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Old 01-22-2013, 11:24 AM   #1
St Matt
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Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

Ok this might seem like a silly question to many of you but what is the difference between traditional and Iwama aikido? Is Iwama different in the same way that Yoshinkan and Tomeki are, as in it is a different offshoot?
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Old 01-22-2013, 11:31 AM   #2
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

What is 'traditional aikido'?

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Old 01-22-2013, 01:45 PM   #3
St Matt
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

Erm good question? A lot of clubs say they practise traditional aikido, mine included. I just wondered if there was any specific differences in the two?
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Old 01-22-2013, 03:16 PM   #4
robin_jet_alt
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

I would say that people who call what they do "traditional aikido" are trying to teach aikido as their founder believes it was taught by O-sensei. Aikido that is not traditional is that which openly tries to do something different. Therefore, I would say Iwama, Yoshinkan, and Honbu-style Aikikai are "traditional" whereas Tomiki-style, Ki Society, and Nishio-style are not.
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Old 01-22-2013, 08:56 PM   #5
odudog
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

O'sensei was fine with new ideas and changes/improvements to Aikido. However, I don't think we can stray too far off the road that he established to be called traditional. Mixing Aikido with Monkey Kung Fu won't be considered traditional.
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:29 PM   #6
hughrbeyer
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

Would anyone try to claim that Iwama style is not "traditional" Aikido? I don't think so. It's distinct, but Saito Sensei believed strongly that his mission was to pass Aikido on as it was taught to him.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:31 PM   #7
Chris Li
 
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

Quote:
Mike Braxton wrote: View Post
O'sensei was fine with new ideas and changes/improvements to Aikido. However, I don't think we can stray too far off the road that he established to be called traditional. Mixing Aikido with Monkey Kung Fu won't be considered traditional.
Only thing is, the "too far off" thing gets tricky - "too far" tends to change depending upon who you're talking to.

Was Nobuyoshi Tamura straying too far? Some people think so.

Was Kisshomaru straying too far? Some people think so.

I think that Kenji Tomiki probably thought that he was staying faithful to Ueshiba and his tradition, even though he had his own methods.

I'm fairly sure that Nishio thought he was faithful - and that many of the more "traditional" instructors were losing their way.

Another example - Morihei Ueshiba was OK enough with what Yukiyoshi Sagawa was doing to invite him to be an instructor at Aikikai Hombu.

But now many people consider what Sagawa was doing to have been from a "non-Aikido tradition".

And so it goes...

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-22-2013, 11:32 PM   #8
Krystal Locke
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

Quote:
Mike Braxton wrote: View Post
O'sensei was fine with new ideas and changes/improvements to Aikido. However, I don't think we can stray too far off the road that he established to be called traditional. Mixing Aikido with Monkey Kung Fu won't be considered traditional.
Teehee. I have Paulie Zink's (a putative but INCREDIBLY flexible monkey kung fu master) very own autograph in my yudansha book. You think anyone will care his name is in there for my next grading? I figure it is MY record of MY training, and I enjoyed the crap out of his visit. He said my horse stance was good as he jumped up onto my thighs. Holy crap........
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Old 01-22-2013, 11:44 PM   #9
OwlMatt
 
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

In my experience, "traditional" is generally one of those words that means whatever the person saying it wants it to mean. Calling one's methods "traditional" (in anything, not just the martial arts) is a weaselly way of trying to lend them an air of authenticity without going to the trouble of really explaining their origins.

Be skeptical of vague terms. People who mean Hombu aikido will say "Hombu aikido". People who mean pre-War aikido will say "pre-war aikido". People who mean Iwama aikido will say "Iwama aikido". People who just want to sound nice will say "traditional aikido".

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Old 01-23-2013, 03:38 AM   #10
St Matt
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

Thanks for the replies people.

I don't mean to start any kind of debate on the subject, I was just curious as to find out if they are the same thing but just labelled differently by different people?
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:06 AM   #11
Alex Megann
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

"Traditional" has gained a comment currency specifically in the UK as a label meaning Aikikai/Iwama style (in fact anything that isn't Tomiki/Ki/Yoshinkai). It is also used by groups who have a long history of practising aikido, but aren't affiliated to the Aikikai. I have on accasion met people who say what they do is "traditional aikido" but not "Aikikai style", often with a dismissive curl of the lip as they say the latter.

There is an additional and more widespread connotation: because Morihiro Saito's first series of books were entitled "Traditional Aikido", some Iwama-aligned groups use the phrase as a kind of trade mark.

I personally don't like the description - I can't see how a martial art like aikido that only has three generations of history can be "traditional" in any meaningful way, beyond abiding by the common etiquette of Japanese martial arts...

Alex
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Old 01-23-2013, 09:08 AM   #12
Belt_Up
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

Quote:
Matt Bostock wrote: View Post
I don't mean to start any kind of debate on the subject
Well, welcome to Aikiweb.
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Old 01-23-2013, 10:44 AM   #13
phitruong
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

Quote:
Mike Braxton wrote: View Post
Mixing Aikido with Monkey Kung Fu won't be considered traditional.
EEEK! OOK! eek! say it isn't so! what am i going to do now with the banana that i hide in my skirt?

i thought we are monkey decendents which wouldn't that make our aikido - apekido?

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 01-23-2013, 12:37 PM   #14
Steven
 
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

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Old 01-23-2013, 06:51 PM   #15
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

For me, the easiest way to think about this is that there's a difference between pre-war and post-war Aikido as the art spreads and teachers mature and grow. It was during O-Sensei's time at Iwama with Saito Sensei that he really put the finishing touches on what would become post war Aikido Kihon Waza. It really was a "bridge" period. Saito Sensei would hold a copy of O-Sensei's pre-war book and say "see I didn't change anything" yet he didn't really look like Shirata, Tomiki, Shioda, or Mochizuki nor do they look very like each other.

But Saito was a systematizer. He took O-Sensei's weapons work and created a teachable system. I think he did much the same with the empty hand. All of the young deshi during the post war period had occasion to take classes with Saito. He was quite influential. I think it would be safe to say his Aikido was in everyone's to some extent. One thing for sure... if you wanted to know what O-Sensei's Aikido essentials were in 1952, Saito was the "go to guy". So, in that sense one could say it was "traditional" Aikido.

On the other hand what most folks, like Nishio Sensei or Saotome Sensei would mean when they used the term "traditional" was that what they were doing strove to maintain the values of Budo. They felt it was important for the art to keep the martial validity it had had early on while also containing the spiritual insights that made the Founder's Aikido unique in many ways. So, for them, "traditional" wasn't about conserving an outer form from some time past but rather conserving the heart of the art while being innovative about the outer form and how it might be taught. So I think Saotome Sensei, Tamura Sensei, Chiba Sensei, Nishio Sensei, etc would all have considered themselves to be doing "traditional" Aikido. They certainly would not have considered as valid anyone ascertaining that Iwama Ryu Aikido was somehow more O-Sensei's Aikido than what they did.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 01-23-2013, 07:05 PM   #16
Chris Li
 
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
For me, the easiest way to think about this is that there's a difference between pre-war and post-war Aikido as the art spreads and teachers mature and grow. It was during O-Sensei's time at Iwama with Saito Sensei that he really put the finishing touches on what would become post war Aikido Kihon Waza. It really was a "bridge" period. Saito Sensei would hold a copy of O-Sensei's pre-war book and say "see I didn't change anything" yet he didn't really look like Shirata, Tomiki, Shioda, or Mochizuki nor do they look very like each other.
As you say, Saito always maintained that he was doing things "by the book" - pretty much the same way that things were done in 1938.

He was close enough to Yoshinkan that Gozo Shioda asked him to follow him there, at one point.

The interesting thing about Shirata, Tomiki, Shioda, and Mochizuki is that they all started before the war, when Kisshomaru started, but they all developed the styles that made them known after the war, just as Kisshomaru did.

If you ask me, the difference in "post-war" Aikido is less the product of differences in pre-war training by Ueshiba himself then it is the influence of Kisshomaru and Tohei on the Aikikai.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-23-2013, 07:20 PM   #17
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
As you say, Saito always maintained that he was doing things "by the book" - pretty much the same way that things were done in 1938.

He was close enough to Yoshinkan that Gozo Shioda asked him to follow him there, at one point.

The interesting thing about Shirata, Tomiki, Shioda, and Mochizuki is that they all started before the war, when Kisshomaru started, but they all developed the styles that made them known after the war, just as Kisshomaru did.

If you ask me, the difference in "post-war" Aikido is less the product of differences in pre-war training by Ueshiba himself then it is the influence of Kisshomaru and Tohei on the Aikikai.

Best,

Chris
Well, it's all quite subjective about what anyone means... I have some friends who ae serious Yoshinkan instructors. They've come through town and visited the dojo and left saying it felt like home. I assume they meant how we trained and what the "heart" of it felt like rather than the form itself.

It's also important to recognize that almost none of the folks we are talking about just trained with any one teacher in Aikido and most did some amount of cross training.

I know everyone wants to put it on Kisshomaru and Tohei as being the big post war influences but deshi with whom I am most familiar don't look much like either of them and clearly emphasized elements in their practice that didn't come from either of them. Certainly the emphasis that Saotome Sensei and Nishio Sensei put on atemi waza and weapons work didn't come from either of them. Those elements were quite de-emphasized in the standard Aikikai version of the art. I also feel that Yamaguchi had more influence than is often acknowledged.

Anyway, the discussion is academic at best. Aikido is changing. The direction it is taking seems quite independent of the major figures that went before. No one will care in another generation.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
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Old 01-23-2013, 07:28 PM   #18
Chris Li
 
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post

I know everyone wants to put it on Kisshomaru and Tohei as being the big post war influences but deshi with whom I am most familiar don't look much like either of them and clearly emphasized elements in their practice that didn't come from either of them. Certainly the emphasis that Saotome Sensei and Nishio Sensei put on atemi waza and weapons work didn't come from either of them. Those elements were quite de-emphasized in the standard Aikikai version of the art. I also feel that Yamaguchi had more influence than is often acknowledged.
Sure, and Yamaguchi and Tohei didn't get along - there were distinct factions.

Anyway, there was a pervasive atmosphere created from a number of factors at Hombu after the war, although Kisshomaru and Tohei were probably the two most critical factors (which is why I bring them up).

It's important to note that this was very different than the atmosphere that existed at the Kobukan - not just the training, but the personalities and the times.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-23-2013, 11:59 PM   #19
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

I've been working with the material in Budo Renshuu (training manual for the kobukan) for awhile now, it's pretty different then Saito Sensei's Aikido. However Saito Sensei's Aikido is pretty close to "Budo" (Ueshiba's book). Latter in life Ueshiba's Aikido that is on video doesn't look much like Saito's. So it's hard to put a finger on exactly what Ueshiba was up to, and depending on the time in his life, it was pretty different.

Saito sensei did write a set of books called "traditional Aikido". So yeah, I guess you can say that Saito's Aikido is exactly "traditional Aikido"

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Old 01-29-2013, 09:47 PM   #20
Stephen Nichol
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

Having read and compared both Ueshiba's 'Budo' from 1938, Saito Senei's 'Traditional Aikido' series (Older one) and the set through Aikido Journal as well as training in Iwama style now for just over two years it looks and feels to me that Saito Sensei only teaches and demonstrates basic kihon in all of the 'books' as a way of keeping the essential foundation building 'intact'.

What we see O'Sensei do in any video is many levels above anything 'kihon' but my instructors (and many here on Aikiweb) will tell me that you need to build that solid foundation first and it will be a very long path before one 'truly' internalizes the skill to perform anything remotely like O'Sensei under 'non co-operative situations' even in the dojo let alone outside of it.

Coming to the topic of 'traditional'... well, I feel it is important to put the emphasis on principle moral/spiritual teachings of O'Sensei's Aikido first, followed by the technical curriculum that best suits the individual. I would leave it at that if only because the very reason there are so many flavors of 'Aikido' that have come from students of O'Sensei is because people learn and perceive differently from one another.

People will find some aspects of the training require more attention than others based on their own individual 'take' on what it took for them to make it fall into place and so they will focus on that and pass it down to their students who in turn will repeat this and so over time, things change towards a certain area of 'focus' over all other areas.* This is merely a difference in focus to me, not a way to label something as traditional or not traditional.

*(In my opinion a teacher who recognizes this within them self and that is not in conflict over it will explain this tendency to their students. To offer the best possible opportunity for their students they will make considerable efforts to expose their students to many other teachers and encourage them to see/hear/feel it for themselves and caution that they not to focus purely on 'better/worse/right/wrong etc... only different and nothing more, be accepting of it, take what you will and leave the rest for thought later... but never to be entirely dismissed out of hand.)
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:30 AM   #21
JJF
 
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Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

The term 'Traditional' is often attached to something in order to underline an untangible sense of quality.. like 'Classic'. The opposite positive word could be 'innovative'. The point is that words dosen't matter and that what little meaning one can gain from those terms will not be relevant until you have trained for a while and have some experience to reflect the terms against.

In the end it dosen't matter what people call the style type of Aikido they do. If you like it - train with them... Some will claim that keeping close to what doshu does in hombu dojo is the best way - others will encourage you to look in other directions.

I just came back from 2 weeks in Japan training quite a bit in what I can best describe as 'traditional hombu style' and I learned a lot to put perspective on my training here where I live which is primarily influenced by Nishio. The fact is that I have - over the years - seen a multiplude of different ways to do Aikido, and that I am currently taking the first step towards creating my own personal version based on what I have experienced and how my particular body function.

So... don't think so much about the terms. Get out there on the mat and do some training. In the end it will either create new meaning or you will learn to enjoy the lack of the same

Good luck

JJ

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