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Old 06-22-2008, 07:32 PM   #1
John Matsushima
 
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O'Sensei's Videos

Saito sensei had said that one could not learn from watch O'Sensei's films because O'Sensei did not perform techniques the same as what he taught to Saito at the Iwama dojo. In addition, Saito sensei goes on about how training at Iwama was much harder than in Shinjuku. Saito Sensei also said that O'Sensei hid his true technique because he didn't want others to steal them. Then why did Saito Sensei do so many videos and lectures and seminars around the world showing his "true" technique? O'Sensei would be rolling over in his grave right now...if he had one! Also, why would O'Sensei want to hide his technique if Aikido was in fact for making the world a better place?

The way I take this is that Saito sensei was basically saying the his Aikido was true Aikido because he does it exactly the way he was taught, and that the way O'Sensei did Aikido at demonstrations and even at Hombu dojo was not true Aikido. Does this mean I should trash all my dvds?

For example, my sensei likes to minimize movement and muscular power in techniques, and is proud of changes that he has made to various waza, which he considers to be "true aikido". But the other night, he asked me to coach a woman on ikkyo, who is in her first week of practice, and I was surprised by the way he wanted me to do the technique. At first, I did the technique the way I had understood it, slowly, but then he told me to do it differently with her, using larger movements, with emphasis on different points. I was surprised, because I knew it was not the same technique that he considered "true waza". I don't think that the way he wanted me to teach her was false waza, but rather just a more basic way.

I think that because O'Sensei did Aikido differently outside of Iwama doesn't mean that it wasn't real Aikido, but rather maybe it was just changed to suit the audience, as any good speaker will consider his audience.

Do you learn anything from watching O'Sensei's videos, or do you think they are rubbish and he was really hiding his true technique?

-John Matsushima

My blog on Japanese culture
http://onecorneroftheplanetinjapan.blogspot.jp/
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Old 06-26-2008, 06:04 PM   #2
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Re: O'Sensei's Videos

The first time I saw Osensei films, I was a teen and they were on Super 8 (or maybe even Single 8). They inspired me tremendously. I am not at all sure that I would have continued with aikido all through my life so far, if I had not seen them.

Seeing these films, I get the strong impression that Osensei was quite proud and happy to show his aikido ability. I don't believe for a moment that he was hiding his true ideas of the art. But I do think that his aikido changed during the course of his life. Films from different times show quite different ways of doing aikido, and not just because he was an ageing man.
I am most fond of the films from the mid-1960's...

I like to think that I learn from watching Osensei videos. Not that I can repeat his feats, of course, but I increase my perspective on the art, and I allow myself to search with the help of my bewilderment, which is actually a good guide.

Stefan Stenudd
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Old 07-01-2008, 03:41 PM   #3
dalen7
 
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Re: O'Sensei's Videos

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote: View Post
S
Do you learn anything from watching O'Sensei's videos, or do you think they are rubbish and he was really hiding his true technique?
What is true to you.

One thing that Im learning is that Aikido (at least from my perspective) is about limitless possibilities.

You have a foundation built with a basic structure....you then start taking the lego pieces and building whatever structure is suited to you.

Again, this may sound cheesy as can be...but I find it to be as true as can be as well.

People like to feel they have 'the way'...or a 'perfect grasp' - it is satisfying to the mind (ego) and feels safe.

But like the universe, there are unlimited possibilities.
Like today in class when someone went to grab my arm I automatically did something where they were like , 'cool, what was that'...I have no idea, it just popped in from my subconscious...and flowed.

Aikido flows from one technique to another, and also flows in how the techniques are done.

One can focus on form all day and find that it wont work for them until they find how their body flows and works.

Yes there are basic principles, but its a constant adjustment, always re-evaluating the situation.

Not easy for someone like me who wants things to be 'known', but as I have mentioned this is not they way of the universe (that is to have things in nice little boxes.)

So dont trash your dvds...you have real aikido - whatever floats your boat....literally.

Peace

dAlen

dAlen [day•lynn]
dum spiro spero - {While I have breathe - I have hope}

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Old 07-01-2008, 05:28 PM   #4
nekobaka
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Re: O'Sensei's Videos

Osensei may have created aikido, but that doesn't mean that what he did was automatically "true" aikido. There are as many styles as there are masters. what is important is that they all use the same principles, they are just manifested differently. my sensei often demonstrates some different styles, says "there is nothing wrong with this style, there is a process to doing it this way, however, what I want you to focus on is this (his style)". I practiced at a dojo where only one or two top students could remotely do the technique properly the way the shihan does it. to me this is frustrating, but that doesn't mean I don't apprechiate that style. my shihan now teaches a style that is easy for beginners to see and vaguely understand. For me I can see what sensei is doing, even if I can't imitate it yet. A lot of dojos use weapons. I often wondered why we didn't until recently I read an interview with Tanaka Bansen sensei, the founder of Osaka Aikikai. He said the Osensei told him not to do weapons. I was pretty shocked. From that interview it sounded to me like Osensei was trying to spread aikido throughout japan, and had no intention to "hide" anything. It was really interesting, I'll try to post it later.
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Old 07-01-2008, 07:37 PM   #5
rob_liberti
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Re: O'Sensei's Videos

Quote:
Ani Forbes wrote: View Post
Osensei may have created aikido, but that doesn't mean that what he did was automatically "true" aikido.
I don't follow this logic. If I create something and call it "rob-liberti-do" - how can anyone come along later and say that what I was doing wasn't the true rob-liberti-do, and that they are doing the true rob-liberti-do?

Quote:
Ani Forbes wrote: View Post
There are as many styles as there are masters. what is important is that they all use the same principles, they are just manifested differently.
Well, that's a point - I suppose IF an art is defined by several principles - someone could certainly find different expressions of those principles. Is aikido defined by a list of principles? If so, please provide the list. But I don't think that list of principles that "defines" aikido exists. Also, most attempts to manifest the principles fall very short and in my opinion are mostly just flat out wrong. But we can agree to disagree on that if you like.

Rob

PS. can we PLEASE drop the ' and call him Osensei, becuase he wasn't Irish.

Last edited by rob_liberti : 07-01-2008 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 07-01-2008, 10:54 PM   #6
Walter Martindale
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Re: O'Sensei's Videos

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote: View Post

PS. can we PLEASE drop the ' and call him Osensei, becuase he wasn't Irish.
Or maybe o-sensei - to indicate that the "O" is a bit extended as the honorific? It's hard using a US/Canada/UK english keyboard to type a bar over the "O" as would be done in a romaji - nihongo dictionary... "Oosensei"? Nah - that would get the 'o' sound pronounced like the "oo" in moose, goose, etc, when it's really more like the "oo" in Door, or boar...
Since most of this forum is in Eigo, why don't we just call him "the founder"...
W
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Old 07-02-2008, 12:45 AM   #7
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: O'Sensei's Videos

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote: View Post
I think that because O'Sensei did Aikido differently outside of Iwama doesn't mean that it wasn't real Aikido, but rather maybe it was just changed to suit the audience, as any good speaker will consider his audience.

Do you learn anything from watching O'Sensei's videos, or do you think they are rubbish and he was really hiding his true technique?
I think that all films of Ueshiba are perforce embu, not keiko. And I believe that in embu Ueshiba did things in order to make a point, or show off a certain aspect of aikido. I think this post by Ellis Amdur is very informative when it comes to viewing Ueshiba doing embu on film. And I believe that Saito's point was simply that what Ueshiba demonstrated was not how he trained.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 07-02-2008, 02:01 AM   #8
nekobaka
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Re: O'Sensei's Videos

Quote:
Quote:
Ani Forbes wrote: View Post
Osensei may have created aikido, but that doesn't mean that what he did was automatically "true" aikido.
I don't follow this logic. If I create something and call it "rob-liberti-do" - how can anyone come along later and say that what I was doing wasn't the true rob-liberti-do, and that they are doing the true rob-liberti-do?
Then let me add "the only true aikido"

A list of the principles of aikido? while not complete, how is this?
1. Use your opponents energy.
2. Use movements that are grounded at your center.
3. Movements are usually circular and spiral.
4. centrifugal momentum is important.
5. Don't use force to move your opponent.
6. timing is important.

I'm sure that other arts have similar principles, but...

catholics and protestants are both christians, even if it "looks" different.

I guess it's sad that things have to be defined by what they're not instead of what they are. Is it really necessary to have a cut and clear list of what aikido is?
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Old 07-02-2008, 09:56 AM   #9
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: O'Sensei's Videos

Quote:
Ani Forbes wrote: View Post
Then let me add "the only true aikido"

A list of the principles of aikido? while not complete, how is this?
1. Use your opponents energy.
2. Use movements that are grounded at your center.
3. Movements are usually circular and spiral.
4. centrifugal momentum is important.
5. Don't use force to move your opponent.
6. timing is important.

I'm sure that other arts have similar principles, but...

catholics and protestants are both christians, even if it "looks" different.

I guess it's sad that things have to be defined by what they're not instead of what they are. Is it really necessary to have a cut and clear list of what aikido is?
O Sensei pointed to the model of nature constantly to speak of what aiki is. Yet hardly anyone is willing to consider this. Maybe because it isn't fighting or man made it gets the shrift. I read and read, looking at folks wrestle with the same ideas without the inclusion of natural observation and I watch them stay put in their thinking. I watch myself the same way, at times.
When we can include the model of nature in our conversation we can talk about what it is and not what it is not: just like peace.
And, one more thought, OSensei let us know that aiki exists in many people and places by his expanded definition. It is only up to us to figure out why and then learn how.

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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Old 07-02-2008, 10:05 AM   #10
Ron Tisdale
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Re: O'Sensei's Videos

Hi Jen, just a couple quick questions.

I've heard that the Japanese defination of "nature" might be a little different from how someone raised in the west might view it. Do you have any thoughts along those lines? What might Ueshiba have meant by nature that might be different from how we view the use of that word in translation? Perhaps one of the people more familiar with Japanese thought (especially at Ueshiba's time) might chime in here.

Quote:
OSensei let us know that aiki exists in many people and places by his expanded definition.
He did? Are there particular translated statements of Ueshiba that you are thinking about here? If so, could you post the ones that you think illustrate this?

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 07-02-2008, 10:40 AM   #11
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: O'Sensei's Videos

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Hi Jen, just a couple quick questions.

I've heard that the Japanese defination of "nature" might be a little different from how someone raised in the west might view it. Do you have any thoughts along those lines? What might Ueshiba have meant by nature that might be different from how we view the use of that word in translation? Perhaps one of the people more familiar with Japanese thought (especially at Ueshiba's time) might chime in here.

He did? Are there particular translated statements of Ueshiba that you are thinking about here? If so, could you post the ones that you think illustrate this?

Best,
Ron
Well, translations are made by people and therefore subject to every little possible way you can parse it.

I know my teacher is Japanese and he talks of nature like I do. Like that which surrounds you,sustains you, grows, breathes, cycles, dirt,trees, air, mountains, ocean, that which moves through you, that which you move through...'Big Nature' he calls it.

My relationship to nature has evolved to feel it as a constant abiding entity in itself. I spose I could paraphrase this by saying It is alive and not an object. I feel it as 'The great parent'. I think the Doka of the day has some reference here. The direct relationship in teaching that he makes to nature is helpful. He uses ripe metaphor combined with solid exercises and that leads the mind to connection of the two.I can suggest you train with Anno Sensei given the opportunity and he can answer this question for you through his example. Nature is on the top of our aikido heirarchy, not a person or a fight. That is how we think of it. Or at least, how I do and how I believe I have been taught.
Thanks.
I'll try to ferret out some quotes that will be helpful in grasping this angle or open it up for more discussion.

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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Old 07-02-2008, 10:46 AM   #12
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: O'Sensei's Videos

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Hi Jen, just a couple quick questions.

He did? Are there particular translated statements of Ueshiba that you are thinking about here? If so, could you post the ones that you think illustrate this?

Best,
Ron
Yeah he did. I'll look to find some specifics and in the mean time maybe you can provide your independent view on the subject of aiki so I can get an idea where you're coming from.

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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Old 07-02-2008, 11:04 AM   #13
Ron Tisdale
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Re: O'Sensei's Videos

Hi again,

Well, here is an article by Ueshiba where he uses the terms "nature" and "aiki" in many places.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=639

While quite an interesting article from many perspectives, I'm sure, when I read it looking for some insight into how Ueshiba viewed "nature" and "aiki", I see both things linked at a fundamental level to Japanese cosmology, Japanese "emporer worship", Japanese "creation myths" and things like that. Very specific references to each of these things clue me in to the fact that how Ueshiba viewed nature, and aiki, might be very different than how I or someone raised in the west today might view them.

I definately get the sense that he views "aiki" as something more than just a physical skill...but when I look at what he taught his students that seem to have that physical skill, I see not all of them continue to espouse the views I mention above. In fact, some definately state that they do not believe in some of these views (kami, inhabitation by spirits, etc). And yet some of these same students exhibit quite a bit of prowess in "aiki" as a physical skill.

I guess all this leads me to wonder how "nature" and "aiki" in Ueshiba's terms can be related to my keiko today. And what in the videos in question would bring someone to say

Quote:
O Sensei pointed to the model of nature constantly to speak of what aiki is.
I also find it interesting, as Josh Reyer points out above, that when push came to shove, the nature of Ueshiba's waza seemed to change quite a bit...not the flowing, breezy waza we see in his later films, at least.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 07-02-2008, 11:33 AM   #14
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: O'Sensei's Videos

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Hi again,

Well, here is an article by Ueshiba where he uses the terms "nature" and "aiki" in many places.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=639

While quite an interesting article from many perspectives, I'm sure, when I read it looking for some insight into how Ueshiba viewed "nature" and "aiki", I see both things linked at a fundamental level to Japanese cosmology, Japanese "emporer worship", Japanese "creation myths" and things like that. Very specific references to each of these things clue me in to the fact that how Ueshiba viewed nature, and aiki, might be very different than how I or someone raised in the west today might view them.
Best,
Ron


But maybe not someone brought up in the west without a heavy dose of 'westernism'. Someone brought up with a more naturalistic reference to life, such as an indigenous person in America (which is closer to my personal experience) may not find the stretch as far as others.For me, the art brought to outer life a language I spoke inside. A natural language of connection. That difference in perspective was difficult as a kid. It set me apart in school and with my peers, and I don't mind that it still does, at times.
I put the videos in the context of the teaching I have received, the angle of observation I have aquired from a lifetime of practice and the effects of training on my life. I don't know of any video in question. Simply the question of 'do I get anything out of watching video's of o'sensei.' And the answer is Yes. Watching them looks like watching nature to me. That is how my eyes see.

& Questions are good.

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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