XV: Aikido and Organizations -- Software of the Dojo:
From the Kobukan to the Aikikai / IAF
‘In memory of Stanley Pranin,
with thanks for being such a good sempai in aikido historical research.'
I originally planned this installment towards the end of the Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation
series of essay articles, after I had dealt with the changes made by Kisshomaru Ueshiba from around 1950 onwards. I have moved it forward in the series in order to focus on a matter of some relevance to the origins and development of aikido as an art, relevant even during the time it was created and practiced by Morihei Ueshiba. The general object of focus is the role of ‘political' relationships and organizations in aikido, but a sharper and more critical focus is on the International Aikido Federation (IAF), from its creation in 1975/1976 until its most recent general congress, which took place in Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, in the summer of 2016. The federation was not created until several years after the death of Morihei Ueshiba, and was created at a time when Kisshomaru Ueshiba was establishing his new role as the second Aikido Doshu. The 2016 Congress indirectly marked the 40th anniversary of the federation and the fact of this anniversary affords an opportunity to consider the more general relevance of aikido organizations in general, and sports organizations in particular, to the avowedly ‘spiritual' martial art of aikido, often denied to be a sport in any way.
A common problem with sports and martial arts organizations that do not have in their statutes a rule mandating fixed terms of office, is how to deal with the ‘old soldiers,' namely, the elected officers who believe that they should continue until they drop—or are dropped (the latter sometimes being a ‘messy' process). In my case this problem did not arise, for after five successive terms as IAF Chairman, I decided to retire. It is not that I could not have continued; rather, it seemed to me that it was time for some new people to take charge. As it has turned out, my connections with the IAF have been completely severed as a result of this Congress, and this fact now gives me some space to reflect on aikido organizations—and to do so without any sense that I have to toe a certain ‘official' party line, or adhere to any ‘approved' ways of thinking about aikido itself or about aikido organizations.
Consequently, I have slightly changed the order of the columns and added a few more items, in order to deal with these factors earlier, rather than later, in the series. Throughout this essay, I will generally signal the questions that I am particularly concerned with at each stage, since this might not be immediately obvious to the broad community of AikiWeb
members, especially those who have not considered how the organizational aspects of the martial arts and aikido affect their own training regimes. I have presented much of this material before, in earlier columns, but the aim then was somewhat different: it was not specifically to focus on the role of organizations in aikido training.
In addition to over thirty years' practical experience as an elected official of the IAF, the following reflections are the result of ten years' experience teaching graduate students in the Department of Management of Hiroshima University's Graduate School of Social Sciences. The subject name was Comparative Culture and Rhetoric, and the focus was specifically on organizations. Most of the students were Japanese middle-range employees of large commercial or government organizations. I have also served for lengthy periods in civic groups connected with several large government organizations in Hiroshima: The Atomic Bomb Museum, the city government itself, the prefectural government, and the prefectural police department.
To give a brief summary of what follows: in Part One, after a discussion on how the history of aikido has been told so far, I proceed with an account of how one single dojo created by Morihei Ueshiba in 1931 became the central element in a worldwide web of aikido organizations, the largest of which—the IAF—is a member of several international sports organizations. The aim here is to change the usual focus of standard aikido history, which tends to be on Morihei Ueshiba himself, and place the fact of aikido organizations in the forefront. The account is quite lengthy and to give it some added zest, the metaphor I have chosen is that of a traditional multi-course Japanese meal, of the type normally served at a formal event like a wedding reception—or a funeral. (AikiWeb
readers with an interest in Japanese culture might like the challenge of working out if there is any connection in each section between the events, the name of the course, and the topic discussed.)
This account is followed in Part Two by a discussion on the work of Geert Hofstede, a maverick Dutch researcher who conducted a controversial survey on how workers in the overseas branches of a large international company were influenced, in their general attitudes to working for this company, by their ‘national' cultures. The reach of the IAF is actually almost as extensive as that of this company (which was IBM), and the interplay between ‘national' attitudes and overall ‘international' aims are common to both organizations, but are considered especially relevant to the IAF and its activities. The problem here is what sense, and also how much importance, to give to the terms ‘national' and ‘international' and what kind of influence that these terms have on the IAF and its decision-making processes, and also on its relations with its ‘fairy godmother' organization: the avowedly Japanese organization that is the Aikikai.
After a critical analysis of Hofstede's research and whether—and if so, how—any results found might apply to an organization like the IAF, the discussion goes back in Part Three to the individual in the dojo and, as a concrete example, I review my own experience of training in the art and how I gradually became closely involved with aikido organizations. The purpose of this detailed ‘personal phenomenology of aikido organizations' is to enable readers of this essay to compare their own general experience of aikido training and organizations with mine.
NOTES: 1. In the title have put a slash mark between the terms ‘Aikikai' and ‘IAF' in order to highlight a certain ambiguity in the relationship between the two organizations. I hope that this will become clearer as the essay proceeds.
2. As an Appendix to this essay, I have given a list of Japanese names commonly used in aikido which are relevant to this discussion, with the Chinese characters added and a critical explanation of the meanings. (In the bulk of the essay, however, I have given Japanese terms as if they were English words. Names of Japanese individuals follow the English convention, with the surname coming last.)
3. As I was writing this essay, I learned of the unfortunate death from cancer of Stanley Pranin. As well as being a good friend for many years, Stan was a pioneer of aikido history in so many ways, and this essay is respectfully dedicated to his memory.
4. As a consequence of its unusual length and out of consideration for the ‘gentle reader' (cf. all the works of Jane Austen), the three parts of the essay will be presented in separate installments.
A Gourmet History of Aikido Organizations
I: 前菜 / Zensai: Aikido History and Historicism
‘Aikido was created in a dojo, but is now commonly practiced within organizations.
On the surface, the first half of this statement would seem so obvious as not to need any emphasis. It would also seem to be quite uncontroversial. Since aikido is a Japanese martial art, or ‘way', the regular location of training would naturally be the dojo—the ‘way place'—and at least one book has been written about the meaning and significance of this cultural setting. However, this fact about the origin of the art has given aikido a set of parameters: a conceptual framework within which the art is approached, such that the essential social dimensions of the art, and also its organizational structures, are taken as a ‘given' right from the very beginning. A consequence is that since it is universally accepted that aikido is practiced in a dojo and that practicing aikido waza requires one or more partners, the obvious social dimensions of aikido are given unthinking prominence, but at the expense of the more hidden aspects, which are the ‘solo' aspects of aikido training. So-called ‘internal' aspects of training, for example, where the emphasis of training is to develop an ‘aiki' body—which includes an awareness of what is happening to the body-mind continuum at any one moment, have received far less emphasis by comparison with training in waza [waza:
わざ/ 業技 = techniques] with a partner. Of course, the logic, semantics—and also the pedagogy, of so-called ‘internal training' are encumbered with some major conceptual problems, but in aikido, solo training in general tends to be relegated to preparatory stretching and exercises commonly called jumbi-taiso [準備体操], aiki-taiso [合気体操], or, simply, ‘warming up', or even ‘stretching', which take place immediately before practice, and then to a set of standing movements, commonly done to vocal accompaniment, and equally commonly called funa-kogi or tori-fune [funa-kogi
:船漕ぎ; 取船 = boat-rowing], and followed by a shaking exercise called furitama [ふりたま: ball-shaking]. However, the point of these movements is rarely explained and they are rarely performed in their own right and, of course, alone, apart from communal training. This is one very important area where the social dimension of aikido has occupied center stage to the exclusion of much else.
The second half of the first paragraph's opening statement is much less obvious and became clearer to me only after I had been training for a number of years. What also became clear to me was that Morihei Ueshiba's own attitude to aikido organizations was highly ambivalent. On the one hand, he was persuaded of their necessity for the development of his art; on the other hand, the official version of his life at this time places his attention on more ‘elevated' matters than the mundane affairs of organizations. In addition, the official version also holds that he was really absorbed in his own training regimen and was never really an ‘organization' man. As he became increasingly famous and attracted more students, he remained relatively disinterested and, therefore, up to a point, ‘uncontaminated' by martial ‘politics' and left such ‘messy' involvement to his son Kisshomaru. As I explain below, I think there is a bias to this official version of early aikido history, which needs to be seen for what it is. On the other hand, it has to be recognized that Kisshomaru Ueshiba played an extremely difficult role very well, but in so doing he shaped postwar aikido in distinctive ways that his father might never have intended—and which certain historical and cultural factors also made him powerless to prevent.
Histories of aikido tend to begin in Tanabe, the country city in Japan's Kii peninsula where Morihei Ueshiba was born in 1883, but the name by which it is universally known was not given to his art until nearly sixty years later, during World War II. Though he clearly approved the name, it was not given by Morihei Ueshiba himself, but by an organization: a political organization, called the Dai Nippon Butokukai [大日本武徳会: Great Japan Military Virtue Association]. The cognate name ‘Aikikai' was also given, but, as the name implies, it was given to an organization, and to one which had obtained a specific legal status only a few years previously. The year 1942, when aikido received its name, marks a kind of watershed and three major periods: (1) from 1883 to 1942; (2) from 1942 to around 1955; and (3) from 1955 to the present, should all be of great interest to students of aikido history—and for more than one reason.
We can state the matter of the evolution of Morihei Ueshiba's art over the years quite concisely: it was evolution
from Sokaku Takeda's Daito-ryu (encompassing ju-jutsu and aiki-ju-jutsu)
to aiki-budo—and other names that Ueshiba chose for what he was doing,
to aiki-do [the ‘do' of ‘aiki', i.e., of ‘aiki,' considered as one entity],
to ai-ki-do [the ‘do' of ‘ai' and ‘ki', i.e., of ‘aiki' considered as two separate entities, but brought together in the art of aikido; this subtle difference is actually of critical importance].
This evolution also coincides with both the rise and fall of Ueshiba's own influence on the art, the ‘fall' being understood as Ueshiba's slow ‘exit stage left': the transition from father to son, and later to grandson, of an art that is now considered to be a free-standing art, but an art in which the iemoto
is also considered to be the ultimate exemplar and arbiter of both substance and quality. I intend to unpack and lay bare the contents and implications of this concise statement in what follows.
There are several different aspects of this evolution and not all of them have been given due attention. One aspect, which we may call the ‘omote
' aspect, is the evolution of an art that was initially understood as the personal expression and outpouring of the individual genius of the founder, to an art that is now understood as a set of self-standing principles that can govern the social training regime of the student. The main aim of these Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation
columns so far has been to plot in great detail the role of Morihei Ueshiba in this evolution, with as much scholarly acumen as the sources permit.
However, there are other aspects, which we may call the ‘ura
' aspects, that have not received as much attention in the general histories of aikido. One such aspect, mentioned earlier, is the importance given to individual, personal, training, over and above training with a partner in a dojo, and the importance of this aspect is gradually receiving increasing recognition, mainly as a result of work by individuals who have undertaken such training and can attest to its benefits. Apart from that of nomenclature, the issue here is whether this training ‘praxis' really was embedded in the art, but ‘hidden in plain sight', or was something new, separate—and neglected, in the postwar resurrection and reconstruction of the art.
The second part of the subtitle of Part One concerns what might be called the ‘historicism' of aikido. There is a stage play written by Alan Bennett, entitled The History Boys
, in which a lead character calls history, "just one f**king thing after another." In substance he was right, of course, but omitted to mention the equally important fact that history is invariably caused to make sense by organizing the succession of ‘f**king things' into a coherent and ordered series, which is sometimes given an ideological, political, or ‘spiritual' meaning. When I recall my own study of history, begun at much the same age as that of the characters in the play, an important part of this was the study of theories of history and, more specifically, of interpretations of particular historical events and epochs.
To give one example, relating to the causes and consequences of the American Revolution (1763- 1787), we delved into such issues as the impact of the Turner Thesis concerning the Rise of the American Frontier, the matter of the so-called ‘madness' of King George III, and Sir Lewis Namier's interpretation of the "Leicester House Cycle" (involving the fraught relations between the king and the prince of Wales). Namier's target was the ‘Whig' interpretation of 18th century British history. This is a variation on the Hegelian view, which sees history as the ‘Unfolding of the Absolute in Space and Time.' According to this Whig interpretation, George III was seen as an obstacle to the ‘inevitable' evolution of freedom from his arbitrary rule. With the recent election of a new US president, the matter of such an evolution has received a new, unexpected, and perhaps awkward focus.
The life and activities of Morihei Ueshiba also constitute a major historical event and Kisshomaru Ueshiba uses his biography to achieve a particular purpose, namely, to record the transformation of aikido into an art that is practiced in a worldwide network of organizations. This biography, which is superficially the record of "just one f**king thing after another"—but mainly concerning one spectacular individual, becomes a vehicle for Kisshomaru to present his own view of the development of aikido as a martial art. This presentation is done in a rather subtle way, such that the average reader might not suspect that the biography of his father is really the vehicle for an account of the early years of the evolution of an art now practiced worldwide in organizations, but seen through the eyes of the son and heir—and an evolution of which the subject of the biography might not have been fully aware, or have fully approved.
Another major problem, which is the main subject of this essay, is the extent to which the social organization of aikido has affected the conceptual framework in which the art is itself generally perceived. As far as I can see, this problem is much more elusive, harder to define, and more controversial than the innocuous concept of simply practicing with a partner in a dojo and, as a result, the problem has so far received very little attention. I see this essay as a first step towards at least clarifying the dimensions of this problem.
II: 吸い物 / Suimono: Establishment of the Kobukai
The first major period mentioned in the previous section, from 1883 till 1942, involved several major events, all of which were to have equally major consequences for the future development of aikido. First, Morihei Ueshiba began his career as an increasingly renowned expert in several Japanese fighting arts; secondly, he attracted disciples and his primary art developed in a dojo, first in Ayabe and then in Tokyo; thirdly, the dojo became an organization: a foundation recognized by the Japanese government and both the art and the organization received official names; finally, Morihei Ueshiba left the dojo in Tokyo and moved to Iwama, a small country town in Ibaraki Prefecture, located directly north of Tokyo.
The Kobukan Dojo was established in Tokyo in 1931. Up to this point, the activities of Morihei Ueshiba are fairly well known, for they have been recorded in a number of biographies. Kisshomaru Ueshiba produced his biography almost forty years ago, in 1978, but an English translation did not appear until quite recently. John Stevens, a student of one of Ueshiba's early uchi-deshi, used this biography and other sources to produce his own life of Morihei Ueshiba in 1997. Some of the gaps and biases in these two works have been filled by the late Stanley Pranin in his own pioneering research and interviews. However, none of these secondary texts casts much light on the finer details of Morihei Ueshiba's own connection with Omoto, the religious organization of which he became a member around 1920. This gap has been partially filled by Kanemoto Sunadomari, in his own life of Morihei Ueshiba, entitled 『武の真人』 [Bu no Shinjin
] and published in Japanese in 1981. This biography, which has not been translated, deals mainly with Ueshiba's involvement with the Omoto religion. These works were supplemented by biographies and technical studies produced by Ueshiba's students, which almost invariably included sections giving the history of the art, usually conforming to Kisshomaru's ‘official' 1978 biography, which has become a standard, authorized, text.
It is a reasonable hypothesis that Morihei Ueshiba had at least heard of the Omoto religion before he went to Hokkaido in 1912. The death of his father in 1919 led to a meeting with the curious individual named Onisaburo Deguchi, and this crucial meeting led to Ueshiba's move in 1920 to Ayabe, a small country city in the north of Hyogo Prefecture, not far from Kyoto, where he taught Omoto members. Thus, from the very beginning, Ueshiba tied the development of his art to a burgeoning organization of somewhat dubious credentials, which was suppressed by the government twice.
Two members of the Omoto religion: Wasaburo Asano and his brother, Masayasu, became Ueshiba's active disciples and a third name also stands out: that of a senior naval officer, Isamu Takeshita. Takeshita devoted great efforts to making Ueshiba's new art better known and the band of supporters included another Isamu, this time Isamu Fujita, and also another Fujita, Kinya Fujita. It was this businessman, Kinya Fujita, who, with two other business colleagues, played a major role in the transformation of a local dojo into a legal foundation. Kisshomaru Ueshiba mentions this in his biography, but the English translation does not do full justice to his account, so the extracts below give the original Japanese text.
The transformation was first proposed in 1939 and was approved the following year. In his biography Kisshomaru describes the transformation as:
"elevating it from the Kobukan Dojo to an organization officially sanctioned by the government." (A Life in Aikido, p. 244.)
The Japanese text does not use the term ‘elevation'. After specifying the date, the text continues:
"… 講武館道場を「財団法人・講武会」とする議が藤田欽哉、岡田幸三郎、富田健治氏らによっておこり、翌十五年 (1940) に早くも設立認可のはこびとなった。" (『合気道開祖植芝盛平伝』, p. 233.)
Kisshomaru mentions three supporters who made the application, one of whom was Kinya Fujita, and notes that the speed at which the application was processed and approved caused comment. He then goes on to mention some other notable businessmen and eminent bureaucrats who supported the application and nursed it through the bureaucratic process of approval. In a later paragraph, he mentions the change again and this later statement merits closer examination.
In the English translation, Kisshomaru states that:
"Whatever the case, …"
(An earlier paragraph had discussed the supposed role played by Yoji Tomosue, a strong supporter of Morihei Ueshiba, who was the former Governor of Ibaragi Prefecture [in which the Iwama Dojo is situated] and was Section Chief for Sport in the Ministry of Health and Welfare's Bureau of Physical Health, at the time the application was made.)
"… with the official formation of the Kobu-kai Foundation as a legal entity, Aikido's finances and administration improved considerably. Less than a year and a half later, Japan entered the Pacific War. From then on, the domestic situation became more difficult every day, so in that sense I cannot help thinking how fortunate it was that approval for the foundation came through so quickly." (A Life in Aikido, p. 245.)
Those who wish to see if anything has been ‘lost in translation' can examine the nuances in the Japanese text:
いずれにしてもこの財団法人化によって合気道は"町道場"の地を脱したことになり、資金面、運営面ともだいぶ楽になった。一年有半後に太平洋戦争に突入し、日に日に国内諸 事情がきびしさをましたことを考えると、認可の早かり幸運をおもわざるを得ない。(『合気道開祖植芝盛平伝』, p. 234.)
The initial statement of the paragraph is more explicit in the Japanese original than in the English translation: with the Kobukai becoming a legal foundation, aikido [i.e., the art itself] was in a position to ‘escape' from its situation as a ‘local dojo.' In other words, the postwar art itself is quietly identified with the resurrected legal organization that originated with the prewar dojo and in his account Kisshomaru simply takes this identification for granted.
Kisshomaru Ueshiba continues his narrative by giving a few examples of the officials who headed the new foundation and he mentions that these were all senior officers in the army and navy. His aim is to demonstrate that the new foundation got off to a very good start. Another interpretation, however, might focus more on two aspects of the transformation that Kisshomaru does not emphasize: first, a local dojo became an organization of a special type, and, secondly, the reason for this was that as a result of the ‘elevation', the organization became a more suitable instrument for waging a war more efficiently. This is why the government reformed the Dai Nippon Butokukai in 1942 and also why aikido was given its official name and taken under the wing of this reformed organization. It was shortly after the reform of this organization that Morihei Ueshiba moved to Iwama.
One interpretation of the move to Iwama is that a fundamentally peace-loving Ueshiba became equally fundamentally disenchanted with the bellicose aims and methods of the Japanese military elite with whom he had associated for the previous twenty years. An English term for this is ‘metanoia.' It is a term that has been anglicized from its Greek original and means a complete transformation from a previous way of thinking & acting to a new way of thinking & acting. The biblical interpretation of this is repentance, and the locus classicus
is St Paul's transformation on the road to Damascus, as recounted in the Acts of the Apostles
. In Luke's account, it was a vision of the risen Christ that prompted Paul to change his ways.
However, another interpretation, equally possible and one which coincides more with the aims of this essay, is that Ueshiba became disenchanted with the transformation of his art from a band of disciples bound by deeply personal relationships into an impersonal organization that he could no longer control. In this connection, it will profit AikiWeb
readers to consult the revised edition of Ellis Amdur's Dueling with O Sensei: Grappling with Myth of the Warrior Sage
, especially the chapter entitled, "Tenchi: Head in the Clouds and Feet in the Muck." In that chapter, Morihei Ueshiba's close association with Onisaburo Deguchi and the military officers who were heavily involved in fighting Japan's Pacific War is laid out in great detail.
Two important texts remain from the Kobukan period. In 1933 Ueshiba leld an intensive training course, called a gasshuku
, and the various waza
taught during the seminar were recorded by one of his students—one of the few female students in the dojo—in a series of line drawings, with brief explanations given by Ueshiba. An introduction was added, of a technical nature, which was written by another of his uchi-deshi, thought to be Kenji Tomiki who was regarded as the ‘brains' of the Kobukan dojo. The work was entitled Budo Renshu
and later an English translation was published, entitled Budo Training in Aikido
The second text was made in 1938 and was privately circulated. This work, entitled Budo
, is thought to be the result of a request made by an army general for a manual that would be of some value to his troops on the battlefield. The work was illustrated with photographs, with Ueshiba himself executing waza and mainly with his son Kisshomaru, then 17 years old, as his uke. The Japanese text of this work has never been published, but an English translation was made in 1991 by John Stevens, entitled, Budo: Teachings of the Founder of Aikido
. A commentary was made in 1999, with a different translation, this time supervised by Morihiro Saito, who was an early deshi of Morihei Ueshiba in Iwama. The introduction to this work was made by Stanley Pranin and the book appeared with the title, Budo: Commentary on the 1938 Teaching Manual of Morihei Ueshiba
I make these comments about Morihei Ueshiba's literary output because the texts mentioned above are the only prewar texts known to me that do not contain so much of the Omoto theological and cosmological superstructure that Ueshiba uses as the vehicle for the later discourses that have been published under the supervision of the Aikikai. An instructive exercise would be to compare in detail the explanations given in these prewar texts with the Omoto theological superstructure within which Ueshiba embedded his later discourses. As far as I know, this has not been done yet, but it needs to be done by those who argue that Ueshiba was engaged in a type of personal training that postwar aikido organizations have lost, or replaced with something else that was considered more appropriate for a new era.
III: 刺身 / Sashimi: From the Kobukai Foundation to the Aikikai Foundation
The second major period mentioned in the earlier section, above, was from 1942 until around 1955. The end date is not so easily fixed, since it marks the reemergence of aikido in its early postwar state and there is no precise date when this reemergence happened. One possible end date is the date when Kisshomaru Ueshiba ceased working for a securities company and took full-time control of the Kobukan Dojo. The one major event that occurred in the period, which dominated everything else, was, of course, the final stage of World War II.
Kisshomaru Ueshiba does not focus much on World War II in his biography. In his narrative, this major world war is the closest to what the schoolboy in the play mentioned earlier termed, "just one f**king thing after another." The war happened as a consequence of impersonal ‘forces' (like dei ex machina
in a Greek play) and, consequently, Kisshomaru does not emphasize the undoubted fact that the Kobukan received its ‘elevation' to the status of a foundation, as part of a national war effort. Between this change and the subsequent change of the Aikikai to the same tax-free status, several momentous events happened, which could have destroyed both the dojo and the art.
First, Morihei Ueshiba progressively lost the mainstay of the dojo, namely, the young male students who were his uchi-deshi and who were progressively called up for military service. Secondly, in 1942, two years after the creation of the Kobukai, the art that Ueshiba was teaching received its official name and at the end of that year Ueshiba moved to Iwama, the small town in a neighbouring prefecture, where he built a house on land previously purchased as a result of his Omoto connections. This turned out to be a momentous decision, for it effectively created two postwar centres of aikido, not one. Thirdly, Ueshiba left his son Kisshomaru, who was 21 years old at the time, in charge of the Kobukan Dojo. He ordered Kisshomaru to keep the dojo going and the latter did so, even though training there had to be abandoned as a result of the air raids that were occurring with greater frequency, as the war grew increasingly difficult for Japan.
In 1945 Japan surrendered and training in martial arts was largely suppressed, abandoned, or went underground. Morihei Ueshiba continued training in Iwama, but his training was not called aikido. There is some speculation—also strongly denied by Kisshomaru, that Morihei Ueshiba was classed as a war criminal and this is sometimes offered as a reason why he largely kept his head down and did nothing to attract the attention of the allied authorities, who were conducting a purge of those who were responsible for the ‘dark shadow' that had enveloped Japan from 1931 until 1945.
Though at some point training in Tokyo was abandoned and he also moved to Iwama, Kisshomaru Ueshiba faithfully carried out his father's instructions to keep the dojo going and the dojo survived: training gradually resumed at the old Kobukan Dojo during the 1950s. Older deshi returned to the dojo after leaving the military, or resumed their training elsewhere, and a generation of new students joined. (To run the dojo in the dire postwar economic circumstances, Kisshomaru took a job with a securities company, much to the chagrin of his father.) The prewar Omoto networks were gradually reactivated and this was the core of the postwar organizational structure of aikido in Japan. As Japan gradually emerged from the ‘dark shadow', Morihei Ueshiba also gradually emerged from Iwama and his business supporters resumed their supporting activities. One of these, the same Kinya Fujita who had worked to achieve foundation status for the prewar Kobukan, was instrumental in assisting Kisshomaru to petition the government to ‘elevate' the resurrected dojo and organization once more to the same status it had enjoyed in 1940. This was finally achieved in 1948 and Kisshomaru devotes a great deal of space in his biography to the circumstances of this event. I will discuss this in the following section.
Establishment of the Aikikai Foundation
In Kisshomaru Ueshiba's biography of his father, the establishment of the Aikikai Foundation is described in detail as the first section of the final chapter of his father's life. The scenes are presented with some romantic delicacy, with Morihei Ueshiba quietly ploughing the fields and communing with his deities in the Aiki Shrine, completed in 1944, and also leading training, first in an outdoor dojo and then in an indoor dojo, which was completed in 1945. Kisshomaru was still Dojo-cho and directed the formal administration of aikido from Iwama, but also spent much of his time in Tokyo.
"In Tokyo, from a twelve-tatami room that I had secured as an office in the Tokyo dojo, I began laying plans to reconstruct the organization of aikido." (Kisshomaru Ueshiba, A Life in Aikido, p. 280.)
Much of the planning for this was done by Kinya Fujita, who had been instrumental in establishing the earlier Kobukai, and who had also supported Morihei Ueshiba financially during World War II. He was assisted by others, including Seiichi Seko, who later became the first General Secretary of the International Aikido Federation (IAF). As part of this final chapter, Kisshomaru quotes the letter of intent, submitted as part of the application. The letter is notable for the marked change of emphasis due to the war. According to Kisshomaru:
"The letter of intent … reflects O Sensei's ideas, as fleshed out by my collaborators and put into final form by Kinya Fujita. Although it reflects in some ways the circumstances of the time, I believe this document also offers a straightforward description of Aikido's consistent principles, expressed with sincerity, and as such deserves to be remembered." (Op. cit., pp. 281-282.)
There is no space in this essay to quote the entire letter, but we should indicate the important points. (The full text can be found on pp. 270-273 of the Japanese original of Kisshomaru's biography, and on pp.282-286 of the English translation.)
First, there is very little mention of aikido as a practical and effective martial art and the contrast with the prewar emphasis on its direct martial effectiveness, as exemplified by the 1938 Budo
text, is noteworthy. In the letter, aikido is presented as an eminently healthy activity to practice, and therefore an activity that is highly suitable for playing a vital role in Japan's reconstruction.
Secondly, concerning the art itself there is no emphasis at all on atemi. Instead, we read that
"the movements of Aikido, in defending, are circular, in moving outwards, like a square; when standing on guard like a cone, in motion like a spiral, and when drawing inwards like a jewel. The fluid and constantly changing nature of Aikido defies description…" (Op.cit., p. 282.)
Thirdly, aikido is presented as a ‘bridging' activity: activity combining the study of health (looking forward to the future) and the traditional arts of kagura
(explained as ritual dance offered as a prayer: looking back to the past). As such, it builds (Japanese) character and purifies the mind and the body, and, importantly, the practitioner can use it to attain the traditional virtues of jujun
[柔順: flexibility, also written as 従順]; kyogo
[強剛: indomitable strength]; eichi
[叡智: wisdom]; and shisei
It should be noted that the meanings given of the virtues cited above are the ‘omote' meanings. Japanese ‘virtues' are always ‘double-edged' and paired with the vices that they can also become. So, there are also ‘ura' meanings of these virtues: jujun
[being pliant and easily manageable]; kyogo
[being stubborn—being an ‘ugly' customer, always wanting to be right]; eichi
[sagacity, cunning, in whatever sphere of activity]; and shisei
[pigheadedness: always using one's ‘heart & soul', but to do anything whatever].
The letter summarizes the circumstances that led to the creation of the prewar Kobukai Foundation, but then makes due mention of the ‘dark shadow.' This part of the text is a model of careful hyperbole, understatement, striking omissions, and disguised clarity about the future.
"Over the last half-century, the nation has been led on an incorrect path, deviating from the true Way. As a result of Japan's defeat in the war, a return to the path of sincerity and virtue has become possible. Up until now, to avoid its co-optation for misguided ends, Aikido has maintained a discreet posture and operated on a small scale, abstaining from active promotion of the art and training only those known to be of benevolent character. We have taught this art only to those intending a positive and altruistic use. In the new circumstances of the present moment, we can now begin to express the original and true purpose of Aikido more openly." (Op.cit., pp. 284-285.)
readers who are studying Japanese might like to tackle the Japanese original.
天地の大道である中道の趣旨を誤り半世紀以上に亘る誤った指導方向は敗戦と同時に誠の道に立ち返り、合気道本来の精神を発揮し得る事の出来る時代となりましたが、今日迄は 稍もすれば誤った指導下に深入りせんことを恐れて洵に微々として影の形の如く残念乍ら頗る小規模に、大袈裟な宣伝もせず、特志の人々にのみ指導をして参りました。唯善用す るものと判断せられる方面にのみ望まれるが儘に教導も人類愛の一端として、続けて来たものであります。 (『合気道開祖植芝盛平伝』, p. 273.)
Nothing is stated about the other events that took place in the ‘last half-century' (which included all of Morihei Ueshiba's martial activities in the Japanese military) and would-be historians of aikido also need to compare what is stated in the letter with what actually happened.
There is great emphasis on the future role of aikido. Aikido is
"an art of profound significance and once it is made available to all, will spread far and wide, connect all levels of society, rather than only with an elite. Its potential for expansion is boundless." (Op. cit., pp. 285.)
The Japanese original reads:
"合気道は … 真の意義は深長宏遠でありまして、之を拡大すれば社会万般の実相に連なり、無限にして果てしがないのであります。" (Op. cit., p. 272.)
There is a nod to its application in ‘life-or-death' situations, but much more emphasis is laid on ‘love of the heart.' To this end, a great deal is made of an ambiguity in the way the word is pronounced. The syllable ai
in ‘aikido' is usually written with the Chinese character 合 [matching, fitting, as, for example, in clothes fitting the person]; the same sound can also be written with the character 愛 [love], which, of course, has a completely different meaning. In the letter, there is an explicit mention of the fact that ‘aiki' [合気] sounds just like ‘aiki' [愛気] and also a claim that the meanings are actually connected. As a language, Japanese has a great affinity for homonymy (same sounds), but the counterpart, polysemy (connected meanings), is something that needs to be argued: it cannot be taken for granted.
Reference is made to Morihei Ueshiba's activities of farming and there is a suggestion, not expanded anywhere else in the biography, that the taisabaski
of aikido should be the same as the movements of working a farm implement: a plough. The letter concludes with the note of caution that the rules of the new foundation have been changed, "in order that the principles not be misunderstood against the background of our current domestic and international circumstances
," and a suggestion that the Tokyo dojo will make a "modest contribution to rebuilding s new Japan
It should be borne in mind that Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Kinya Fujita were approaching a group of conservative bureaucrats who were also part of Japan's wartime ‘dark shadow' and whose acceptance of General MacArthur's reforms was grudging, to say the least. The allied occupation forces made a crucial mistake in 1945, concerning their future plans for Japan: they did not have enough skilled Japanese speakers to take over all the reins of government and had to rely on the defeated Japanese bureaucrats to carry out their reforms.
The way in which the history of the half-century referred to in Kisshomaru's letter is to be interpreted by the general Japanese population—and especially how it is to be taught in Japanese schools, is still controversial even now. As a director of Hiroshima's Atomic Bomb Museum, I have a ringside seat in a local arena, in which the controversy of how the history of the past half-century should be told is still being played out. Important decisions concerning the exhibits in the Peace Museum and how much emphasis should be placed on Japan's wartime aggression—and also how much the general population was responsible, are decided by a group of bureaucrats who are similar in some respects to those who decided the matter of aikido's legal status in Japan.
In fact, the style of the letter is reminiscent of the style that I had to learn to use as a professor in Hiroshima University, when requesting my professorial colleagues to vote in a certain way, or approaching the traditionally conservative bureaucrats in the Japanese Ministry of Education about a delicate matter.
Nevertheless, in spite of its delicate construction, it is clear that if ever Kisshomaru Ueshiba was announcing a complete break with the past half-century, including the Kobukan era, the announcement is right here, in this letter.
One important consequence of the Aikikai's new status as a foundation was its organizational structure, which was in some respects common to other similar foundations. The one with which I am most familiar is the foundation that runs the Atomic Bomb Memorial Museum in Hiroshima, which is in the same category [koeki zaidan hojin] as the Aikikai. The foundation was at least nominally democratic, in the sense that it had elected boards of yakuin [directors and advisors]. The statutes of the Aikikai and board members can be found in the Japanese language section of the Aikikai website. (However, the English language section of the website does not list the members of the boards and also states that the Aikikai Foundation was established in 1940. This is not strictly correct, as I have shown above.)
IV: 焼き物 / Yakimono: The Postwar Aikikai
As I stated in the previous section, activities at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo gradually restarted after the war, with the usual date given for its full reemergence as 1955. The refugees left the dojo and training fully resumed with Kisshomaru Ueshiba in charge. The Tokyo dojo gradually gained momentum and we can read about a curious conversation in one of Stanley Pranin's interviews. The interview was with Minoru Mochizuki, who was a Kobukan uchi-deshi ‘exported' from the judo Kodokan. According to Mochizuki, Morihei Ueshiba sought his advice on ‘taking back' the Tokyo dojo. Mochizuki refused to become involved in ‘family matters' and it would seem that nothing happened. Morihei Ueshiba visited the Tokyo dojo from his base in Iwama with increasing frequency and actually died there. Though he lived in two places, his spiritual home was the Aiki Shrine in Iwama. He gradually grew into his new role as postwar Aikido Patriarch (the Chinese character is 翁 [おう, made up of 公 and 羽: ‘a prince with wings
'] ) and the transition from father to son was cemented in 1963 with the opening of the rebuilt and enlarged Tokyo dojo, generally referred to as ‘Hombu' [本部 = headquarters].
In this connection, it is instructive to consider a third text that was published in 1954, when Morihei Ueshiba was still largely staying in Iwama and the resurrection of the Tokyo dojo was gradually taking place. Like Budo Renshu
, the mimeographed text was given to students considered to have promise, but unlike these two prewar texts, Maki no Ichi
has never been translated or produced by a commercial publisher. In fact, the text is a shorter version of Budo Renshu
and contains the same line drawings and explanatory comments. The introduction has been handwritten, but in a different style and hand from that of Budo Renshu
, and with the prewar nationalistic references removed. The name of the publisher is given as Koetsu [康悦] Ueshiba, which was the birth name of Kisshomaru. (Those interested in reading this text should access a website: http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/...ei-first-book/
, to download a PDF file. The website is the Sangenkai
website run by Christopher Li, which, incidentally, has become an important resource for aikido historians.)
The postwar Hombu represented another supposed ‘golden age' (the first one being the Kobukan Dojo from 1931 till 1942). With a few exceptions, most of the senior teachers in the Aikikai joined in the period beginning with Ueshiba's move to Iwama and ending around 1959. They joined either in Tokyo or in Iwama, which kept its identity as the dojo attached to the Aiki Shrine. An important, but possibly controversial, point that needs to be made here is that these students became live-in students in the dojo
, the organization that had been reestablished as a foundation in 1948, rather than personal
disciples of Morihei Ueshiba, who, in any case, continued to use Iwama as his permanent base. There were similar students there, notably Morihiro Saito and Hiroshi Isoyama, but Iwama retained the atmosphere of a local dojo, compared to the Tokyo dojo, so it was possible to recreate in Iwama the prewar atmosphere of the single entity. Eventually, the Tokyo dojo once again became the Hombu [headquarters], and as such became the nucleus of a web of organizations: local branch dojos from the postwar Omoto network, clubs affiliated to government offices and to private companies, and a separate organization of clubs in private and public universities, of which Hiroshima University is one.
Moreover, many of these early postwar students in Tokyo eventually moved abroad and took up residence in some of the countries that had defeated Japan. For example, Nobuyoshi Tamura moved to France in 1964; Hiroshi Tada moved to Italy, also in 1964; Yoshimitsu Yamada moved to the United States in the same year—and was followed by Mitsunari Kanai in 1966. Katsuaki Asai moved to Germany in 1965 and Kazuo Chiba moved to Great Britain in 1966. It should be noted that the above list is very selective and I have given the names only of those instructors whom I knew, or know, personally and whom I first met before I came to Japan in 1980.
In addition, H Tada and K Chiba did not reside outside Japan permanently; both returned to Japan, Tada permanently, and Chiba for a few years, before finally moving to the USA in 1981. In a private conversation, K Chiba once explained why he had returned unsummoned to Japan: he felt that the postwar organization was losing its pristine character and becoming too much of an impersonal production line for dan diplomas. I felt at the time that he was trying to return to a ‘golden age' that had never really existed, especially at the time when he himself was a deshi, for the organizational changes brought about as a result of World War II had already occurred, and he was living in a different era from that of the prewar Kobukan, which was probably the real ‘golden age.'
Of course, the instructors mentioned above were not the only ones to leave Japan and teach aikido abroad and when the international department of the Aikikai recently gave an explanation of the term shihan
, it made four categories, the first of which was exclusively occupied by the original uchi-deshi of the prewar Kobukan and the immediate wartime or postwar instructors like those mentioned in the above paragraph. These were the pioneer instructors voluntarily ‘sent out' by the Aikikai, and their shihan status extended worldwide. The second category comprised the other instructors, who lived in Japan or who moved abroad voluntarily and taught aikido in addition to other activities. The third category consists of the instructors in the instruction department of the Aikikai who have received the rank of 6th dan and above. Finally, in the fourth category are placed those teachers outside Japan who have been recommended for the shihan
title by their respective recognized organizations. Certain conditions apply and a special committee evaluates the recommendations at the end of each year. For overseas aikidokas, this fourth category effectively ties the shihan
title to recognized organizations and away from particular individuals.
V: 蒸し物 / Mushimono: Organizations within and outside the Aikikai
One of the reasons why Kisshomaru Ueshiba was so anxious to restart aikido training after the war was the undoubted fact that at that time the Aikikai was not the only organization involved in aikido. Gozo Shioda had been an uchi-deshi at the Kobukan Dojo and after his return to Japan from China, where he had worked as a military spy for the Japanese, he started the Yoshinkan Dojo, which remained separate from the Aikikai and became a legal foundation independently. Relations between the two organizations, however, have remained relatively friendly.
A second Kobukan uchi-deshi, Kenji Tomiki, joined the Kobukan in 1927. Tomiki believed, for reasons primarily related to teaching the art, that aikido needed a very definite structure, which he eventually called ‘aikido kyogi
' (this term to be explained below). This opinion was rejected by Kisshomaru Ueshiba and the Aikikai, on the general grounds that this was—or appeared to be—competitive in nature. Tomiki had fought in Manchuria during World War II and was interned during the Russian invasion of Manchuria. He was sent to a prison camp in Siberia and while there, he developed a set of training exercises and he strongly believed that these had helped him to survive the harsh conditions there. Tomiki stood by his arguments and eventually separated from the Aikikai and formed his own Shodokan organization.
I have vivid memories of a meeting in the Aikikai Hombu, during which Kisshomaru Ueshiba told me emphatically that what Tomiki was doing was "not aikido" and since Kisshomaru was the second Doshu / iemoto of Aikikai aikido, it was very hard to disagree. I also remember another, later, meeting in the Aikikai Hombu, this time with Shigenobu Okumura and Hiroshi Tada. Okumura Shihan had been taught by Tomiki in Manchuria and after his return to Japan he joined the Aikikai Hombu. Both before and after his time in Manchuria, Tomiki taught at Waseda University and both Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Hiroshi Tada attended Waseda as students. Waseda University at some point made a requirement that to be recognized by the university sports association, a sport had to involve competition of some kind, so the club in which Tada trained as a student was not part of this association. This second meeting is notable for the efforts made by the Aikikai to prevent it from taking place at all and for me this was some indication of the unusual sensitivity with which the matter of competition is still regarded, many years after Mr Tomiki separated from the Aikikai and created his own organization.
Kisshomaru Ueshiba gives his own view of this dispute in his untranslated autobiography, Aikido Ichiro: Sengo Aikido Hatten e no Kaze to Kumo
[『合気道一路 ー戦後合気道発展への風と雲ー』: ‘An Aikido Journey: Wind and Clouds Affecting the Growth of Postwar Aikido']. Kisshomaru discusses some notable figures among Morihei Ueshiba's deshi and devotes several pages to Kenji Tomiki. Included are accounts of meetings between Tomiki and Morihei Ueshiba. Tomiki, also, has given his own view of the dispute and one text has been translated into English by Tomiki's students. (Details are given in the bibliography at the end of this essay. Since the episode is relevant to the matter of aikido, competition and sport, the meeting is worth discussing in more detail, which I will do in a later section.)
The separation from the Aikikai of Koichi Tohei was more dramatic and the role of ki, which was the focus of the separation, was the omote aspect only, with an ura that was much deeper and involved a clash of at least two strong personalities. I had a private conversation a few years ago with the late Sadateru Arikawa, who became a Hombu deshi in 1947. He was a witness of the conflict and told me of the intense personal distress that the clash caused Kisshomaru, who felt that the circumstances of his birth had thrust upon him the role of ‘guardian' of the family art. As with Kenji Tomiki, both sides felt that they had to stick to their respective positions and principles, with the result that this led to an inevitable split.
I think it is very important here not to paint one side black and the other side white, for this would be a very superficial view of a conflict in which both parties acted from a position of great honesty, to themselves as individuals, and to the art they had embraced. As a student of the Greek classics, I think this is why the role of the chorus in Greek tragedy is so important, for it provides an essential means of catharsis
, both for the innocent bystanders in the plays themselves, and for the audience—Sadateru Arikawa, in this case, who are also bystanders. This catharsis takes place in addition to the tragic cathartic process undergone by the principal characters themselves.
In this connection it is advantageous to study the ancient Japanese concept of misogi
[禊ぎ: purification, usually in a ritual], in comparison with the Greek concept of catharsis
[the purging of vices, as a result of tragic happenings to the person]. In the Kojiki
, an important creation deity, Izanagi no Mikoto, undertakes misogi in a river, which is also a deity, in order to purify himself of the impurities gained as a result of his visit to the world of Yomi, where he had entreated his dead wife, Izanami no Mikoto, to return and complete the work of creation. In his discourses, Morihei Ueshiba often states that aikido training is misogi, but one needs to read the Kojiki
myths in order to see why. (Japanese university students in martial arts clubs hardly ever read the Kojiki
, unless it is the manga
[comic] version, but aikido, kendo and karate club members still practice misogi by stripping off and plunging into icy rivers each year in January.)
Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides all wrote tragedies, some with much blood being spilt. In the same way that the river itself participated in Izanagi's misogi, the chorus in a Greek tragedy has a very important role: they guide the audience, as well as the actors, in the cathartic process that is supposed to affect them. This is one powerful reason why the Greeks—like the Japanese, regarded drama as being of such importance. This importance is reflected by a dramatist like Shakespeare, who also wrote tragedies, some of which, like Macbeth
and King Lear
, closely follow the Greek model.
In Greek drama, the hero already possesses, or gains, a blemish that incurs the displeasure of the gods and the hero is purged as a result. Note that this is not necessarily a personal, moral, blemish, for Oedipus had his cleft foot -- the outward symbol of an inner blemish -- from birth, and there was some discussion quite early on in the critical literature as to how much personal moral blame should be attached to him, since the vices that led to his doom were not really ‘his own fault.' Nevertheless, Oedipus incurred the ‘wrath' of the gods and it was the purpose of the chorus to make clear to the audience that the logic and activities of the deities were really inscrutable. They were open to examination, but this did not include making any moral judgments about them.
VI: 煮物 / Nimono: Creation of the IAF
Not long after the split with Koichi Tohei, a preparatory meeting of the would-be International Aikido Federation (IAF) took place. The date was 1975 and the location was Europe. The meeting took place during a visit by Kisshomaru Ueshiba to Spain. The following year, the IAF was formally constituted at a congress held in Tokyo. Representatives from around 20 national and aikido organizations assembled and these organizations automatically became the founding members of the new federation, and were also requested to become ‘federations' likewise.
The creation of the International Aikido Federation was a highly controversial step and to see why it was taken, some essential background information is necessary—which to my knowledge has never been made public. To begin with, the initiative came from several judokas resident in Europe. The background to this initiative was the fact that aikido had first been introduced to Europe via judo and many judoka practiced aikido as a supplement to their judo training. The first aikido organization in Europe, the Association Culturele Européene d'Aikido (ACEA) was dominated by organizations in which the main players were judoka who also practiced aikido. Secondly, the request to form a worldwide organization for aikido was sent to the Kodokan, the headquarters of Japanese judo, and not to the Aikikai. The Kodokan redirected the request and the fact that this had happened—the letter had been sent to the judo organization—caused much concern within the Aikikai, which had nightmares about the possibility that aikido might follow judo and become ‘international,' which they interpreted as losing its important—and for the Aikikai, absolutely essential—Japanese roots. On the one hand, therefore, the initiative had come from judoka and had been sent to the Kodokan. It was thus highly suspect, but, on the other hand, it was thought that if the Aikikai did not support the initiative, the first international organization dedicated to aikido would be outside the control of the Aikikai and under the control of judo, or of another aikido organization, such as Yoshinkan, or Shodokan, which was the international organization for Mr Tomiki's ‘competition' aikido. The creation of the IAF, therefore, can be seen in some ways as the result of forced circumstances, but also as the completion of the work that Kisshomaru Ueshiba had begun in 1949 with the establishment of the Aikikai Foundation. It extended the recognition of the foundation by the Japanese authorities to the international sphere, but in a manner that did not compromise the ‘integrity' of aikido, as Kisshomaru saw this.
This was the background to the preparatory meeting that was held in Spain in 1975. The inaugural congress was held in 1976 and the Aikikai took care to ensure that this event was held in Japan, with the important consequence that the headquarters would be in Japan, at the Aikikai, and that the new federation would therefore operate within a Japanese—and not a European—legal framework. This was to have some important consequences later.
Because this ‘marriage'—of an organization that was vertically structured like a pyramid, to a federated organization that was horizontally, democratically, structured—was rather ‘shot-gun' in character, more of a cohabitation than a real marriage, it took some time for the potential stresses involved in such an arrangement to come to the surface. (Divorce, however, was a taboo topic that was firmly kept out of the question.) For a start, the organizational structure of the IAF was not fully democratic in nature, despite the fact that it was a federation. A body called the Superior Council held a veto power over any decisions made by a congress that, in its opinion, went against the teachings of Morihei Ueshiba. (This veto has never been exercised. On one occasion, it was planned—even threatened, but the expected decision did not, in fact, materialize.) However, the fact that the veto power still exists forty years after the IAF was founded, hanging like the Sword of Damocles over the functioning of a supposedly democratic federation, suggests a certain lack of trust in the ability of elected officers with long experience in aikido training to make good and sound decisions in the best interests of the art.
‘Modified' democracy is not a new phenomenon in Japan. Even the Meiji constitution had a democratic framework, but this was ‘bestowed' by the ‘benevolent' Meiji Emperor on his ‘grateful' subjects. Supposedly ‘grassroots' democratic decisions here are usually preceded by much private negotiation. Another name for this negotiation is nemawashi
[根廻: binding the roots of a tree together before it is transplanted elsewhere, sometimes blandly rendered in Japanese English as ‘coordinating opinions']. The purpose of nemawashi is to ensure that the democratic process goes ‘smoothly' and that nothing entirely unexpected happens. This is as true for the left-wing agitators who disrupted Japanese university classes in the late 1960s, as it was for their teachers involved in more sedate activities, such as holding professorial elections to positions of power within the university, and I certainly practiced nemawashi when working at Hiroshima University and also when leading an aikido federation like the IAF.
Japanese scholars of psychology, such as Takeo Doi, have written much about how supposedly universal concepts like democracy have been ‘adapted' to suit the particular features of Japan's social structure. I will return to this important point later, in Part Two of this essay, as a conclusion to the discussion there about Geert Hofstede's research into national cultures and organizations.
In fact, democracy is an extremely fragile flower and, like a rare orchid, requires much care and attention if it is to reach full bloom. The culture of ancient Athens, traditionally regarded as the birthplace of democracy, is one example of problems involved, which are rather anxiously told by Thucydides in his history of the Peloponnesian War. All property-owning freeborn Athenians were required to attend the ecclesia
[assembly] and listen to speeches. They then had to vote. As a result, manuals were written on how to analyze supposedly ‘logical' arguments, and also how to persuade potential voters to vote—by fair means or foul, and the line between reasoned, principled, speech-making: the ‘art' of oratory, and the variant commonly known as mob oratory, became increasingly fine and was eventually crossed. Demosthenes is one example of a famous Greek orator; Pericles is another—and both had their critics. Democracy is one political expression of a very complex and multi-faceted interplay between the individual and the social and organizational culture in which the individual is placed, and in which the individual even acquires his/her identity as an individual. It should not be assumed without any question that a democratic structure is the best structure for an organization dedicated to training in a martial art that originated in a completely different culture. The Aikikai certainly understand this, but I have some doubts about the IAF.
Congresses of the IAF were held every two years and so the third Congress took place in 1980, in Paris. There was great controversy at this congress, as underlying stresses involved in the creation of the federation came to the surface. The controversy involved the matter of Aikikai recognition as a condition for IAF membership. Members of a certain IAF member organization wished to escape from the domination of judokas within their organization and the Aikikai eventually withdrew its official recognition. However, this organization had already paid their IAF affiliation fees and so regarded themselves as members, regardless of any Aikikai recognition. The Aikikai eventually solved the problem by means of the ingenious device, abandoned a few years later, of creating two types of recognition: ‘official' recognition [kounin
: 公認], and unofficial ‘official' recognition [jun kounin
: 準公認] . (This distinction works in Japanese, but does not really work in English and it eventually caused problems at the 1984 IAF Congress.). By means of this device, both groups were officially recognized—so face was saved, and the device was applied to solve similar problems in several IAF member countries. Finally, however, the Aikikai both abolished this artificial distinction and also changed the rules, in order to give official recognition to any aikido group within a country that fulfilled certain criteria. The change actually put the problem back in the lap of the IAF, which had very good reasons for still keeping to the rule of one organization per country and was therefore faced with the problem of having to choose from among one or many organizations within a country that had received Aikikai recognition and sought to join the IAF. I will return to this important problem later.
VII: 揚げ物 / Agemono: GAISF and SportAccord
In spite of the fact that aikido is often denied to be a sport (to be discussed in a later section), the affairs of aikido in Japan are handled by the Sports Section of the Japanese education ministry and the IAF is currently a member of a large international sports organization. Some account must be given of this seeming contradiction.
In 1984, the IAF was elected to membership of a sports organization called the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF). During the same GAISF General Assembly, the distinction between Full Members and Associate Members was also abolished. This fact is of significance only because the latter category existed for organizations whose credentials were ‘cloudy' and the IAF fitted this category because of the lack of championship competitions in aikido. The IAF was admitted to full membership of the GAISF and so existed side by side with ‘western' sports (this reference is important: see below) like soccer and athletics; organizations of Japanese martial arts, such as judo, karate and kendo, which were regarded as a blend of martial arts and combat sports; and other non-Japanese combat sports like fencing and kick-boxing.
As the newly-elected IAF Assistant General Secretary, I was the official IAF delegate at the 1984 GAISF General Assembly at which the IAF application for membership was approved—and the approval was unanimous. However, the nemawashi
groundwork had been very carefully prepared beforehand and in particular great care had been taken to ensure that the ban on sports championships in aikido was preserved and safeguarded. The GAISF had a rule that membership could be given only to sports organizations that held championship tournaments in three out of the five continents where the sport was practiced—and the sport had to be practiced worldwide. For the IAF, it was accepted that the holding of a gasshuku or embukai in the continents where aikido was practiced constituted a ‘championship tournament' and this was considered sufficient for the purposes of admission to the GAISF. It helped matters that the IAF Chairman at the time also practiced judo and that the application was shepherded through the GAISF by some members of the International Judo Federation (IJF). In view of what had happened at the IAF Congress in 1980, where judo was considered the bête noire
, the irony was not lost on some.
The GAISF was basically an organization dedicated to contact and discussion by all the members, so the overall aim was to include as many members as possible. Since it existed side-by-side with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), with its subsidiary organizations of Summer Olympic, Winter Olympic, and Recognized Olympic federations, great care was taken not to intrude unduly on ‘Olympic' territory and as a result the GAISF has sometimes been criticized for being a kind of ‘poor man's Olympics,' with some members scrambling for any crumbs that fell from the Olympic table. Somewhat ironically, this ‘poor man's Olympics' was also criticized for not doing anything beyond talking—and also for not doing this at hugely expensive locations, which caused a massive drain on the IAF's limited resources.
At the time the IAF became a member of the GAISF, the IAF statutes suggested that the federation was an amalgam of local organizations supposedly grouped by continent, although the European federation was the only one that existed at this time. The IAF directing board had a number of vice-chairmen to match the number of continents, but a major problem arose of how to deal with the American continent and where to put Mexico. The organizations in South America wanted to keep separate from the USA and Canada, and there were also serious ‘political' problems between the organizations in the USA and Mexico. The issue was solved only when the statutes were changed to reduce the number of vice-chairmen to one and to allow continental groupings to exist on a purely voluntary basis.
If the decision to form the IAF was controversial, the decision to join the GAISF was even more so. Moreover, the controversial aspects of the IAF's membership of a general sports organization have not diminished with the passage of time—or the changes made to both organizations. In addition, the GAISF was not entirely successful in its selection of presidents. The president in 1984 soon retired on mental health grounds and his successor had to resign, as a result of being convicted for corruption in his own country. However, some major changes occurred after the third president took office. The name of the federation was changed to SportAccord
and the decision was taken to hold multi-sport games. This gave more substance to the moniker of ‘poor man's Olympics', since the SportAccord multi-sport games was regarded as being in some form of competition with these major, and well-funded, events.
The Assistant General Secretary of the IAF was involved in the preparatory work for the first ‘Martial Arts Games', but the name of the event was changed to ‘Combat Games.' This change, for which he was not responsible and which was made in the interests of marketing, rendered the matter of IAF participation even more controversial. As IAF Chairman at the time, I protested, but was challenged by the SportAccord President to find something more acceptable to all the prospective participants, including those who practiced combat systems, as opposed to strictly martial arts. After much consultation with the Aikikai, the ban on competition in any form was upheld and emphasized, and participation was accepted, but on the condition that the "integrity of aikido was not compromised in any way." The SportAccord President had had a few years' experience of aikido training in Europe, reaching the rank of first kyu, and so was well aware of the issues involved for the IAF.
The first Combat Games took place in Beijing and was by all accounts successful, especially for the IAF and aikido. Aikido is practiced quite sporadically in China, but there are no IAF-member organizations there, except for the relatively small organizations Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Nevertheless, the numbers of spectators attending the IAF demonstrations were comparatively large and the IAF was subsequently approached about creating an organization in mainland China. One large IAF member organization immediately offered to supply technical expertise, but this initiative was not pursued, one reason being that the Aikikai claimed to be a private school and that the approach had been made by the Chinese government. In view of the close links between the Aikikai and the Japanese government, the logic of this argument escapes me, but it might be that the Aikikai was concerned about possible government interference in any Aikikai-affiliated organization in mainland China.
The second Combat Games took place in St. Petersburg and some important lessons had been learned. For the IAF, the pattern of structured demonstrations at the Games, coupled with seminars for the participants and members of the IAF member of the host country, was revised and repeated with great success. The spectre of competition never appeared and it seemed that a formula had at last been created for the IAF to participate in such events in a way that was acceptable to the vast majority of stakeholders.
One consequence of the successful event for me was an acute awareness of problems with the IAF rule that membership could be given only to one organization in each country, despite the fact that a much larger number of aikido organizations in some countries had individually received Aikikai official recognition, which is a necessary condition for becoming an IAF member. In the Russian Federation, these recognized organizations formed a national umbrella group, called the Russian National Aikido Board (RNAB), which, together with the Russian Union of Martial Arts (RUMA), was the main organizer of the St Petersburg Combat Games, including the aikido demonstrations. The IAF member federation for Russia was also clearly involved, but the role played by this federation in organizing the aikido demonstrations was rather less clear than the very conspicuous roles played by the RNAB and RUMA. I will return to this important point in a later part of this essay.
Going Forwards to the Past: SportAccord to Become GAISF Again?
The reasons for the change of name from GAISF
were discussed earlier. However, the most recent development is a proposal to be debated at the forthcoming SportAccord Convention, which will take place in Denmark. If approved, SportAccord will change its name to the Global Association of International Sports Federations
, with the same GAISF
acronym as before. The presidency will also rotate among the four component organizations of the GAISF, namely, the three Olympic federations, and AIMS. Though remote, the possibility can certainly be entertained that the IAF will at some point actually lead a major international sports organization.
VIII: 酢の物 / Sunomono: The IWGA, AIMS, and the IOC
When the IAF became a member of the GAISF in 1984, the federation also became eligible to join the International World Games Association (IWGA) and did so in the same year. This organization had been formed in 1981 with the express aim of holding a World Games for those sports that were not eligible to participate in the Olympic Games. The moniker of ‘Poor Man's Olympics' fitted the IWGA more appropriately than the GAISF / SportAccord, at least until the Combat Games were organized.
A glance at the IWGA website shows very clearly that the organization is avowedly a sporting organization, wherein the martial arts members are clearly classed as sports. Aikido is the first such ‘sport' listed and the description on the IWGA website very carefully notes that aikido does not hold competitions or championships. However, what is not clearly stated is that the IAF does not take any part in the IWGA World Games for this reason. When the IAF joined the IWGA in 1984, it was classed as a demonstration sport, but this was a temporary category, reserved for those sports that did not yet conform to the IWGA model; it was not a permanent category for those members that did not hold championships at all, and so would never conform to the model.
A few years ago, during an IAF demonstration at the World Games in 2001, I had a conversation with the IWGA President. Since the World Games were held in Akita, aikido had a role to play as a Japanese martial art and the IWGA demonstration was followed by an aikido training seminar. During the conversation, the President stressed that the IAF was a valued member of the IWGA ‘family' and suggested that the federation held an event like a dan examination during the World Games, in order to include the required element of competition. This was quite reasonably rejected by the Aikikai, on the grounds that the power to hold dan examinations in a country lay with the organizations recognized by the Aikikai, not with the particular shihan who resided in the country, or with the IAF.
It is interesting to note here that a vice-president of the IOC also attended the same demonstration, but did not share the same anxieties about competition as those held by the IWGA President. He was quite ready to accept the integrity of aikido as it stood, but very strongly advised that the IAF should maintain the principle of admitting only one recognized organization per country to membership, in keeping with the principles of one sport per country and one organization per country, which were espoused by other international sports federations.
Eventually the IAF was informed that it would no longer be possible to participate in the World Games and I myself believed that we should withdraw from the IWGA. I was IAF Chairman at the time and I consulted the Aikikai. It was strongly suggested that the IAF should retain its membership, in order to ‘occupy the slot' and so prevent other aikido organizations from joining the IWGA. Representations were, in fact, made by some non-Aikikai national organizations that did hold competitions, but the IWGA did not wish to be involved in the ‘internal matters' of member sports federations and there the matter still stands. Since the IAF is an active member of SportAccord, where the ban on championships is accepted, the task of persuading the IWGA to change its stance has not been pursued with much vigour, as far as I am aware.
The success of the second SportAccord Combat Games had the consequence of drawing attention to the earlier tensions between the GAISF / SportAccord and the IOC. The third President of SportAccord retired, his reputation besmirched by allegations of doping in his home federation (which was cycling), and his successor came from the world of Japanese martial arts, in this case, judo. The fourth President used a SportAccord Convention (general meeting) to make severely critical remarks about the IOC and this led to uproar. Several powerful members of SportAccord left the organization and the President was eventually forced to resign. SportAccord members who were also recognized by the IOC retreated behind the IOC battlements and those members who were not so recognized retreated under the banner of a group within SportAccord. This was the Association of Independent Members of SportAccord (AIMS), but later the ‘SportAccord' part of the organization was changed to, simply, ‘Sport.' The IAF is a member of this group. The SportAccord member federation that played a major role in this transformation was the International Federation of Muaythai Amateur (IFMA), which is one of a large number of organizations where this Thai combat sport is practiced. The IFMA was recently recognized as a member of the IOC and, as such, no longer has any need to remain in AIMS. However, the President of AIMS comes from the IFMA and is still President. The IAF has played an active role in AIMS, as it did in SportAccord, and the current IAF Chairman also acts as the AIMS Treasurer. As a result, the IAF is now an active participant in the international sporting world, whereas previously it was merely a bystander on the outermost periphery.
The success of the second SportAccord Combat Games also had the further consequence of drawing attention both to the IAF itself, and also to its ‘unique' position in SportAccord and in AIMS. The IOC has provisionally recognized AIMS as an organization and this group recognition paves the way for the IOC to look at the members of AIMS individually, to see if they qualify for IOC recognition as individual sports. This raises the question of whether the IAF would ever qualify for such recognition and an investigation by the IOC would certainly raise the issue of aikido as a sport in a very stark form. In some sense, AIMS can be seen as a temporary ‘holding' organization for those sports hoping for individual IOC recognition. The IAF has never had such ambitions in this regard and, all other things being equal, is likely to remain a member of AIMS for some time.
In my opinion, the issues raised by the IAF's continuing membership of the IWGA, but its non-participation in the very activity that defines the role of the IWGA as an organization, go to the very heart of the various problems involving the mission of the IAF. These problems involve: aikido as a budo, but practiced as, and in, an organization; the Aikikai as an iemoto system; the IAF as a phantom ‘democratic' consensus-based aikido organization; the relation of aikido with sport; and the putative identification of sport itself as competition. I will endeavor to discuss many of these issues in the remainder of this essay, but will deal with them piecemeal, dealing with some or all as the context requires.
IX: 和え物 / Aemono: Martial Arts and Competition: The 1988 Taipei Congress
Despite its as yet uncertain connection with the Aikikai, the IAF gradually grew in size, as more organizations joined. One very important development, decided at the 1980 Congress, was the tying of the four-yearly congresses to one country (Japan) and to the link with major seminars given by Aikikai instructors. One exception was made in 1988, when the Congress was held in Taipei, but this caused major problems and the exception had the effect of strengthening the 1980 rule to hold the Congress in Japan, unless there were exceptional circumstances.
Though this important fact was not known at the time that the decision was made to hold the Congress in Taipei, the host federation, which was the Republic of China Aikido Association (ROCAA), was actually required by the Taiwanese Olympic Committee to hold aikido demonstrations with a competitive form, with judges present who held up score cards after each demonstration. Even though every judge awarded a full score to each demonstrating group, the spectacle was too much for Kisshomaru Ueshiba to stomach and he quietly absented himself before the demonstrations actually started. I myself did not follow Doshu's example, since I believed it was my duty as IAF General Secretary to see exactly what was going on in Taiwan. I had visited the country twice beforehand, but had received no hint of what was going to take place. This led to some unfortunate exchanges at the 1988 Congress, where I was accused by some of knowing what was going to happen beforehand and, therefore, of colluding with the ROCAA, which was certainly not the case. The Aikikai and a senior member of the IAF Superior Council received requests for my head on a dish, but I myself emerged from the Congress with my head still very much attached to my shoulders. Some heads did roll, however, as a result—and they were the heads of some surprising people—including the present Doshu.
One important consequence of the debacle in 1988 was the uncertain role played by prior knowledge. The argument made by the ROCAA, in defence of their decision to hold the demonstrations in the way they did, was that the Aikikai already knew about the particular circumstances of aikido in Taiwan, but had raised no objection to holding an IAF congress in the country, in spite of the fact that there would be an aikido demonstration. The only questioning that happened was during a meeting held at the Aikikai Hombu and attended by the chief instructor of the ROCAA, the general director of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, and myself as IAF General Secretary. We had generally agreed without any argument that the demonstrations held at the Congress would follow the convention, established from previous congresses and demonstrations, of respecting the customs of the host country, when, suddenly—as if by magic, Kisshomaru Doshu appeared and asked us, with an anxious look on his face, if there were any problems. We assured Doshu that, "No, there were no problems at all."
Much later, when I was reading one of J K Rowling's Harry Potter
novels, I was struck by the similarities of this episode to a scene in the novel, which also appeared in the film. The scene was in Professor Dumbledore's study at Hogwarts School. Harry Potter, then in the possession of much secret knowledge about the evil Lord Voldemort, and about which he was totally unable to unburden himself to his teacher, was asked by Dumbledore, "Is there anything you would like to tell me?" Harry answered, falsely, that there was not and Dumbledore let him go, probably well aware of Harry's burden. This episode came back to me later, as I reflected on what had happened at the Congress. Later, I asked a very senior personage in the Aikikai, now deceased, about the fact that the Aikikai had known about the particular situation in Taiwan and his answer was instructive, to say the least. He confirmed that the Aikikai certainly knew about the situation in Taiwan, but regarded this knowledge as for ‘internal consumption' only: the situation was quietly accepted as unavoidable, but it was not expected that the ROCAA would use the same domestic format for a demonstration at an international congress.
How, then, was the demonstration supposed to take place, given that accepted IAF practice was to follow the customs of the host country? The answer to this question was less clear and assumed that the ROCAA would somehow have had the intelligence to realize that an international demonstration, involving participants from many other countries, could not possibly follow the same pattern as a purely domestic event. Clearly, some of the four virtues highlighted by Kisshomaru Ueshiba in his 1948 letter of intent to the Japanese education ministry, discussed earlier, were not shared equally among the organizations later recognized by the Aikikai. Since the IAF demonstration was attended by members of the Taiwanese Olympic Committee, the ROCAA can perhaps be forgiven for not possessing this intelligence at all—or for not displaying it, if it did. In any event, the episode left a very bad taste in many mouths and strongly reinforced the views of those who still believe that the IAF has no business being in the GAISF, SportAccord, AIMS, or in any other sports association.
X: 赤飯 / Sekihan: Competition as Shiai, Shinsa, or Kyoso?
The relation between aikido and competition seems very clear and straightforward: Morihei Ueshiba is said to have forbidden it and some discussion can be found in two works written by Morihei Ueshiba and his son Kisshomaru. The first is a technical manual, entitled Aikido Giho
[『合気道技法』 = Aikido Technique
]; the second is a work known as Takemusu Aiki
. [『武産合気』]. The former work is a detailed manual of aikido waza and is clearly intended for beginners. Kisshomaru Ueshiba is listed as the author, while his father has the role of kanshu [kanshuu /
かんしゅう / 監修 = editorial supervisor]. At the end of the work are printed brief discourses of Morihei Ueshiba, entitled Doshu genshiroku
[げんしろく / 言志録] and the ban on competitive matches appears here. The term used is shiai
. Aikido Giho
was partly translated into English with the title of Aikido
, and the discourses were translated into English under the general heading of "Memoir of the Master."
The second work consists of discourses made by Morihei Ueshiba during interviews with a member of a religious organization, known as the Byakko Shinko Kai and intended for publication in the house magazine. The Byakko Shinko Kai was of an offshoot of the Omoto religious organization and its leader, Masahisa Goi, was a friend of Morihei Ueshiba. The Japanese original has been translated into French, with annotations, and a rather lightweight selection of the contents has appeared in English as part of a book, which followed the much more satisfactory, though only partial, translation made by Sonoko Tanaka and Stanley Pranin, and published by Aiki News
a few years ago.
All the relevant extracts of both works are presented in the next two sections, with some additional comments.
A discussion that took place a few years ago in the AikiWeb
forums is also worth noting here. The URL is http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=998
and I need to emphasize here that my choice of terms in my own contribution to that discussion was not entirely clear. In this section I will discuss the concepts of shiai
, and kyoso
, as a preliminary to the discussion that follows, on aikido as sport. Since I am really concerned in this essay with aikido organizations directly related to the Aikikai, which bans competition, the discussion on the etymology and meaning of these two terms is included here, rather than in the Appendix.
Shiai [shiai / しあい / 試合]
This compound word is written in Chinese characters as 試合. Note that when the early Japanese learned how to write, Chinese characters were grafted on to an existing Japanese language and this symbiosis of semiotics and semantics constantly re-occurred afterwards. The Chinese ON reading is usually capitalized and so I have occasionally done this here. However, I have not done this elsewhere in this essay.
: 試] is also read as tamesu
, both verbs.
The basic meaning as a verb is to test something, to try something, to try out, to attempt. There are many compounds with a similar sense, such as shi-saku
[試作: trial manufacture]; shi-bai
[試売: test marketing]; shi-jo
[試乗: test drive]; sh-iren
[試練: trial, test, ordeal]; shi-ken
[試験: examination]; even the phrase shi-ko-saku-go
[試行錯誤: trial and error]. In these examples shi
comes first, but there are many others where it comes second, such as chikara-dameshi
[力試し: test of strength / ability]; kimo-dameshi
[肝試し: test of courage]; tsui-shi-ken
[追試験: make-up exam]; un-dameshi
[運試し: take a chance]; ude-dameshi
[腕試し: test of skill]; or even doro-ji-ai
[泥試合: mud-slinging, which is an unusual compound of shi-ai
: 合] is more familiar, being the ai
. The reading in the word aikido
is the Japanese reading, with the cognate verbs read as au
. The Chinese reading is GO
', or KA
'. There are many compounds with the character in the second, third or fourth position in the word and the list in my kanji dictionary covers over four pages, with an average of about 100 compounds listed per page.
The meanings cover a wide range. With the Chinese reading, these include: together; total; unit of area (0.33 square meters); unit of volume (180ml); one of ten stations up a mountain. With the Japanese reading, the meanings are all verbs, or verbal nouns: au
= to fit, match, agree with, be correct; awaseru
= to put together, combine, compare.
There is a vast range of compounds, of which the following have been selected at random: go-itsu
[合一: unification, union]; go-ben-gai-sha
[合弁会社: joint venture company]; ka-ppa
[合羽: umbrella]; go-kin
[合金: alloy]; go-kei
[合計: total]; ai-zu
[合図: signal sign]; go-kaku
[合格: passing an examination]; ai-fuku
[合い服: spring and autumn clothing]; ga-ssho
[合唱: chorus]; ka-ssen
[合戦: battle]; go-ri-shu-gi
[合理主義: rationalism]; de-ai
[出会い: happen to meet, run into]; uchi-ai
[打ち合い: exchange blows]; uchi-awase
[打ち合わせprevious arrangement, appointed time]; mi-ai
[見合い: arranged marriage interview]; ii-au
[言い合う: quarrel]; ii-awaseru
[言い合わせる: arrange beforehand]; ko-go
[香合: incense burner]; sa-yu-ri
[小百合: lily]; ro-do-kumi-ai
[労働組合: labour union].
The meaning or denotation of the word shiai
in the English-Japanese dictionary is simply a game or a match, but the monolingual Japanese Kojien
is more explicit. A shiai is
武術や競技などで勝負を争いこと。(広辞苑, 5th edition, p. 1129.)Shinsa [shinsa / しんさ / 審査]
Bujutsu ya kyougi nado de shoubu wo arasoi koto.
"In martial arts or matches etc., fighting for victory or defeat."
This compound word is written in Chinese characters as 審査.
: 審] is one of many characters read in this way, and the Japanese kun reading is tsumabi
, but this has a different meaning and all the compounds the first character is read as SHIN
. The compounds all have to do with hearings, investigations or trials. For example: shin-pan-(kan)
[審判官: referee]; shin-gi
[審議: investigation]; shin-gi-kai
[審議会: deliberative assembly, commission, council]; baishin
[陪審: jury]; sen-shin
[線審: linesman, in tennis etc.].
: 査] has only one reading, which is the Chinese ON reading of the character. The basic meaning is investigate and this is the sense of all the compounds, as can be seen in the following random selection: shusa
[主査: chairman of an examination committee]; so-sa
[捜査: investigation]; gen-ba
[現場検査: police investigation at the scene of a crime or accident]; cho-sa
[調査: investigation, inquiry, survey], yo-ron cho-sa
[輿論調査: survey, like the surveys conducted by Geert Hofstede with IBM employees, to be discussed in Part Two].
is the term used in aikido for kyu and dan tests and I have included the term here, in view of the conversation I had with the IWGA President, mentioned earlier. The President believed that holding a dan examination during the World Games would satisfy the IWGA requirement of members holding competitions. However, the sense in which a shinsa involves competition is very indirect. The only similarities between a shinsa and a shiai, for example, is that both involve passing or failing some sort of test, but only the latter directly involves defeating, or being defeated by, some opponent. One might thus be promoted, or not, as a result of a shinsa by having a shiai or kyoso, but this is not a necessary condition.
Kyoso [kyousou / きょうそう / 競争]
This compound word is written in Chines characters as 競争. Unlike with shiai
, the two characters have rather more limited uses when they occur separately, but the combination itself has a wider connotation. We will begin with 競.
The character競has several readings, of which the Chinese-derived ON readings are KYO
, and the Japanese kun
readings are kisou
, and --kura
(the last always occurring in second place, as a suffix). With very few exceptions, the compounds all relate to various types of confrontation or rivalry. Examples include seri-ichi
[競市: auction]; kyo-go
[競合: competition, rivalry]; kyo-so
[競走: race]; kyo-bai / seri-uri
[競売 / 競り売り: auction]; kyo-gi
[競技: competition, match; this is the term preferred by Kenji Tomiki]; ta(bek)-kura
[食競: eating contest]. Longer compounds include variations on a common theme: ni-shu kyogi
[二種競技: biathlon]; jis-shu kyogi
[十種競技: decathlon]; san-shu kyogi
[三種競技: triathlon]; go-shu-kyogi
[五種競技: pentathlon]; dan-ko kyo-so
[断行競走: cross-country race]; eki-den kyo-so
[駅伝競走: long-distance relay race], even gun-kaku kyo-so
[軍拡競争: arms race].
The last compound noted also contains the character 争, which also has Chinese-derived ON readings as well as Japanese kun
is the only Chinese-derived reading, and arasou
(verb) / arasoi
(noun) are the Japanese kun
readings, all meaning to dispute, to argue, to contend, to fight, with the cognate nouns. The compounds, also, all denote various types of contention, war, fighting, or rivalry. Examples include so-ran
[争乱: riot]; so-ron
[争論: dispute, argument, controversy]; so-to
[争闘: struggle]; mizu arasoi
[水争い: irrigation dispute]; to-so
[闘争: party rivalry]; fun-so
[紛争: dispute]; sen-so
[戦争: war], with compounds, such as Nam-boku Sen-so
[南北戦争: US Civil War]; and Tai-hei-yo Sen-so
[太平洋戦争: Pacific War, or World War II].
With respect to the difference in meaning between shiai
, today I consulted a Japanese friend, but gave him little time to consider. Off the cuff, he answered that the emphasis with shiai
was more on winning or losing, but with kyoso
, the emphasis was more on the thinking or intentions of the opponents. With Morihei Ueshiba another element was added, namely, the reference to ‘western' sports, considered as an ‘alien' import. In the following section, two small sections of Ueshiba's discourses are translated and analyzed. We shall see that in these discourses he uses both terms: shiai
. In the Takemusbi Aiki
discourse, Ueshiba's opprobrium is directed particularly at ‘western' sports, for which he uses the Japanese katakana equivalent: スポーツ.
The Ban on Matches in Aikido
Kisshomaru Ueshiba published the Aikido
volume in English in 1973. As I mentioned above, this English version was put together from two other training manuals published in Japanese and entitled, respectively, 『合気道』[Aikido] , and『合気道技法』[Aikido Giho]. In the final part of the volume, Kisshomaru prints a "Memoir of the Master" and mentions competition in one section. The term used in the Japanese text is shiai [shiai
/ しあい / 試合] and this has been explained above. First, we need to look at the English translation and then at the Japanese original. Since there are two paragraphs, the Japanese follows the English text in each case and my comments follow.
"In Aikido we control the opponent's mind before we face him. That is we draw him into ourselves. We go forward in life with this attraction of our spirit, and attempt to command a whole view of the world. (Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Aikido, p. 180.)
"合気道は相手が向かわない前に、こちらでその心を自己の自由にする、自己の中に吸収してしまう。つまり精神の引力の働きが進むのです。そしてこの世界を一目に見るのです 。今日ではまだほとんどの人ができません。私もできません。" (『合気道技法』, p. 262-263.)
COMMENT. The Japanese original can be found towards the end of Aikido Giho
. It contains some material that has been omitted from the English translation, but, for the sake of completeness, I have given the whole passage, above, with the omitted parts underlined.
In the two sentences omitted, above, Ueshiba admits that most people cannot do what he stated in the early part of the paragraph and that he himself, also, cannot do this (I suspect to his own satisfaction). Perhaps Kisshomaru thought that such a frank admission was unbecoming for the ‘Master' to admit. However, it should be read, marked and inwardly digested by those who believe that Ueshiba thought himself invincible.
Secondly, there are two ways of understanding the published remarks—and Kisshomaru has chosen one way in the translation above. The other way, not chosen by Kisshomaru, describes a process of controlling and locking up an opponent before any attack takes place, such that the attacker is unable to anything at all. Kisshomaru has interpreted the statement, 「つまり精神の引力の働きが進むのです。」= "We go forward in life with this attraction of our spirit
," as a general statement embodying the rather vapid ‘world view' and quasi-‘moral' behavior of postwar Japan, as exemplified in the activities of the resurrected Aikikai. This is especially true because Kisshomaru has omitted the crucial point that even Ueshiba himself admits that most people cannot do this—and that he himself cannot. The way that Kisshomaru's version has been translated conflicts with Morihei Ueshiba's other ambiguous statements invoking his Omoto view of the world(s).
"We ceaselessly pray that fights should not occur. For this reason we strictly prohibit matches in Aikido. Aikido's spirit is that of loving attack and that of peaceful reconciliation. In this aim we bind and unite the opponents with the power of love. By love we are able to purify others." (Ibid.)
"一国を浸入し一人を殺すことではなく、みなそれぞれに処を得させて生かし、世界大家族として集いとなって、一元の営みの分身分業として働けるようにするのが、合気道の目標 であり、宇宙建国の大精神であります。これが明治御帝の大御心であったと、今日なお迎いでおります。絶えずこの祈りによって争いをさせんようにする。たから合気道は試合を 厳禁している。がその実は大なる愛の攻撃精神、和合平和への精神である。それがために自己の愛の念力をもって相手を全部からみむすぶ。愛があるから相を手浄めることができ るのです。" (Ibid.)
COMMENT. In this paragraph, the omissions in the English version, underlined in the Japanese original, are rather curious. First, Ueshiba declares that one should not invade another country and kill even a single person in the process. One should encourage everyone to flourish, in accordance with the individual's ‘mission' and collect everyone together in a Big World Family. Ueshiba regards the purpose of aikido as to do precisely this: it is the Great Spirit of making the Universe one Country. He adds that this was spirit of the Meiji Emperor and he has this aim even now. (The Meiji Emperor reigned from 1868 to 1912 and during this period Japan broke free of the shackles of Tokugawa rule and became a world power, waging two major wars in the process. Ueshiba himself fought in one of these: the irony should not be missed.)
Kisshomaru then begins the translated paragraph with the pious hope that ‘fights' should not occur and this is given as the reason why shiai are ‘strictly forbidden' in aikido. I do not think I am the first person to be perplexed at the tortuous logic behind this connection between piety and the forbidden championships. Without the Omoto-steeped references to the World Family, the Great Spirit, and the Prayer against arasoi [争い: which can have a much wider connotation than mere ‘fights' and can include major wars; it completely fits the opening statement about invading another country], the connection lacks any meaningful context. In my opinion, the sentiment is quite pacifist in tone and actually belies Kisshomaru's oft-quoted statements that Morihei Ueshiba was never a pacifist.
We then come to another statement of the real reason why shiai are banned in aikido. We will see in the next section that Ueshiba makes use of the ai [合] as ai [愛] homonymy and this is the basis for the references to ‘loving attack' and peaceful reconciliation. Ai no muchi
[愛の鞭: ai is love; muchi is a whip or rod, with which to beat someone] is a favourite Japanese metaphor, often resorted to by strict parents—just like Morihei Ueshiba himself. From Kisshomaru's remarks in his autobiography, Morihei Ueshiba embodied the famous Japanese proverb almost to the letter. The four things most to be feared by Japanese are jishin, kaminari, kaji, oyaji [地震 雷 火事 親父: earthquakes, thunder, fires, fathers]. Ai no muchi
was also a favourite metaphor employed by guards in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps as an excuse for torturing their prisoners. (Gavin Daws' Prisoners of the Japanese
is a good reference here: see the bibliography.)
is the term used by both Kenji Tomiki and Kisshomaru Ueshiba in their respective accounts of the dispute that led to the former's separation from the Aikikai and the creation of his own organization. In his biography, Kisshomaru gives his account of a certain meeting between Kenji Tomiki and Morihei Ueshiba in Iwama, directly after the war. It will be appropriate here to give Kisshomaru's account of this meeting and I have given the Japanese text with a direct translation.
氏はそれ以前、シベリア抑留時代に ＜合気体操＞ というもの独自に創案し、日本に帰るや否や、岩間に父を訪ねまして、父の前で今後はこういう形で合気道を普及したい、そ の体操を演じました。
"Before this (Kisshomaru briefly summarizes Tomiki's early training in the Kodokan and Kobukan), Mr Tomiki had developed for himself something called Aiki Taiso, when he was detained in Siberia (as a Japanese prisoner of war) As soon as he returned to Japan, or very soon afterwards, he went to see my father in Iwama and demonstrated the exercises in front of him, since he wanted to popularize postwar aikido in such a form."
(『合気道一路』, pp. 185-187.)
"Having seen this demonstration, my father stated angrily, ‘If you call something like this aiki, it will cause a problem.' However, Mr Tomiki strongly maintained his own position."
One should note here that, unless he was resorting to extreme understatement, Morihei Ueshiba did not actually forbid Tomiki from doing such exercises; he stated that ‘problems would arise' if he called these exercises ‘aiki.' This is also a crucial point. Editors and translators of Morihei Ueshiba's discourses tend to be fond of casually identifying ‘aiki' with ‘aikido' and simply assume that the two terms are synonymous. This is not the case. Secondly, the term that Kisshomaru attributes to his father is komaru
, which is usually defined in terms of three other concepts, which are distinct, but similar in meaning: (1) 難儀する [nan-gi suru
]: to be inconvenienced by something of very relative importance (as, for example, from a troublesome disease, or from not having an umbrella on a rainy day); (2) 貧窮する [hin-kyuu suru
]: to be in dire circumstances (financially); (3) 当惑する [tou-waku suru
]: to be embarrassed, for example, by not knowing the right course of action to take. The first sense seems to me most appropriate in this case.
Also of some importance is that fact that both Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Kenji Tomiki were acutely conscious of their place in, and their respective obligations to, organizations. Kisshomaru Ueshiba was head of the Tokyo dojo and was urgently seeking ways of making aikido popular after the war, whereas Kenji Tomiki was a member of the teaching faculty of a prestigious private university and was therefore a specialist in educational techniques and principles—an interest that he shared with his judo teacher, Jigoro Kano. Over them both stood Morihei Ueshiba, who was not an academic and who appears to have believed that any knowledge of the art had to be ‘stolen' from the master or teacher. Both Morihei Ueshiba and Kenji Tomiki had close connections with the Omoto religion, but these connections took each of them in completely separate directions.
XI: 果物 / Kudamono: Martial Arts as Sports?
Since the IAF is a member of a large international sports association, it is worth spending some time considering Morihei Ueshiba's view of ‘western' sports. As a background to the discussion, and giving a nod to the methods used in the translation seminars that I used to attend at Harvard, I have given different versions of part of a discourse given Morihei Ueshiba that appears in the Takemusu Aiki
volume. I give each version, paragraph by paragraph, and in each segment the Japanese is followed by three translations: two in English and one in French. My own comments follow each block of paragraphs.
"武産合気とは、すべての営みの世を顕幽神三界を守り、和合させ、栄えさす所の役目の奉公であり、経倫の本義を明らかにして、その大道をみそぎ、健全なる大道へのご奉公に 献身するものである、と私は確信してやまない。" (高橋, 『武産合気』, p. 49.)
"Takemusu aiki is a service we offer in order to protect the worlds in which all Universal activity occurs, that is, the three Worlds: Appearance, Subconscious and Divine, and help them to harmonize with each other and flourish. We call it "takemusu aiki" when we clarify the true meaning of God's works, purify the Great Way and dedicate ourselves to assist the Great Way to become wholesome. This is my firm belief." (Translated by Sonoko Tanaka, and printed in Aikido Journal. The text was downloaded from the second of four installments on the related website: http://members.aikidojournal.com/pri...r-of-aikido-2/.)
"Takemusu aiki functions as and maintains three dimensions—manifest, hidden, divine—throughout the universe; it balances those three dimensions and nourishes their development. Takemusu aikiclarifies these workings of the universe, and allows us to cleanse our environment and act in a beneficial manner. It can bring us to perfection. I believe this completely." (John Stevens, Heart of Aikido, pp. 51-52.)
"Je suis convaincu que takemusu aiki, c'est servir le rôle le de protection, d'harmonisation et de développement heureux des modes gouvernants que sont le monde apparent, le monde des morts et le mondes de dieux. Mais c'est aussi éclaircir la signification première de l'administration, purifier la grande voie, se dévouer au service de la grande voie juste." (Kurihara, Régnier, Traversi (trad.), Takemusu Aiki, Vol II, p. 51 -- 52.)
COMMENT. I hope that AikiWeb
readers will understand and sympathize with the struggle that Morihei Ueshiba's deshi must have had had in trying to make sense of what he said in his dojo discourses, for the Japanese text is obscure and Ueshiba also assumes an acquaintance with Omoto theology that the deshi would not have possessed.
Working through the Japanese text and translations, I was reminded of trying to make sense of Aristotle, as I was researching for my doctoral thesis. Aristotle was originally from Macedonia, not Athens, and his Metaphysics
has come down to us as obscure notes for the lectures he delivered at his school in Athens (called the Lyceum). Aristotle had been a student of Plato in the latter's Academy. In the Metaphysics
, he had Plato in his sights, and in his attacks on his ‘Sensei' he assumed that his hearers would have had a detailed knowledge of Plato's middle and later philosophy. To make the best sense of Aristotle's Greek lecture notes, it was necessary to examine the earliest Greek commentaries, the later translations into Latin, and then the recent scholarly English, French, and German versions. Only then was it possible to see the full extent of all the possibilities. I have followed a similar method with Morihei Ueshiba's text.
Morihei Ueshiba's Byakko Shinko Kai readers might well have had a detailed knowledge of the Omoto theology that Ueshiba uses as the vehicle for his discourses, which were given between 1958 and 1961 and edited by Hideo Takahashi from tape recordings, but, with few exceptions, his prewar uchideshi did not have this knowledge and his postwar deshi, in particular, could not have been expected to have it, unless they had acquired the knowledge for themselves as a result of their own private study.
All three translators have attempted to make sense of a difficult text, and so I also hope it will also be clear to what extent the translations are in fact as much a matter of personal judgment as of strict accuracy. Each translator makes judgements as to what the text means, and this reveals some striking differences in interpretation. My aim here is not to give an explication de texte
in the French way, but to draw attention to Morihei Ueshiba's view of ‘western' sports and kyoso.
For example, each translation has a slightly different interpretation of the ‘three worlds' [顕幽神三界]. For Sonoko Tanaka, the worlds are Appearance, Subconscious, and Divine (i.e., capitalized nouns
, denoting objects or things); for Stevens, the worlds are manifest, hidden, and divine (i.e., un-capitalized adjectives
, modifying objects or things); for the French translators, the worlds are also objects or things, but separate entities
: the world that is apparent, the world of the dead, and the world of the deities. I think that to have any understanding of this concept, a knowledge of Omoto theological cosmology is essential, especially the Omoto interpretation of Japan ancient myths. I believe that this is the case, even if it is argued that Morihei Ueshiba was really using the concepts as a metaphor, or code, for something completely different. The best way of understanding metaphors is to be in a position to compare the ground
of the metaphor, as a necessary condition for understanding the argument
, which is the analogy chosen for the metaphor itself.
"それ故、我国の武道はスポーツとはいわない。武道とは自己を作る、自己を完成させるところのものである。ことに、自己を作った上は、すべてを立派に成功させ、そしてまず第一に人類として森羅万象を守らねばいけない。" (高橋, pp. 49-50.)
"Therefore, the martial arts (budo) of our country are not called sports. The purpose of martial arts is to shape and perfect ourselves. Once we build ourselves up, we have to realize everything successfully and, first of all, we, as human beings, must protect all nature." (Tanaka / Pranin.)
"True budo can never be a sport. In budo we strive to refine and perfect our characters. If we can perfect our characters, we can accomplish anything; in that spirit we as human beings can protect the environment from harm." (Stevens, p. 52.)
"De ce fait, concernant le budo de Japon, on ne dit pas « sport ». Le budo, c'est par quoi nous nous formons et nous nous perfectionnons. Après s'être formé, il importe de faire advenir chaque chose d'une façon merveilleuse. En premier lieu, en tant qu'être humain, il faut protéger les dix mille choses d'univers. " (Kurihara, Régnier, Traversi, op.cit., p. 51 -- 52.)
COMMENT. From the presence of それ故 at the beginning of the section , it is clear that the first section was intended by Morihei Ueshiba to serve as a justification for what follows: because of all the things that takemusubi aiki
is supposed to do and achieve, budo cannot be regarded as a sport. Sonoko Tamaka and the French translators keep to the use of names or labels, what the thing is called, whereas Stevens does resort to such semantic niceties and refers to what the thing really is.
Morihei Ueshiba seems to have forgotten—if he ever knew it in the first place—the long tradition of western sport as character building and especially the connection of sport with the version of Christianity known as ‘muscular Christianity.' The idea that sport builds character was also the foundation of the ‘amateur' sportsmanship that underlay Baron Coubertin's dream of a revived Olympics, based as this was on a romantic view of the sporting traditions of ancient Greece.
Consequently, in the first part of the above paragraph, one could substitute "スポーツ" for "武道" and the proposition expressed in Ueshiba's second sentence would be equally true of sports. In the second part of the paragraph, however, this identification would be more open to question, since "protecting all nature" / "森羅万象を守る" was not part of Coubertin's dream. (To assist the AikiWeb
‘Academy of Japanese,' I have underlined the relevant terms in the Japanese original and in the three translations.)
"我国には、本来西洋のようなスポーツというものはない。日本の武道がスポーツとなって盛んになった、と喜んでいる人がいるが、日本の武道を知らぬも甚しいもので ある。" (高橋, p. 50.)
"In our country, originally, we do not have such sports as people have in Western countries. Some people are delighted to say that the Japanese martial arts have gained in popularity since they became sports. However, this is a gross misunderstanding that shows they do not know at all what the Japanese martial arts really are." (Tanaka / Pranin.)
"Our country never developed Western-style competitive sports, but these days there are those among us who are glad that martial arts are becoming sports. That, however, is a gross misunderstanding of the true nature of budo." (Stevens, p. 52.)
"À l'origine, au Japon, il n'y avait pas de sport comme en Occident. Il y a des gens qui se réjouissent de voir le budo prospérer de devenant un sport, mais ce sont des gens qui ignorent totalement ce que c'est le budo japonaise." (Kurihara, Régnier, Traversi, op.cit., p. 51 -- 52.)
COMMENT. In this paragraph Morihei Ueshiba makes a striking claim and it needs to be examined critically. One example of an imported ‘western' sport is baseball, which was brought to Japan around the time of the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Japan developed a liking for western culture, but this eventually led to a nationalistic reaction. As a result, the Japanese called the game they had imported by another name, yakyu
[野球], which was specially invented and which is still sometimes thought to have subtle cultural / spiritual differences from the Western be-su-bo-ru
Another example of the Japanese counterpart of a ‘western' sport is sumo
[相撲] and for some Japanese friends of mine, there really is a difference between wrestling and sumo. When pushed, however, they tend to argue that, though in wrestling and sumo both sides win or lose (for sumo matches are called shiai
and there is a referee), sumo is more ‘spiritual' than wrestling and is certainly regarded as an example of budo. On the other hand, a number of my Japanese friends had some difficulty when considering sumo, in clearly distinguishing between a sport and a martial art. Japan's amateur
sumo organization is represented internationally by the International Sumo Federation, which, like the IAF, is a member of SportAccord. However, this organization is a mere weakling when compared to Japan's professional
sumo organization, called the Nihon Sumo Kyokai [日本相撲協会] . The supposed ‘spiritual' quality of this organization coexists with a vast amount of wealth, with regular rumours occurring of links with gambling dens and Japanese gangster groups. In his youth Morihei Ueshiba practiced sumo and was very good at it, and I suspect that he would certainly have considered sumo as a budo. After all, the first sumo contest was supposedly held by some early deities and was recorded in the Kojiki
. According to Kisshomaru Ueshiba, some professional sumo wrestlers occasionally trained at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, including the yokozuna
"スポーツとは、遊技であり、遊戯である。魂のぬけた遊技である。魄（肉体）のみの競争なのである。つまり、ざれごとの競争である。" (高橋, ibid.)
"Sports are games and pastimes that do not involve the spirit. They are competitions only between physical bodies and not between souls. Thus, they are competitions merely for the sake of pleasure." (Tanaka / Pranin.)
"Sports are games and a form of play. They are games, played by physical entities, not matters of the spirit. In other words, they are mere competition." (Stevens, ibid.)
"Le sport, c'est un jeu, un divertissement. C'est une activité sans l'âme spirituelle : c'est une exercice d'adresse de l'âme corporelle (le corps du chair) et non de l'âme spirituelle. " (Kurihara, Régnier, Traversi, op.cit.)
COMMENT. Morihei Ueshiba's abrupt dismissal of the superficiality and decadence of ‘western' sports, which are strikingly contrasted with the shining virtues of Japanese budo, need to be placed in a proper cultural context. The Meiji Restoration in 1868 led to a fascination with all things ‘western' that was followed not long afterwards by a strong reaction: a public proclamation of the uniqueness of Japanese culture, in contrast to the ‘decadence' of the ‘western' imports. This was a ‘nativist' reaction, and had the unfortunate consequence that Japanese-ness was regarded as an innate virtue, but one to be developed and fostered, while its antithesis was a vice and had to be shunned. The period during which the fascination and the reaction especially flourished was the period between around 1800 and 1945.
Morihei Ueshiba's comments should be compared with the position of the present-day Aikikai. This organization is the inheritor of the tradition created by the Ueshiba family to proclaim these shining virtues and is duly recognized by the Japanese education ministry. However, the affairs of aikido and the Aikikai are handled by the Sports Section (the Japanese term being スポーツ課). We have mentioned sumo above, but kendo, also, has a similar problem, which the International Kendo Federation tries to solve by making a similar distinction to that made by Morihei Ueshiba here, but without the latter's acerbic comments. Like sumo, kendo has shiai, with referees and flags, but the spiritual side of kendo and the rituals are also heavily emphasized, with the bouts and flags being regarded as icing on the very substantial cake of personal training and the links of present-day kendo with Japan's ancient sword arts.
Again, Ueshiba takes for granted Omoto theology, according to which a person is composed of two souls: the spiritual soul [kon
: 魂], and the corporeal soul [haku
: 魄]. At death one goes ‘upwards' and other goes ‘downwards' (all other things being equal). The kon goes up to the divine realm, whereas the haku goes down to the world of the dead—and previous columns have devoted much attention to discussing the population of these two places.
It is hard to miss the Manichaean flavor of Ueshiba's thinking, according to which the body is a vehicle for mere pastimes, games and pleasure. The French translation has jeu
and, in fact, the Chinese characters differ in only one respect. Yugi
[遊技] and yugi
[遊戯] have almost the same meaning, but the second characters are different. The first character, yu
, is common and can be read as asobu
and the English equivalents are to play, to be idle, to enjoy oneself. In the case of the first yugi
[技] is also read as waza
, and these are familiar to aikidoists as techniques. However, in the case of the second yugi
[戯] can also be read as tawamureru
[to play, jest, sport, flirt] , tawakeru
[to act foolishly], or jazareru
[to be playful, to gambol]. Clearly, for Ueshiba, both compound terms denote wanton dissipation and are quite inappropriate for the very serious business of keeping the three worlds in harmony. Stevens, I believe, misconstrues the meaning of kyoso, restricting it to "the games played by the physical entities." In my opinion, it is clear from this section that Ueshiba regarded kyoso as a common activity, but good kyoso and bad kyoso were distinguished by their respective objects and aims. In this respect, the Tanaka / Pranin translation keeps the closest to the Japanese original.
Love makes the Budo world(s) go round.
"日本の武道とは、すべてを和合させ守護する、そしてその世を栄えさせる愛の実行の競争である。" (高橋, ibid.)
"The Japanese martial arts are a competition in how we can express and realize love that unites and protects everything in harmony and helps this world to prosper." (Tanaka / Pranin.)
"Budo, however, is a means to maintain and promote harmony; it is combat in the spiritual realm, ruled by Love. Budo helps make the world prosper." (Stevens, ibid.)
"Le budo japonais est une concurrence de l'amour agissant pour harmoniser et protéger toutes les choses, faire prospérer ce monde. " (Kurihara, Régnier, Traversi, ibid.)
COMMENT. This "very serious business" is explained here and to express it, Ueshiba uses the ai
[愛: love] metaphor, emphasized by Kisshomaru in his application for the resurrected Aikikai's foundation status, discussed earlier. (In the following explication de texte
, the Japanese terms are italicized and the grammatical order is changed to reflect the word order of normal English, with the various particles omitted.)
Accordingly, as a Japanese budo
, takemusu aiki
is indeed kyoso
[競争: competition, rivalry], but kyoso
of / concerning the jikko
[実行: putting into practice; carrying out, realizing] of ai
[愛: love], which does two things: (1) it shugo suru
[守護する: protects, defends] the wago sase
[和合させ: maintaining in harmony of] subete
[すべて: everything] , and (2) it sakae-saseru
[栄えさせる: causes to thrive, prosper and flourish] sono yo
[その世: this world].
If we remove the brackets and some other items, we are left with the following: As a Japanese
takemusu aiki is competition / rivalry, that puts in practice / carries out / realizes love, which (1) protects / defends / maintains everything in harmony, and (2) causes this world to thrive / prosper / flourish.
In this respect, the Tanaka / Pranin translation and the French translators do a slightly better job than John Stevens in keeping to the Japanese original, but the latter's version reads more like modern English and less like ‘translation-ese.'
"世の中の守るところの道は、霊魂を守り、魄の世を守り、魂魄調和のとれたアウンの呼吸をもって、すべての生成化育の道を悉く守り、栄えの道を愛育することの競争である。 この競争こそナギナミ二尊をしての大神の活躍ご活動を実在に、今日の世を創ったと同一なのである。(高橋, ibid.)
"The Way that preserves this world is a competition to protect the spirit and also the physical world. It is a competition to completely guard the Way of birth and growth of all nature, and to lovingly cultivate the Way of flourishing of all, through the breath of A-UM (breathing out and in) in which the spirit and physical body are balanced in harmony. This competition was exactly the same activity of the creation of today's world engaged in by the Great God through the two deities of Izanagi and Izanami." (Tanaka / Pranin.)
"Our way is a fight to the finish: we strive ceaselessly to unify body and spirit and create harmony in all physical and spiritual spheres; we make things develop; we base our activities on Love. In simpler terms, we call this process the cosmic breath of A [alpha] and UN [omega], symbolizing the unity of body and spirit. In Shinto cosmology this process is described as the interaction between the gods Izanagi [male] and Izanami [female] that created the present world." (Stevens, ibid.)
"La voie qui protége le monde est une concurrence pour cultiver avec amour les voies de la prospérité en protégeant l'âme spirituelle, mais aussi le monde de l'âme corporelle. Autrement dit, il s'agit de protéger l'ensemble des voies de production et de développement de toutes choses grâce à la respiration AUM qui réalise l'harmonie des âmes spirituelle et corporelle. Cette concurrence est celle qui se livrent, en vertu de l'action du Grand Dieu, les deux divinités, Izanami et Izanagi lors de la création de ce monde." (Kurihara, Régnier, Traversi, ibid.)
COMMENT. Morihei Ueshiba continues the explanation given in the preceding section, by following his usual method of restating what he stated before, but expounding it different terms. Here he elaborates on how the michi
and how this actually works. He also connects this creative process with the original work of creation by the two male and female deities. I think that this paragraph, with its references to ナギナミ (Izanagi / Izanami) and 大神 (the Great God), shows very clearly the Omoto theological superstructure that Morihei Ueshiba was using as the vehicle for his ultimate exposition of kyoso. It is a refinement of the ancient mythology of the creation myths recorded in the Kojiki
. All the translations deal with kyoso
in different ways: for Tanaka, it is a straight competition; for Stevens, it is a "fight to the finish" at the beginning, but becomes a "process" at the end. For the French translators, it is "concurrence." In all cases, however, it is kyoso
in order to do something—to mamoru
[preserve and maintain] an important kind of order: sc. the harmony of the three worlds, rather than a kyoso
against undescribed forces or agencies, or against someone else.
One important point to be noted from the above analysis is Morihei Ueshiba's rather wide interpretation of the term kyoso
. Western Sports are kyoso, but are undesirable because the kyoso is directed to only one of the two parts of the soul, the haku
[魄: corporeal part], and not the kon
[魂: spiritual part]; Japanese budo is also kyoso, but a kyoso that is directed to a much worthier end, which is associated with the ai [愛] that maintains the balance between the three worlds and causes the present world to prosper. So, in Ueshiba's view, aikido does not do competition, not because competition is bad in itself, but because the competition exemplified by ‘western' sports is undesirable, catering, as he believes it does, for only one part of the soul and doing this by means of activities that Ueshiba considered frivolous.
Sport / Sports
Having looked at Morihei Ueshiba's own views about matches and the undesirable nature of ‘western' sports, we are now in a position to consider a more general question, namely, the question of the relationship between an art like aikido, especially in its resurrected postwar form, and modern sport. The waters here are somewhat muddied by the fact stated earlier, namely, that in Japan, where Japanese martial arts originated, the Aikikai is a foundation that is indeed recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, Sports and Technology [MEXT], but, as we stated earlier, questions relating to aikido come under the purview of the Ministry's sports sections. Even so, and even in the face of Morihei Ueshiba's strict denials, the issue of whether or not aikido is a sport is not one that admits of any easy resolution.
The GAISF never attempted to define sport and its successor, SportAccord, also skirted the issue by including members in a wide spectrum, comprising martial arts, combat sports, and non-combat competitive sports, such as soccer and cricket. For AIMS, also, sport became an undefined umbrella covering the same wide spectrum. As a result, there is little point in seeking any enlightenment from international sports organizations about the nature of sport; it is simply assumed to be ‘a good thing' and thus highly desirable. This is fine as far as it goes (sport is a good thing), but only as far as it goes (sport is left undefined or its nature assumed to be so self-evident as not to need definition). For aikido, this is not really a satisfactory situation, for sport is seen as something to be avoided because of its assumed competitive nature, as was clearly demonstrated by the IWGA. To my mind, the issue for the IAF and the IWGA really comes down to whether competitive matches are included in the definition of sport as an essential part of the definition, or not, and also whether the present-day Aikikai, bound as it is to interpreting Morihei Ueshiba's discourses as sacred texts, with their own brand of infallibility, is even in a position to understand this question.
Sport / Sports and Competition
There is a vast amount of contemporary literature on sport and the philosophy of sport, which simply did not exist in Japan and Japanese at the time when Morihei Ueshiba was alive and active. Ueshiba was a product of his time and perhaps can be forgiven for having such negative opinions about ‘western' sport, but times have changed and it would be unwise for a contemporary organization like the Aikikai or the IAF to maintain such a negative view. Sport
is a term covering a wide range of activities, of which competitive matches are only one. In other words, to identify the whole of sport with competitive matches, on the one hand, or with idle games and pastimes, on the other, is a gross over-simplification. I have mentioned Baron de Coubertin's ideas about amateur sport above, but I think the best way of discussing the definition of sport and sports is to use a model that was pioneered by the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, especially in his later writings. The prime examples here are two work edited and put together by his disciples, known, respectively, as The Blue and Brown Books
and Philosophical Investigations
. The advantage of this approach is that it allows one to look at sport and sports more dispassionately than might be warranted, given the current problems affecting doping and corruption in the Olympics.
Ludwig Wittgenstein and Morihei Ueshiba
In many ways, Wittgenstein seems to have been similar in character and circumstances to Morihei Ueshiba. He came from a reasonably wealthy family, but seems to have had little regard for money and property, and in fact gave much of his away. He served in the army, in World War I, and seems to have been changed by this experience. Like Ueshiba with bujutsu and budo, Wittgenstein believed that philosophy was something that had to be practiced—to be learned by doing, not by academic study—and that this was something that required intense, almost ascetic, training. He was a ‘loner', but attracted a small band of disciples with whom he had similar relationships to those that Morihei Ueshiba had with his deshi. Wittgenstein's memory was also preserved by his disciples—and also with a similar intensity to that with which his prewar uchi-desh and postwar deshi preserved their memory of Ueshiba. In fact, this went so far that some of Wittgenstein's disciples were popularly thought to have cultivated his own personal mannerisms, as well as his philosophy, and it is these disciples who have become the ‘shihans' and ‘high priests' preserving his memory—including the memory of their own relationship with him and how, based on this memory, they believed that his philosophy should be taught.
Wittgenstein wrote one technical book in the early part of his life, for which he eventually obtained his Ph.D. Halfway through his life, however, he completely changed his philosophy and adopted a set of ideas that were completely opposed to his earlier thinking. On the other hand, it seems that he did not do this as a result of meeting anyone extraordinary, like Onisaburo Deguchi, and he never considered himself to be a disciple or deshi of any other philosopher. For Wittgenstein, philosophy was something that had to be practiced: it required intense training—and by the individual. It was not something that could be studied in a class. He remained single all his life and so his legacy was preserved, not by family members and male descendants, but by his disciples, one of whom acquired some expertise in the German language specifically in order to translate his diaries and notebooks into English. These disciples looked after him after his health declined, until his death.
Wittgenstein never specifically thought about sport as such, but he did spend a great deal of time studying language, definition, and games. I mentioned above that Wittgenstein pioneered a particular language model, which he called ‘language games', and that this model would be of use in connection with the definition of sport. His model involves the use of the general concept of games when describing language and this, together with his prior thinking about language and how it works, deserves closer attention.
Wittgenstein's Model of Definition and Games
Wittgenstein's early work was called the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
and was an attempt to define the world largely in mathematical terms. The entire work consists of a set of numbered propositions using the decimal system. In this scenario, language had to be ‘logically perfect' so that it could fulfill its given role of ‘mirroring' the world as perfectly as possible. In any case, Wittgenstein conceived reality as "all that is the case" -- as facts and not things, and as such could be expressed only in the form of logical propositions. He is famous for the final Proposition 7 in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
, which states that, "The things about which we cannot speak we must pass over in silence.
Reality and Language
Space does not permit a detailed examination of the changes in Wittgenstein's thinking, but if the world itself is conceived as the ‘things we can speak about' in the way specified, then this ultimate reality can be grasped only through language, the whole purpose of which is then to ‘conform' to this reality in the best way possible. The metaphor that Wittgenstein used in his early writings was that of a mirror, with language being the ‘mirror-image' of the ‘world.' As a result, he spent several years struggling to find a ‘logically perfect language' that would ‘mirror' the world as perfectly as possible. At some point, however, Wittgenstein saw that this scenario was seriously misconceived, to such an extent that he abandoned it altogether and sought another one. The new scenario, or model, turned things round completely, so to speak, with the result that language no longer ‘mirrored' the world; rather, the world was itself ‘mirrored' -- approached, even perceived and conceptualized, through language.
Wittgenstein also saw that mirroring was not a good metaphor, since the fact of language imposed its own limitations and also raised other issues, with the result that the new model was much more difficult to grasp than the old one. This can be seen from the mirror image itself. The whole point of the image in a mirror is that it is an image: the mirror presents a physical image of the object or person that is being reflected and not the other way around. However, the mirror can also be an image in a different sense: the mirror image being an image is itself a conceptual ‘image' of a different kind: a metaphor, which structures the way one uses language to express the relation between the mirror and the viewer. Moreover, the analogical relation between the mirror-as-metaphor itself and the person or thing of which the metaphor is a metaphor, is quite a different relation from that existing between a physical image seen in the mirror and the thing or person of which it is an image. This insight is the reason why Wittgenstein had to dismantle all the logical apparatus he had constructed previously. The new model took language as the basic starting point, which Wittgenstein famously described as a "form of life."
Reality via Language
If the world itself is approached through language, rather than language being seen as a mere appendage: a logical, quasi-mathematical tool for describing or defining a world via symbols, the focus then shifts to the possibilities—and the limitations—of language, as seen in such terms. Wittgenstein was Austrian and spoke German, but lived for much of his life in Britain and the United States, so he had to adapt to living in cultures where the medium of communication was not his native language. I myself have very practical experience of this. Living in Japan for nearly forty years has required me to approach the world as Wittgenstein had to do: to learn how to see and handle the world in radically different ways from the way one still approaches it as a native speaker of one's first language. Japanese is thought to be a notoriously difficult language to learn, so much so that the Jesuit missionary, Francis Xavier, considered that the language had been invented by the Devil himself. In this respect, however, Xavier was not helped at all either by his Japanese interpreters, who always told him what they thought he wanted to hear.
On the other hand, after the initial structural forms have been mastered, studying the Japanese language at a more advanced level is sometimes presented as making a study of Japanese culture itself, as if there is a direct, one-to-one link between the language learned and the culture that is communicated, with nothing in between by way of a filter. I do not think it is possible to generalize the matter of this supposed link to other languages, certainly not to the culture of England via the English language. This difference is reflected in the fact that English as a Second or Foreign Language (EFL, ESL) is a recognized language subject, taught all over the world—and taught specifically without reference to any proprietorial ‘national' culture. With Japanese as a Foreign Language, on the other hand, this is much more difficult to do and even the subject names are different. In Hiroshima University, overseas students learn Nihongo
[日本語: the language of Japan, but intended for non-Japanese students], whereas native Japanese students in the Faculty of Literature learn Kokugo
[国語: ‘the language of the nation']—and which is occasionally held by more conservative Japanese to be constitutionally impossible for non-Japanese to learn—because they have not been born as Japanese. It is needless to add that this cultural ‘nationalism' is especially relevant to—and evident in—Japanese martial arts and combat sports, and even more especially to a ‘traditional' Japanese martial art like aikido, which is considered by the Aikikai to be a spiritual Way, such that acquiring proficiency in the art also involves acquiring a deep knowledge of the culture in which the art is embedded. This is a complex and delicate subject, capable of arousing much passion on both sides, which I will discuss further in Part Two of this essay, when considering Geert Hofstede's research and theories concerning ‘national' cultures.
Games & ‘Family Resemblances'
At some point in Philosophical Investigations
, Wittgenstein is challenged to define a game. Here is his response:
"66. Consider for example the proceedings that we call ‘games'. I mean board-games, card-games, ball-games, Olympic games, and so on. What is common to them all?—Don't say: "There must be something common, or they would not be called ‘games'"—but look and see whether there is anything common to all.—For if you look at them you will not see something that is common to all, but similarities, relationships, and a whole series of them at that. … Look, for example at board games, with their multifarious relationships. Now pass on to card-games; here you fine many correspondences with the first group, but many common features drop out, and others disappear. When we pass next to ball-games, much that is common is retained, but much is lost. Are they all ‘amusing'? Compare chess with noughts and crosses. Or is there always winning and losing, or competition between players? Think of patience. In ball-games there is winning and losing but when a child throws his ball against a wall and catches it again, this feature has disappeared. Look at the parts played by skill and luck; and at the difference between skill in chess and skill in tennis. Think now of games like ring-a-ring-a-roses; here is an element of amusement, but how many other characteristic features have disappeared! And we can go on through the many, many other groups of games in the same way; can see how similarities crop and disappear. …
"67. I can think of no better expression to characterize these similarities than "family resemblances"; for the various resemblances between members of a family: build, features, colour of eyes, gait, temperament, etc. etc. overlap and criss-cross in the same way. And I shall say, ‘games' form a family." (Philosophical Investigations, pp. 31-32.)
Wittgenstein's example of games is quite relevant to aikido, since the transfer of the "family resemblance" metaphor to sports is reasonably straightforward and, in fact, being sports could well be one of the ‘family resemblances' of some games, but not of others. Of course, one could also analyze sports in precisely the same way and this has been done by one of the professors who taught at University College London when I was a graduate student there. I think it is important to emphasize an important point here. In describing games in terms of family resemblances, it would not make any sense to single out one particular family resemblance as being especially
‘defining', in preference to all the others. The fact that the resemblances are all family
resemblances has to be taken for granted to begin with.
Sport After Wittgenstein
As I explain in Part Three, I began the practice of cross-country marathon running when I was a student at Sussex University. When I was there in the 1960s, Sussex was a very small university and its location made it a very attractive place to study. The campus was set in open countryside, in a part of England called the South Downs, which was an extensive area of rolling hills and valleys that stretched several miles from east to west and extended down to the sea in some places. After my initial exposure to aikido, I decided that I had to become fitter and as I lived on the campus, running over the hills alone was a very attractive form of exercise. Was I doing sport? Almost certainly—though this has been denied. Was I competing? Not at all. Initially, I used to run entirely alone, but was in no way training for a race, so keeping up a fast pace mattered only because I wanted to make the training ‘work'. In fact, I used the activity to do some fairly elaborate breathing exercises, since I considered it essential to regulate the breathing, otherwise it would have been impossible for me to run for 30 miles without stopping. Even when some friends joined me, later, it was always made very clear that there was no competition to see who could run the fastest. Since we largely followed the same course each time, any member of the group could come forward and set the pace, but there was no obligation to maintain a certain speed—or even to run the entire 30 miles. Since the preferred route was a circular route, it was very easy for a member of the group to drop out and walk or jog back to the university by a shorter route.
Colin McGinn, the professor at UCL referred to above, produced a short book entitled, simply, Sport
. Throughout the book, he does a similar exercise to Wittgenstein with ‘family resemblances', but with sport, rather than just games. In the concluding chapter, he repeats a few of the ‘family resemblances' he has discussed in detail earlier. Since so many of these are also seen in aikido training, it will be appropriate to conclude this section by summarizing the final chapter, entitled, "Athletic Investigations," and offering some comparisons with aikido training.
McGinn's defence of the ‘family resemblances' approach is that to investigate sport in any other way is to risk over-simplification.
"Trying to discuss the meaning of sport by abstracting away from the details of specific sports strikes me as a fruitless procedure…‘Physicality'
"My aim is not to provide necessary and sufficient conditions for something to be a sport -- that is, to talk about the essence of sport in general -- but rather to articulate on what is typical of sport or at least of many sports. I'm not aiming to analyze the concept, picking apart its supposed constituents, but rather to explore its connections with other concepts: its friends and relatives in the great scheme of things. Wittgenstein would describe sport as one of our ‘forms of life', along with language, science, art, war, music, and se: I want to delineate this form, provide a picture of it. I approach it as a natural phenomenon that occupies a particular role in human life." (Sport, pp. 111-112.)
The first point McGinn makes about sport is its deep connection with Newtonian physics. According to McGinn, athletic activity is a ‘deep tango' of the human organism with Newtonian laws. It mixes the ‘cultural and the physical' in a particularly intimate way. But there are consequences. An athlete must have an especially sensitive relationship to basic physical laws.
"You have to have a little Newtonian homunculus nestled somewhere in your nervous system, with unimpeded access to your muscles. And when you do acquire such knowledge, essentially intuitive and practical as it is, you enter into a relationship with nature that is deep and elemental. You ‘use the Force' quite literally. You are in tune with the basic laws of the universe, becoming one with it." (Op.cit., p. 113.)
I think it is not difficult to see that aikido shares all the features described by McGinn in the quoted paragraph. Morihei Ueshiba, on the other hand, expressed things rather differently. He did not make any mention of Newtonian homunculi in his nervous system, but the Floating Bridge of Heaven did have a certain prominence, for he talked of standing on it, keeping the three worlds in balance. In one respect, he went one better than McGinn, for he believed he actually was
the universe, and not merely in tune with it.
The second aspect of sport is that it is practiced for a reason. McGinn terms this, "asserting our being over the great laws of nature." However, the reasons why we do this are various:
"… fun, amusement, gain of some sort. We use the world as we find it (and also fear it) to constitute activities that serve our human purposes: amusement, competition, fitness, and so on. In this way, we get one over on nature, as it were. Sport co-opts nature, and thus asserts the human over the inhuman." (Ibid.)
So, in his criticisms of ‘western' sports, Morihei Ueshiba was right in some respects, but there are other aspects, also. In Japan, for example, very few people practice aikido and other martial arts as professionals: when I last checked, the teaching staff of the Aikikai numbered only 31 persons, not including Doshu, and they are intended to instruct all over the world, in addition to their teaching duties at the Hombu Dojo. Even some quite senior shihans practice and teach aikido in Japan in addition to their other, professional, activities. However, this does not automatically mean that their aikido is a hobby, or play: it can also be seen as a kind of commitment, even a vocation.
The third aspect noted by McGinn is that sport requires training; though some people are better at sport than others, to the extent that they are thought to have natural gifts; it is not something that comes naturally. There are two aspects to this. First, the body must act in unison with the mind, and, secondly, it must also be able to operate as a whole.
"There must be two sorts of harmony: of the body with the mind, and of different parts of the body with each other. … To be coordinated is to be harmonized: not to be at odds with your own being, fractured and disparate, all over the joint. … We take the body from a condition of disorganized anarchy to one of integrated focus. Surely that is a big part of the attraction of sport." (Ibid.)
Even a cursory glance at some AikiWeb
discussion forums suggests that this training in aikido is both very necessary and not always done very well. It is necessary, also, regardless of the relative importance attached to solo training or to waza.
… Of the Whole Person …
Training, then, is a type of education, but it is the education of the person: that irreducible entity that combines mind and body. This is the fourth aspect noted by McGinn.
"Athletic skill is one type of bodily knowledge (playing a musical instrument is another). Or, to put it more precisely, athletic skill involves the person in knowledge that is indissolubly psycho-physical." (Ibid.)
Training thus requires the mental and the physical: you cannot have one without the other; and the education that results is the education of the whole person. It also never stops. Again, the extension to aikido training is so obvious that it hardly needs mentioning—and this holds true regardless of any dialogue with Newtonian homunculi, or of standing on the floating bridge keeping the three worlds in balance, or of keeping yin and yang or the six harmonies fully in play.
… Who Becomes Good-Looking…
Training also has indispensable aesthetic aspects. In some sports these aspects are dominant, but in all there is economy of movement, also elegance and style. Harmony involves the coordination that inextricably involves the mechanical and the aesthetic. McGinn cites figure skating, diving, gymnastics, boxing, javelin throwing, even dancing. Sometimes in aikido this can become too important, but I vividly remember the time I saw my first teacher execute ukemi: he could do it effortlessly, almost in silence, and in any direction, with or without using his arms, and rising from the mat with either leg forward, and finish up facing any direction. This was something I immediately wanted to be able to do as well as he could.
Japanese university students are generally young, lean and flexible and their aim is to be able to execute ukemi as elegantly as possible. Hence the phenomenon known as kakari geiko [掛かり稽古], in which a senior student throws a junior around in ‘sets' of 50 waza, which are then repeated for as long as both parties can continue, or until another pair takes over. Similar repetition of suburi with a bokken, usually involving several thousand strikes of thrusts, is also a favourite training activity.
… With Correct Feeling…
When sport is aesthetically pleasing, it also feels right. It brings with it what we might call ‘correct feeling.' This is a matter of experiencing oneself as a sort of unity. Not as a compound of two separate elements, but as a unified single entity, working as an organic whole. This unity can also extend into the environment. Mind and body are functioning harmoniously, but you also feel at one with the equipment you are using. "You are the equipment.
My general aim in aikido is not consciously to achieve ‘correct feeling' in any way, since I follow Wittgenstein in not knowing in advance what this will be like. (I think Wittgenstein's discussion on pain behaviour and language is quite relevant here.) However, I have on several occasions when running experienced an awareness that everything was coordinated and that I could continue effortlessly. I have also experienced something like this in aikido.
… And ‘Godlike'
McGinn calls this coordination a sui generis
ontological category and believes it to be close to being godlike. (McGinn was trained in Greek philosophy and Greek aesthetics was an exercise in exploring the divine potentialities of the human being, especially the aesthetics of mind-body coordination as manifested in athletes.) His favourite example is the tennis player Roger Federer.
"The outstanding athlete seems to operate on another plane of coordinated movement, above mere mortals. His body appears as the pure will in motion. This must be why it seems like an abrupt ontological descent when Roger Federer, for no apparent reason, whacks the ball awkwardly into the net. Oh, he's human, after all, we think, shaken from our fantasy. His action has failed to integrate with his intention (feet in the wrong place, usually). One of the nice things about being a god is that this kind of mistake never occurs (unless, I suppose, one of the other more mischievous gods sticks a spoke in the wheel). The tennis gods never flub their second serve." (Op.cit., p. 118.)
I think McGinn has his tongue firmly in his cheek here, but the similarities with phenomena such as executing, or sometimes attempting—and failing—to execute the ‘perfect' waza or ukemi, or of seeing a prospective attacker so fully controlled as to be incapable of any further movement, are so close as to be hardly in need of any emphasis.
Having outlined six virtues of sport, McGinn then turns to the vices. He starts off with a general condemnation of modern professional sport. He imagines a querulous reader, itching to intervene:
"What about all the negative things in sport? What about the commercialization, the tribalism, the injuries, the violence, the drugs, the philistinism, the terrible sports commentators.?" (Ibid.)
"The spectacle of professional sport, as we have it today, is often unlovely, uninspiring and unhealthy. Pumped-up, egotistical, overpaid, irresponsible, crude: these are some of the epithets that spring to mind when considering many of the athletes today (and I am only considering ten pin bowlers here)." (Op.cit., pp. 118-119.)
I wonder what he would think of aikido, bereft as it is of any of the uncomfortable measuring rods that exist in combat sports, like judo randori, BJJ ground-fighting, or bouts in the MMA ring. I will leave AikiWeb
readers to note by themselves any similarities with aikidoists, whether living or dead, professional or amateurs.
McGinn's defence is that since sport is a very complex set of human actions and activities that are essentially goal-directed (the other example he cites being sex), such actions and activities also have an essential moral direction and as such the agents, who are always essential to actions, are also always potentially corruptible, which is why there are such checks as rules, doping tests and anti-doping, for example. Aikido is supposed not to need such checks like doping tests, but nevertheless is firmly in the category of actions that are executed by agents, which are always goal-directed and which always have a persistent and comfortable moral dimension. McGinn includes two items in the category of sporting vices -- and both are very relevant to aikido training.
McGinn regards injuries as a vice of sport, but lessens the supposedly vicious aspects to accidents and the usual aches and pains associated with hard physical activity. He also includes keeping the ego in check, but seems to have a rather romantic view about this.
"You take the rough with the smooth, right? You might suffer while undertaking any worthwhile pursuit -- love, philosophy, or arctic exploration -- but life would be duller without such activities. You must assess and manage the risks, obviously, doing your cost-benefit calculations, but I don't think you'll find that sports are vastly more dangerous than other things you willingly undertake (such as driving a car). In fact, participating in sport helps you to develop a healthy attitude towards risk, since the consequences of error or accident are usually immediate. Rashness and operating above your capacities will quickly be corrected, and it's useful to rid yourself of such tendencies. Sport is a workshop of risk management." (Op.cit., pp. 121-122.)
McGinn does not include among injuries displays of malevolence, whether blatant or disguised as rod-of-love
-type activity. So, his comments are highly rational and ‘reasonable' and would also apply to aikido, in so far as it is a goal-directed physical activity that carries with it the risk of physical injury. However, there is a side to aikido that is not often emphasized in such a discussion and can be illustrated by the following incident. During a training seminar, a yudansha student who was often used as uke told a senior shihan of a recent injury and his unstated assumption was that it was better that he should not be used as uke on this occasion. The shihan retorted that student had come on the mat and his (the shihan's) unstated assumption was that he was fair game: any risk of injury had to be left to the shihan to evaluate. McGinn makes the following remarks about individual students of sport: he probably does not intend it to apply to instructors or coaches, and certainly not to aikido shihans.
"We all know people who consistently (and risibly) overestimate their knowledge, charm, fashion sense, wit and whatnot; they lack a clear sense of their scope and limits. In sports such self-ignorance is quickly exposed; not that it always leads to a course correction -- some people never learn, regrettably." (Ibid.)
A final point is that in some aikido dojos an injury is considered as a mark of pride—of being ‘blooded' so to speak. It is not something to be avoided; it is rather something to be accepted if it occurs, rather like an event in a Greek tragedy. The result is sometimes a certain lack of dojo etiquette, a carefree attitude of not looking before you throw, an attitude that it is someone else's responsibility not to be in the place where an uke is likely to land, not the nage's responsibility to aim for a space and project accurately.
The ‘Evils' of Competition
McGinn spends some space to the supposed evils of competition, but regards it as an evil only if it displayed too nakedly, so to speak. For McGinn, it is unavoidably a zero-sum game, a display of domination the harmful effects of which can be mitigated, not removed, and only by special, even exaggerated, displays of respect. Here McGinn's intellectual roots in Greek thought are clearly revealed, for he admits that the whole purpose of engaging in competition is to do it for the sake of athletic excellence. The result is that a special place on the bottom layer of McGinn's athletic Hell is reserved for ‘ethical egoists',
"holding as they do that your only duty is to yourself: others are merely means, or obstacles, to your own advancement. Competition, for such egoists, is primarily a matter of exerting power over others and coming out on top. Altruism is viewed as foolish or psychologically impossible. But this is a highly questionable moral philosophy. … If we regard competition, instead, as the best means of producing athletic excellence, then it has a higher goal than merely the assertion of one ego over another." (Op.cit., pp. 123-124.)
In any case, since McGinn regards competition as only one feature of sport, including many others, the issue is quite simple: those who do not like competition in sport can easily find a non-competitive sport. So, McGinn's discussion is essentially a riposte to Morihei Ueshiba's views on the fickle character of ‘western' sports, a prime example of which was ancient Greek athletic contests.
McGinn's discussion of failure is included as the final item in the list of sporting vices, but he really regards failure as a kind of virtue—and a friend of the athlete and the scientist alike. It is intended as a conclusion to the whole discussion. As McGinn puts it,
"The characteristic experience of sport, at whatever level, is a feeling of irritation at your own ineptitude. You can never feel complacent. This encourages humility and a striving to do better. The modesty of champions is often completely honest: they know full well what shots they flubbed and the things that still need to be perfected. Finitude is part of the human condition, otherwise known as ‘screwing up'." (Op.cit., p. 126.)
The similarities with executing aikido waza are not difficult to see.
One of the results of McGinn's Wittgensteinian analysis is that sport becomes very difficult to define in absolute terms. Since Wittgenstein argued in similar fashion about games, the discussion of which formed the whole basis of his notion of family resemblances, this should not be surprising. What is surprising, however, is that in one instance McGinn does not practice what he preaches and resorts to the type of scientific ‘absolutist' definition that he has spent his entire book arguing against. Sport
is largely autobiographical and McGinn spends most of it discussing the various sports he has experienced and how they help to establish his ‘family resemblance' view of sport. These include gymnastics, trampolining, diving, pole vaulting, tenpin bowling, table tennis, running, squash, bodybuilding, skiing, ice hockey, swimming, surfing, kayaking, windsurfing, tennis, and kiteboarding—quite a wide selection.
In one chapter, however, McGinn is discussing running and how he took up running to lose weight:
"My weight did start to drop (I was also dieting): the belly looked more sheepish now, less confident of its place in the world. So it was working, but I can't say I ever enjoyed it. You see, running is exercise, not sport. There's a distinction (sorry, running, but you know it's true). Your skills don't measurably improve, only minimal coordination is required and the purpose of it is to improve fitness, not to excel at some specific skilled activity. It's like quick walking with a jogging motion to it." (Sport, p. 34.)
Having spent the whole book explaining why the Wittgensteinian way is the only way to define / describe such a complex activity as doing sport, McGinn decides that running does not qualify as sport and condemns, on the flimsiest of evidence, a highly respected Olympic sport with a very long history. Perhaps he had a bad day. After all, it happens to us all.
McGinn's book is merely one example of a vast amount of contemporary literature on sport and the philosophy of sport, which simply did not exist in Japan and Japanese at the time when Morihei Ueshiba was alive and active. So, with reference to Ueshiba's severe views about ‘western' sports, perhaps we can practice a form of what in Japanese is called mokusatsu
. It is written as 黙殺 [moku
: 黙 / もく = silence; satsu
: さつ / 殺 = killing, i.e. ignoring; passing over], and a polite, possible, and highly ‘Wittgensteinian' rendering was quoted earlier: "The things about which we cannot speak we must pass over in silence"
X: 和菓子: Wagashi , Coffee & Liquors:
Some Emotions Recollected in Tranquility—Or in a Post-Prandial Haze
(NOTE: As the vehicle for grouping these extensive discussions in Part One, I had planned to use the various sections of William Wordsworth's poem The Prelude
. Problems of interpretation arose, however, and formal—and long drawn out—Japanese dining seemed a better metaphor to use. The title of this final section is intended as a nod to the poet, despite the fact that the contents are not particularly emotional, at least in tone. If we keep to the dining metaphor, this would be the time when, even in Japan, everyone sits back suitably replete and with a warm glow of a successful and harmonious interaction with the rest of the world, via the palate and stomach, and savours the cognac, liqueurs, good vintage sake or dessert wine, or delicate green tea, served with higashi
The development of having IAF congresses in Japan had the effect of creating a very close connection between two fundamentally different organizations. I will discuss language and metaphors again in the appendix to this essay, but it is important to underline this difference. One consequence of the development was that there were now two main events at the IAF congress: an essential ‘vertical' element, namely, training under the supervision of the Aikikai, which existed alongside the ‘horizontal' element: the supposedly autonomous and democratic functioning of the federation. Even this last sentence shows the problem: I stated that there were two events at the Congress, but the Aikikai would put this differently and in fact has never called this event simply a congress. The chosen term has always been a taikai [大会: ‘big' meeting, like a jamboree], a descriptive term that covers the combination of a congress [総会: general assembly] and seminar [講習会: training meeting]. Attempts have even been made by the Aikikai to separate these events completely, so that the IAF event (the Congress) and the Aikikai event (the seminar taught by the senior Aikikai shihans and members of the instruction department) would occur at the same location, but be completely separate.
This combination of the vertical and the horizontal goes to the very roots of the IAF as a federation and newer members might not be aware of this. This can be seen both in a congress and in the regular meetings of the elected management committee. In the full congress, decisions were made always by majority voting of some form or another, though at the earlier congresses there seemed to be an unspoken custom that the voting had to be unanimous, such a vote being considered the supreme expression of harmony. Harmony was thought to be the core meaning of the ai
of aikido, which was, "after all, the goal we were all working for, wasn't it?" In the formal management committee meetings day-to-day decisions were made, again, by some form of majority voting. More recently, with the rise of the Internet and social networks, these formal meetings have been supplemented by much individual discussion. There has always been individual discussion, both during congresses and committee meetings, but the growth of such discussions outside such formal events has been both dramatic and generally beneficial, though occasionally somewhat undisciplined.
Another major issue that has affected the IAF since its foundation concerns finances. At the inaugural Congress in 1976, the annual affiliation fee was fixed at one hundred US dollars per member federation and even at the time, it was admitted that the income would be insufficient to carry out the activities of the IAF, as required by its statutes. The suggestion was made at the time that any lack of income could be met by IAF training seminars, but no concrete steps were taken to make this happen, with detailed plans and budget estimates. As a result, the operations of the IAF led to large deficits that were met by the Aikikai. The deficits led to a system of membership fees based on the size of the member federation, in terms of persons training in each dojo, with the larger members paying a higher fee. Since the voting system was not weighted to match the variable membership fees, the disparity was a source of discontent, thought to be out of place in a democratically run federation in which all the members were supposedly ‘equal.'
Yet another major issue, in my opinion, is the tacit mental ‘frame' in which volunteers perceive their volunteering—and I have to admit that I am probably as guilty of having such a ‘frame' as other volunteers for the IAF. It is a great temptation for volunteers to approach their volunteering with the mental frame of, "My way, or the highway: my motivation for volunteering is not open to question. Consequently, since I am not doing this for money, you have to accept my good faith, namely, the particular ‘frame' in which my volunteering is perceived, or find other volunteers." It is very rare for such a bluff to be called.
Finally, I have to state that in my opinion the various issues caused by the IAF's ambiguous structure, its day-to-day direction, its ambiguous relationship with the Aikikai, the precarious state of its finances, and its membership of international sports organizations, have not been solved. Whether they can be solved within the present framework of the IAF, considered as a ‘democratic' federation or ‘friendship association', but one fundamentally allied to and controlled by the Aikikai, remains to be seen.
Language and Nomenclature: Metaphors, Terms and Titles
Since this essay deals with aikido ‘politics', some important indications must be given, first, of some Japanese terms used and the differing ‘political' loads they carry in the context in which they are used and, secondly, of the metaphors that have been used to describe the organizational structure of aikido. Metaphors are very important features of any language and exist as much in Japanese as they do in English. However, the study of metaphors in English literature and linguistics has been radically affected by philosophical thinking, such as that undertaken by Wittgenstein and discussed earlier, in a way that has not occurred in Japanese—as far as I am aware. There is a Japanese translation of George Lakoff's pioneering Metaphors We Live By
, which was influenced by Wittgenstein's thinking, but the idiosyncrasies of this Japanese translation serve as some illustration of the problems involved in translating the metaphors contained in a book on metaphor. For example, the Japanese title of the book is, 『レトリックと人生』, which we can render in English as ‘Rhetoric and Human Life,' and which is somewhat different. The English word ‘metaphor' is served in Japanese by three equivalents: 隠喩 [hi'yu
], 比喩 [inyu
], which is also a figure of speech or simile, and the katakana メタフォア [metafoa
If we reverse the order of discussion and consider this last item first, two principal metaphors have been employed to depict the organizational structure of aikido: the pyramid and the tree.
The pyramid would probably be the best graphic metaphor of the general structure of the organizations offering aikido training itself, but this metaphor presents problems if we consider aikido organizations based on a democratic model, which is manifested to various degrees both by the Aikikai and the IAF. Nevertheless, if we pursue the pyramid metaphor, we can see that the layers of the pyramid are constructed on the basis of two major factors, sometimes in conflict:
(1) The shape of the pyramid necessitates that the base is wider than the apex;
(2) A consequence of the shape is that the base supports the apex.
However, the political relationships in an organization that is shaped and structured like a pyramid do not necessarily mirror the physical relationships.
The tree, with the root system being mirrored by the branches and leaves, has also been used as a metaphor for the organizational and pedagogical relationships usually obtaining in an aikido dojo. The fact of this mirroring leaves it unclear how what is above and below ground in the case of a tree is represented in an aikido dojo. Usually, the trunk of the tree is the shihan, with the branches being the senior students and the leaves being the ‘ordinary' practitioners, but there is the unfortunate implication that if the tree is deciduous, these ‘ordinary' practitioners will cease training and be replaced by new recruits. When the metaphor was explained to me, the point was that the relationship between the trunk, branches and leaves was fixed and immutable (the shihan was fond of referring to the ‘basic laws of the universe' in his discourses) and reflected the (strictly vertical) relationships between the shihan, senior students, and the general dojo membership. Considered as an element in an organizational structure thought by some to be fundamental, democracy has no place in the metaphor of the tree.
Both metaphors fail in some important respects and need to be ‘interpreted' if they are to function as a useful depiction of a dojo organization. They are probably more appropriately used to illuminate the structure of a large organization, like the Aikikai or the IAF, than the structure of a dojo. However, even a dojo normally has a structure, even if this is only the instructor who teaches, and the students who learn. This is especially true if the dojo is part of larger organization, such as a national or regional federation, or is affiliated to some kind of regulatory body, such as the Aikikai, a sports organization, or a government authority.
The metaphor of the pyramid or tower has also been used to illuminate the process of training.
Towers: Leaning, of Babel, or Otherwise Distinguished
Aikido training has also been compared to building a tower. The last occasion I saw this metaphor in use was as a way of encouraging a beginner:
"I think of it like building a tower. Every time you get something right, the tower builds upward. Every time you get something wrong, a rock falls to the side. If you only practice the ‘right' way, your tower will be tall, but narrow and easily shaken. But if you allow yourself to fail, the rocks of your mistakes build up all around the sides of the tower. It goes up more slowly, but is held up by a vast pyramid of experience underneath." (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...t=25156&page=2)
This metaphor functions like the pyramid metaphor, except that has a technical context; its aim is to illustrate the action of training, rather than the dimensions of the organization involved. The specific thread discussed unlearning bad habits and I think the aim was to reassure the beginner that learning aikido was a slow process, fraught with the possibilities of error. Unlike the famous towers named in the title header, this aikido tower does not lean or fall; it simply goes up more slowly, but it is not clear whether the slower growth occurs because ‘held up' means that the tower is supported by the pyramid-like shape, or because the growth is ‘held up', or impeded, by the constantly falling rocks—or both. Moreover, the fact that this particular instance of the metaphor also includes a tower that is tall, but easily prone to fall—simply because it is too narrow, suggests at least some bad design, if not faulty construction. The biblical Tower of Babel collapsed, not because it was badly constructed, but because of an external force, in the form of a heaven-sent storm, that caused it to fall: the fact that it was also supposed to go all the way up to Heaven did not help matters, either. The fact that the aikido tower metaphor is supposed to account both for the dimensions of the tower (the pyramidal shape caused by the constantly falling rocks that land at the base) and for its uncertain height (again caused by the falling rocks), suggests that the metaphor has an uncertain function and therefore a limited value.
Apart from towers, aikido training often attracts another metaphor, that of the journey, and beginners are often told on aikido Internet forums to "enjoy the journey." Although it is perhaps good advice, the implication seems to be that they should not worry unduly about reaching a destination. Journeys form a constant theme in literature, a prime example being those undertaken by Bilbo and Frodo Baggins in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
novels. However, I wonder whether these two heroes would have been entirely happy if they had been told simply to "enjoy the journey" and not worry too much about the destination. Of course, the fact is that Bilbo and Frodo both carried an object of great importance, the proper disposal of which also gave a crucial importance to their journeys that is not immediately clear with aikido. High-sounding phrases like ‘realizing your potential' (or even ‘maintaining the three worlds in harmony') do not have quite the same concrete relevance as the dangerous transportation of a corrupting object and although Frodo did indeed ‘realize his potential' by the end of the books, embarking on a ship to a place called the Grey Havens seems to me a rather dull depiction of this. The meaning of this phrase in aikido is itself double-edged and does not at all rule out the possibility that this potential is not automatically ordered to the well-being of the traveler. Morihei Ueshiba himself saw this when he composed his Rules for Aikido Training
, for the final rule barred aikido training from those not considered to be of suitable character.
A variation of the journey metaphor is that of moving in a certain direction (always onwards and upwards), such as climbing a mountain, and this is especially evident in the desire not to make any value judgments about which aikido ‘style' is better. "There are many ways to the top of the mountain," is a sentiment often encountered in AikiWeb
discussion forums—which is fine, as far as it goes. However, I have never found either the journey metaphor or the mountain climbing variant particularly useful. To my mind, aikido, or any other martial art, is something you "just do," as in the Nike slogan. Having studied philosophy, linguistics and comparative culture, I have learned that metaphors, especially, have a very strong connection with the linguistic culture in which they operate and that they translate hardly at all into different languages and cultures, especially Japanese. I recommend anyone who wishes to test my argument here to read George Lakoff's Metaphors We Live By
, but in the Japanese translation, cited above. There are many explanatory footnotes explaining why a particular metaphor that works well in English does not work in Japanese.
When Kisshomaru Ueshiba became Doshu, he was elected by the directors of the Aikikai, and someone jokingly compared his new situation to being married into a family with one hundred mothers-in-law. There were so many people senior to him and they were all watching him very closely, to see if he would turn out to be a good ‘husband.' He had to rely on the support given him earlier by his father, especially, but one thing I learned from reading both his biography of Morihei Ueshiba and his own autobiography is that Morihei Ueshiba was a stern disciplinarian who did not resort to praise as a method of pedagogy and I think it took Kisshomaru much courage to stand up to his father about giving public aikido demonstrations, for example, which Kisshomaru believed were necessary as a way of making aikido known. I myself noticed that Kisshomaru Doshu was always very prolific in the advice he gave to the present Doshu—and that the present Doshu has done likewise with his son Mitsuteru. I suspected that Kisshomaru moved with the times rather more than his father did.
Names and Titles
Names and titles have very important functions in organizations and aikido is no exception. Names come into play right from the very first moment that a prospective student enters a dojo and perhaps the best place to begin this critical analysis is the term ‘dojo' and its cognates. In this connection, there is a very good book on the subject, which beginners in aikido and other Japanese martial arts would do well to consult. The full title is In the Dojo: A Guide to the Rituals and Etiquette of the Japanese Martial Arts
and the author is Dave Lowry, an accomplished practitioner of Japanese martial arts, especially Japanese swordsmanship. Those who take the time to read Lowry's book will see that his approach to the subject and mine are quite different—and perceptive readers might also discern the reason. It will be sufficient here to indicate simply that my approach is somewhat more iconoclastic and that this perhaps reflects the fact that aikido is a modern art and has a different feel from the more traditional Japanese arts.
(NOTE ON TRANSCRIPTION. Mr Lowry gives Japanese terms in italicized Roman script and this imposes some limitations: the names are anglicized and follow established conventions of English spelling. I also do this here and Japanese terms are thus treated as English words, but I prefer also to give the names in Japanese, which means using a more precise transcription in Roman script, in Japanese kana
syllables, and in Chinese characters. An added factor is a consequence of the history of Japanese writing: the names themselves can be read in more than one way and the constituent terms can have very different readings. The whole subject of names and naming in Japanese martial arts, especially aikido, is extremely complex and deserves a detailed analysis that is not possible here. It is sufficient to note the fact, usually unstated, that the names discussed below tend to be made-up combinations, that emphasize function over form. In his book, Mr Lowry does not cover this subject; he simply gives Japanese names in italic Roman script and rarely considers questions of readings and etymology.)
A: Teaching and Learning
Aikido has very much to do with teaching and learning and so there are many terms used to convey various aspects or nuances of these concepts. Teaching and learning is thus the focus of this first section on language and names used in aikido. However, there is considerable overlap between teaching and learning the art and the social context in which this is achieved, which is dealt with in the second section.
Dojo, Dojo-Cho, Doshu
Aikido is practiced in a dojo and the word combines the Japanese terms for ‘way' and ‘place'. When the word is written in Chinese characters, we have 道場. This is where everything begins, so to speak. In a dojo, there is usually a chief instructor and in Japan this person sometimes has the functional title of Dojo-cho. Occupying the very top of the pyramid is Doshu, sometimes translated in English as Headmaster.
Dojo [dou-jou / どうじょう / 道場]
This name makes use of the powerful metaphor, very close to the journey metaphor that was discussed previously. The preferred characterization of aikido is a ‘Way' and the mundane base of this metaphor is a road or path along which one travels. However, English is probably not the only language in which the metaphor assumes an importance that extends far beyond a dull stretch of dirt, gravel, concrete or asphalt. Roads or ways tend to lead to destinations or dead ends, but in aikido the need to travel along the road is given a significance that is far greater than the mere fact of moving along and the intended destination, reached or not reached. As we have seen, the need no longer becomes a mere practical need to reach a destination, which one usually reaches in any case and certainly recognizes if there are signposts, but is more focused on the journey itself, which is given qualities and assumes an importance that is quite separate from its utilitarian role as a pedestrian means of moving from one place to another.
Archetypically, then, the dojo is the place where the art is practiced. Later in this essay, I detail my own complex training history and readers can obtain a clearer picture of the vast variety of locations to which the name is given, ranging from dedicated structures with a long history, to much more ad-hoc
locations, such as university gymnasiums and multi-purpose meeting rooms.
Dojo-Cho[dou-jou-chou / どうじょうちょう / 道場長]
I did not encounter this term until I came to Japan. I registered as a member of the local Aikikai branch dojo in Hiroshima and met the chief instructor (whom I will later refer to as Shihan E). However, the term ‘shihan' was never used, the preferred term always being ‘Dojo-Cho' [Dojo Head]. Later, I discovered that the name is also used to refer to an important functionary in the Aikikai's Tokyo Hombu Dojo. At present the position is held by Mitsuteru Ueshiba, the son of the present Doshu, but the previous holder was the present Doshu himself. Before this, the holder was someone who was not a member of the Ueshiba family.
Doshu [dou-shu / どうしゅ / 道主]
A second point, of some importance and connected with the metaphor of the ‘way', is the unstated implication for aikido, at any rate, that there is not just any ‘way' in aikido; there is the Way and there has to be a Leader of the Way. Another implication is that traveling along the Way is not intended to be a merely personal and private experience, despite the fact that very few of the general aikido population have any direct contact with Doshu, apart from seeing his name on their grading diplomas or meeting him at the Hombu, if they travel to Tokyo. A final point, not often emphasized, is that an art with a headmaster, or Doshu, entails the existence of an organization, which purports to establish some kind of official, almost quasi-sacramental, connection between the Doshu and the individual aikido practitioner, who is travelling along the way, or climbing the mountain, or working away at the bottom layer of the pyramid, or acting like a good leaf, depending on the preferred metaphor. We will return to this important point later.
O Sensei, Kaiso
The first of the two specific factors listed in the Introduction of this essay, can broadly be expressed as knowledge or expertise, and this component accounts for the vertical dimension of the pyramid. Accordingly, the creator of the art is placed at the apex of the pyramid, since he or she is assumed to possess the sum total of the knowledge / skill required for full proficiency in the art.
O Sensei [oo-sen-sei / おおせんせい / 太先生]; Kaiso [kai-so / かいそ / 開祖]
The creator of the art is always referred to in aikido as O Sensei or the Founder, but sometimes he is also referred to as Kaiso. In this context, it will be convenient to give the Wikipedia
definition of this latter term, with a short explanation:
Kaiso to wa, gakumon, gakugei ue no ryuuha ya shuukyou no soushisha.
"The term Kaiso
refers to the creator of lineage groups or religious groups, based on the levels of scholarship or skill."
is quite often used to designate Morihei Ueshiba, this usage is sometimes criticized, and on grounds suggested by the Wikipedia
represent traditional Japanese performing or martial arts, such as Noh
, or religious groups, such as Omoto-kyou
. Aikido, on the other hand, is supposed to be a different thing altogether. It is spiritual, but not religious; it is martial, but not specifically ‘cultural' in the traditional sense implied by the term ryuha
. It is publicized and marketed as a general martial Way, relevant to everybody and at all stages in life, and available for anybody who steps into a dojo. We will consider these points further below.
The second major factor listed in the Introduction is the transmission of this knowledge/skill component downwards and outwards. Because the creator is mortal and no longer living, the knowledge and skillsets he had acquired and manifested in his art would die with the creator unless they were transmitted to others. Some transmission occurred in any case, since the creator taught many students when he was alive and this is one important element in the pyramid metaphor: the base is always wider than the apex and the former in a crucial sense is supported by the latter. However, with the fact of transmission, the knowledge and skills thereby lost their exclusive quality, in the crucial sense that they no longer remained the property of the creator. In commerce, ownership is marked by patenting and copyright, but this is not possible for something less tangible than a product, which can be purchased in a store. The knowledge required for transmission had somehow to be separated from the original possessor, but the consequent depersonalization of the knowledge/skill set presented a major problem. One way of solving this problem was to place exclusive emphasis on lineage, which, as the name implies, is transmission in a line. Someone is invested with the skills or charisma considered to have existed in the creator and passes them onwards, downwards and outwards. Thus, several crucial concepts were established, all closely related to the transfer of a set of skills or a body of knowledge, but while still retaining the vertical aspect of the pyramid metaphor. These are listed and explained / critically analyzed below.
Shihan, Shidoin, Fukushidoin
In Japan, especially, a martial art is usually taught by the learner being shown a model by an expert, and the usual Japanese term for someone who is sufficiently advanced in the art to function as a teacher and model is shihan
. However, the term is closely tied to organizations and in some cases shihan
is a category at the top of a tripartite system, for which there are no clear English equivalents, instructor and assistant instructor being regarded as an approximation. The terms are not found in other organizations where there is a ranking system, such as universities or schools, except that shidouin
can sometimes be found as a preferred term for teachers or members of the teaching staff. (In this vocabulary section I have chosen not to identify by name the various teachers with whom I have been associated: they are referred to as Shihan A, Shihan B etc.)
Shihan [shi-han / しはん / 師範]
If the dan
ranking system is followed in the art, a shihan
is one who possesses the rank of 6th dan or above, even if the person functions independently of any organization. This is how the term is usually understood in Japan, but outside Japan the term has been politicized and is tied to an organization in a very direct way. The Aikikai has created a system of classifying shihan
into four separate categories and the only way that a member of the Aikikai outside Japan can become a shihan
is in the fourth category, which is essentially tied to membership of an aikido organization. The organization proposes a candidate who has fulfilled certain conditions, such as having possessed the necessary rank for a number of years and being actively engaged in teaching the art, and the proposal is accepted or rejected by a special committee that meets towards the end of each year.
Shidoin [shi-dou-in / しどういん / 指導員]
Outside schools and universities, the two other terms are also closely tied to organizations, both being based on the dan
rank attained in the organization that sanctions the teaching system. Thus, shido
is to teach or instruct by pointing something out, and a shidoin
is one who does this.
I stated earlier that Japanese names can be read in different ways and this makes using a character dictionary very difficult. Thus, the character for shi
can also be read as yubi
[指 = finger] or sasu
[指す = to point out] and that for dou
can also be read as michibiku
[導く = to lead or guide] or shirube
[導 = signpost]. Shido
was the term once used by a traffic policeman when I was caught for speeding. I escaped prosecution because I was driving a brand-new sports car and the policeman had not seen the model before; he was more interested in the car than in me, so, rather than giving me a ticket, he did shido
and gave me advice that it would have been unwise to ignore.
Fukushidoin [fuku-shidou-in / しどういん / 指導員]
is a prefix meaning deputy-
. However, it would be pointless for someone to call himself a shidouin
in the absence of any organizational structure. In fact, none of the dojos where I have practiced over the years had such a system and the only large organizations known to me where such a system is in place are both very large: the Aikikai Hombu Dojo and the USAF [United States Aikido Federation].
Sensei, Sempai, Kohai
is commonly accepted here to signify a position of expertise indicated by a certain rank, sensei
is a catch-all title that has wide variations in usage.
Sensei[sen-sei / せんせい / 先生]
Those who believe that the composition of Japanese compound words written with Chinese characters and the order of the characters both have a direct effect on the meaning of the word, might argue that a ‘sensei' is ‘someone who lives/has lived before'… (presumably the student). This interpretation is based on the fact that sen
means ‘previous' or ‘before' and that sei
means ‘life' or ‘living.' However, the interpretation is somewhat strained by the fact that in Japan 先生 [sensei
] is used as a general title for politicians, lawyers, gangsters, as well as teachers in general. It is used as a courtesy title and not as a job description or category. Accordingly, anyone who is elected as a member of the local or national government, or who teaches or has taught in a school or university, anyone who runs a medical or law practice, or performs operations in a hospital, or appears before a judge as an attorney, is called ‘Sensei' as a working title.
Sempai[sen-pai / せんぱい / 先輩]; Kohai [kou-hai / こうはい / 後輩]
is one of the terms written with the sen
[先] character and it will be appropriate to consider the other two terms. These are sempai
, which form a pair. Despite the common use of the sen
has quite a different meaning and function from sensei
and is more commonly used of employees in Japanese government organization or companies, where there is a vertically-based organizational structure on which promotion and salary scales depend. It is also seen in high school and university sports clubs, where the entry is annual and the date of entry thus inevitably determines one's seniority in the sports club. The sempai / kohai system have differing degrees of emphasis depending on the institution and type of club. Martial arts clubs tend to have a ‘severe' interpretation of the system and in some such clubs kohai have to use polite Japanese when addressing their sempai and sometimes do chores for them, like washing their keikogi [the training wear of pants and a tunic].
are terms that are understood by all Japanese, who learn their use in a practical way during their school careers, as titles their use is very closely tied to the relevant institution. The only time I have heard sempai
used as a title (‘XX Sempai
'; never ‘XX Kohai
') was at reunions of the particular university clubs to which I was attached as an adviser or instructor. One was the aikido club and the other was the English-Speaking Society (ESS).
as a category of dojo instructor is certainly not how the term is used in Japan and the term was never used to refer to me. The reason for this is very simple: I did not join the club as a student member and work my way upwards though the system. I was always invited to participate in club activities, particularly the intense activities known as gasshuku
[合宿], which is usually a period of intensive training for several hours each day in a specific location, but my status was always semi-honorary.
The term is also used to express a certain intellectual relationship, that would be analogous in some respects to Sensei
, and I used the term in this very general sense when referring to Stanley Pranin in the opening dedication.
Deshi, Uchideshi, Kenshusei
in English covers a variety of terms in Japanese. When written, these usually contain the character sei
: pupil]; 学生 [gakusei
: student]; 高校生 [koukousei
: high school student], encountered before with sensei
. However, there is another cluster of terms, all closely connected with teaching and learning, but the first two are expressed in quite different terms.
Deshi[de-shi / でし / 弟子]
Whereas high school and university students are usually referred to as gakusei
[students] or seito
[pupils], another term, often used in the martial arts and with a rather more specialized meaning, is deshi
. The written form combines the characters 弟 and子 and this fact gives a good indication of the eventual meaning. 弟 can also be read as otouto
and means ‘younger brother'. (It is matched by 兄, read as ani
, meaning ‘older brother,' and the fact that such terms evolved in Japanese perhaps gives some indication of the emphasis placed on what we might call verticality, even in such closely knit groups like families: there are separate terms for younger/older siblings.) The usual meaning of 子 is child.
The combination is usually translated into English as ‘disciple' and the relationship is considered to be closer than that between undergraduate students [gakusei
], or high school pupils [seito
] and their teachers. In my experience, however, graduate students pursuing research degrees in Japan have a much closer relationship with their teachers and more closely approach the ‘master -- disciple' relationship considered as an archetype in aikido. I should point out, however, that my own experience at Harvard University and University College London was quite different and my academic supervisors at neither institution would have considered me as a disciple in any sense of the term.
Given the naming system sketched above, a practitioner of aikido might be forgiven for wondering about the correct Japanese term to define the relationship between student and teacher. After all, I have mentioned above that the term Sensei
(with the s
capitalized) is a preferred term used in AikWeb
discussion forums to refer to the fount of aikido wisdom and general martial benevolence who occupies the position of head of the dojo. Some instructors are also known to call themselves Sensei, which is never done by the Japanese.
A friend and aikido colleague, who trained at the Hombu and who received his early dan
ranks from Morihei Ueshiba himself, once expended much intellectual energy in explaining to me that I was really directly connected to Doshu because I was his deshi
. I was a deshi
because I, too, had received a dan
rank signed by Doshu. We will discuss ranks and ranking later in this Appendix, but to my mind this stretches the meaning so much as to assume the existence of a relationship that is actually chimerical, which is fantastic and certainly fictional—and I believe the motivation for such an assumption was really political and based on the dynamics of organizations in aikido. I will return to this important point later.
Uchideshi [uchi-de-shi / うちでし / 内弟子]
In the aikido world, the archetype of such a ‘disciple' is rendered in Japanese by the addition of the prefix uchi
[内 = ‘inside']. An uchideshi
is a student who trains in an art or craft by living in the same house as the teacher and supposedly learning the art 24 hours each day.
The combination of these three characters presents major problems for translation into English. One rendering of uchi-deshi
is ‘apprentice' and Shihan A used this term when describing his own training. Apprentices in the traditional guild system did indeed learn their trades originally by living in the same house as the master, but the term imparts a strong whiff of artisanship: working with one's hands rather than with one's head. Accordingly, Shihan A also insisted that he receive the title of Professor
for correspondence in English, but his reasoning probably reflects his belief that this term is a reasonable English rendering of shihan
and is not intended as a translation of uchideshi
. (Since I am a professor in a Japanese university, I now know that this belief is not really accurate, for the academic world has its own system of titles, categories and job descriptions and Shihan
A's colleagues all use ‘Shihan' as an anglicized term.) Nevertheless, Shihan A had some understanding of the importance of status in the country in which he resided, even if shihan
does not actually convey such status in Japan.
is regarded as being at the apex of the pyramid and pecking order, but there are a number of cognate terms, all very carefully used. A deshi
who does not live in the same residence as the Master is not uchi-
, but soto-
[外 = outside] and one who comes to the dojo every time there is training is kayoi
[通い = commuting]. I was viscerally made aware of the importance of these titles at a gathering of Hombu deshi
that took place a few years ago. I was once astonished to be present at a lengthy and very argumentative discussion about the precise category to which each deshi
under discussion belonged, the discussion involving some very famous names in the aikido world, and I could not help thinking, ‘Why all the fuss about mere titles?'
Apparently, the titles mattered very much to those who held them and it was very clear from the discussion that the matter of uchideshi being at the second tier of the pyramid, or fundamental branches of the tree, was of great importance—and was extremely controversial. I think this was a major factor underlying the political issues that have involved aikido in the last few years
In this connection, a certain shihan once told me with obvious pride that he had been an ‘Uchideshi of the Founder.' Of course, I accepted this and was quite proud that I had learned the art from such a teacher, but I later heard directly from the second Doshu that the Founder had no uchideshi after World War II and that he himself had no uchideshi at all. Since the shihan in question had clearly entered the Hombu after World War II, I drew a conclusion that was clearly uncomfortable and the questions I posed over the years to other shihans affiliated to the Hombu were never answered to my satisfaction.
Kenshusei [ken-shuu-sei / けんしゅうせい / 研修生]
I have included this term here and not in the other section devoted to terms involving the sei
term, because it fits more closely the concept of discipleship. Perhaps some background discussion is necessary.
Having seen how the Hombu Dojo works, at first hand, so to speak, I can see that the teachers from the Hombu who sent to live abroad did their best to replicate the circumstances in which they themselves trained. In particular, some teachers tried to establish some system of deshi, or special students, but without using this term, with its connotations of possession. One such term is kenshusei and Shihan A had this system in his dojo in the UK.
Kenshusei were ‘special' students, in the sense that their activities replicated those of the uchi-deshi in the Hombu, as seen through the eyes of Shihan A. As a result, the kenshusei were expected to take every class and usually acted as ukes for Shihan A, especially in the important task of demonstrating waza. Since this was usually done at great speed, the kenshusei had to be in good physical condition. It was a special, and unusually rare, feature of Shihan A's dojo that there was very little difference in the sexes when it came to demonstrating waza, and he called upon male and female members of the dojo equally.
B: Organizational Terms
The terms involving teaching and learning explained above are usually deployed in organizations and it will be appropriate to include in this section the most common terms used in connection with martial arts organizations. These involve, ranks, groups, and meetings
One, very important, feature that affects almost everyone in the aikido world is the ranking or grading system, which consists of kyu and dan ranks.
Kyu, Dan, Yudansha
As I will explain later, the very first rank for which I did a test was shodan. This was unusual only in the sense that it is customary for local instructors to hold their own kyu examinations and require their students to test for kyu grades, as an essential preliminary for the dan ranks that come from the Hombu. I did receive first kyu, but did not take a test for it, and passing the dan examination meant that I received a diploma signed by Doshu and also a yudansha book.
Kyu [kyuu / きゅう / 級]
In the dictionary, the English terms for kyu are rank
, but these are also the common translations of dan
. The differences in meaning between these two terms can be discerned in Japanese only in compound words, where the one or the other is preferred. Thus, there are terms like kokyusha [koukyuusha
/ こうきゅうしゃ / 高級車: luxury car] or kaikyu [kaikyuu
/ かいきゅう / 階級: social class]. In aikido, kyu grades tend to be the preserve of the local instructor or shihan and are usually ranked in descending order, starting with 6th kyu, 5th kyu, or 10th kyu (in the case of children). Thus the last kyu grade is 1st kyu, written in Japanese with the special character for ‘first' [壱].
Another feature of kyu grades for children is coloured belts, which, in descending order, are yellow, orange, red, blue, brown, and white. White indicates 5th kyu, which is also the first of the kyu grades for adults.
Dan [dan / だん / 段]; Yudansha [yuudansha / ゆうだんしゃ / 有段者]
For the martial arts, the Japanese term dan
is usually translated by ‘rank', but there is also another use of dan outside the martial arts, which is quite different. This can be seen by the following compounds: 段ボール [danbooru
: corrugated cardboard]; 段丘 [dankyuu
: terrace]; 段鼻[danbana
: aquiline nose]. The main concepts here are steps, or ascending in steps, and this can easily be seen in the word for staircase [kaidan
: 階段], with the same characters in reverse order for the more abstract stage, step, or phase [dankai: 段階]. A yudansha is someone who has / possesses dan rank [yuu
/ 有 = possession; dan
/ 段 = the rank; sha
/ 者 = the person]. For Japanese language purists, other combinations are possible, with mu and kyu in place of yu and dan [無段者 / 有級者 / 無級者].
In aikido, dan ranks are awarded for life and so do not expire. In fact, the award of higher dan ranks is based, not on performance in a physical test, but on performance in other ways, such as running a dojo or dojos, time served on the tatami and general contributions to the development of the art. This is almost always done in aikido organizations.
Soshiki, Remmei, Aikikai, Zaidan Houjin
There are some very general Japanese terms for organizations and if aikido practitioners belong to dojos affiliated with the Aikikai or are members of the IAF, it is worth having some idea of their meanings. The following is a brief selection of the most important terms.
Soshiki[so-shiki /そしき / 組織]
This is the most generic term for organizations. In fact, it is as general as the term ‘organization' itself, of which it is a reasonable translation, and applies as much to limited companies and tax-free foundation, as to aikido dojos and international federations.
Remmei [ren-mei / れんめい / 連盟]
A remmei adds to the concept of organization a qualifier that marks the difference between an organization in general and one more specific, such as a league, union, or federation: an organization established by common consent for a particular purpose. Whereas ‘federation' in English is derived from the Latin term for a treaty, the constituent characters of remmei
combine joining together and taking oaths. They present a case study in Japanese linguistics and semiotics—how powerful conceptual elements combine to form a complex result.
The compound is composed of two characters: 連 [REN: れん /] and 盟 [mei
: めい]. Ren, in its Chinese ON reading, is a group or accompaniment, whereas in its Japanese kun reading, it is a verb or gerund, meaning to take someone along. A variant, tsuranaru
(intransitive) means to stand in a row, or tsuraneru
(transitive) means to put in a row or to link something / someone. The particle, ni tsurete [に連れて], has the sense of as, along with, or in proportion to.
There are a vast number of compounds that include REN, the following ten of which are chosen at random: renjimado [れんじまど / 連子窓: lattice window]; renritsu-naikaku [れんりつないかく / 連立内閣: coalition cabinet]; rentaikei [れんたいけい / 連体形: participial adjective]; renpatsu [れんぱつ / 連発: fire in rapid succession]; rendankyoku [れんだんきょく / 連弾曲: piano piece for four hands]; rensen-rensho [れんせんれんしょ / 連戦連勝: succession of victories]; renkan [れんかん / 連環: links -- of a chain]; rokurenpatsu [ろくれんぱつ / 六連発: six-chambered revolver]; Kokusai Rengo [こくさいれんごう / 国際連合: United Nations; usually Kokuren 国連]; gurentai [ぐれんたい / 愚連隊: street gang of hooligans].
With respect to MEI, the character has only the single reading; there is no kun reading. The basic meaning is an oath or an alliance and there are far fewer compounds. So, a meiyu [盟友] is a sworn friend and a meiyaku [盟約] is a pledge or alliance. A domei [同盟] is also an alliance and domeikoku [同盟国] are allies. When the IAF joined the GAISF it affiliated to the organization, which is a process known as kamei [加盟]. A ketsumei [血盟] is a blood pledge and the Ketsumeidan [血盟団] was a Japanese terrorist group that plotted assassinations in the 1930s, some members of which were associated with Morihei Ueshiba's Kobukan Dojo. Finally, much in the news because of Brexit is the OshuDomei [欧州連合: European Union].
Aikikai [ai-ki-kai / あいきかい / 合気会]
The Aikikai is an organization, but is not a remmei. It is the legal entity that stands behind the Hombu Dojo. The name combines the central concept of aiki
, the most general term for gathering. So, for example, the regular meeting of academics in my faculty at Hiroshima University was the kyojukai [教授会] and the meetings of the various committees were all iinkai [委員会]. However, the Aikikai is somewhat different from such meetings. It is the name, not for a meeting, but for a permanent organization, with its own headquarters in Tokyo.
Zaidan Hojin [zai-dan-hou-jin/ ざいだんほうじん / 財団法人]
A zaidan is a foundation established for tax purposes and in some countries, these are classed as registered charities. Right from the time it was called the Kobukan, before World War II, the legal entity supporting the Hombu Dojo had become a zaidan. When written with Chinese characters, he term combines 財 [zai
: finance] and 団 [dan
The second part of the phrase is hojin and the two actually go together. In Chinese characters Hojin combines 法 [hou
: law] and 人 [jin
: person] and is the usual Japanese term for a legally recognized entity. There are many types of such entities and Japan follows the pattern of other countries in making a broad distinction between limited companies (kabushiki gaisha
: 株式会社, in Japanese) and tax-free foundations established for a particular purpose other than making money for their shareholders. Recent changes to Japanese law resulted in an extra term added to zaidan hojin
. A koeki [koueki
/ こうえき / 公益] zaidan hojin is a public interest foundation and in Hiroshima the foundation that runs the Atomic Bomb Museum also added this phrase to its official name. In fact, I headed the special committee that was set up to approve and register the change with the prefectural government.
Meetings and Performances
I have used both terms as the title because we need to take account of the fact that IAF events are not simply general meetings of the federation. Organizations are fundamental to the operation of the Aikikai and the IAF and way of demonstrating this is to hold events like meetings and demonstrations. There are several Japanese terms for these.
Kaigi, Sokai, Taikai, Embukai / Embutaikai
It should be noticed that all the Japanese terms explained below all begin or end in kai [kai
/ かい / 会] and the additions all refine or qualify the original concept. Aikikai
is similar, as mentioned above, but the term really denotes an organization, not a type of meeting.
Kaigi [kai-gi / かいぎ / 会議]
A kaigi in Japanese is the most general term for meeting and in this sense, it is analogous to soshiki
, discussed above.
Sokai [sou-kai / そうかい / 総会]
A sokai adds to the concept of a meeting the notion of generality, of dealing with a variety of subjects. This is expressed by 総 [SOU
Sometimes the character 総 is combined with the character 合 [the ai of aikido, but read as GOU
] to form 総合. So, my faculty at Hiroshima University was 総合科学部 [そうごうかがくぶ: sou-gou-ka-gaku-bu
= faculty of combined arts and sciences]. The official name was ‘Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences' (the standing joke being that arts subjects and science subjects were all taught quite separately, hence ‘segregated' would have been a better translation of sougou
Taikai[tai-kai / たいかい / 大会]
A taikai is distinguished from a usual meeting, like a kaigi or sokai, by its size. The Aikikai uses the term taikai
to refer to general meetings of the IAF, which usually take several days and usually involve many hundreds of participants.
Kokusai Taikai[koku-sai-tai-kai / こくさいたいかい / 国際大会]
Kokusai adds to the concept of taikai an important qualification: kokusai
means ‘international' and so the term can be used to qualify meetings and also organizations, such as those described above.
Embukai [en-bu-kai / えんぶかい / 演武会/];
Embutaikai [en-bu-tai-kai / えんぶたいかい / 演武大会]
The above terms also add important qualifications to the general notion of a kaigi. An embu is a demonstration of a martial art of some kind and an embukai is a meeting that consists entirely of demonstrations. Embu are held quite regularly and occasionally are part of other events, such as the New Year ceremony at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, when promotions by recommendation are announced. An embutaikai is a demonstration of large size and a good example is the All-Japan Aikido Federation Demonstration, which is held annually in May. The full Japanese expression for this event is the 「全日本合気道連盟演武大会」, sometimes abbreviated to, 「全日本 演武大会: All-Japan Demonstration」.
Some Essential Cultural Terms for Public and Private Matters
The following three pairs of terms / concepts are of great importance for a good understanding of Japanese culture, especially the organizational culture underlying aikido and the martial arts. They are best studied together and a good initial source for material is the work in English by Takeo Doi, entitled The Anatomy of Self
. However, this work should be read with extreme caution. Doi's book is in the category of nihonjinron
[日本人論: theory about the Japanese], an ‘orchid' theory that seeks to explain why Japanese regard their own culture as uniquely unique, such that its uniqueness stands out conspicuously in ‘national' cultures that are already considered to be unique, each in its own way. We will discuss this further in Part Two of this essay.
Tatemae [tate-mae / たてまえ/ 建前];
Honne [hon-ne / ほんね / 本音/]
Tatemae is thought by Doi to be the same term as that used in architecture, which is raising the central ridgepole in a Japanese house. After this had been done, a banquet was held for the master builder and his helpers. Tatemae is also used in the tea ceremony for the formal movements of the host in presenting the utensils and serving the tea. Tatemae is really the principles and rules that underlie the procedure followed in any sort of process that exhibits a succession of stages or conventions. If the tatemae is based on consensus, honne concerns the individuals who belong to the group that establishes, or acts according to, the consensus. These individuals have their own motives or opinions and these form an essential background to any ‘practice.' Doi gives the example of a media campaign launched by a newspaper to stir up popular opinion, which rests on the tatemae of free speech, but by which the newspaper company wants to increase its circulation to make a profit. This does not mean that one is evil and other is good, or that one is false and other is true.
Uchi [uchi / えんぶかい / 演武会];
Soto [soto / そと / 外]
Uchi is inside and soto is outside and the application of this pair is also highly flexible, ranging from the gardens of a house to more subtle aspects of human relationships. Any one person can be or exhibit soto to some, while being uchi to others.
Omote [omote / おもて/ 表/];
Ura [ura / うら / 裏/]
Omote is front or face, while ura is the back, or rear. So omote is open and official, corresponding to tatemae, while ura is closed and private and corresponds to honne. The pair also corresponds to the uchi -- soto pair. Omote is that which is presented to the soto, while ura is that which remains closed up in uchi. The two terms are used as pairs for aikido waza, but their usage is much more varied and subtle than as labels for waza.
1: This column follows on from and is a development of an article I wrote a few years ago for Aikido Journal
, edited by Stanley Pranin. The article appeared in two parts and was quite densely argued. I am happy to acknowledge this debt to Mr Pranin here, and I must also mention Mr Pranin's own extensive researches into the life and activities of Morihei Ueshiba, later pursued with much vigour in his own dedicated Internet forum. This debt is more acutely felt at present, in the light of the unfortunate news that Mr Pranin passed away on March 7, 2017, from stomach cancer.
2: The occasion for producing this installment now and not later in the series was the most recent congress of the IAF, from which organization I retired from the office of Chairman. I have been involved with the IAF since 1982, when I chaired a meeting of the IAF Directing Committee held at the Aikikai Hombu in Dojo. Since then I have been more heavily involved with the federation and have had many discussions with others similarly involved. Among those I would single out for special acknowledgement are the late A H Bacas, the late Kazuo Chiba, Hiroshi Somemiya, August Dragt, Tony Smibert and Stefan Stenudd. My long involvement with the IAF allowed firsthand study of international organizations and this practical study was supplemented at a more theoretical level by a graduate seminar I taught for a number of years at Hiroshima University's Graduate School of Social Sciences, in the department of Management Studies. The basic core of the seminar was the research conducted by a Dutch scholar, Geert Hofstede, on culture and organizations and the title of this essay is an indirect acknowledgement of Hofstede's research, summarized in his book, Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind
Early in the essay I made references to an important book by Dave Lowry: In the Dojo: A Guide to the Rituals and Etiquette of the Japanese Martial Arts
, first published in 2006 by Weatherhill, Boston, USA. Lowry gives a vast number of Japanese names in his book and they are all given as anglicized terms. Perhaps this was a demand from the publisher, but it masks judgments already made about Japanese names and their rendering in English. Readers of Mr. Lowry's book, especially students of Japanese martial arts, need to be aware of these judgments—and of the fact that they are judgments, which might have an important effect on how these arts are approached and practiced.
Anyone wishing to test my arguments and conclusions in Part One will need to consult Kisshomaru Ueshiba's writings, including his own autobiography. Details: 植芝吉祥丸, 植芝守央, 『合気道開祖植芝盛平伝』1978, 講談社; 1999, 出版芸術社; Kisshomaru Ueshiba, A Life in Aikido: The Biography of Founder Morihei Ueshiba
, 2008, Kodansha International.
Other biographies mentioned in the essay include: John Stevens, (1) Abundant Peace: The Biography of Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido
, 1987, Shambala; John Stevens, (2) Invincible Warrior: An Illustrated Biography of Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido
, 1997, Shambala (Item (2) is a revised and an expanded edition of Item (1), with other material included); 砂泊兼基, 『武の真人』 , たま出版, 1981; 植芝吉祥丸, 『合気道一路 ー戦後合気道発展への風と雲ー』, 1995, 出版芸術社.
Morihei Ueshiba's ‘Takemusu Aiki' lectures are accessible in the following languages and editions (as known to me at the time of writing): 高橋英雄, 『武産合気 植芝盛平先生の口述』, 1986, 白光真宏会出版本部; Ueshiba Morihei, Takahashi Hideo, Takemusu Aiki
, Volume 1, 2007, Volume II, 2008, Volume III, 2011, Editions du Cénacle (This edition includes notes made by the translators and a glossary of Japanese terms); Morihei Ueshiba, The Heart of Aikido: The Philosophy of Takemusu Aiki
, Originally Edited by Hideo Takahashi, Compiled and Translated by John Stevens, 2010, Kodansha International. (NB. Unlike the French edition, this is not a straight translation of the Japanese original, as Stevens explains in his Introduction. The volume also contains a useful Glossary of Key Terms.)
An important concept that pervades the published discourses of Morihei Ueshiba is kotodama [ことだま / ことたま / 言霊: ‘word spirit'] and it is important to look at this concept also from a non-aikido perspective, apart from the writings of Ueshiba himself and of Onisaburo Deguchi. One work is of great value. Jun'ichi Konishi published a monumental history of Japanese literature and the first volume is especially valuable in this respect. Details: 小西甚一, 『日本文藝史』, I -- V, 講談社, 1984-1992. Three of these volumes have been translated into English: Konishi Jin'ichi, A History of Japanese Literature
, Volumes 1 -- 3, Princeton U P, 1984 -- 1991. (Of course, it goes without saying that the works discussed by Konishi relating to kotodama also need to be looked at.) I also found two other Japanese works also to be of great value: 川村湊, 『言霊と他界 』, 2002, 講談社; 豊田国夫, 『言霊信仰：その源流と史的展開』, 1985, 八幡書店.
Issues relating to aikido and competition are discussed by Kenji Tomiki himself and by some of his students: Tomiki's book is a series of essays: 富木健治, 『武道論』, 1991, 大修館, especially Chapter Three, entitled, 「合気道と近代化 合気道競技の創造」. This book was edited by Prof. Fumiaki Shishida, a professor at Waseda University, one of Tomiki's students, and Shishida also collaborated with Tetsuro Nariyama in producing a technical manual. Details: 志々田文明, 成山哲郎, 『合気道教室』, 1985, 大修館; Funiaki Shishida & Tetsuro Nariyama, Aikido: Tradition and the Competitive Edge
, 2001, Shodokan.
The issues relating to whether or not aikido is a sport can be seen from a short work by one of the teachers who were at University College London (UCL) at the time I did my doctorate. This teacher had no connection whatever with aikido. Details: Colin McGinn, Sport
, published in the "Art of Living" series, edited by Mark Vernon, Acumen, 2008. A glance at his bibliography will be enough to show that the history, philosophy, and sociology of sport is a vast subject.
Colin McGinn taught Wittgenstein's philosophy at UCL and Ludwig Wittgenstein produced two important texts: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
, and Philosophical Investigations
, the latter being more relevant to the matter of sport. Details: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations
, The German text, with an English translation by G E M Anscombe, P M S Hacker and Joachim Schulte, Revised 4th Edition by P M S Hacker and Joachim Schulte, 2009, Wiley-Blackwell.
There are two main commentaries on Philosophical Investigations
, the first in chronological order being, Garth Hallett SJ, A Companion to Wittgenstein's "Philosophical Investigations"
, 1977, Cornell U P. This was followed by a more massive and detailed 5-volume commentary (For ease of reference I have numbered the ‘volumes', some of which come in several parts: (1) G P Baker and P M S Hacker, Wittgenstein: Understanding and Meaning, Part 1: Essays
, Second Edition, 2005, Wiley-Blackwell; G P Baker and P M S Hacker, Wittgenstein: Understanding and Meaning, Part I1: Exegesis §§1-184
, 2005, Wiley-Blackwell; (2) G P Baker and P M S Hacker, Wittgenstein: Rules, Grammar and Necessity,: Essays and Exegesis §§185-242
, Second Edition, 2009, Wiley-Blackwell; G P Baker and P M S Hacker, Wittgenstein: Meaning and Mind,: Essays and Exegesis §§185-242
, 1990, Basil Blackwell; (3) P M S Hacker, Wittgenstein: Meaning and Mind,: Essays and Exegesis §§185-242
, 1990, Basil Blackwell; (4) P M S Hacker, Wittgenstein: Mind and Will
, 1996, Basil Blackwell; (5: Epilogue) P M S Hacker, Wittgenstein's Place in Twentieth-Century Philosophy
, 1996, Basil Blackwell.
A relevant later work by Wittgenstein is the following: Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty
, Edited by G E M Anscombe and G H von Wright, 1969, Blackwell, 1972, Harper & Row.
Like Morihei Ueshiba, Wittgenstein has been well served by biographers. The counterpart of Kisshomaru Ueshiba's biography of his father is now out of print, but there is an excellent ‘unofficial' biography of Wittgenstein that has sold enough copies to appear in hardback, softback, and Kindle editions: Ray Monk, Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius
, 1990, Cape, 0000, Penguin. The same author has also written an introduction to Wittgenstein's thought: Ray Monk, How to Read Wittgenstein
, 2005, Norton. A careful analysis of the revolution in Wittgenstein's thinking can be seen in a two-volume work by a philosopher who was not one of the ‘inner-circle' of his disciples: David Pears, The False Prison: A Study of the Development of Wittgenstein's Philosophy, Volume One
, 1987, Oxford; The False Prison: A Study of the Development of Wittgenstein's Philosophy, Volume Two
, 1988, Oxford.
Peter Goldsbury (b. 28 April 1944). Aikido 7th dan Aikikai, Emeritus Professor at Hiroshima University, teaching philosophy and comparative culture. B. in UK. Began aikido as a student and practiced at various dojo. Became a student of Mitsunari Kanai at the New England Aikikai in 1973. After moving back to the UK in 1975, trained in the Ryushinkan Dojo under Minoru Kanetsuka. Also trained with K Chiba on his frequent visits to the UK. Moved to Hiroshima, Japan, in 1980 and continued training with the resident Shihan, Mazakazu Kitahira, 7th dan Also trained regularly with Seigo Yamaguchi, Hiroshi Tada, Sadateru Arikawa and Masatake Fujita, both in Hiroshima and at the Aikikai Hombu. Was elected Chairman of the IAF in 1998. With two German colleagues, opened a small dojo in Higashi-Hiroshima City in 2001. Instructed at Aiki Expo 2002 in Las Vegas, Nevada.