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Old 07-28-2011, 01:58 AM   #1
Ellis Amdur
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Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Alan Ruddock, who trained at the Tokyo Aikikai in the 1960's has written a charming memoir of his years training in Japan, his thoughts on aikido, a slender book with a number of wonderful photos of the later years of Osensei. It is entitled Aikido Memoirs.

First of all, we note:
Quote:
When his house had been knocked down to allow for the building of the new dojo he would often come to the old dojo in keikogi and would take a class. At the start of some of these sessions he would sometimes go through a large selection of exercises. (emphasis added) These were never seen in 'normal'classes at Hombu where the emphasis was getting into 'waza' almost immediately.
Even more importantly, in Chapter Eleven of this book, he describes a birthday visit that the foreign students of the Aikikai at that time - eleven in all - paid to O-sensei. In the course of the visit, the following exchange took place.
Quote:
As Henry (Kono) gave O-sensei his birthday card, he asked him, "Why can we not do what you do, Sensei?" O-Sensei's reply was direct, simple and final, "Because you don't understand yin and yang."
Afterwards they went into the dojo and took five pictures, three group photos and two of O-sensei by himself. In the last group photograph, and both of the two individual photos, his hands are placed in a particular position, contrary to the formal balanced positioning of the hands you see in almost every other picture of Osensei. He was teaching something important. (Note attached photo at bottom of this post)

Much of the latter portion of the book is Ruddock's attempt, through insights from Henry Kono, to explicate what O-sensei was conveying. Quite honestly, I do not believe they succeeded, but they at least paid attention and made the attempt, something few others apparently did.

In any event, given a clear designation that aiki in-yo ho was the core of his art - to a bunch of foreigners! - I would wager, as I've suggested elsewhere (ahem) - that the old man was dropping such hints almost daily. And lest he be accused of being too obscure or cryptic, how do you think he learned from his own teacher? In an interview, he was asked if he ever lost a battle: he described being Takeda's bag carrier, and almost being left behind, struggling in the crowd with the old man slipping through - an exercise that he replicated with his own deshi. In other words, his entire endeavor may have been as follows: "I watched everything my teacher did and felt everything he did to me. Not only did I steal the technique "in spite of" Takeda sensei, but I picked up every offering, because Takeda sensei dropped hints right in front of me. I do exactly the same with my students - why should I teach beyond those when no one picks up what I'm offering? If Takeda sensei built me with such methods, then these are the methods to build more like me - if they are around."

For example, you can see many photos where Ueshiba, within aikido technique, replicates this in-yo with his body, in various configurations. On page 45 of HIPS, there is a picture of Hisa Takuma doing a dramatic version of the same thing. Let me suggest the possibility that the assiduous student would try to create this structure in every aikido technique - not primarily between uke and nage, but within oneself. Furthermore, such a student would make a point of doing lots of the solo practices that the old man demonstrated, so that Ueshiba could see the product of that students labors, as if tilling the field so that the farmer might see worthwhile ground to throw down a few seeds.

In other words, such a student - like Shioda, for example would progressively receive more information on what to do next, as opposed to hearing "That's not my aikido!"
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Osensei:in-yo001.pdf (893.6 KB, 629 views)

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 07-28-2011 at 02:02 AM.

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Old 07-28-2011, 02:13 AM   #2
Ernesto Lemke
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Wow Ellis. Thank you for that. This post and the Kamae thread are killing me...Sorry for keeping this brief and my remark so deliberately obscure but I'm in the middle of a seminar working on you know what.
Thanks again for posting this!
Best

Ernesto

PS
Editing of the translation is almost done, text is due at the publisher by the end of next month.

Last edited by Ernesto Lemke : 07-28-2011 at 02:19 AM.

Ernesto
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Old 07-28-2011, 02:47 AM   #3
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Hello Ellis,

Your post raises a number of questions, one of which concerns Ueshiba's alleged teaching methods. He stole the information that Takeda intentionally or unintentionally offered him, but Ueshiba's own 'uchi-deshi' seemingly did not do this, or if they tried, they were not really successful.

In addition, Kisshomaru sometimes appears in the 1938 Budo photographs taking ukemi and I wonder to what extent he also did such stealing. My focus is on whether the decision to change things from 1955 onwards was a conscious decision, based on real knowledge, or was made because he did not have a clue about what the old man was doing.

Best,

PAG

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Old 07-28-2011, 03:20 AM   #4
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Then again, how many of Takeda Sokaku's disciples are generally believed to have gotten to a superlative level? Assuming that some quietly learned and kept to themselves, are there, perhaps, ten? As for Ueshiba K., I took ukemi for him a number of times, and although he has an admirable precision of technique (he could hit a waki-gatame like a machine), I never experienced anything that would lead me to believe that he "got" what his father was reputed to have had. Then again, perhaps he was hiding it . . .

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 07-28-2011 at 03:22 AM.

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Old 07-28-2011, 05:54 AM   #5
Eric in Denver
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post

For example, you can see many photos where Ueshiba, within aikido technique, replicates this in-yo with his body, in various configurations. On page 45 of HIPS, there is a picture of Hisa Takuma doing a dramatic version of the same thing. Let me suggest the possibility that the assiduous student would try to create this structure in every aikido technique - not primarily between uke and nage, but within oneself.
Would the zanshin "poses" seen at the end of some waza be examples of this as well?
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Old 07-28-2011, 10:51 AM   #6
Budd
 
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Great stuff - thanks for pointing this out, Ellis.
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Old 07-28-2011, 11:21 AM   #7
JW
 
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Thank you for the post-- documents like this are precious. Does anyone remember an anecdote of almost identical content to the "because you don't understand yin and yang" comment? I've been looking but couldn't find it. I thought he said the same another time (would be interesting if he said it often), and I think it involved a female student, possibly the one who received a book with a handwritten inscription (from Ueshiba) about aikido having 4 goals: building ki, mind, body, spirit. Any help please?

Last edited by JW : 07-28-2011 at 11:27 AM.
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Old 07-28-2011, 12:03 PM   #8
DH
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Ellis is again spot on with these observations.
I've nothing much to add.

The spiraling I have long ago pointed to, and Ellis is suggesting as well in the Hisa photo is demonstrated as an additive at the end of many throws in Ueshiba's randori films. He is actually doing the spiraling that he talks about and others mistranslate or leave out altogether. Like; spiraling with the legs; in and out on opposing sides mentioned in a couple of different areas by Ueshiba.
In the film the spirals are everywhere within his movement, but the exaggerated movement he displays as he jumps away (one arm up the other down) is not needed, so it is indeed as if he is saying; "Look..look at me...see what I am doing...hint, hint!" Just as he said, dropping hints all over to see who would pick them up.

Circles are not spirals. Once demonstrated and taught, you can show people where their arts waza are based and where and how they degenerated into something else. I have yet to meet the person that once shown...ever wanted to go back. There is a reason that he said Aikido is elbow power and it has little to do with just how you move your arms.

As Ellis pointed out; why follow up when Ueshiba talked to people about six directions, heaven/earth/man, spiraling and they do not ask why, do not know why....and apparently don't much care either.

There is more to be revealed/ reviewed with some of the new translation work being done after exposure to IP/aiki work. Chris Li might be a person to watch for what he comes up with now that he is training this way.

Good stuff Ellis
Cheers
Dan
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Old 07-28-2011, 01:51 PM   #9
MM
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

There is an interview with Henry Kono in an Aikido Today magazine. It's interesting in how that interview corresponds to what Ellis quoted. The interesting part is that yin/yang appears to be the translated part and Ueshiba actually used in/yo. In/yo are Daito ryu terms.

Mark

Quote:
1. Aikido Today Magazine; #31 Dec.93/ Jan. 94
Interview of Henry Kono sensei by Virginia Mayhew and Susan Perry.
ATM: When you had conversations like these with O'sensei, what would you talk about?
HK: Well, I would usually ask him why the rest of us couldn't do what he could. there were many other teachers, all doing aikido. But he was doing it differently - doing something differently. His movement was so clean!
ATM: How would O'sensei answer your questions about what he was doing?
HK: He would say that I didn't understand yin and yang [in and yo]. So, now I've made it my life work to study yin and yang. That's what O'sensei told me to do.
If we look further, we find the below.

Quote:
From Invincible Warrior by John Stevens:
Regarding Takeda, "His extraordinary ability was due to mind control, technical perfection honed in countless battles, and mastery of aiki, the blending of positive and negative energy."
I wonder what the original Japanese stated.

Quote:
Aiki News Issue 091. Rinjiro Shirata writes:
The purified workings of Mother Nature, which keep the whole great universe in order, are but manifestations of the Great Love. By means of the breath (iki) of the Heavens and the breath of the Earth, through the in and yo (yin and yang) the multitude of things has come to be born. The breath of the Heavens and the Earth is the abdomen of everyone, and when a person partakes of this breath the techniques of aiki are born, with and by means of the Positive and Negative Principles. That is to say, the kotodama is born and aiki techniques are born.
Positive/Negative; in/yo; yin/yang.

Quote:
A Life in Aikido: The Biography of Founder Morihei Ueshiba
Ueshiba is also quoted with the following:
As one follows the promptings of Aiki Myo-o, assisted by the virtue of the Creator, one's breathing begins to rise in a spiral on the right, and to descend in a spiral on the left.
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Old 07-28-2011, 02:15 PM   #10
JW
 
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
The interesting part is that yin/yang appears to be the translated part and Ueshiba actually used in/yo. In/yo are Daito ryu terms.
Hi Mark, to be fair they are Japanese terms as much as DR terms. He would never have said "yin" or "yang" unless he was speaking Chinese.
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Old 07-28-2011, 02:44 PM   #11
dps
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Quote:

"A Life in Aikido: The Biography of Founder Morihei Ueshiba
Ueshiba is also quoted with the following:

As one follows the promptings of Aiki Myo-o, assisted by the virtue of the Creator, one's breathing begins to rise in a spiral on the right, and to descend in a spiral on the left."

Aiki Myo-o, aka Fudo Myo-o, aka Acala Vidy‚r‚ja;

http://fudosama.blogspot.com/2004/12...a-vidyrja.html,

"

Acala Vidy‚r‚ja is one of the Vidy‚r‚jas (MyŰŰs) class of deities, and a very wrathful deity.

He is portrayed holding a sword in his right hand and a coiled rope in his left hand. With this sword of wisdom, Acala cuts through deluded and ignorant minds and with the rope he binds those who are ruled by their violent passions and emotions. He leads them onto the correct path of self control. Acala is also portrayed surrounded by flames, flames which consume the evil and the defilements of this world. He sits on a flat rock which symbolizes the unshakeable peace and bliss which he bestows to the minds and the bodies of his devotees.

Purpose and Vows
Acala transmits the teachings and the injunctions of Mah‚vairocana to all living beings and whether they agree to accept or to reject these injunctions is up to them, Acala's blue/black body and fierce face symbolize the force of his will to draw all beings to follow the teachings of the Buddha. Nevertheless, Acala's nature is essentially one of compassion and he has vowed to be of service to all beings for eternity.

Acala also represents his aspect of service by having his hair knotted in the style of a servant: his hair is tied into seven knots and falls down from his head on the left side. Acala has two teeth protruding from out of his mouth, an upper tooth and a lower tooth. The upper tooth is pointed downward and this represents his bestowing unlimited compassion who are suffering in body and spirit. His lower tooth is pointed upward and this represents the strength of his desire to progress upward in his service for the Truth. In his upward search for Bodhi and in his downward concern for suffering beings, he represents the beginning of the religious quest, the awakening of the Bodhicitta and the beginning of his compassionate concern for others.
It is for this reason that the figure of Acala is placed first among the thirteen deities (juusanbutsu 十三仏).

His vow is to do battle with evil with a powerful mind of compassion and to work for the protection of true happiness. To pray for recovery from illness and for safety while traveling is to rely upon his vow and power to save. Acala is also the guide for the deceased, to help save them and assist them in becoming buddhas for the first seven days after death. "

dps

Last edited by dps : 07-28-2011 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 07-28-2011, 02:50 PM   #12
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Quote:
his hands are placed in a particular position, contrary to the formal balanced positioning of the hands you see in almost every other picture of Osensei. He was teaching something important. (Note attached photo at bottom of this post)
After carefully looking at the picture I also noticed his one ear is redder than other one. That's direct hint for important spiral teaching. The last one, his left eye is looking down while right one toward the ceiling -- clearly heaven/earth teaching.

Also there is a famous story of a student from Europe. He was uke for O sensei and noticed that O sensei farted every time he was doing irimi. He didn't speak Japanese but he learned important teaching well. He thought "Yes, this is clearly a hint O sensei gave me. I got it right in front of my nose! "So after his return home, he and all his students also farted when doing irimi. After reading recent discussion, I personally believe he missed Ď6 directions' part of farting.

Nagababa

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Old 07-28-2011, 02:58 PM   #13
dps
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!



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Old 07-28-2011, 03:11 PM   #14
JW
 
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
[irreverent, dismissive, criticism involving the word "fart"]
...and thus in/yo balance was restored to the thread and to the world. Thank you!! Gotta love aikiweb. Just feels wrong without a post like that !
Personally I think you are totally, sadly wrong in dismissing the pose in the photo, but thank you anyway!
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Old 07-28-2011, 03:48 PM   #15
DH
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

I think posts like David's and Szczepans are vaulable in that they demonstrate where we were at and why no one got it.
Meaningless assignments to things they do not understand, and Szczepans modern day equivalent of Chiba's response to Ueshiba telling them "This is not my Aikido".....
"We couldn't for him to stop talking about all that nonsense so we could train!" (paraphrasing here)
Oh well.
Thus modern day Aikido™ was born.
And Ueshiba's way of aiki was kept small.

You know, after reading that interview and these more educated translations by those better qualified; he may not have been the one who kept the real gold from the run of the mill people...
it just may have been a voluntary opting out process all their own.

Dan

Last edited by DH : 07-28-2011 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 07-28-2011, 03:58 PM   #16
dps
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
I think posts like David's and Szczepans are vaulable in that they demonstrate where we were at and why no one got it.
What! You don't like my picture of the warrior god with a sword in his right fist and a rope in his open left hand?

David
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Old 07-28-2011, 04:01 PM   #17
DH
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
What! You don't like my picture of the warrior god with a sword in his right fist and a rope in his open left hand?

David
That isn't what I said, David.
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Old 07-28-2011, 04:20 PM   #18
Gorgeous George
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
What! You don't like my picture of the warrior god with a sword in his right fist and a rope in his open left hand?

David
Haha.
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Old 07-28-2011, 04:59 PM   #19
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

I like your picture of the warrior god. I detect definite hints of spiraling in that left hand and arm. And that seated posture of his is very unique. I suppose we could translate it as something flowerly like "lotus" but no one would get it and who's ever seen a lotus, anyway? Let's just say he's sitting cross-legged.
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Old 07-28-2011, 05:38 PM   #20
rob_liberti
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Before I experienced some of what these folks are talking about I was critical myself. Admittedly, I didn't know what I didn't know. It was hidden in plain sight, and I couldn't see it without help. Being a curmudgeon is fine because people can laugh and enjoy your wit. But, it is risky to poke fun of some of the finest martial artists' opinions in that you may end up looking like the snookie of aikiweb. HaHa

old mcdojo had a form, aiki aiki do...
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Old 07-28-2011, 05:53 PM   #21
Janet Rosen
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Quote:
Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
I suppose we could translate it as something flowerly like "lotus" but no one would get it and who's ever seen a lotus, anyway?
{raises hand}
Easily visited annually at Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

Janet Rosen
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Old 07-28-2011, 08:37 PM   #22
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
{raises hand}
Easily visited annually at Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
http://www.flickr.com/photos/2987105...in/photostream

If anyone is wondering, this is a lotus. Any more questions? I am more than happy to cook everyone crumpets and then teach them to play cricket.
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Old 07-28-2011, 09:24 PM   #23
hughrbeyer
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Eh, and how's a picture of a flower supposed to help anybody know how to sit? Tell the friggin' gaijin to sit cross-legged and be done.
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Old 07-28-2011, 10:24 PM   #24
Lee Salzman
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Who needs photographs when we got these newfangled movin' pictures?
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Old 07-28-2011, 11:08 PM   #25
Mike Sigman
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Re: Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote: View Post
Admittedly, I didn't know what I didn't know. It was hidden in plain sight, and I couldn't see it without help.
Wouldn't the obvious next question be "what else am I missing that I didn't/don't know that I'm missing?". A related question is "what did Ueshiba know and when did he know it?". Both very valid questions if someone is taking a look at "internal strength" in Aikido.

2 cents.

Mike Sigman
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