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Old 04-21-2011, 08:25 AM   #1
Lee Crockett
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Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

As a new poster, i just wanted to float this as my opinion and would appreciate some thoughts.

I have trained for over a decade within the UK, with a number of instructors and federations, as well as completing research over , and from my perspective, i do not believe O'Senseis Aikido is being practiced.

Controversial statement, yes.

It is my opinion that today, a composite Aiki-Budo-Jutsu is being taught.

From the initial students of O'Sensei, Aikido was disseminated around the world, with each instructor placing their own interpretation of O'Senseis teachings, with the exception perhaps of M. Saito.

In my opinion, the only people i have visually seen do Aikido in what i perceive as O'Senseis art is S. Arikawa, K. Tohei and Kanshu Sunadomari (and perhaps G. Shioda). The abilities of these gentlemen from what i have observed goes beyond the physical and into the metaphysical.

Aikido is a difficult art to learn, and as O'Sensei stated repeatedly to M. Saito, hard, solid training (Kotai) should be taught up to at least 3rd Dan.

In my experience, there is nowhere within the UK that trains this way. Most clubs train fast, they move before any contact is made, so apply techniques based on momentum and arm movements. There is no body art, and Aikido is supposed to be a Tai Jitsu.

It has been stated that the first Doshu "changed" the techniques of his father, O'Sensei, and if this is the case, and this is now followed and perpetuated throughout the world, with the style of training today, are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

I watch instructors of some repute like C. Tissier, who demonstrate a magnificent and flowing "Art", but the realistic application of his techniques are questionable. I.e. Can they really be done on a 25 stone neanderthal?

If it is the case we are not doing O'Senseis Aikido, should we even call it Aikido, or something else?

A lot of fellow Aikidoka talk about "hard" training with teachers such as K. Chiba, but is this really Aikido, or a Ju-Jitsu? I have watched this style of instruction and training many times with hard and fast movements, but isnt Aikido supposed to be soft and effortless? Can we therefore call this Aikido?

The definition of Aikido i repeatedly hear is creating harmony with the universal. But if movements are hard and fast, where is the harmony?

For me watching K. Sunadomari in some of his demonstrations shows a serene almost placid but lethal form. Is this the true Aikido, and is what we do today our poor interpretation of O'Sensies art.

From my perspective, i would like to train to try and achieve the high echelons of S. Arikawa, K. Tohei and Kanshu Sunadomari, but how do we get there if the art has changed?

Would appreciate any thoughts.
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Old 04-21-2011, 09:12 AM   #2
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Aikido is a difficult art to learn, and as O'Sensei stated repeatedly to M. Saito, hard, solid training (Kotai) should be taught up to at least 3rd Dan.

You have answered your question here......
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Old 04-21-2011, 09:36 AM   #3
Lee Crockett
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Thanks for the reply Tony, but not sure i follow .

However, i have not observed anyone who trains this way with hard solid grabs as O'Sensei stated.

If there are dojos out there that do, i would be interested to hear about them.
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Old 04-21-2011, 09:51 AM   #4
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Quote:
Lee Crockett wrote: View Post
Thanks for the reply Tony, but not sure i follow .

However, i have not observed anyone who trains this way with hard solid grabs as O'Sensei stated.

If there are dojos out there that do, i would be interested to hear about them.
We did..... Unfortunately not many want to do our type of aikido anymore. I don't have a dojo at present, but once I can get it up and running you are welcome to come.
I believe that Henry Ellis Sensei's ESTA group train in much the same sort of manner, You could certainly pay them a visit..... I'm sure you would be most welcome.....

http://www.ellisaikido.org/
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Old 04-21-2011, 10:18 AM   #5
Lee Crockett
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Thanks Tony.

I am familiar with Henry Ellis and Derek Eastmans training, but i would categorise their training as a hard Ju-Jitsu style.

That is not a criticism, its my opinion based on observation as a hard martial style. To me it bears no resemblance to the softer more lethal, and what i believe to be Aikido, performed by the likes of Kanshu Sunadomari.

My point is that i believe what is being trained today, is not O'Senseis Aikido.
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Old 04-21-2011, 11:03 AM   #6
Mark Freeman
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Quote:
Lee Crockett wrote: View Post
Thanks Tony.

I am familiar with Henry Ellis and Derek Eastmans training, but i would categorise their training as a hard Ju-Jitsu style.

That is not a criticism, its my opinion based on observation as a hard martial style. To me it bears no resemblance to the softer more lethal, and what i believe to be Aikido, performed by the likes of Kanshu Sunadomari.

My point is that i believe what is being trained today, is not O'Senseis Aikido.
Hi Lee,

I doubt if anyone is doing O Sensei's aikido. Tohei's aikido is Tohei's, Sunadomari's aikido is his own. The best we can do is to learn from the best teacher we can and make our own aikido the best we can. O Sensei left behind an art and many teachers, his aikido left when he passed on.

Have you practiced with Sensei K Williams? Both Sensei's Ellis and Eastman were with him in the beginning. He studied with Tohei for a number of years and having been a student of his and taken ukemi from him for many years, I can say he definitely falls into the soft but powerful camp.

Who are you currently practicing with?

Regards

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 04-21-2011, 11:04 AM   #7
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Quote:
Lee Crockett wrote: View Post
Thanks Tony.

I am familiar with Henry Ellis and Derek Eastmans training, but i would categorise their training as a hard Ju-Jitsu style.

That is not a criticism, its my opinion based on observation as a hard martial style. To me it bears no resemblance to the softer more lethal, and what i believe to be Aikido, performed by the likes of Kanshu Sunadomari.

My point is that i believe what is being trained today, is not O'Senseis Aikido.
Then I would have to say that what I'm doing is not your ideal.
It has been said that Tomiki/Shodokan is like condensed Daito, but I cannot really say honestly, but from what I've seen of Daito, it's not far off the mark.... Depending on what "School" of Tomiki aikido you come from it would appear that even that is fragmenting into different trains of thought..... I am considered hard, by many, yet many say they cannot feel my grip or forced waza when performing my technique, so where does that take us? Maybe I have found it but don't know it yet?
Personally I'm not that worried as it works for me....
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Old 04-21-2011, 11:34 AM   #8
john.burn
 
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Quote:
Lee Crockett wrote: View Post
Thanks for the reply Tony, but not sure i follow .

However, i have not observed anyone who trains this way with hard solid grabs as O'Sensei stated.

If there are dojos out there that do, i would be interested to hear about them.
Hi Lee,

I think, as you have observed with regard to the guys who train in the 'hard style' type stuff that it's a lot of muscle / athletic power and, well, if that's all you've got then let's hope you're a lot faster than the next guy who's a lot stronger than you or who's tweaked out on drugs and won't respond to pain compliance.

You need to go and grab someone who's got the goods in internal strength or at least someone who can give you a good intro to it. I'd look in the non aikido related arts section of the forum and you'll find 2 names crop up all the time, I can definitely vouch for one of them, Mike Sigman.

If you're ever in the midlands give me a shout, I'll happily show you what I've picked up along the way.

There's only really one high level teacher out there in Aikido terms trying to get this instilled in people and who's not afraid the take his hakama and black belt off and get on the mat to try and learn new skills. He'll be in the UK next year .

Best Regards,
John

www.chishindojo.co.uk
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Old 04-21-2011, 12:04 PM   #9
graham christian
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Lee.
I like your observations. That's a similar reality to mine. However I look at if those doing their Aikido are happy with it and if they are then that's fine. It doesn't make them wrong or right.

I too hold the opinion that if it isn't complete harmony then it isn't Aikido but that's purely personal. I don't hold that as a standard that others should adhere to.

Why? Because I also believe Aikido is for everyone and anyone so I keep it all inclusive.

I actually find out what their particular purpose for learning it is and then either tell them what type of training they will have to focus on to achieve it or lead to to someone who can help.

In my opinion most people understand the need for technical accomplishment and ways to combat this that and the other. If someone does 'a' then you need to do 'x' 'y' or 'z' Their own minds create scenarios of what if someone did this or what if a lunatic did that. That happens in all martial arts. This leads to the devolopement of jutsu or technique so theres nothing wrong with that. Aikido has much jutsu inherent in it.

To learn 'more' than that you would have to have the purpose of Harmony as your main purpose really and that would take you into a whole new aspect of Aikido. An 'unbelievable' aspect open to disbelief and ridicule. For example, using your observations, to face in a placid manner yet be so effective. That's a whole different mindset obscured by terminologies like 'immovable mind' 'shin shin toitsu' 'kokyu' etc.etc. If you can only translate these things physically then you will end up with what you see.

O'Sensei said what he did was spiritual manifesting through his mind and body on the mat. Not many then and not many now understood what he meant for he would indeed communicate from an omoto religious viewpoint and thus much gets lost in translation. So to understand and do it anything like he did, although in your own way, you would have to be aware of all three sets of principles- physical, mental and spiritual would you not?

You would have to see and relate them to the activity of Aikido. The principles of physical technique are well documented and practiced, the rest is harder to find especially if you want to do it as a martial art with a purpose of pure harmony. I believe this is the main attraction of Aikido and yet for many the main dissappointment.

Well, these are my thoughts on the matter anyway.

Good hunting. G.

Last edited by graham christian : 04-21-2011 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 04-21-2011, 12:15 PM   #10
chillzATL
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

I would say that for many years I did not feel that I was doing O'sensei's aikido. I was doing my sensei's aikido, who was a student of O'sensei, Tohei and many of the greats associated with aikido, judo and other arts in the 50's and 60's. I had no problem with that either, and still don't. We trained hard, with resistance and a mind towards street-effective aikido, using ki principles, good body mechanics and technique. I feel that through that training I got exactly what I paid for and it served me well.

Fast forward to today. While I do not think I am doing O'sensei's aikido, I think I'm pretty darned close to doing aikido has he felt it should be done. While technically I think I am probably doing similar things to what he did, his aikido was also a spiritual thing and I'm not really interested in it for that. We still train hard, the same as always, but due to my outside interests my understanding and application of ki principles has changed. What I look for in my body when training is much more focused, as is the way I go about doing everything in class. I find myself slowing down much more these days in order to train, as I see it today, the right way. I also spend a decent amount of time outside of class doing things that most people would not consider to be aikido, but are the primary reason I feel I'm closer to doing what O'sensei did himself.
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Old 04-21-2011, 12:19 PM   #11
Hanna B
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Quote:
Lee Crockett wrote: View Post
as O'Sensei stated repeatedly to M. Saito, hard, solid training (Kotai) should be taught up to at least 3rd Dan.
Is this a fact? Being concerned with pedagogic stuff doesn't really sound like the Ueshiba Morihei I've learned about.

Source?
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Old 04-21-2011, 12:45 PM   #12
lbb
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Quote:
Lee Crockett wrote: View Post
Would appreciate any thoughts.
I don't think your question can be answered one way or another, not as a matter of objective fact. People find the answer that works for them, "Yes" or "No" or (in my case) "I don't know and I'm ok with that". I'm just not a fundamentalist of any stripe.
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Old 04-21-2011, 01:36 PM   #13
JW
 
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Hi Lee, I am quite ok with not being a clone of O-sensei or anyone else. That said-- I mostly agree with you. I do think O-sensei was on a particular "path," and it turns out, I am wholeheartedly trying to pursue the same things that he was interested in. So I do have to consider how my practice is different from his.
So yes, I agree with you for the most part, about lots of folks doing things very different from O-sensei. And I agree about us needing to make choices to change our own practice to start doing things more like what he did, if we are interested in walking the same road that he was walking (which doesn't have to be the case for everyone).

Specifically, I agree about static grabs, slowing down and working with forces before adding movement. I know I am not alone in this point of view-- as much as you are unhappy with what has been practiced for the last couple decades, I think you will start being happier soon. My practice has changed dramatically in the last 3 years because of similar sentiment to what you expressed here.

I have started practicing almost exclusively outside the dojo for the last couple years, using pushes, pulls, and wrist grabs. I will go back soon, having drastically improved my abilities.

Do you know or have you seen anyone in the Manseikan? I wonder how well Sunadomari's students have done. There are no dojos here.

Quote:
Hanna Björk wrote: View Post
Is this a fact? Being concerned with pedagogic stuff doesn't really sound like the Ueshiba Morihei I've learned about.
Hi Hanna, are you in the Iwama lineage? I agree that rules like this probably weren't said verbatim by O-sensei, but Saito sensei did leave the impression of these rules on my past Iwama-lineage teachers. Saito claimed to not try to put his spin on things.. so that suggests that O-sensei at least did not strongly disagree with this type of level-dependent practice rule.
Not that these rules are the reasons that I personally do things!
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Old 04-21-2011, 01:50 PM   #14
dps
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Quote:
Lee Crockett wrote: View Post
, i do not believe O'Senseis Aikido is being practiced.
You are right, even his closet students did not or don't practice
O'Senei's Aikido.

O'Sensei's Aikido died when O'Sensei died.

dps

Last edited by dps : 04-21-2011 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 04-21-2011, 02:08 PM   #15
Hanna B
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
Hi Hanna, are you in the Iwama lineage? I agree that rules like this probably weren't said verbatim by O-sensei, but Saito sensei did leave the impression of these rules on my past Iwama-lineage teachers. Saito claimed to not try to put his spin on things.. so that suggests that O-sensei at least did not strongly disagree with this type of level-dependent practice rule.
Not that these rules are the reasons that I personally do things!
No I'm not. And I quite understood that this was Saito sensei's views - which does not automatically mean they were Ueshiba sensei's. So I wanted to know if this specimen of Iwama Ryu lore is based on substantial facts, if osensei ever said this, or not.

Of course, we can claim that since Saito sensei didn't put his own spin to things, everything he ever said is pretty much words from osensei's mouth. Historians won't buy that, of course. And neither will anyone except those (or some of) those in the Iwama lineage.

My opinion is that of of course Saito sensei did put his spin to things! esp. regarding pedagogic stuff, skills in which Osensei was obviously lacking. (Still his students turned out pretty good. Weird, isn't it.)

I also agree that the aikido of today is probably not osensei's aikido. I am among those who believe that the reason for this is that osensei wasn't taught aikido but Daito Ryu, and we can probably not hope to achieve his skills without going to the source. Plenty of people won't agree with me, I guess. And that is fine.
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Old 04-21-2011, 02:20 PM   #16
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Quote:
Hanna Björk wrote: View Post
Is this a fact? Being concerned with pedagogic stuff doesn't really sound like the Ueshiba Morihei I've learned about.

Source?
How does anyone know what he really said most of the time? I'm sure he changed his mind often depending on his mood and temperament from day to day and from year to year, decade to decade. I don't agree with everything he said.... if he said it, but I do admire his tenacity.....
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Old 04-21-2011, 02:24 PM   #17
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Quote:
Hanna Björk wrote: View Post
No I'm not. And I quite understood that this was Saito sensei's views - which does not automatically mean they were Ueshiba sensei's. So I wanted to know if this specimen of Iwama Ryu lore is based on substantial facts, if osensei ever said this, or not.

Of course, we can claim that since Saito sensei didn't put his own spin to things, everything he ever said is pretty much words from osensei's mouth. Historians won't buy that, of course. And neither will anyone except those (or some of) those in the Iwama lineage.

My opinion is that of of course Saito sensei did put his spin to things! esp. regarding pedagogic stuff, skills in which Osensei was obviously lacking. (Still his students turned out pretty good. Weird, isn't it.)

I also agree that the aikido of today is probably not osensei's aikido. I am among those who believe that the reason for this is that osensei wasn't taught aikido but Daito Ryu, and we can probably not hope to achieve his skills without going to the source. Plenty of people won't agree with me, I guess. And that is fine.
I think you are right about the Daito ryu bit and also the fact he engaged in contest as well, most will disagree with that to.....
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Old 04-21-2011, 02:31 PM   #18
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
You are right, even his closet students did not or don't practice
O'Senei's Aikido.

O'Sensei's Aikido died when O'Sensei died.

dps
Another Classic Dave.... Of course it did.... I don't have his aikido, looks similar, but like most, it is mine.... I cant see how it can be anyone else's do you?
Just like learning to write, everybody starts off similar, some end up with scrawl, some end up with beautiful calligraphy, mine is very eligible, neat and tidy with a flair to it.... but practical.....
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Old 04-21-2011, 02:40 PM   #19
Cliff Judge
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Mr Crockett,

With deep respect for where I think you are in your journey, you seem to be confused between Aikido as a quality of training, and Aikido as the result of that training. We all want to get as close as possible to where O Sensei was, and we continually agonize over whether or not we are training the right way to get there. (Well, some of us are sure we train the right way and are more concerned with criticizing the way other folks train).

Frankly, O Sensei's Aikido is the product of an early lifetime of training in a number of other martial arts, followed by a professional existence on the very intense and tumultuous Japanese martial arts scene of the first two thirds of the 20th century.

He taught various students in different ways. I respect your belief that Saito Sensei offered exactly the teaching that he received from O Sensei with no personal "embelishments" but in my opinion it doesn't work that way.

So there are all of these slightly different training traditions out there, and you have had the opportunity to experience many of them, as you cast yourself as quite a wanderer. You seem to be trying to figure out which is the "right" one, while emphasizing that you have some paragons of Aikido that you are deeply inspired by.

Might I humbly suggest that you simply find a style of training that feels right for you, and continue to be inspired by the Aikido greats you admire?

Of the people you may come across who train in some different way, you can either ignore them and what they are doing, or you might try training with them, show them what you've learned, see if there is anything they have to teach you.
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Old 04-21-2011, 03:17 PM   #20
James Wyatt
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Everyone has their own aikido.

I was lucky to find a sensei who believed in hard practice. Even in his eighties his aikido was incredibly strong. You need to find the sensei whose style you most admire.

There is a quote that when O'Sensei was asked why his aikido was so strong and yet flowing, he replied it was 50 years of kihon!

Everyone wants the flowing aikido and the power, you just have to put in your fifty years.....and how many want to do that.
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Old 04-21-2011, 06:24 PM   #21
SeiserL
 
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

IMHO, from what I have read and heard, O'Sensei's Aikido was infused with and an expression of his cult spiritual beliefs and explained Aikido in metaphysical terms.

Since there are few practioner of that specific beliefs system, we can conclude that few or any of us are practicing his Aikido.

OTOH, few of us can dedicate our lives exclusively to the development of Aikido through one's own spiritual and martial identity. Therefore, again, we are probably not doing O'Sensei's Aikido.

OTOH, after we learn the craft of Aikido, according to O'Sensei (as I understand it) it becomes a personal expression of the art of Aikido. Therefore, if we are developing and expressing our Aikido then perhaps we are doing O'Sensei's Aikido.

So no, I am not doing "Sensei's Aikido. I have my hands full doing my own hopefully in the direction he suggested and supports.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 04-21-2011, 10:27 PM   #22
dps
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Quote:
Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
Another Classic Dave.... Of course it did.... I don't have his aikido, looks similar, but like most, it is mine.... I cant see how it can be anyone else's do you?
Just like learning to write, everybody starts off similar, some end up with scrawl, some end up with beautiful calligraphy, mine is very eligible, neat and tidy with a flair to it.... but practical.....
You should then call what you do Attiliodo ( the way of Attilio).

dps
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Old 04-22-2011, 07:00 AM   #23
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Quote:
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You should then call what you do Attiliodo ( the way of Attilio).

dps
Or Attilio the hun.....?
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Old 04-22-2011, 07:03 AM   #24
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Quote:
James Wyatt wrote: View Post
Everyone has their own aikido.

I was lucky to find a sensei who believed in hard practice. Even in his eighties his aikido was incredibly strong. You need to find the sensei whose style you most admire.

There is a quote that when O'Sensei was asked why his aikido was so strong and yet flowing, he replied it was 50 years of kihon!

Everyone wants the flowing aikido and the power, you just have to put in your fifty years.....and how many want to do that.
The answer lies in the beginning as Percy Thrower used to say......
I practice kihon almost everyday.....
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Old 04-22-2011, 07:12 AM   #25
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Are we really doing O'Senseis Aikido?

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
IMHO, from what I have read and heard, O'Sensei's Aikido was infused with and an expression of his cult spiritual beliefs and explained Aikido in metaphysical terms.

Since there are few practioner of that specific beliefs system, we can conclude that few or any of us are practicing his Aikido.

OTOH, few of us can dedicate our lives exclusively to the development of Aikido through one's own spiritual and martial identity. Therefore, again, we are probably not doing O'Sensei's Aikido.

OTOH, after we learn the craft of Aikido, according to O'Sensei (as I understand it) it becomes a personal expression of the art of Aikido. Therefore, if we are developing and expressing our Aikido then perhaps we are doing O'Sensei's Aikido.

So no, I am not doing "Sensei's Aikido. I have my hands full doing my own hopefully in the direction he suggested and supports.
Nice quote Lynn....
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