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Old 12-26-2013, 11:53 AM   #1
Ellis Amdur
Location: Seattle
Join Date: May 2003
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Maruyama Shuji's ("That's not my aikido," REDUX

In another thread, Ron Ragusa recommended a memoir of Maruyama Shuji. There were a couple of points in the article that are germane to other discussions that we've had over the years.

Quote:
Ueshiba lived in the dojo, but he wasn't leading a regular class any more. When he came to class, the regular instructors would stop the current practice and start suwari waza, and he would be very pleased. But if someone did a beautiful standing kokyunage technique, he would never look happy. I didn't understand this until I studied the last 300 years of the history of martial arts in Japan, and the lifestyle of people back then. I studied and then I understood Ueshiba.
Maruyama sensei goes on to discuss suwari-waza and it's relationship to Edo culture. Although I've read his idea before, that people never stood indoors, I do not think this is borne out historically. Nonetheless, it is interesting to link this with Shimizu Kenji's memory of Ueshiba storming in, yelling, "That's not my aikido." Kobayashi Yasuo also obliquely mentions this in a memoir of his own, stating that Ueshiba really didn't like people doing kokyunage, suggesting that what young students did was an imitation of the real effect that Ueshiba had when he--at least in his younger days-- had on his uke. And Saito Morihiro remembers, as do many others, how Ueshiba much preferred suwariwaza techniques. Cumulatively, this does emphasize <whether as a methodology of internal training or simply because of Ueshiba's attachment to tradition> that if one wants to do Ueshiba Morihei's aikido, like it or not, suwariwaza is central.

Quote:
Ueshiba learned very old martial arts. Old martial arts were about armor and seiza, so there was almost no movement. His best contribution is that his techniques have lots of movement. Ueshiba adding this made aikido. He was still subconsciously full of old ideas such as suwari waza and hold, though. Seven days a week I saw him; for a long time as I lived at Aikikai Headquarters, and never saw a technique against kick. Always his uke would help him. . . . .We had treated Ueshiba like a god -- everybody would bow and think how to best take ukemi for him, never thinking of beating him. It was not a competition at all. . . .
Maruyama studied with Ueshiba during his last years. I highlighted in bold several points that speak for themselves.

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Old 12-27-2013, 01:46 PM   #2
kfa4303
Dojo: North Florida School of Aikido (ASU)
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 46
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Re: Maruyama Shuji's ("That's not my aikido," REDUX

Anther awesome post Ellis. I rather like suwari-waza techniques and I think they help separate Aikido from many other arts by adding a "mid-level" between pure standing and pure grappling techniques. You can always tell who practices them by the wear spots on their hakama too. They're also fun to try with BJJ guys and can often stymie them and leave them scratching their heads. Beginners always seem to be amazed/impressed when the see suwari-waza as well. The only problem I see is that it can be rough on the knees for your typical "big" American, but I've managed so far (knock wood).
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Old 12-30-2013, 07:06 AM   #3
Ethan Weisgard
Dojo: Copenhagen Aiki Shuren Dojo
Location: Copenhagen
Join Date: Nov 2005
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Denmark
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Re: Maruyama Shuji's ("That's not my aikido," REDUX

It seems to me that in order to try to reach the level of the master, one should try to follow in his footsteps. Modern aikido often seems to be an attempt to imitate O-Sensei's final level of Aikido, sometimes without following the progression of training that O-Sensei did. There is a clear, step-by-step pedagogical system containing the three levels of training: gotai / kihon (basic. static forms), juutai / awase (blending forms) and ryutai / ki no nagare (flowing forms). In the Iwama lineage you learn to put your techniques in order using kihon, then you learn blending with the awase forms, and then you learn more flowing forms of the techniques doing ki no nagare. Suwari waza creates a very stable kihon form because it makes it so necessary to use your hips correctly - you can't use your height or weight advantage as in tachi waza. If you can do flowing forms in suwari waza, or even better hanmi handachi, then you will gain very strong stability in your hips as well as learning how to flow under quite difficult circumstances (shikko!). Suwari waza is a very important training tool, and I'm sure that this was O-Sensei's reason for emphasizing the importance of this training. Kokyu nage are high level techniques - in a sense they are O-Sensei's jiyu waza codified, or indexed so to speak. So if he felt that people were trying to train at this level but were not actually there yet, then I can imagine he would have been angry. For a music analogy: It's a lot like trying to play Coltrane sax solos when you can't do your scales yet. The same thing goes, as I see it, regarding the discussion about weapons training: it was said that O-Sensei scolded people at Hombu Dojo for training weapons - he apparently saw them doing advanced weapons forms. It seems that what he saw was that people were not settled enough in their basic weapons forms and were still trying to do the advanced level training. So it seems that he told people that they were not allowed to train weapons. This didn't mean that they shouldn't train weapons at all, but merely that they should follow the program, and start from the beginning. So in finishing, it's a good idea to try to follow the progression of training that O-Sensei himself did. Of course we can't do it as strictly or severely as he did in his time, but the pedagogical progression is there for us, and that can lead us quite a bit of the way.
In aiki,
Ethan Weisgard
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Old 12-30-2013, 09:29 AM   #4
Nicholas Eschenbruch
Dojo: TV Denzlingen
Location: Freiburg
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 308
Germany
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Re: Maruyama Shuji's ("That's not my aikido," REDUX

Ethan, are you talking about O-Sensei's footsteps or Saito-Sensei's footsteps? Just confused.... I always assumed O-Sensei's own training was about daito-ryu, esoteric religion, and farming, roughly speaking.

I like Basho: "Do not seek to walk in the footsteps of the masters of old, seek what they sought".
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Old 12-31-2013, 09:44 AM   #5
Ethan Weisgard
Dojo: Copenhagen Aiki Shuren Dojo
Location: Copenhagen
Join Date: Nov 2005
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Denmark
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Re: Maruyama Shuji's ("That's not my aikido," REDUX

Quote:
Nicholas Eschenbruch wrote: View Post
Ethan, are you talking about O-Sensei's footsteps or Saito-Sensei's footsteps? Just confused.... I always assumed O-Sensei's own training was about daito-ryu, esoteric religion, and farming, roughly speaking.

I like Basho: "Do not seek to walk in the footsteps of the masters of old, seek what they sought".
Hello Nicholas,
I mean both, actually. Saito Sensei's methodical teaching reflected the way he experienced O-Sensei teaching. Saito Sensei is quoted as saying that O- Sensei would teach whole series of techniques, going through the various levels, as I mentioned above. Saito Sensei continued this pedagogical system, and also breaking down the techniques into parts ( this was Saito Sensei's own pedagogical method, I believe, making it easier to understand the physical structure of the technique before moving into the flowing forms).
In Aiki,
Ethan
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Old 01-02-2014, 05:32 PM   #6
Cady Goldfield
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 888
United_States
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Re: Maruyama Shuji's ("That's not my aikido," REDUX

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
And Saito Morihiro remembers, as do many others, how Ueshiba much preferred suwariwaza techniques. Cumulatively, this does emphasize <whether as a methodology of internal training or simply because of Ueshiba's attachment to tradition> that if one wants to do Ueshiba Morihei's aikido, like it or not, suwariwaza is central.
Addressing "whether as a methodology of internal training or simply because of Ueshiba's attachment to tradition," I'd lean toward the former, for reasons set forth in the "Suwariwaza and Internal Training" thread in the Internal Training in Aikido forum.
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