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Old 11-07-2015, 03:18 PM   #1
Chris Li
 
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The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

New blog post! The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray - "There are two Ueshiba Legacies. The legacy of Morihei Ueshiba and the legacy of Kisshomaru Ueshiba. The two are completely different. Their paths rarely cross, with only a smattering of commonalities."

Enjoy!

Chris

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Old 11-08-2015, 07:09 AM   #2
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

Very well written and well sourced, and increasingly a view I have adopted over the last several years.

The larger question for me is what do we as a collective art do with this knowledge?
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Old 11-22-2015, 07:38 PM   #3
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

Very difficult to read with the text colour and background.

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Old 11-22-2015, 07:47 PM   #4
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
Very difficult to read with the text colour and background.
The text is black and the background is white - are you using a modern browser? This is an example of what I see in Chrome.

Best,

Chris

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Old 11-23-2015, 12:21 AM   #5
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

I will try to uploacd a pic of what I see using Windows 7
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Old 11-23-2015, 12:36 AM   #6
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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I will try to uploacd a pic of what I see using Windows 7
The operating system version doesn't really matter, it's the browser version that's important.

It's a little hard to tell from the screenshots, but are you using Internet Explorer 8? If so then you should upgrade to a modern browser - Google dropped support for IE 8 in 2012, that's how old it is.

Best,

Chris

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Old 11-23-2015, 09:28 AM   #7
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

It is weird how the introduction section established Mr. Murray as someone who once met Dan Harden in a park. I think it might be more useful to either talk about Murray's Aikido training or teaching experience, or just let the essay stand on its own merits. I don't think it does a service to Mr. Murray or to the veracity of his essay to set him up under another person's shadow like that, particularly when the overshadowing person is not known to be associated with Ueshiba's lineage.

Mr. Murray does a good job arranging some of the quotes of and about Ueshiba's practice, and the thesis that the art of Aikido as disseminated by Tohei and the younger Ueshiba is different than what the Founder seemed to be doing when he was on the mat is well supported.

I find it interesting that to even dip a toe into the water here, we have to make a number of assumptions.

1) That the information we have about Ueshiba's martial prowess are not credulous, biased opinions. Murray's essay didn't even bother to establish that Ueshiba was skilled, and I don't mean this as a criticism of the essay, but just an observation that we've all drank a certain Kool-Aid. It is what it is, I think. There is no good way for us to cross-examine whether Osensei was truly as good as the quotes we have indicate. But at some point, you ought to play devil's advocate with yourself and say, of all of these accounts of how incredible Osensei was, maybe none of them came from people who didn't have some skin in the game and/or really could judge.

2) That there is an actual "legacy" left by Ueshiba that is different than the Aikido of his son, or Tohei, or Shioda, or Tomiki, or etc. This essay is interesting in that it hammers you with quotes about how Ueshiba never actually taught, he just demonstrated and lectured. Why is that? If he didn't teach people how to do what he was doing, why do we seem to believe that he had any desire for us to attempt to pursue his skills? Particularly now that we are a couple of generations removed from knowing much about them. There's the "that's not my aikido" quote, but aside from (certain interpretations of) that, why do we think Ueshiba didn't intend for the world to practice one of the lines of "Modern Aikido?" Isn't it a bit arrogant to just invite ourselves to ... whatever it is some of us are doing ... attempting to reconstruct an ideal Ueshiba-like practice from bits of other arts, I suppose.

In the end I don't think the essay makes a good argument that there actually is a "legacy" of Ueshiba that is different from "Modern Aikido."

3) I think the condemnation of "Modern Aikido" as being focused on technique may be oversimplifying things a little. Despite the quotes that Ueshiba practiced formlessly when he was teaching, one can see from the existing footage that when he told everyone to pair up and train, they sure look like they were working on techniques. I.e. the line between "technique-focused training" and "formless Ueshiba style training" is maybe not so bright.

4) Last but not least, for now....we really seem to assume that Ueshiba was a genius that was trying to teach, but nobody was listening or something. I've been reviewing footage lately and I'm wondering why we don't talk a little bit more about how he displayed behaviors that indicate he had some type of dissociative or other type of cognitive disorder. Perhaps we should regard the talented and dedicated students he surrounded himself with, who sought to create structured training systems inspired by his gyrations, as the real progenitors of our art.
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Old 11-24-2015, 05:31 AM   #8
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

In the extreme one can regard Honbu Dojo as corporate business that provides a service: Aikido.
That service must be monetized on, commercialised. His son clearly deviated from the path his father walked.
Nowadays one can easily claim to be this or do that. Backtracing is hard enough for the 'in crowd', let alone for outsiders.

The one thing that is clear to me is that Ueshiba wanted us to develop our own Aikido. Many of his students say the same thing: this is what I do, you find your way.
The question boils down to what you consider Aikido, or aiki. Do your own work, study.

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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Old 11-26-2015, 11:21 PM   #9
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

I trained in Yoshinkan 1989-90 in Japan with Ando Tsuneo Sensei. I was lucky enough to see Shioda Gozo a few times. He also came to our dojo. Anyway, in Yoshinkan everyone learned the regimented waza and that was that. Shioda just did whatever he wanted to do. He taught a little waza but not so much, rather, he just did random stuff. His students never did random stuff. Maybe he was following his Ueshiba 'experience'. But perhaps not as his style was far more regiented in teaching approach than Aikikai.

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Old 11-30-2015, 12:03 PM   #10
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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It is weird how the introduction section established Mr. Murray as someone who once met Dan Harden in a park. I think it might be more useful to either talk about Murray's Aikido training or teaching experience, or just let the essay stand on its own merits. I don't think it does a service to Mr. Murray or to the veracity of his essay to set him up under another person's shadow like that, particularly when the overshadowing person is not known to be associated with Ueshiba's lineage.

Mr. Murray does a good job arranging some of the quotes of and about Ueshiba's practice, and the thesis that the art of Aikido as disseminated by Tohei and the younger Ueshiba is different than what the Founder seemed to be doing when he was on the mat is well supported.

I find it interesting that to even dip a toe into the water here, we have to make a number of assumptions.

1) That the information we have about Ueshiba's martial prowess are not credulous, biased opinions. Murray's essay didn't even bother to establish that Ueshiba was skilled, and I don't mean this as a criticism of the essay, but just an observation that we've all drank a certain Kool-Aid. It is what it is, I think. There is no good way for us to cross-examine whether Osensei was truly as good as the quotes we have indicate. But at some point, you ought to play devil's advocate with yourself and say, of all of these accounts of how incredible Osensei was, maybe none of them came from people who didn't have some skin in the game and/or really could judge.

2) That there is an actual "legacy" left by Ueshiba that is different than the Aikido of his son, or Tohei, or Shioda, or Tomiki, or etc. This essay is interesting in that it hammers you with quotes about how Ueshiba never actually taught, he just demonstrated and lectured. Why is that? If he didn't teach people how to do what he was doing, why do we seem to believe that he had any desire for us to attempt to pursue his skills? Particularly now that we are a couple of generations removed from knowing much about them. There's the "that's not my aikido" quote, but aside from (certain interpretations of) that, why do we think Ueshiba didn't intend for the world to practice one of the lines of "Modern Aikido?" Isn't it a bit arrogant to just invite ourselves to ... whatever it is some of us are doing ... attempting to reconstruct an ideal Ueshiba-like practice from bits of other arts, I suppose.

In the end I don't think the essay makes a good argument that there actually is a "legacy" of Ueshiba that is different from "Modern Aikido."

3) I think the condemnation of "Modern Aikido" as being focused on technique may be oversimplifying things a little. Despite the quotes that Ueshiba practiced formlessly when he was teaching, one can see from the existing footage that when he told everyone to pair up and train, they sure look like they were working on techniques. I.e. the line between "technique-focused training" and "formless Ueshiba style training" is maybe not so bright.

4) Last but not least, for now....we really seem to assume that Ueshiba was a genius that was trying to teach, but nobody was listening or something. I've been reviewing footage lately and I'm wondering why we don't talk a little bit more about how he displayed behaviors that indicate he had some type of dissociative or other type of cognitive disorder. Perhaps we should regard the talented and dedicated students he surrounded himself with, who sought to create structured training systems inspired by his gyrations, as the real progenitors of our art.
I am not sure how to approach this post. I read Cliff's points and I simply don't understand any of them as they relate to Mark's essay.

Neither Dan nor Mark post here anymore. I still don't know how Dan has any relevance to an essay from Mark, except to point out that Mark knows Dan. Mostly, I am bringing this up because I wrote Mark when he published the essay and said something like, man, that is a good job showing some of the issues with aikido while not attacking the art. That should resonate with people without being confrontational. I guess not...

That there is a difference between the aikido of Morehei and Kisshomaru Ueshiba is unquestionable. I am unclear how the legacy of aikido left by each is somehow not different. Kisshomaru purposely branded his own form of aikido so that he could function within the dojo left by his father. Expanding the argument, I see no credible evidence that anyone ever replicated what O Sensei did, including the deshi that all left Hombu and started their own traditions. Heck, I arrived at those conclusions several years ago, mostly just looking through Aikido Journal articles.

I read this post and I can't help but feel it's a jab. Nothing of substance, just a jab and something Cliff doesn't like. I take issue with it because Aikiweb used to be a tool for helping aikido people sort through the world of aikido and find gems of information, or connect to people working on the same training. Aikiweb was a tool I used and now the same posts I used are archive material and the authors don't even post here anymore. In the meantime, I look forward to an essay on Morihei Ueshiba's unstable mental state and the conspiracy of artificially reporting he skills as a martial artist... and for the record, if the skill of Ueshiba is concluded to be false we'll have bigger issues than Mark's essay...

I think it's interesting that among two or three concurrent threads to this one, we're making similar assumptions without the negative critique. Occam's razor and all that. None of what Mark said beats on anyone who followed Ueshiba or worked to make aikido digestible for the masses. It simply says that what we practice is not what the old man did. What's worse... making shapes that looked like the old man doesn't work, either. The problem is that if we're not doing what the old man did, we also can't do what the old man showed.

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Old 11-30-2015, 01:57 PM   #11
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

Jon, please chill. I'm not jabbing at the author of the essay and I meant no disrespect to him by my comments. I don't disagree with the facts he presented. I think the essay was concise and nicely put together. But I thoroughly disagree with some underlying assumptions, and I do not think they were built on to sufficiently support Mr. Murray's conclusion, so I shared my thoughts.

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Neither Dan nor Mark post here anymore. I still don't know how Dan has any relevance to an essay from Mark, except to point out that Mark knows Dan.
I do hope this was directed at Chris Li and not somehow to me, because I also didn't get the relevance of Dan or of Mr. Murray's experiences with him to the essay.

My main gripe with the piece is that while it argues very well that Ueshiba's actual teachings were different than what you get from the Aikikai or Ki Society (or etc), this is not enough to show that Ueshiba left any other "legacy."
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Old 11-30-2015, 02:51 PM   #12
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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I do hope this was directed at Chris Li and not somehow to me, because I also didn't get the relevance of Dan or of Mr. Murray's experiences with him to the essay.
In your post, you bring up Mark and Dan as a weird introduction. On Chris' blog, Chris publishes an introduction to Mark and then also re-publishes a critical post Mark made on aikiweb regarding meeting Dan. My curiosity is that you chose to elevate that content about Mark as a point of observation; first paragraph, in fact. Drawn out, I might ask the question, why did you feel that content needed attention beyond what was in the essay?

You're an easy target because I know you read Aikiweb and there are existing threads in which you have been far less critical about authors for far less "factual" material. This is a sensitive topic and when I read a counter-claim that maybe we over exaggerate the prowess of Ueshiba, I am curious about that kind of bombshell.

As another example, I am unfamiliar with any aikido practitioner who claimed to have inherited the entirety of Ueshiba's teachings. What kind of legacy are you looking for? Family name? We don't even like most of the the things O Sensei said about training, let alone do them. Again, Mark's argument is that Kissomaru did not inherit the legacy of his father. If he did not, then the only consideration is whether O Sensei left a legacy at all, since we know it is different than the aikido we practice. That is another essay, I think.

What piece is missing? Why do you still think the family legacy is the same for father and son?

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Old 12-01-2015, 10:14 AM   #13
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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In your post, you bring up Mark and Dan as a weird introduction. On Chris' blog, Chris publishes an introduction to Mark and then also re-publishes a critical post Mark made on aikiweb regarding meeting Dan. My curiosity is that you chose to elevate that content about Mark as a point of observation; first paragraph, in fact. Drawn out, I might ask the question, why did you feel that content needed attention beyond what was in the essay?
That's not a critical post, it's a non-sequitur. The essay was clear and fully cited, it could have stood on its own. Or perhaps, to establish Mr. Murray's bona fides, something about his experience in Aikido or just length of training would have helped people coming in cold. Dan's got nothing to do with Aikido, so it was kind of like saying "Mr. Murray - who stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night - shared this essay on the Rum Fisted Sock forum."

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Again, Mark's argument is that Kissomaru did not inherit the legacy of his father. If he did not, then the only consideration is whether O Sensei left a legacy at all, since we know it is different than the aikido we practice. That is another essay, I think.
That's exactly my point, does it even make sense to say Osensei left a legacy, if the legacy of Kisshomaru is not the legacy of Osensei? Kisshomaru left a living martial tradition that is practiced all over the world. Aside from perhaps the "that is not my aikido" quote, I'm not sure there is much evidence that Osensei wasn't completely on board with what his son was doing. (That's certainly a topic for a subsequent essay!)

If Osensei actually left a legacy - if he actually had stuff he TAUGHT to students that is not present in his student's Aikido lineages - I think its important to ask ourselves, by what right do we claim that for our own? In Aikido we have something of a tradition of stealing the technique. But is it right to steal the legacy?

But what if the things he did, the skills he had, were more of an act of religious ceremony, or performance? And not teachable things? Then I think we shouldn't refer to a "legacy" at all. We should, instead, be honest about the fact that trying to pursue Osensei more directly is basically an act of "reconstruction" of a dead martial art.
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Old 12-01-2015, 10:44 AM   #14
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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We should, instead, be honest about the fact that trying to pursue Osensei more directly is basically an act of "reconstruction" of a dead martial art.
This really hits the nail on the head. If one works with the assumption that none of his legacy was passed down through any of his students (not just his son) how can anyone possibly reconstruct it.

There is just too much supposition to sustain claim of discovery.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 12-01-2015, 10:01 PM   #15
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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This really hits the nail on the head. If one works with the assumption that none of his legacy was passed down through any of his students (not just his son) how can anyone possibly reconstruct it.

There is just too much supposition to sustain claim of discovery.
I agree that it is difficult, and that the practitioner would always have to present an argument to defend his claim that he is following the "lost legacy"... But I don't agree that it can't be done. And regarding "dead martial art," I think this is a bit different from a koryu being resurrected from scrolls.

1. There are lectures and writings, which have content much like students heard in class. They fit into a larger body of work (besides Mark Murray, see Chris Li's other stuff) that gives them context and support, which can be studied and practiced. In other words he gave pointers to things you can and should train.
2. Unlike a koryu with intricate details, it could be that the founder's "legacy" was for people to learn just a basic and relatively unconstrained method of "how to move your mind." (wherein the mind affects the body of course.) How else could he feel like giving a dancer 10th dan?
So from that point of view, we have to get the foundation right, and then whatever we build on it is correct aikido as long as it is true to the foundation.

Anyway I am not saying personally I believe in an Ueshiban legacy. I see where one could claim it is there, but it may be too sparsely supported after all. It's up to us to figure out whether our training is congruent with the founder's intentions, to whatever degree we can discern those intentions. So it doesn't have to be a totally clear prescription from him in order to guide our training.
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Old 12-02-2015, 01:19 AM   #16
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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…. Kisshomaru left a living martial tradition ….
A strong statement on your part.

If Kisshomaru didn't want Aikido be an anachronism, as I've been told, then this could also validate the "living" in your statement. And obviously there are people who practice aikido as an art form.
But how would you define the martial tradition part, if martial is derived from Mars, the god of aggressive warfare in Roman Mythology. Would this be still in Kisshomarus legacy?

At least, Mark Murray has put together and cited quite a few sources to make the analysis he offers a plausible consequence.

Best,
Bernd

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Old 12-02-2015, 09:31 AM   #17
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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This really hits the nail on the head. If one works with the assumption that none of his legacy was passed down through any of his students (not just his son) how can anyone possibly reconstruct it.

There is just too much supposition to sustain claim of discovery.
I think this is a critical position. If your perspective is Useshiba is dead, long live Ueshiba, you are challenged to resolve the inability to accomplish what we saw O Sensei do. Which we see expressed in a variety of ways. For me, I feel like this perspective encapsulates aiki in O Sensei; a possession of his, so to speak. No O Sensei, no aiki. What about the contemporaries of Ueshiba? Sagawa and others who also possessed aiki? The heavyweights from the early dojo? I can't resolve aiki as a possession of aikido or O Sensei, so it is difficult for me to put O Sensei on a pedestal and say, "Well, nobody will ever be as good as him." What's next? We never surpass our instructors, so we put them on a pedestal and say, "sensei knows all, we'll never be as good as sensei..." Wait...

I happen to believe that O Sensei left a legacy, it wasn't his to begin with - it was material he learned from Takeda and others and so forth. O Sensei was just a man who was able to consolidate what he learned and demonstrate it. It's the admonishment to chase the material, not the man. For me, this is simply a back tracking task to see where O Sensei got his stuff, then pick up the trail from there. Losing O Sensei as a resource is a lost chronicle, but not necessarily the end of the line.

But, I understand not everyone has this perspective. Sometimes, Monty Python scene of the people dying from the plague comes to mind... People are saying O Sensei's aiki is dead, but it's not... we just want it to be dead so we can stop comparing our aikido to his.

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Old 12-02-2015, 10:33 AM   #18
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

When Kisshomaru Doshu's influence became more prominent, I don't think we just moved away from his father. The art of Aikido started to fracture into different camps which kept their distance from their neighbors.

Tomiki, Shioda, Tohei, Shioda, Shirata and others - variations in technique became a declaration of alliegence to a lineage. Basic terms used in training, particularly Japanese terms used by English only speakers (IME), became a declaration of lineage.

There are many students who have gone on to be teachers. How much instruction the students received, in whole or in part from Morihei Ueshiba, how many outside influences, how much the students were inspired; that all varies.

I don't think "reconstruction of a dead art" quite applies if the art is still alive if fractured and diluted. The various lineages are worthy of exploration. Over focus on politics can certainly increase the damage and loss, but without an authority the art can just keep getting more diluted.

The training methods - most of the major lineages are students who wanted to find a better way to teach than they were taught.

How perfect was Ueshiba Morihei is a question we might need to explore as well. A Shotokan Karate student can say Funakoshi Gichin wasn't the greatest ever for all time, and Judo students will not say no one will ever come close to Kano Jigoro's skills. Lately people like Homma Sensei have written that some of O Sensei's demos were faked.
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Old 12-02-2015, 11:23 AM   #19
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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I happen to believe that O Sensei left a legacy, it wasn't his to begin with - it was material he learned from Takeda and others and so forth. O Sensei was just a man who was able to consolidate what he learned and demonstrate it. It's the admonishment to chase the material, not the man. For me, this is simply a back tracking task to see where O Sensei got his stuff, then pick up the trail from there. Losing O Sensei as a resource is a lost chronicle, but not necessarily the end of the line.
Well that pretty much mirrors my perspective. I see a long line of tradition and teachers whose relevance to my own study and progress is defined by my distance in time from them. Nariyama, Tomiki, Ueshiba, Takeda, his teachers - a particular name change having no importance - but I am happy to call it Aikido. I think when we talk about a legacy of a particular man we talk about his contribution to the whole and not what he did not pass on. For that reason I rebel against the idea that there is a lost Ueshiba M. legacy.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 12-02-2015, 12:24 PM   #20
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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But how would you define the martial tradition part, if martial is derived from Mars, the god of aggressive warfare in Roman Mythology. Would this be still in Kisshomarus legacy?
That's not how I define "martial legacy" at all, I am simply using an english phrase for budo. If you disagree that Aikido is a budo, cool, but I think you disagree with just about everybody who is familiar with what budo is.

BTW, while we are arguing semantics, I think the term "legacy" implies something bequeathed...in our case here, Ueshiba's legacy would be skills, knowledge, or pedagogy that he developed and INTENDED for his students to take on and continue to pass to their students.

You could probably argue that a legacy is simply the historical impact of a person, i.e. what they did, what they are known for. But if that's how you are defining Ueshiba's legacy (he did stuff, we have stories about it, some people still alive felt it firsthand and they can talk about it) then you must admit that that's a different sort of legacy than what Kisshomaru, Shioda, Tohei, Tomiki, Saito, etc left behind - those guys actually created training systems and built organizations to foster them.

It's the difference between one person dying and leaving a million dollars to charity, and another person dying without a will and his neighbors remembering how he once had a million dollars.

Quote:
Bernd Lehnen wrote: View Post
At least, Mark Murray has put together and cited quite a few sources to make the analysis he offers a plausible consequence.
Yes, he pulled together a number of verified quotes from different sources, and he analyzed them in terms of whether there was a difference between Kisshomaru's kihon waza and the skills that Osensei demonstrated. I think he did a good job of that. I'd even say that the analysis holds for any of the other mainstream Aikido lineages.

I believe, based on the title of the essay, that Mr. Murray set out to show that Ueshiba bequeathed a legacy to us that is very different than that of Kisshomaru or the other students. But the essay doesn't really seem to go that far, as I read it.
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Old 12-02-2015, 12:28 PM   #21
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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John Hillson wrote: View Post
The training methods - most of the major lineages are students who wanted to find a better way to teach than they were taught.

How perfect was Ueshiba Morihei is a question we might need to explore as well. A Shotokan Karate student can say Funakoshi Gichin wasn't the greatest ever for all time, and Judo students will not say no one will ever come close to Kano Jigoro's skills. Lately people like Homma Sensei have written that some of O Sensei's demos were faked.
Just be coincidence there was a biography of Hideao Ohba written by Shishida posted by Eddy Wolput as part of his study group today. Maybe he will repost it here but there were several interesting statements.

[it]Ueshiba's teaching method, which required students to learn with their bodies, obviously would not appeal to educators or to the world of predecessor arts like Judo and Kendo which employed rational, systematic teaching methods.[/it]

Now Ueshiba was defined by a set of techniques which were taught and practiced. We know this from books like Budo renshu and that recent film showing near identical techniques separated by 25 years but the statement was referring to a style of training in the 30s. What exactly is meant by learning with their bodies is intriguing.

The other statements were about the demo with Ueshiba which talk in detail about how they were considered fake and why some considered Ueshiba's technique degenerated over time through a desire to impress.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 12-02-2015, 03:29 PM   #22
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

Gaaaah! I have restrained myself from commenting, but I can't....

The key questions are asked in the summation at the end of the essay that Chris published -- and they are good questions.

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What has Modern Aikido been doing for 50 years? Techniques. Why is it that Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Koichi Tohei stated that techniques can be learned in a short amount of time? Doesn't 50 years of focused study on techniques with no worldwide appearance of anyone like Shioda, Shirata, or Ueshiba state something very definitive? Doesn't that state that there are two unique visions of aikido? Morihei Ueshiba's and Modern Aikido's.
What I don't agree with is the premise, or the implication toward the answers to those questions.

I think a companion piece is worthy of consideration -- http://www.aikidocanberra.com/studen...-steve-seymour

Mr. Seymour's observations closely echo, in its emphasis the method of approaching aiki by kasutori in doing waza, what Sagawa himself had said in training for aiki by softening the body in tanren: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpo...&postcount=401

It appears to me anyway that the consistent difficulty men like Takeda, Sagawa and Ueshiba had was in struggling to find a reproducible teaching method. Their own experience required them to train with someone until they were "ready" in body and mind to grasp aiki and how to develop it -- and for the most part -- on their own. This appears very consistent across all of their experience. Sagawa was very frank about the futility of trying to teach a student aiki until that point of readiness. I think until very late in their careers (and all being Japanese) such admission were hard for them to make in the first instance -- and likely counterproductive in terms of garnering students.

I see the "Ueshiba Legacy" as taking numerous forms, but I will focus on the three I have trained. Saotome's, Saito's and Aikikai. It appears that the Hombu's abandonment of weapons was an outgrowth of O Sensei's decision to not teach weapons there while simultaneously teaching them in depth at Iwama. This is too naked of a distinction to be error -- he segregated his teaching methods between the two. It seems he indulged other acceptable methodological divisions. (Hikitsuchi comes to mind). If, like Sagawa frankly admits, O Sensei was doubtful that he had come upon the "right" way to teach aiki, he may either have been experimenting in variant methods or perhaps just hedging the bets on his legacy.

In Iwama, riai appears to be the principal approach. In Hombu (Aikikai), ukemi as kasutori was the principal approach (as Suzuki's quote by Seymour above suggested was one path to aiki). These two I have substantial and direct experience in. Shioda took an approach of careful structural attention to detail, much as Seymour above quotes Suzuki about "practicing slowly with concentration and focus." I have some very limited experience in Yoshinkan in Japan under Parker Sensei -- and great respect for this approach. The pattern seems to follow with Hikitsuchi -- a shinto priest -- who took very seriously the symbolic spiritual concept approach (which most people at Hombu simply scratched their heads when the religious lectures were the aikido class). My own analysis of the Doka, from a concrete-concept-in-imagery standpoint, suggests this wasn't a bad way either, though far less followed or understood.

Saotome's aiki seems acceptable to ends of the spectrum on these debates. His approach hybridized the use of Eastern concepts adapted and applied in a more Western analytical and descriptive mode. His weapons teachings are study pieces in those principles. He came to the US to do this, and while O Sensei was dead by then, he claims that he felt it was what Ueshiba would have wanted him to do --and this is also consistent with the methodologically variant patterns noted above that O Sensei expressly kept separate and simultaneously approved.

The final point being, rather than keep debating who has THE legacy, we need to realize -- as the Founder himself seemed to:

1) that it is necessary to ready the students in body and mind before aiki can be readily grasped
2) that the match of the right approach to the right student is the best way for that to happen
3) that no branch of the Aikido tree has its fruit within reach of every student
4) that divisions of method are not in competition, but in mutual support of each other

ALL of these approaches are his legacy. That does not mean that any of them cannot be bettered. We ought, therefore, to be finding ways to better understand each other's methodological approaches, and in mutually supporting and strengthening each of them to better ready the mind and body of the student to grasp aiki in that way.

In our own methods we ought also to be observing the other approaches to see how their insights may help a given student when that student is unduly slow in coming to glimpse aiki in our ways for reasons that the other methods may speak to -- and adapt them as necessary to our tool kits for such students.

O Sensei may have originally segregated these methods to see what was working and how -- but he was himself also the assurance that what proved useful was transferred.

We all -- if we truly aspire to be HIS legacy -- must work together to BE those connections and assure that mutual transmissions occur -- and not harden the divisions that were put there merely for a tutelary purpose. Most assuredly -- we ought not simply try to supplant one method in favor of the "Best" method.

The legacy seems precisely that there is no "BEST" method -- and that the experience of three masters of aiki -- all of whom struggled to transmit it -- confirms the basic premise that grasping aiki is very hard -- and all students are not disposed to receive it, and certainly not all in the same way, nor from the same amount, degree or type of training.

We must keep these connections across methods open and accept unfamiliar things that may help a given student whose grasp in our method may be faltering or not developing at all. Not blindly, and not without critical assessment, but with charity and an eye on the common goal - and the development of our students in aiki.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 12-02-2015 at 03:35 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 12-02-2015, 03:32 PM   #23
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

I think we should support great teachers and training communities, so I'm OK that people post advertisements here, but posting ads that are designed to look like articles seems less cool.

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Old 12-03-2015, 11:41 AM   #24
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I happen to believe that O Sensei left a legacy, it wasn't his to begin with - it was material he learned from Takeda and others and so forth. O Sensei was just a man who was able to consolidate what he learned and demonstrate it. It's the admonishment to chase the material, not the man. For me, this is simply a back tracking task to see where O Sensei got his stuff, then pick up the trail from there. Losing O Sensei as a resource is a lost chronicle, but not necessarily the end of the line.
Jon, if you are talking about Osensei's skills as something you need to go to outside of Aikido to find, then that's not a legacy. At least it's not his legacy. But you state that much yourself - it would be Takeda's legacy, or Sagawa's, or Horikawa's, or etc. And those guys were MUCH more explicit about who they left their legacies to than Ueshiba.
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Old 12-03-2015, 12:09 PM   #25
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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Peter Rehse wrote: View Post
Well that pretty much mirrors my perspective. I see a long line of tradition and teachers whose relevance to my own study and progress is defined by my distance in time from them. Nariyama, Tomiki, Ueshiba, Takeda, his teachers - a particular name change having no importance - but I am happy to call it Aikido. I think when we talk about a legacy of a particular man we talk about his contribution to the whole and not what he did not pass on. For that reason I rebel against the idea that there is a lost Ueshiba M. legacy.
... and I am opposite in my conclusion. I think O Sensei left a legacy because we have so many references to O Sensei (videos, books, interviews and the like). There is plenty of material from the man, it's just that we (as aikido people) cannot replicate his accomplishments with success. That's part of why I asked Cliff his opinion of legacy. Nobody played baseball like Ted Williams, yet no one would claim that he did not leave a legacy of accomplishments cherished in baseball. Yet we continue to play baseball... If we are going to define legacy as an education passed generationally, I think we are basically claiming that no one in aikido has ever successfully passed on aikido - like a copy of a copy until the quality is degraded... If no one ever got the whole enchilada, then they could not have passed down the whole enchilada.

Some of this is word-smithing as we use "legacy." If our beef is that O Sensei didn't teach it, then there is no way we can also say Doshu taught it (because O Sensei didn't teach it to him). So it seems to reason that Doshu also would not have a legacy. Now if "legacy" is just a pedagogy, everyone should have a legacy because we all have our own teaching systems.

In answer to Cliff's question, I like the argument of outside sources that also trained aiki because it does show other models of education. It thinks it's important to note that other models did exert more influence over who trained and who "got it". While a harsher truth for those training, maybe not so dishonest as to imply everyone training will "get it" if you just train long enough...

For me, legacy is a softer term that implies a lasting impact. For me, this let's me both enjoy the profound impact O Sensei had on aikido and also what The Splendid Splinter did in professional baseball. In both cases, I understand that there will never be another one as I enjoy something bigger than either one.

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