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Old 05-23-2006, 02:54 AM   #26
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Was O'Sensei a pacifist?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
Of course, Gozo Shioda, Kenji Tomiki, and Minoru Mochizuki were all seperate from the above three after the war, but their own arts incorporate even less religious material than the Aikikai.

Also, you would expect that, if religious references were deliberately eliminated in translation, that Japanese practitioners of Aikido (who still had access to the original material) would be more conversant with that facet of the art, but they are, if anything, less knowledgeable of such things than practitioners overseas.

I would describe the process in somewhat less nefarious terms. In general, the deemphasis of Shinto, the Kami, and overtly religious material was a cultural change that occurred throughout Japanese society, and Aikido was no exception. The general deemphasis on religion in Japan had little to do with the west, but was so complete that many young Japanese people look puzzled today if you mention the word "Shinto".

Material containing heavily religious references continued to be published throughout Kisshomaru's life. "Aikido Shinzui" is one collection of such articles published by Morihei Ueshiba, "Take Musu Aiki" is another.

Unfortunately, Morihei's writings are very difficult to understand, even for Japanese. Virtually all of his students, from Gozo Shioda to Mitsugi Saotome have made public comments that they often had no idea what he was talking about. Accordingly, a large part of Kisshomaru's efforts were spent on attempting to make his father's ideas more understandable. This may be best seen in "Aikido no Kokoro" ("The Spirit of Aikido"), where he does a fair job of expressing his father's views in more accessible language.

Best,

Chris
I understand that secularization was taking place throughout Japanese culture after the war... It appears to me that even Kisshomaru, and certainly Moriteru, looked at the Founder as something of an anachronism.

It's just that Aikido, as the creation of Morihei Ueshiba, can't be separated from it's spiritual components and still be Aikido in the way that O-Sensei intended. At Rocky Mountain Summer Camp two years ago, I had the chance to sit with Stan Pranin and Saotome Sensei and chat. The topic of which of O-Sensei's students had tried to understand his teachings, as he had himself understood them, came up. Both of them agreed that it was Hikitsuchi Sensei, Abe Sensei, and Sunadomari Sensei who had pursued Aikido from the spiritual point of view as outlined by the Founder.

Often we hear O-Sensei quoted as having told his deshi at honbu dojo that none of them were "doing my Aikido", if I remember the gist of the quotation. In the discussions on the forums this has often been taken to mean that their technique was lacking in some way. I think that he was referring more to the fact that Aikido technical practice had been largely separated from its spiritual underpinnings. The deshi all tried hard to understand and master his technique but only a small number put much attention on his spiritual message.

What is ironic about this is that it is precisely the spiritual message, abeit very simplified and watered down, that grabbed most folks in the West. O-Sensei, as the Founder whose insights allowed him to create this marvelous practice, is an icon for many in the West in a way that he isn't much at all in Japan. Of course there are styles whose originators purposely distanced themselves from the spritual aspects of Aikido as presented by O-Sensei. But I don't think it is accidental these styles have a much smaller following than the styles in which O-sensei still represents some sort of model for the practitioners.

I trained under Saotome Sensei, as most folks are aware. I don't think we had a practice go by when Sensei didn't refer to O-Sensei in one way or another. My whole experience of Aikido is essentially imbued with O-Sensei's influence, although second hand. For me, it is precisely my own attempt to understand what O-Sensei meant when he talked about Aikido and its spiritual principles that keeps me going in the art after thirty years. Aikido without O-Sensei, so to speak, would not merit so much of my life's time, effort, financial expenditure, etc. It would be just another form of martial exercise.

I have a hard time with the folks who impute all sorts of spiritual ideas to the Founder when that wasn't what he actually meant at all. But I have an even harder time with the folks who don't care at all. Their continued interest in Aikido is mystifying to me, absent as it is of any focus on what O-Sensei was trying to create with his art.

I have been so fortunate in having started my Aikido with someone who spent 15 years associated with the Founder. Short of training with O-Sensei directly I couldn't have had a better beginning. But I have been extremely lucky to have known so many teachers of the art for whom O-Sensei's message meant something crucial to the art. The Shingu lineage: Mary Heiny, Jack Wada, Tom Read, Linda Holiday, and Clint George; the vision they got from Hikitsuchi Sensei still inspires their teachings and their practice. William Gleason Sensei, whose renditions of O-Sensei's teachings and his presentation of Yamaguchi Sensei's version of the art has shaped the direction my own training has taken. John Stevens and Allen Beebe, both students of Shirata Sensei who, unlike many of the thirties deshi, was deeply interested in the spiritual side of Aikido. Even new friends, like Matsuoka Sensei, who is busy trying to get as much as he can from Abe Sensei before he passes away, are inspiring. These folks care deeply about the message. Each has his or her own take on what that message was but they are all commited to it.

If the majority of Japanese practitioners have lost touch with O-sensei's Aikido, this is all the more reason for the folks practicing here, where there are so many gifted teachers who do care, to try to keep his art alive in something close to the way he envisioned it. That is something worth spending ones life doing. I can't see merely workin to perfect one's nikkyo as fitting the bill.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 05-23-2006, 03:11 AM   #27
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Was O'Sensei a pacifist?

I think one can approach the question of whether Morihei Ueshiba was a pacifist from two directions: from his writings; and/or from seeing how Morihei Ueshiba would have fitted in (or not) with mainstream Japanese society from 1931 to 1945 and after. Either way, the ground is somewhat slippery.

I know that Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Sadateru Arikawa 'edited' the writings of Ueshiba (for the latter told me so), but I have never seen any texts which show the extent of the editing: the 'before' and 'after', so to speak. We are left with the biography written by Sundomari, the more 'official' biography written by Kisshomaru Ueshiba and the reminiscences of his father contained in Aikido Ichiro. There is little evidence from any prewar written sources that Ueshiba was a pacficist in any sense of the word.

The second direction is to attempt to place Ueshiba in the context of wartime Japan. Again, there is not a great deal to go on here. He was an avowed Omoto believer right up until the Second Omoto Incident in 1935, after which his connections with Omoto-kyou became far more distant. There is some evidence of anti-war sentiment among Omotokyou and Tenrikyou believers in rural districts, but the political climate became more and more hostile and there is no evidence that Morihei Ueshiba himself publicly espoused anti-war sentiments. The Kobukan Dojo was a meeting place for young officers who eventually attempted a coup and Ueshiba himself taught aiki-budo to the Japanese military at numerous schools. It is very hard to believe that he would have done this had he been a pacifist, as this term is usually understood. It is also hard to believe that Ueshiba understood aikido, even at this time, in anything less than spiritual terms, even though this should not be understood as synonymous with anti-war sentiments.

There is some evidence that Ueshiba became upset at how the war was being fought and that this was a contributory factor in his decision to move to Iwama in 1942. There is some discussion of this in Kisshomaru Ueshiba's Aikido Ichiro.

After the war, however, Ueshiba might well have changed his views, especially in view of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the thousands of military and civilians killed, and Japan's defeat. I know a number of Japanese who are now in their eighties, living here in Hiroshima, who did the same thing.

Best regards to all,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 05-23-2006 at 03:21 AM.

P A Goldsbury
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Old 05-23-2006, 03:42 AM   #28
Dieter Haffner
 
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Re: Was O'Sensei a pacifist?

This discussion reminds me of a quote by the roman writer Flavius Vegetius Renatus around 400 AD:
"If you want peace prepare for war".
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Old 05-23-2006, 08:11 AM   #29
MikeLogan
 
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Re: Was O'Sensei a pacifist?

My brain was off yesterday, which must explain my rather exceptional practice last night. The term pacifist as it is commonly regarded is on a larger scale than a self defense situation anyhow. I forgot O Sensei's time on the mainland for one thing, but I also got stuck on the term itself, which I should have realized is obsolete for reasons stated above. gah.

And yes, Jo, that is a good question.

michael.
good thread.
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Old 05-23-2006, 01:37 PM   #30
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Was O'Sensei a pacifist?

Messrs Valadez, Li, and Ledyard,

Have any of you (or any one else, of course) read 開祖 植芝盛平の合気道 Kaiso Ueshiba Morihei no Aikido, by Omiya Shiro? The subtitle is "Waza" to "kotoba" ni himerareta seishin sekai; "The spiritual world hidden inside 'techniques' and 'words'".

According to the bio, he is apparently a Daito-ryu shihan and researcher into Koshinto 古神道 and Gengaku 玄学. I myself have no idea how to evaluate his credentials and expertise in this area. It strikes me as a bit esoteric. And yet, unlike most Japanese books I've come across, it seems meticulously researched. It actually has a bibliography(!) 54 books long, including, as near as I can tell, everything by Ueshiba Morihei, everything by Kisshomaru, everything by Tohei Koichi, authors including Tanaka Bansen, Sunadomari Kanshu, Sunadomari Kanemoto, Saito Morihiro, Shioda Gozo, Kimura Tatsuo, Takeshita Isamu, Tenryu, Tomiki Kenji, Deguchi Onisaburo, Honda Chikaatsu and many more. It reminds me very much of Tom Shippey's The Road to Middle-earth, in a kind of "source analysis for the layman" kind of way. He looks at things Ueshiba says, and then refers to Omotokyo writings to help decipher what they mean, and then shows how these concepts show up in various techniques in various styles of aikido.

As I said, I don't have the background and specialized knowledge to judge how good this book is, nor how credible Omiya may be, but it certainly seems something worth checking out. At the end, he looks at the different styles of funakogi of Kisshomaru, Tohei, Shioda, and Sunadomari and how they relate to misogi!

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
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Old 05-23-2006, 01:54 PM   #31
billybob
 
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Re: Was O'Sensei a pacifist?

FWIW i took three oaths while I served with the U.S. Navy:

Upon enlistment:
Quote:
"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
Upon finishing basic training:
Quote:
"I am an American fighting man. I serve in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense."
Upon finishing Hospital Corpsman school:
I SOLEMNLY PLEDGE MYSELF BEFORE GOD
AND THESE WITNESSES
TO PRACTICE FAITHFULLY
ALL OF MY DUTIES AS A MEMBER OF
THE HOSPITAL CORPS.
I HOLD THE CARE OF THE SICK AND INJURED TO BE A
SACRED TRUST
AND WILL ASSIST THE MEDICAL OFFICER
WITH LOYALTY AND HONESTY.
I WILL NOT KNOWINGLY PERMIT HARM TO COME TO
ANY PATIENT.
I WILL NOT PARTAKE OF NOR ADMINISTER
ANY UNAUTHORIZED MEDICATION.
I WILL HOLD
ALL PERSONAL MATTERS
PERTAINING TO THE PRIVATE LIVES OF
PATIENTS IN STRICT CONFIDENCE.
I DEDICATE MY
HEART, MIND, AND STRENGTH
TO THE WORK BEFORE ME.
I SHALL DO ALL WITHIN MY POWER
TO SHOW IN MYSELF AN
EXAMPLE OF ALL THAT IS
HONORABLE AND GOOD
THROUGHOUT
MY NAVAL CAREER.

dave
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Old 05-23-2006, 02:47 PM   #32
Chris Li
 
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Re: Was O'Sensei a pacifist?

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote:
Messrs Valadez, Li, and Ledyard,

Have any of you (or any one else, of course) read ŠJ‘c@AŽÅ·•½‚̍‡‹C"¹ Kaiso Ueshiba Morihei no Aikido, by Omiya Shiro? The subtitle is "Waza" to "kotoba" ni himerareta seishin sekai; "The spiritual world hidden inside 'techniques' and 'words'".
I haven't read the book, so it may be perfectly good, but Omiya's credentials are, as I understand the situation, somewhat exaggerated, to say the least.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-23-2006, 09:12 PM   #33
senshincenter
 
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Re: Was O'Sensei a pacifist?

Hi Josh,

I have not read the book either. I only know of the author from his "Hidden Roots of Aikido" book. it does sound like a very interesting read. I think, if you really wanted to get a handle on its credibility, you could track the research through the bibliography. That is always one's best bet - and the best way of learning more about a book's topic. However, it is a lot of work (the downside).

I'd have to say that I think the book's perspective sounds very reasonable to me - I'd have to, I think. I've done such things, or tried to do such things, twice here at Aikiweb.com. First there was my article on Ichirei-Shikon-Sangen-Hachiriki (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...ghlight=sangen) and then my latest article in this month's columns - on Osensei's "Kannagara no Jutsu" (http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/thegr...e/2006_05.html)

Note: I'm with George on what part of Osensei's message folks were missing, etc., - (it being the spiritual part - it not being the technical/kokyu part).

regards,
d

David M. Valadez
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Old 05-23-2006, 10:51 PM   #34
6th Kyu For Life
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Re: Was O'Sensei a pacifist?

I stumbled upon this article while doing research for a paper (Unfortunately, the paper was not on Aikido--I was just wasting time).
I don't know how JStor works if you don't have a subscription, but you might be able to access it from a library.

Link to article on JStor

Allan Bäck and Daeshik Kim. "Pacifism in the Eastern Martial Arts," from Philosophy East and West, Vol. 32, No. 2. (Apr., 1982), pp. 177-186.

Here's the first paragraph:
Quote:
In this article we wish to claim that, despite the paradoxical appearances, there is a positive relation between pacifism and the Eastern martial arts. We shall argue that all moral agents, even absolute pacifists, have a duty to learn how to fight. Further, after making some observations about the peculiar way in which the consciousness of the practitioner of the Eastern martial arts is supposed to be related to his acts of violence, according to the tradition, we shall claim that it is morally preferable to learn to fight in such a system rather than in one without such features.
It's an interesting article, but I don't think that Kim and Back's understanding of pacifism necessarily correlates to all martial arts, specifically, Aikido. For the purposes of their argument, they divide pacifism into "absolute" pacifism and "conditonal" pacifism, and then argue "the person who is not an absolute pacifist has a moral obligation to learn how to fight."(179)

It's not the moral obligation part that concerns me, as much as the implication that doing martial arts negates absolute pacifism. If absolute pacifism is "never fight in any circumstance" then couldn't a martial art without fighting be compatible with absolute pacifism? Of course, painting all of Aikido with the "not fighting" brush has it's own problems, but we know that to some people, Aikido is "not fighting." Can martial arts have both absolute pacifism and conditional pacifism? I think so, or rather I think that this classification doesn't work well for Aikido

Peace (neither absolute nor conditional),
Tom Newhall
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Old 05-27-2006, 05:12 PM   #35
billybob
 
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Re: Was O'Sensei a pacifist?

An adventurer seeks battle to further his own sway over others; his power. I have no time for these people.

A person unwilling to fight may as well be dead already, and shamefully allows others to be hurt because they will not take responsibility.

A person who puts themselves aside to fight to bring peace, and bears the hurt fully knowing what suffering is - walks the true path.

A person willing to fight, but having the wisdom and humility to use diplomacy - is beyond my understanding.

A person who embodies all those persons listed before and seeks peace --- is someone the world desperately needs.

dave
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