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Old 12-25-2013, 12:37 PM   #1
Hilary
Dojo: Torrey Pines Aiki Kai
Location: San Diego
Join Date: Mar 2011
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Is Tohei the only one…?

A question for the scholars of Aikiweb. It is well documented that Tohei upon arriving in Hawaii had to reformulate his mechanics to deal with 300lb Samoans, and (I assume) to a lesser extent, large Americans. Did any of the other shihans responsible for spreading Aikido to the west publicly acknowledge their own "reformations" or is Tohei unique in that respect?

H2
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Old 12-25-2013, 12:51 PM   #2
allowedcloud
Location: cincinnati
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Re: Is Tohei the only one…?

Quote:
Hilary Heinmets wrote: View Post
A question for the scholars of Aikiweb. It is well documented that Tohei upon arriving in Hawaii had to reformulate his mechanics to deal with 300lb Samoans, and (I assume) to a lesser extent, large Americans. Did any of the other shihans responsible for spreading Aikido to the west publicly acknowledge their own "reformations" or is Tohei unique in that respect?

H2
Somewhere on the Aikido Journal site (I had let my subscription to AJ lapse so I can't locate the exact link) there is an interview with Yoshimitsu Yamada where he states that when he came to the US he had to make his movements larger in order to effectively throw the larger Americans. I believe it is from this that we get Yamada's trademark large,flowing aikido movement.
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Old 12-25-2013, 01:46 PM   #3
Dan Rubin
Dojo: Boulder Aikikai
Location: Denver, Colorado
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Re: Is Tohei the only one…?

"On his return from Europe, [Minoru] Mochizuki related to Ueshiba how he had to resort to skills from other martial arts such as judo and kendo in order to best opponents when he was teaching in France. He further speculated that if aikido was to spread internationally it had to have a broader technical base."

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=505
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Old 12-25-2013, 03:16 PM   #4
robin_jet_alt
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Re: Is Tohei the only one…?

I remember reading an interview with Isoyama-sensei, who said that he altered his technique due to the large US military types he was teaching at the local navy base. He said they were so big that he couldn't do a decent hip throw, so he ended up doing ganseki-otoshi.
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Old 12-26-2013, 09:40 AM   #5
kfa4303
Dojo: North Florida School of Aikido (ASU)
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Re: Is Tohei the only one…?

I suspect many of the taller students, myself included, have had the converse issue when paired with a relatively short partner in which their hips are so much lower than ours that it's impractical to try to get beneath them. It only makes sense that certain techniques are going to have to be adapted/modified to deal with unforeseen circumstances. Think of the scene in "Game of Death" when Bruce Lee (5' 6'' 140lbs) has to try to deal with Kareem Abdul Jabar (7' 1'' 230lbs). Now go even further an imagine Osensei (5' 130lbs) vs Shaq (7'1'' 325) !!!! I don't care who you are, that's going to rock your world. It can be done, but you're going to have to rethink everything. Adaptability is the mark of a truly good art/artist in my book.
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Old 12-26-2013, 09:56 AM   #6
RonRagusa
Location: Massachusetts
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Re: Is Tohei the only one…?

Quote:
Hilary Heinmets wrote: View Post
A question for the scholars of Aikiweb. It is well documented that Tohei upon arriving in Hawaii had to reformulate his mechanics to deal with 300lb Samoans, and (I assume) to a lesser extent, large Americans. Did any of the other shihans responsible for spreading Aikido to the west publicly acknowledge their own "reformations" or is Tohei unique in that respect?
Shuji Maruyama sensei is very forthright about his early experiences in America. You can read about them in his own words here. Scroll down to the paragraph that begins with "1966 - ".

Ron

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Old 12-26-2013, 12:41 PM   #7
Hilary
Dojo: Torrey Pines Aiki Kai
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Re: Is Tohei the only one…?

Excellent and thanks to all who have answered so far, those who have other information on this front please post as well. I had hoped for this type of response. If no one but Tohei had publically done this I would have found it somewhat disturbing that only one branch of the art admitted to having to gin up the mechanics.
As it is, that is why I want more information from as many branches as possible. I suspect we all could gleen something from a comparison of what the early shihans have to say on this subject. Thanks again.
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Old 12-27-2013, 10:56 PM   #8
Joe Jutsu
Dojo: Currently relocating
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Re: Is Tohei the only one…?

Quote:
Hilary Heinmets wrote: View Post
Excellent and thanks to all who have answered so far, those who have other information on this front please post as well. I had hoped for this type of response. If no one but Tohei had publically done this I would have found it somewhat disturbing that only one branch of the art admitted to having to gin up the mechanics.
As it is, that is why I want more information from as many branches as possible. I suspect we all could gleen something from a comparison of what the early shihans have to say on this subject. Thanks again.
I believe Tohei was a yondan in judo before encountering aikido, I could be wrong. I do know that it was his time spent with Nakamura Tempu sensei that helped him tie everything together and make aikido "work" for him outside of Japan. Seriously, it was the ki work, not relying on another martial art but searching for the true essence of what O sensei was actually doing, that made him such an enigmatic and effective leader in the expansion of the art. I do believe that (hopefully) there are less fallacies regarded as truth in MA's these days, but I often encounter videos on the interwebs that suggest otherwise. However Tohei was not bullshit in a field full of it, and I think it behooves any aikidoka to look into his teachings, he was not the first 10th dan in aikido by accident.
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Old 12-28-2013, 03:31 AM   #9
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Is Tohei the only one…?

Quote:
Joe Proffitt wrote: View Post
I believe Tohei was a yondan in judo before encountering aikido,
I think he was a 19 years old judo nidan.

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