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  #26  
Old 01-16-2012, 08:12 PM
Ellis Amdur
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A New Column: It Had to be Felt

There are incredible assertions made about who could do what in Daito-ryu and in aikido, and, for the most part, few on this forum have felt any of the people they are discussing. One may aver, however, that we have objective evidence: all the films on YouTube! What more do we need to...

Last edited by akiy : 01-16-2012 at 09:20 PM.
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Old 04-28-2012, 08:33 AM   #25
Ellis Amdur
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Re: A New Column: It Had to be Felt

On behalf of Gadi Shorr, a former uchi-deshi of the Yoshinkan, I've posted his memories of taking ukemi for Shioda Gozo in Robert Mustard's column.
I'm sure there are other people who, for one reason or another, do not wish to join Aikiweb, participating in the back-and-forth of the forums, but who would have something very valuable to contribute in the oral history project that the IHTBF columns are becoming.
If so and with their permission, please post something on their behalf or write it with them (in the first person), following the criteria of the columns.

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Old 06-01-2012, 12:36 PM   #26
Ellis Amdur
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Re: A New Column: It Had to be Felt

Over the past month or so, there have been some wonderful follow-up posts to some of the columns - among them George Ledyard's on Saotome sensei, Stefan Stenudd on Nishio sensei, Thomas Christaller on Watanabe sensei, and today, Gadi Shorr on Chida sensei. This project is beginning, slowly, to pick up energy, making it go beyond my "personal" project. The reader will note that in many of the follow-up posters have had different experiences than the original writer of that column, and it is a mark of their integrity that they have followed the criteria of this project - letting their own experience stand on its own, whether it be in contrast or agreement with those who wrote before.

In the next month, we will again have four columns: I will be writing on Shibata Ichiro, and Henry Ellis on Noro Masamichi. I'm also happy that there will be columns by new writers: Jorge Garcia on Kato Hiroshi and Marc Abrams on Imaizumi Shizuo.

I want to reiterate one idea for these columns. You may not have had the experience of taking ukemi for a certain teacher - but YOUR teacher has. If you wish to do an interview of your teacher, in the same spirit as the columns here and with the same condition, PLEASE do. If it is a follow up to another column, simply post. If it is an idea for a new column - something new - please let me know your idea before you get started, as I do perform a kind of gate-keeper/editor function in this project.

On that note, there are only a few people left alive who took ukemi for Ueshiba Morihei, or his contemporaries. People have interviewed them, but without specificity. DO let me know if you have a chance to interview such a person - and you and I can go over how best to get information that is relevant to the project of IHTBF.

Ellis Amdur

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Old 07-09-2012, 06:57 PM   #27
Ellis Amdur
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An amendation to the rules of IHTBF

Occasionally, someone will be delighted with the content of one of the essays or moved to agree with the writer. Please remember that this section of the website does not follow the conventions of the rest of the site - a usual discussion forum. Instead, it is intended to be an archive of finely-grained personal experience. Therefore, follow-up comments praising a writer or his/her article, or a brief comment such as "I took ukemi for x teacher, and his iriminage was incredible" are not germane to the purpose of the IHTBF columns. In other words, we are not trying to generate discussion in the reply section - rather, we are trying to solicit responses equally at depth to the original essay. For examples of this, please refer to the responses to the column on Shibata Ichiro, Saotome Mitsugi, and Chida Tsutomu for exemplars of what I mean.

Note, too, how the follow-up writers did not necessarily agree with the original, but had the confidence and moral courage to simply write their experience and let it stand on its own, this the epitome of the phenomenological method.

As Jun and I have discussed, usual "forum-type discussion" about one of the columns is welcome on Aikiweb. It should simply be started in it's own thread. The columns themselves, as has been discussed are not the place for either argumentation or praise, much less badinage or "likes" - rather, they are for rich descriptions of lived experience.

The new rule, posted at the end of each essay will read:

5. Follow-up posts should be substantive, striving to equal the depth of the original essay. Simply agreeing with the writer, or a brief comment that, yes, the teacher in question was really powerful or had a wonderful shihonage or the like, are not congruent with the purpose of this archive.

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Old 11-18-2012, 12:49 PM   #28
Ellis Amdur
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Updates on IHTBF

Although one or two other people may come to mind, I've just about finished my (personal) set of essays in this column. I will, however, continue to moderate this column, in cooperation with Jun.

I've made a number of requests to people whom I respect, asking that they write columns, similar to those of Robert Mustard and Henry Ellis, to name only two contributors, about some of the great teachers whom they have encountered. So there will be more columns in this archive in the future. I have about eight or nine essays promised.

According to my arrangement with Jun, this column is confined to aikido teachers, Aikiweb being a site dedicated to aikido. I have written a similar column on my experience with Akuzawa Minoru, but based on this understanding, I've posted it HERE, on my own website. Simply scroll down the page. I decided to write on Akuzawa for several reasons, starting with my deep respect for both his martial practice and for him as a man. Furthermore, his training background is such that what he teaches can surely have a profound impact on one's aikido practice, as a number of individuals could testify.

It is possible that I will write similar articles in the future, regarding my contact with other martial arts figures of my acquaintance. Time will tell.

Ellis Amdur

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Old 11-19-2012, 07:36 AM   #29
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Re: Updates on IHTBF

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Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Although one or two other people may come to mind, I've just about finished my (personal) set of essays in this column. I will, however, continue to moderate this column, in cooperation with Jun.

I've made a number of requests to people whom I respect, asking that they write columns, similar to those of Robert Mustard and Henry Ellis, to name only two contributors, about some of the great teachers whom they have encountered. So there will be more columns in this archive in the future. I have about eight or nine essays promised.

According to my arrangement with Jun, this column is confined to aikido teachers, Aikiweb being a site dedicated to aikido. I have written a similar column on my experience with Akuzawa Minoru, but based on this understanding, I've posted it HERE, on my own website. Simply scroll down the page. I decided to write on Akuzawa for several reasons, starting with my deep respect for both his martial practice and for him as a man. Furthermore, his training background is such that what he teaches can surely have a profound impact on one's aikido practice, as a number of individuals could testify.

It is possible that I will write similar articles in the future, regarding my contact with other martial arts figures of my acquaintance. Time will tell.

Ellis Amdur
Really enjoyed your blog article Ellis, thanks!

Unless stated otherwise, all wisdom, follies, harshness, malice that may spring up from my writing are attributable only to me.
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Old 12-05-2012, 07:54 AM   #30
Ellis Amdur
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Revision to My Essay on Akuzawa Minoru

A very productive outcome to my publishing the ESSAY was an opportunity to re-open a dialogue with Akuzawa Minoru. I'd made some mistakes about his training history, and in addition, he wished to explain further - as well as amplify - the discussion on the principles he is training. With the assistance of Rob John as well, we hammered out a rewrite that, although surely not a complete explication of Aunkai, is, per Akuzawa-san and Rob, accurate as far as it goes.

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Old 12-20-2012, 11:32 PM   #31
Ellis Amdur
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A Little Courtesy, Please

My column has a title: "It Had To Be Felt" - an obvious play on the phrase "it has to be felt." As a column title, it's mine as much as Peter Goldsbury is "Tradition, Inheritance and Emulation" - TIE for short. Like Peter's, the columns are numbered. As I've written before, I'm hoping each column can become an archive of people's experience with a particular teacher. Those, for example, who trained under Masuda Seijuro, can post a follow-up to Maurice Gauthier's warm piece. Unlike forum topics, which quickly disappear, the columns have the potential of being a significant resource - an archive - for quite some time.

Therefore, it is rather disconcerting that others feel free to appropriate my title. The problem is more difficult in that both those who have done so, have had "good reasons." But there are always good reasons.

Ross Robertson wished to make a point - as best as I can tell, believing that something essential was left out from all the writer's accounts, and hence he made "It Had to Be Felt" #0. Whether I agree with his point or not, that was kind of witty as well as nullish, so I let it go without comment.

Recently, a second piece was posted on the forum section, a beautiful eulogy, in fact, entitled "It had to Be Felt, #31. It would still make a great follow-up to column #22 on that teacher, and, in fact, I'd dearly love if the author placed it there, in addition to the forum thread it is now. (Jun moved it and retitled it at my request).

In fact, #31, upcoming, will be Tamura sensei. If I let this subject go, it becomes a trend, a term that anyone will feel free to appropriate. The title sets a certain frame, just as Sue Dalton's "The Mirror" or Peter's TIE. Aside from that, the numbers are an organizing device, so that people can keep track of what's new.

So please respect the title as mine. Please post your own rich experiences as follow-ups to columns about teacher's already up. If there's someone else you wish to write on, please contact me and we can discuss that further. I have five or six columns pending on other teachers, and continue to reach out to people for their memories about still more exemplary aikido instructors.

Ellis Amdur

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Old 12-21-2012, 12:03 PM   #32
Janet Rosen
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Re: A Little Courtesy, Please

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
The title sets a certain frame, just as Sue Dalton's "The Mirror" or Peter's TIE. Aside from that, the numbers are an organizing device, so that people can keep track of what's new.
Ellis, not to detract from Susan, my dear friend and co-editor, but The Mirror is and has always been a collective enterprise in which most months there is one author (at times we have done round robins) and the group provides advance reading, feedback, copy editing if needed. We schedule to ensure each member has as many turns in a year as she is comfortable with or has something to say. Currently we are myself, Susan Dalton, Katherine Derbyshire, Al Garcia, and Linda Eskin, with Pauliina Lievonen on temporary leave of absence.
Yes, accuracy does count. Thank you.

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Old 01-30-2013, 10:47 PM   #33
Ellis Amdur
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On Friction

I've gotten some second hand reports that some people <somewhere> were offended by one or another of the columns that have been posted in the last few months. The offended parties reportedly felt that the writer was inaccurate in their description of the instructor, or didn't have enough - or the right - experience to write about the person. In several cases, they felt that the person "designated" to write the first column didn't have the "right," the "experience" or the "knowledge."

It's a shame that this is the response to such fine essays (fine even if there are errors in fact or viewpoint). It is interesting in a way. Removing the opportunity to engage in an argument full of attacks, hurt feelings, arguments, even electronic threats leaves, for some people, only silence.

The problem, often, with argumentation, is that it narrows things - often making them smaller. Like whittling a piece of wood down to splinters, nothing of substance is left.

The phenomenological method, however, is one of expansion. It requires discipline, however. It requires strength of will, even strength of character, to refrain from arguing directly with the other. In argument, one often attacks the writer, rather than informing the reader. If you had a different experience - if your teacher was profoundly different from the one with the same name and birthdate that the other person wrote about, simply hit the reply button, and follow the requirements of the IHTBF columns. Post your experience in as rich detail as the original writer. Consider this - there are so many different O-sensei Ueshiba Morihei. The loss of any one of those descriptions, be it that of Sunadomari, Tomiki, Shioda, Tohei or Ueshiba Kisshomaru, would result in the loss, for us, of something of O-sensei himself. We will never meet him - we can only see him and feel him through others.

Your teacher is the same. If this set of columns really flourishes, in time, there may be eight or ten posts regarding an instructor. There will be no cross-talk, no reference to others' writing. When you turn a gem, each facet reflects the light in turn. If one polished that gemstone round, it would be little more than a bead of translucent or clear mineral. The sharp edges of the facets is what creates the gemstone's beauty.

So, to those who have read a column, and either fumed silently, or spoken to others in alarm, anger or outrage - put all that aside (the phenomenologists call that bracketing) and write your experience as if it is the only possible viewpoint. From where you stand, it is. Trust us, the readers, to read the various accounts of a teacher, and form a picture from all your stories.

Ellis Amdur

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Old 01-31-2013, 12:53 PM   #34
Conrad Gus
 
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Re: On Friction

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
I've gotten some second hand reports that some people <somewhere> were offended by one or another of the columns that have been posted in the last few months. The offended parties reportedly felt that the writer was inaccurate in their description of the instructor, or didn't have enough - or the right - experience to write about the person. In several cases, they felt that the person "designated" to write the first column didn't have the "right," the "experience" or the "knowledge."

It's a shame that this is the response to such fine essays (fine even if there are errors in fact or viewpoint). It is interesting in a way. Removing the opportunity to engage in an argument full of attacks, hurt feelings, arguments, even electronic threats leaves, for some people, only silence.

The problem, often, with argumentation, is that it narrows things - often making them smaller. Like whittling a piece of wood down to splinters, nothing of substance is left.

The phenomenological method, however, is one of expansion. It requires discipline, however. It requires strength of will, even strength of character, to refrain from arguing directly with the other. In argument, one often attacks the writer, rather than informing the reader. If you had a different experience - if your teacher was profoundly different from the one with the same name and birthdate that the other person wrote about, simply hit the reply button, and follow the requirements of the IHTBF columns. Post your experience in as rich detail as the original writer. Consider this - there are so many different O-sensei Ueshiba Morihei. The loss of any one of those descriptions, be it that of Sunadomari, Tomiki, Shioda, Tohei or Ueshiba Kisshomaru, would result in the loss, for us, of something of O-sensei himself. We will never meet him - we can only see him and feel him through others.

Your teacher is the same. If this set of columns really flourishes, in time, there may be eight or ten posts regarding an instructor. There will be no cross-talk, no reference to others' writing. When you turn a gem, each facet reflects the light in turn. If one polished that gemstone round, it would be little more than a bead of translucent or clear mineral. The sharp edges of the facets is what creates the gemstone's beauty.

So, to those who have read a column, and either fumed silently, or spoken to others in alarm, anger or outrage - put all that aside (the phenomenologists call that bracketing) and write your experience as if it is the only possible viewpoint. From where you stand, it is. Trust us, the readers, to read the various accounts of a teacher, and form a picture from all your stories.

Ellis Amdur
The "bar" for being able to post is not extraordinarily high. The requirement is having had first-hand experience with the teacher. It doesn't matter if the person was a white belt at the time, or was only thrown one time at a seminar. Those are the parameters, and the data is going to reflect the parameters, but I understand why some would say that the parameters are too loose.

Of course, if the parameters are tightened up, the volume of data is going to be a lot smaller. Say you make it a requirement that only long-time direct students can post their experiences. The data set will be smaller and more uniform, but also less interesting.

Then there's the whole "etiquette" thing. A lot of people (myself included) were taught that it is bad form to publicly critique a teacher (positively or negatively). It's an old-school, Japanese notion, but it will impose a certain limit on what kind of responses the project gets.

Having said all of that, the project was designed the way it was designed and is very interesting to read. I think it's more valuable to have something along these lines than to have nothing at all because of the difficulties of creating a project that is "fair" or "perfect". I hope that the project gets lots of responses in order to meet its goal of reflecting a wide range of perspectives for each featured instructor.
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Old 02-01-2013, 07:47 AM   #35
Mark Mueller
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Re: A New Column: It Had to be Felt

"Etiquette is the invention of wise men to keep fools at a distance."
Sir Richard Steele
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:00 AM   #36
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Re: A New Column: It Had to be Felt

I remember "feeling" or realizing how pervasive the SEMPAI / KOHAI relationship is in the Japanese culture for the first time. While living in Okinawa for ten years, I trained in martial arts. 3 in seidokan karate, and 7 in aikido. The Japanese culture is very complex to me, but I loved every minute of it. Anywho, years later, I got the chance to return to Okinawa (job related.) I immediately went to my old stomping grounds and the timing was perfect for a summer training camp on a nearby island. At first I couldn't figure out what was going on...they were being even friendlier, more courteous, and more helpful than I remember. Insisting on carrying things for me, serving me drinks, etc. I slowly came to the realization that they were treating me as their sempai! I knew my skill set didn't command that kind of respect and then realized that the SEMPAI / KOHAI relationship is based on "time served" rather than skill set. Good thing. Had it been based on skill set, I'd have been left stranded at the dock begging for drinks!
Ellis,
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Old 05-25-2013, 07:37 PM   #37
Ellis Amdur
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Re: A New Column: It Had to be Felt - ONCE AGAIN

At the end of each IHTBF column are a set of rules (they were, apparently omitted during the original posting of the latest column on Shirata Rinjiro sensei, but they were up by the second day). They clearly give the criteria for posting in response to the column, something that is outlined in detail in this, the original column. To sum up once again, subsequent posts should a) be about the writer's personal, direct experience in taking ukemi with the subject of the column b) should be as substantive as the original posters column c) should make no direct reference to the original column or subsequent ones, positive or negative - if a follow-up writer has any disagreement with a previous one, simply write your own experience, and let it stand on its own merits. The readers of the various posts can read each as a stand-alone report and make their own conclusions.
As this column is meant to be an archive of direct experience, follow up comments, no matter how enthusiastic or otherwise praiseworthy, are the equivalent of graffiti.
If you wish to praise a writer, or the teacher he/she writes about, or wish to start a discussion on some aspect you perceive in the column, please start a new thread elsewhere on the website.
am still surprised that people can read through an article, and right above the button that they would click to post a reply are quite explicit rules. Which some folks ignore.
Please approach this particular column with the same spirit I assume you approach your practice in the dojo - there are rules, some of which you may think are extraneous or unnecessary - but they are the rules of that dojo and surely, there you conform. Here, too, if you please.
---And if by some chance, you find the rules unclear, please write suggestions here. I am also happy to discuss - here - once again, why we have established the rules we have for this column.
Ellis Amdur

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Old 09-20-2013, 12:01 PM   #38
Ellis Amdur
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Journey to the Heart of Aikido

Linda Holiday, 6th dan, has published a new book, entitled: Journey to the Heart of Aikido: The Teachings of Motomichi Anno Sensei.
In addition from a lovely description of the Shingu area and the dojo milieu in the early 1970's, the bulk of the book is distilled from the teachings of Anno Motomichi, currently head instructor of the dojo. The book offers Anno sensei's passionate ideas on the moral heart of aikido.

In a quite understandable drive to understand what O-sensei did (internal strength), the question of how to do effective technique and who Ueshiba was (a man with feet of clay and a complex life story), the indisputable fact that the statement that "budo is love" was both heartfelt and central to his vision has, recently, been given short shrift. Anno sensei returns us to Osensei's worldview, without, in any way, vitiating these other concerns.

And I mention this book here, because there are a number of chapters where he describes, in detail, what it felt like to take ukemi from Osensei.

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Old 05-03-2014, 01:40 AM   #39
Ellis Amdur
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It Had to be Felt (?)

Some have contacted me regarding this column--essentially, are there no more? The answer is--I don't know. I put out requests (and got promises) from approximately 20 people, who potentially can (and hopefully will) write about a number of remarkable teachers. Yet the months pass, and I've not received a column in a long time. I've got no one else, in my immediate circle, whom I've not asked.

So, if anyone believes they have such a column about a remarkable teacher, please contact me directly. The criteria are clear--(read the first post in this thread).

Best
Ellis Amdur

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Old 05-03-2014, 01:56 AM   #40
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: It Had to be Felt (?)

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Some have contacted me regarding this column--essentially, are there no more? The answer is--I don't know. I put out requests (and got promises) from approximately 20 people, who potentially can (and hopefully will) write about a number of remarkable teachers. Yet the months pass, and I've not received a column in a long time. I've got no one else, in my immediate circle, whom I've not asked.

So, if anyone believes they have such a column about a remarkable teacher, please contact me directly. The criteria are clear--(read the first post in this thread).

Best
Ellis Amdur
Hello Ellis,

I am still working on a Fujita Masatake column. However, I have not been so well recently and my next TIE column is also well behind schedule. However, as they say around here, bochi bochi yate orimasu.

P A Goldsbury
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Old 05-03-2014, 02:27 AM   #41
Ellis Amdur
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Re: A New Column: It Had to be Felt

Peter - thank you. And I'm sorry to hear about your health. Bochi bochi is soon enough. Fujita sensei had such a unique role in the Aikikai's history, I'm really looking forward to that.

Ellis

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Old 05-03-2014, 05:03 AM   #42
Alex Megann
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Re: A New Column: It Had to be Felt

Hi Peter,

I for one would love to see an IHTBF on Fujita Sensei!

Regards,

Alex
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