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Old 03-25-2007, 10:14 AM   #51
jliebman
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
While I am not saying it couldn't happen, it would basically be a first if, after Yamada, Sugano, and Chiba Senseis are gone, the next generation managed to keep things together in a harmonious whole.
Usually, once the big guy(s) is gone, all of the different aspirations of the various individuals start coming out and they find that they have widely differing ideas about where things should go...

Mark my words, I could easily see the Aikikai Hombu dojo thinking it should send a new generation of Japanese teachers over to preside over the folks you mentioned, despite their ranks and Shihan status. If I had money to spare I'd bet on it...
Yamada Sensei has already designated his successor for the representation of the USAF to Hombu dojo, in the current USAF ByLaws. Whether or not this person takes an active role in the operation of the USAF, I am sure that the current "various individuals" who have "different aspirations" and "different ideas" will be guided by his good judgement in matters of organization.

The USAF seminar system encourages a closeness in relationships between senior students that I have not seen in other aikido organizations, and a mutual re-enforcement of goals. It may be that there are not so many "different aspirations" and "different ideas" as Ledyard Sensei thinks.
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Old 03-25-2007, 10:45 AM   #52
Takuan
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

This sounds a bit conspiratory. I don't like the sound of many of these assumptions. To be honest, I don't even like the sound of "American Aikido". Aikido is a Japanese art and should remain so. Saotome Sensei says that he believes Aikido belongs to the Ueshiba family. I'm fine with that. Please remember that O-Sensei had serious doubts whether Aikido techniques should be spread around the world. The former Doshu had to work very hard to convince him and I feel indebted to him for that. I'm not interested in joining any organization that is not directly linked to the Aikikai. Aikido is not based on democracy, its hierarchical; so what's all the fuss about? We should trust that the current Doshu will do what's best for Aikido around the globe and do our best to aid him whichever way we can, period.
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Old 03-25-2007, 10:46 AM   #53
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

"It is not given that the large will remain large and the small will remain small"- Morihei Ueshiba O'Sensei

Recently, I left the Independent organization that I had belonged to for 13 years. Why? Simply put, in dealing with spirit (this definition of Aikido was never a matter of debate for O'Sensei. It is always spirit in his book) humans need a form to follow to guide them on their path. But once found, the form becomes truly Secondary to the observation of natural law (or spirit) and a dojo becomes only a place for fellowship in training. However, one no longer needs their teacher to teach them. The doka no longer clothes themselves with the word 'Aikidoist' .The doka no longer needs the approval of his/her fellows because the techniques speak the words of satisfaction or disapproval. The doka begins to see the holes in the humans around him/her compassionately but wisely.
But when the structure is so inclusive of Japanese hierarchy, and the teacher needs to be the one who knows or who is in authority,then spirit is eclipsed by humanness and our spirit suffers. This is an awful situation that occurs when sensei,shihan, doshu lose sight of our place in alignment with this god inspired form. This situation brings inspired people to a place of deep human doubt and the dojo or organization is most likely unequipped to grow to handle it. But aikido, not the dojo, is true democracy.

O'Sensei chose martial arts, but Aiki O'Kami chose him. In the face of such calling, human interests no longer interested O'Sensei. We are now engaged in a generation of people who hear the voice of the Kami much more readily than our elders. This is only because of our elders(thank you). This is the natural evolution of aiki/spirit that O'Sensei wanted. So while men choose men, Let us as Aikidoka choose spirit. Let us first observe the works of people and then, maybe, give a hoot about some politically conferred title.A title you or I could never have despite any level of experience, enlightenment, devotion, calling, etc.

After 13 years of faithful, skillful. athletic, inspired, informed, and loving technique born of hard work and pain I can only call myself a Nidan in Aikido because of politics, sexism, and hypocrisy. But to O'Sensei in the heavens, I am a divine creature; A song of the way living my inspiration, bringing good works to the world and learning to be a loving parent to all. In spirit, the second is my preference. I hear the voice of Aikido within.

I hear it.Is there a certificate for that. Can I call myself doshu? Technically, no. Truly, yes. I am the head of my own way. The way of my life formed in the way of Aiki. The only way is our own born of spirit.
So forget this stuff. Let the empire fall. Aikido is not in trouble. People are. Love your art. Practice with your fellows, turn your eyes toward the heavens and dance shin kokyu with O'Sensei.
Blessings,
jen
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Old 03-25-2007, 11:33 AM   #54
Cady Goldfield
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

Soccer/futbol is international and universal. Baseball was created in the U.S. of America, but the Japanese have taken it as their own, and have given it a distinctive Japanese approach and feel. Why should aikido have to remain solely Japanese?
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Old 03-25-2007, 11:45 AM   #55
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

Quote:
Jory Liebman wrote: View Post
Yamada Sensei has already designated his successor for the representation of the USAF to Hombu dojo, in the current USAF ByLaws. Whether or not this person takes an active role in the operation of the USAF, I am sure that the current "various individuals" who have "different aspirations" and "different ideas" will be guided by his good judgement in matters of organization.

The USAF seminar system encourages a closeness in relationships between senior students that I have not seen in other aikido organizations, and a mutual re-enforcement of goals. It may be that there are not so many "different aspirations" and "different ideas" as Ledyard Sensei thinks.
I've always felt that the USAF did an excellent job of putting their senior American instructors forward. The closeness you mention between the seniors may be the positive side of the Federation's almost exclusive focus on people from within its organization. Perhaps it will result in a group that can form a leadership core that survives after the Japanese former uchi deshi have passed.

Anyway, I'd love to see us take responsibility for our own Aikido and run with it. I am not much in agreement with the direction Aikido has taken and think we can do better for ourselves. Aikido was never meant to have a "style" imposed on it but rather should be an art in which each individual finds his own expression.

If the next generation of teachers continues the politics and narrowness of focus of the previous generation of Japanese teachers, it won't make any difference if Japanese Shihan or the American Shihan are running the show.

Budo should be about personal relationships and not about organizations. I have a friend who was a senior member of one of the major Aikido organizations. He traveled all the time teaching and was a very popular and respected teacher within his org. Then he broke with his teacher and went independent... What happened to all those folks who used to invite him and loved his teaching so much? He basically dropped off the face of the earth. I think that is total BS. A true student of Budo doesn't pick his associates based on who is in favor or out of favor with some political group (or frankly, even with ones own teacher).

I think that, all in all, large organizations have been very good at encouraging the growth of the art here and abroad. I also think that they have in many cases restricted the growth of their senior members in favor of creating good organization men and women. The seniors have been actively discouraged from training outside the box both especially within the Aikido community.

Once again, I have another friend who is senior in one of the organizations... he was asked to teach at a camp or some such event. This particular teacher had been doing some training with folks outside of his organization (not with the approval of his peers) and had some things that he was very excited about. He taught some of those things in his class at the camp and was later approached by the other seniors and told that they shouldn't be teaching anything but the strictly delimited "style" from the group of which they were members. They didn't even want to see anything different.

Now I am not saying that independence is some panacea either. In my experience, many independent dojos are isolated and out of touch. Often the reason they went independent was so that no one could tell them what to do. But when left to their own devices they didn't push the envelope, they settled for the comfortable. Easy to do when no one is over you... At least the organizations set some standards. The freedom these independent folks have to train with anyone they want gets exercised by doing what I call the checklist approach... they invite all sorts of people but don't actually make the commitment to master any of the things they have been shown. They just mark the name of the teacher off the list and say, "Yes, we had him teach at our place." One can marvel at all the different teachers that have passed through with no one actually changing much about what they do. No teacher who has anything to offer of any depth can pass much on in just a weekend. It takes repeated exposure. The let's fill our Yudansha books with as many names as possible approach doesn't really cut it either.

It's not that I am anti-organization... it's that I don't think that most of the ones I have seen function very well in encouraging the transmission and further development of the art. An organization with a structure designed to actually accomplish the transmission efficiently and encourage the growth of it of the skills within its membership would be a very positive thing and is actually necessary if the mass of folks out there are to experience Aikido in any depth.

I personally do not believe that the art should be as elitist as it is, where only the folks who had the good fortune to train with high level Shihan have any depth to their practice and everyone else is doing Aikido-lite. A truly functional organization is necessary to have a more equitable distribution of the skills. If we, as many are talking about, start to bring knowledge and skills in from outside of the art, how are these to be distributed to the wider community? Only through an organizational structure that is truly set up to pass on the knowledge gained by those at the top vertically to those at the bottom.

Anyway, Peter Goldsbury Sensei is writing a series on "transmission" and I hope that there will be further discussion of the issue of transmission as we go forward. I talk to a lot of people about these issues and am very surprised at how fundamentally conservative folks tend to be. This is the way its been, so this is the way that they will be in the future... What I am trying to point out is that there will be a time in the not too distant future when circumstances will be right for change if we want it. People will need to have some idea beforehand what they would like to see change or we will simply duplicate what has gone before for another generation or two.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 03-25-2007, 12:20 PM   #56
Marc Abrams
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

Joseph:

I am not suggesting that the Aikikai Hombu dojo does not have outstanding instructors, each who has their own style to the style. What I am suggesting is that for the most part, they exist only within their own structure. There is a lot out there in the larger budo world. The founder of Aikido seemed to have no problems allowing exposure to other arts, why is that a problem now? Even worse, there are some outstanding instructors outside of Japan, that Japan would be well served to give them the attention and support that they deserve.

Jory:

USAF does have a strong organization that supports it's own. George pointed out what happens to people who have left an organization who are excellent instructors. What about the people with the USAF who have been publicly chastised for attending events (eg. ASU summer camp) outside of the USAF?

Aikido needs to be open enough to go beyond organizations and we all need to support those instructors who have a lot to offer, regardless of their art or organization. It is about us developing OUR Aikido, not us replicating/mimicing our instructor's Aikido. The organizations do offer a lot in regards to consistency and continuity, but when politics outweigh quality and access to quality instruction, they only end-up hurting themselves.

marc abrams
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Old 03-25-2007, 04:48 PM   #57
statisticool
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

Quote:
Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
Soccer/futbol is international and universal. Baseball was created in the U.S. of America, but the Japanese have taken it as their own, and have given it a distinctive Japanese approach and feel. Why should aikido have to remain solely Japanese?
ki/kokyu/jin/qi/pengjin is the whole essence of baseball.

Couldn't resist.

Justin

A secret of internal strength?:
"Let your weight from the crotch area BE in his hands."
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Old 03-25-2007, 04:56 PM   #58
Marc Abrams
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

Justin:

I thought that the essence of baseball was spitting and grabbing your crotch.

marc abrams
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Old 03-25-2007, 07:44 PM   #59
salim
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Ai symbol Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

The USAF should really consider implementing the open mind policy to mixing Aikido with other forms. Martial Arts evolution is inevitable. The spiritual, cultural Aikido is stagnating the martial part of the art. Aikido is a modern martial art that has evolved from the core foundation of other martial forms.

The world we live in today requires all martial arts to continue the natural progression of evolving. Real life self defense as it pertains today, requires a constant vigilant approach to effectiveness. The Aikido world needs some refinement and reform. The purist mindset only serves to catapult the demise of the effectiveness in Aikido. Why allow a great martial art such as Aikido, diminish to fantasy and fairy tales. With all the bad publicity on youtube and other public arenas, the morale of the Aikido community could serve to deal with the realities of some Aikido concepts, which has become forums for public bashing. Yes we can ignore what other say, but some would like to see evolution continue the effectiveness route, rather than the cultural route.

I think organizations such as Real Aikido, are attempting to address this issue. They have applied the core foundation of Aikido and applied several concepts from Judo and Jujitsu. It would seem to some, especially those who are open minded that we would embrace the Real Aikido organization rather than undermine there concepts, Aikikai organization. It only serves in the best interest of the true nature of martial arts that we exhaust the principles of effectiveness and keep an open mind to learning other martial concepts.

The core foundation of Aikido for martial arts can be very effective, but there are some serious limitations to certain aspects of the art. We need more realistic approaches to countering certain real life attacks according to todays aggressive attackers. The cultural, spiritual aspects can be extremely annoying for those of us who are concerned with pure self defense and not a cultural lesson. Again the organization, such as Real Aikido should be embraced.
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Old 03-25-2007, 07:49 PM   #60
Aikibu
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

Quote:
Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post
"It is not given that the large will remain large and the small will remain small"- Morihei Ueshiba O'Sensei

Recently, I left the Independent organization that I had belonged to for 13 years. Why? Simply put, in dealing with spirit (this definition of Aikido was never a matter of debate for O'Sensei. It is always spirit in his book) humans need a form to follow to guide them on their path. But once found, the form becomes truly Secondary to the observation of natural law (or spirit) and a dojo becomes only a place for fellowship in training. However, one no longer needs their teacher to teach them. The doka no longer clothes themselves with the word 'Aikidoist' .The doka no longer needs the approval of his/her fellows because the techniques speak the words of satisfaction or disapproval. The doka begins to see the holes in the humans around him/her compassionately but wisely.
But when the structure is so inclusive of Japanese hierarchy, and the teacher needs to be the one who knows or who is in authority,then spirit is eclipsed by humanness and our spirit suffers. This is an awful situation that occurs when sensei,shihan, doshu lose sight of our place in alignment with this god inspired form. This situation brings inspired people to a place of deep human doubt and the dojo or organization is most likely unequipped to grow to handle it. But aikido, not the dojo, is true democracy.

O'Sensei chose martial arts, but Aiki O'Kami chose him. In the face of such calling, human interests no longer interested O'Sensei. We are now engaged in a generation of people who hear the voice of the Kami much more readily than our elders. This is only because of our elders(thank you). This is the natural evolution of aiki/spirit that O'Sensei wanted. So while men choose men, Let us as Aikidoka choose spirit. Let us first observe the works of people and then, maybe, give a hoot about some politically conferred title.A title you or I could never have despite any level of experience, enlightenment, devotion, calling, etc.

After 13 years of faithful, skillful. athletic, inspired, informed, and loving technique born of hard work and pain I can only call myself a Nidan in Aikido because of politics, sexism, and hypocrisy. But to O'Sensei in the heavens, I am a divine creature; A song of the way living my inspiration, bringing good works to the world and learning to be a loving parent to all. In spirit, the second is my preference. I hear the voice of Aikido within.

I hear it.Is there a certificate for that. Can I call myself doshu? Technically, no. Truly, yes. I am the head of my own way. The way of my life formed in the way of Aiki. The only way is our own born of spirit.
So forget this stuff. Let the empire fall. Aikido is not in trouble. People are. Love your art. Practice with your fellows, turn your eyes toward the heavens and dance shin kokyu with O'Sensei.
Blessings,
jen
After reading this post very carefully I would say it's one of the best and most inspiring posts I have ever read here on AikiWeb. Thank you.

No worries about being just a Nidan... I am too after 17 years. Perhaps I will be a Sandan this year who knows... I don't much care for rank so remember... your "rank" is never a true reflection of your Martial Spirit. Keep up the good works.

William Hazen

William Hazen
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Old 03-25-2007, 08:58 PM   #61
Cady Goldfield
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
Justin:

I thought that the essence of baseball was spitting and grabbing your crotch.

marc abrams
Marc,
Spitting (tobacco spit), grabbing your crotch AND patting teammates on the butt, and cussing.
But that's American baseball. Japanese baseball has its own traditions. (Good book on that -- "You Gotta Have Wa" ...

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpag...54C0A96F948260 )
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Old 03-25-2007, 10:21 PM   #62
SteveTrinkle
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

Quote:
Gordon Biddy wrote: View Post
There doesn't seem to be any crisis brewining in Aikido dojos or organization(s) in Japan. People train, learn, pass it on as they have done for a very long time and with a lot less debate...

GB
Speaking with only my own small experience, I think, maybe not "crisis" in Japan, but if a foreigner has put in the years necessary to gain some trust from the very high-ranking Japanese students, and if you drink enough beer together, there is very serious and insightful discussion of these issues taking place outside the dojo.

I do not often feel I have anything much to say in most of these discussions, but this is an interesting and important topic. I belong to the small, somewhat obscure group AKI. When Takeda Yoshinubu Shihan sent two of his long-time foreign students back to North America to begin teaching, he seemed to give very little direction and support at first. Now, I believe he was waiting to see what would happen first - how serious people were going to be. Now, 15 years later, the strong connection with and support from Japan continues and some of his very senior students have been discussing these issues for some time. I think these are some very good questions to be asking at this point in time. Thank you Ledyard Sensei.

Last edited by SteveTrinkle : 03-25-2007 at 10:23 PM. Reason: forgot something...
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Old 03-25-2007, 10:33 PM   #63
SteveTrinkle
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

I'm sorry, I forgot another thought - I think perhaps my group, AKI, benefits from being connected to Aikikai Honbu through Takeda Shihan while still remaining a small organization. We still have a sense of intimacy and closeness with Takeda Sensei and his students. We bring them here to the USA to meet our new students and we travel to Japan so our new members can feel connected. This maintains all kinds of standards and traditions in our group. I like it a lot and hope it continues for a long, long time. Thank you again.
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Old 03-26-2007, 01:56 AM   #64
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

Quote:
Joseph Bowen wrote: View Post
Having lived in asia for 8 of the past 9 years, and trained at least annually at the Aikikai Hombu dojo and watched the politics as a neutral outside observer, my impressions are completely the opposite. The Aikikai is the standard bearer. Doshu executes his techniques without the little eccentricities, but the rest of the instructors there have them. Yasuno Sensei's class is radically different from Miyamoto Sensei's class or Endo Sensei's class or Fujita Sensei's class. Each is unique and expresses their aikido quite differently. If you're impression of the Aikikai orthodoxy is correct then these individuals who teach the bulk of the classes at hombu dojo would not be so different.
I don't understand your concern. Toyota Sensei past on, the Aikikai did not send someone to replace him. Tohei Sensei, (USAF Midwest) past on, the Aikikai sent no one to replace him. Kanai Sensei past on, the Aikikai sent no one to replace him.
Where does this idea that the Japanese are going to jump off a plane and say, "I'm in charge here" come from? and what exactly are you afraid of losing?
In fact, I think there is a greater danger of us trying to assert our version of Aikido on them by demanding changes to accommodate us.
And as far as whether or not these "young replacement shihan" could hold their own or have the "special internal" skills to stand up to our reinventing US selves, don't count them short, unless you've been there recently, you don't know what they are capable of, nor what they are doing.
Here are a few rhetorical questions for you to think about: When was the last time you trained at Hombu dojo? Took the Doshu's class? Trained with any of the other shihan instructors there? Invited one of their instructors to teach at your organization's annual camp? Invited the Doshu to attend any special party of event for your organization?
The Japanese like most asian cultures attribute great importance to personal relationships. You cannot show up a stranger and expect to be treated as a intimate student. You'll be treated well, but before you are recognized you have to be more than a stranger. You have to give as well as receive. So, what have you done for the Aikikai lately other than just run your dojo?
I often find it difficult to write the words to express my thoughts, and more often than not miss things out. I like this post and thought it worth bringing up again.

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 03-26-2007, 03:20 AM   #65
mikebalko
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
. Take for instance that if you go on the Hombu Dojo website, there is a list of overseas instructors. All of the names listed are Japanese. The American Shihan are not listed. When confronted with this by two of the most senior American Shihan the response from the folks at Hombu was that when people are traveling and they want to find an instructor, they are looking for a Japanese teacher... This is pretty much a representative attitude.
I have read Ueshiba claimed to have been instructed in swordsmanship by a Tengu during one of his solitary training sessions in the mountain wilderness which lasted several days. Here is their king Sojobo instructing Minamoto Yoshitsue with the original boken

http://www.onmarkproductions.com/ass...i-tsukioka.jpg

He is of larger stature, with a long nose, thick curly white beard, long nose and round eyes. He looks alot like SARUTAHIKO, the Shinto "monkey man" gaijin kami. Osensei insisted that Aikido was the creation of the kami.

http://www.onmarkproductions.com/htm...tml#sarutahiko

Who looks alot like the Ainu.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:AinuGroup.JPG

Here is a recent picture, although obviously mixed with Jomon and Yayoi blood

http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/ANCJAPAN/YAYOI.HTM

the exact same caucasoid features can clearly be observed.I just figured this was the only explanation for the recent popularity of Russian systema in the aikido community,LOL.
Most people still think that "indians" were the first inhabitants of America also.

http://www.law.nyu.edu/kingsburyb/sp...lonization.htm
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Old 03-26-2007, 06:17 AM   #66
philipsmith
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

I've been following the thread with interest.

Our experience has been very different to the idea of imposition of a designated shihan from the Aikikai Hombu.

Our association (United Kingdom Aikikai) was recognised by Hombu with a caucasian, non-Shihan principal instructor, i.e. William Smith. In the following few years some important things happened.
Firstly Mr. Smith was promoted to Shihan by Doshu and following his death last year the new Principal, Gordon Jones was promoted to Shihan.
We also have a visit for our Summer Camp from a Hombu Shihan every year, as well as regular informal contact through e-mail and personal visits by students of all ranks and experiences.

Also Hombu endorses our instructors to visit other associations abroad and to conduct examinations on their behalf - doesn't sound like imposition to me.
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Old 03-26-2007, 08:38 AM   #67
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

Quote:
Philip Smith wrote: View Post
I've been following the thread with interest.

Our experience has been very different to the idea of imposition of a designated shihan from the Aikikai Hombu.

Our association (United Kingdom Aikikai) was recognised by Hombu with a caucasian, non-Shihan principal instructor, i.e. William Smith. In the following few years some important things happened.
Firstly Mr. Smith was promoted to Shihan by Doshu and following his death last year the new Principal, Gordon Jones was promoted to Shihan.
We also have a visit for our Summer Camp from a Hombu Shihan every year, as well as regular informal contact through e-mail and personal visits by students of all ranks and experiences.

Also Hombu endorses our instructors to visit other associations abroad and to conduct examinations on their behalf - doesn't sound like imposition to me.
I should clarify here... It's not that I think that instructors would be "imposed"... it's not that I think there is some conspiracy going on... The thing that I worry about most is not that the Japanese send instructors over, it's that we (or some subset thereof) might very well request that they do so.

We don't have a history, in general, of treating our American instructors quite as seriously as our the Japanese teachers. Now, I would say that in California they've done well on that score. But it's interesting to note that Doran, Witt, Fraser, and Nadeau Senseis are pretty much in the same age range as the Japanese Shihan who have been here for many years. They will be passing at the same time. I believe that succession will be just as interesting for their groups.

If the successors to all of these groups do not command the same kind of respect that their teachers did, it will leave a major power gap. I foresee people shifting around and realigning with different groups, new groups forming etc. If we have developed a leadership which our folks are willing to really invest in (the way they have the Japanee authority figures who came here initially) then I think that there will be no influx of teachers from Japan. But if we don't have a generation of teachers whom folks are willing to grant that kind of authority, if the teachers who take over start to fall out with each other (which is historically what has always happened) then I could easily see people here casting about for someone to "believe in". Hombu would send instructors over again in a heartbeat and with the best of intentions. We need to look at the folks that we want to take over and start investing in them now, not wake up one day trying to decide what should happen.

Don't think it is automatic just because there are some 7th dans and Shihan already created, although that's a start... It will ultimately be a matter of whether the membership will REALLY invest authority in them.

Also, don't assume that the group that has had such good cohesion in the past will do so in the future. 7th Dans and Shihan status not withstanding, not one of the successors has had to really Lead yet. Outside of the own dojos its always been clear that any major decisions were made by the Japanese Shihan... the American seniors have always been in a position to carry out those decisions. Things will very likely be different when there are five or six or more leaders, now in the ultimate decision making position. Will they still be able to work together or will they start to carve out separate fiefdoms? I can easily foresee a situation in which folks started feuding and the run of the mill folks out there decide to simply ask for another authority figure to pull things together.

It is a fact that the Aikikai Hombu folks look at themselves as the center from which Aikido flows out to the rest of us. It's not some plot or covert plan I am talking about. As I said it's all with the best of intentions. There are folks over here who believe that as well. If we don't decide to really support our American teachers and really invest authority in them it will leave a natural power gap. That's all I am saying. I don't see any sign that we have really come to terms with that idea yet. Some folks may be clear in their minds but I don't think that most are. Most folks have a tendency not to worry about what the future holds until it is opon them.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
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Old 03-26-2007, 10:07 AM   #68
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

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Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
USAF does have a strong organization that supports it's own. George pointed out what happens to people who have left an organization who are excellent instructors. What about the people with the USAF who have been publicly chastised for attending events (eg. ASU summer camp) outside of the USAF?
Hi Marc,

I am not aware of any persons who have been "publicly chastised for attending events (eg. ASU summer camp) outside of the USAF?"

When I was in Florida, a number of USAF people would routinely attend seminars by Saotome and Ikeda Shihans, and no one said "boo." In my early aikido training, I trained with your Shihan for a couple of years, when he operated the NY Ki Society, and with Terry Dobson before he was associated with the ASU, and again, no one in the USAF said "boo". there are intolerant people in any organization, but I havent met any in the USAF.

Jory
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Old 03-26-2007, 12:04 PM   #69
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

Hi George,

I think I get what you are trying to have us feel out here... I get all the small points, even if I can see how some folks are ending up with a somewhat different conclusion(s). However, let me ask you, all of you here in this thread as well, is it that Hombu will step in (for whatever reason - good or bad, etc.) because there is a power vacuum or because folks here, they themselves, are looking to gain more power where there is no power vacuum. For example, let's say an organization with no clear leader opts to have some sort of "board" made up of many "leaders." Then in time, as often happens, folks start disagreeing, seeing and/or wanting to make differences, etc., and then in an attempt to legitimate their own differences over that of another, look to gain the support of Hombu. This, I can see happening - as this has happened already in one way or another all over the place. In some way then, it's not so much that Hombu is stepping in as it is that Hombu is legitimating folks that want to step out.

dmv

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Old 03-26-2007, 01:27 PM   #70
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

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Hi Marc,

I am not aware of any persons who have been "publicly chastised for attending events (eg. ASU summer camp) outside of the USAF?"
I don't know if chastised would be the right word, but it was pretty obvious that no "higher-ups" from the USAF organization were in attendance at the Aiki Expos (which by design transcended organizational barriers), even despite the last one being held in Southern California where there is a significant presence of USAF dojos. Was that just a coincidence?

I remember on Aikido Journal Wagner Bull sensei commented that he was invited to participate in the first Aikido Expo but later had to decline due to some implied organizational pressure. (His organization is not USAF but he is under the auspicious of Yamada shihan.) Perhaps there is no organizational-wide order for all memebers not to attend outside seminars but there does seem to be some organizational resistance to the idea at least for their leadership.
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Old 03-26-2007, 01:43 PM   #71
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

I enjoyed the article myself. I believe George has identified several major potential issues with the organization and leadership of aikido. It is unfortunate many responses to this article seem to discount the severity of the issues which are outlined.

I think the decision has establish a single successor for the art of aikido has ultimately resulted in extensive splittering of political aikido factions, and the promotion of diluted technical curriculum. In many older Japanese arts the leadership of a ryu is divided between a political figurehead and a technical instructor. O'Sensei chose not to apply this leadership structure when he designated his son to succeed him as both political and technical leader of aikido. I am not suprised the organization of aikido is experiencing growing pains related to O'Sensei's decision to combine the political and technical leadership of aikido.

Today, we have factions and organizations who do not observe a clear hierarchical structure established by the head of aikido, sandai doshu. The testing requirements and quality of student vary greatly from one organization to another, and from one school to another. Many dojo do not rigidly adhere to the dissemination of technical skill, and even bastardize aikido technique through the influence of other martial arts.

I understood George's article to call attention to a potential problem we (as aikidoka) may face in the future. I enjoy training aikido in my small dojo with my friends, and my goal is to train aikido. But sometimes we are called to leave our small dojo to assist others to achieve a bigger goal in aikido. If everyone thinks, "I don't need to leave my dojo, someone else will come along to do bigger things," then no one will come along. I think George is asking future leaders of aikido to be prepared should aikido need help. To that end, I suppose if you don't see George's call to preparation, then his message is not directed to you anyway...

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Old 03-26-2007, 02:19 PM   #72
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

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David Valadez wrote: View Post
Hi George,

I think I get what you are trying to have us feel out here... I get all the small points, even if I can see how some folks are ending up with a somewhat different conclusion(s). However, let me ask you, all of you here in this thread as well, is it that Hombu will step in (for whatever reason - good or bad, etc.) because there is a power vacuum or because folks here, they themselves, are looking to gain more power where there is no power vacuum. For example, let's say an organization with no clear leader opts to have some sort of "board" made up of many "leaders." Then in time, as often happens, folks start disagreeing, seeing and/or wanting to make differences, etc., and then in an attempt to legitimate their own differences over that of another, look to gain the support of Hombu. This, I can see happening - as this has happened already in one way or another all over the place. In some way then, it's not so much that Hombu is stepping in as it is that Hombu is legitimating folks that want to step out.

dmv
That is certainly one possible, and likely scenario. Stan Pranin posted this on Aikido Journal:
Quote:
First of all, I would like to thank George for his splendid article that contains so much food for thought. I'd like to comment on some of the remarks made in this thread.

The concept of aikido as "Ueshiba family property" is, I think, the way the Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba and, presumably his son too, view things. It was certainly not the view of the Founder Morihei Ueshiba who regarded aikido as an expression of natural forces in the Universe and himself as a conveyor of this energy and someone who discovered these pre-existing principles. I really don't see how anyone or any group can "own" aikido in any practical sense, particularly given the international dissemination of the art.

To understand what is going on, in my opinion, one must realize that for a large percentage of people, bonafide credentials are absolutely essential. This is not only in a professional sense, i.e., to demonstrate one's legitimacy and by extension proficiency (not always the case, obviously). There seems to be a deep psychological need for this official "stamp of approval." This is further compounded by the mystique associated with Japanese culture as something more traditional and refined than any western culture.

Being recognized is not enough. Since ranking implies a numerical proficiency scale, many feel they must steadily climb the ranking ladder and their success can be measured by how high they reach.

As long as people have this psychological need for recognition from a Japanese entity, you will hear the opinion that we in aikido should look to Japan for leadership. It really comes down to a personal decision about what is really important to you as a practitioner and where you look for inspiration and guidance. Choose carefully!
It has been natural for people to concede authority to a generation of teachers who trained directly with the Founder. One would tend to believe that they would have a better take on Aikido because of that experience (although now that I have trained for thirty years I can see that there are issues there as well).

But now, it's going to be more of an even playing field. There won't automatically be people in the administration in Japan whose experience is superior to our own. Soon, the people who trained with O-Sensei will be gone. That will leave only folks who trained under students of O-Sensei. There are American 6th and 7th Dan students of many of the Japanese Shihan now. Many of us, because the way Aikido unfolded here, have double and triple the teaching experience of some of the younger Hombu instructors. For instance, I have been running my own school as my living for twenty years now. I've had to do kids classes, all levels of adult classes, police and security training, etc I travel extensively to teach seminars. My actual teaching experience would in many cases be superior to what one might find with the younger generation of Hombu instructor. I am sure that this would be the case for most of the senior American teachers.

But the old saying "A prophet is never appreciated in his own country." seems to be a universal tendency. There's not an American instructor out there who can fill a gym with students for a seminar the way a visitor from Japan can do.

When I hold seminars, if I invite one of the Japanese Shihan, I will be turning people away. If I invite the absolute best American instructors I can find, even if the actually trained just as long in Japan as the Japanese teacher did, I always have to worry about the turnout. People will drive 7 or 8 hours to train with a visiting Japanese student of a top Japanese uchi deshi but they won't come train with an American student of the very same teacher when he is in town and they could train with him by driving twenty minutes.

Look at a teacher like Amos Parker Sensei from the Yoshinkan... The man is an 8th dan African American who trained directly with the Yoshinkan Founder, Shioda Sensei. But you'd be mistaken if you think that the general community of practitioners invests the same mystique in him as they do in the Japanese teachers. Who taught at the Expo?

There isn't one American senior who isn't conscious of the fact that there is a difference in the way we are perceived. Maybe its as simple as the fact that people can actually understand us... Perhaps if we worked at speaking in such a way that we were hard to understand, people would assume that what we were saying was deeper somehow.

Perhaps also, the issue of the transmission comes into play here... Perhaps we, as American students, hurt ourselves because we explain too well, that we actually try to pass on what we have learned. Maybe we should just get up there and dazzle them with footwork and leave. Maybe we should also be telling everyone that they have to "steal our technique". Then we could maintain our incomprehensibility for years and years.

The fact is, and I am sure that this will stir things up a bit, that if I were Japanese and I was teaching exactly what I am currently teaching, I would be traveling every weekend and filling every venue I taught at. I think this could be said of most if not all of the most senior American teachers. I think this should be a point of reflection for folks because it has direct bearing on what happens when we take over as the folks running American Aikido.

There are other questions to be asked here as well... Currently the entire Aikido hierarchy running Aikido in America is male (unless you count the traditional woman behind the man model). Are we going to duplicate that in the next generation? We definitely have women of senior rank, although I don't think there are any Hombu awarded Shihan women... In your organization are the senior women accorded the same recognition as the senior men? Are they in the same demand for seminars, do they teach as much as their peers at the big events? I sincerely doubt it. So who do you think will be running things when the big changes come? It'll be the people that all of you decide to invest authority in. It won't be about rank or certificates ultimately. It will be about who people actually DECIDE to treat seriously. If we still accord Japan some mystical status as "the source" then teachers like myself will always be second tier because we were trained here from scratch. If we invest more in or male instructors than our female instructors of equivalent experience then we will have another generation where the leadership is essentially a boys club.

People should start right now thinking about what they think they want to have in the future, not try to decide on the day their teachers actually pass away. The seniors need to start allowing themselves to act like the leaders they will need to become. American teachers need to decide not to take a back seat to instructors from Japan. The senior women need to decide not to keep taking a back seat to the men. What we start to do right now shapes what will happen in the future. The folks who aren't senior, what you start doing right now will help determine what happens later as well. Maybe even more than anything we at the top level do.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
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Old 03-26-2007, 04:07 PM   #73
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Look at a teacher like Amos Parker Sensei from the Yoshinkan... The man is an 8th dan African American who trained directly with the Yoshinkan Founder, Shioda Sensei. But you'd be mistaken if you think that the general community of practitioners invests the same mystique in him as they do in the Japanese teachers. Who taught at the Expo?
Little out of topic. Never trained personally with Parker Sensei, seen only videos of him...but he is scary! I have seen tall Sensei, full of muscles Sensei or small Sensei...but he is something different. Just looking at him awakes fear in me (not mentioning what he can do).
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Old 03-26-2007, 05:03 PM   #74
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
But the old saying "A prophet is never appreciated in his own country." seems to be a universal tendency. There's not an American instructor out there who can fill a gym with students for a seminar the way a visitor from Japan can do.

When I hold seminars, if I invite one of the Japanese Shihan, I will be turning people away. If I invite the absolute best American instructors I can find, even if the actually trained just as long in Japan as the Japanese teacher did, I always have to worry about the turnout. People will drive 7 or 8 hours to train with a visiting Japanese student of a top Japanese uchi deshi but they won't come train with an American student of the very same teacher when he is in town and they could train with him by driving twenty minutes.

Look at a teacher like Amos Parker Sensei from the Yoshinkan... The man is an 8th dan African American who trained directly with the Yoshinkan Founder, Shioda Sensei. But you'd be mistaken if you think that the general community of practitioners invests the same mystique in him as they do in the Japanese teachers. Who taught at the Expo?

There isn't one American senior who isn't conscious of the fact that there is a difference in the way we are perceived. Maybe its as simple as the fact that people can actually understand us... Perhaps if we worked at speaking in such a way that we were hard to understand, people would assume that what we were saying was deeper somehow.

Perhaps also, the issue of the transmission comes into play here... Perhaps we, as American students, hurt ourselves because we explain too well, that we actually try to pass on what we have learned. Maybe we should just get up there and dazzle them with footwork and leave. Maybe we should also be telling everyone that they have to "steal our technique". Then we could maintain our incomprehensibility for years and years.

The fact is, and I am sure that this will stir things up a bit, that if I were Japanese and I was teaching exactly what I am currently teaching, I would be traveling every weekend and filling every venue I taught at..
What about a French instructor? The last time I checked out a Saotome seminar in my area, there were few enough participants for it to be held in one of the local dojos. The last Tissier seminar I attended had to be held in a large gymnasium and so many people were there that not everyone had mat space, some were doing rolls on the hard wood floor. He spent a long time dissecting his techniques quite eloquently in french aswell as english.
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Old 03-26-2007, 05:16 PM   #75
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Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

Maybe there are more people BECAUSE the distances are greater. How many people get all excited about tourist spots and museums in other countries that they will be at once or twice in their lives vs getting excited about things in your home town that overseas tourists are paying to see and voraciously snapping pictures of.
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