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Old 06-15-2010, 12:33 PM
Peter A Goldsbury AikiWeb Forums Contributing Member
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Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

INTERLUDE:
VII:Hidden in Plain Sight:
Tracing the Roots of Ueshiba Morihei's Power
By Ellis Amdur

A Review Essay:
Part 3: Takeda Sokaku, Ueshiba Morihei and Their Students

(NOTE:...
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Last edited by akiy : 06-16-2010 at 12:06 PM.
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Old 06-26-2010, 10:09 PM   #50
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

Moving away from sakura, I am curious to know whether anyone else has seen The Heart of Aikido, the new translation of parts of Takemusu Aiki by John Stevens.

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Old 06-26-2010, 11:32 PM   #51
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Moving away from sakura, I am curious to know whether anyone else has seen The Heart of Aikido, the new translation of parts of Takemusu Aiki by John Stevens.
Reading it now...
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Old 06-27-2010, 12:28 AM   #52
Janet Rosen
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

A belated thank you for this immense contribution to aikiweb. Way too much to read online - for the first time since Jun made them available as pdfs I've actually had to print out a column in order to sit down and read it like a book.....

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Old 06-27-2010, 04:42 AM   #53
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Oisin,

Have you ever discussed these issues with Iida Sensei?

The only direct connection to the Silence Principle of which I am aware is how Mutsuru Nakazono deals with the myths supposedly recorded in the Takeuchi Documents. I am thinking of Nakazono Sensei's revelations about the Kotodama Principle, discussed in my TIE columns on kotodama. (Actually, of all the TIE columns that have to be revised in preparation for a future book, the kotodama columns are the ones most in need of revision and expansion. There is so much more that needs to be said and this also includes putting O Sensei's discourses in a better context.)

According to Nakazono, the pristine civilization captured in the phrase 'Sumera Mikoto' somehow entered into a conspiracy of silence, in order to hide all traces of their civilization and to allow only 'chosen' individuals, like Nakazono (and for reasons even more unknown) to catch a glimpse--by way of utterly arcane interpretations of a set of scrolls generally thought by some academic to be forgeries.

There is an added twist. Neal Stephenson in his novel Snow Crash refers to Sumera Mikoto and suggests that this refers to the ancient Sumerian culture, in which,he believes, a sort of proto-language was spoken, rather like the ancient, pure, Japanese spoken by the original Yamato race, whose existence was argued for by kokugaku scholars like Kamo no Mabuchi.

There is a very interesting treatment of the Takeuchi documents by Kosaka Wado. He has not, unfortunately, been translated into English.

Best,

PAG
I did ask him about this but he went silent

The "SP" as treated in in the Barber's book differs from Japanese approaches to "silence" in that it's not a "silence of secrecy". Rather, when important,complex information is transmitted orally, a type of "shorthand develops so that only the most vital information is expressed. This is in order to help memorization.

So for example, When Ulysses and his men flee from Polyphemus the Cyclops (a one eyed giant) who flings rocks after them , the fact that the story refers to a volcanic eruption is never explicitly mentioned in the story, as it is assumed that everyone listening to this story will know what is meant by the terms.

Anyway, I brought this to attention in the hope that someone with more intellectual rigour than myself might be able to analyse the points made with regard to the "transmission" of the Aiki arts (How's that for Sakura?). It's another angle, basically.

Anyway, I'll leave it at that for the moment!

Best Regards
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Old 06-27-2010, 07:41 AM   #54
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

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Oisin Bourke wrote: View Post
So for example, When Ulysses and his men flee from Polyphemus the Cyclops (a one eyed giant) who flings rocks after them, the fact that the story refers to a volcanic eruption is never explicitly mentioned in the story, as it is assumed that everyone listening to this story will know what is meant by the terms.
Hello Oisin,

Well, we are planning a trip to the Shirataki village in Hokkaido, where Morihei Ueshiba first met Sokaku Takeda. We will pass through Sapporo on the way ...

Presumably, the memorization is for the sake of the kataribe telling the stories and not for those hearing them. For the details of the stories will change according to the nature of the audience.

The major problem with Barber's book is that the authors are writing from a privileged position. Those who do not know the 'longhand' will not be in a position to check how the shorthand developed and so will not be in a position to interpret the shorthand. So I am less certain than you that everyone listening will know the 'cultural substructure' of the story. They will probably know it as a myth.

For example, you might argue from the Noah myths in the Bible that the story is a shorthand form of a real flood and that those who heard the stories of the ark will remember the stories about the flood. There is archeological evidence that there was actually a real flood, but the actual connection with this flood and the Noah myths in the Bible is much harder to define.

Similarly with the Tower of Babel myth. Babel is plausibly based on Babylon and the Tower on the ziggurats built there. But the story recounted in Genesis is less easily assimilated to a real story, with which everyone would be familiar. In the case of the Babel myth, there is no guidance forthcoming from the contemporary myths from other cultures. The Babel story seems exclusive to the Bible and the unhappy relations between Babylon and those for whom the story was recounted.

The Amaterasu / Susano-o myths in the Kojiki / Nihon Shoki are another illustration. The Susano-o myths are thought to come from Izumo, but they have been fused together by the writer of the Kojiki into one smooth narrative, according to which Susano-o is 'redeemed' by slaying the 8-tailed dragon and presenting the kusanagi sword to Amaterasu. If this myth is a 'shorthand' story of something that would have been known to the pre-literate hearers, it is not clear what this would be and this calls into question the utility of the SP device--as an explanatory device.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 06-27-2010, 08:20 AM   #55
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

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Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
A belated thank you for this immense contribution to aikiweb. Way too much to read online - for the first time since Jun made them available as pdfs I've actually had to print out a column in order to sit down and read it like a book.....
Hello Janet,

I always download Jun's PDF files of my own columns. I write them in Word, and then check and doubler check, but I always send to Jun a catalogue of typos, mistakes etc. The PDF files are another check for errors and typos.

But this is about style. I am always hoping for criticism about the content...

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 06-27-2010, 12:46 PM   #56
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Moving away from sakura, I am curious to know whether anyone else has seen The Heart of Aikido, the new translation of parts of Takemusu Aiki by John Stevens.
In a complete marketing fail, I didn't know it was different from "The Secret Teachings of Aikido" until it came up here. Discerning the difference between new material and repackaging can be difficult in this day and age.

-Doug Walker
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Old 06-27-2010, 04:58 PM   #57
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

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But this is about style. I am always hoping for criticism about the content.
PAG
Ah...I don't feel qualified to render a critical judgment; my comment was an expression of deep appreciation for the content.

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-28-2010, 02:10 AM   #58
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

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Ah...I don't feel qualified to render a critical judgment; my comment was an expression of deep appreciation for the content.
Hello Janet,

Thank you for the comments. I was not thinking of you in particular, but of AikiWeb in general, as a resource-rich site, frequented by people who have long experience in various types of training and reflection on this training. I remember that the late Ubaldo Alcantara used to worry that contributions of an overtly academic sort were frowned upon on certain websites, on the grounds that the latter were not a good place for such material. I disagree and so the TIE columns will continue. I am obliged to Jun for meeting the demands made on his time, with formatting etc.

Best wishes,

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Old 06-28-2010, 08:03 AM   #59
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Janet,

Thank you for the comments. I was not thinking of you in particular, but of AikiWeb in general, as a resource-rich site, frequented by people who have long experience in various types of training and reflection on this training. I remember that the late Ubaldo Alcantara used to worry that contributions of an overtly academic sort were frowned upon on certain websites, on the grounds that the latter were not a good place for such material. I disagree and so the TIE columns will continue. I am obliged to Jun for meeting the demands made on his time, with formatting etc.

Best wishes,
Hello Peter,

I think your academic research is very valuable. You were able to put many of O sensei ideas in the right cultural and social context. It certainly changes and refines some of our understanding about what Founder created.

However there is some danger of such approach. As example I can give: your criticism of close connection Budo, and particularly aikido with agriculture. From theoretical point of view it may seems right, but from my experience, and I mean real life experience, you are not right.

We moved few years ago to the country side. I’m not a farmer, still working in my job, but we have some land and started do develop a 30 000 sq feet garden with a lot of big trees. Consciously we are trying to avoid the use of big mechanical tools. It is not always possible – example: some delivery must be done with trucks. But most of heavy work we are doing by hands.

After 3 years of this experience, I must admit that not only my body changed, also my techniques, approach to aikido and general understanding of Founder’s ideas. Presently I think ppl who are not sullying their hands with soil regularly, who never physically struggle with Nature, they can’t understand Founder. Only deep connection to Mother Earth can help here. Talking about The Elements (like fire, water…) and having physical every day contact with such elements are two completely different things. I could write a long essay about it, but it is useless unless somebody touch a soil.

Nagababa

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Old 06-28-2010, 09:01 AM   #60
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

I've said it before and I'll say it again . . Everyone at some point in their lives should do the following:

1) Work long hours outdoors (i.e. on a farm)
2) Participate in some sort of performance art (dance, choir, theater)
3) Compete in a combat sport (Judo, wrestling, fencing, etc.)

All 3 will greatly inform any martial art you "do" . .
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Old 06-29-2010, 07:43 AM   #61
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

Hello Szczepan,

I suppose it depends what you mean by 'real life experience'.

I was born and brought up in the country and spent much time in my childhood and youth helping parents and grandparents to look after their extensive fruit and vegetable gardens. Like you, we avoided mechanical aids and the gardens supplied virtually all our fruit and vegetables. There was food rationing just after the war, and so such gardens were vital for the food supply. (Even now, my family in the UK live in the country, breed horses and run a large farm.)

But there was no hint of romanticism about the close relation with Mother Nature. Though he was a lot older than me, I suspect that Kisshomaru had a similar experience in Iwama, probably more acute, since Japan's economic situation was much worse than the UK's.

So it might be that O Sensei really believed that aikido was close to farming. But he was using a trope, which was based on a much more romantic view of the relationship.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 06-29-2010, 07:48 AM   #62
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

Quote:
I've said it before and I'll say it again . . Everyone at some point in their lives should do the following:

1) Work long hours outdoors (i.e. on a farm)
2) Participate in some sort of performance art (dance, choir, theater)
3) Compete in a combat sport (Judo, wrestling, fencing, etc.)

All 3 will greatly inform any martial art you "do"
Hi Budd
I've done all three and spent years in each.
While I agree with your overal premise, none of the above could match an education through aiki and hours and hours of solo work and slow paired movement drills in order to go back to a couple of items on that last and do them differently. Example: I do not lift rocks, dig or split and stack cordwood the same way I used to.
I think there is a duality, one which is surface and rather obvious, the other a much deeper study.
Cheers
Dan
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Old 06-29-2010, 08:44 AM   #63
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
So it might be that O Sensei really believed that aikido was close to farming. But he was using a trope, which was based on a much more romantic view of the relationship.
Best wishes,

PAG
I am not sure I would agree. I draw a correlation to this misunderstanding of farming to the search for exhaustive and deep initiation into a myriad of Koryu weapons arts to explain Takeda's AIki.

Quote:
Peter writes:
However, learning such a vast range of different arts might well have provided the foundations of Daito-ryu, but it would not in itself provide training explicitly in ‘aiki' or internal power / skills.
As far as training in aiki; what does that mean to you, Peter? It could specifically and in detail, provide areas where that training explicitly provides an in-road to aiki. Morevoer, some of those areas of physical understanding are blatant and fundamental to IP/aiki. To be clear, there is some understanding between weapons training and IP/ aiki that Ellis has now that he did not possess when writing the book!
I had asked myself several times while reading your article “On what grounds is this guy either including or dismissing what Ellis wrote?” It seems more of a critique on a research and verification level, not on a budo level.

Quote:
Rather than a direct transmission of ‘internal' skills from these teachers, it is more likely, as Amdur suggests, that Takeda acquired some of these skills by himself during his own musha shugyo training, after he left Sakakibara's dojo.
I find this curiously inconsistent and I have argued it with Ellis from both sides for that very reason. Internal training is not a mystery, nor does it have to be found on ones own. I will state that I do not believe that someone can find it on one’s own. We have Takeda displaying unusual power as a youth. Where do events after Sakakibara come to play as evidentiary of growth or being significant in any meaningful way?

As far as learning IP/aiki
How about seeing it as a process of transmission –and- as personal discovery built upon some very important and fundamental rules of the road that absolutely had to be taught?
How do we explain Takeda with Sagwa, Ueshiba, Kodo, Hisa etc.? All personal genius’s, all accidents of mutual personal discovery? Hardly!
I understand the incredible extent to which some people here go to in trying to add things Ueshiba "discovered." All I see is him performing text book Daito ryu his whole career. So let’s leave him right out of the discussion and move on. Sagawa, to Kimura? Hisa to Mori? Kodo to Okomoto? That next generation to us?
How is this happening if not by direct transmission and personal discovery?

You next moved on to Tanamo Saigo and his potential involvement in transmitting something or other to Takeda. Ellis and others have pondered over this notion of getting something in a short time frame. I have addressed that many times so I won’t revisit it here.
Tanamo Saigo and his journal has never mattered much to me nor do I care to postulate over it yet again. Once again, with all this speculation….I look at affiliation. It is worth considering curiosities and circumstantial evidence as it may have meaning. Tanamo, knew Shiro Saigo and Takeda Sokaku. How odd that both Shiro and Sokaku were considered geniuses in the martial arts. Yes, how very strange. Stranger still, that when you read of some of the accounts from Judoka who trained with Shiro; they describe many of the attributes of unusual power and trademarks of aiki that Takeda was known for. They have no common ties, save the one. Tanamo.

Perhaps I read these things with a different understanding. I completely understand how these men could have had a direct transmission of IP/aiki and why it could be a separate issue from the arts themselves, and also as we now know was actually openly discussed as a side issue. See Sagawas discussion of Takeda telling him not to teach it and also of openly discussing solo training as a requirement to deeper understanding. Yet is is discussed by Sagawa as something one did “outside” of the art and “You don’t talk about it.” Yet here we are wondering how and why Tanamo “Did not talk about it” either.

I think it is clear that many of those writing about Budo do not possess the understanding of these things, so they search in vein for connections that are not viable. So when it comes to sourcing aikis origins, perhaps it is worth considering that neither Shiro, Hisa, Kodo, or Ueshiba himself had any deep study of weapons, yet they got transmission.

Were people to understand the subject better, I think they would find it quite logical that it is entirely transmittable as a means to change the body and how you move and think and it doesn't have one thing to do with a search for a deep initiation or a vast collection of waza from many arts. It is the substance that creates arts in the first place.

Oh…about farming.
Were you to understand the nature of changing the body, than the true duality of Ueshiba’s comments comes to the fore as more than just allegory.
Farming and hard work imparts many positive attributes that are well documented. But for our purposes here I would also offer that digging and hoisting are excellent ways to do solo training to change the body for budo. The trouble occurs when the average Joe with no real understanding of internal martial training thinks that “a- lift’in and a- haul’in on da farm” are the same thing as budo training whil doing manual labor. I don't really talk to them like I would talking to another budo guy.
I remain far more confidant with some of the statements offered by Takeda and Ueshiba.
1. Where Takeda stated he actually got aiki from has never been disproved (people still keep searching for decades of koryu initiation)
2. Where Ueshiba stated that Takeda opened his eyes to true budo (people still look in vein for technical brilliance to explain his power and skill)
3. Where Ueshiba was trying use an allegory of framing to tell us that hard work offered ‘training opportunities” for that aiki body that Sagawa also talked about (that chap did not live on a farm so he developed a different regimen for “hard work” in the city).
The key point being that is was not an empty allegory and the hard work he talked about? had not one thing to do with manual labor done like the average bear-It was about budo training.
Cheers
Dan

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Old 06-29-2010, 12:19 PM   #64
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

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Hi Budd
I've done all three and spent years in each.
While I agree with your overal premise, none of the above could match an education through aiki and hours and hours of solo work and slow paired movement drills in order to go back to a couple of items on that last and do them differently. Example: I do not lift rocks, dig or split and stack cordwood the same way I used to.
I think there is a duality, one which is surface and rather obvious, the other a much deeper study.
Cheers
Dan
Nothing to argue about there. I look at the three things I mentioned as darn good preparation for life stuff (martial arts, job, social, whatever) - akin to some undergraduate prep. Whereas the deeper study portion of the aiki, that in itself becomes a lifelong pursuit of self-cultivation that then feeds back in to any other activity you undertake - into graduate and beyond post-doctoral studies.
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Old 06-29-2010, 02:57 PM   #65
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

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Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
Nothing to argue about there. I look at the three things I mentioned as darn good preparation for life stuff (martial arts, job, social, whatever) - akin to some undergraduate prep. Whereas the deeper study portion of the aiki, that in itself becomes a lifelong pursuit of self-cultivation that then feeds back in to any other activity you undertake - into graduate and beyond post-doctoral studies.
Hmm....there are things that a couple of those items will bring out...in certain people. There is a charisma, or pull that some people seem to have. I could get into some weird ideas I have about presence and spirit and "being on" and projecting, that are easily morphed into discussions of "Ki", but that is not going to go anywhere but down hill. Funny how some of the greats had some similar observations though.
Cheers
Dan
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Old 06-29-2010, 05:11 PM   #66
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

Peter
I wrote in haste this morning. To be more clear, I think there are obvious things that are more plausible and simple as explanations for these men and we are straining to make it more complicated than it really is. I think it is obvious that the training of IP/aiki was an adjunct to the main arts. There are any number of cases of men going off to train solo and coming back with "power" It is in budo legends backgrounds all over. The overriding question is, was it a discovery made out of whole cloth or were their specific teachings that laid the foundations -I called them rules of the road- and men went out and burned them and added bits here and there.

I think it is a mistaken idea that Takeda went out and mastered a myriad of weapons arts for the power he displayed as a kid.

However, I think it is a mistaken idea to also downplay potential IP/aiki training in Koryu. The connection from the body skills in weapons to the body skills in aiki is startling and clear. Unfortunately there like everywhere else many can't see it and as at least one school told Ellis.."Yeah those old guys really had power...but we don't do that stuff anymore in our practice!"
We have so many modern examples to prove it out as well.
Sagawa said the same things "Takeda said not to talk about it"
" Solo training was something you did on your own"
Tokimune said "My guys don't want to do it either" to the Takumakia teacher
As I said "The Fighting Spirit of Japan" book has the aikijujutsu guy stating few know it, and weirdly our Englishman is told that this 6 th dan judoka is unthrowable when he uses it.
Yet..........no one talked about it. Oh well

I was trying to say that I think you have to be taught the rules of the road, the basics in IP/aiki in order to move forward on your own. So you can have both.

The Tanamo/Shiro/ Sokaku stuff I don't really care that much about.
Cheers
Dan
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Old 06-30-2010, 05:32 PM   #67
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

Well, I suppose it depends what you want in a book review. I think you have to start with the book itself, especially a book like HIPS, and analyze carefully what the author states, how he reaches his conclusions, and the evidence he uses to support these conclusions. The basis on which the review is written by a particular author might or might not become clear, but if it obtrudes too much, then I think the review becomes less satisfactory as a result.

FWIW

PAG

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Old 07-01-2010, 08:53 AM   #68
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Well, I suppose it depends what you want in a book review. I think you have to start with the book itself, especially a book like HIPS, and analyze carefully what the author states, how he reaches his conclusions, and the evidence he uses to support these conclusions. The basis on which the review is written by a particular author might or might not become clear, but if it obtrudes too much, then I think the review becomes less satisfactory as a result.

FWIW

PAG
Hello Peter
I appreciate the review and am enjoying the questions raised; I just question whether the nature of the review overshoots the intent of the work. I read the work with the idea that he was not shooting for “conclusions” with his points of interest. Ellis stated in private discussions, in posts on aikiweb, and in the book itself that the intent of the piece was never to be definitive or to reach conclusions in the first place. I believe he cited various reasons;
-There wasn’t enough written documentation available or accessible to conclusively verify certain recent circumstantial evidence as empirical evidence.
-Proof that the material he was searching for (internal training) had familial ties to individual artists or the body of arts Takeda and Ueshiba would have been exposed to.
-Documented internal training in extant Koryu is not readily available, and his hopes that this seminal work would lead to more research.
In other words, he openly stated the piece was not conclusive but rather intentionally controversial and undertaken with the hopes of raising interest of a level that others with better training, better access, or holding information, might undertake a more scholarly and rigorous approach in pursuing the subject.
I think that remains an important distinction. He knowingly makes it clear (for the sake of his own credibility) to the readers, and also for those researchers that might follow; how handicapped one is in this daunting task. The difficulties he ran into with the lack of material to support the work as “conclusive” is no doubt going to be a challenge for future efforts by scholars. Thankfully, he saw importance of getting the subject matter out there worth sacrificing a certain comfortability in the work presented.

Personally, I have never agreed with Ellis that scholars could do a better job with the work and have told him so. I think this is an effort better left to Budo men. I have seen the efforts of scholars in the documentation of other subjects near and dear to my interests; Arms and Armor, their manufacture and use. Their unfamiliarity with the topic led to glaring errors, and mutually supported citing of each others works in support of other erroneous "conclusions." U.S. Steels technical manual as a single body of work, did more to clarify earlier metallurgical work then all the collected scholarly works of the day. I remain convinced that a similar case is all but guaranteed to occur with the present subject of internals in the Martial Arts of Japan for the same reasons. I can see the interviewing of present day experts of extant arts (who themselves are unfamiliar with the topic) being asked inane questions by a scholar (unfamiliar with the subject himself) and the resultant interview being used to support other material, and then have it presented in a way as to pass a rigorous review by a panel of unknowing peers and then be accepted as “conclusive,” on to being published and then cited by other scholars twenty years down the line as further support of their ideas.
To return to an earlier comment, you can ask Ellis (himself one of those potential experts) if the existence of certain internal components that he had been searching for was even evident to himself in his own arts? That being the case, we can ask ourselves "How conclusive would it be were he to be one of the men interviewed, then later cited in some future work?"

There are no methods I can think of that would reach a conclusive study in the martial arts of Japan. I think Takeda serves us well as a titular example of what we will find in researching any connection between internals and stellar martial artists. There are cases where brilliant individuals have no recorded extensive training in established arts to support their highly unusual –even unique understanding. Research into the lives of Musashi, Iizasa, Takeouchi, Munenori, Tesshu, etc. Haven’t been definitive in explaining their own brilliance or enlightenment. Takeda is just more of the same. At least with Takeda we have him pointing to in-the-flesh individuals rather than tengu and scrolls from the gods.

Ellis's "take" on Takeda’s past, his relations and upbringing and the reasons for Takeda’s behavior was certainly refreshing and at the very least had more validity than the preponderance of anecdotal and largely “spun” stories coming out of the aikikia’s affiliates. I think almost anything that counters the Ueshiba family’s version of history is worth the price of admission. I feel the same about some of Ellis's opinions about Ueshiba. I think more time could have been spent on specifics of the change from the execution of Daito ryu waza to Aikido waza as emblematic of the spiritual changes in Ueshiba that could actually have strengthened and supported his views, but no matter.

As far as the main thrust of his ideas that this stuff is "Hidden In Plain Site," I can only say I think Elllis is enjoying how ironic his initial ideas were, even more so today. I think we will be hearing more on that from him later.
I don’t think we will ever verify the existence of a connection between internal training and single individuals or entire arts in an empirical study. Were we to make the attempt, we are going to need to first verify the existence and effects of such training on a series of adepts, and then verify and prove the –lack – of internal training on a control group of warriors. All done posthumously! Further, any historical conclusions are going to have to be verified by the reading of makimono of the first group and the scrolls of the second, by those capable of reading older Kanji and who themselves understand the subject to a degree that they can verify the relevance of the material to anything meaningful by way of internal training and then tie that into historical documentation physical augmentation of an arts adepts. Finding the occasional reference to breathing exercises, tied it into chanting is not conclusive of anything, nor has it necessarily produced powerful adepts who had access to similar material in their own arts in the modern age. Technique and skill can mimic and mask a lot of things. These discoveries may hint to other more detailed practices with in a ryu, but many times certain “inside the threshold” teachings have been relegated to oral tradition in the gokui. For that matter it becomes questionable whether you can even use –that- as evidentiary of an arts power or reputation. As Ellis continues in his research he is finding evidence and running into groups of Koryu adepts who know of the subject, but do not practice the material. What does that tell about the premise of his work? He continues to find more evidence that this subset of training actually did exist, but was not readily discussed or even consistently transmitted by those with the material right under their very nose!

So I guess my take on the review is that while I enjoyed it on several levels, I even laughed out loud (in a good way) a few times, I think it is expecting the book to be more than what the authors stated goals were. Were I to set the same standards it appears you are proposing on the work, I think it would not have seen the light of day. But then we would never have seen the subject forwarded to a largely unfamiliar readership, or seen the question of the existence of this very important subject of study in the martial arts of Japan even raised. Taken as a whole, I think the book served its author's stated purposes well and was an enjoyable read. I consider it to be required reading for anyone who trains with me, while I am not even remotely surprised to find that the majority so-called martial artists would pass it by and remain unfamiliar with the “questions” raised in its pages. In that regard, I think it matches the state of affairs in the Japanese arts. So much is “Hidden In Plain Site” that those in the arts-even experts- can’t seem to find it.
Dan

Last edited by DH : 07-01-2010 at 09:08 AM.
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:07 PM   #69
DH
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

Apologies for "Hidden In Plain SIGHT" Ellis.
I can't seem to get "site" out of my head...probably from dealing with "site work" every day in my job.
Ya think I would get used to the site being such a poor "sight!"
Nope...not me
Dan
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Old 07-01-2010, 01:20 PM   #70
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
Hello Peter,

I think your academic research is very valuable. You were able to put many of O sensei ideas in the right cultural and social context. It certainly changes and refines some of our understanding about what Founder created.

However there is some danger of such approach. As example I can give: your criticism of close connection Budo, and particularly aikido with agriculture. From theoretical point of view it may seems right, but from my experience, and I mean real life experience, you are not right.

We moved few years ago to the country side. I'm not a farmer, still working in my job, but we have some land and started do develop a 30 000 sq feet garden with a lot of big trees. Consciously we are trying to avoid the use of big mechanical tools. It is not always possible -- example: some delivery must be done with trucks. But most of heavy work we are doing by hands.

After 3 years of this experience, I must admit that not only my body changed, also my techniques, approach to aikido and general understanding of Founder's ideas. Presently I think ppl who are not sullying their hands with soil regularly, who never physically struggle with Nature, they can't understand Founder. Only deep connection to Mother Earth can help here. Talking about The Elements (like fire, water…) and having physical every day contact with such elements are two completely different things. I could write a long essay about it, but it is useless unless somebody touch a soil.
Hear, hear. This has also been discussed at length starting about here

I think this does help with interpreting things like O Sensei's use of the Kojiki myths to illustrate his meaning (as opposed to its "meaning" in some non-contextual sense).
In the larger sense of the "hidden in plain sight" problem -- though the question is, of course "what was hidden" -- perhaps the more critical question is "Why was it missed?" The latter one gives you an answer as to how what you are looking for may be hidden from you -- and perhaps, a way to uncover it.

I am a believer in the concrete interpretation of myth -- not literal, not metaphorical, not allegorical. Myth refers to concrete things and their relationships as they actually relate -- as poetry (poesis = making) is concrete reference-- and therefore quite translatable in comprehensible ways.

My prescription: Read what he said -- see what he said in your training, or look for it if you not now see it. Build upon that. Or reverse the order of training vice reading -- to the same effect. Bun bu itchi. The order should not matter.

You will not be wrong in doing it this way -- you will, however, likely be misunderstood -- very few people think in this way.

Most people are either abstract thinkers or literal thinkers. Abstracters lose sight of actual things (equally, those that are overly analytical or overly romantic, are both thinking abstractly). They either seek abstract reduction or abstract ideals.

Literal thinkers do not observe many concrete principles of real relationships from experience -- or else do not extend in practice such principles to situations by similarity of pattern. They follow patterns of act and thought that they have themselves experienced or have been reliably told, in settings that they trust -- and tend to avoid all others.

Concrete thinkers are not romantic -- though they will use poetic image or myth. They are not literalists -- though they see things for what they are ratehr than what some ideal version might be. They see real relationships in real things that pattern across many situations or types of circumstance -- but not linearly or reductively. They do not seek abstracted predictive ideals or literal repetition of "safe" behavior or circumstances. They seek the complexities of things that are complex -- but whose patterns are shared in other real things and yet which can both endure and change in concrete (and creative) ways.

In the same way as optical illusions (two faces -- or a goblet?), the very perception of the concrete reality that denies your initial assumption of perception, completely rebuts both the reductive or romantic abstraction, and the literal linear repetition of what you "already know".

O Sensei was a concrete thinker, actor and teacher -- neither a romantic or mathematical abstractionist, nor yet a by-the-numbers rote literalist. Both types are well represented -- here and in Japan. Concrete thinkers are few and far between.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 07-01-2010 at 01:26 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:32 PM   #71
niall
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
Presently I think people who are not sullying their hands with soil regularly, who never physically struggle with Nature, they can’t understand the Founder. Only a deep connection to Mother Earth can help here. Talking about The Elements (like fire, water…) and having physical every day contact with such elements are two completely different things.
Szczepan's comments about the connection to the soil are really important (and much more fundamental than the indirect issue of physical labour changing the body). If we really want to understand nature and its power maybe we should be trying harder to be part of it instead of being spectators. I don't think that is romantic.

And I don't think you can get much more abstract and abstruse than O Sensei.

Last edited by niall : 07-01-2010 at 09:36 PM.

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Old 07-02-2010, 04:33 AM   #72
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

I think it would be foolish to deny that Morihei Ueshiba was happy tilling the soil. After all, he helped to 'colonize' a Hokkaido 'wilderness' from 1912 onwards, he tilled the land in Ayabe in the 1920s, and he moved to a smallholding in Iwama in 1942.

It is the absolutes that are alleged to flow from this that are in question.

The evidence is to be found, not in the discourses of Morihei Ueshiba himself, but in the writings of his son. Kisshomaru states very clearly in his biography that Morihei Ueshiba adapted a phrase that was first coined as a slogan by the new Meiji government. The phrase is heino-ichinyo (兵農一如) and was a slogan to popularize a movement known as tonden-hei-seido (屯田兵制度), the creation of settlements in Hokkaido for samurai who were left without a livelihood after the abolition of feudal domains. Kisshomaru is in no doubt that his father's decision to go to Hokkaido was influenced by one Denzaburo Kurahashi, who lived in such a settlement. He is also in no doubt at all that the ideal of buno-ichinyo (武農一如), which was Morihei Ueshiba's own version of the ideal for Iwama, was based on these earlier settlements.

Kisshomaru adds that "after the Battle of Hakodate Goryokaku, when the shogunate army led by Takeaki Enomoto surrendered to the new Meiji government, many such settlements were organized for the erstwhile samurai class and their followers. Between 1874 and 1899, twenty-four military villages, incorporating 7,337 families and a total of 39,911 people, were formed on this model. The reports by Denzaburo Kurahashi about the Hokkaido settlement where he lived must have captured O Sensei's imagination. He was on fire with the "frontier spirit." (A Life in Aikido, pp. 83-84; Japanese original: pp. 82-83.)

Two items can be added to to Kisshomaru's statement. One is that Enomoto's army included Saigo Tanomu (aka Chikanori Hoshina, Sokaku Takeda's aiki teacher), who had fled to Sendai (with Takeda Sokaku's father) after the siege of Aizu, and then went to join Enomoto in Hakodate. Saigo was imprisoned for a few years in Hokkaido and stayed there for a time after he was released.

The second is that one of the defeated samurai families of Aizu who went to Hokkaido was the Shiba family. Like the Saigo family, many members chose suicide rather than surrender to the Choshu/Satsuma army, but the Shiba family chose to follow their pardoned daimyo to Hokkaido. Those who question my use of the term 'romantic' might like to read Shiba Goro's memoir, Remembering Aizu, where he gives an account of their life in Hokkaido on pp. 83-112.

Finally, I think it is very important to place Morihei Ueshiba in a correct contemporary context. It was Onisaburo Deguchi who encouraged Ueshiba to till the soil in Ayabe. Deguchi made extensive use of the teachings of the nativist Hirata Atsutane, who sanctified the triangle of worship, work, and the soil into a coherent recipe for returning Japan to her ancient roots and for avoiding a repetition of the popular disturbances that gripped Japan during the Tempo famine. When I have the time, I will spell it all out.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 07-02-2010, 10:18 AM   #73
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

Peter - just out of curiosity - is there available a timeline of Tanomo's time here and there. I wonder how it would juxtipose with a timeline of Takeda Sokaku.
Best
Ellis

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Old 07-02-2010, 11:43 AM   #74
DH
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

A couple of notes to clean up some points.
Both Ellis and Peter spend significant time going over a panoply of Koryu training and how it may or not relate to Takeda 'getting aiki" that way. It is being quietly suggested that this right of passage or musa shugyo was an inherent requirement for aiki. We can further narrow the discussion as to whether the theory is that this was needed to "get aiki" or discover it, or to further refine a teaching he may have received as a youth as Ellis suggests.

In counter point
Yet we know Takeda exhibited significant skills to defeat larger opponents in his youth.
We know he defeated an accomplished swordsman at 16
We know he claims Chikanori as his aiki teacher
We know he claims it is Chikanori who tells him to lay down the sword and to express his art in jujutsu. Sagawa supports that he heard the same thing from Takeda.

I think there is a "putting the cart before the horse" argument going on in both positions.
I am suggesting an alternate idea; that weapons training, and jujutsu training should be looked at as separate pursuits that have nothing to do with training in IP/aiki, That having received certain training in IP/aiki in his youth, he went out to play with it and learn fighting arts as an adjunct or vehicle to express it in....as.... he refine his skills. What it does not mean is that you needed to go out and learn a wide variety of various arts...to...get Aiki.
Again it is worth noting that nowhere does Takeda state otherwise, He was clear in comments to various sources where he credits his aiki (Ellis supposes it might have been because he was on the outs with his father). There is a modification or possible middle position to be had. One that Ellis treats lightly and all but dismisses out of hand; oshiki-uchi. This was supposedly an indoor teaching reserved for selected students for whatever reason. I believe there are erroneous and overly romanticized readings of oshiki-uchi that might have suited the purposes of certain modern teachers myth making that do a disservice to what might have been a more mundane state of affairs well in keeping with Japanese koryu; a gokui teaching. There is a very real possibility that oshiki-uchi. was indeed a body of knowledge or teaching held in Aizu; an "inside the threshold" teaching of IP/ aiki that has not one thing to do with the popular translation of "inside the threshold" of some supposed castle where you could not rise to subdue an attack on a daimyo or shogun. I use the term disservice as this idea has not been received well or given much credibility by the koryu community-for good reason. But were we to consider the possibility that they were teachings for "indoor disciples" we see a consistency to other forms of transmission of the time; that there exists gokui for indoor students. This also helps to explain Sagawa's later statements;
"That Takeda told him not to teach these things."
The statements he made about keeping "The solo training as an outside practice you didn't talk about."
Tokimune's supposed comment that "My guys don't want to do the solo training either," and "Not to teach but one or two."
As I stated in an earlier post this makes the lack of evidence and the lack of discussion in this search very understandable very pedestrian. It remains entirely plausible that others beside Chikanori knew it. We need not be looking for a group of men who knew these things were all giants in the arts either That just like everything else we see in the arts various people, even with the knowledge, just don't do the work. "Just cause ya know, doesn't mean ya can show."
So this leaves it entirely feasible that Takeda's father (also known to be very powerful) had learned IP/aiki training within Aizu, even possibly with Chikanori and taught it to Takeda as a youth as Ellis postulates. Or that Takeda learned some of it from his Dad and later truly developed it with Chikanori -thus supporting Takeda's statements.
No where does it mean that Takeda had to go travel all over Japan to get it.

While I agree that internal power was practiced in Japan here and there, I question just how complete it was. I think it remains that Takeda's Daito ryu was thee premier art exhibiting IP/aiki with any measure of consistency.

Dan

Last edited by DH : 07-02-2010 at 11:51 AM.
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