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Old 12-28-2009, 03:53 PM   #51
Keith Larman
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Quote:
Charles Hill wrote: View Post
Hi Keith,

I have read much of what is available. I have also trained with/ listened to a number of individuals connect. Also, I have visited many of the places connected to his life.

I think that at some point, we have to dissect and analyze what we have learned and that feedback from others is the next step. So with that, what kinds of BS and "what one wants to believe" have you heard? And why do you consider them so?
My answer to your question would be to point to a very recent thread. It started with a rather strong assertion that O-sensei was a Shinto (tao) priest. And my justification for saying this is not that I have any sort of personal knowledge but that those who do and who are authoritative have said otherwise. Also, that minor in asian religions was screaming in the back of my head through some of the discussion (ouch, what a tortured twisting of meaning/words).

Ultimately the only point I was trying to make was that the dissection and exploration of history should be left to the historians because the rest of us tend to do a piss poor job of it. We tend to get caught in expressions like "if it walks like a duck" when we in fact may have precious little experience with all the various water fowl that may in fact walk just like a duck... But aren't ducks.

In other words... Most of us aren't the ones who should be trying to to dispel myths because most of us really have no way of evaluating the truth value of what we think we know. But there is an "academic" record of sort forming through the work of people like Pranin, Dr. Goldsbury, et al. Maybe with your experience you could do this. And I would encourage it. But most of us (myself included) really shouldn't be speculating much because we just don't have the foundation. So I turn to people like Dr. Goldsbury, Stan Pranin, et al with deep appreciation for what they have done.

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Old 12-28-2009, 04:36 PM   #52
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

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Charles Hill wrote: View Post
To do something different, I started this thread with a simple idea. Let's take things we have heard and discuss HOW we accept them or reject them.
What if we do neither? That's what I've been trying to get at. What if we don't feel the need to resolve these "things" as true or not true?

I'm not trying to derail the discussion that you're trying to have, Charles...but I am trying to point out that we're not compelled to have an opinion either way. All the questions about O-Sensei's life, what he did, what he said, what he meant by what he said -- there's nothing that says that we, as aikido students, have to thrash out all these questions and come to our own personal set of conclusions about them. Or do you feel that students of aikido do have to answer these questions for themselves?

I have a reason why I prefer not to go there. It's found in the old children's game of Telephone: put a bunch of kids in a circle, one whispers a message to the next who whispers it to the next and so on, until the last one says aloud what they heard...which is invariably radically different from what the first kid said (or thought she said). No matter how carefully you try to repeat information, distortion creeps in -- particularly when there can be a gap between what the first person says, what she thinks she says, what the first listener hears, and what he thinks he hears. And then there's the matter of whether the first listener understands what he thinks he hears. Another example is found in one of my favorite novels, Raising the Stones by Sheri Tepper, about a religion founded by a prophet (who was actually not trying to found a religion at all, but that's another story) who said some very common-sense things like, "No matter how well-intentioned people may be, do not let them mess with your heads." Several generations later, this has developed into a complete ban on any form of counseling, acknowledging the existence of a mental illness, calling the act of teaching "teaching", or even the cutting of one's hair -- because all of these things involve messing with the head, and didn't the prophet say not to allow that?

This is how distortion creeps in, and it happens all the time -- particularly when the original sources are anecdotal. I think it's fine to learn some things about O-Sensei's life, but I'd apply a big grain of salt and not place too much importance on any of it. That latter, I know, will place me at odds with many aikido students, to whom doing things in the spirit O-Sensei intended is of paramount importance. I don't take exception to their goal...but I question whether it is achievable, and personally I don't find it even slightly desirable when taken to such extremes. That's how you end up turning "do not let them mess with your heads" into a prohibition on ever cutting your hair.
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Old 12-28-2009, 04:56 PM   #53
Janet Rosen
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Ultimately the only point I was trying to make was that the dissection and exploration of history should be left to the historians because the rest of us tend to do a piss poor job of it. We tend to get caught in expressions like "if it walks like a duck" when we in fact may have precious little experience with all the various water fowl that may in fact walk just like a duck... But aren't ducks.
Pretty much how I feel, along w/ agreeing w/ Mary that it doesn't really have a practical affect +/- on my training either way...

I guess what I dislike in ANY area are what I consider silly myths ("don't let your belt touch the ground" or "your white belt will turn black with age and dirt") and baseless distortions ("we wear hakama to hide the movement of the feet" - stated to me yrs ago by a 4th dan who should have known better) and "because its tradition" bad ideas (like poor warm up practices).

So I'll continue to question them and let the folks who really know the stuff provide the answers.

Janet Rosen
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Old 12-28-2009, 07:20 PM   #54
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

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Hi Maggie,

What do you base this on? In my reading of his life, I am struck by how utterly self-centered he often was. The distinct impression is that he never really "taught" other than by example.
I know what you are talking about. When asked how a technique was done, he'd just throw the person asking the question. However, I recall his son's explanation that taking the ukemi was the only way to learn. He didn't think you could teach form per say structurally, rather Aikido was a living thing that altered according the the individual attack.
I don't think teaching by example is a sign of an ego. There is many that believe it is the best way in which to learn.

MM
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Old 12-28-2009, 07:22 PM   #55
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

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Maggie,

Take a look at "Dueling with O Sensei" by Ellis Amdur. Ueshiba O Sensei was, at least to me, a very complex character who demonstrated some noble traits as well as demonstrating some ignoble traits. He was a brilliant martial artist who could do some amazing things, but he was, in the end, just a man and perhaps had feet of clay.

We look at him today from the lens of our western heritage and sometimes forget that he and the others of his time were the product of their culture. I personally question that he was some selfless man of integrity and unquestioned virtue. I'm not sure that the concepts of integrity and virtue were defined in pre-war Japan in any way I can understand today. I doubt that we will ever know as the myths and truths have become terribly enmeshed into some amalgam of oral history. Then again, maybe I'm full of crap.
Of course, he was human.
I recall stories expressing his great acts of charity. I also recall stories of him ruthlessly screaming at his wife unjustly because he was uneasy .
He was an obsessive compulsive man. That trait led to both extremes.
The humanity is striking. However, his professed intention is also striking.

Humans can be remarkable, and flawed.

Last edited by RED : 12-28-2009 at 07:28 PM.

MM
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Old 12-28-2009, 08:13 PM   #56
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

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Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
Humans can be remarkable, and flawed.
Quote:
Mary wrote:
What if we don't feel the need to resolve these "things" as true or not true?
Well said.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 12-28-2009, 09:49 PM   #57
Shannon Frye
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Why do some people feel the overwhelming need to post on a topic (being discussed), and have only criticism that the questions were raised in the first place. If it don't interest you - go to the next topic! I really don't get some people.

(Oh yeah - IMHO, lol, and "just my 2cents")

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Old 12-28-2009, 09:58 PM   #58
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

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Shannon Frye wrote: View Post
Why do some people feel the overwhelming need to post on a topic (being discussed), and have only criticism that the questions were raised in the first place. If it don't interest you - go to the next topic! I really don't get some people.

(Oh yeah - IMHO, lol, and "just my 2cents")
What specifically are you referring to? I don't think I've seen criticism of the topic. Admittedly I'm often a bit thick though...and a bit sporadic in how I read these things.

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Old 12-28-2009, 10:28 PM   #59
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

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Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
What specifically are you referring to? I don't think I've seen criticism of the topic. Admittedly I'm often a bit thick though...and a bit sporadic in how I read these things.
Ok I think I see what you might be talking about, Shannon, but I think some good points were made.
W/ regards to the original post I think it makes sense to suggest we're not likely going to be able to create a more in depth review than the folks who have already reviewed most of the material and written books on it...that's not to say we can't discuss it.
I like the idea later brought up that we discuss how we apply ("accept" or "reject") these various stories as well as Mary's point that we might not need to do either.

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Old 12-29-2009, 10:24 AM   #60
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Hi Charles. I appreciate your original post.
A story comes to mind about how O'Sensei in his later years was very weak, frail, and was walking with the assistance of young students but upon seeing a pretty woman he suddenly straightened up, discarded his attendants, and engaged the woman in conversation.
I find this a far more plausible example of mind over matter, than stories of him dodging bullets and disappearing.
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Old 12-29-2009, 02:02 PM   #61
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

pretty plausible motivation as well....
Best,
Ron (fan of pretty young women everywhere!)

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Old 12-29-2009, 02:24 PM   #62
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

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Asim Hanif wrote: View Post
... A story comes to mind about how O'Sensei in his later years was very weak, frail, and was walking with the assistance of young students but upon seeing a pretty woman he suddenly straightened up, discarded his attendants, and engaged the woman in conversation.
I find this a far more plausible example of mind over matter, than stories of him dodging bullets and disappearing.
I agree.

Chuck Clark
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Old 12-30-2009, 10:27 AM   #63
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Ai symbol Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

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Asim Hanif wrote: View Post
Hi Charles. I appreciate your original post.
A story comes to mind about how O'Sensei in his later years was very weak, frail, and was walking with the assistance of young students but upon seeing a pretty woman he suddenly straightened up, discarded his attendants, and engaged the woman in conversation.
I find this a far more plausible example of mind over matter, than stories of him dodging bullets and disappearing.
The most plausible explanation that I have heard of the "bullet dodging" ability is that the weapons used were flint/musket single shot sort of rifle. If the stories ultimately serve to in some way inspire some Aikidoka to examine the unlimited possibilities of Aikido so much the better.

Perhaps urban legends have their place and serve a bigger purpose. Religious references do this all the time. I call it the Paul Bunyan Effect. I immediately thought of the idea in the movie Batman Begins where Bruce Wayne wanted to symbolize something more than a man-an ideal that can't be killed.These myths-especially early on in the arts history, didn't hurt the arts ability to spread. There is something to be said for something that can't be easily categorized, referenced dissected, or settled.
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Old 12-30-2009, 12:11 PM   #64
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

Could also be he just got lucky, or perhaps they were simply terrible shots. Different people have different levels of perceptive accuity. Perhaps that particular group was low enough that O Sensei felt confident enough to try it. I recently heard on NPR about a study which suggested as many as 1/3 of Americans have slower processing speed relating to real-time sensory input (it was used to explain poor drivers). Maybe this group fit that category, minus being American of course. Then again, perhaps those young lads thought to themselves, "let's not shoot the man, he might know some of our bosses."
Again, the truth of the matter is almost entirely irrelevant in my opinion. The moral of the story as I see it is you gotta know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em...and you have to be able to recognize the difference in two otherwise similar situations.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 12-30-2009, 01:41 PM   #65
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

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Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
I recently heard on NPR about a study which suggested as many as 1/3 of Americans have slower processing speed relating to real-time sensory input (it was used to explain poor drivers).
Slower than what?
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Old 12-30-2009, 03:39 PM   #66
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Slower than what?
Slower than the remaining 2/3.
I.e. a third of folks can't or don't process input quite as quickly as the rest. I have no idea about the study apart from the blurb I heard on the radio.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 12-30-2009 at 03:41 PM.

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Old 12-30-2009, 07:16 PM   #67
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

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Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
Slower than the remaining 2/3.
I.e. a third of folks can't or don't process input quite as quickly as the rest. I have no idea about the study apart from the blurb I heard on the radio.
Would this not be true for any study with any result, i.e., that 1/3 of the participants' results were slower (or whatever) than the other 2/3? Say, for example, that you take 99 people and have them run a 100 meter dash. 33 of them will have times slower than the other 66 -- I can guarantee it right now. In fact, they can all skip the 100 and go to the bar
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Old 12-30-2009, 07:43 PM   #68
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Would this not be true for any study with any result, i.e., that 1/3 of the participants' results were slower (or whatever) than the other 2/3? Say, for example, that you take 99 people and have them run a 100 meter dash. 33 of them will have times slower than the other 66 -- I can guarantee it right now. In fact, they can all skip the 100 and go to the bar
lol!
Sure, but the implication is that we're not dealing with an even gradient. I took it to mean 33 and 1/3 people out of 100 didn't attain the same rate of processing that the remaining 66 and 2/3 did: Let's say that majority processes at an average rate of 1 (arbitrary number for the sake of argument), the remaining third might process at approximately .5318008.

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Old 12-30-2009, 07:48 PM   #69
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

If you guys are going to argue statistics, I'M LEAVING!


B,
R

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Old 12-30-2009, 07:58 PM   #70
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

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Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
If you guys are going to argue statistics, I'M LEAVING!


B,
R
Statistically speaking, statistics are an unpopular aspect in thread adherance trends by a factor of...um...
...darn! I got nothin'.
Happy New Year, Ron!

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Old 12-31-2009, 02:44 AM   #71
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Re: Fact or Fiction (of Morihei Ueshiba's Life)

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Jason Rudolph wrote: View Post
The most plausible explanation that I have heard of the "bullet dodging" ability is that the weapons used were flint/musket single shot sort of rifle. If the stories ultimately serve to in some way inspire some Aikidoka to examine the unlimited possibilities of Aikido so much the better.

Perhaps urban legends have their place and serve a bigger purpose. Religious references do this all the time. I call it the Paul Bunyan Effect. I immediately thought of the idea in the movie Batman Begins where Bruce Wayne wanted to symbolize something more than a man-an ideal that can't be killed.These myths-especially early on in the arts history, didn't hurt the arts ability to spread. There is something to be said for something that can't be easily categorized, referenced dissected, or settled.
In Shioda Kancho's account, he clearly states that six revolvers were used.
I was able to find the relevant excerpt from "Aikido Shugyo" on a website. The URL is: http://www.aikidofaq.com/history/story.html
I will quote it here so that everyone can read the translation of Shioda Kancho's account:
Quote:
Gozo Shioda wrote:
(From Aikido Shugyo - Gozo Shioda's Autobiography)

Avoiding the concentrated fire of revolvers

Talking about weird things, let me talk about an extremely strange event. This is also something I actually witnessed with my own eyes.

One time an official from the munitions department of the army, together with 9 military personnel, came to visit the Ueshiba Dojo. They came to watch the wonderful art of Aikido that they had heard about. These people were arms inspectors. They tested new weapons and judged whether the sights were accurate or not. Their shooting ability was Olympic level, and I noticed that they hit the target every time.

Ueshiba Sensei, who had done a demonstration before these people that day, had claimed "Bullets cannot reach me." I had, of course, previously heard that when he was in Mongolia he had avoided the bullets of horse-mounted brigands, but this was quite dif ferent.

The inspectors' pride was hurt and they were quite angry.

"You're sure that the bullets won't touch you?", they asked.
"Oh, no, they won't."
"Then would you like to try?"
"Sure."

They took him at his word and promptly arranged the date that they were to meet at the Okubo Army Shooting Center. Before the date, they made Ueshiba Sensei write officially that he had agreed to become a living target for the army officers and got him t o place his fingerprint on the document. As a further precaution and verification, they took the document to the army court. Therefore, even if Sensei was shot and killed, nobody could lodge a complaint.

the appointed day arrived, and a military car came to pick Sensei up to take him to the shooting area in Okubo. Mr. Yukawa and myself accompanied him. Naturally, Sensei's wife was very anxious and beseeched him to change his mind. but Sensei kept replyin g light-heatedly, "It's all right., they will never hit their target."

Mr. Yukawa and myself were also very concerned; to the point where we were wondering if it wouldn't be wise to make funeral preparations. When we reached the shooting area, another surprise was waiting for us. I was expecting only one gun to be aimed at Sensei, but we discovered that six men would be firing pistols at him. The best range for pistols was 25 meters and, normally, a target in the shape of a human is placed at this distance. This time, however, Ueshiba Sensei was standing there in place of the doll. The six men then positioned themselves, aiming at Ueshiba Sensei. While staring at him, I kept thinking helplessly that twenty-five meters is a considerable distance, and was wondering what on earth Sensei could do from there.

One, two, three. The six revolvers fired at the same time and a cloud of dust whirled around us. Then, suddenly, one of the six marksmen was flying through the air! What had happened? Before we could figure it out, Sensei was standing behind the six men, laughing into his beard.

We all were bewildered. I really and truly could not understand what had happened. Not just me, but everyone present was so stunned that we could not find words to express our shock. The six inspectors were not yet convinced and asked if Sensei could do it again. "All right" he answered indifferently.

Once again, the six barrels were aimed at Ueshiba Sensei and were fired. This time the inspector at the edge of the group flew into the air. In exactly the same way as before, Ueshiba Sensei was standing behind the six inspectors before we knew what was happening. I was dumbfounded. That time I had promised myself to watch carefully in order to see exactly what Sensei was doing. But even though I had tried very hard, I was completely unable to see how he had moved.

Facing Ueshiba Sensei were the barrels of the six revolvers which had been fired. This far I could remember clearly, but the next stage, where Sensei had moved the distance of 25 meters and thrown one of the six marksmen, I simply could not understand. I couldn't find any explanation for other than "God techniques."
Flying golden balls
On our way back I asked, "Sensei, how could you do such a thing?", and I received the following answer.

Before the explosion, as the trigger is pulled, a flash like a golden ball flies off. The actual bullet of the revolver comes later, therefore it is easy to avoid.

In this case, even though the six men intend to shoot at the same time, they are never exactly together. Because they shoot at slightly different times, I just have to go to the one who is going to fire first. "The golden flash has a spectacular noise," said Sensei. According to him, after the noise he would begin to run. He ran in the shape of a ninja with his back bent, taking short slow steps. The real bullet would come after he had already leapt forward about half the distance. Sensei said that the time between the flash of gold and the bullet was quite long, but for us watching, everything happened so quickly that we had no idea that he was trying to get close enough to throw the first man that had fired.

"God has said that I am necessary for this world and has decided to let me live. My period of purification is not over so I cannot die. When I am not necessary for this world anymore the gods will let me pass away." Sensei seemed to be convinced, but of course we couldn't understand what he meant.

I know that you readers will have difficulty believing in stories like this, but these kind of strange things really did happen.
Challenge with a master hunter
There is another story that relates to the previous one.

One of my acquaintances, Mr. Sadajiro Sato, was a hunter from Yamanashi Prefecture. He was known as a master of gun hunting. For example, hunters usually aim at and shoot pheasants when they are descending to the ground. At this moment it is said that th eir flying speed is around 200 kilometers per hour. If the pheasant is shot in the head it will drop straight to the ground, but if the bullet hits the body it will fall a long way away. Accordingly, hunters would try to aim for the head, which is not an easy target to hit. The point is the Mr. Sato would hit the head every time he shot--he was the master of masters.

One day I told Mr. Sato the story of Ueshiba Sensei avoiding the six revolvers. "Even if he did that I am sure he won't be able to avoid mine," said Mr. Sato confidently. "A human head is much bigger than that of the birds that I am used to shooting. I c annot imagine missing that." Having said that, Mr. Sato came down out of the mountains to challenge Ueshiba Sensei. I accompanied him to the Ueshiba dojo land told Sensei that Mr. Sato wished to challenge him. Sensei accepted the proposal.

I watched carefully, and a bit anxiously, as Sensei sat down in seiza at the far end of the dojo while Mr. Sato took distance and aimed. And then just as he was on the verge of pulling the trigger, Sensei dropped his head in recognition and said, "Wait! Your bullet will hit me! Your thoughts are undistorted, and clearly you want to hit me. From the beginning you've known that you are going to hit your target. I cannot avoid the gun of such a man, you are a true master!"

Mr. Sato returned happily to his mountains.

I was deeply impressed. Mr. Sato was a gun master, and Ueshiba Sensei recognized that and withdrew. It was proof that a master can recognize another master. I was very fortunate to have been able to see two precious masters challenging each other.
Interestingly, Shioda Kancho says that a document was drawn up, fingerprinted by Ueshiba Kaiso, and taken to the "army court". Does the document still exist? Or was it destroyed in the firebombing of Tokyo during the Second World War?

Inocencio Maramba, MD, MSc
Dangayan Singkaw Aikido Shinzui
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