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Old 07-01-2007, 03:55 PM   #1
Jorge Garcia
Dojo: Shudokan School of Aikido
Location: Houston
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 608
What was Tokimune Sensei thinking?

This blew my mind because the incident in bold was a "Headmaster's Direct Transmission" seminar! To top it off, he was keeping secret the very first techniques taught in Daito Ryu from his own students that had traveled to an annual seminar!

This is absolutely astounding. Tokimune apparently had no fear that the art or it's secrets would die out being shown to so few. What is this? egoism, childhood training, paranoia or sheer genius?

I have been reading Peter Goldsbury's articles on Transmission, Inheritance, and Emulation. I would be interested in everyone's comments because this came from Kondo Sensei's website.

I am trying to place an idea like this in the larger scheme of this subject as we have seen discussed recently. That the modern guys are against this idea is already apparent but is there any room for this kind of scenario in todays setting? I don't know but there are other ideas that trouble me. We are so incurably western in our view of learning and education. We believe in systematized education without realizing that mass production and forced education can't produce gifting and ability. I have heard it said that the Aikikai Hombu dojo has factory Aikido. This is an implication that it is sterile lacking any "secrets" (internal or otherwise). Has it happened to Aikido that the more we tell and teach and make DVD's, that the less motivated our students are to learn and apply what they so diligently fought to learn?. Should they be made to mine for the gold instead of having a miner bring it up and lay it on the ground? I see educational institutions advertising what they want to be rather than what they are. I see an assumption that all students want to learn and deserve to be taught while the truth is that I have met very few students in my 20 years as a teacher in schools,churches and dojos that had a sincere hunger for learning. There are the few who push and push and try and try. Then there are the majority that are there to try things out and do as little as possible to get by. I'm all for helping the hungry but the uninformed masses? Could Tokimune Sensei have been on to something here? Some say that the west is in decay and if you stand in the halls of a public school, you may have some evidence to support that. To give a general body of knowledge is one thing but the secrets of a martial art? It was obvious that Tokimune Sensei considered himself the caretaker of a treasure and he was being careful about who he gave the treasure to. Does this have any relevance to today's situation?



Kondo Katsuyuki speaks about the traditional method of teaching in Daito-ryu

-- I heard many times from my teacher, Takeda Tokimune, that Takeda Sokaku sensei never taught the same technique twice. Tokimune sensei told me that at the time he was teaching as his father's Representative Instructor, Sokaku would scold him for being "foolishly soft-hearted" if he taught too kindly or showed his students something more than once. My teacher often warned me, "If you teach the same technique twice, the second time your students will figure out how to defeat you with a counter-technique. Teach something different the second time."

They say that Takeda Sokaku taught those techniques to people that would suit their individual physiques. For example, there are stories about how he changed techniques he taught depending on whether a student was tall or short, stout or slim, strong or weak. But I doubt that is what really happened, particularly if we consider the fact that he made a point of never teaching the same technique twice. What I think did happen, though, was that Sokaku never gave sufficient explanations to his students, but rather showed a technique and left it up to each student to "steal" it as much as he was able to. Thus, Daito-ryu techniques vary according to individual interpretations of Sokaku's students. I think that is the reality of what happened.

When my teacher Tokimune was still active and in good health, many of his students from all over Japan came to Abashiri once a year to take part in the annual Headquarters meeting. Several times, when I came to participate in the headmaster direct transmission seminars (soke jikiden kai) that were always held on these occasions, the meeting was divided into two groups, one taught by Tokimune sensei himself, the other taught by me acting as his instructional representative. Naturally, the day before these my teacher would go over with me in detail about what he wanted me to teach on his behalf, and he always told me that I must not teach the true techniques that I had learned from him. Even in regard to the very first technique taught in Daito-ryu, ippondori, I was strictly prohibited from teaching the real version I had learned directly from Tokimune sensei, and was told to teach only the version of ippondori he always taught in his own Daitokan dojo.

My teacher explained his purpose in this by saying, "What will you do if you teach people the true techniques and the next day they leave the school? The oral and secret teachings of Daito-ryu will flow outside of the school." He also said, "Out of a thousand people, only one or two are genuine students. Find them out and teach them what is real; there is no need to teach such things to the rest." My teacher only taught real techniques to a person if he could ascertain, from his questions, technical and physical ability, apprehension, and diligence, that they carried a sincere and genuine attitude. He inherited this method of teaching from Sokaku sensei.

Among explanations of aiki I heard from my teacher were "tsun" and "asagao" ("morning glory"). It took me several years to understand the meaning of asagao. Even now I cannot forget when my teacher told me "You did well", praising me for solving this riddle. These days, with my own students, I teach the same technique many times and I always hear my teacher scolding me from the heaven. There he is looking down on me and saying, "What a fool you are!"

It has been said by some that Tokimune sensei gave me special treatment. I think that besides being the first student who came to him in Abashiri from the mainland Japan, I won his favor by going to Abashiri several times a year, inviting him several times a year to Tokyo, taking time off work to train under him and accompany him twenty-four hours a day, and arranging everything for his stay in Tokyo.

Also, the only video recording means available in the early 1970s was open-reel black and white video with a recording time of about twenty minutes per reel. But I wanted badly to record what I was learning from my teacher, so I invested in an Akai video set that cost more than 1.5 million yen at the time. He used to come up to me when I was shooting him and say, "How do I look on TV?!"

Such training continued for me for twenty-three years, from the time I became Tokimune sensei's direct student in 1966 until he was stricken with ill health in 1989. I still cannot forget how I traveled to Abashiri and Kitami over ten times in my ardent desire to see him after he was hospitalized. Looking back into the past, it feels like the thirty-two years that I spent with my teacher from the time I first met him in 1961 until he died in 1993, passed like a dream.

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 07-01-2007, 05:56 PM   #2
Peter Goldsbury
Peter Goldsbury's Avatar
Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,308
Re: What was Tokimune Sensei thinking?

Hello Jorge,

I experienced something similar from my own teacher, who is 70 years old and has just received 8th dan. My (non-aikido) students who know him think that he is a typical, traditional, rather conservative Japanese.

When I started teaching aikido abroad, he was seriously concerned that I should not 'teach' certain techniques: I should show them quickly and then pass on to something else. But when I did this, there was a chorus of requests from the students for me to show the waza in slow motion. I did this but have never taught it in detail.

On another occasion, I showed a waza that my teacher occasionally taught and suggested that he had learned this from his own teacher (Seigo Yamaguchi). He was a little irritated and denied it: he had worked out the waza for himself and did not want another person to receive the credit for it. I might add that the students I showed it to (a variation on 1-kyou) had never seen it before.

I do not think my teacher was particularly concerned about who the waza were shown to; he was more concerned that the students should learn proper 'stealing'. Of course, in present-day Japan this approach is condemned as being excessively old fashioned and in any case it is thought to make sense only in the context of a traditional Master-Deshi relationship. I am not sure I entirely agree with this last point.

P A Goldsbury
Kokusai Dojo,
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Old 07-14-2007, 12:49 AM   #3
Rocky Izumi
Dojo: GUST Aikido Club
Location: Salwa, Kuwait
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 381
Re: What was Tokimune Sensei thinking?

In some degree I do agree with the sentiment that students should not be spoon-fed everything. It makes them lazy.

I don't like to use the term "stealing" but rather think of it as forcing students to do research. This seems to be highly lacking these days. Often students expect everything to be handed to them. This reduces the need to students to do their own research, limiting the level to which they might achieve understanding. Without that individual research, students are limited to the knowledge of their instructor and cannot grow the art beyond what the instructor knew. If the student does his or her own research, it provides the opportunity for the student to excel beyond the level of his or her instructor.

I believe it is more an issue of degree. At what point do you expect the student start doing their own research and on what basis? While it would be nice to train the students to begin their own research right from the beginning, it is also good to give the student a strong set of fundamentals with which to begin the research. To achieve this correctly takes a balance between spoon feeding and forcing to do research.

Like in my academic world, I believe it is much more efficient and effective to start by providing the fundamental knowledge clearly at the beginning, then teaching them how to think and do research, based on those fundamentals. You provide the students with examples of how the fundamental knowledge is applied and a behavioural model for the research. Certainly, this will not produce the greatest percentage of researchers, in academics nor in Budo. It will, however, provide those researchers with a better basis and a head start in doing the research.

I see it much like the difference between Ph.D. training through the traditional United States academic model versus the traditional Continental academic model. The US model tends to push for a high level of basic training and knowledge while the Continental approach pushes to teach the students how to discover. Both systems have their strengths and weaknesses. To blend these two approaches in the academic world is up to the professor. In Budo, to blend these two approaches is up to the chief instructor.

At the same time, it is also a matter of the character and abilities of the student. Some students, whether academic or budo, are natural researchers. Others are natural sponges. Both can benefit from learning in their own way. The important thing is for the right student to be matched with the right type of instructor. This, of course, leads to the requisite variety argument. We need instructors who will spoon feed students up to a point, and we need instructors who will force his or her students to do their own research up to a point.

But, research is important or Aikido will stagnate and not grow. Without growth future death of the system is ensured. Students do need to be pushed to do their own research. If we are too circumspect too early, too many will give up before starting real research. If we are too detailed, too many will be lazy and not do any research at all. It is a balance and each instructor must make a decision on where that balance is most optimal.

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