that are new to us in light of our pursuits and interests. "In the land of the blind..." and all that
I have some more observations on the book itself and the lessons and cautions it should be imparting to us.…later
Cheers
Dan

Last edited by DH : 09-01-2009 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 09-01-2009, 02:11 PM   #9
Stormcrow34
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

I've been paying close attention to this topic the last few months, and it is starting to sink in that it is something that I need to learn.

"Kuzushi On Steroids"....I like the sound of that.

David, is there any mention in the book about specifics of Sagawa's solo training methods and how he incorporates that into paired kata?
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Old 09-01-2009, 02:53 PM   #10
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
Hello David
I have no intention of shaking things down or out or debating with anyone. I hope -while you were reading Sagawa's book- you recognized so many familiar debate points from over the years, so we can move forward in our own discussions.

*Aiki as a body skill
*Sagawa denying the stress on kokyu power as aiki -thought it's not that simple a statement --kokyu is valuable as an add-on to the the more complex aspects of IP skills. Training is not always the same as practical application at speed.
*His continued mentioning of being unthrowable -with 5th dan judoka not being able to throw his white belts yaada yaada
*Training under full force pressures as the only way to truly learn (no matter what some recent posters think)
*Aiki against MMA -as a skill that must -by its nature- work in fighting. (now think of the nonsense on E-budo with certain well known members talking about aiki as "fine motor skills" failing under stress It's just a reflection of their own level of understanding ten years ago.
*Now that you see page after page after page of reference to body aiki, training the body, taking on judoka and wrestlers, him stating flatly that focusing on techniques is stupid, and stating over and over that people in DR "just don't get it"
Also worthy of note is Sagawa also stating that you can watch someone move, in video or see pictures etc., and you know..."they don't have a clue."
In light of his own comments and his own work not being taken seriously on occasions maybe you can see why the mere mention of training this way with certain popular people on that other forum and others like them about what aiki really is had led to some interesting threads there - some of which I hear were "dissapeared" and/ or heavily edited. BTW did you catch Sagawa referencing the dilemma of people who were "deeply initiated" or invested in their aiki arts and what happened time and again when they felt his aiki? How's this for real life matching the book; one of those well known guys from that other board who has said similar things on-line and was arguing this stuff with me? His own teacher went to Sagawa and shed tears after meeting Sagawa's "body aiki"-face to face. In many ways some of the "debates" you see on-line are truly hilarious and prove as empty as an old coat.
Not everyone is like you. You stepped-up, (several times) spent hard earned money, traveled and put your body where your mouth and brain was. I knew it when we first starting talking on ebudo that you would be one of the people who would. It's in your nature.

I stated in another thread about M.A.B.S.
The next phase is going to be I.M.A.B.S.
The subject of internal training and aiki is not a simple one. I suggest that folks keep their eyes and ears open to information-that's always a good thing- but in the end, were one to be considering appropriate information that is practical and applicable for the Japanese aiki arts-I'd follow George Ledyard and Bill Gleason's advice -and recently to include more teachers who are out there testing's advice as well.
To stick with the people who can deliver internals/aiki; with weapons and without, under pressure and stress in many environments (think of what you personally know and have seen) and who can present others that they have taught with similar skills.. There may be some well known and well meaning guys out there; some of whom posses good information but just so-so skills, and others who have good fighting skills but in the end are really just external fighters. It might prove to be difficult to find someone with internal skills/aiki who has honed them in fighting in pressured environments that can relate to the aiki arts. It just isn't that common. It's no wonder it is recently being downplayed here to be of questionable worth. We need to be smart about these things. Many feel that they have already been misled to one degree or another; why take another false step that can costs many more years. It's wise to be careful about assessments of skills that are new to us in light of our pursuits and interests. "In the land of the blind..." and all that
I have some more observations on the book itself and the lessons and cautions it should be imparting to us.…later
Cheers
Dan
Hi Dan,
I think that the so-called "debate" about this needs to be shifted out of that paradigm... Like everything else in this country the ideas that have been presented end up in some sort of point - counter point format, which gives the appearance of having to choose sides or ignore the debate entirely.

This isn't about sides. Nor does doing this kind of training threaten anyone's approach to Aikido or their chosen "style". This kind of training can only improve your skills whatever style you do.

The thing that struck me reading Sagawa'a book was how completely alone he perceived himself to be. I think the type of person who is comfortable being in that place of complete autonomy, not seeing oneself in relation to anyone else, not relying on other people for ones frame of reference, is an extremely rare person. I've noticed over time that a number of the folks who who reached this kind of high level don't have many friends amongst their peers. I don't think that most folks are that way nor would they like to end up that way.

Sagawa clearly stood alone. He routinely dismisses people's skills who most of us would die to have anything close to their level of ability. He talks about Yoshida Kotaro as having a little bit. He says that Takeda, his own teacher, would probably attained the same level of understanding (as Sagawa's) but hadn't had the time to devote to it because he traveled too much.

It's quite clear that Sagawa dismissed most of his own students and only taught the very small number he thought measured up. He didn't even start showing what he knew and how he had attained the skills he had until very late in life, despite teaching widely in his earlier years.

So I guess my point is that making a guy like this ones benchmark is problematical in that, if, as Sagawa clearly believed, no one was even close to his level in aiki, one gets back to that problem of having an unobtainable model before one. It's an issue of why start if you know you'll never get there? Over and over in the book Sagawa talks about how few people will train hard enough to get it, how difficult it was to develop the skills, etc. It's on almost every page.

Most of the discussions we have about these skills center on "what you are currently doing sucks", "you need to totally change what you are doing to get anywhere", etc. That kind of presentation never gets anywhere, even when it's true. I've repeatedly seen Defensive Tactics instructors come into agencies and present what they do in those terms and they inevitably lose their audience before they even get started.

One of the things I have liked about how you, Mike, and Akuzawa have presented the training they are doing is that you are training body skills that will make any martial art, or any style of martial art better. I can still do whatever version of Aikido I choose to do, I don't have to give up anything, I am merely adding to my skills. There's no opposition in that, no debate. It's a no-brainer. Like so many thing in our country these days, we can't seem to make positive change because everything is so oppositional. This type of training isn't opposed to anything, unless it's simply bad Aikido...

I found Sagawa's book interesting but not inspirational in the sense that I didn't come away feeling like this was a guy I wanted to be like, not on a personal level. I'm happy and eager to learn some of what he knew from people who have received that knowledge from various sources, but I didn't find him to be a compelling guy. Single minded, a genius, disciplined, skillful, even creative about his approach to learning, but not someone I found very attractive in many ways.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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Old 09-01-2009, 03:33 PM   #11
DH
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

Hello George
As a group we are past "the discussion." but look at just the recent comment by Mr. Crowell. This gentlemen is "starting" to get the point....
Sometimes we get tired (okay feel like falling asleep) when others are just catching up.
My comments to David were to David! The books topics and main themes proved interesting for a few of us older guys who have had many off-line discussions about the on-line debates particularly involving DR in reagrds to aiki waza, aiki as a skill in the body and its use in freestyle. I didn't intend that portion of the post for anyone but David.

I would agree on most of your other points.
Sagawa was not only isolated I think that very isolation caused him to miss other excellent training. How good he was, in the end will remain a moot point as it cannot be proved due to his own isolation. Then again since he was so damn good it's fascinating to wonder where he stacked up.
I think it is clear the for the most part, he didn't care either. He wasn't writing about it, nor was he out demonstrating.
Now, that part -I- found inspirational was that he was wholly vested in his work and was doggedly determined to carry it forward, experiment an get outside of the waza. THat speaks to me as it echos my won search. THere are many reasons I might enjoy the read where others would not.
But, had he shared and got out more he might have a) found methods to shorten his search, b) found something completely different that in the end he might have adopted and loved.
And there are several obvious and hidden negatives all throughout the book.

As for methods.
I would not agree that all methods are for Aikido, or Japanese style weapons. Nor are all aproaches even to agreed upon and common goals-equal. But, that's not going to be successfully hashed-out on the net. There's plenty of time and plenty of people out experimenting.
Cheers
Dan

Last edited by DH : 09-01-2009 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 09-02-2009, 06:37 AM   #12
Mike Sigman
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

Nice post, Lorel.

Mike
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Old 09-02-2009, 06:56 AM   #13
David Orange
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

Quote:
Lorel Latorilla wrote: View Post
Sagawa was just a Meiji ruffneck who just saw the value in training to fanatical death.
Yes he was. I guess what impresses me most about him is that he serves as a separate example of the results of Sokaku Takeda's tutelage--other than Morihei Ueshiba. Because, of course, there are many accounts of Takeda from the aikido side, so Sagawa is another reflection on Takeda as well. It gives us a better understanding of who Takeda was and it adds a lot of depth.

Also, Sagawa's story gives us a view on a very different time and we have to be somewhat in awe of Meiji days traveling with Sokaku.

And another subtext of the book is that Sagawa was, as Vonnegutt would say, "fabulously well-to-do". His family was loaded when he was young and I didn't see any mention in the whole story that Sagawa ever actually worked at anything in his life. Basically, you have a rich kid whose father had a teaching license in daito ryu and the kid gets direct samurai-lineage instruction from Sokaku Takeda from age 11 until Takeda dies...so I'm not saying it was an easy life, but it did make his life much less complicated than Sokaku's was. One thing he points up by saying that he could teach in one place was that he had leisure to reflect. Meaning that he was rich. Sokaku traveled out of economic necessity. Wasn't Ueshiba's family also wealthy? Didn't they both build dojos for Sokaku?

So part of the whole story is that you have to be wealthy to get very deep in martial arts. But another part is again about changing times. Sokaku may have traveled to teach instead of having his own dojo precisely because he didn't want to be a sitting duck with people stealing all his secrets for 30 years. He was eerily paranoid and cautious and also had people looking for him for revenge, at times. In Sokaku and Morihei's day, the necessity for that kind of hyper vigillance was fading enough that neither of them had to worry about settling in dojos. But Sagawa was restrictive on whom he allowed in and while Morihei let thousands in, he may have locked up the higher secrets for safekeeping.

And here we are today trying to get a look back to the dimness of ancient aiki, and Sagawa emerges as a really rare jewel, deepening and enriching our perspectives on Takeda, aiki and the budo life.

I don't know that I would have ever been so interested in Sagawa or a book about him if I hadn't experienced Aunkai, though. Of course, Dan points to Sagawa, but in times past, when I've seen pictures of an old guy like that gesturing with his hand and sending people flying...I just wasn't interested. I used to think the photos and clips Okamoto were all fakery, too. And then I got hold of Ark and Rob and I could certainly feel the great potential of that kind of energy. I realized that those little hand gestures were conveying something I had never learned in aikido and had only rarely seen.

With Ark, Dan and Mike all teaching the fundamentals of internal power, I'm hopeful not only for the future of aiki in America, but specifically, I'm hoping this thread will bring up some technical concepts that can maybe aid in actual how to develop skills in manipulating those potentials.

Thanks to all comments.

David

Last edited by David Orange : 09-02-2009 at 07:01 AM.

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Old 09-02-2009, 10:15 AM   #14
DH
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

I line with the OP wishing to spark a discussion. I already addressed several points in the book that were interesting -to me- in my earlier post. No discussion. Instead we have comments on his personality.
The comments on Sagawa's "perceived" personality are as meaningless to me as his "perceived" skill. As I said, due to his own isolation, nothing can be proved. It's his loss. We do have credible stories, public and private and we have his own stories and that's about it. I am far more interested in Sagawa in a rather self serving and community serving fashion- that he revealed for the first time in public- my own contentions that were argued against for many years - that there was and is;
A body method in DR
That the body method is to change the body,
That it is the body method after all that is at the core of making aiki happen.
That it was not openly taught
That he was told not to teach it accept to a few
Past that - I could care less about DR and what it chooses to do with it's "waza."

My own interests in DR aiki are almost totally outside of its use in DR waza-hence the mention of references to the aiki body-training the body. Where the "aiki body" makes aiki happen and where that leads anyone in the art or leaves others behind is the real kernel of the story. The mentioning of stopping teachers is a waste of band width. Stopping traditional guys in their waza is easy, a piece of cake. That's no measure of anything worth discussing. Fighting or sparring with them using aiki to reverses and control them is a whole different story. And where and how anyone can exhibit aiki in that forum-not this one- is the real discussion.

Training methods
Daito ryu suffers from the same problem that all the traditional Japanes arts do, ukemi. DR will never come into it's own as a fighting art until it takes it's aiki out for a spin and fights with it. And sparring with someone who has aiki is going to prove not only to be a real test, it will also sharpen and refine each others skills. Ukemi is not the way to accomplish that. In fact it will hamstring any real growth. The energy produced in the body with the DR method is completely fluid and responsive to continual change, both in connection and in strikes and kicks and will "play" just as well with master level ICMA as MMA, or with traditional weapons on to twin sticks and knives. Why? Because the method is consistent. Those willing to train the body method and then fight with it are not going to "look like DR" to anyone on the outside, but those on the inside almost instantly spot the body aiki. But if someone isn't training this way on a regular basis it's never going to just "happen." And that is where Sagawa's admonitions when speaking about others-kick in. He openly derided others for limiting themselves-when he did the same thing in his own fashion. Overal, I don't really care where he limited himself in the process.
The question remains-where do we limit ourselves?

Worthy of note is that what was at the inception of the art-Takeda experimenting and taking on all comers - plays out here today in the 21st century. Perhaps the only difference from then-to-now that the art suffers from lack of talent and an interest to do the same!
I don't expect most here to care about the discussion of DR aiki and it's body methods Then again the thread is about Daito ryu in the non-aikido section. So my comments are appropriate. Who can or cannot see its relevance to aiki in Aikido -from an internet discussion- has lost all interest to me. I am more than delighted-in fact I would love- to meet with anyone of any rank in both the aiki arts; Aikido and Daito ryu; from mudansha to Shihan to compare their own observations on aiki and have them display their aiki. Of late I have decided to keep my discussions for face-to-face and touching hands. It has a peculiar ability to close peoples mouths and open their ears in way's the internet cannot provide.
Enough of looking in the past. I have better things to do. I just wanted to state why I was personally interested in the book and what my own interests were about.
Good luck in your training
Dan

Last edited by DH : 09-02-2009 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 09-02-2009, 12:46 PM   #15
David Orange
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

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Dan Harden wrote: View Post
In many ways some of the "debates" you see on-line are truly hilarious and prove as empty as an old coat.
Having been on the wrong side of many of those debates, I can only say that they led me to find out the truth about what was being discussed. It's certainly the most worthwhile thing I've encountered in martial arts in many many years.

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Not everyone is like you. You stepped-up, (several times) spent hard earned money, traveled and put your body where your mouth and brain was. I knew it when we first starting talking on ebudo that you would be one of the people who would. It's in your nature.
Well, it took a lot of hashing things out to figure out that we really weren't talking about the same things and then it took a long time to settle things out to let me get out and feel some of that kind of power. It's been very rewarding and I really appreciate all your help along the way.

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It might prove to be difficult to find someone with internal skills/aiki who has honed them in fighting in pressured environments that can relate to the aiki arts. It just isn't that common. It's no wonder it is recently being downplayed here to be of questionable worth. We need to be smart about these things. Many feel that they have already been misled to one degree or another; why take another false step that can costs many more years. It's wise to be careful about assessments of skills that are new to us in light of our pursuits and interests. "In the land of the blind..." and all that
I'm still pretty much in the "WOW" stage about the whole thing. On the rare occasions I can meet with anyone with a good bit of development, it's still new enough to me to make me cheer and I really haven't found myself too good at guessing what makes it work. But I have been deepening my understanding of the fascial lines you showed us by feeling them in place and starting to understand how they balance front-to-back and side-to-side. It's gonna take me a lot of years.

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I have some more observations on the book itself and the lessons and cautions it should be imparting to us.…later ...
Looking forward to it.

Thanks.

David

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Old 09-02-2009, 12:56 PM   #16
David Orange
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

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I've been paying close attention to this topic the last few months, and it is starting to sink in that it is something that I need to learn.
I certainly agree--not only for Martial Arts, but for life, itself.

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David, is there any mention in the book about specifics of Sagawa's solo training methods and how he incorporates that into paired kata?
No, there's not. The book is just hints about that kind of thing. He never explicitly showed his routines (unless maybe Kimura learned some of them, but if he did, he's not saying). And then, I get the sense that his group had no paired kata training. It was all technique practice based first on learning aiki age, then many, many techniques. But the real aim is to develop the body aiki, as Dan calls it. Then the techniques are much less important--until you meet up with someone whose body skills match your own.

David

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Old 09-02-2009, 01:10 PM   #17
David Orange
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
So I guess my point is that making a guy like this ones benchmark is problematical in that, if, as Sagawa clearly believed, no one was even close to his level in aiki, one gets back to that problem of having an unobtainable model before one. It's an issue of why start if you know you'll never get there? Over and over in the book Sagawa talks about how few people will train hard enough to get it, how difficult it was to develop the skills, etc. It's on almost every page.
Great points, George. I didn't want to make Sagawa a benchmark in general, but just for the sake of this thread, to provide something very unique as a clear and vivid reference that aiki may be very different from what generations of people have been told.

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Most of the discussions we have about these skills center on "what you are currently doing sucks", "you need to totally change what you are doing to get anywhere", etc. That kind of presentation never gets anywhere, even when it's true.
Well, I took a lot of that heat for many months before I finally understood why that heat was true. Now I try to go more along the lines of "I had to totally change what I was doing". Of course, there hasn't been that much change for me yet. But getting the clear recognition that I did neet to change in very specific ways helped a lot, in itself. Getting out and meeting Ark and Dan and getting specific information on "how" I had to change was even more helpful. You make very good points about how everything in America these days seems just ready to fall into divided camps. I'm surprised no one so far has attempted to label internal skills as either liberal or conservative!!!

(I guess I shouldn't give anyone that idea )

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I found Sagawa's book interesting but not inspirational in the sense that I didn't come away feeling like this was a guy I wanted to be like, not on a personal level. I'm happy and eager to learn some of what he knew from people who have received that knowledge from various sources, but I didn't find him to be a compelling guy. Single minded, a genius, disciplined, skillful, even creative about his approach to learning, but not someone I found very attractive in many ways.
He seemed to need even less from humanity than Sokaku Takeda. I think Sokaku wanted to be "liked" more than Sagawa did and I wonder if that might be related to Sagawa's clear financial independence. He credited himself and pretty much no one else but his father, his family and Sokaku Takeda. I did have to admire his unswerving honesty. All honne, all the time!

Thanks.

David

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

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Old 09-02-2009, 03:50 PM   #18
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

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David Orange wrote: View Post
Basically, you have a rich kid whose father had a teaching license in daito ryu and the kid gets direct samurai-lineage instruction from Sokaku Takeda from age 11 until Takeda dies...so I'm not saying it was an easy life, but it did make his life much less complicated than Sokaku's was. One thing he points up by saying that he could teach in one place was that he had leisure to reflect. Meaning that he was rich. Sokaku traveled out of economic necessity. Wasn't Ueshiba's family also wealthy? Didn't they both build dojos for Sokaku?
The Ueshiba family was quite well off. Several attempts were made to set Morihei Ueshiba up in some sort of business but it is clear that he had absolutely no interest. The family was rich enough to subsidize him in his efforts.

If you look at these guys, and then put that together with who they were teaching, you realize that it must have been near impossible to be poor or even working class and have the time to train the way these folks did nor would it have been easy to find a teacher who would take you on as a student unless you had means. Notice how many folks they taught were in a professional context i.e. police or military where the agency paid the expense.

Anyway, it explains why so many of the folks we know about from recent history seem to have come from well off backgrounds... who else had the time and money to train like a fanatic once the samurai were abolished as a class and all those folks were unemployed. Even in arts like judo and kendo, look at how many top guys came out of police dojos... Even a number of koryu were kept alive within that context.

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Old 09-02-2009, 04:21 PM   #19
Marc Abrams
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
The Ueshiba family was quite well off. Several attempts were made to set Morihei Ueshiba up in some sort of business but it is clear that he had absolutely no interest. The family was rich enough to subsidize him in his efforts.

If you look at these guys, and then put that together with who they were teaching, you realize that it must have been near impossible to be poor or even working class and have the time to train the way these folks did nor would it have been easy to find a teacher who would take you on as a student unless you had means. Notice how many folks they taught were in a professional context i.e. police or military where the agency paid the expense.

Anyway, it explains why so many of the folks we know about from recent history seem to have come from well off backgrounds... who else had the time and money to train like a fanatic once the samurai were abolished as a class and all those folks were unemployed. Even in arts like judo and kendo, look at how many top guys came out of police dojos... Even a number of koryu were kept alive within that context.
George:

Interesting that you say that. I had Imaizumi Sensei and his wife at Mayda and I's house for the weekend (a couple of weeks ago) and we were talking about how certain people able to study as they did. Imaizumi Sensei explained that the first son had the family obligation to follow in a family's tradition and that this expectation was difficult to get out of. The subsequent boys, like Imaizumi Sensei, were allowed to follow other paths. Imaizumi Sensei's family helped to support him when he quit his job and became a full-time Aikidoka at the Hombu Dojo. Your family had to have money to subsidize such ventures for sons other than the first born son.

Marc Abrams
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Old 09-02-2009, 05:35 PM   #20
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

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George:

Interesting that you say that. I had Imaizumi Sensei and his wife at Mayda and I's house for the weekend (a couple of weeks ago) and we were talking about how certain people able to study as they did. Imaizumi Sensei explained that the first son had the family obligation to follow in a family's tradition and that this expectation was difficult to get out of. The subsequent boys, like Imaizumi Sensei, were allowed to follow other paths. Imaizumi Sensei's family helped to support him when he quit his job and became a full-time Aikidoka at the Hombu Dojo. Your family had to have money to subsidize such ventures for sons other than the first born son.

Marc Abrams
I think it was Ellis Amdur who told me that Kuroiwa Sensei was one of the few deshi at Honbu in the post war group from a more working class background.

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Old 09-02-2009, 06:41 PM   #21
David Orange
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Anyway, it explains why so many of the folks we know about from recent history seem to have come from well off backgrounds... who else had the time and money to train like a fanatic once the samurai were abolished as a class and all those folks were unemployed. Even in arts like judo and kendo, look at how many top guys came out of police dojos... Even a number of koryu were kept alive within that context.
I don't know when it began to really sink in on me that I could not afford to be doing what I was doing for so long.

Oh, yeah. It was when I realized I was completely broke and the only thing I knew about was aikido.

Sun Tzu says something like "A country that is not economically strong cannot be a military power." Or was that Lao Tzu? Maybe it was both of them in similar statements. It's true.

Even rich, though, it takes a special person to really go deep into aiki. Even with no financial worries, most people won't live such an austere life.

Thanks.

David

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Old 09-03-2009, 01:16 AM   #22
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

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I'm surprised no one so far has attempted to label internal skills as either liberal or conservative!!!

(I guess I shouldn't give anyone that idea )
Of course it's conservative -- Liberal Democratic Yakuza stuff. Everyone knows that.
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Old 09-03-2009, 07:42 AM   #23
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

I'd disagree that you have to be rich to get good at aiki. I had a long post written, but I think if anyone's interested in my opinion, PM me and I'll send a longer explanation.

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Aiki requires an enormous amount of solo training.
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Old 09-03-2009, 09:00 AM   #24
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

just a few thoughts on the book;

in the book; towards the end of Sagawa's life; I found that part totally incredible.

We hear tell that the man was physically too weak to open a can or shut off the faucet...but could send men hurtling.

He himself said he was unable to do anything but throw men.

I find this dichotomy totally mindbending. How could these two types of 'strength' be so totally opposite? (/complementary/polar/yin/yang)

It seems that he completely renounced 'traditional strength' in favor over clear-strength/aiki. It seems that was a choice he made that that led him to be as strong as he was.

I cannot fathom how he could be so strong in one sense and so weak in another.

Or ....and I obviously don't know.... did he become like the... human antivirus...the 'anti-human' key to everybody else's lock...where he 'fit' and the 'fit' caused the other's body to do what it did. (not that I do know what it did).

I found the book utterly frustrating in that Kimura never does quite go beyond a certain distance in approaching the topic.

Sagawa's body sounds unlike anything else.

also: At Kimura's writing it sounds like he believed Aiki to have been invented (likely? possibly?) by Takeda and perfected by Sagawa. But is this the body method (shenfa) that they are talking about? Or the aiki technique itself? Are they to be distinguished? Either way; i am sure these two must have felt some CMA masters, no? Is the aiki of Sagawa-ha Daito Ryu completely different that that in CMA. All told; there is only one jin, right? Mustn't it be related.. or could it be completely alien.

No answers...only more questions.
Best,
Josh

p.s. was there a shift just now? anyone else feel that/

Last edited by thisisnotreal : 09-03-2009 at 09:05 AM. Reason: umm....
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Old 09-03-2009, 09:53 AM   #25
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Re: Sagawa's Aiki

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Josh Phillipson wrote: View Post
just a few thoughts on the book;

in the book; towards the end of Sagawa's life; I found that part totally incredible.

We hear tell that the man was physically too weak to open a can or shut off the faucet...but could send men hurtling.

He himself said he was unable to do anything but throw men.

I find this dichotomy totally mindbending. How could these two types of 'strength' be so totally opposite? (/complementary/polar/yin/yang)
I recall reading that people with Parkinsons who practice a repetitive physical art (e.g. dance, aikido) don''t have problems on the practice floor that they have with their regular daily motions. Perhaps the pathways used for the repetitive actions are different .... I am sure some of our learned members can provide a better technical answer, but it doesn't sound that fantastical to me.

Pat
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