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Old 11-29-2011, 12:26 PM   #26
Chris Li
 
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

And another interesting passage from Peter Goldsbury's post - http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpo...0&postcount=10

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Briefly, Mr Kitahira did not mention anyone by name when he made his "caustic" remarks and my own remarks tie in with what the late Kisshomaru Ueshiba once told me in a private conversation, namely, that O Sensei had no postwar uchi-deshi and that he himself had no uchi-deshi at all. Since I had been told previously by a number of shihans who entered the Hombu after the war that they were uchi-deshi of the Founder, Doshu's remarks were surprising, to say the least.
Best,

Chris

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Old 11-29-2011, 12:27 PM   #27
Ian Keane
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

In the article, it was pointed out that, for a variety of reasons, most of the post-war uchi-deshi had limited direct instruction from O-sensei. Isn't this true of Saito as well? Although Saito trained with O-sensei at Iwama directly during the war years, I seem to recall reading somewhere that his attendance was limited to once a week or less, due to his job as a railway porter. Is this true?

Also, it is a fact that O-sensei promoted Tohei 10th dan during his lifetime, not Saito. Doesn't this argue that the founder of Aikido felt that Tohei had the better understanding of the art? Is that relevant in terms of technical mastery of the techniques?

Last edited by Ian Keane : 11-29-2011 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 11-29-2011, 12:35 PM   #28
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Ian Keane wrote: View Post
In the article, it was pointed out that, for a variety of reasons, most of the post-war uchi-deshi had limited direct instruction from O-sensei. Isn't this true of Saito as well? Although Saito trained with O-sensei at Iwama directly during the war years, I seem to recall reading somewhere that his attendance was limited to once a week or less, due to his job as a railway porter. Is this true?

Also, it is a fact that O-sensei promoted Tohei 10th dan during his lifetime, not Saito. Doesn't this argue that the founder of Aikido felt that Tohei had the better understanding of the art? Is that relevant in terms of technical mastery or the techniques?
Saito had an odd schedule, so he'd work intensely followed by a number of days off during which he spent all of his time attending Ueshiba. He and his family cared for Ueshiba all through the 50's and 60's. In terms of actual contact hours it's hard to argue against him - that doesn't mean that he was better than anybody else, just that he was there.

Ueshiba promoted a number of people to 10th Dan before Tohei, were they better or worse? He gave a Menkyo-Kaiden to Roy Suenaka - does that mean he "got it"? Without disparaging Tohei (for whom even Saito had great respect), I don't think that Ueshiba really cared that much about the ranking system - things like that just didn't interest him very much.

Best,

Chris

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Old 11-29-2011, 12:38 PM   #29
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

Quote:
Ian Keane wrote: View Post
Although Saito trained with O-sensei at Iwama directly during the war years,
No. Saito started after the war ended.

Quote:
I seem to recall reading somewhere that his attendance was limited to once a week or less, due to his job as a railway porter. Is this true?
This was adressed some posts above.

Quote:
Also, it is a fact that O-sensei promoted Tohei 10th dan during his lifetime, not Saito. Doesn't this argue that the founder of Aikido felt that Tohei had the better understanding of the art? Is that relevant in terms of technical mastery of the techniques?
O Sensei promoted other people to 10th dan too.

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Old 11-29-2011, 12:46 PM   #30
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

Kazuaki Tanahashi, former student of the founder of Aikido, Morehei Ueshiba, known as O'Sensei, recollecting some of his experiences studying with O'Sensei.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpWY58LWaRE

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Old 11-29-2011, 12:47 PM   #31
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Ueshiba promoted a number of people to 10th Dan before Tohei, were they better or worse? He gave a Menkyo-Kaiden to Roy Suenaka - does that mean he "got it"? Without disparaging Tohei (for whom even Saito had great respect), I don't think that Ueshiba really cared that much about the ranking system - things like that just didn't interest him very much.
Not trying to be contentious, but the fact that he promoted others 10th dan sort of bolsters my argument, which is that, if Saito had a truer grasp of the art as O-sensei taught it, then why didn't O-sensei give him the recognition he extended to Tohei, Suenaka and others? And if rank and licenses really didn't matter to him, why did he bother granting them?
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Old 11-29-2011, 12:47 PM   #32
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Christopher Li wrote: View Post
From an unpublished (in English) interview with Yoshio Kuroiwa, who started training at hombu dojo in 1954 and was one of the strongest practitioners in the hombu of the 50's and 60's:

Q: Did you see the Founder at practice?
A: About once a month. He spent most of the time in Iwama, and would just show up unexpectedly at times. He'd appear suddenly, show about two techniques, and then disappear into the back. He would not give us any oral instruction. He'd say "If I show a technique twice it will be stolen", and only show each technique one time. He often said "Technique is not something you are taught, it is something you steal". It was really a kind of contradictory behavior. Anyway, at one time you'd just see him for about 10 minutes.


Best,

Chris
Here's a similar quote from another interview in Japanese with Nobuyoshi Tamura:

Quote:
"O-Sensei would slip into the dojo, show a few techniques, and then slip out. If he felt like it he would speak for a while. We were all young, so mostly we just wanted to get on with the practice. (on the content of the lectures) He would talk about the gods - Izanagi, Izanami and so forth. In Sakurazawa-shiki (Macrobiotics) they have some of the same ideas, so I thought that he was speaking about something concerning In and Yo, but that's about as much as I understood."
Best,

Chris

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Old 11-29-2011, 12:52 PM   #33
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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And if rank and licenses really didn't matter to him, why did he bother granting them?
Maybe the receivers were the ones interested in being ranked.

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Old 11-29-2011, 12:55 PM   #34
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Not trying to be contentious, but the fact that he promoted others 10th dan sort of bolsters my argument, which is that, if Saito had a truer grasp of the art as O-sensei taught it, then why didn't O-sensei give him the recognition he extended to Tohei, Suenaka and others? And if rank and licenses really didn't matter to him, why did he bother granting them?
He handed out ranks for various reasons. In Suenaka's case I believe it's because he needed a teaching credential when he moved to Okinawa. There were other people who received ranks for similar reasons. One person was awarded a 9th dan - Ueshiba just asked him what rank he wanted and the person didn't feel comfortable asking for 10th.

There weren't any ranks at all until 1942 - they started because they were required by the consolidation of all Japanese martial arts by the Japanese government under the Dai-Nihon Butokukai.

First 8th Dan - Kenji Tomiki.

BTW, I'm not arguing that Saito had a better grasp (or a poorer grasp) of anything in particular - just that he was in a position to see where Ueshiba was - with him in Iwama.

As for his rank - maybe he forgot to ask for it .

Best,

Chris

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Old 11-29-2011, 01:03 PM   #35
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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As for his rank - maybe he forgot to ask for it .
Heh. I s'pose that's possible. The general unworldliness of artists is, after all, proverbial.
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Old 11-29-2011, 01:28 PM   #36
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

Hello,

I think if you want to get as close as you can to O Sensei's aikido you have to train in the Iwama tradition. M. Saito was with O'Sensei for 23 years and trained with him outside of standard class times. I know this will anger a lot of people but that is just the way it is. Whether or not that is good or bad, I do not know. Personally I have a strong background in Iwama style but I also do not think that I can't learn from other styles of aikido and even koryu.

I always found it interesting when these shihan would claim to be uchi deshi for O'Sensei after the war and did not spend any time in Iwama.

Best,

Eric
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Old 11-29-2011, 01:32 PM   #37
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

Chris...you beat me to it. Was going to post this earlier....

I was told by one Shihan of the same generation as the present Doshu and Osawa H. that O'Sensei would appear unexpectedly (at Hombu), recite something esoteric, do a technique and call it "kokyunage!" He remembers that to O'Sensei everything was "kokyunage" and everyone would sit around looking dumbfounded at each other…pretty much like most of us do today when our teachers demonstrate
This Shihan also recalls his seniors actually being supervised by Ueshiba K, Tohei, and Osawa Sr for the most part, not O'Sensei. I also recall an interview somewhere where Ueshiba K. stated that there really were no true deshi after WWII but one might consider Tamura Sensei the last deshi.
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Old 11-29-2011, 01:35 PM   #38
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Asim Hanif wrote: View Post
Chris...you beat me to it. Was going to post this earlier....
Sort of a slow day .

Best,

Chris

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Old 11-29-2011, 01:52 PM   #39
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Eric Winters wrote: View Post
Hello,

I think if you want to get as close as you can to O Sensei's aikido you have to train in the Iwama tradition. M. Saito was with O'Sensei for 23 years and trained with him outside of standard class times. I know this will anger a lot of people but that is just the way it is. Whether or not that is good or bad, I do not know. Personally I have a strong background in Iwama style but I also do not think that I can't learn from other styles of aikido and even koryu.

I always found it interesting when these shihan would claim to be uchi deshi for O'Sensei after the war and did not spend any time in Iwama.

Best,

Eric
Eric:

That is simply your opinion, not supported by fact. Mr. Pranin did speak highly of the Saito Sensei's attempts to preserve what he saw and learned from O'Sensei, but also stated that his Aikido was not O'Sensei's Aikido. There is the external form of the waza and then there is what is hidden inside. Saito Sensei did not appear to fully get what was inside either. Instead of trying to say that one is better than another, it seems more important to try and piece together what the various direct students did get from him.

Marc Abrams
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Old 11-29-2011, 02:13 PM   #40
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

Hi Mark,

You are correct it is my opinion. I should have put IMHO. I was not saying Iwama was any better than any other style( Sorry if it came out that way). What I was saying is if you want to get as close to O'Sensei's aikido as you can, you have to study Iwama style. Personally, IMHO one would have to go to a Daito Ryu person willing to teach the internal exercises to get even closer. No one will ever get O'Sensei's aikido but you can get close and if you train correctly you could be better than him.

Best,

Eric
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Old 11-29-2011, 03:11 PM   #41
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

Quote:
O-Sensei said to me, "Takahashi-san, come to Iwama. I will talk to you about aikido," so I went to Iwama every month. From April of 1958 through the beginning of 1961, I visited Iwama once a month to listen to O-Sensei's lectures. Then I wrote them down in manuscript form at home and went back to O-Sensei again with them for review. After I obtained his approval, I published them in our publication, Byakko.
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=295

According to this evidence, from April 1958 through to the beginning of 1961 at least, Osensei was clearly living in Iwama and Takahashi-san was able to visit him there once a month.
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Old 11-29-2011, 03:29 PM   #42
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Eric Winters wrote: View Post
What I was saying is if you want to get as close to O'Sensei's aikido as you can, you have to study Iwama style.
I wouldn't say that the Iwama folks I've trained with have demonstrated anything particularly unique relative to what I've seen/felt from other styles.

I never had the opportunity to train with Saito Sensei himself, so I wouldn't care to speculate on what he personally could do. But I see no evidence that his students received any more accurate transmission from the Founder than anyone else.

(FWIW, I'd say the same about students from Tohei Sensei's lineage.)

Katherine
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Old 11-29-2011, 04:02 PM   #43
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

Quote:
Eric Winters wrote: View Post
Hello,

I think if you want to get as close as you can to O Sensei's aikido you have to train in the Iwama tradition. M. Saito was with O'Sensei for 23 years and trained with him outside of standard class times. I know this will anger a lot of people but that is just the way it is. Whether or not that is good or bad, I do not know. Personally I have a strong background in Iwama style but I also do not think that I can't learn from other styles of aikido and even koryu.

I always found it interesting when these shihan would claim to be uchi deshi for O'Sensei after the war and did not spend any time in Iwama.

Best,

Eric
If any aikido style today had the "real goods" or was operating at a level closer to the Founder, people would be flocking to it, just like people flocked to Takeda and Ueshiba looking for something especial. Such skills would be evident in the students of this style and people would want it. The fact that there's no mass migration to any particular aikido style, and so many styles and organizations survive in parallel and none can claim superiority based on skill, tells you that everybody is pretty much on the same relative level compared to the aikido propounded by the Founder, regardless of whether your lineage is pre-War or post-War, or comes from Shingu, Iwama, Tokyo, etc. As Marc Abrams suggested, it's less imperative to discuss lineages thatn it is to concentrate on what the Founder was really doing and work to replicate it.
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Old 11-29-2011, 04:11 PM   #44
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Gerardo Torres wrote: View Post
If any aikido style today had the "real goods" or was operating at a level closer to the Founder, people would be flocking to it, just like people flocked to Takeda and Ueshiba looking for something especial. Such skills would be evident in the students of this style and people would want it. The fact that there's no mass migration to any particular aikido style, and so many styles and organizations survive in parallel and none can claim superiority based on skill, tells you that everybody is pretty much on the same relative level compared to the aikido propounded by the Founder, regardless of whether your lineage is pre-War or post-War, or comes from Shingu, Iwama, Tokyo, etc. As Marc Abrams suggested, it's less imperative to discuss lineages thatn it is to concentrate on what the Founder was really doing and work to replicate it.
+1

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Old 11-29-2011, 05:01 PM   #45
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
I wouldn't say that the Iwama folks I've trained with have demonstrated anything particularly unique relative to what I've seen/felt from other styles.

I never had the opportunity to train with Saito Sensei himself, so I wouldn't care to speculate on what he personally could do. But I see no evidence that his students received any more accurate transmission from the Founder than anyone else.

(FWIW, I'd say the same about students from Tohei Sensei's lineage.)

Katherine
This aiki-mutt agrees with this and with Gerardo's post too.

Janet Rosen
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Old 11-29-2011, 05:47 PM   #46
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

Hello,

I'm not trying to convert anyone, just stating my opinion. Personally, I think to get closer or to surpass O Sensei's aikido you would have to go outside of aikido to daito ryu or a koryu that has stayed true to their original teachings and of course find a teacher willing to teach. (again, just my opinion)

Eric
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Old 11-29-2011, 07:26 PM   #47
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
Peter:

That is an important piece of information that is not well-known outside of Japan. I think that another interesting aspect with Aikido is also the lack of an established means of passing on all of the art onto a successor. This is a common practice in koryu and in traditional Chinese martial arts. This practice does not seem to have roots in Gendai Budo. I wonder if you have any cultural information that might shed some light on this apparent phenomenon? Certainly, Takeda Sensei was paranoid (delusional disorder or paranoid personality?) and did not have the personality to be able to remain settled and focused on passing on all aspects of his art onto a successor. O'Sensei certainly did not appear to be focused on the continuity of his art. Given that this seems to be somewhat common in Gendai Budo, I wonder what might factors might contribute to this.

Marc Abrams
Hello Marc,

I have discussed this in the columns I am writing. The iemoto (家元) system became established for the transmission of traditional arts, but there is very little about this in English. After a few other candidates, M Ueshiba setled on Kisshomaru as his successor, but we do not know how he conceived of the 'structure' of the art, considered as a Japanese legal entity. The first thing Kisshomaru and Koichi Tohei did, after the Aikikai became more active, was to write technical manuals. Of course, in Budo Renshuu and Budo, there was a precedent for this, but these were never published for general distribution. Kisshomaru had his own ideas for the dissemination of aikido and Morihei Ueshiba seems to have accepted these, albeit reluctantly.

Of course, Morihei Ueshiba also had star 'guru' quality, and so there was a kind of pecking order among the deshi, according to how close they were. And every single shihan I have ever met who was directly taught by M Ueshiba claimed to be a special student--and the implication was that he/ they were far closer to the Founder than other mortals. Which is true, but requires a context. Finally, I remember the reaction of one shihan when I announced my intended residence in Japan. He smiled ruefully and stated that I would finally discover 'the truth' about aikido. (Just like Stanley Pranin.)

Best wishes,

PAG

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 11-29-2011 at 07:30 PM.

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Old 11-29-2011, 08:01 PM   #48
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Marc,

I have discussed this in the columns I am writing. The iemoto (‰ÆŒ³) system became established for the transmission of traditional arts, but there is very little about this in English. After a few other candidates, M Ueshiba setled on Kisshomaru as his successor, but we do not know how he conceived of the 'structure' of the art, considered as a Japanese legal entity. The first thing Kisshomaru and Koichi Tohei did, after the Aikikai became more active, was to write technical manuals. Of course, in Budo Renshuu and Budo, there was a precedent for this, but these were never published for general distribution. Kisshomaru had his own ideas for the dissemination of aikido and Morihei Ueshiba seems to have accepted these, albeit reluctantly.
There's an interesting interview with Shoji Nishio here in which Nishio stresses repeatedly that Ueshiba had exactly zero interest in the management of any kind of organization.

Best,

Chris

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Old 11-29-2011, 11:03 PM   #49
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Gerardo Torres wrote: View Post
If any aikido style today had the "real goods" or was operating at a level closer to the Founder, people would be flocking to it, just like people flocked to Takeda and Ueshiba looking for something especial. Such skills would be evident in the students of this style and people would want it. The fact that there's no mass migration to any particular aikido style, and so many styles and organizations survive in parallel and none can claim superiority based on skill, tells you that everybody is pretty much on the same relative level compared to the aikido propounded by the Founder, regardless of whether your lineage is pre-War or post-War, or comes from Shingu, Iwama, Tokyo, etc. As Marc Abrams suggested, it's less imperative to discuss lineages thatn it is to concentrate on what the Founder was really doing and work to replicate it.
I think styles and lineages, like high grades and time training with the founder only give an indication that someone had a chance to get the goods. They can all be false indicators or they can be true but despite the opportunity, there is still the possibility that someone still didn't get it.

But it seems to me that when teachers who genuinely tick most of the indicator-boxes try to do the same training they did with the founder in their own dojos, there are few people who are willing to tolerate it. Whether it's the "real goods" or not, there aren't many who want to do the tanren some who were close to the founder think is necessary to build an aikido mind and body. Wartime and Postwar Japan was a different world compared to the soft living of modern Japan and other first world countries.

Even when people make the effort to try out different teachers within aikido they sometimes carry baggage with them regarding how the training should be and struggle to accept that things could be any different from what their own teacher told them. How are they to recognise the "real goods"? They even struggle to accept provable facts and logic on occasion. With so much effort invested it is a lot easier to drink up the anecdotal evidence telling them where the goods are rather than grub around looking for bitter pills that are hard to swallow. The waters are very muddy these days. It's no surprise people are looking in neigbouring ponds or tracing things back to the source for the founder's aiki.

Wherever the real goods are, I don't think they will necessarily be found by people who are "flocking" because not being a sheep is a prerequisite.

Regards

Carl
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Old 11-29-2011, 11:44 PM   #50
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
Wherever the real goods are, I don't think they will necessarily be found by people who are "flocking" because not being a sheep is a prerequisite.
Which also suggests that the people who were the closest students of Ueshiba Sensei are not necessarily the ones most likely to have "the goods." Is there a list of people who argued with him and stormed out of the dojo in disgust? Or perhaps we should look at the later uchi-deshi, who weren't as far along in their training when he died and were thus thrown back on their own resources.

Katherine
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