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Old 09-19-2009, 10:29 PM   #1
Ellis Amdur
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"Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

I just read Transparent Power by Kimura. I was pleased to note that there are a lot of areas where Sagawa and Kimura tend to confirm some of my speculations:
1. That Hoshina most likely did not teach "aiki" to Takeda Sokaku
2. That Daito-ryu was not taught in the kata form we see it. In fact, Sagawa states that the "numbers" of kata in the various menkyo were, more or less, because Takeda thought those were lucky numbers. Arbitrary, in other words (which would suggest that the kata were placed on the "matrix" of the numbers later - by someone(s) else, yet another of my speculations.
3. Takeda's character - which a) he did not play well with others b) he DID have a remarkable ability to focus on solitary study until he figured something out. Which would make him, in a dojo context, not so suited for years of cooperative kata practice, but very much suited for solitary figuring things out, punctuated by challenges, tests and other competitions.
4. Sagawa scoffing at the idea of the "palace art of defense of the daimyo" - and suspicion/cynicism of all the kneeling techniques. I very much wonder if this was, in part, retrofitting of aiki/jujutsu to look more like classical jujutsu.
Parenthetically, people have commented on Sagawa's "unpleasant" character - and if his personal stories are true, he WAS gratuitously violent as a young man to test his skills on people who hadn't "asked for it." That said, I liked his arrogance very much - because it seemed based on the premise of "if you don't like it, prove me wrong." And his uncompromising views on training and teaching - he was NOT a supportive teacher. If a student didn't get it, they either weren't paying attention or they were not worth it anyway. And a) this reminded me of my closest teacher in Japan b) fits my values.
Shan't summarize the book here - but, as I say, I was pleased to have, at least in this teacher's account, some of my views confirmed.
I know, in the Daito-ryu/aikido world, that is not proof. But nonetheless . . .

Ellis Amdur

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Old 09-20-2009, 03:25 AM   #2
Charles Hill
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Hello Ellis,

In one of your essays at Aikido Journal, you speculated that the source of Morihei Ueshiba's "power" may not have been Daito Ryu due the timing. You mentioned an interview that Stanley Pranin did with a childhood friend of Ueshiba's who said that upon return from Hokkaido, Ueshiba was still the same but when returning after time in Ayabe, he had changed. From this you speculated that Ueshiba's ability might have come from Ayabe with various possibilities listed, if I remember correctly.

Have you found anymore about this? Anything to corroborate or refute this idea?

Thanks,
Charles
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Old 09-20-2009, 10:02 AM   #3
DH
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Ayabe is one of the periods Ellis and I debated.
The contention was centered around a known comment from Tokimune; He states that Ueshiba was having trouble handling the tough Navy guys that were training with him there. Ellis's theory was that Takeda went and taught him Jujutsu techniques to handle the officers. I not only disagree with this, I find it contrary to Ellis's own contentions about Takeda himself. I stated it was at Ayabe that he was taught aiki

In the chapter on the birth of Daito ryu, Ellis notes that Takeda would have had trouble learning all of those complex waza and instead it was aiki that gave him his power over the local sumo guys and his "juts" came later-much later. He goes even further to validate the point that Takeda must have developed the skills fairly well in order to defeat hardened farmers playing Sumo who would have, could have, had some rudimentary basic jin strength from farming. Apparently the young Takeda never lost to any of these men. While I agree with the premise that aiki was the source of that power, I think it still leaves the idea of what Takeda got -up for grabs. In any event it is antithetical to one of his speculations about the "Ueshiba fix" while supporting the other.

My theory was that Takeda had already taught Ueshiba jujutsu. And at Ayabe he taught him aiki as the source of power building and body use to empower his jujutsu and handle the tougher students. Interestingly enough there is no source that states that Ueshiba "had" anything amazing prior to 1922. Comparing the period before and after Ayabe- he was not yet known as a power house of any unusual merit. Moreover, we are talking about Navy men who were more than likely well versed in hundreds of jujutsu type waza. I find it highly doubtful that they would be "handled" or impressed by someone with more jujutsu waza. I dismissed the idea in these pages in years past.
More circumstantial evidence exists were one to be using quotes from interviews. Deguchi was apparently so impressed with Takeda's AIKI that he convinced him to change the name of the art and awarded him an expensive sword.
*Note* Were Ueshiba to have already had aiki and Deguchi saw him on a daily basis, why this notation of AIKI at the end of Takeda's stay? Wouldn't he be commenting on Takeda's jujutsu were Ellis's first theory correct?

To his credit Ellis decided to present both ideas for consideration. We have to bear in mind that the book was partly fact, partly speculation based on circumstantial evidence that could be interpreted several ways, thus the book was meant to be controversial. Here Ellis brings to light- for our review- the still hotly debated topic of jujutsu or aiki and the confusion over how, where and in just what manner the potential of either comes to be the predominate power and driver of their arts. Personally, I think a large part of this circumstantial information is validated, invalidated by personal experience and an intimate understanding of the subject.
I believe that what occured then in the presence of Deguchi is occuring right now; being played out in modern dojos and settings. Just like the many teachers I meet toaday and touch hands with-Deguchi saw Daito ryu's Aiki/ internal power for the first time and was stunned. And over six or seven months of daily training Ueshiba -in turn- stunned Deguchi with what Ueshiba could now do. Thus the method (DR aiki/ internal power) and the ability to teach and see it replicated that is impressing so many in aikido today is nothing more than a repeat of the past. It was the aiki that made such a strong impression on Deguchi. Again it is worth noting that it was AFTER this that Ueshiba became known as another budo "great."

Aiki as a source of power
It is one thing to speculate on what Daito ryu jujutsu can and cannot do and what DR aiki can or cannot do, and quite another to be have learned both and be able to go out and fight a myriad of martial artists with both for fifteen years. I will state it clearly that no one I have fought, or just trained with-to include dozens of men who read these pages-was ever as impressed with my jujutsu, as they were with my aiki. Moreover, when I go to MMA schools, the typical reactions are always of confusion and comments about power and control -not jujutsu technique. In fact it is usually pointedly noted the LACK of use of waza in their defeat that caught their attention. The comments run more on the lines of "How did you make that throw work?" or "I felt like I lost control when I tried to grab you." "How come I couldn't take your balance?" "How can you hit with so much power from short distance?' None of which center on jujutsu waza. So, using personal experience in the modern age to address circumstantial evidence from the past- In general I have personally found it is the shear power and control of Daito ryu Aiki that is what controls people. Jujutsu has little to do with it.

My next point is more along the lines of Takeda developing his jujutsu "on the fly." I have always contended that this is why the major schools of DR are all so different. Why the Syllabus lack consistency. For that reason I considered and forwarded the idea that the art is fully based on aiki with no real jujutsu syllabus. The jujutsu or what I have humorously refereed to as "pretzel logic" seemed nonsensical to me in light of Takeda and Ueshiba's massive reputations. The jujutsu of both is less than stellar as a fighting system. To review either as cogent fighting system leaves a glaringly obvious hole, there was something "amiss." Anyone well versed in fighting or versed in the methods of various classical jujutsu approaches would look at both the waza and lack of consistency in the mokuroku as highly suspect. This is the reason most in these arts venture out to the modern systems to find "real" ways to fight. And this brings me back to the point in Ellis' book.

Were jujutsu to be the defining characteristic, why would the modern adepts (well versed in the jujutsu of their arts) go outside their art to learn better ways to fight? For the same reason I contended in the beginning of all the debates.
They have no aiki, and thus their waza is shot full of holes in its approach. Without aiki it just doesn't work or function as well as "a system" of anything. Aiki was the driver all along.

Why are so many teachers after a short time training here seeing their approach to their entire budo careers changing?
Aiki.

As I said personal experience and ability coupled with the resolve to actually go out and test it on other peoples turf brings about a defining change in how you might view the value of things, and/ or ponder circumstantial and controversial topics. For me the subject of what makes power, what would make Ueshiba go from being a man of not much notice to a virtual powerhouse in his day is patently obvious? DR aiki. The same attribute that made Sagawa, and Kodo known for being powerhouses.


An interesting side bar:
A few decades ago (which makes it more recent evidence) a teacher from one branch of DR goes to Tokimune Takeda to learn power. What does Tokimune teach him? Solo training exercises and certain approaches to movement.
The teacher goes back to his school to show them. No one wants to do the exercises, instead they just want to learn the newer waza. The teacher goes back to Tokimune and tells him this.
Tokimune says. "Yes. It's the same here. Everyone just wants to do the waza."
SSDD.

Dan
P.S. I am not doubting Ueshiba's later continued growth. All of Takedas other students were noted for their own continued research and add-ons and changes. Once you get it, you see the universal applicability. Some are still doing it today-using DR aiki deeper in the body and for modern combatives and meetiing and comparing notes with the ICMA and seeing so many common elements.
Again, SSDD.

Last edited by DH : 09-20-2009 at 10:16 AM.
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Old 09-20-2009, 10:44 AM   #4
Ellis Amdur
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Charles - (Hi Dan) - I concur with everything that Dan said. I wanted to take on Tokimune's statement which always rung a little false to me for the following reason. The following phrase in the quote is something like, "Ueshiba was a little man, and without the power of the jujutsu, he couldn't handle the big navy guys." Well, Ueshiba was a SHORT guy - but he was no more "little" than a fire hydrant. Takeda was little - tiny really. And yet, taking things somewhat with a grain of salt (did Ueshiba really contact Takeda and say "help!"), Takeda either is called or shows up - and it is the tinier many who has the power to handle the big navy guys? And there is no doubt that this was the longest sustained period that Ueshiba had training with Takeda.
That story gave me the opportunity to present both theories and also to present the point that jujutsu/aiki merge in the trained fighter. If I ever do a 2nd edition (which will require all of you to buy out my first!), I will probably shade things more to the aiki side, as opposed to being somewhat "even handed."
For example, there's a school called I ch'uan, derived from xingyi. They mostly do internal power training, a lot of whats called "post standing." And they are really powerful guys. And contrary to the claims of their fighting effectiveness (mostly assoc. with the founder, who STARTED with xingyi, which has techniques), the i ch'uan guys, in fights with top-level guys, have mostly lost. I think jujutsu can be considered the wiring and aiki (or chi/kokyu, all the variants) the electricity. And it is possible that one has lousy wiring, so you short-circuit yourself in your training. All that power and nothing to deliver it with.
I agree with Dan.
Ellis Amdur

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Old 09-20-2009, 01:21 PM   #5
Mike Sigman
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
For example, there's a school called I ch'uan, derived from xingyi. They mostly do internal power training, a lot of whats called "post standing." And they are really powerful guys. And contrary to the claims of their fighting effectiveness (mostly assoc. with the founder, who STARTED with xingyi, which has techniques), the i ch'uan guys, in fights with top-level guys, have mostly lost. I think jujutsu can be considered the wiring and aiki (or chi/kokyu, all the variants) the electricity. And it is possible that one has lousy wiring, so you short-circuit yourself in your training. All that power and nothing to deliver it with.
This sort of gets back to an observation that I've made a number of times that almost all Chinese martial-arts are a combination of I.S. skills on the one hand and techniques/skills/strategies on the other hand. No art is complete without a suitable complement of both. Among the Japanese martial-arts the combination of I.S. and techniques/skills/strategies is there or *was* there at some time in the past, for most of the arts that I can get a feel for. It's possible that there are going to be some outrider koryu, etc., that may not have had some I.S. skills in it, but so far I wouldn't be comfortable in suggesting any Japanese art was totally bereft of those skills.

Bear in mind something very important: there are varying levels of these skills available in various arts and in various people that have some aspects of those skills, so by saying an art (or person) had I.S. skills, I certainly don't mean to imply that they all had/have those skills equally.

In the case of I'chuan (more properly "Yiquan" with today's Pinyin form of spelling), the founder (Wang Xiangzhai) had a Xingyi background and in an attempt to teach a number of fighters (who were soon to have a competition with some foreigners) some things to boost their power-skills, came up with a training regimen that was the basis for what became Yiquan.

In essence, we could suggest that Wang said, "OK, so what you need to *really* improve your fighting is for me to show you how to do the oft-hidden aspects of Internal Strength". Isn't that essentially what Koichi Tohei did (albeit not very clearly) in relation to Aikido? Couldn't we similarly say that what Ikeda Sensei, Ushiro Sensei, Dan, and others do is say something along the lines of "OK, here's how to develop the previously-hidden power to go with your martial arts"? The point is that Yiquan's nicely-packaged training regimen is interesting because of its seeming openess (which is not true) of the I.S. training in relation to the fighting skills; in reality, Yiquan's combination of I.S. and fighting-methodology is nothing out of the ordinary except for the fact that the I.S. training is somewhat obvious. AikiTaiso are obviously meant to be the I.S. training methods of Aikido, but their use is also as fumbled up in application as a lot of Yiquan's methods are.

Think of Ushiro's comment about "No kokyu, no Aikido" or think of Shioda's comment about how the power usage has been lost not only in Aikido but in Judo and other Japanese arts. The central theme is that a lot of the power development is hidden, so it gets lost or, quite often, a person/art only gets and develops some limited aspects of the full power.

The story of Takeda's power (how sophisticated was it? Was it specialized in some areas and void in others?) and Ueshiba's power (same questions) can be seen as (1.) a sliding-scale series of possibilities that no one has all the answers to, mainly because of the veil that is around the training methods for the I.S. skills.... and (2.) also because of the sliding-scale possibilities that would arise from how sophisticated and strong the martial skills were in conjunction with the I.S. skills.

FWIW

Mike Sigman
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Old 09-20-2009, 03:31 PM   #6
Charles Hill
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Thank you gentlemen.
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Old 09-20-2009, 07:14 PM   #7
MM
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

If it takes a certain amount of "rewiring" from regular old jujutsu to start building aiki, how likely is it that Ueshiba learned all of his aiki from Takeda in the Ayabe period?

Granted, it would certainly seem like Ueshiba learned a great deal of aiki during that year, but I think it's possible that Takeda started him on learning aiki a bit earlier. Ueshiba was a physically strong man. I can't see him just "rewiring" his physical strength to become a powerhouse in one year. Even with all the in-depth training he received.

I would think it more likely that Takeda started him out with training to "rewire" how he used his body earlier and by the Ayabe stay, Ueshiba had done enough training that Takeda *could* really teach him quite a lot of aiki.

If so, it gives a lot of credit to Ueshiba for putting in that solo training time while Takeda was gone. Imagine a physically fit Ueshiba who had learned some other martial arts meeting Takeda and being handled easily. Imagine Takeda telling Ueshiba, nah, you don't need more jujutsu, you should do these solo exercises.

How many here would think, is he putting me on or is he really telling me something worthwhile? Imagine Ueshiba thinking everyone else I know trains more waza, but then again, they don't feel like Takeda. So, Ueshiba puts in the time and in 1922, it pays off big time.

Course, for those inclined to think further, just how long did Ueshiba really study before he was considered great? Certainly not 20 years ... something to think about, no?

My thoughts anyway,
Mark
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Old 09-20-2009, 07:21 PM   #8
David Yap
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Thank you sifu and sensei for the enlightening discussion.

Warm regards

David Y
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Old 09-20-2009, 07:25 PM   #9
dps
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
If it takes a certain amount of "rewiring" from regular old jujutsu to start building aiki, how likely is it that Ueshiba learned all of his aiki from Takeda in the Ayabe period?

Granted, it would certainly seem like Ueshiba learned a great deal of aiki during that year, but I think it's possible that Takeda started him on learning aiki a bit earlier. Ueshiba was a physically strong man. I can't see him just "rewiring" his physical strength to become a powerhouse in one year. Even with all the in-depth training he received.

I would think it more likely that Takeda started him out with training to "rewire" how he used his body earlier and by the Ayabe stay, Ueshiba had done enough training that Takeda *could* really teach him quite a lot of aiki.

If so, it gives a lot of credit to Ueshiba for putting in that solo training time while Takeda was gone. Imagine a physically fit Ueshiba who had learned some other martial arts meeting Takeda and being handled easily. Imagine Takeda telling Ueshiba, nah, you don't need more jujutsu, you should do these solo exercises.

How many here would think, is he putting me on or is he really telling me something worthwhile? Imagine Ueshiba thinking everyone else I know trains more waza, but then again, they don't feel like Takeda. So, Ueshiba puts in the time and in 1922, it pays off big time.

Course, for those inclined to think further, just how long did Ueshiba really study before he was considered great? Certainly not 20 years ... something to think about, no?

My thoughts anyway,
Mark
I would think given O'Sensei's history of hard physical labor that he already had a basic knowledge (not necessarily consciously) of internal strength though he might not of know it as internal strength or aiki.

David

david
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Old 09-20-2009, 07:33 PM   #10
Mike Sigman
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
If it takes a certain amount of "rewiring" from regular old jujutsu to start building aiki, how likely is it that Ueshiba learned all of his aiki from Takeda in the Ayabe period?
Mark, one of the problems in the Takeda discussion is something I run into a lot with Asians who do martial arts. The assumption is that they start at the same level as westerners, so, for example, they're totally ignorant until someone shows them how to start training, and so on. In reality, Asian martial-arts practitioners have often been exposed (at least academically) to a lot of background chatter, discussions, ki-demonstrations, and so on from a number of sources.... so they're not going into the discussion totally blind/ignorant like a lot of westerners who simply have/had no idea about the topic.

So what I'm suggesting is that it's much harder to definitively pinpoint where Ueshiba got all of his information. Besides Takeda being a source, I'll bet Ueshiba was well aware of the general topic and knew where to find other experts he might consult, and so on. If you compare that situation with the average westerner who has only become aware of the topic and general-idea of the skills in the last couple of years, it's not really an appropriate comparison to think of Ueshiba to have been "turned on to ki skills" in the same sudden way. I doubt that it was like that at all.

My 2 cents.

Mike Sigman
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Old 09-20-2009, 07:34 PM   #11
Ellis Amdur
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

John Driscoll has pretty definitely demonstrated that every one - but one - technique in Ueshiba's aikido is contained within the Daito-ryu curriculum. (The one waza is aikido koshinage - for which John makes a very plausible case that it came from Yagyu Shingan-ryu) - http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?filter[1]=John%20Driscoll&t=15096 AND http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?filter[1]=John%20Driscoll&t=14306

In the 1920's, according to Takeshita Isamu's diary, Ueshiba reportedly was doing a lot of research on how to counter judo and "Kito-ryu" - (the exact meaning of what is meant by the latter is unknown, as far as the West is known - Kito-ryu as a school was already almost extinct - I've dealt with that a little in HIPS). From then, according to his students, Ueshiba was apparently "aikifiying" everything - as Sugino quotes him, "In aiki we do it this way."
So in short, if the accounts are correct, we have:
  • Ueshiba doing martial arts - somewhat - and getting to be a really strong man
  • Meets Takeda Sokaku - learns Takeda's jujutsu and probably some aiki
  • Ayabe - r-e-a-l-l-y learns aiki and TRAINS - (remember, this is the guy practicing with his spear in the garden and stabbling so deeply in a cheery tree that they had to cut off the spear shaft and leave the spear head in the trunk of the three).
  • Continued training with Takeda on an intermittent and increasingly fraught basis for another 15 or so years - AND studies countering judo.
  • Increasing study of weapons - not enrolling in schools - auditing at best, and mostly observing - and "aikifying" it.
  • Increasingly making (his) aiki(do) his own - combining all the while with his spiritual pursuits - so, by post war, his art was his own method, with an individualized way of training for power.

Oh yeah - Mark points out that it is impressive the "little" amount of time it took for him to improve - not twenty years. Part of that is surely talent. But I think we should count in minutes of training, not years. And then, make it - minutes of REAL training.
Best
Ellis Amdur

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 09-20-2009 at 07:37 PM.

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Old 09-20-2009, 08:43 PM   #12
thisisnotreal
 
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

I would just like to say thank you to you, Ellis, for this amazing book, and for your research.
To me, one of the standouts of the entire book was this part of the history..with Takeda Sokaku at a focal point. The way you portray Takeda was startling and, to my knowledge, unique. I have not ever read such a compassionate portrayal of the man. The hardships (read; torture) he endured as a young man, and the empathetic analysis you did of his mindset and motivations. Here I am thinking of the way he simultaneously protected himself and reached out via aiki... it was poignant. It puts a great many things in a shifted perspective. It was heart-rending, not to put too fine a point on it. Not to mention the very real world you show us (the reader /me) and not the least of which are the other giants of budo, how and who they were and the connections between them.
-Also; it occurs to me that there is here now playing out a synchronicity between people in different times/motivations doing the same things. An intense sharing and teaching of aiki.
-Also; the mighty poem on p. 99; The Ageless Voyage. It is compelling and very special (to me). "Be honest as you can and the wind is likely to change in your honor as a man". Thank you for your words.

p.s. in a coupla' years....you should write the ‘How To'..not just the ‘It Exists' one...

Thank you for the book, for your research, for your time and effort.
It is very much appreciated by many, I am sure.
Sincerely,
Josh

p.s. thanks for the autograph(s) too Mr. Amdur!

Last edited by thisisnotreal : 09-20-2009 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 09-20-2009, 09:37 PM   #13
jxa127
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Hi Ellis,

I have to echo Josh: the chapter on Takeda Sokaku is heart-breaking! I can understand a father's anger and frustration toward a willful son, but in no way can I understand torturing the child! It is scary how parents shape their kids, and not all kids find solace, creativity, and (mostly positive) self-expression in martial arts like Takeda.

Beyond that, that chapter and subsequent ones paint a somewhat disturbing picture. As you say:

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
So in short, if the accounts are correct, we have:
  • Ueshiba doing martial arts - somewhat - and getting to be a really strong man
  • Meets Takeda Sokaku - learns Takeda's jujutsu and probably some aiki
  • Ayabe - r-e-a-l-l-y learns aiki and TRAINS - (remember, this is the guy practicing with his spear in the garden and stabbling so deeply in a cheery tree that they had to cut off the spear shaft and leave the spear head in the trunk of the three).
  • Continued training with Takeda on an intermittent and increasingly fraught basis for another 15 or so years - AND studies countering judo.
  • Increasing study of weapons - not enrolling in schools - auditing at best, and mostly observing - and "aikifying" it.
  • Increasingly making (his) aiki(do) his own - combining all the while with his spiritual pursuits - so, by post war, his art was his own method, with an individualized way of training for power.
If I'm understanding what I'm reading, Takeda's own training consisted of a whole bunch of solo training, learning principles of various arts, figuring stuff out on his own and testing it. He did not do much with kata-based training.

Ueshiba does essentially the same thing: learns a bunch from Tekada and others (but primarily Tekada), picks stuff up from different schools, focuses on principles, works the hell out of them on his own, and tests it.

For that matter, if the legends and William Scott Wilson's new biography of Miyamoto Musashi are to be believed, the Musashi was from the same mold (or was the template for it). He, too, had some formal training, but worked obsessively to get to the core principles of swordsmanship and ended up developing his own style.

It seems that in most cases, the skills of those who followed these men did not rise to their own skill level. As homer says in the Odyssey, "For rarely are sons similar to their fathers: most are worse, and a few are better than their fathers." And how could the followers get that good? They didn't follow the same path.

The lesson must be, then, that to be as good as Takeda or Ueshiba, one must do what they did.

The obvious follow-up to that lesson is that all the stuff done since then to formalize the aikido curriculum is rather beside the point.

Two caveats:

1) After ten years of training, I'm in something of a budo mid-life crisis -- or maybe just a budo adolescence. I worked for a long time to get pretty good, only to find out I wasn't pretty good.

2) I'm not quite done with Hidden in Plain Sight. As I write this, I'm on page 189. I'm a fast reader, with excellent reading comprehension, but this is a dense book! Every page -- hell every paragraph -- has me stopping to really think about what I just read and how it relates to my training.

Warm regards,

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-Drew Ames
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Old 09-21-2009, 01:16 AM   #14
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

One thing that does stick in my craw a little is
Quote:
2. That Daito-ryu was not taught in the kata form we see it. In fact, Sagawa states that the "numbers" of kata in the various menkyo were, more or less, because Takeda thought those were lucky numbers. Arbitrary, in other words (which would suggest that the kata were placed on the "matrix" of the numbers later - by someone(s) else, yet another of my speculations.
I am not so sure we can glibly say that something like the Hiden Mokuroku was arbitrary and fluid. From what little I know of various branches including "aiki budo" era aikido I see a remarkable consistency of technical content.

I also counter with Sagawa's statement that Takeda had an excellent memory and could pick up where he left off the next time he taught a student. Remember that there were thousands of students and he would only show up from time to time for seminars. Sagawa didn't say he would show new arbitrary stuff, the statement implies that Sagawa knew what the order was and observed Takeda picking up where he left off without repeating. You will also recall that he did the same thing at Asahi News, saying that Ueshiba has only showed you up to a point and he started teaching from that point.

Not really a big deal, but I would find any theorizing that used a lack of technical syllabus on Takeda's part as a starting point rather suspect.

-Doug Walker
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Old 09-21-2009, 03:28 AM   #15
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

The staff taught O Sensei Aikido. It's interesting to watch the 1935 film and see a hint of resistance in his technique before he realized the art. His receptivity was better afterwards. Since there's no video between the Asahi News footage and the 1950's that I'm aware of, I would assume he discovered the staff around 1940 when he was almost 60 years old at the same time he freed himself from all the martial techniques of the past. I'm sure he figured out the pragmatic martial subset of Aiki is actually quite limited and easy compared to training within the entire superset of the preformal field.

For O Sensei the staff became an instrument to work directly with the stream of creation. It was much more powerful than a mere weapon.
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Old 09-21-2009, 06:33 AM   #16
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Walker - I didn't say there wasn't a consistency of technical content. Simply that the mokuroku, in it's current form, was likely not extant at the time.
One interesting idea that I don't think anyone's done. When I started aikido, I was told it had 1000 or 2000 techniques. Which perhaps, from one calculation, might be true, but if we break it down, you end up with about 12-14 techniques, done from a lot of attacks and variations.
If one broke down Daito-ryu the same way - as BIG techniques, not small variations or with different leads in kata, albeit with one core waza, how many actual techniques would you have? The reason I think of this is in Tomei no Chikara, we read that Sagawa threw someone in a public bath with shihonage, he comments on Kimura's difficulty with kotegaeshi. And an acquaitance of mine who watched a class described an entire class of kaitennage. And aiki-age, from an external viewpoint, is aikido's kokyu-ho.
If I'm correct, it may be that the proper name for the mokuroku should be "Variations on a Theme by <Takeda/Someone> - a relatively small body of core waza.
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Old 09-21-2009, 06:53 AM   #17
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

TENYU - Some time ago, you began posting on threads I was on making off-topic pronouncements about your personal views of aikido. I really thought we were finished with that.
You are doing it again.
And given that this thread concerns one chapter of my book, it's contents and ideas that are connected to that, you are off topic. If you would like to start a thread on Osensei and weaponry, feel free. But if you want to do it in the context of HIPS, you might read the book, because it's obvious from your post that you haven't - there is a lot of information on Ueshiba and the staff in that book.
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Old 09-21-2009, 07:07 AM   #18
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Quote:
Doug Walker wrote: View Post
One thing that does stick in my craw a little is
I am not so sure we can glibly say that something like the Hiden Mokuroku was arbitrary and fluid. From what little I know of various branches including "aiki budo" era aikido I see a remarkable consistency of technical content.

I also counter with Sagawa's statement that Takeda had an excellent memory and could pick up where he left off the next time he taught a student. Remember that there were thousands of students and he would only show up from time to time for seminars. Sagawa didn't say he would show new arbitrary stuff, the statement implies that Sagawa knew what the order was and observed Takeda picking up where he left off without repeating. You will also recall that he did the same thing at Asahi News, saying that Ueshiba has only showed you up to a point and he started teaching from that point.

Not really a big deal, but I would find any theorizing that used a lack of technical syllabus on Takeda's part as a starting point rather suspect.
Hi Doug
You really need to look at the main branch, Kodokai, and Takumakai and then the Sagawa branch. They are NOT the same mokuroku, nor the same execution, nor the same emphasis.
How do you explain the sudden "appearance" of a Menkyo Kaiden where none existed before, with all the "techniques" attached to it?" Or the Soden of the Takamukai and some of their teachers going to learn the Syllabus of Tokimune? Sagawa's ten Gen?
There is a reason some of the guys sort of snuck around going to other schools to compare, and then word got around. Certain of that information has been validated by shihan in various branches, and some of it is public information so there is no where to go with that.

There all sorts of options available to believe whatever you want on certain topics. For instance; Takeda not being able to read:
  • Takeda was by all accounts almost paranoid about safety. He made quite a show of his first rule "Leave no openings."
  • He had everyone sign his registry
  • He traveled with Scrolls (written by others-not too unusual in a koryu where sometimes you wrote them yourself)
  • He stated clearly that he taught different people different things
  • If it were true that he knew what he taught to whom (who's to say Sagawa wasn't just remembering an incident or two-many "stories" our created out of a few nostalgic remembrances) maybe he had notes on it maybe not.
I find it almost ridiculous to believe that a man of his (supposed) character would leave himself "open" to a such potential threats with a flaw so easily fixed. But that's only opinion worth the price you paid to read it.

As far as being glib.
In light of the evidence of a different syllabus school to school, of dozens of statements and interviews supporting the fact that he taught different people different things -this from both Takeda himself and his students, of interviews which stated over and over that Takeda did not teach techniques, of Tokimune openly stating he re-orgainzed the mokuroku and did not posses a copy of the Menkyo kaiden, of other interviews (many) stating that Takeda did not repeat things, that the Takumakai wanted to (had to?) record things in order to just practice them (there is a whole other story right there), That certain teachers from the Kodokai have stated that not only was the Sagawa dojo "method" different, it's aiki was different, of Sagawa having more and different scrolls than others,...And all of this in light of the fact that most Koryu have established menjo they use and refer to that are not in general "fluid" but are more or less fixed.

I think it is "glib" to believe anything other that the fact that his art WAS fluid.
Cheers
Dan

Last edited by DH : 09-21-2009 at 07:18 AM.
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Old 09-21-2009, 09:17 AM   #19
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

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My next point is more along the lines of Takeda developing his jujutsu "on the fly." I have always contended that this is why the major schools of DR are all so different. Why the Syllabus lack consistency. For that reason I considered and forwarded the idea that the art is fully based on aiki with no real jujutsu syllabus.
Bold is my addition. It's a point that I just reread and thought I'd focus on. I use Ueshiba as an example because he is a good proxy for Takeda. History on Takeda is not as common as history on Ueshiba.

There are quotes from Ueshiba, Kodo, etc that their art is formless. Aiki in the hands of someone who can use it freestyle validates that.

Even looking at Ueshiba and how he changed/altered/whatever the Daito ryu syllabus, it still fits very well that he built/used his spirituality upon his Daito ryu aiki. He used aiki in whatever he chose from the Daito ryu syllabus to enhance his spiritual-ness. Formless because of aiki.

It explains why Takeda would change the name of his art at the prodding of Deguchi. Aiki is central and formless.

It would explain why Ueshiba didn't have any problems with someone calling his art, Aikido. The way of aiki. At that point in time, he was working on that avatar of the kami-thing by way of aiki spirituality. I think the way of aiki to him was his way to the way of spiritual-ness.

As Dan noted, aiki being formless also explains the vast technical curriculum across the range of Daito ryu and aikido schools. Technique doesn't matter as long as the person is aiki.

Ueshiba is quoted as saying, "Aiki? I am aiki!" Takeda could teach whatever version of whatever jujutsu technique that he wanted, and could make it work because he used aiki. Timing (another famous quote by Ueshiba about aiki not needing timing) didn't matter so much, body placement didn't matter so much, because aiki created the openings, the timing, and the body placement. (See also Peter Goldsbury's article where he went over Ueshiba and ushiro training.)
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Old 09-21-2009, 11:05 AM   #20
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Ellis, Mark
Interesting comments

I personally find the comments of his research after the Ayabe period (with Takeda) being taken up and focused with defeating Judo as almost hilarious (in a good way). He learns aiki, and in the process keeps taking it out for a spin and testing it on Judo guys
He experiments, trains with koryu and changes things even more, then he quits and goes his own way. It is so familiar to me that it is almost surreal.

The Judo experiments, methods and conclusions are not as “original” as many here were led to believe either. Interestingly, or should I say not surprisingly Ueshiba’s teacher Takeda Sokaku used Judo guys and once made a very public display of defeating a bunch of 5 and 6th dans. I covered some of my opinions in that "Judo counters" thread here on aikiweb. Suffice to say that some of the DR people (current or former) reading that thread found it interesting to read of Ueshiba’s magical “discovery” of things he was taught that are still currently taught in DR (I am not panning Ueshiba here- but rather the people who write these sorts of articles). What Ueshiba was actually stating were several rather well known DR principles that were taught to him and were taught then as now. So, getting to read them as either his “discovery” or his “research” or being asked to believe that he had to go elsewhere to discover something he was already shown is simply ridiculous. Of course someone without any understanding of DR could say “This exists over here and over there too. So therefore HE must have, or could have or needed to go over there to get it.” Yet here we all sit reading Ueshiba-a former DR teacher- reciting DR 101 and people saying “Wow what a genius.”
It may be genius all right. But at least that portion (no not all)- I will assign to the one who deserves the credit, Takeda Sokaku.

But this leads us to another point. Is it, or can it be taught today? More’s the point, is Ellis’s idea of how to become them or even surpass them valid? If so how?
Just who and what are the current people in DR doing?
Who is fighting with “aiki-in the body” instead of waza?
Who can demonstrate aiki against a myriad of MAers in open sparring?
How about with weapons; traditional or newer ones against men well versed in them?
Again, I think there is a different level of understanding to be had in going through the process and coming out the other side. One that is easily dismissed, or talked over on the web or in the written word but cannot be so easily dismissed in person.

Time and training -or time-in, in their training
Ueshiba went from cowering and crying in the corner in front of Takeda’s aiki in 1915 to the makings of a budo giant after 1922. That’s just seven years of part time work with Takeda and full time work on his own! Seven years folks!
This is stunning to focus on. We need to take it…and chew on it before swallowing, and think it through.
Let’s get off the “worship the budo giants wagon” and living in days gone by and consider what is possible. Consider what is happening today. Right now!
Consider the changes that are happening in people training this right now.
We have heard the same words from many teachers in Aikido today that are virtual echoes from the past.

“I had my eyes opened to true Budo”
“After 40 years I can’t believe I missed it.”
“I’ve never felt this level of aiki power before.”
“No one teaches this directly.”
“Grabbing you is like grabbing an iron bar”
How can you disappear and hit like a hammer at the same time?”
The point is that these comments; echoes from the early 1900’s, are happening again…today!
Now consider that many of these people are improving at a much faster rate than they ever thought possible. Consider that some of them are seeing an immediate result in their practice. Again, consistent with Takeda and Ueshiba they are stating that the aiki makes all these weird waza happen that otherwise would not, and could not, happen before. Further, that they can move much more efficiently in a free environment undeterred by their opponent. All this from training with a lesser light, a virtual nobody in aiki. Now, imagine, training for hours every day, with Takeda standing there and explaining real details of what is going on the in the body to you day after day, then offering detailed solo training with descriptions of what to do!

I am not as much concerned with Ueshiba’s progress during 1922 but in just the few years that followed. He was taught and he was a diligent student.
You may freely dismiss him a genius and all that and think you will never be able to do what he did and therefore stop trying. I don’t believe it for a minute. In fact I would have loved to have challenged him, Takeda and anyone else in the aiki arts just using…aiki. Why? I am looking past them and daring to believe. I think we need to stop looking at their skill level as unattainable and focus more on what IS possible.
As Ellis put it “How to be them”…in so many steps.
It is not going to "found" in going to the dojo and taking ukemi and going through the ranks. That's for the Budo wallpaper you use to experiment on.
Cheers
Dan

Last edited by DH : 09-21-2009 at 11:13 AM.
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Old 09-21-2009, 11:14 AM   #21
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Ellis and Dan,
I take what you are saying and understand all that, but (and I point this out gently) neither of you have much experience in DR schools.

All I can say is that when Tokimune's dojo in Hokaido released tapes showing the complete Hiden Mokuroku we were able to watch them and see one familiar technique after another; there's that one, and look there's the next one, and that one etc. etc. It must be pointed out that our two branches would have diverged prior to any creation by Tokimune of his own mokuroku. And didn't he learn most of his basics from his mother BTW. Did she just wing it as well?

Similar experience with Roppokai/Kodokai.

I am willing to think in terms of positing that "this group are the basic techniques" and there is only a general order, but I see far more building of more complex upon the more simple to dismiss a relatively consistent DR curriculum from Takeda out of hand.

It is true that DR curriculum seem to enumerate a wide variety of what would be termed henka or oya waza in a more traditional koryu. The interesting thing is that this approach tends to focus attention on the receptions which would be where the "aiki" would be applied as well as many variations (straight wrist/bent wrist, straight arm/curved arm, large movement to smaller movement, etc.) that seem to walk a practitioner through gross technical jujutsu into subtle jujutsu and beyond to what might be posited as an "aiki" jutsu performance.

That may be a longer road than necessary, but can we be sure? I don't know. Can you "aiki" someone without having internalized the grosser pathways of jujutsu waza? Maybe. It might well be a different animal though.

This is strangely analogous to the koryu I practice. A previous head did not think that modern people had a sufficient grasp of the idea of kata moving to henka and inserted a beginning section that illustrated through experience the process while installing beginning self defense skills more directly applicable to modern conditions.

I think there could very well be a method to Takeda's madness. Is it the best method? Don't know.

Maybe Takeda was a genius who could look at a student and evaluating their level give them the next piece of the puzzle. Well, in the absence of the genius himself, the best we can do is follow what has been preserved of the steps he gave others.

-Doug Walker
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Old 09-21-2009, 11:58 AM   #22
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
But this leads us to another point. Is it, or can it be taught today? More's the point, is Ellis's idea of how to become them or even surpass them valid? If so how?

Just who and what are the current people in DR doing?

Who is fighting with "aiki-in the body" instead of waza?

Who can demonstrate aiki against a myriad of MAers in open sparring?

How about with weapons; traditional or newer ones against men well versed in them?

Again, I think there is a different level of understanding to be had in going through the process and coming out the other side. One that is easily dismissed, or talked over on the web or in the written word but cannot be so easily dismissed in person.

Time and training -or time-in, in their training
Ueshiba went from cowering and crying in the corner in front of Takeda's aiki in 1915 to the makings of a budo giant after 1922. That's just seven years of part time work with Takeda and full time work on his own! Seven years folks!
This is stunning to focus on. We need to take it…and chew on it before swallowing, and think it through.
Let's get off the "worship the budo giants wagon" and living in days gone by and consider what is possible. Consider what is happening today. Right now!
Consider the changes that are happening in people training this right now.
We have heard the same words from many teachers in Aikido today that are virtual echoes from the past.
---snip---

You may freely dismiss him a genius and all that and think you will never be able to do what he did and therefore stop trying. I don't believe it for a minute. In fact I would have loved to have challenged him, Takeda and anyone else in the aiki arts just using…aiki. Why? I am looking past them and daring to believe. I think we need to stop looking at their skill level as unattainable and focus more on what IS possible.
As Ellis put it "How to be them"…in so many steps.
It is not going to be "found" in going to the dojo and taking ukemi and going through the ranks. That's for the Budo wallpaper you use to experiment on.
Cheers
Dan
Okay.

Serious question: are "aiki" (those skills that Takeda and Ueshiba demonstrated) and what we commonly think of as "aikido" (a curriculum of techniques embodying certain principles) mutually exclusive?

Regards,

-Drew

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Old 09-21-2009, 12:29 PM   #23
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
TENYU - Some time ago, you began posting on threads I was on making off-topic pronouncements about your personal views of aikido. I really thought we were finished with that.
You are doing it again.
And given that this thread concerns one chapter of my book, it's contents and ideas that are connected to that, you are off topic. If you would like to start a thread on Osensei and weaponry, feel free. But if you want to do it in the context of HIPS, you might read the book, because it's obvious from your post that you haven't - there is a lot of information on Ueshiba and the staff in that book.
Ellis Amdur
Others have mentioned throughout the thread that Takeda taught O Sensei Aiki, I simply pointed out it wasn't true. He taught him a high level of martial power, but that can easily be achieved without one of Aiki's primary principles of non-resistance. O Sensei went well beyond the limits of Takeda and DR.

The videos of O Sensei preserve a good amount of his staff work, which anyone can see. Does your book describe the details and forms of his staff art as well?
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Old 09-21-2009, 12:59 PM   #24
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Quote:
Others have mentioned throughout the thread that Takeda taught O Sensei Aiki, I simply pointed out it wasn't true. He taught him a high level of martial power, but that can easily be achieved without one of Aiki's primary principles of non-resistance. O Sensei went well beyond the limits of Takeda and DR.

The videos of O Sensei preserve a good amount of his staff work, which anyone can see. Does your book describe the details and forms of his staff art as well?
Sigh - What evidence do you base your assertions on Takeda and Ueshiba? What basis is your claim that the"principal of non-resistance" is not part of Daito-ryu? What basis is your claim that Takeda's "high level of martial power" can easily be achieved? On what basis is your claim that Ueshiba went "well beyond the limits of Takeda and DR," except, possibly, in the moral (doctrinal) sense.
And on that last point, not to discomfit your sanctimonious perspective again, but in a PM sometime ago, I wrote to you about a number of Ueshiba's well-known moral failings, as well as another "spiritual" teacher whom you admire, who was an utter lecherous swine, and neither Ueshiba's failings nor the different failings of this other teacher are actions that we have any evidence whatsoever of Takeda doing.

Finally, in regards to your question about what is in my book regarding staffwork, you've got a lot of brass to come onto a thread ABOUT a book, and demand of the author that, because you haven't read it, he should sum it up to you.
Ellis Amdur

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Old 09-21-2009, 01:25 PM   #25
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Quote:
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Ellis and Dan,
I take what you are saying and understand all that, but (and I point this out gently) neither of you have much experience in DR schools.

All I can say is that when Tokimune's dojo in Hokaido released tapes showing the complete Hiden Mokuroku we were able to watch them and see one familiar technique after another; there's that one, and look there's the next one, and that one etc. etc. It must be pointed out that our two branches would have diverged prior to any creation by Tokimune of his own mokuroku. And didn't he learn most of his basics from his mother BTW. Did she just wing it as well?

Similar experience with Roppokai/Kodokai.
Hi Doug
Hope all is well. I'm going to disagree abit with you but in the same respectfull manner you used. It's cool.
I sat and watched the same video series along with other private in-house footage of Tokimune and others with a Shihan and teachers who have trained in multiple branches as well. Then went on to experience other views with other teachers in yet another branch of the art. Many years later I found their opinions and mine- do not match yours.

Quote:
It is true that DR curriculum seem to enumerate a wide variety of what would be termed henka or oya waza in a more traditional koryu. The interesting thing is that this approach tends to focus attention on the receptions which would be where the "aiki" would be applied as well as many variations (straight wrist/bent wrist, straight arm/curved arm, large movement to smaller movement, etc.) that seem to walk a practitioner through gross technical jujutsu into subtle jujutsu and beyond to what might be posited as an "aiki" jutsu performance.

That may be a longer road than necessary, but can we be sure? I don't know. Can you "aiki" someone without having internalized the grosser pathways of jujutsu waza? Maybe. It might well be a different animal though.
Thes are the same arguement points that have been spinning for decades between the branches. I am unconcerned with the debate over jujutsu, aiki-jujutsu and aiki-no-jutsu, for the simple reason that I am distinctly and pointedly "unimpressed" with the abilities of both it's staunchest advocates and feircest detractors. I am no more interested in over extended Frankenstein like jujutsu than I am with fluffy aiki.
I think people in the art would do well to focus on being able to produce something that is actual and combatively real. Something that is abso-freaking-lutley stunning and unstoppable against fighters instead of just talking a good game in their own dojos. In the process of which they might find they actually have something worth listening to. (I'm not aiming that your way Doug. Just to the general debate of jujutsu V aiki.

As far as applying DR aiki in free style and then having it being considered something "other" than DR aiki by the peanut gallery? I have heard all this stuff before from several angles. I am past the point of caring, other than to continually prove that DR aiki always did work and still works in any venue. Even in the face of certain teachers of other Koryu and in DR itself stating that aiki is about "fine motor skills and will fail in an ardenaline dump."

Quote:
I think there could very well be a method to Takeda's madness. Is it the best method? Don't know.

Maybe Takeda was a genius who could look at a student and evaluating their level give them the next piece of the puzzle. Well, in the absence of the genius himself, the best we can do is follow what has been preserved of the steps he gave others.
The best WE can do?
I am sure you are not alone in calling Takeda's method- madness and therefore are willingly to follow in the footsteps of the modern teachers for the rest of your career as the "best "you" can do."
It sure as hell is NOT the best "I" can do.
Come to think of it-just look at the Frankenstein jujutsu V the aikifluff. In and of itself it makes the case of the diverse syllabus from school to school.

Good luck in your training.
Cheers
Dan

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