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Old 12-03-2015, 12:50 PM   #26
Cliff Judge
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

I think its fine if you define legacy that way, Jon, but I just want to point out what you did up there -

You are saying, hey, great baseball player Ted Williams left a legacy of great athletic accomplishments. Just his performance on the field, is his legacy. But then you admit that very few players can hope to match or top him. And that's fine, right?

But Osensei's legacy, which you define the same way - a legacy of accomplishments that we know through lore and some films - is something that we should all shame ourselves for, because none of us match or top him.

I think most folks would see these as two different things.
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Old 12-03-2015, 02:56 PM   #27
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
I think its fine if you define legacy that way, Jon, but I just want to point out what you did up there -

You are saying, hey, great baseball player Ted Williams left a legacy of great athletic accomplishments. Just his performance on the field, is his legacy. But then you admit that very few players can hope to match or top him. And that's fine, right?

But Osensei's legacy, which you define the same way - a legacy of accomplishments that we know through lore and some films - is something that we should all shame ourselves for, because none of us match or top him.

I think most folks would see these as two different things.
Well, Kinda. Except not. We can have conversations all day long about how good Wade Boggs was compared to Ted Williams, or DiMaggio, or whomever. And Teddy baseball has been surpassed in several statistics. But we can remember when he was #1 and enjoy that someone made him #2. And we can argue with authority that we once was #1 for a reason.

I think your list gets really small when you start comparing people to what Ueshiba accomplished in aikido. I never said anything about shame, but I think if you find a metric of comparison, we should raise some eyebrows that whatever we are doing, it ain't getting us into the big leagues to play with the heavyweights. I think you are correct that we have yet to produce someone who who surpassed O Sensei's skills.

The joy of that argument is that we can flavor why we like our favorites, not just because they are qualified but also because we liked what they did. When I hear comments that excuse why we can't be like someone, there is no joy in the debate. Because not only do we have no contenders against the old man, we come up shy against the old students, Shioda, Mochizuki, Shirata, Tohei, Tomiki, etc.; although, we have a better argument against them. You say O Sensei was a charlatan with no goods. Fine. What about Tohei? Shioda? The list of excuses that disqualify these people gets pretty long and many of these people also have videos, books, quotes and the like. What ever happened to Occam's Razor?

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Old 12-03-2015, 03:58 PM   #28
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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Well, Kinda. Except not. We can have conversations all day long about how good Wade Boggs was compared to Ted Williams, or DiMaggio, or whomever. And Teddy baseball has been surpassed in several statistics. But we can remember when he was #1 and enjoy that someone made him #2. And we can argue with authority that we once was #1 for a reason.

I think your list gets really small when you start comparing people to what Ueshiba accomplished in aikido. I never said anything about shame, but I think if you find a metric of comparison, we should raise some eyebrows that whatever we are doing, it ain't getting us into the big leagues to play with the heavyweights. I think you are correct that we have yet to produce someone who who surpassed O Sensei's skills.

The joy of that argument is that we can flavor why we like our favorites, not just because they are qualified but also because we liked what they did. When I hear comments that excuse why we can't be like someone, there is no joy in the debate. Because not only do we have no contenders against the old man, we come up shy against the old students, Shioda, Mochizuki, Shirata, Tohei, Tomiki, etc.; although, we have a better argument against them. You say O Sensei was a charlatan with no goods. Fine. What about Tohei? Shioda? The list of excuses that disqualify these people gets pretty long and many of these people also have videos, books, quotes and the like. What ever happened to Occam's Razor?
But you at least agree that pro baseball players are not teachers, and none of them actually founded baseball? And there is no expectation that they should be actively training other players to be as good as them when they are on the field? But this does not mean that someone who wants to be very good at baseball should really focus on cricket, because playing baseball is never going to get you into the big leagues?
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Old 12-04-2015, 08:24 AM   #29
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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But you at least agree that pro baseball players are not teachers, and none of them actually founded baseball? And there is no expectation that they should be actively training other players to be as good as them when they are on the field? But this does not mean that someone who wants to be very good at baseball should really focus on cricket, because playing baseball is never going to get you into the big leagues?
Not all pro baseball players are teachers. But several players became coaches, managers and owners of baseball teams. My own beloved Nolan Ryan taught pitching clinics and owned a number of baseball teams after retiring from baseball. And many successful players were groomed by their predecessors, take the movie, Bull Durham, for example, as an illustration of that process. While no one player would claim to have invented baseball, there are several good arguments made that players like Babe Ruth "saved" baseball by bringing it to the forefront of American sports. Who will ever forget Yogi Berra? Lou Gehrig? So you do have several illustrations of players who took their involvement to a level of stewardship that advanced the game and left a lasting impact on the sport. Remember, O Sensei did not create aiki, he simply gave rules to practicing aiki training. Those rules were changed by subsequent generations.

Cricket is credibly considered as one of two sports that likely was the predecessor of baseball (the other being Rounders), so yes, you could make some argument that practicing your cricket bat may improve your baseball hitting; whether that training would improve the entirety of your play is doubtful. More likely, you would see an elevation of your body skills if you trained with the cricket team. This is the reason why we have gyms - to elevate our body condition. Again, you see professional athletes work out with their college alma mata all the time. Do you think they think that is taboo? Or ineffective?

Most of my baseball training, even through a collegiate level, was predominately calisthenics, cardiovascular exercise, strength training and coordinated movement. By comparison, far more time was spent conditioning my body versus hitting, throwing and fielding. This is similar to other athletics like football, basketball, soccer and golf. Dustin Johnson (a professional golfer) played basketball for the University of Kentucky and still prefers many of his basketball exercises to condition his body for golf. Reggis White played Sumo and Judo. Dion Sanders and Bo Jackson played baseball and football. Jim Thorpe played everything. What works, works. Our perspective that aikido is a one-stop shop, or that aikido is the sole place to train aiki, is ridiculous. As best it is a boastful claim, at worst a barrier of exclusivity. It has one validation, to keep some people focused on training a specific set of skills.

Body movement is body movement. The reason top athletics can successfully play multiple sports is because they move correctly and those core abilities give them significant advantage to learning new sports. I have stuck with the sports analogy because I think it illustrates the different rules by which we evaluate Aikido. I don't think its coincidence that the transition from body exercises to technique orientation correlates with a decline in aiki skill within aikido people.

The thought that teaching is a path to legacy is a neo-academic wish. It's a desire to take an impressionable mind and beat it into your image, not transmit knowledge. This also happens to be a critical observation of contemporary academics. Leadership is the path to legacy and leadership is not the same as teaching, even if they overlap. This is why I think both father and son held legacies. We can be critical of Doshu's aikido, but he made aikido a world-wide name and that is something.

Last edited by jonreading : 12-04-2015 at 08:33 AM.

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Old 12-04-2015, 09:33 AM   #30
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

you guys are too obsessed with balls. cut it out!

Lets face it. Ueshiba Sr left an aikido that was hard to teach to the mass, because it' was mostly principle based. He probably could careless what technique you do, as long as you do it while you are one with the universe, and crossing the bridge over the trouble water, and with love, and peace and goodwill toward mankind (didn't mention anything about animal so i am safe to have a steak or two or three).

Ueshiba Jr went about to codify the aikido curriculum (probably "encouraged" other offshoot organizations to do the same) with definitive movements that can be taught to the mass and make everyone feeling good about themselves while learning a destructive physical endeavour (sort of how to use a sheathed knife).

you have two learning/teaching approaches. with Sr, it would involved some sort of aiki, IS, IT, ipad kind of thing, which are tedious, boring, and time consuming and just down right not sexy (at least, not in a skirt). whereas with Jr, you have these nice big sweeping movements, with body flying everywhere, skirt flaring (not the Marilyn Monroe kind), people laughing, partying and dancing in the rain. while telling everyone that's it a martial art, like kungfu and karate, but better looking and just as effective. it's very sexy, so the mass likes that. now that's what i called good marketing.

here is a question for you folks who had experience with Saotome sensei. you think it's easy to learn his aikido? why/why not? versus some one like Yamada sensei or Saito sensei? one hint, Saotome used to say "Aikido no style. Aikido principles and ideas is" ok, one more hint, why is it that none of Saotome's direct students move like him or move like each other? now compare that to folks in USAF or Iwama and so on.

you know sometimes the example is right in front of us, but we don't often see it.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 12-04-2015, 10:26 AM   #31
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

You make a lot of great points here, Jon. It seems that bringing up the subject of baseball sharpens you up a bit.

I feel like you've added a lot of depth to the discussion of the difference between the legacy of Osensei and the Nidai Doshu here. We can say they are two different types of thing: Kisshomaru (and other senior students of course) created martial systems and organizations to promulgate them. Osensei is a guy who went very far and accomplished much; he's an inspiration, a paragon.

If Osensei is really your guy and you are passionate about following in his footsteps, of course you will take any opportunity you can to get out there, see what's available, and cross train in anything you think might help you get there.

FWIW though....

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Remember, O Sensei did not create aiki, he simply gave rules to practicing aiki training. Those rules were changed by subsequent generations.
To the extent that Osensei actually did give rules to practice aiki training, he made many changes himself throughout his career. This is pretty relevant to our discussion - if we are speaking of Ueshiba's legacy in terms of him being an inspirational example, shouldn't we be counting up how many different legacies he left?

Quote:
Our perspective that aikido is a one-stop shop, or that aikido is the sole place to train aiki, is ridiculous. As best it is a boastful claim, at worst a barrier of exclusivity. It has one validation, to keep some people focused on training a specific set of skills.
Sorry, everybody, but I gotta do this...

You can train aiki in Aikido. You can train aiki in Daito ryu. Not all DR teachers will take students that also wish to continue their Aikido training though. Aiki has a different type of focus in different lines of Daito ryu too.

There are plenty of places to train completely different things which seem very similar, and can certainly feed into your practice of aiki in a beneficial way, but are not properly termed "aiki".

(Also there is aiki in Toda-ha Buko ryu!)

Quote:
I don't think its coincidence that the transition from body exercises to technique orientation correlates with a decline in aiki skill within aikido people.
The technical orientation may have degenerated in some manner (IMO, it was the move from traditional, personal one-on-one instruction to Takeda's seminar format that caused this) but Japanese martial arts are kata based - a good koryu is comprised of kata that include body skill development as well as other things.

I'm not sure if the video of old vs new Osensei David posted in another thread nails the coffin shut, but it really should be clear that Osensei was largely technically oriented throughout his career.

Quote:
The thought that teaching is a path to legacy is a neo-academic wish. It's a desire to take an impressionable mind and beat it into your image, not transmit knowledge. This also happens to be a critical observation of contemporary academics. Leadership is the path to legacy and leadership is not the same as teaching, even if they overlap. This is why I think both father and son held legacies. We can be critical of Doshu's aikido, but he made aikido a world-wide name and that is something.
"Taking an impressionable mind and beating it into your image" is an EXCELLENT way to describe the older teaching model of Japanese martial arts (and non-martial arts also btw). And its a proven model in the sense that you can enter any of dozens of dojos in Japan, Europe, the USA, etc, and learn very similar material to what was taught 400+ years ago. Skill, maybe not, but knowledge, absolutely. THAT is a legacy, my friend.

Leadership? Sure, absolutely. To what extent Ueshiba was a great leader is an extremely interesting question. Leaders are sometimes very active and head-cracky, but sometimes they are just figureheads surrounded by people who tell them what they want to hear, and who make decisions in their name....Japanese culture seems to like the latter type of leader quite a bit.

Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jon, I appreciate them even if I disagree with them.
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Old 12-04-2015, 10:35 AM   #32
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

I know several former students of New York Aikikai who would describe the dojo as "Law of the Jungle." It is my own experience that Yamada Sensei has very few students whose movements look like him. But, looking like someone means imitating technique and external images.

I did spend a decade in a style of bagua that focused on principles and not techniques. For people with other martial arts backgrounds, lots of techniques at the ready in the body and in the mind, the focus on principles was very enlightening and empowering.

For students who had never been in a fight or didn't see how to connect the principle to application, they learned healthy principles for opening doors or carrying groceries but still needed to have someone show them techniques. The principles of body movement or mind-body principles are not different for other arts, or even non-artistic endeavors.

I decided for myself that archetypal techniques are the best way to teach principles so long as the principle as well defined and variations are encouraged. Haven't figured it out yet, as there are too many examples of people who know the technique but not the principle.
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Old 12-04-2015, 11:12 AM   #33
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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I'm not sure if the video of old vs new Osensei David posted in another thread nails the coffin shut, but it really should be clear that Osensei was largely technically oriented throughout his career.
When you talk about Ueshiba it is useful to examine the training in any of the pre-war dojo where he was actively training students. There is no evidence of any shift of body work to a technical orientation. We hear students talking about his excellent technique not spending hours doing body work. I do not understand where this idea of a shift comes from.

Using the techniques to learn desired principles rather than just the techniques themselves is a model that continues to be used.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 12-04-2015, 11:59 AM   #34
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

In my view, there is a little confusion about things here. If Ueshiba Morihei's teaching was so inchoate, why did each and every one of his disciples end up with variants of the same techniques. Ueshiba Kisshomaru definitely organized a curriculum, but in reading this thread, it seems almost as if the son created modern aikido technique. Speaking for myself, my thesis of Hidden in Plain Sight was that Ueshiba was ALSO teaching the methodology of how to develop internal strength while he was teaching technique. If you read the long account of the life of Shirata Rinjiro, he describes handling challenge matches with idimi, followed by ikkyo, shihonage, atemi or nikkyo The same techniques done now. I do agree that the successors of Ueshiba Morihei got varying amounts (to nil) of the methodology he used to develop his 'aiki,' but honestly, aside from paring away many Daito-ryu techniques, the form of ueshiba's Daito-ryu,-aikibudo - aikido is largely the same. It would be worthwhile to refer back to John Driscoll's exemplary column on this.

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Old 12-04-2015, 12:18 PM   #35
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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Peter Rehse wrote: View Post
When you talk about Ueshiba it is useful to examine the training in any of the pre-war dojo where he was actively training students. There is no evidence of any shift of body work to a technical orientation. We hear students talking about his excellent technique not spending hours doing body work. I do not understand where this idea of a shift comes from.

Using the techniques to learn desired principles rather than just the techniques themselves is a model that continues to be used.
This is another critical perception, I think. A leap of faith, maybe. Choreography shows... choreography. It does not diminish what we are talking about that O Sensei wished to demonstrate proper movement. Do all koryu's train the way we see them demonstrate publicly? Substantial conversation for another thread, but important.

That we look at a training methodology tha has been used for a long time without substantial gain and do not challenge the model is an enigma to me. It's not that kata is bad or form is bad, only that I think you cannot substantiate a claim that if you do kata enough, you will be OK. I think when you hear me talk about body work, kata is part of the body work. So is stretching, so is movement coordination. I contest is the empty shape we make while our partner conspires to make the shape successful. I contest the idea that watching someone move their foot in an arc is equivalent to specifying that the foot must move in an arc. I contest that observing someone move with precision is equivalent to technical movement.

Knowledge can be a legacy, but only when it's used. For example, we all know who is Albert Einstein, but who taught him math? The very thing that made him famous, a legacy of knowledge passed to Albert Einstein, but collectively a group of unknown people. Why? it was Einstein who used the knowledge. Why is a critical knowledge. My beef with kata is that is sometimes omits why and remains just do. If you don't know why you're moving your foot, or your hand, or keeping your head still, you do not know why you move. If you do not know why you move, then you do not know body movement (as a caveat to this rant, I do not consider evasion to be body movement). In the beginning, shape can help us move. But if we are still relying on shape later in our training, we're not really advancing our knowledge. If we're not advancing our knowledge, we're not really advancing its legacy...

Sorry for hogging the thread, but I think this is a good conversation.

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Old 12-04-2015, 01:56 PM   #36
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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That we look at a training methodology tha has been used for a long time without substantial gain and do not challenge the model is an enigma to me. It's not that kata is bad or form is bad, only that I think you cannot substantiate a claim that if you do kata enough, you will be OK.
Before ditching (or de-emphasizing) form based training, have you considered the possibility that the issue may be with the content of the forms you practice or the way you practice forms rather then the general principal?

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Old 12-07-2015, 08:22 AM   #37
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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Before ditching (or de-emphasizing) form based training, have you considered the possibility that the issue may be with the content of the forms you practice or the way you practice forms rather then the general principal?
Absolutely a folly with our kata system is that the content of our movement is lacking substance. But that is an argument of low-hanging fruit because most form systems struggle to maintain quality in form work. I think it gives us permission to mea culpa and move on without really changing what's going on. "Mistakes were made," is not a good strategy for correcting issues, only acknowledging them.

And to be clear, I am not suggesting that we scrap kata, only that we seek to understand it and let the merits of correct movement show. Reading the same post in which you find this quote you'll also read that I am contesting bad form, not calling for the abandonment of form. Some of this is conjecture, of course. For me, I see largely a system that has continued to produce diminishing returns of skill, compared against several examples of individuals of whose skill we have not yet been able to regain. If given to the idea of "technical curriculum", one might raise the specter of criticism about the quality of forms we inherited. Unless there is something missing...

In answer to your question, yes, I do think we were doing our kata wrong. Heck, we were doing the exercises before kata wrong. Heck, we were standing wrong. Wanna know the real bombshell? If I was not moving correctly in form, how could I possibly have been able to perform waza? I wasn't. I am now moving to rectify my training, but that observation was one of the most glaring illustrations that I was not doing "aiki", but rather something else.

Dialogues like what Mark initiated gave me pause to think and critically look at why I was doing what I was doing. Other resources for sister arts and internal arts illustrate divergent teaching that also showed gaps in my understanding. None of this is bad, but if I wanna get from point A to point B, I gotta know what point B is.

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Old 12-07-2015, 10:04 AM   #38
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
]For me, I see largely a system that has continued to produce diminishing returns of skill, compared against several examples of individuals of whose skill we have not yet been able to regain.
Quote:
None of this is bad, but if I wanna get from point A to point B, I gotta know what point B is.
What is point B for you?

Going back to the question of what kind of thing Osensei's legacy is, I notice that you make that type of reference often - "diminishing returns of skill" over time. It is clear you feel that successive generations of Aikido people are not as good as the last.

But the thing is, this generation is people you can meet and train with today. Last generation, you can meet people who trained with them personally, and hear about how good they were. The further back you go, the tangibility of the knowledge of how skilled folks were is what diminishes.
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Old 12-07-2015, 10:27 AM   #39
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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But the thing is, this generation is people you can meet and train with today. Last generation, you can meet people who trained with them personally, and hear about how good they were. The further back you go, the tangibility of the knowledge of how skilled folks were is what diminishes.
Not to mention growing with the telling.

Going back two generations all we really have is a level of skill that made an impression on contemporaries filled in with hyperbole.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 12-07-2015, 11:07 AM   #40
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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Going back to the question of what kind of thing Osensei's legacy is, I notice that you make that type of reference often - "diminishing returns of skill" over time. It is clear you feel that successive generations of Aikido people are not as good as the last.

But the thing is, this generation is people you can meet and train with today. Last generation, you can meet people who trained with them personally, and hear about how good they were. The further back you go, the tangibility of the knowledge of how skilled folks were is what diminishes.
don't need to go that far. case in point, Saotome sensei was direct student of O Sensei. Saotome's still alive and within reaching distance. Ikeda sensei. Anyone in ASU (other than Saotome) can even come close to be able to do what he does? i would be so very happy i could find a second person. and yes, i have took ukemi for both. Don't need to go far.

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Old 12-07-2015, 12:39 PM   #41
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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don't need to go that far. case in point, Saotome sensei was direct student of O Sensei. Saotome's still alive and within reaching distance. Ikeda sensei. Anyone in ASU (other than Saotome) can even come close to be able to do what he does? i would be so very happy i could find a second person. and yes, i have took ukemi for both. Don't need to go far.
My point is - how do you know Saotome Sensei isn't better than Osensei ever was? Answer: you can't really. You'd have to take his word for it, he'd never admit it, and he actually wouldn't be able to make an objective comparison anyway.

I don't want to embarass anybody by mentioning names but the ASU actually does have a shihan or two who I think are quite close to Saotome Sensei's level. That's my subjective opinion.

(and they were there before ever meeting you-know-who).

Last edited by Cliff Judge : 12-07-2015 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 12-07-2015, 12:41 PM   #42
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

Phi is correct, this time, at least. We have some access to people and I think we should feel some pressure to learn what they have to share before they are gone. Yes, that resource is diminishing. Part of what I like about Mark's essay is that it gets us to think about what we are following. I think many people do not realize Aikido is not what O Sensei did. I am fond of using "diminishing" because I don't want a qualitative argument - I want to leave room for personal flavor. But the concentration of knowledge by individuals within aikido is getting smaller and less coherent. This is not a criticism, only a comment about conservation.

For me, point A is surpassing the education I inherited from my instructors; this is a tall order for me. I am hypocritical if I do not acknowledge a pressure to succeed my predecessors. Point B is seeking out the next level of education to advance my personal aikido. I don't happen to feel the the next level for me is gonna come from doing ikkyo for 20 years (or any other common phrase promoting aikido's "don't die" strategy for promotion); I happen to think it comes from ilearning about aiki and I know that's a taboo topic around here. But my point B doesn't have to be [your] point B.

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Old 12-07-2015, 06:37 PM   #43
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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Absolutely a folly with our kata system is that the content of our movement is lacking substance. But that is an argument of low-hanging fruit because most form systems struggle to maintain quality in form work. I think it gives us permission to mea culpa and move on without really changing what's going on. "Mistakes were made," is not a good strategy for correcting issues, only acknowledging them.

And to be clear, I am not suggesting that we scrap kata, only that we seek to understand it and let the merits of correct movement show. Reading the same post in which you find this quote you'll also read that I am contesting bad form, not calling for the abandonment of form. Some of this is conjecture, of course. For me, I see largely a system that has continued to produce diminishing returns of skill, compared against several examples of individuals of whose skill we have not yet been able to regain. If given to the idea of "technical curriculum", one might raise the specter of criticism about the quality of forms we inherited. Unless there is something missing...

In answer to your question, yes, I do think we were doing our kata wrong. Heck, we were doing the exercises before kata wrong. Heck, we were standing wrong. Wanna know the real bombshell? If I was not moving correctly in form, how could I possibly have been able to perform waza? I wasn't. I am now moving to rectify my training, but that observation was one of the most glaring illustrations that I was not doing "aiki", but rather something else.

Dialogues like what Mark initiated gave me pause to think and critically look at why I was doing what I was doing. Other resources for sister arts and internal arts illustrate divergent teaching that also showed gaps in my understanding. None of this is bad, but if I wanna get from point A to point B, I gotta know what point B is.
I appreciate the honesty and the courage it takes to examine your own training and to find it lacking. Looks like you have decided that "aiki" is the fundamental element that was missing from you practice.

This is what I remember of the aiki/ip debates from a few years ago (all archived somewhere here)

1. Among the proponents of aiki/ip there was no agreement on what these terms mean, if they mean the same thing in different contexts (Aikido, Daito-ryu) or where they originate.
2. The people who claimed that they could demonstrate and teach aiki/ip where in disagreement about every aspect of each other's claims (I am thinking Mike Sigman and Dan Harden here)
3. For me, the most interesting question was if and how all this is related to Aikido. There were two somewhat independent lines of inquiry:

Line the first - Historical: Did the founder demonstrated aiki/ip? If he did what was it? Where did he get it from? Did he teach it to any of his students? Did he think it was important etc...
Line the second - Current: Who is capable of demonstrating and teaching the founder's aiki/ip today?

Regarding "Line the first" I am not a historian but know enough to treat sources and quotes with caution. I am also very much suspicious of the "cherry picking" approach to sources which is the device by which sources that contradict the point that is being made are ignored. "The Words" section of Mark Murray's article is a list of quotes that lead the reader to the conclusion that Ueshiba's teaching method was confusing, if there was a teaching method at all, and in terms of knowledge transmission this branch of Aikido is a dead end.

It would have been interesting to contrast this line of reasoning with the fact that Ueshiba was personally teaching in:
* Nakano military school
* Toyama military school
* Army University in Yotsuya
* The Naval Academy
* Osaka Asahi Shinbun - three years, this one resulted (with the participation of Takeda - another formless teacher) in the Takumakai branch of Daito-ryu. Takumakai ended up with a "legacy" of over 500 documented techniques from those days.

But why complicate things?

One more example - in this interview with Shioda ( http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/...asahiko-kimura ) we have "When I was being taught by Ueshiba sensei, I never knew from day to day what I would be taught. One day would be extremely advanced, and the next would be basics". This is off course different from the Shioda quote in M. Murray's piece "at the Ueshiba Dojo in the old days we didn't explicitly have any pre-set forms"

Given the woolliness of the subject matter, the personality of the founder, the passage of time, the quality of research, etc... I am not holding my breath waiting for definitive answers.

Regarding "Line the second". Dan Harden remained the only candidate (Minoru Akuzawa was also mentioned but he seemed not to have an Aikido connection) as Mike Sigman stopped posting on AikiWeb.
I would have dearly liked for lineage to be unimportant (a twice removed appeal to authority) but unfortunately I believe it is, in this discussion. For some reason the lineage of aiki/ip proponents tends to be patchy (i.e. there are multiple sources) if it is known at all (what is M Murray's Aikido background?). My personal interest in "Line the second" declined after it transpired that Dan Harden "was not an Aikido person".

If memory serves, the argument for Dan Harden went like so:
1. Takeda had aiki/ip
2. Takeda passed it on to Ueshiba and othe senior students
3. Dan Harden has a Daito-ryu background
4. Dan Harden has good bodywork
5. Some (two?) high graded Aikido teachers where reported to recognize Dan's skills as those of the founder

I think that this the context for the "Speaking of aiki, ..." paragraph in "The Training" section of M Murray's piece, the Dan Harden foreword to the article and the recent addition of "here's what a direct student of Morihei Ueshiba had to say upon meeting Dan"

Best of luck with your training

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Old 12-08-2015, 10:23 AM   #44
jonreading
 
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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David Soroko wrote: View Post
I appreciate the honesty and the courage it takes to examine your own training and to find it lacking. Looks like you have decided that "aiki" is the fundamental element that was missing from you practice.

This is what I remember of the aiki/ip debates from a few years ago (all archived somewhere here)

1. Among the proponents of aiki/ip there was no agreement on what these terms mean, if they mean the same thing in different contexts (Aikido, Daito-ryu) or where they originate.
2. The people who claimed that they could demonstrate and teach aiki/ip where in disagreement about every aspect of each other's claims (I am thinking Mike Sigman and Dan Harden here)
3. For me, the most interesting question was if and how all this is related to Aikido. There were two somewhat independent lines of inquiry:

Line the first - Historical: Did the founder demonstrated aiki/ip? If he did what was it? Where did he get it from? Did he teach it to any of his students? Did he think it was important etc...
Line the second - Current: Who is capable of demonstrating and teaching the founder's aiki/ip today?

Regarding "Line the first" I am not a historian but know enough to treat sources and quotes with caution. I am also very much suspicious of the "cherry picking" approach to sources which is the device by which sources that contradict the point that is being made are ignored. "The Words" section of Mark Murray's article is a list of quotes that lead the reader to the conclusion that Ueshiba's teaching method was confusing, if there was a teaching method at all, and in terms of knowledge transmission this branch of Aikido is a dead end.

It would have been interesting to contrast this line of reasoning with the fact that Ueshiba was personally teaching in:
* Nakano military school
* Toyama military school
* Army University in Yotsuya
* The Naval Academy
* Osaka Asahi Shinbun - three years, this one resulted (with the participation of Takeda - another formless teacher) in the Takumakai branch of Daito-ryu. Takumakai ended up with a "legacy" of over 500 documented techniques from those days.

But why complicate things?

One more example - in this interview with Shioda ( http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/...asahiko-kimura ) we have "When I was being taught by Ueshiba sensei, I never knew from day to day what I would be taught. One day would be extremely advanced, and the next would be basics". This is off course different from the Shioda quote in M. Murray's piece "at the Ueshiba Dojo in the old days we didn't explicitly have any pre-set forms"

Given the woolliness of the subject matter, the personality of the founder, the passage of time, the quality of research, etc... I am not holding my breath waiting for definitive answers.

Regarding "Line the second". Dan Harden remained the only candidate (Minoru Akuzawa was also mentioned but he seemed not to have an Aikido connection) as Mike Sigman stopped posting on AikiWeb.
I would have dearly liked for lineage to be unimportant (a twice removed appeal to authority) but unfortunately I believe it is, in this discussion. For some reason the lineage of aiki/ip proponents tends to be patchy (i.e. there are multiple sources) if it is known at all (what is M Murray's Aikido background?). My personal interest in "Line the second" declined after it transpired that Dan Harden "was not an Aikido person".

If memory serves, the argument for Dan Harden went like so:
1. Takeda had aiki/ip
2. Takeda passed it on to Ueshiba and othe senior students
3. Dan Harden has a Daito-ryu background
4. Dan Harden has good bodywork
5. Some (two?) high graded Aikido teachers where reported to recognize Dan's skills as those of the founder

I think that this the context for the "Speaking of aiki, ..." paragraph in "The Training" section of M Murray's piece, the Dan Harden foreword to the article and the recent addition of "here's what a direct student of Morihei Ueshiba had to say upon meeting Dan"

Best of luck with your training
Yes, I felt after working with several people whom I respect that a critical element missing from my training was "aiki" - a specific, concrete thing that I could train. There are competing theories and I was proactive in making that bed. Ellis' books were very helpful in building the evidence I needed to make my decision. I also met several people with various experience to help decide what I wanted.

I think a critical issue with the aiki debate is that most of us believe we have aiki. Then we work out with someone who does have aiki and we recognize the gulf in skill that exists between us. That was a very personal experience for me and crystallized what direction I wanted my training to go. But that is a tough pill to swallow after 10-20 or 30 years of aikido training... Some of that frustration leaked into many of the aiki discussions and tainted the information. To our discredit, I think. It does not change the fact that we do not have aiki, but it was directed at containing people from looking into that [missing] detail.

I think another critical issue with the aiki discussion is the work is not readily consumable. Frankly, I think aiki training is boring, depressing and unsexy. It's also necessary. But, I think it is not for everyone. This is another issue that complicates the discussion, aiki is exclusive - you don't get aiki by paying dues, or attending seminars, or hanging around for 20 years. I think there are many people who aren't interested in that kind of training, but they also don't really want to work with people who train this way, either.

I think a third critical issue with the aiki discussion is that we believe aiki is a possession of aikido, exclusive to our art and not found elsewhere. It isn't. There are a number of arts that train with energy movement, our spiral energy is just one. What happens when a tai chi girl comes into the dojo and says, "We do spiral energy, too. Show me your wu shu." Our perspective of aiki is somewhat myopic and gives us trouble when we have to show what we do to others.

This thread is more about the third issue. That we need to better understand what we do and why we do it. Also, we need to move away for aiki being a possession of a person or an art. There are individuals who have this perspective, but I am not aware of any large groups that collectively have this perspective. I believe ASU is the closest group to this perspective and that is one of the reasons why I belong to ASU.

These are hard questions to ask yourself and the answers can be Earth-shaking. It's not for everybody. We joke about the decision being akin to the decision presented to Neo in The Matrix, that you enter a different world with new obstacles and reality. Does it complicate things? Sure. But for me, seeing things done the way I used to do them just seems wrong.

There are ways to understand how aiki works. O Sensei was a resource; there are other resources if you look for them. But it is research work - no one is gonna hand you "aiki" boxed up with a ribbon. Mark's giving you a preview of that research in his essay. That is more related to the larger question of researching the information to be confident in our decisions about training. Absolutely, there's noise that is not relevant to the salient points around which we train. We cherry pick our training anyway, both in the physical curriculum and the philosophical curriculum. How is this any different from choosing to train cuddly, post-war O Sensei or hell dojo, pre-war O Sensei? Pick a poison and enjoy.

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Old 12-08-2015, 11:24 AM   #45
Cliff Judge
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I think a critical issue with the aiki debate is that most of us believe we have aiki.
Really? Did you believe aiki was a form of power before you began training with IP people? I am curious because I never had this belief myself, nor have I ever believed that aiki is a "power" that one has or has not.

Chris Li has done a lot of work translating writings, lectures, and interviews of and adjacent to the Founder, and I acknowledge that some people feel that he was only and exactly referring to generating internal power in these writings. I am not sure if that has been Mr. Li's agenda but I feel that some of the other players have been rather strenuously focused on that. It makes sense if you are truly inspired by the "things Osensei could do" or the "power of Osensei." And thus aiki becomes just internal power. And Osensei's legacy becomes the lost secret of internal power.

But under Osensei's students, who perhaps didn't understand what he was saying and perceived these lectures as spiritual, mystical stuff, aiki became something that could be abstracted into a philosophy of life.

And seriously, dude - that's what gets people in the door even today. For me that's the better legacy - that aiki is a philosophy that empowers practitioners to solve conflict without entering it or being changed by it.

If Osensei was really talking "simply" about internal power, sorry, he did a terrible job. he was giving out gokui without giving people a coherent training system which would allow them to understand the gokui. That's a problem that Japanese swordsmen solved in the late 1500s. No excuse.

But I don't think he was simply talking about internal power. I think he really was trying to take a principle to its broadest possible concept and honestly hoped his art would transform the world.

Also, not a dang thing my Aikido teacher has ever told me resonated for one second with the idea that aiki is a power that one has or doesn't have. That's just my experience, but it is what it is.

P.S. other arts might have internal skills but they don't have aiki.
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Old 12-08-2015, 12:06 PM   #46
Chris Li
 
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

Since I've been mentioned, I'll make a brief comment. It's not an either/or - Bill Gleason (who is one of just a few people in the world who can really discuss what the Founder wrote with authority) summarized this quite nicely in the comment appended to Richard Moon's article available here.

Best,

Chris

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Old 12-08-2015, 03:04 PM   #47
jonreading
 
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Really? Did you believe aiki was a form of power before you began training with IP people? I am curious because I never had this belief myself, nor have I ever believed that aiki is a "power" that one has or has not.

Chris Li has done a lot of work translating writings, lectures, and interviews of and adjacent to the Founder, and I acknowledge that some people feel that he was only and exactly referring to generating internal power in these writings. I am not sure if that has been Mr. Li's agenda but I feel that some of the other players have been rather strenuously focused on that. It makes sense if you are truly inspired by the "things Osensei could do" or the "power of Osensei." And thus aiki becomes just internal power. And Osensei's legacy becomes the lost secret of internal power.

But under Osensei's students, who perhaps didn't understand what he was saying and perceived these lectures as spiritual, mystical stuff, aiki became something that could be abstracted into a philosophy of life.

And seriously, dude - that's what gets people in the door even today. For me that's the better legacy - that aiki is a philosophy that empowers practitioners to solve conflict without entering it or being changed by it.

If Osensei was really talking "simply" about internal power, sorry, he did a terrible job. he was giving out gokui without giving people a coherent training system which would allow them to understand the gokui. That's a problem that Japanese swordsmen solved in the late 1500s. No excuse.

But I don't think he was simply talking about internal power. I think he really was trying to take a principle to its broadest possible concept and honestly hoped his art would transform the world.

Also, not a dang thing my Aikido teacher has ever told me resonated for one second with the idea that aiki is a power that one has or doesn't have. That's just my experience, but it is what it is.

P.S. other arts might have internal skills but they don't have aiki.
Yes, my instructor started looking into Chinese martial arts some time back because [I believe] he recognized that aiki could be specifically trained and he felt the Chinese martial arts had a better system for that specific training. That was a point of origin for me to look closer at an internal training system. In my early research, I met several people who claimed to do "internal" training, only to find out they did not. Eventually, I found several great resources that got me on the trajectory I wanted.
One of the things my instructor said about the Chinese martial art he trained was that he felt more definitive "aiki" from his sifu than most aikido people.

I believe aiki is a trainable skill. I believe aiki exists in other arts. I think there is sufficient evidence in this regard and it has opened up several resources for scrutiny and comparison against what we do in aikido. And yes, I thought I had aiki until I touched people who had aiki. I feel I have a responsibility to my training that transcends what gets people in the door and goes to what the art is about.

Here's the thing, if aiki isn't a skill, why aren't there more Hiroshi Ikedas? Or Bill Gleasons? Or George Ledyards? How come they got something we don't? If you think it's just time on the mat, you're wrong.

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Old 12-09-2015, 12:39 PM   #48
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Yes, my instructor started looking into Chinese martial arts some time back because [I believe] he recognized that aiki could be specifically trained and he felt the Chinese martial arts had a better system for that specific training. That was a point of origin for me to look closer at an internal training system. In my early research, I met several people who claimed to do "internal" training, only to find out they did not. Eventually, I found several great resources that got me on the trajectory I wanted.
One of the things my instructor said about the Chinese martial art he trained was that he felt more definitive "aiki" from his sifu than most aikido people.

I believe aiki is a trainable skill. I believe aiki exists in other arts. I think there is sufficient evidence in this regard and it has opened up several resources for scrutiny and comparison against what we do in aikido. And yes, I thought I had aiki until I touched people who had aiki. I feel I have a responsibility to my training that transcends what gets people in the door and goes to what the art is about.

Here's the thing, if aiki isn't a skill, why aren't there more Hiroshi Ikedas? Or Bill Gleasons? Or George Ledyards? How come they got something we don't? If you think it's just time on the mat, you're wrong.
I absolutely get your passion and commitment to drive your skills, and I really admire that.

With regard to your instructor, I recognize that you are just explaining your understanding of matters and they are likely more complicated than this. But it is interesting to me that you say he went to Chinese sources to learn how to specifically train aiki.

I know a large number of folks who do or did Aikido who also went fairly deep into Chinese martial arts. And none of them seem particularly motivated to talk about the principles in the Chinese arts with Japanese labels. Its not that there aren't similarities or that training in one wouldn't benefit the other. Its just that once they were sufficiently steeped in their particular icm, they became comfortable with that other art's concepts and vocabulary.

My own experience is that way too, though its with koryu and not internal power, which I don't think is that interesting. When I started training kenjutsu I was thrilled by what I perceived as cognate concepts between sword training and Aikido training. I attempted to synthesize wherever possible. I tried to move like a Yagyu swordsman when practicing Aikido, and I spent a huge amount of time while doing kenjutsu thinking about how I would alter the Aikido sword katas to be "more like real swordsmanship."

But after a few years, I realized I was doing myself harm, and the other art was causing frustrations and lack of development in the one I was training right now. Its not that there aren't similarities or "ur-principles" that span both arts, its just that it isn't really useful to focus on them. If all you want to see are similarities, you will ignore important differences.

When I hear of your instructor going to internal chinese arts to develop a method for teaching what he considers to be "aiki" I have to wonder how much of that chinese art is getting thrown under the bus or blended in with different concepts. I wonder if the sifu was okay with your instructor taking the knowledge that was shared with him and teaching it as "aiki."

I disagree with you about what aiki is - that's no surprise to anybody - but I don't understand why you think if its not a skill, that there aren't more like Ikeda Sensei, Gleason, or George. I have definitely made advances over the years training with Ikeda Sensei, who does not throw the term "aiki" around much in my experience, but rather talks about changes, internal, breaking balance, etc.
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Old 12-09-2015, 06:50 PM   #49
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post

Here's the thing, if aiki isn't a skill, why aren't there more Hiroshi Ikedas? Or Bill Gleasons? Or George Ledyards? How come they got something we don't? If you think it's just time on the mat, you're wrong.
On that one you will just have to speak for yourself. I don't blame you to go looking for it if you are not getting stronger with the training you have. But other people are happy with the strength they are developing and the method that they use to get it.

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Old 12-10-2015, 12:00 AM   #50
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Re: The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

So what exactly is aiki?
The definition varies with the individual.
The same as what is ki?

dps
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