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Old 12-04-2011, 11:09 AM   #76
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

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On the flip side, we also must realize, he is only one small piece of the totality of Ueshiba. Other students received other parts of the transmission. Those are extremely important parts of the whole that is aikido. Not the entirety, but still important.
This is one of the things that folks need to understand... I have never had a conversation with any of the students of the Founder in which they didn't admit that they had only gotten a portion of what he was doing. To a man, they'll freely admit this.

But the quickest way to get one of these teachers riled is to start talking about what they did or did not "get" when the person doing the talking never met or trained with the Founder. I think this normal
human nature and not culturally specific. One see this same thing in business, law enforcement, the military, etc.

Certainly a generalized discussion of the "transmission" is necessary. People who are serious about their Aikido should, I think, be aware of what was and was not in pre-war Aikido and the same for post-war Aikido. What dropped out after the war? Was it intentional? Did it diminish the art or simply change it? Are there things that were practiced or methodologies that dropped out that it might be a good idea to revisit?

I can't see that it is in any way controversial to state that the various deshi couldn't do what the Founder did, since that is what everyone of them admitted himself. But once we agree on that point, there is no function or benefit to taking the discussion to the level of this or that teacher's degree of getting it etc. These were all people who dedicated the entire lives to this art. We are all free to decide which teacher's interpretation of the art fits our own preference. But a lot of the discussion of motivations, abilities, etc is small minded and disrespects the effort and sacrifices these people made to get our art where it is.

It's about the Aikido, not the personalities... To me it is clear that various things were part of the early training under O-Sensei that developed certain skills. It would be nice to re-incorporate those into our own Aikido. On the other hand, it is ENTIRELY wrong to dismiss the direction Aikido took after the war as some deviation fro the Founder's true Aikido. It is clear that Aikido changed over time. It is clear that the Founder changed over time. The Founder was in a position to observe the direction that every single one of his students took. This was not a teacher who was shy about telling his students what was and was not proper. This notion that Aikido got "hijacked" by Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Koichi Tohei with the assistance of Arikawa and Osawa Senseis and taken in a direction that the Founder found objectionable simply doesn't hold water. As Peter Goldsbury stated, the Nidai Doshu clearly felt that he was the custodian of the art for his Father and that he was acting with the Founder's knowledge and under his general direction. I can't imagine that anyone would seriously maintain that if O-Sensei had gone to Kisshomaru and said, this is wrong, don't do this.. that his son wouldn't have instantly changed what he was doing.

I don't think the Founder or any of his students quite knew how to structure Aikido once it was determined that the art should "go public". The entire Aikido paradigm had been private, restricted, by recommendation only, highly exclusive, and elitist. Suddenly, this whole post war notion of democracy etc is changing Japan and Aikido changes to go along with that. It is quite clear that not a single person involved was comfortable with the process. O-Sensei saw that his idea that Aikido change the world required that it go forth but t the same time that idea was hard to square with his notions of how Budo was transmitted. He placed his trust in his son on condition that the son not screw up the art. Does anyone really think that Kisshomaru told himself, "Great, now it's mine, I can do what I want."

The single most devastating thing a father can say to a son is "I am disappointed in you". Sons will kill themselves trying to make their father's proud. What kind of pressure do you think Kisshomaru Ueshiba was under with a father who was one of the great geniuses of modern Japanese martial arts, who created a brand new art, with a brand new vision? I think the Nidai Doshu probably didn't have a moment in his adult life when he wasn't thinking about how his father would view what he was doing. And his father had ample opportunity to comment on what was happening, right up until 1969... That's 24 years of development during which the Founder could express himself about the direction the art was being taken.

Personally, I think that the leaders of the immediate post war Aikikai did their level best to translate O-Sensei's art into something that could survive him. I absolutely believe that they sat down together and considered what the Founder wished, what made sense in the Japan at the time, what the purpose of the art was supposed to be, etc and they gave it the form it took. It has morphed continuously since that time and continues to do so. If some of us feel that things were dropped out of the art during this transformation process, then we can and should put those elements back in. We are not really in any position to understand the whys and wherefores of how that process took place. I strenuously object to the idea that the Aikido that has come down to us is simply some watered down practice for the masses, not the "real" thing.

Yes, there has been a transmission problem. If one looks at the great post war teachers one is forced to ask where are their successors? Lots of time and effort has gone into training in this art but it hasn't shown an ability to replicate itself from generation to generation. But this is a solvable issue. It involves re-inventing the Organization as an entity devoted to the transmission, structured to optimize the process, etc. Perhaps sit requires a smaller group of practitioners training more seriously... Whatever... it's all a matter of proper structure.

At least here in the US, this art is changing again. The exchange of information about different styles and different training that started with the advent of he internet has resulted in a process of cross fertilization on a scale that would have been impossible thirty years ago. What I would like to see is an art that grows because of this process. To do that we need to understand exactly where we are and why we are here. We have to have a real appreciation for our art as it exists. This is something few of the critics from outside our art actually have. Their vision of a future Aikido is often really a de-volution rather than an evolution. Starting from a solid understanding of what the Founder envisioned for his art, we are now in a position to reincorporate elements that may have dropped out but we can see should be reintroduced. We don't need to scrap where we are, we just need to make it better. This is a very real possibility at this moment. I am very optimistic. But it is in our hands to do this, no one else's. It is the folks within the Aikido community itself that have to make his happen. If the vision isn't there, or folks are too tied up in the past to be willing to change, then the folks currently training on what i see as the current "cutting edge" will simply end up in other arts and Aikido will cease to be terribly compelling I think.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 12-04-2011, 11:20 AM   #77
Chris Li
 
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

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The single most devastating thing a father can say to a son is "I am disappointed in you". Sons will kill themselves trying to make their father's proud. What kind of pressure do you think Kisshomaru Ueshiba was under with a father who was one of the great geniuses of modern Japanese martial arts, who created a brand new art, with a brand new vision?
His father complimented him exactly once - upon the completion of the new hombu dojo.

FWIW, I think that Kisshomaru had more "stuff" than he is generally credited with, but that he purposely set up a structure that would not transmit it - at least, in which it would not be transmitted by hombu. Hombu, in this paradigm, is kind of a blank - but it leaves space for people under hombu to do the real work.

In that sense, I think that he was successful, since that's probably the only kind of organization that could realistically survive as an umbrella. On the other hand, I think that it is important to realize that this setup means that the King has no clothes - they have to tailor things themselves.

Best,

Chris

 
Old 12-04-2011, 12:03 PM   #78
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

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His father complimented him exactly once - upon the completion of the new hombu dojo.

FWIW, I think that Kisshomaru had more "stuff" than he is generally credited with, but that he purposely set up a structure that would not transmit it - at least, in which it would not be transmitted by hombu. Hombu, in this paradigm, is kind of a blank - but it leaves space for people under hombu to do the real work.

In that sense, I think that he was successful, since that's probably the only kind of organization that could realistically survive as an umbrella. On the other hand, I think that it is important to realize that this setup means that the King has no clothes - they have to tailor things themselves.

Best,

Chris
Yes, I think you are correct. The great thing about Hombu back in the day was the tremendous breadth of instruction that was available there. I think the Dojo itself itself was really set up to allow the various deshi to develop their own Aikido. You could have a Yamaguchi or an Arikawa both teaching there at the same time. But the secondary purpose of the dojo was to train instructors for the future expansion of Aikido. I am not sure the wide variety of style and instructional approach at Hombu made the process of training future teachers very easy. In the case of teacher training, I am not sure the "it takes a village" approach is the best one. There evolved a certain homogenized Aikido that lacked the brilliance of any of the individual teachers. Sort of a least common denominator Aikido.

I think this is an avoidable problem for future organizations but I do not see any signs that the current powers that be at hombu see this as a problem so the issue not only doesn't get better, it seems to continue to go the same direction it has been. I think it remains to be seen whether individuals of great initiative and talent will rise above the general level. This is after all a Japanese system in which there's a certain amount of "the nail that sticks up gets pounded down" at work. That's why I am far more hopeful about what is happening outside Japan. There is far more freedom to innovate.

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Old 12-04-2011, 01:39 PM   #79
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

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Of course, it's hard for people to educate themselves if the informations only held in back rooms. I think that it's important to get as much information out in a polite way while these guys are still alive (and most of them aren't anymore), and can respond if they choose to.

And yes, I think the details or particular persons accounts are important, especially as we get further away from people who were actually there. Where would we be today if Stan hadn't dredged up all those details? Note that just about everybody was alive while it was happening.

Personally, I think that the "whispering around the corners" that happens in Aikido sets up an unhealthy dynamic. It's okay to speak about things in private, behind people's backs, but not in public? In my book, if people are putting out information in a public venue then it is OK to question that information in a public venue. Nicely, of course.

Best,

Chris
Seconded.

 
Old 12-04-2011, 01:57 PM   #80
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

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Personally, I think that the "whispering around the corners" that happens in Aikido sets up an unhealthy dynamic. It's okay to speak about things in private, behind people's backs, but not in public? In my book, if people are putting out information in a public venue then it is OK to question that information in a public venue. Nicely, of course.
Well... I think there's a certain amount of hypocrisy in statements like this. How much would you say about your boss in public? Or a close family member? If the Internet Age has taught us anything, it is that comments on the public web have a way of finding their way back to the person concerned, usually in the most embarrassing possible way.

So it's all very well to say that this or that teacher's public statements should be subject to public criticism, quite another to put that teacher's students in a position of having to align themselves (or not) with the critic.

Katherine
 
Old 12-04-2011, 02:45 PM   #81
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

That teacher's students are under no obligation to align with the critic. It is perfectly understandable if they do not. The discrepancy has been pointed out and nothing more need be said.
 
Old 12-04-2011, 03:37 PM   #82
Chris Li
 
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

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Well... I think there's a certain amount of hypocrisy in statements like this. How much would you say about your boss in public? Or a close family member? If the Internet Age has taught us anything, it is that comments on the public web have a way of finding their way back to the person concerned, usually in the most embarrassing possible way.

So it's all very well to say that this or that teacher's public statements should be subject to public criticism, quite another to put that teacher's students in a position of having to align themselves (or not) with the critic.

Katherine
Well, I see your point, but on an issue of historical record there isn't really an issues of sides, is there? If someone says 1982 and the public record says 1994 then they're the one that ought to be embarrassed, not the person pointing it out in a nice way. For me, if they can't deal with that then that's their problem. If someone feels that their relationship with their teacher can't handle that then they'd be better off not speaking up and taking "sides".

Best,

Chris

 
Old 12-04-2011, 04:00 PM   #83
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

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Of course, it's hard for people to educate themselves if the informations only held in back rooms. I think that it's important to get as much information out in a polite way while these guys are still alive (and most of them aren't anymore), and can respond if they choose to.

And yes, I think the details or particular persons accounts are important, especially as we get further away from people who were actually there. Where would we be today if Stan hadn't dredged up all those details? Note that just about everybody was alive while it was happening.

Personally, I think that the "whispering around the corners" that happens in Aikido sets up an unhealthy dynamic. It's okay to speak about things in private, behind people's backs, but not in public? In my book, if people are putting out information in a public venue then it is OK to question that information in a public venue. Nicely, of course.

Best,

Chris
I don't have an issue with history. History is what it is, although the interpretation of facts varies over time. But Japanese martial arts are all a matter of "relationships" vertical, horizontal, etc. You know as well as I do that the Japanese interpretation of "history" isn't necessarily what our is. In some ways it's more like the Soviet view of history... it serves the interests of the state, facts that don't do that become non-facts. People and organizations have their "stories". You want to go poking holes in those stories, it is within your right to do so. But, don't expect it not to have consequences. Don't expect the folks whose "stories" you de-bunk to be happy about it.

There's a line its better not to cross. You want to discuss the fact that the post war uchi deshi had a variety of "stories" and that these don't necessarily match with the facts, that's just fine with me. But you take a particular teacher and get into his "story" and not only decide to de-bunk it, but questions his veracity or motivations for telling that story, well no... I generally can't go there.

It happens that I am training with a good number of folks. I'd just as soon they all get along... but at the least I'd largely be happy if they were mutually unaware of each other. If one of them starts directly bad mouthing another one of them, my life gets a lot more complicated. I have no desire to be forced into a situation where I had to choose between any of the folks I train with. That could easily happen. To what purpose?

On the horizontal level, it's not such an issue. I have good friends who can barely be in the same room with each other. But neither one is going to stop being my friend because I am also friends with the other. But in our vertical hierarchical relationships that isn't necessarily true. As has been pointed out, loyalty is one of the traits deemed important in teacher / student relationships. You cross a line and call my teacher a liar or outright say that his motivations are unworthy, what are folks like myself supposed to do? You think I can bring someone to my dojo to teach who has called my teacher a liar? The public or private nature of things like this is crucial for the implications. You say something to me in private, I can tell you I think you are wrong, we can debate it, even agree to disagree. But when it goes on the internet, is blasted all over the English speaking world, once said, it can't be taken back.

It's like family... You could say something you didn't like about my wife to me directly and I'd simply tell you whether I thought you were correct or not. But you bad mouth my wife in public or to her face, you are going down. Same in the Aikido world... if you want to have any kind of relationship with me, then you have to be respectful of my other relationships. This isn't "whispering around corners", it's how complex social interactions are maintained.

Why do we have the forums and why do we have private messages? Because some discussions should only take place privately. They can't and shouldn't be held out in public. The folks who don't get this are usually people who burned most of their bridges a long time ago and now don't care. But I don't think most of us are in the position of not caring about the consequences. And there are definitely consequences.I'd just as soon take the path that doesn't close off other paths for me. Not all paths do that.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 12-04-2011 at 04:03 PM.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 12-04-2011, 04:13 PM   #84
kewms
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

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Well, I see your point, but on an issue of historical record there isn't really an issues of sides, is there? If someone says 1982 and the public record says 1994 then they're the one that ought to be embarrassed, not the person pointing it out in a nice way. For me, if they can't deal with that then that's their problem. If someone feels that their relationship with their teacher can't handle that then they'd be better off not speaking up and taking "sides".
Except, as these threads demonstrate, it's never just about dates. It's more along the lines of "such and such a teacher had X amount of exposure to O Sensei, which has these implications for what he might have learned." Which very rapidly degenerates into arguments about what "real aikido" entails and who is or isn't doing it. I don't think that's at all helpful.

As much as I'm on record as disagreeing with Mr McGrew, I think his underlying motives are completely understandable, and even laudable: he sees an important figure in his life being attacked, and feels compelled to spring to his defense. He clearly thinks there is an issue of "sides," and knows which one he wants to be on. I don't think putting people in that situation is helpful to the larger goal of raising the overall quality of modern aikido.

Katherine
 
Old 12-04-2011, 04:19 PM   #85
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

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I don't think putting people in that situation is helpful to the larger goal of raising the overall quality of modern aikido.

Katherine
Well, much of the overall quality of modern aikido has its origins and causes in not adressing this kind of issues.

 
Old 12-04-2011, 04:30 PM   #86
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

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Well, much of the overall quality of modern aikido has its origins and causes in not adressing this kind of issues.
I disagree. I think it's totally possible to say "X kind of training would improve your aikido" without picking over a hundred years of the history of X training and who did or didn't previously have it. I think it's totally possible to say "modern aikido could be improved" without diving into the political tradeoffs that led to it being the way it is. Especially for those of us who are not Japanese and were not even involved in the art (or, for that matter, born) when some of the key events took place.

Katherine
 
Old 12-04-2011, 04:30 PM   #87
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

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If someone feels that their relationship with their teacher can't handle that then they'd be better off not speaking up and taking "sides".

Best,

Chris
Chris,
It's not a matter of me taking sides. Or not taking sides. It's very much a matter of the tone of a given discussion. As you said, if point can be made respectfully and politely, the facts on some level can speak for themselves. But leave the "judgements" out of it.

Now this has not happened, so I am being hypothetical, but were one the several people I host at my dojo regularly to post on a public forum that my teacher was a "liar" or directly disparage him by name, do you honestly think I could still be hosting him as if nothing had happened?

There are a number of great folks like Dan who are from outside our community of Aikido practitioners who are generous enough to share what they know with us for little if any return. They take active pleasure in seeing how they can help people be better.

If they want to be able to continue to do that, they need to ease up on their constant public criticism of the art... it drives people away rather than convincing them of anything. I am on record any number of times as saying I don't think that any of these guys understand Aikido. They don't seem to mind that I say so and we are all still buddies. They share with me and I take what I can out of it all. But more people would respond if everything weren't so determinedly negative.

And when you cross into talking about individuals you enter a very dangerous zone. The idea that we should do so while they are alive so that they can respond if they wish is just plain not going to happen. Can you imagine any 8th Dan getting into a give and take about Aikido fact and fiction with anyone publicly much less a non-Aikido person perceived as being disrespectful? Remember what Kensho Furuya's reaction was to the forum? He was so out of here... why folks thought they could talk to him like they talk to their on-line buddies always amazed me.

Well, some of us have important on-going relationships with various teachers. All it would take to seriously queer things up would be for some idiot to send a letter with some quote taken out of context and there'd be hell to pay. I am trying my level best to get doors opened for various people so that the whole community can benefit from their knowledge. But I need and expect a bit of consideration for these efforts in the form of not doing things that make these efforts more difficult or even impossible. There are times when debating certain facts is just indulging, times when nothing positive is there to be gained. Folks do need to understand that.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 12-04-2011, 04:38 PM   #88
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

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I disagree. I think it's totally possible to say "X kind of training would improve your aikido" without picking over a hundred years of the history of X training and who did or didn't previously have it. I think it's totally possible to say "modern aikido could be improved" without diving into the political tradeoffs that led to it being the way it is. Especially for those of us who are not Japanese and were not even involved in the art (or, for that matter, born) when some of the key events took place.

Katherine
Of course what you say (improving aikido) is possible. But knowing the hows and whys of the current state of aikido can help the next generation (or even the current one) to avoid falling in the same traps for those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.

 
Old 12-04-2011, 04:45 PM   #89
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

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But you take a particular teacher and get into his "story" and not only decide to de-bunk it, but questions his veracity or motivations for telling that story, well no... I generally can't go there.
I never got into motivations. As for veracity, I said before, I'm fine with the way memory changes, but why not keep the dates correct if we can? Especially since the one in question is a pretty minor difference.

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The public or private nature of things like this is crucial for the implications. You say something to me in private, I can tell you I think you are wrong, we can debate it, even agree to disagree. But when it goes on the internet, is blasted all over the English speaking world, once said, it can't be taken back.
The thing is, it's already all over the world. It can't be a situation of whoever gets their version of the "truth" out first has a monopoly because otherwise their feelings get hurt. I think that we should all be big enough to get over that.

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It's like family... You could say something you didn't like about my wife to me directly and I'd simply tell you whether I thought you were correct or not. But you bad mouth my wife in public or to her face, you are going down. Same in the Aikido world... if you want to have any kind of relationship with me, then you have to be respectful of my other relationships. This isn't "whispering around corners", it's how complex social interactions are maintained.
I think that there's a big difference when were talking about public figures, or people who are already pushing out information about themselves publicly. If someone is pushing this information out on their own than it ought to expected that this information will be commented upon.

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Why do we have the forums and why do we have private messages? Because some discussions should only take place privately. They can't and shouldn't be held out in public. The folks who don't get this are usually people who burned most of their bridges a long time ago and now don't care. But I don't think most of us are in the position of not caring about the consequences. And there are definitely consequences.I'd just as soon take the path that doesn't close off other paths for me. Not all paths do that.
Personally, I'd like to proceed in a nice manner, but honestly. I don't think that, historically, sacrificing personal honesty has served us very well in the Aikido community.

Best,

Chris

 
Old 12-04-2011, 04:47 PM   #90
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

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Of course what you say (improving aikido) is possible. But knowing the hows and whys of the current state of aikido can help the next generation (or even the current one) to avoid falling in the same traps for those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.
My experience is that even those who know history are destined to repeat it ... blithely claiming "it's different this time" as they march to their doom.

IIRC, a certain amount of the fragmentation of aikido after Ueshiba Sensei's death can be blamed on several different people being absolutely convinced that only they understood "real aikido." So maybe we're busily repeating that mistake even now.

Nah, can't be. It's different this time.

Or is it?

Katherine
 
Old 12-04-2011, 04:55 PM   #91
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

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It's not a matter of me taking sides. Or not taking sides. It's very much a matter of the tone of a given discussion. As you said, if point can be made respectfully and politely, the facts on some level can speak for themselves. But leave the "judgements" out of it.
I was just speaking generally when I talked about "sides", not anybody in particular. I really don't understand how there can even be a "side" here, a date is a date, and I haven't spoken at all about motivations.

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
And when you cross into talking about individuals you enter a very dangerous zone. The idea that we should do so while they are alive so that they can respond if they wish is just plain not going to happen. Can you imagine any 8th Dan getting into a give and take about Aikido fact and fiction with anyone publicly much less a non-Aikido person perceived as being disrespectful? Remember what Kensho Furuya's reaction was to the forum? He was so out of here... why folks thought they could talk to him like they talk to their on-line buddies always amazed me.
It is amazing - but I think it's healthy. It's very difficult to be a teacher in the martial arts because nobody says "no" to you.

Why shouldn't an 8th dan be expected to be able to justify their public statements and opinions as much as anybody else?

Best,

Chris

 
Old 12-04-2011, 06:18 PM   #92
graham christian
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

Maybe 'Questioning' is another example of modern Aikido. Maybe it breaks an old Martial tradition, one practiced by Ueshiba.

Never insult or bring into question your teacher. If you disagree then thank him for all he taught you and move on. Thereafter to speak only of what you do now and only respectful comments or at worst silence about the the past teacher.

In my mind it's unhealthy.

Regards.G.
 
Old 12-04-2011, 08:27 PM   #93
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post

It is amazing - but I think it's healthy. It's very difficult to be a teacher in the martial arts because nobody says "no" to you.
I remember Jack Kornfield, the Vipashana teacher writing that being married is the "reality check" you need as a teacher, everyone oohs and aahs over you and then you go home and your wife tells you to pick up your damned underwear (or something to that effect).

I certainly haven't noticed that the whole thing works that way for the American teachers... maybe early on when there weren't many of them and they were seen as "special". Not any more. It is true that the whole "Sensei" thing can be a big trap... you start with folks treating you a certain way out of respect and at a certain point you start to feel "entitled"... kiss of death.

I do think it is completely unrealistic to think that a bunch of guys who were brought up to think of "sensei" as entailing a certain set of things which were largely cultural, should be expected to make fundamental changes to how they view things when they are in their seventies and eighties. And is it really our job to ask them to change? In some ways I think that is just cultural chauvinism going back their way. It's one thing to call someone to task for abusing students or committing criminal behavior, it's another to break with ones teacher because he called himself an uchi deshi when he was part of the professional training program at hombu, or he intentionally or unintentionally fudges the dates of how long he was with O-Sensei from how long he wanted to be with the Founder from how long he actually was with the Founder.

I am sorry but there's a whole Puritanical / Judgmental streak in America that we see all the time and it creates a lot of needless suffering. I am all for calling anyone to account over issues that are really important but this kind of stuff. Why? This isn't like lying on your job app. The guys telling these stories, which I think they actually believe in some measure didn't get anything from doing this. They didn't get the high paying job. No one decided to train with them over someone else based on a five or six year difference in time with O-Sensei. As I said, it's just the story they are telling themselves. If you know what the facts are already, and they are available for anyone who cares, what's the point of then taking the issue to the point of inflicting hurt or creating conflict. I don't see it.

I mean, it's the same with my own family. My parents find me completely incomprehensible. They are old style Republicans, not crazy right wing but Conservative to the point at which its difficult to have a conversation about much without it turning into a fight. They are in their eighties now. They aren't going to change at this point, they aren't one morning going to decide that my choice to teach Aikido was admirable and made any sense at all. As far as they are concerned, it was self indulgent and I kissed away the best education money could buy. So, it is what it is.

Aikido is on the point at which a new generation of leaders takes over. I think that many of these folks are already experienced enough with the foibles of the previous generation that they'll change certain things. Certainly the whole issue of Japanese culture vs American will be a lot less important when there are no organizations in America headed by Japanese teachers. That day is coming soon...

George S. Ledyard
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Old 12-04-2011, 08:46 PM   #94
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Aikido is on the point at which a new generation of leaders takes over. I think that many of these folks are already experienced enough with the foibles of the previous generation that they'll change certain things. Certainly the whole issue of Japanese culture vs American will be a lot less important when there are no organizations in America headed by Japanese teachers. That day is coming soon...
Hi George -

And it remains to be seen if the new leaders are seduced by the mantle of leadership. So long on the doorstep looking through the window and finally gaining entrance. What, I wonder, will the effect on them be when the power and prestige passes to them?

Best,

Ron

 
Old 12-04-2011, 08:59 PM   #95
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

Quote:
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Hi George -

And it remains to be seen if the new leaders are seduced by the mantle of leadership. So long on the doorstep looking through the window and finally gaining entrance. What, I wonder, will the effect on them be when the power and prestige passes to them?

Best,

Ron
So far, for the ones who have already stepped up, guys like Greg O'Conner, Clyde Takaguchi, etc it seems to be working pretty well. Like I said, I just don't see that there is that much "power and prestige". It is simply a different time than it was when there were ten Japanese Shihan running all of American Aikido. There tons of us. There will be many small organizations rather than a few large ones. Sure, there will always be a jerk in the mix. But I don't see the role warping people in the future as it perhaps did in the past. People just don't have the same "buy in" any more. I am sure there are times when we wish they did... but it's probably healthier this way.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:53 PM   #96
Joe McParland
 
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

Some people benefit from creating or maintaining a mystery. Some people benefit from being the intermediaries, the interlocutors, the dream interpreters, the high priests, the mediums speaking for the dead, the gatekeepers to their teachers and their teachers' teachings, advocates of the new view, etc. These folks use any "technique" to defend, to assert, and to propagate their positions.

As always, it's our willingness to put value in understanding the mystery that gives these folks their power. The assertion of a mystery and an interest in a mystery are not fundamentally different than any other "attack" and connection--the foundation of aikido practice. Amusingly, the verbal techniques and principles are often analogous to physical techniques and principles... Can you spot them?

There are "lineages" and "teachers" that use their teachings so that their advocates free themselves of this this (masakatsu agatsu), and there are those that use them only for self-benefit--whatever the assertion to the contrary (just another technique). One leads to actual harmony; one does not. It's an interesting exercise to evaluate the different legends and personalities here in this light.

If you see this as an attack, well, "Honi soit qui mal y pense" and all that (irimi). Feel free to rail against the obvious common sense publicly like a fool and expose yourself if you like, or maybe jump on board the bandwagon and spend all night crafting a response explaining that that and something more (or something less) is what you meant all along (ryotedori tenchinage, leading). Your responses will be considered based on your tone and your acknowledgement of my superiority (pin).

By the way, have you seen my dog or pony?

 
Old 12-05-2011, 04:27 AM   #97
SeiserL
 
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

IMHO, while I enjoy accuracy in lineage and semantic (though they can only be subjectively yet contextually understood), I think more about what can be learned from training with them.

I have learned a lot from Saotome Sensei and several people who studied with him.

Proficiency perhaps is a higher criteria for me.

Are we all willing to have our training history publicly scrutinized?

Is that useful?

Thoughts?

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!
 
Old 12-05-2011, 05:05 AM   #98
DBrandw
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
Maybe 'Questioning' is another example of modern Aikido. Maybe it breaks an old Martial tradition, one practiced by Ueshiba.

Never insult or bring into question your teacher. If you disagree then thank him for all he taught you and move on. Thereafter to speak only of what you do now and only respectful comments or at worst silence about the the past teacher.

In my mind it's unhealthy.

Regards.G.
Think you got a point here. Just a thing to remember: "Insult" is kinda cultural/country bounded. What's insulting in the "east" may not be insulting in the "west".

Just my 2 cents, D.
 
Old 12-05-2011, 08:41 AM   #99
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

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Dennis Brandwacht wrote: View Post
Think you got a point here. Just a thing to remember: "Insult" is kinda cultural/country bounded. What's insulting in the "east" may not be insulting in the "west".

Just my 2 cents, D.
As what is not an insult or showing disrespect in the east can be the opposite in the west.

 
Old 12-05-2011, 09:59 AM   #100
Ken McGrew
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Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

The general direction of this discussion went from insulting to Saotome Sensei, to people saying don't insult my teacher, to people saying that the critics are correct in what they claim but shouldn't say so publicly.

I do not accept that the critics are correct. I think it is important that the history not be conceded to these critics.

It's one thing to say that someone got the number of years wrong. I don't think that alone is particularly insulting, it is more to intentionally embarrass someone for a simple error that humans make.

What is insulting is to say that all the direct students of O Sensei had no idea what he was doing and therefore made stuff up. What is insulting is to state or imply that these direct students must be mistaken or dishonest when they recount stories of being taught directly by O Sensei. What is insulting is to state that the direct students of O Sensei had very little experience with him, that Doshu watered down the art intentionally, and all the other things that are frequently repeated.

When teachers tell us what O Sensei told them I am inclined to believe them. When they have a large number of highly detailed stories their stories of their time with O Sensei carry even more weight as being authentic. So the insults that were so directly stated in this discussion thread are frequently implied. I don't find the implied insults any more palatable than those that name names.

There are ways for those who think in yo ho is a lost secret of Aikido to say so without the things that these teachers say they were taught by O Sensei being fabrications. There are two logical conclusions that allow both things to be true: 1) O Sensei deliberately left out this secret or 2) O Sensei failed to teach the secret. Both of these conclusions are only compatible with the narratives that the direct students tell if we accept the things that they say. That is primarily that O Sensei was creating a new art based on non-resistance and harmony. Anything that was left out may be of value but was not the heart of what he was trying to teach. If this basic position that almost every post war student who trained with O Sensei holds is not accepted, then the two positions cannot be reconciled.

So long as there are people who believe that the very heart of Aikido was lost, so long as they refuse to accept the idea that Aikido was a departure from the past with a new focus, it will be necessary for them to undermine the things that the direct students of O Sensei say that he taught them about the practice and meaning of Aikido. The insults will return either directly stated or implied. It would be better to say they have this new thing that may help Aikido rather than claiming to own the lost secret of Aikido. There would be no controversy then and they would even attract more students.

Even if the critics (or visionaries or however they would like to be referred to) were willing to blend in this manner, the problem would remain of whether what they are doing is compatible with the training process of Aikido, as is explored in this thread: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...ki+back+aikido

These conflicts will continue, however politely or not, because the collection of claims that are being advanced do contradict what O Sensei wrote, said in interviews, and what his direct students report about their time with him. 50 years from now will these claims be accepted as fact simply because those advocating them posted more, sold more books, and sold more videos?

Last edited by Ken McGrew : 12-05-2011 at 10:03 AM.
 

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