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Old 02-15-2007, 04:12 PM   #1
Ecosamurai
 
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The third generation

Hello all,

Recently I've been reading a lot of the discussions here, on aikidojournal and e-budo etc all discussing aikido's shortcomings (supposed ones that is, I happen to like it as it is just fine). Ellis Amdur's blogs and threads here and on aikidojournal in particular spring to mind. I was also thinking recently about how none us would really be aware of such ideas until five or six years ago, thanks to the creation of discussion forums like the one here on aikiweb. I remember when aikido-l was the only place available to talk about aikido, and I note the difference in the tone and character of the list since aikiweb added forums (plus other budo/aikido forums appeared).

It all made me think. When I was 15 my grandmother died, she had been a holocaust survivor and her entire family except for her were murdered by the Nazis. When she died I was just getting to the age where I was beginning to ask her questions about what it was like at that time for her. These questions were ones that my father (her son) wouldn't have dared to ask her, when he was growing up it was simply not talked about. I can clearly remember him being slightly nervous when I interviewed my grandmother for a school history project and ask her about her experiences during the war.

Apparently I am not alone in this experience, many jewish people of my generation whose grandparents lived through the holocaust have similar experiences. The survivors' children do not talk to their parents about it but their children do (and the children of the survivors are often shocked at the willingness of their parents to discuss such things with their grandchildren).

It strikes me that many of us are the third generation of aikido, the students of the students of O Sensei. Perhaps now, like I did, we're starting to ask questions about our grandparents that our parents wouldn't have been comfortable asking.

Anyway, just thought I'd throw that into the mix and see what people thought

Regards

Mike Haft

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
-Martin Luther King Jr
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Old 02-15-2007, 04:23 PM   #2
Rod Yabut
 
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Re: The third generation

Quote:
It strikes me that many of us are the third generation of aikido, the students of the students of O Sensei. Perhaps now, like I did, we're starting to ask questions about our grandparents that our parents wouldn't have been comfortable asking.
You hit on something there Mike. I've posted questions here as well that apparently are "hot buttons" but on my part was truly just a question for curiousity's sake, with no mailice or agenda behind it.

Rod
"Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything." -- Miyagi Sensei
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Old 02-15-2007, 04:48 PM   #3
Mike Hamer
 
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Re: The third generation

I like your Idea, and think part of that is due to the fact that the internet isnt face to face conversation. I mean who's going to question a high ranked sensei's methods face to face when they are just starting?

To speak ill of anything is against the nature of Aikido
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Old 02-15-2007, 06:09 PM   #4
crbateman
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Re: The third generation

Change is inevitable. Dilution of original concepts through direct transmission is inevitable. Adaptation and interpretation are inevitable. Even direct students of O'Sensei are varied in their memory of those teachings (due to timing and individual perception), and in their willingness to preserve the art faithfully as O'Sensei taught them.

Perhaps the "skip a generation" mindset can be attributed in part to the propensity humanity seems to have not to want something until it's at arm's length, as it is too easy to take for granted when there is not a noticeable generation gap. People often do not appreciate things until they are in danger of losing them.

Everybody makes Aikido their own creation, and their is no real "compass" to keep on track. Many would say that responsibility falls on Aikikai, but those in Yoshinkai, Ki Society, Tomiki-Ryu and any of a myriad of others would beg to differ. Even within Aikikai, if one trains on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, the methodology will be somewhat (and often a lot) different than those who train on Monday and Wednesday evenings.

It is for the individual to seek the necessary knowledge, through books, videos, and through choice of training and organization, to preserve those ideals from prior generations that they feel are important. It is also for the teacher to decide what concepts should be emphasized or abandoned. One cannot hope to be an exact replica of previous generations, but only to try to acquire as much knowledge as possible, in order to make best-informed decisions.

O'Sensei's Aikido evolved during his lifetime. All of ours will, as well. For me, I'm just gonna try and enjoy the ride. And that's my $.02 (before taxes...).
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Old 02-16-2007, 12:50 AM   #5
Nafis Zahir
 
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Re: The third generation

I agree with you. Even in one's own dojo, if every trained in the same class, they would still be somewhat different. That is the reason why I like to travel to seminars of different instructors from different styles. But just as much as they are all different, you can still see the similarities within the techniques. I believe the answer lies in having a strong basic foundation, no matter what style you choose.

As for asking questions, that has its place. Asking too many questions can be a hinderance, and many times, the answer would be one you wouldn't understand. It is better to learn through practice. But when your instructor, especially a high ranking Shihan, opens the floor for questions, well, that is a time to take advantage of the moment. There is somethin to learn at that instance, and I have been fortunate enough to have experienced several of those moments.

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Old 02-16-2007, 04:12 AM   #6
SeiserL
 
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Re: The third generation

At least we are on the family tree.
Let's make sure the tree keep growing.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 02-16-2007, 09:43 AM   #7
Erik Calderon
 
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Re: The third generation

I have many times hosted Mr. Kato, Hiroshi - student of the founder of Aikido. Everytime he came to Houston I would set up a time so that students could ask him whatever they wanted to. It was always one of the most enjoyable parts of the seminar. He would have a few drinks and completely open up.

Some of the stories he told us were shocking, especially about the times after the Bomb was dropped in Japan.

If you ever have a chance to visit a seminar with him, request that a session, an interview session be made with him. He is one of the most humble and receptive people I have ever met. Ask him anything you like, some answers he will keep you thinking, like a zen instructor, but always he will be direct and to the point.

Erik Calderon
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www.shinkikan.com

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Old 02-16-2007, 09:57 AM   #8
ChrisMoses
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Re: The third generation

Quote:
Mike Haft wrote:
Recently I've been reading a lot of the discussions here, on aikidojournal and e-budo etc all discussing aikido's shortcomings (supposed ones that is, I happen to like it as it is just fine). Ellis Amdur's blogs and threads here and on aikidojournal in particular spring to mind. I was also thinking recently about how none us would really be aware of such ideas until five or six years ago, thanks to the creation of discussion forums like the one here on aikiweb. I remember when aikido-l was the only place available to talk about aikido, and I note the difference in the tone and character of the list since aikiweb added forums (plus other budo/aikido forums appeared).
This thing turned out longer than I'd anticipated, sumimasen...

Four parts, 1) reply on the interweb's influence on Aikido, 2) assertion that we're simply more aware of a phenomenon that's as old as Aikido itself, 3) comments on the generational effect and 4) my personal take on what's GOOD about the way things are.

1) I know personally the big shift in my thinking and training came as a result of a combination of factors. The forums (e-budo/swordforum/AJ primarily), AJ's AikiExpo, and beginning to train with my current teacher (Neil Yamamoto) were primary, but these things were all somewhat interrelated. I don't think AikiExpo would have been as well attended as it was had it not been for the rise in popularity of the forums. I met Neil chatting on e-budo about Scotch, and was interested in what he had to offer after attending Expo and seeing who he had trained with. As I've said before, I came out of the first Expo really embarrassed by the Aikido that was shown and really floored with the level of skill of the other arts and teachers that were present (Toby Threadgill, Don Angier, Ellis Amdur, Kondo Sensei, Ushiro Sensei...) They all seemed to do the stuff that sets Aikido apart from other arts, better than nearly anyone in Aikido was doing it.

2) There's nothing new under the sun however, so as I expanded where and with who I trained it was like breaking through a floor to find that there were already people down there. Bernie Lau went through the same thing in the 80's when he was trying to make what he was taught in Aikido work for his police work. If you want to look back even further, Takuma Hisa studied first with OSensei and then with Takeda Sensei when he offered to show him (supposedly) the 'rest' of Daito Ryu. Most of the 'cool kids' from the Expo knew or had trained with each other, and many had ties to Aikido at some point, but were not (at least prior to the Expo) well known to the Aikido community at large. Many of the koryu silverbacks in the US studied Aikido, but they too went looking elsewhere for more, often referring to Aikido as the "gateway drug." I guess what I'm saying is that this isn't new, but that perhaps the awareness and ease of access to information about the phenomenon is.

3) I also think you're correct with the generational thing. I had a similar discussion with a former training partner of mine a few years back. She had a great insight, that Aikido needed a new story. Let's face it, if OSensei did anything, he created a cult of personality around himself. That impression was so powerful that it filtered down to the second generation even if they never met or saw the man. Look at the incredible stories that were accepted verbatim and printed for years and years: disappearing up a flight of stairs, fighting spirits in the mountains, defeating swordsmen with a glance... I believe that there was something about the guy that made people want to believe this kind of thing, and they believed it so powerfully that the belief was transferred to those that they taught. But we're past that now, and that kind of story isn't going to hold for that much longer. Perhaps if those who followed him had been every bit the martial artist that he was, but that just isn't the case. If Aikido is to continue in a healthy way, we need a human OSensei, and we're going to have to let go of a lot of the dogma that was propagated in the 70's by people who spent a couple years in Japan or read the Dynamic Sphere. We need to get over the idea that we will never surpass our teachers, that's crap. Ueshiba studied with Takeda Sensei for a relatively short period of time before he started teaching. Kano Sensei defeated his teacher after a couple years. Time to break the behavioral conditioning...

4) It's not so bad really. The way things exist today, Aikido offers a fun way to do some Japanese stuff, get some exercise and meet some cool people. It's everywhere and offered at different levels for just about anyone to find a dojo that works for them. But (IMHO) it offers very few avenues for those who really want to be excellent. The head of my first Aikido school, Kurita Minouru, liked to associate the 'michi/do' character with a path that winds up a mountain. He talked about how all martial arts are just different paths up the same mountain, and that while we might cross paths occasionally and even get in each other's way at times, when we reached the top we would all share the same view. Generally, I agree with him, but since I don't know when to shut up, I'm gonna run with that analogy. I see a mountain with a myriad of paths, interconnected and ranging from well groomed green trails that wind slowly up, to 5.7 faces. I think that most people prefer to walk the green trails. Sure these trails all lead to the top, but they take a really long time to get there, and along that way, it's pretty easy to take a wrong turn and just wind up doing laps around the hill. Again, that might be all some people are actually after, a lovely lifelong walk. Others are not going to be content with that and are going to be willing to risk something to gain some elevation. The steep bits are not capable of handling everyone, as Aikido has grown it's put more and more people on the hill. I think at first everyone was taking the steep pitches (ie. Hell Dojo) but as things grew, those routes became too clogged until most people began walking the green and blue trails. At this point, people know where to go if they want more, and frankly, most people don't.

All for now.

Chris Moses
TNBBC, "Putting the ME in MEdiocre!"
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Old 02-16-2007, 11:15 AM   #9
Charlie
 
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Re: The third generation

I have suggested it before and I will strongly do so again now...

There is an Aikidoka in our midst that can talk intelligently about many of the things brought up in this thread and others. He can tell you about the old ways versus the new.

He is Amos Parker 8th dan of Houston, TX. Anybody that is remotely interested in anything dealing with aikido [or the arts in general]...contact him!

He has practice aikido officially for 45 years [35 of which were spent living and teaching in Japan]. As far as I know, he is THE senior yudansha in the US! His "style" of practice is Yoshinkan but he would be the first to tell you that it is all the same thing.

Many of the topics raised by people like Ellis A., Mike S., And Dan H. aren't necessarily "new" hot topics of discussion. I've heard Parker sensei speak on many of the different fine points raised on various occasions years ago.

He has not been one to look for the limelight and why he hasn't been highlighted in some of the more leading Aikido publications is beyond me. Either way it doesn't really matter, however, he is there for anyone else willing to ask him a question.

I hate for this to sound like a shameless plug for the man but you all need to know that there is a very approachable NON Japanese source that is available that can tell you stories in a language that all us "gaijin" can understand.

For anyone that may be interested you can contact him through his website or through that of Steven Miranda's at:

http://www.seikeikan.com/ayy/index.html or

http://seikeikan.com/yoshinkandojo.php#United%20States


FWIW

Charlie B.

Charles Burmeister
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Old 02-16-2007, 11:38 AM   #10
M. McPherson
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Re: The third generation

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote:
I see a mountain with a myriad of paths, interconnected and ranging from well groomed green trails that wind slowly up, to 5.7 faces.
Mr. Moses,

Great post - one of those that will be referred back to, again and again. But...5.7? I recently had an illuminating experience with an extremely talented internal instructor that made me realize that I wasn't even really on the mountain yet; I was kicking back on a lovely alpine meadow at the base, yawning and watching the clouds go by. To get the goods, not only would I have to actually get on the mountain, I was going to have to spend most of my time ascending a 5.10 ice chute in order to summit. Come to think of it, 5.10 might be underestimating it...

Regards,
Murray McPherson
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Old 02-16-2007, 12:01 PM   #11
Mark Gibbons
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Re: The third generation

Simplified metaphor explanation for non climbers. 5.x is a rating of climbing difficulty.

5.7 - vertical rock reasonable holds, usually takes training, skill, lack of fear to climb. Most somewhat athletic folks, working hard could get up this.

5.10 - used to be the limit of what was climbable(1950's?). Subtle climbing, only small things to hold on to. Very hard. Most folks could never climb something like this.

Thanks for the post Chris.

Mark (climbing 5.9, aikido 5.2)
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Old 02-16-2007, 12:25 PM   #12
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Re: The third generation

Quote:
Charles Burmeister wrote:
Many of the topics raised by people like Ellis A., Mike S., And Dan H. aren't necessarily "new" hot topics of discussion. I've heard Parker sensei speak on many of the different fine points raised on various occasions years ago.
Hmmmmm..... Charlie, I'm tempted to let this one pass, but maybe it's better to say something. You just said something that may be questionable.

Leaving aside the discussion about "new hot topics", you've essentially claimed something for your teacher, Parker Sensei, which may or may not be true. I don't know. If Parker Sensei has some good, in-depth information about various ki-related skills, then you should know them, too, one would suppose. If you know them, you should be able to discuss them intelligently and knowledgeably.

If you don't know them, but Parker Sensei does, then logically he is not teaching his students very well.

If he doesn't know these things (and I know people who have spent decades in Japan and China and who don't know them.... e.g., it's pretty obvious Donn Draeger didn't learn anything about them), then you just set Parker Sensei up.

It's not about you or Parker Sensei, it's a general comment about claiming something for someone else when they're not present.... it's just impossible to get anywhere with those statements, if you see what I mean.

Best.

Mike
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Old 02-16-2007, 02:40 PM   #13
Charlie
 
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Re: The third generation

Hi Mike…

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
…Hmmmmm..... Charlie, I'm tempted to let this one pass, but maybe it's better to say something. You just said something that may be questionable…
I see where you are coming from.

When it comes to Parker sensei, my references are not limited to just the ki type topics that have been raised. Ultimately, he is the one to ask specific questions to what that entails. My comment was more to the side that he has engaged in these types of conversations and has his own theories and understanding. If that truly coincides with what you and others are ultimately getting at, again is not a question for me but for him.

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
…If Parker Sensei has some good, in-depth information about various ki-related skills, then you should know them, too, one would suppose. If you know them, you should be able to discuss them intelligently and knowledgeably…
I should know them if I was aware of what he was teaching me at the time AND I was focusing on that. I make no claim to his abilities other than what he has said or done. I have seen him do some of the ki type stuff that you and others have used as points of interest. It was not something that he would do on a regular basis or with everyone. I can say for sure that everything that he does points back to basics…always.

I can for sure say that at the time that I was with him in Japan…my interest at the time was definitely NOT ki related stuff. I was 23 at the time and just out of the Marines and many many times acted like it! Like it happens so many times to instructors a lot of things that he said didn't make sense until…well…now…kinda…

I have been following all that comes out from the discussions that you have started. I look at all the various exercises that have been coming to light and comparing them to things that I have been taught. As you and others have stated, there is a lot of commonality. My biggest problem is I don't have ready access to people like you are Rob John or Dan to see if it is truly the same thing.

If they are along the same lines…I am the first to say that I have not been [directly] training for those types of results. I don't feel that this in any way should weigh against my instructor. After all, I was the one not pursuing that end.

That being said, however, Parker sensei does make it known that this type of skill is out there.

All in all, Parker sensei has told some pretty amazing stories that he says that he witnessed himself. I realize that like so many before he could have missed the boat. However, like you always say…you have to feel him. In my own personal experience, I've never felt anything else like it. To say that he feels like a mountain is an understatement.

This brings me to why I put his name out there in the first place. He was in a very unique position to have not only seen the Yoshinkan in transition but the Aikikai as well. He was basically there when the Yoshinkan was in its infancy stages of growth and was still doing many things like the Aikikai at that time. He has seen the change from old to new and for that very reason is why you should be picking apart his experience. If he doesn't know directly he may still have some of the pieces that you or others may be looking for.

FWIW

Charlie B.

Charles Burmeister
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Old 02-16-2007, 03:09 PM   #14
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Re: The third generation

Hi Charlie:

Well, you deleted the post that was making my point for me... you apparently saw the logic of what I was driving at.

I'm sure Parker Sensei is a good and interesting person to meet and I'd enjoy meeting/seeing him.

All the Best.

Mike
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Old 02-16-2007, 03:10 PM   #15
Charlie
 
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Re: The third generation

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
...If you don't know them, but Parker Sensei does, then logically he is not teaching his students very well...
Funny you should mention it but he would probably be the first person to tell you that maybe he isn't the best instructor out there!

As a matter of fact…about a month or two ago, I was discussing with him a class that I was looking at teaching. His last bit of advice for me was "don't teach like me…have more patience."

Always the realist!

You have to realize that the main school where he taught was the Yokosuka Naval base. There were students coming and going on a daily basis. Hard to teach touchy ki stuff when people are leaving for a 3 month cruises around the Pacific Rim on a constant basis.

Charlie B.

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Old 02-16-2007, 03:12 PM   #16
Charlie
 
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Re: The third generation

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Hi Charlie:

Well, you deleted the post that was making my point for me... you apparently saw the logic of what I was driving at.

I'm sure Parker Sensei is a good and interesting person to meet and I'd enjoy meeting/seeing him.

All the Best.

Mike
I had to touch it up Lol

Last edited by Charlie : 02-16-2007 at 03:26 PM.

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