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Old 01-20-2015, 10:48 AM   #1
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Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

Posted 2015-01-20 09:46:52 by Jun Akiyama
News URL: http://asu.org/letter-to-asu-members2/

The Aikido Schools of Ueshiba (ASU) has announced that Hiroshi Ikeda (7th dan, Boulder Aikikai) will be recognized as an "independent instructor" by their organization.

From the announcement: "Some ties can never be broken nor would we ever want them to be. Ikeda Sensei is an important part of our extended family, always welcomed by Saotome Sensei and ASU dojos, but as an independent instructor Ikeda Sensei will no longer have a direct affiliation with ASU or the responsibility for conducting ASU yudansha examinations."

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Old 01-20-2015, 02:50 PM   #2
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

Curious politically correct wording often indicates and implies some underlying story.
I tend to attend many ASU seminars, including those of Ikeda Sensei.
My schedule will not change.

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!
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Old 01-21-2015, 01:40 PM   #3
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

This change came about suddenly and our ASU members have been busy communicating about what it all means for us. One thing that is abundantly clear is the deep connection we all feel for Ikeda Shihan and that there will be a very close relationship between the people in the ASU and whatever organization that Ikeda Sensei creates going forward. Everyone is very committed to not allowing this change to effect the friendships that we have all forged over a period of thirty to forty years.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 01-21-2015, 02:53 PM   #4
Keith Larman
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

Deru kui wa utareru.

I suspect in the long run Ikeda and his students will flourish. So quite frankly I think the sympathy should be shown to ASU members who are left wondering what it all means. Aikido can become such a diverse and individual type of exploration. That along with large organizational structures don't seem to get along all that well. Especially those nails standing up just a bit, refusing to get hammered down.

What was the Tom Lehrer line? "...it has been a nervous year and people have begun to feel like a Christian scientist with appendicitis." That feeling, I think, will be the real issue going forward for many.

All sympathies. Maybe I'm getting jaded, but it sounds to me like the same old song and dance, all over again... Shrug.

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Old 01-22-2015, 01:44 PM   #5
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

From the ASU Facebook page:

The senior instructors of ASU stand in solidarity behind Saotome Shihan and Ikeda Shihan during this time of change.

We support the Aikido vision of both of these great teachers.

ASU was born through change and holds a rich history of strength, diversity, and leadership.

We will continue to expand our understanding of Aikido with the guidance of these two outstanding Shihan.

We continue to embrace both Saotome Shihan and Ikeda Shihan and give them our love and support as aikidoka.

Jim Alvarez

Chief Instructor
Aikido of Livermore-Shinrei Dojo
Livermore, CA
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Old 01-22-2015, 03:04 PM   #6
crbateman
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

Cutting the cord... This is often the way. Perhaps the added freedom is just what Ikeda Sensei needs to get to a higher level in both his training and his teaching. I'm sure I'm not alone in hoping that this is the result. Best of luck, Sensei!
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Old 01-22-2015, 05:39 PM   #7
Janet Rosen
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

As an outsider it looks like a natural evolution and not us vs. them though it will no doubt be a time of uncertainty for students expecting to rank soon.

Janet Rosen
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Old 01-23-2015, 04:28 AM   #8
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

Another case of history repeating itself I think. Over my nearly 50 years in Aikido I've seen this happen so many times; usually there is a schizm (sometimes quite a severe and bitter one) followed after a period of time by a form of reconciliation where the parties end up collaborating in some way.
As Janet says in many ways it's a natural evolution; rather like children leaving home but coming back to visit and have family vacations together.
I wish all the best for the future to all parties concerned.
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Old 01-23-2015, 11:33 AM   #9
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

In this kind of situation, there are really two different issues.

One is the pedagogical issue: who is teaching what to whom. That's relatively easy to resolve, especially in an organization as open to a variety of influences as ASU has always been. Everyone keeps going to the same seminars that they always have, with maybe a few tweaks because of new testing requirements.

But then there's the money issue. To whom are dojos and individuals paying membership dues and testing fees? That one's a lot harder, because people's livelihoods are at stake, and that one's where things are more likely to get ugly.

Katherine
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Old 01-23-2015, 05:06 PM   #10
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
In this kind of situation, there are really two different issues.

One is the pedagogical issue: who is teaching what to whom. That's relatively easy to resolve, especially in an organization as open to a variety of influences as ASU has always been. Everyone keeps going to the same seminars that they always have, with maybe a few tweaks because of new testing requirements.

But then there's the money issue. To whom are dojos and individuals paying membership dues and testing fees? That one's a lot harder, because people's livelihoods are at stake, and that one's where things are more likely to get ugly.

Katherine
Dear Katherine.
i think your second point is spot on.Money talks.Maybe the ASU was losing cash flow/ income via
Ikeda Sensei?? Cheers, Joe.
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Old 01-23-2015, 05:13 PM   #11
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

Quote:
Philip Smith wrote: View Post
Another case of history repeating itself I think. Over my nearly 50 years in Aikido I've seen this happen so many times; usually there is a schizm (sometimes quite a severe and bitter one) followed after a period of time by a form of reconciliation where the parties end up collaborating in some way.
As Janet says in many ways it's a natural evolution; rather like children leaving home but coming back to visit and have family vacations together.
I wish all the best for the future to all parties concerned.
Dear Philip,
It may well be natural evolution to split up.As far a family reunions are concerned I might consider meeting some close relatives but others so called relatives I avoid completely.Of course these relatives are of the same mind in regards to me.hope you are well.Cheers, Joe
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Old 01-23-2015, 05:30 PM   #12
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
But then there's the money issue. To whom are dojos and individuals paying membership dues and testing fees? That one's a lot harder, because people's livelihoods are at stake, and that one's where things are more likely to get ugly.

Katherine
Yes, I tend to agree. George Ledyard's promotion to 7th Dan was by the Aikikai and for dan examinations a proportion of the testing fees are remitted to the Aikikai in Japan. The Aikikai has dan regulations, with a fixed scale of fees (from 1st Dan to 6th Dan -- the fees payable for 7th Dan and 8th Dan are shrouded in mystery), but it is sometimes a major source of dissension when the fees charged to the applicant are not the same as the fees remitted to the Aikikai. Of course, I am not suggesting that this is true of the ASU, but the ASU is unusual in that it is not officially recognized by the Aikikai and does not appear in the list of such organizations on the Aikikai's website.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 01-23-2015, 06:45 PM   #13
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Yes, I tend to agree. George Ledyard's promotion to 7th Dan was by the Aikikai and for dan examinations a proportion of the testing fees are remitted to the Aikikai in Japan. The Aikikai has dan regulations, with a fixed scale of fees (from 1st Dan to 6th Dan -- the fees payable for 7th Dan and 8th Dan are shrouded in mystery), but it is sometimes a major source of dissension when the fees charged to the applicant are not the same as the fees remitted to the Aikikai. Of course, I am not suggesting that this is true of the ASU, but the ASU is unusual in that it is not officially recognized by the Aikikai and does not appear in the list of such organizations on the Aikikai's website.

Best wishes,
Hi Peter!
Just for clarification purposes. it has always been my understanding that what got collected for Dan tests was what was sent to Hombu. I do not believe that Saotome Sensei kept anything of those fees for himself. I could be wrong but that has been mu understanding all these years.

Yes, the ASU situation is unique and I think some effort should me made to resolve that status before Saotome Sensei retires or passes away. Many of the conversations we have all had about what would come next merely kicked the can down the road because the default answer always was Ikeda Sensei will take over. Now that it is clear that will not be the case I think many more discussions are on the agenda.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 01-23-2015, 07:57 PM   #14
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

Quote:
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Hi Peter!
Just for clarification purposes. it has always been my understanding that what got collected for Dan tests was what was sent to Hombu. I do not believe that Saotome Sensei kept anything of those fees for himself. I could be wrong but that has been mu understanding all these years.

Yes, the ASU situation is unique and I think some effort should me made to resolve that status before Saotome Sensei retires or passes away. Many of the conversations we have all had about what would come next merely kicked the can down the road because the default answer always was Ikeda Sensei will take over. Now that it is clear that will not be the case I think many more discussions are on the agenda.
Hello George,

Omedetto gozaimasu. Eraku narimashita nee.

A few years ago the Aikikai sent round a circular letter explaining that it would return to organizations recognized by the Aikikai half the fees payable for dan examinations etc. This meant in practice that the organizations could send to the Aikikai half the amount payable. I saw the letter and when my dojo established a direct relationship with the Aikikai, I received a new list of fees payable, which were half what had been paid before. (I had actually sent the earlier amount, but later received a call from the Aikikai stating that I had paid too much. So we gave the surplus back to the applicants.)

However, I also know that many organizations did not and do not do this, but use the money to help dojo finances etc. I also suspect that this sometimes happens without the dan applicants being aware of it. I know that money matters are a major source of dojo conflict and in my own dojo we are completely open about dojo finances. The ASU is a large organization and I assume that there is a structure of affiliations fees, testing fees etc that is known to the members.

I once asked Doshu directly why the ASU had never been recognized by the Aikikai and he answered that this was a personal arrangement with Saotome Shihan. I suspect that this was a continuation of arrangements made with Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba when Saotome Shihan returned to the Aikikai. I also suspect that if the Aikikai had recognized the ASU at the time, there would have been a major explosion. However, times change. There used to be one organization in the US recognized by the Aikikai, namely, the USAF; now there are ten.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 01-24-2015, 07:27 AM   #15
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

Ikeda Sensei brought immeasurable value to the ASU in terms of prestige by teaching seminars around the world, especially his bridge seminars where he creates relationships with other groups. I am not sure if this happened here in DC a lot but people moving to a new city trying to decide which dojo to join might pick the ASU dojo because off the affiliation with Ikeda Sensei. So in terms a business, there is one sense where the separation is a net negative for the ASU.
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Old 01-24-2015, 12:37 PM   #16
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

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Dear Katherine.
i think your second point is spot on.Money talks.Maybe the ASU was losing cash flow/ income via
Ikeda Sensei?? Cheers, Joe.
I'm not sure that's how Katherine meant the comment, Joe. I can't see how ASU were loosing any income with Ikeda Sensei as one of the teachers. Now however, it could well be a different story - let's say half the dojo's chose to follow Ikeda sensei - ASU looses a ton of money.

Of course, my views are entirely my own, I am not and never have seen an ASU member but Ikeda sensei is and has been my teacher for some time and will be the only aikido teacher I ever consider as sensei.

Best Regards,
John

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Old 01-24-2015, 01:32 PM   #17
Dan Rubin
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

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I am not and never have seen an ASU member....
Hi John

You and I were roommates one year at Boulder Aikikai's summer camp, many years ago. I guess it's time for me to confess: I was an ASU member then (and still am).

I apologize for deceiving you.

Dan
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Old 01-24-2015, 02:20 PM   #18
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

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Hi John

You and I were roommates one year at Boulder Aikikai's summer camp, many years ago. I guess it's time for me to confess: I was an ASU member then (and still am).

I apologize for deceiving you.

Dan
Hey Dan,

I remember you, and the blues music! I was only never an ASU member because you guys were only ever US centric btw .

And... I knew you were one of those ASU guys, haha.

Best Regards,
John

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Old 01-24-2015, 05:58 PM   #19
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

Quote:
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I'm not sure that's how Katherine meant the comment, Joe. I can't see how ASU were loosing any income with Ikeda Sensei as one of the teachers. Now however, it could well be a different story - let's say half the dojo's chose to follow Ikeda sensei - ASU looses a ton of money.
Yes, that was exactly my point. From the point of view of the underlying art, it's very easy to talk about peace and harmony and respect for other threads of instruction. But now you have the same number of dojos and students potentially being divided between two organizations.

Katherine

PS Please note that I am not taking a position on the causes of the split or on the relative merits of either Shihan. Simply noting that the financial ramifications are likely to cause the most trouble for all parties going forward.
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Old 01-24-2015, 09:02 PM   #20
Matt Fisher
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
Yes, that was exactly my point. From the point of view of the underlying art, it's very easy to talk about peace and harmony and respect for other threads of instruction. But now you have the same number of dojos and students potentially being divided between two organizations.

Katherine

PS Please note that I am not taking a position on the causes of the split or on the relative merits of either Shihan. Simply noting that the financial ramifications are likely to cause the most trouble for all parties going forward.
From my perspective, there is another challenge for some dojos in addition to the possibility of being divided between organizations...

For some ASU dojos (such as the ones in the Ohio River Valley region of Cleveland/Columbus/Pittsburgh), Ikeda Sensei has been the primary examiner at yudansha tests for quite some time. That is no longer a possibility. This is not to say that yudansha exams can never happen for those dojos...but now some significant work has to be done to set up a different system.

Like Katherine, I am not taking a public position on why the split happened or the merits of a particular position. My point is simply that the "landscape" for my dojo and others in our region changed very abruptly.

Matt
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Old 01-25-2015, 10:26 AM   #21
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
This change came about suddenly and our ASU members have been busy communicating about what it all means for us. One thing that is abundantly clear is the deep connection we all feel for Ikeda Shihan and that there will be a very close relationship between the people in the ASU and whatever organization that Ikeda Sensei creates going forward. Everyone is very committed to not allowing this change to effect the friendships that we have all forged over a period of thirty to forty years.
Dear Ledyard Sensei,
First question is this did Ikeda Sensei leave the ADu voluntarily?The announcement was very nice,all very nice phrases but I might be cynical here.It seems to me Ikeda Sensei was being made redundant.
As far as everybody being chums I doubt this will happen.One group will join Ikeda Sensei the other will remain with Saotome Sensei.As Phil Smith stated earlier this type of situation has been happening for years.So I hope I am wrong.Time will tell, Cheers, Joe[the old cynic].
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Old 01-25-2015, 10:41 AM   #22
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

Quote:
John Burn wrote: View Post
I'm not sure that's how Katherine meant the comment, Joe. I can't see how ASU were loosing any income with Ikeda Sensei as one of the teachers. Now however, it could well be a different story - let's say half the dojo's chose to follow Ikeda sensei - ASU looses a ton of money.

Of course, my views are entirely my own, I am not and never have seen an ASU member but Ikeda sensei is and has been my teacher for some time and will be the only aikido teacher I ever consider as sensei.
Dear John,
I any group there is alway s a big pie [called money ] While Orwell said all animals are equal, he also said some were more equal than others.There may well be financial reasons why the separation took place.Another reason for leaving is egotism.If indeed there was a good bond between Ikeda Sensei and Saotome Sensei why should they have separated?Maybe like the character in the Highlander Tv /movies series certain parties felt there should be only one???
Not the first time or for that matter the last time have tumbrils rolled out from their storage areas, dusted down and transported victims to the scaffold.Cheers, Joe.
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Old 01-25-2015, 07:27 PM   #23
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

The split with the ASU was not voluntary for Ikeda Sensei. There any numbers of factors involved. But, I think it mainly comes down to Saotome Sensei's concerns for leaving an ASU that continues in a certain direction when he passes and his feeling that Ikeda Sensei with his global presence and his major focus on creating Aikido Bridge Seminars might not be sufficiently focused on the ASU itself going forward.

One teacher's focus has been primarily inward for a number of years, establishing a strong line of transmission, etc. and the other has been focusing outwards on bringing the wider Aikido community together.

While there is no essential conflict between these two directions, I believe that Saotome Sensei feels that the priority right now in the ASU needs to be on developing stronger networks of communication and habits of working together among our own members and teachers so that ASU can continue its mission when Sensei retires or his health no longer allows him to captain the ship so to speak.

As Peter has pointed out, the ASU has been a unique entity... really not set up as an organization at all. Everything had been very personal through Saotome Sensei. This would include our relations with the rest of the Aikido world as well as our relationships with each other. I think that Sensei is now looking to the future and is trying to clarify the direction he'd like to see us, his senior students, take when more responsibility is thrust on us.

Ikeda Sensei is an amazing teacher and it will be interesting to see what he accomplishes in his a capacity as a ronin because he has always done things that no one else was willing to do and now he has nothing at all restricting his ability to move in any way he wishes, no other responsibilities of an organizational nature.

No matter what, I know that he will continue to have a close relationship with the senior teachers of the ASU. He has been a major teacher for all of us over many decades. I think that Saotome Sensei may really have made what will amount to an administrative decision that will effect how the ASU is run down the line but will not substantially change our training relationships.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 01-25-2015, 07:41 PM   #24
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

Quote:
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Dear John,
I any group there is alway s a big pie [called money ] While Orwell said all animals are equal, he also said some were more equal than others.There may well be financial reasons why the separation took place.Another reason for leaving is egotism.If indeed there was a good bond between Ikeda Sensei and Saotome Sensei why should they have separated?Maybe like the character in the Highlander Tv /movies series certain parties felt there should be only one???
Not the first time or for that matter the last time have tumbrils rolled out from their storage areas, dusted down and transported victims to the scaffold.Cheers, Joe.
While I answered the larger question elsewhere, I feel I should answer the issue of financial motives. I would say that money issues simply did not enter into this decision. Neither teacher has to worry about financial issues, both have been quite successful and continue to be.

The issue here is much more one of the eldest son in a family and whether he can or wishes to take over the family business. I think that it may have become apparent that while the eldest son had all the skills necessary to run the business, his great love was elsewhere. So now he is going off to continue pursuing his dream while his younger siblings look to inherit the business at some point. The process of differentiation can be difficult in many families and ours is no different. But the younger siblings have a close relationship with their elder brother and it's simply the time for us to step up and figure out how to run the business when the times come when we never previously thought it would fall to us.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 01-25-2015, 09:44 PM   #25
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"

Hello George,

I think there are at least two aspects to this generation change (which every Japanese haken shihan who has built up an organization has to cope with).

One concerns the structure of the organization viewed from the inside and the personal relationships (or lack of relationships) therein.

The other concerns the structure of the organization viewed from the outside and the relationship (or lack of relationship) with the Aikikai is a major factor here. Saotome Shihan had a personal relationship with Kisshomaru Ueshiba and the structures set in place when he returned to the Aikikai have remained. As I stated, the organization of the ASU is quite unique and perhaps Saotome Shihan was looking over his shoulder at what was happening in the USAF. Given Mr Ikeda's widespread following, I do not think it should be too difficult to maintain or establish a relationship with the Aikikai, should he choose to do so.

I know nearly all the haken shihan who have maintained a direct relationship with the Aikikai over the years and the only one who designated a successor was K Chiba in the UK. He designated Minoru Kanetsuka and the transition was by no means smooth, as Joe Curran and Philip Smith can attest.

The iemoto model relies for its efficacy partly on good genetics, in the form of a suitable heir, and partly on the willingness of those who are not in the designated family line to accept the system and their place within it. I have major reservations about the efficacy of this system if it is applied to organizations larger than small groups, where the practice of the art has a long tradition.

Most of the organizations affiliated to the Aikikai outside Japan do not work on this model and the changeover from a single haken shihan with no designated (and accepted) successor is likely to be a collegiate form of power sharing among the seniors.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
_______________________
Hiroshima, Japan
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