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Old 08-20-2010, 01:56 PM   #1
Ellis Amdur
 
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Ueshiba Morihei's power

Videos just don't tell the story. I became so disappointed with aikido after a few years of training. My disappointment was that I'd heard of this founder, Ueshiba, who was so powerful and dynamically strong, yet I didn't perceive anything approaching that level of power even among my teachers. Even in videos of Ueshiba, it seems easy to criticize, because his aikido, like everyone else's, seems to follow a pattern of collusion. I've asked if the whole thing was a giant con.
The greatest evidence to me of his power and skill has always been the respect of powerful budoka who were his peers. I just found another reference here.

Quote:
Q17. Who were the most influential teachers for Iwata Sensei's iai and budo career?
IS.: I would have to say that it was the three teachers I mentioned above. I have met many fine budoka and teachers in my life, including Morihei Ueshiba Sensei who was very powerful, but these three teachers are still the most important to me. I met Ueshiba Sensei at Military Police school, where he was giving lessons. I was there for two months just before the war broke. The training was meant to be for a year but war broke out after two months and it stopped. Ueshiba Sensei was a very special person. No one could reach him, he moved so well and his spirit was so strong. Even when ten people tried to attack him at the same time they were not able to catch him. But when he caught hold of your hand you had to move where he wanted you to move or your arm would break.
Please note that these were not "aikido students." They were young military policemen on the way to war - most with some degree of skill in other arts.
Once again, we return to the fact that what Ueshiba M. was doing was different. And notice this. "when he caught ahold of your hand" - not, "when you grabbed his wrist."
Best
Ellis Amdur

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 08-20-2010 at 01:59 PM.

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Old 08-20-2010, 02:23 PM   #2
Eric Joyce
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
And notice this. "when he caught ahold of your hand" - not, "when you grabbed his wrist."
Best
Ellis Amdur
Hello Ellis,

This last sentence, could you elaborate a bit more on this? A couple of things come to mine like the term sen no sen referring to the sentence "when he caught ahold of your hand".

Eric Joyce
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Old 08-20-2010, 02:35 PM   #3
Ellis Amdur
 
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

Eric - the only elaborations I have are:
1. This is congruent with the memories of one of the directors of the Nakano Spy School, who, upon seeing a post-war aikido demo, said to Kuroiwa Yoshio, "that's not what I remember Ueshiba sensei doing. He's just grab people and say, "you kill them like this. or like this. He's just smash them down." (not an exact quote, but close enough).
2 His method at that time was to take control of the person. (Not to say that, according to all my readings of various exponents of aiki that one cannot take control when they grab you - simply put, that his route at that time was more direct).

Ellis Amdur

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Old 08-20-2010, 02:43 PM   #4
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Eric - the only elaborations I have are:
1. This is congruent with the memories of one of the directors of the Nakano Spy School, who, upon seeing a post-war aikido demo, said to Kuroiwa Yoshio, "that's not what I remember Ueshiba sensei doing. He's just grab people and say, "you kill them like this. or like this. He's just smash them down." (not an exact quote, but close enough).
2 His method at that time was to take control of the person. (Not to say that, according to all my readings of various exponents of aiki that one cannot take control when they grab you - simply put, that his route at that time was more direct).

Ellis Amdur
Interesting. It would seem that for that particular group of people in the spy school, and maybe during his prime, Ueshiba took more of a jujutsu approach perhaps.

Eric Joyce
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:09 PM   #5
Ellis Amdur
 
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

I don't know (I mean that honestly) if it was a more "jujutsu" approach. I think, from what I've been hearing, reading, experiencing . . .that "jujutsu rough, aiki soft or nice or "go-no-sen" is an artificial and false construct. Remember, Takeda called what he did jujutsu until the late teens or early 20's of the 20th century.
I think from what the authorities, here and elsewhere, have written that aiki is a different way of organizing the body/nervous system to express power. One could be exerting "aiki," therefore, while punching someone in the face hard enough to smash all the bones, and expressing jujutsu was a smooth, elegant redirection of force so that their body floats over you as you redirect their attempt to surmount you in grappling, and be doing neither jujutsu or aiki while stepping out of the way of the incoming force and "redirecting" it with a strategic movement of the hand, resulting in harmony for all involved.
Given that Ueshiba was, at one time, primed to be Takeda Sokaku's successor (per Stanley Pranin, who stated he had evidence of such), if Tokimune called Ueshiba Takeda's best loved student, if he had received what was, at the time, the highest level certification in Daito-ryu, (etc., etc, etc.), it is reasonable to assume that he learned "aiki" from Takeda well before WWII, much less post war. That "aiki" might not have been very pleasant to experience at times, but . . . .

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Old 08-20-2010, 04:11 PM   #6
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

Ellis,

Was it coming across that reference that spurred your post or did you watch some of the videos of Ueshiba today? Despite the collusion, there are a few of him out there that show hints of his real power.
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:14 PM   #7
Ellis Amdur
 
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

FWIW - the reference. I believe I've done justice to what is on video in HIPS. But none give an inkling to what is described in the reference, just, at best, that he had power in solo exercises, and could perform well in aikido context. That's why such references as the above are of interest to me.
Ellis Amdur

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Old 08-20-2010, 04:47 PM   #8
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
FWIW - the reference. I believe I've done justice to what is on video in HIPS. But none give an inkling to what is described in the reference, just, at best, that he had power in solo exercises, and could perform well in aikido context. That's why such references as the above are of interest to me.
Ellis Amdur
I think that what's shown in a lot of those demos and what he did elsewhere were quite different. My instructor has quite a few stories that are much closer to the quote you provided than anything those videos seem to represent. Even in his final years he wouldn't stand for people selling it for him, which is hardly the image most of those videos project.
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Old 08-20-2010, 06:09 PM   #9
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Videos just don't tell the story. I became so disappointed with aikido after a few years of training. My disappointment was that I'd heard of this founder, Ueshiba, who was so powerful and dynamically strong, yet I didn't perceive anything approaching that level of power even among my teachers. Even in videos of Ueshiba, it seems easy to criticize, because his aikido, like everyone else's, seems to follow a pattern of collusion. I've asked if the whole thing was a giant con.
The greatest evidence to me of his power and skill has always been the respect of powerful budoka who were his peers. I just found another reference here.

Please note that these were not "aikido students." They were young military policemen on the way to war - most with some degree of skill in other arts.
Once again, we return to the fact that what Ueshiba M. was doing was different. And notice this. "when he caught ahold of your hand" - not, "when you grabbed his wrist."
Best
Ellis Amdur
I've met and trained with a number of Iwata Sensei's students, one tells an interesting story of things Iwata Sensei has said concerning Kaishaku and beheading people during WW2, rather grisly details but it does bring home the nature of what it is you're doing while practicing that particular kata...

The more I train, the more I become convinced that the sort of power you see in old film of Tohei Sensei is where Ueshiba Sensei was in the 1930s, anecdotes speak of O Sensei becoming very soft (I'm sure this has been extensively covered elsewhere on aikiweb). Having trained with Koretoshi Maruyama Sensei and experienced the direction he is taking his aikido I think I'm starting to appreciate - if only on an intellectual level - the journey from that internal power to that soft ghostlike technique where uke simply cannot feel what is being done to them.

FWIW

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
-Martin Luther King Jr
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Old 08-20-2010, 08:05 PM   #10
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

Also from Iwata sensei:

Quote:
Ueshiba Morihei, an aiki-jutsu teacher left me the strongest Yoin of his carriage. He coached me directly at the military police school at Nakani in Tokyo in 1942. He explained waza with a couple of big young men, I was surprised at his waza and power. He was a real expert. I was deeply move by his marvellous movement. I met many great judo teachers before that, but I had never seen such a natural movement as his. That was a super human feat, a miracle,I couldn't know how he trained, and I couldn't ask him about his training.
http://www.eikoku-roshukai.com/images/0/00/Yoin.pdf
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Old 08-22-2010, 12:14 PM   #11
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
... I became so disappointed with aikido after a few years of training. My disappointment was that I'd heard of this founder, Ueshiba, who was so powerful and dynamically strong, yet I didn't perceive anything approaching that level of power even among my teachers...
Honestly, I would have thought this to be much more common. I also would have thought that Ueshiba Morihei's power would have been a (thee?) central object of pursuit of (most?) people. Would have thought...the fruitful results of the questions and searching would have been more evident..... "What caused it?", "Can it be learned?", "Where can I learn it?", "How?", "Where is it?", "What do I do?", and so on. Real concrete facts and methods...I also would have thought that there would have been better answers more readily available given the sheer number of people pursuing it...and having left their 'path notes'. Maybe people don't really believe the others that say it can be trained..But there are people that know, aren't there? ..people that can show... Yes?
I believe that even though it is hard, but if a concrete method was known...more people would do it. I think we may very well see this happen. I think some people already are doing this..and people are realizing it.. M 2 C. All the best, Josh
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Old 08-22-2010, 01:22 PM   #12
Lee Salzman
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

Quote:
Josh Philipson wrote: View Post
Honestly, I would have thought this to be much more common. I also would have thought that Ueshiba Morihei's power would have been a (thee?) central object of pursuit of (most?) people. Would have thought...the fruitful results of the questions and searching would have been more evident..... "What caused it?", "Can it be learned?", "Where can I learn it?", "How?", "Where is it?", "What do I do?", and so on. Real concrete facts and methods...I also would have thought that there would have been better answers more readily available given the sheer number of people pursuing it...and having left their 'path notes'. Maybe people don't really believe the others that say it can be trained..But there are people that know, aren't there? ..people that can show... Yes?
I believe that even though it is hard, but if a concrete method was known...more people would do it. I think we may very well see this happen. I think some people already are doing this..and people are realizing it.. M 2 C. All the best, Josh
But there is the fairly unshakable belief throughout the aikido that I experienced that what we practice now is what Morihei Ueshiba was doing, and that we're just not smart enough, spiritual enough, or gifted enough in the right way yet to reproduce his genius. Everyone was quite sure they were on the right path to be the second coming of O'Sensei, if only they just kept going, somehow, or they were just resigned to the fact that they were not dedicated enough to get there anyway. It doesn't help that we just tend to have only second-hand accounts of O'Sensei's greatness, and must take it on faith that our training will get us there lest it all be for naught.

There was definitely not enough counter-evidence coming in within echo chamber to indicate otherwise, and it became self-reinforcing because I believed that if I tried to deviate from it I would be ruining my own chances. I did not begin to believe otherwise until I left the environment, and saw first-hand that to all appearances two people can be moving the same way and yet getting very different functional results, that shape was only a vehicle for doing real training, and not the real training itself.
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Old 08-22-2010, 05:44 PM   #13
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

With the insane fables of transendental feats aside:

I personally think that the most spectacular thing about O'Sensei is how unspectacular he was.
He was a husband, a son, a father, a teacher, a martial artist, a farmer...a person.
The unspectacular is capable of magnificence when they are honest about the folly of their own legend in my opinion.
It's motivation enough for any unspectacular creation I guess.

MM
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Old 08-22-2010, 06:04 PM   #14
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

How much do you know about the man. Honestly.
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Old 08-22-2010, 06:25 PM   #15
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

Quote:
Alejandro Villanueva wrote: View Post
How much do you know about the man. Honestly.
Enough to confidently make the statement I just made.
Why? How much of what I said did you understand?

MM
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Old 08-22-2010, 06:56 PM   #16
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
I personally think that the most spectacular thing about O'Sensei is how unspectacular he was.
He was a husband, a son, a father, a teacher, a martial artist, a farmer...a person.
.
been there (husband, son, ...etc), done that. was so unspectacular and unremarkable that had tough time getting a date in high school. does that make me spectacular? maybe i should start my own martial arts and call it "Phido" and the uniform will be speedo. kinda rhyme don't you think?

as far as power and Ueshiba Morihei, seemed he got plenty, but of the million strong aikidoka past and present, not one exceed him in ability, at least i have not heard of one. it's kinda sad don't you think? just think, if every generation of aikidoka where the students are less in skill than the teachers, what will be a few generations from now? it's all math and all down hill.

gen1 = Ueshiba Morihei
gen2 = 0.8 X gen1 (i am very generous of 80%)
gen3 = 0.8 X gen2

which generation are you?
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Old 08-22-2010, 07:08 PM   #17
RED
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
been there (husband, son, ...etc), done that. was so unspectacular and unremarkable that had tough time getting a date in high school. does that make me spectacular? maybe i should start my own martial arts and call it "Phido" and the uniform will be speedo. kinda rhyme don't you think?

as far as power and Ueshiba Morihei, seemed he got plenty, but of the million strong aikidoka past and present, not one exceed him in ability, at least i have not heard of one. it's kinda sad don't you think? just think, if every generation of aikidoka where the students are less in skill than the teachers, what will be a few generations from now? it's all math and all down hill.

gen1 = Ueshiba Morihei
gen2 = 0.8 X gen1 (i am very generous of 80%)
gen3 = 0.8 X gen2

which generation are you?
Well I think you're pretty spectacular.
I never met O'Sensei first hand, so I can't comment on his ability outside of what I've been told 2nd hand of him.


My direct teacher is a student of one of O'sense's uchi deshi.... 4th gen maybe? :/

lol you've thought a lot about the science of this

Last edited by RED : 08-22-2010 at 07:14 PM.

MM
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Old 08-22-2010, 07:28 PM   #18
Ellis Amdur
 
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

Quote:
I personally think that the most spectacular thing about O'Sensei is how unspectacular he was.
He was a husband, a son, a father, a teacher, a martial artist, a farmer...a person.
The unspectacular is capable of magnificence when they are honest about the folly of their own legend in my opinion.
"Honest about the folly of his own legend"???? You are talking about the one who "stood on the rainbow bridge and united Heaven and Earth." The one who called himself an avatar? That guy?
(Sorry, couldn't figure out which emoticom fit.

Ellis AMdur

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Old 08-22-2010, 07:54 PM   #19
Marc Abrams
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
"Honest about the folly of his own legend"???? You are talking about the one who "stood on the rainbow bridge and united Heaven and Earth." The one who called himself an avatar? That guy?
(Sorry, couldn't figure out which emoticom fit.

Ellis AMdur
Ellis:

It was the Sixties man ! O'Sensei must have been hanging out with Timothy Leary when he said those things !

There was very little ordinary about O'Sensei. He was an extraordinary man who strove to reach extraordinary places in his life. To that, we should all be thankful.

marc abrams
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Old 08-22-2010, 07:57 PM   #20
RED
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
"Honest about the folly of his own legend"???? You are talking about the one who "stood on the rainbow bridge and united Heaven and Earth." The one who called himself an avatar? That guy?
(Sorry, couldn't figure out which emoticom fit.

Ellis AMdur
Yes, and I'm talking about the person who said that the only way to achieve any of those things was by letting your ego die.

That's what I mean by "understanding the folly of your on legend".
I've met a lot of people in martial arts that have heard and bought the story of their own legend. And honestly, I some times feel that is one of the reasons they can't get better. They are already perfectly smitten with themselves and their martial progress. Dissatisfaction breeds achievement. You have to hate where you are to want to go some where else.
Some times you can be too in love with your own legend to see where you are lacking and need improvement.

Last edited by RED : 08-22-2010 at 08:00 PM.

MM
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Old 08-22-2010, 08:02 PM   #21
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
as far as power and Ueshiba Morihei, seemed he got plenty, but of the million strong aikidoka past and present, not one exceed him in ability, at least i have not heard of one. it's kinda sad don't you think? just think, if every generation of aikidoka where the students are less in skill than the teachers, what will be a few generations from now? it's all math and all down hill.
Don't you think that the superiority of o'sensei to all subsequent aikidoka can be attributed to the unique life he led, in a world which no longer exists? I.e., he was a man of means - hence he did not have to work, and so could freely devote his time to budo; he was in the army - in a conflict in which more modern means of killing were not at the fore; he lived in a society in which the martial arts were studied/practiced very seriously by others, and conflicts/challenges took place fairly regularly (granted they do nowadays, but not really among aikidoka - they are deliberately avoided, where possible).

I don't think there is anything at all in the argument that aikidoka will decline in ability as time progresses: ability is a result of natural talent, and hard work, and I am certain that there are people who have far surpassed their teachers in understanding of aikido.
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Old 08-22-2010, 08:49 PM   #22
Ellis Amdur
 
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

Maggie - Sorry, but for a man who may have said "let your ego die" (I don't recall reading that anywhere, but among the volcano of words that he uttered, why not?), he used the word "I" in writing and pronouncements about himself as much as anyone I've ever read. He was a grandiose egotist - and that's what made him great, not self-effacement.
And Graham, I'd disagree - if it was just natural talent and hard work, there would be many people who were Ueshiba's equal:
1. The Japanese army he was in was a modern army, complete with rifles, machine guns and cannons.
2. Many of his aikido students took challenges. I'm aware of some of the uchideshi inviting challengers upstairs to the fourth floor dojo at the Aikikai back in the seventies.
3. The uchideshi at Honbu dojo had the time to practice all day if they wished. It's not just a matter of practice (I don't want to dredge all the other threads into this one, but the whole issue that has, at times, consumed Aikiweb and has certainly been the subject of the last few years of my research is that it's not just practice hours, it's what you are practicing. And my assertion all along has been that Ueshiba didn't practice (or teach) what most of his followers did. It's not just "natural talent and hard work." Some of the shihan I met were both. Some of those shihan got as good as is humanly possible within the training paradigm they had. Ueshiba (and yes, the top Daito-ryu people) were using a different training paradigm.
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Ellis Amdur

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Old 08-22-2010, 10:01 PM   #23
Johann Baptista
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

I must agree with "Gorgeous George."

He was a fervent Omoto Kyo practioner who devoted his whole life to the spirit. We cannot pretend that a large portion of his power did not come from the highly spiritual life he led that was rooted in Shinto, esoteric Buddhist practices, martial arts, and asceticism. He did what many of us cannot do: He faced the spiritual and Belived, and I think that is what made of him the great man that we look up to. I don't think that we must imitate every aspect of his life; we should instead seek to isolate the core values which he lived by and emulate those through our own unique methods. Aikido must be done with total belief in the power of Ki. Nature must be revered and taken care of (as in Shinto.) The mind must be cultivated and the mindbodyspirit must face aloneness, simplicity, fasting, and meditation. You cannot expect to reach enlightenment by just going to a dojo on the weekends. It must be made the priority. But like Morihei Ueshiba, you can fast, pray, and wander your whole life and not reach enlightenment if you do not seek it with a purpose beyond self. Morihei created Aikido to spread Love to a world that was rapidly degenerating into the jaws of materialism, ignorance, and hatred. So too we cannot seek Morihei's power without the intention of using it to continue his struggle. If an Aikdoka truly surrendered to his or her quest, then, they would become like Morihei.

- Johann
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Old 08-22-2010, 10:24 PM   #24
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
3. The uchideshi at Honbu dojo had the time to practice all day if they wished. It's not just a matter of practice (I don't want to dredge all the other threads into this one, but the whole issue that has, at times, consumed Aikiweb and has certainly been the subject of the last few years of my research is that it's not just practice hours, it's what you are practicing. And my assertion all along has been that Ueshiba didn't practice (or teach) what most of his followers did. It's not just "natural talent and hard work." Some of the shihan I met were both. Some of those shihan got as good as is humanly possible within the training paradigm they had. Ueshiba (and yes, the top Daito-ryu people) were using a different training paradigm.
Best
Ellis Amdur
Along these lines:
Quote:
He [O Sensei] detested the idea of demonstrating for the general public. True Budo involved struggle, and invoked the stakes of life and death, so he felt that its inner secrets should be transmitted only to sincere seekers. He believed that to show the secrets freely to outsiders would be immoral, a kind of devaluation or disrespect for the art.
These feelings were perfectly understandable to us. Yet we also knew that, without greater openness, it would be difficult to propagate the art of Aikido as we went forward"
(A Life in Aikido, p. 299.)
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Old 08-22-2010, 11:08 PM   #25
Ellis Amdur
 
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Re: Ueshiba Morihei's power

Johann - All of that is very nice. And true, as far as Ueshiba devoting his whole life to his spiritual quest. But I started this thread with a citation from another martial artist impressed with two things. His ability to avoid attack, and his ability to break arms.
(I am holding back from going in any number of directions regarding Ueshiba's "enlightenment," his history, and what he actually mean by "love." See Peter Goldsbury's" magnificent articles on this website for the facts rather than the fantasies),
The only reason I am interested in Ueshiba is in regards to wanting to be able to break arms as well as he reportedly could, and there is no evidence that his genuine fascination with Shinto, esoteric Buddhism or Omooto was the main factor endowing him with such arm-breaking abilities.
If I am looking for guidance on spiritual matters, I go to far finer men or women, such as Abraham Joshua Heschel, the close friend of Martin Luther King, or Hazrat Inayat Khan
Best
Ellis Amdur

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