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Old 09-20-2013, 02:41 PM   #26
Cliff Judge
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

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Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Compare his demos - I've seen them many times and in many places. And I know from personal discussions that the demos are deliberately made to be the same everywhere (with just very minor differences).

Best,

Chris
This one looks a bit tighter and more lively than some others I have seen.

In general, though, he seems to make everything look as neutral as possible. I can kind of get it. It is like he keeps himself out of the demo. He is just showing the Aiki and not his own skills or his own mind. Maybe he does things differently in more closed training environments.
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Old 09-20-2013, 08:49 PM   #27
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

The problem with analyzing this kind of video is that what the Ueshiba (since the nidai doshu) have been doing is not budo embu in the koryu sense, it is more akin to business presentation.

A polished delivery to a potential customer and a clean but soulless example of the basic material. The only difference is that you are not in a hotel conference room.

If you think of it as an example of the heights of what Aikido can achieve, or as a peak behind the veil of a deep and esoteric system, you have it all wrong.

The nidai doshu was very explicit in his plan to turn his father's connection to the gods into a profitable corporation.
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Old 09-21-2013, 05:26 AM   #28
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

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Benjamin Edelen wrote: View Post
The problem with analyzing this kind of video is that what the Ueshiba (since the nidai doshu) have been doing is not budo embu in the koryu sense, it is more akin to business presentation.

A polished delivery to a potential customer and a clean but soulless example of the basic material. The only difference is that you are not in a hotel conference room.

If you think of it as an example of the heights of what Aikido can achieve, or as a peak behind the veil of a deep and esoteric system, you have it all wrong.

The nidai doshu was very explicit in his plan to turn his father's connection to the gods into a profitable corporation.
No - it is the same thing as what koryu do when they give embu. The shihan attempts to embody the art and manifest its principles. The difference is that Aikido is not composed of kata.
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Old 09-21-2013, 08:09 AM   #29
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

I am not saying Aikido embu is different, I am saying the demonstrations of the Ueshiba are different.
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Old 09-21-2013, 03:43 PM   #30
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

Here's a two-part article from Black Belt that discusses the current doshu's attitude toward seminars (and, I assume, demonstrations):

http://www.blackbeltmag.com/daily/tr...meaningpart-1/

http://www.blackbeltmag.com/daily/tr...eaning-part-2/
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Old 09-21-2013, 04:01 PM   #31
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

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Dan Rubin wrote: View Post
Here's a two-part article from Black Belt that discusses the current doshu's attitude toward seminars (and, I assume, demonstrations):

http://www.blackbeltmag.com/daily/tr...meaningpart-1/

http://www.blackbeltmag.com/daily/tr...eaning-part-2/
That was written based on the seminar out here in Honolulu in 2011 - I spent most of that weekend with Doshu and Waka Sensei translating and whatever...

Here's a shot with the man himself.

The article mentions that some of the Honolulu Police train in Aikido, which is true, but it doesn't mention that the dojo where they train has been on the outskirts for years because they're unhappy with the direction that the Ueshiba family has taken in the post-war era.

FWIW...

Best,

Chris

Last edited by Chris Li : 09-21-2013 at 04:12 PM.

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Old 09-21-2013, 07:17 PM   #32
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

The false dichotomy between serious budo training and the fellowship of dojo training presented in that article is pretty hard to swallow. No clue why the Ueshiba continue to conduct their business as if those two are mutually exclusive.
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Old 09-21-2013, 08:27 PM   #33
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

Ah, so we're back at that place where we think more than a handful of us would have ever heard of a martial art called Aikido if an Ueshiba had not made it user-friendly and built an organization to spread it around the world.

Maybe we should look at what the Doshu does as a baseline that anybody can achieve? Even if they are like 60 and busted up when they start. It is fun being able to train with all kinds of different people. I like it. Doesn't work that way in other martial arts.
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Old 09-21-2013, 08:47 PM   #34
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

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Ah, so we're back at that place where we think more than a handful of us would have ever heard of a martial art called Aikido if an Ueshiba had not made it user-friendly and built an organization to spread it around the world.

Maybe we should look at what the Doshu does as a baseline that anybody can achieve? Even if they are like 60 and busted up when they start. It is fun being able to train with all kinds of different people. I like it. Doesn't work that way in other martial arts.
Sure, Kisshomaru did a lot to spread the art, but Moriteru didn't, neither did Mitsuteru. I'm not a big fan of inherited privilige, they'll have to win their own way on their own, as far as I'm concerned. And even if Kisshomaru were still around it doesn't follow that his efforts ought to make him impervious to criticism of the consequences of his actions, many of which were good - but many of which were not so good.

There are quite a few martial arts that are easier for folks who are 60 and busted up when they start, so I'm not sure that I follow you here. Injury rates in Aikido are actually somewhat higher than average for martial arts in all of the studies that I've seen.

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-21-2013, 09:52 PM   #35
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

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Sure, Kisshomaru did a lot to spread the art, but Moriteru didn't, neither did Mitsuteru. I'm not a big fan of inherited privilige, they'll have to win their own way on their own, as far as I'm concerned. And even if Kisshomaru were still around it doesn't follow that his efforts ought to make him impervious to criticism of the consequences of his actions, many of which were good - but many of which were not so good.

There are quite a few martial arts that are easier for folks who are 60 and busted up when they start, so I'm not sure that I follow you here. Injury rates in Aikido are actually somewhat higher than average for martial arts in all of the studies that I've seen.

Best,

Chris
I liked the article. I think the current Doshu's "live and let live" philosophy is the right way to lead an organization with such diversity. Rather than focus on something specific, he represents a generic baseline and encourages everyone to find their own balance. That spirit of harmony and mutual respect is exactly what makes aikido exemplary, even if not everyone agrees or admires what everybody else is doing. The Honolulu police training group may not agree with the Hombu approach, but at least Doshu isn't going after them and telling them that what they are doing isn't aikido.

Chris, are you advocating for an aikido organization that is more focussed on martial effectiveness and not as interested in the less tangible benefits that Doshu is trying to promote?

Conrad
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Old 09-21-2013, 10:56 PM   #36
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

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Conrad Gustafson wrote: View Post
I liked the article. I think the current Doshu's "live and let live" philosophy is the right way to lead an organization with such diversity. Rather than focus on something specific, he represents a generic baseline and encourages everyone to find their own balance. That spirit of harmony and mutual respect is exactly what makes aikido exemplary, even if not everyone agrees or admires what everybody else is doing. The Honolulu police training group may not agree with the Hombu approach, but at least Doshu isn't going after them and telling them that what they are doing isn't aikido.

Chris, are you advocating for an aikido organization that is more focussed on martial effectiveness and not as interested in the less tangible benefits that Doshu is trying to promote?

Conrad
Harmony and mutual respect sounds nice, but the further you get in the more you see that it's mostly just lip service.

I didn't bring up martial effectiveness at all. It's one way to go - I don't know that it would a basis for keeping the current organization alive. I appreciate the "big tent" stuff - but I don't think that it's going to be enough of a benefit to keep people paying the "big fees" in the future. And that's really the way it should be, IMO, the Aikikai will have to figure out a way to deliver real benefits or die trying. Hereditary privilege went out with Kings and Emperors - I don't see much reason to bring it back.

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-22-2013, 12:49 AM   #37
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

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Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Harmony and mutual respect sounds nice, but the further you get in the more you see that it's mostly just lip service.

I didn't bring up martial effectiveness at all. It's one way to go - I don't know that it would a basis for keeping the current organization alive. I appreciate the "big tent" stuff - but I don't think that it's going to be enough of a benefit to keep people paying the "big fees" in the future. And that's really the way it should be, IMO, the Aikikai will have to figure out a way to deliver real benefits or die trying. Hereditary privilege went out with Kings and Emperors - I don't see much reason to bring it back.

Best,

Chris
Chris

Is it the size of the fees that's the problem? If the fees were lower, would it be worth paying them to keep the tent up? I can't quite tell if you're criticizing the actual institution or just the cost.

As far as the hereditary privilege goes, it does have the advantage of being a simple way to decide a leader. I don't think it would be an improvement if we were to have to vote on the new Doshu and have campaigning and whatnot. I can imagine a lot of competition and division.

As you have pointed out before, Aikikai membership is really a voluntary thing at this point. Why don't we turn it around and ask why people are paying the "big fees" now, even though they don't receive much in the way of direct tangible benefits? Is it just blind loyalty, or do you think those people believe that they are supporting something worthwhile?

Finally, where do you think all of that money is going? I always assumed it mostly went toward running things (i.e. keeping the tent up), but I've never really asked anyone about it. Do you have any insights?

On another note, in case you haven't noticed, hereditary privilege never "went out". It just changed its name to "capitalism". The rich still stay rich and the poor still clean the stables.

Conrad
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Old 09-22-2013, 12:51 AM   #38
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

Quote:
Conrad Gustafson wrote: View Post
I liked the article. I think the current Doshu's "live and let live" philosophy is the right way to lead an organization with such diversity. Rather than focus on something specific, he represents a generic baseline and encourages everyone to find their own balance. That spirit of harmony and mutual respect is exactly what makes aikido exemplary, even if not everyone agrees or admires what everybody else is doing. The Honolulu police training group may not agree with the Hombu approach, but at least Doshu isn't going after them and telling them that what they are doing isn't aikido.

Chris, are you advocating for an aikido organization that is more focussed on martial effectiveness and not as interested in the less tangible benefits that Doshu is trying to promote?

Conrad
I have long thought that the present state of aikido as practiced within the Aikikai is the result of decisions made many years ago –- with consequences probably not carefully considered or even foreseen at the time they were made, and the series of articles I am writing are an attempt to show this in a way that withstands some academic scrutiny.

I believe that Kisshomaru Ueshiba’s role is somewhat different from that of his son and even his grandson. Kisshomaru decided to make aikido a martial art that was available for everyone to practice and he was the one who resurrected the remnants of the organization in Japan that was originally part of Omoto and it was he who encouraged students like Tamura and Yamada to go overseas and spread aikido in the countries that defeated Japan in World War II. His autobiography repays careful, but critical, reading. It was Kisshomaru who assiduously created aikido organizations in Japan’s universities, armed forces, the central government and local governments, large companies like Mitsubishi -– basically in Japan’s political and military establishment. I believe the technical aspects were secondary: what mattered was to create a thriving organization in Japan. In any case, the Founder was still alive and was active as a living kami. His disciples, too, were active and it did not really behove Kisshomaru, who was something of a kohai compared with these disciples, to have them toe any party line other than allegiance to the Aikikai. Ever the diplomat, his only major mistakes were how he handled K Tomiki and K Tohei.

So what was allegiance to the Aikikai? Well, its creator was there and after he died, there remained a vivid collective memory. After he became Doshu, Kisshomaru increasingly took on the role of guru and became part of the collective memory, so much so that on the two occasions each year when the passing of the Founder is commemorated, Kisshomaru, also, is included. With the passing of the years Kisshomaru’s role also became more technical and his demonstrations became quite different from the Founder’s. They always including a general explanation of what aikido was about, with the important addition that what was being demonstrated was the ‘essence’ of the art as taught by the Founder.

However, the memory is fading and allegiance based purely on memories inevitably becomes increasingly fragile. This is also a problem here in Hiroshima, where awareness of the atomic bombing is based on dwindling group of living A-bomb victims who still recount these immediate experiences to those who listen. Soon there will be none left and DVDs of people talking, however animatedly, do not quite have the sharp immediacy of the original.

So Moriteru has inherited an organization that appears to be thriving, certainly in Japan. There is still the collective memory, there are the links with Japan’s establishment, there is still the emphasis on aikido as a means of personal betterment and, very important these days, as a means to world peace. However, for me the impression is of something like a Japanese driving school, or a factory turning out modestly appointed Japanese automobiles, like the Honda Fit, which will coast along on cruise control, with the driver making full use of the navigation system, avoiding accidents, and giving earnest attention to other road users. It is a good example of Japanese technology, quietly effective in its own way -- and also very popular overseas. I once asked the present Doshu what was the point of having overseas training seminars with hundreds or even thousands of participants, very few of whom could even see what he was doing. The answer was almost a matter of doctrine: it was important for people to be present, to participate in their own way, and for him to show the basics of the tradition inherited from the Founder: a bit like a Pope (definitely not the present one) celebrating Mass in St Peter’s square, surrounded by thousands of pilgrims. It does not matter that they cannot see what he is doing: it is enough for them to be present -- and the Pope never changes the ritual he performs.

One final point: For me there is a marked reluctance of the present leaders of the Aikikai to engage intellectually, on virtually any point connected with aikido and its history and training methodology. The 文 has to illuminate the 武 and vice versa -– and this is not happening.

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 09-22-2013 at 12:55 AM.

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Old 09-22-2013, 01:55 AM   #39
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

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Conrad Gustafson wrote: View Post
Chris

Is it the size of the fees that's the problem? If the fees were lower, would it be worth paying them to keep the tent up? I can't quite tell if you're criticizing the actual institution or just the cost.

As far as the hereditary privilege goes, it does have the advantage of being a simple way to decide a leader. I don't think it would be an improvement if we were to have to vote on the new Doshu and have campaigning and whatnot. I can imagine a lot of competition and division.

As you have pointed out before, Aikikai membership is really a voluntary thing at this point. Why don't we turn it around and ask why people are paying the "big fees" now, even though they don't receive much in the way of direct tangible benefits? Is it just blind loyalty, or do you think those people believe that they are supporting something worthwhile?

Finally, where do you think all of that money is going? I always assumed it mostly went toward running things (i.e. keeping the tent up), but I've never really asked anyone about it. Do you have any insights?

On another note, in case you haven't noticed, hereditary privilege never "went out". It just changed its name to "capitalism". The rich still stay rich and the poor still clean the stables.

Conrad
The fees are like anything else, they're worth it if people are willing to pay them. In the past they have been, but that was primarily based upon personal connection to Hombu, or the connection of one's teacher to Hombu. As we get to a point three, four, or five generations away, we get to a point where very few people have any personal connection to Hombu, even at 2nd or 3rd hand. In that case I think that people will naturally start to drop away from the organization - and I think that we're reaching that point now, in our generation. Why do people pay? I don't know - I did, but I still have second thoughts about it, and I know that I'm not the only one.

That may not be much of a problem for the people who leave the group, but it's a potential death knell for an organization.

Contrary to what some people may think, I'm basically in favor of the Aikikai as an umbrella organization - but I think that the basis for that organization has to change, or it won't survive into the future. Even now, the Aikikai has very little relevance to most Aikido practitioners, whose primary contact is through mail order promotion certificates.

Most large professional groups have some kind of selection process for the leadership - that doesn't mean that there are no politics, of course, but there are plenty of politics now, anyway (that doesn't necessarily mean an elected Doshu - the Emperor still remains in Japan, although Japan is now a democracy). Of course, history has shown the great advantage of the democratic process.

It doesn't have to be a democratic organization, of course. Toyota is not a democratic organization (in the sense that we're talking about, yes, I know that it's a publicly traded company), but people purchase Toyotas because they like the product, or they don't, but that tends to provide an impetus for Toyota to provide a valuable product.

On the whole, though, I think that democratically run organizations generally provide more incentives for their members to remain members.

Between Monarchy and Capitalism - I think that most of the world has shown that they choose Capitalism, for all of its warts.

Will the Aikikai change? Probably not, but I think that we'll see a gradual increase in independent organizations.

Best,

Chris

Last edited by Chris Li : 09-22-2013 at 01:57 AM.

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Old 09-23-2013, 11:06 AM   #40
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

For me, these types of demos are an odd combination of form, nostalgia and presentation. While not a koryu, aikido often embellishes its connection to a specific historical period of training. It's a demo designed to preach to the choir. In other words, if you are familiar with aikido, the demo is fine. If you are new to aikido, aikido is not a koryu so the pseudo-historical style is off-putting and the lack of a contemporary adversarial relationship is seen as ineffective.

I have said this before, I think takemusu aiki is something that is not easy to communicate in demonstration. It either looks fake or it has to presented to not look fake. Practiced spontaneity.

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Old 09-25-2013, 07:37 AM   #41
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

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Hereditary privilege went out with Kings and Emperors - I don't see much reason to bring it back.
Yeah, nobody has an emperor anymore... and none of the democracies are ruled by bureaucrats and investors that are the privileged sons of other professionals.

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Old 09-25-2013, 07:46 AM   #42
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

I was discussing this recently with one of my instructors who said that Payet-sensei adjusts his demonstrations to the uke. If the uke makes committed attacks, the demonstration techniques become much more a smack-down, whereas if the uke pulls his attacks, the demonstration techniques show the kihon waza much more clearly.

I thought this demonstration was very blasť. But maybe there is something I am missing.

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Old 09-25-2013, 07:51 AM   #43
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

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For me, these types of demos are an odd combination of form, nostalgia and presentation. While not a koryu, aikido often embellishes its connection to a specific historical period of training. It's a demo designed to preach to the choir. In other words, if you are familiar with aikido, the demo is fine. If you are new to aikido, aikido is not a koryu so the pseudo-historical style is off-putting and the lack of a contemporary adversarial relationship is seen as ineffective.

I have said this before, I think takemusu aiki is something that is not easy to communicate in demonstration. It either looks fake or it has to presented to not look fake. Practiced spontaneity.
Maybe this gets put in the "stuff Kisshomaru did to ruin Aikido" bin these days, but Aikido is supposed to transcend a contemporary adversarial relationship.

In my personal experience, whenever I share Aikido embu videos with friends and family who are not martial artists they find them very interesting and fun to watch. There is rarely a question of whether it is fake or not. They remark on the smoothness and flow, and the circularity of the movement. This is a WIN as far as I am concerned. It is typically people who have spent training hours in an aggressive/fearful mental state, trying to use their muscles to force an opponent to do something they don't want to do, who look at Aikido and the only explanation they can come up with is "it's fake."

It is also a huge win when a good Aikido embu follows a set of koryu embu. After sitting through koryu guys demonstrating kata after kata, you get to see a constant, dynamic, spontaneous, ever-changing explosion of energy.
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Old 09-25-2013, 07:58 AM   #44
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

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Between Monarchy and Capitalism - I think that most of the world has shown that they choose Capitalism, for all of its warts.
I thought it was between monarchy and democracy.

And although it is veering off at a tangent from the original video, I'd point out that there are people who would die for symbolic monarchs they have no personal connection to. It's what they symbolise that counts.

Carl
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Old 09-25-2013, 09:19 AM   #45
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

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Yeah, nobody has an emperor anymore... and none of the democracies are ruled by bureaucrats and investors that are the privileged sons of other professionals.
Well of course it's not perfect - but in one system there is the opportunity for change and in the other there isn't.

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-25-2013, 09:25 AM   #46
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

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I thought it was between monarchy and democracy.

And although it is veering off at a tangent from the original video, I'd point out that there are people who would die for symbolic monarchs they have no personal connection to. It's what they symbolise that counts.

Carl
Conrad started to draw a comparison between hereditary privilage such as in a monarchy and the rich as a hereditary class. While I see the point, I don't think that they are quite the same.

Symbols, of course, are great - and the emperor was an important symbol for many of the older generation of Japanese, not so much for the younger folks, probably less so for the next generation. Times change.

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-25-2013, 12:14 PM   #47
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

Getting back to the OP...
I think his (doshu) presentation is very clean and I respect his ability to remain consistent.
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Old 09-25-2013, 07:51 PM   #48
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Re: YouTube: Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Maybe this gets put in the "stuff Kisshomaru did to ruin Aikido" bin these days, but Aikido is supposed to transcend a contemporary adversarial relationship.

In my personal experience, whenever I share Aikido embu videos with friends and family who are not martial artists they find them very interesting and fun to watch. There is rarely a question of whether it is fake or not. They remark on the smoothness and flow, and the circularity of the movement. This is a WIN as far as I am concerned. It is typically people who have spent training hours in an aggressive/fearful mental state, trying to use their muscles to force an opponent to do something they don't want to do, who look at Aikido and the only explanation they can come up with is "it's fake."

It is also a huge win when a good Aikido embu follows a set of koryu embu. After sitting through koryu guys demonstrating kata after kata, you get to see a constant, dynamic, spontaneous, ever-changing explosion of energy.
Cliff,

I am not sure I am in a "ruined aikido" criticism mode. I think the point is valid that what Doshu did was to package aikido in a manner that would be attractive to a large audience. I think he did that well, as evidenced by the diversity in aikido and the propagation of aikido across the world. I think this type of stylized demo was one of those tools and I want to stay focused on that...We are taking about a 50+ year-old model of presenting aikido.

My criticisms are:
1. The accessibility and availability of exceptional aikido practitioners has grown. The visibility of koryu systems, educational materials and sister arts has grown.
2. There are many contemporary martial arts that provide good training opportunities.

I would like to see our aikido demonstrations take advantage of prospective martial artists who possess more knowledge and are interested in an art they can practice that empowers them in a contemporary world. You quoted my comment about the contemporary adversarial relationship, but possibility under the misinterpretation that I was implying a sport-fighting or other physical relationship. I advocate aikido is a great martial for changing to meet contemporary conflicts, be that popular sport fighting, verbal conflicts, battery and other popular civilian assaults and a myriad of new attacks such as cyber-bullying. I think this is an advantage over koryu - we have the flexibility to change and address these new relationships.

Second, I also have many non-martial artist friends who enjoy enjoy aikido vids I send their way. The trouble is they are not martial artists, nor do the vids entice them to begin training. I am not arguing whether demonstrations are enjoyable to watch; I am pointing out the market to which the demonstration is oriented is not necessarily the market that is going to consider aikido a viable martial art to meet their needs. I advocate that if we want to reach the contemporary market, we need to consider what these individuals are looking to achieve and consider including their needs in our demonstrations.

I think Donna Reed was one of the most beautiful woman in film. In describing beautiful women to anyone under the age of 30, I would not use Donna Reed as an example. As to whether you want to argue it is my obligation to find a contemporary example or the other person's obligation to learn who is Donna Reed, that is another thread...

FWIW

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