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Old 08-29-2009, 07:24 PM   #51
Ellis Amdur
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

Peter - not to defend a mere speculation - but did Tada sensei mention the purpose of that training? I do think it was significant that all the major shihan were gathered in one place, along with such honorees as Mifune Kyuzo.

Was it actually a political meeting - Osensei being merely the "draw," (why else would all the prima donnas come up to Tokyo, if not for "sankin kotai"),enabling the post-war powers to figure out together what to do next and how to divide up the empire to be?

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Old 08-29-2009, 08:05 PM   #52
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

Hello Ellis,

A few more thoughts.

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Peter - not to defend a mere speculation - but did Tada sensei mention the purpose of that training? I do think it was significant that all the major shihan were gathered in one place, along with such honorees as Mifune Kyuzo.
PAG. Since Messrs Kuroiwa and Sunadomari have clear recollections of such a training session, it clearly took place. Tada Sensei would have been a young instructor at this point, having begun teaching at the Hombu in 1954. So I think it is virtually certain that he would have been there. Kisshomaru Ueshiba was Dojo-cho and if the training meeting was held in the Hombu Dojo, he would have summoned it (according to correct protocol). But he would not have done this with O Sensei's knowledge and consent (however interpreted).

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Was it actually a political meeting - Osensei being merely the "draw," (why else would all the prima donnas come up to Tokyo, if not for "sankin kotai"),enabling the post-war powers to figure out together what to do next and how to divide up the empire to be?
PAG. Nowadays the prima donnas assemble for 'events', such as the All-Japan Demonstration, or for 'celebrations' marking events such as IAF Congresses. I am pretty sure they will gather for the unveiling of O Sensei's statue in Iwama (2009 being the 40th anniversary of his death) and as the final stamp on the evolution of the Ibaragi Shibu Dojo (and the subsequent passing of the other dojo from official aikido history). However, I do not think that Kisshomaru would have summoned a political meeting to divide up the empire. This would have been far too early and would have been playing with fire. I think that then, as now, everything would have been smoke and mirrors, fully in omote/ tatemae mode.

So I myself believe that there was indeed a training course, but with quite a lot more going on besides. However, there is still time for more extended conversations with Tada Sensei.

Best wishes,

PAG

P A Goldsbury
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Old 08-29-2009, 08:32 PM   #53
Ellis Amdur
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

Final point on this - I originally became aware of this in reading Kobayashi Yasuo's memoirs. He essentially describes been in attendance to Osensei and other "erai" people - but didn't register, at the time, anything significant. As I recall, he was there when Ueshiba and Mifune had dinner together, and at this late date, wishes he'd listened to the conversation.
Ellis

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Old 08-30-2009, 01:31 PM   #54
Rob Watson
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
A dragon - started as a pen drawing by Akiva Amdur, morphed into clouds by Tom Spiegelberg and merged with the sky/crows and then repeatedly tweaked, so it wasn't too prominent or too subdued.

Forgive me for pointing out the obvious - doesn't this resemble every discussion on the nature of aiki, etc.???

Anyway, call it an eagle, hawk, raptorlike being, yin-yang curve or upside down Ueshiba if you like - as long as you remember that it's all clouds

Best
HA! A painter starts with twin cherubs 'In flagrante delicto' then fiddles and tweaks then into puffy clouds- someone protests "kiddie porn!". "Dude, It's just clouds!" Hardly.

Besides everyone knows it's not the clouds but what one sees in them that is the point. Kind of sad that I didn't even bother looking at the cover until I saw this thread about it, HIPS indeed.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:07 AM   #55
Ellis Amdur
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

If I might make a suggestion: I don't know if people will be inclined to post more in discussing the book, but this thread could get pretty unwieldy. Aside from various questions, there is all the badinage and side-comments.
My suggestion is - let's say one wants to start a discussion on info in Chapter 3, on Aiki and Weapons, or Chapter 2 on Takeda, or Chapter 1 on jujutsu and Chinese martial training, etc.
How about a new thread in this "Supplies" section - titled, for example, "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion - Chapter 2, or "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Daito-ryu origins, etc.
Perhaps some might regard it as hubris, but there's a lot of fascinating material to discuss, and I don't want it to just get dropped, due to any one of a number of negative factors that get packed into one long thread.
Ellis Amdur

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Old 09-10-2009, 01:04 PM   #56
DH
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

An excellent review of Ellis's book by our own Tom Campbell from another ICMA site:
Since I know the poster I'll take the liberty and the heat of cross-posting it here without permission.

http://rumsoakedfist.org/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=6110

__________________________________________

This is a great book. Buy it.

OK, I'll elaborate. Along with Jesse O'Brien's book of interviews, Nei Jia Quan, this is the most engaging book on martial arts that I've ever read (of several dozen, from martial arts traditions around the world). My own primary interest in martial arts and training, besides strengthening my failing back, is the methods of transmission of training and fighting insights across generations and between cultures. Hidden in Plain Sight is all about that. And Ellis makes a great story of it.

So who is this Ellis dude and why should we listen to anything he has to say? These days Ellis works as a mental health professional in crisis intervention, as well as teaching other mental health and social service professionals. He's written a number of well-received books dealing with communications and de-escalation of conflict involving seriously mentally ill people.

I mention Ellis' work in the area of mental health and conflict resolution first, because it informs and adds to the authenticity of his superb martial arts experience and teaching. In a relatively closed Japanese traditional culture where it was and is extremely rare and difficult for a Japanese person to be granted license to teach in an authentic, documented traditional school of martial arts (koryu), Ellis, a gaijin (foreigner), holds a teaching license in two koryu, Araki-ryu and Toda-ha Buko-ryu. In another of his books, Dueling with O'Sensei, Ellis recounts the rough-and-tumble tenacity and aggressiveness of his Araki-ryu training—including one training exchange where Ellis, in a sudden fit of rage and fury, barely stops short of killing a koryu brother. The shock and remorse and reflection opened a window for him onto his own capacity for violence, and surely informed his later professional work with mentally-ill patients in violent situations.

Ellis later trained a little in Chen taijiquan with a student of Feng Zhiqiang (one of Chen Fake's disciples), and today trains in xingyiquan (in addition to continuing his training and teaching of two Japanese koryu). The internal training of Chinese martial arts is both part of Ellis' personal practice and a source of understanding in the writing of Hidden in Plain Sight.

The martial art that brought Ellis to Japan in the first place was Aikido, the shamanistic brew of spiritual practice, martial art and calculated business export (under the O'Sensei brand) to North America and Europe beginning in the 1960s. Ellis began training in Aikido in the 1970s, with the late, great Falstaff of Aikido, Terry Dobson, and later in Japan with Yoshio Kuroiwa, Yasunori Kuwamori and a host of more- and less-known aikido teachers, mostly Aikikai. Ellis lived in Japan for thirteen years, starting a family there and pursuing both aikido and koryu training.

Oh, that's right, this is a book review, not a biography of Ellis Amdur. One of the delights of Hidden in Plain Sight, though, is how much Ellis' biography puts him in an ideal position to research, and to bring together research of others, concerning the sources of Ueshiba Morihei's Aikido and, of more interest to this forum, Ueshiba's undoubted internal skill, connection and power. So let's get into the fruits of that research—Hidden in Plain Sight.

The fun starts in the Acknowledgments, a testament to the breadth of Ellis' connections and his diplomatic skill in bridging the points of view of charging alpha male bulls without having his literary testicles ripped off. I'm speaking in particular of two gentlemen of a certain age, Mike Sigman and this forum's own Dan Harden, who have spent the past twenty years (or more) independently researching and training very real internal skill, connection and power—and the last four years snarling at and past each other on various Internet forums.

I've met both men and can attest that in person, each is down-to-earth, pleasant, and, most importantly, can do what they talk and write about; but I have no literary testicles to lose. Ellis has visited with both of them, seen and tried aspects of their training methods, felt their skill hands-on—and then dared them to do something real with that skill. In Mike's case, he went to help the Itten Dojo in Pennsylvania gain perspective and basic training methods to put internal structure and connection into their aikido movements. In Dan's case, he organized the knowledge and skills he'd gleaned from hard work in Daito-ryu, MMA, a particular koryu, and other venues over the years (knowledge and skills only talked about in whispers in the bars, construction sites and antique flea markets of central Massachusetts)—and did something he had previously sworn he was not interested in doing, publicly present it to a group of aikido teachers (and a few others) to take back to their dojos and begin reworking their aikido with the new insights about internal training. For the aikido community, this has been an exciting few years of challenge, dialogue and growth as a martial art. Ellis has been a central if largely behind-the-scenes part of this, as facilitator, friend, coach and Raven-totem for the parties involved.

All well and good for the aiki-bunnies, you say, but what relevance is there for the Chinese (and other) martial arts that are the focus of this forum? Well, the book starts by looking at the Chinese martial arts as a primary historical (and continuing) source for the paradigms and many of the particular internal training methods used in aikido, Daito-ryu, and their root arts (both known and speculative). Chapter One is called "The Chinese Connection," and after briefly looking at the early waves of immigration to Japan from Asia, discusses different religio-spiritual practices that became woven into esoteric martial training in Japan. Then it moves into the 1500s, what was going on in China (Qi Jiguang, Japanese pirates), and descriptions of internal skill and training methods with probable Chinese antecedents, as well as two specific accounts of Chinese immigrants working with founders of Japanese koryu (Kito-ryu and Yoshin-ryu), and a Japanese doctor who went to China to study TCM and eventually founded another branch (of Yoshin-ryu). Kito-ryu and Yoshin-ryu are two source schools of Kodokan Judo. Ellis writes: . . . it seems evident that at the dawn of Japanese jujutsu history, methods of building a unique form of physical skills that we place under the rubric of internal power were incorporated from china and subsumed within Japanese combative systems. For the Japanese, at least, Chinese influence was such a given that it permeated their culture, from court dance to medicine to political organization—to martial arts. The question is not whether Japanese martial arts had an influence on those of Japan, but what Japanese martial arts could have amounted to without them.

The second chapter, "The Birth of Daito-ryu," is a tour-de-force and in many ways the core of the book. Ellis does nothing less than provide a social and psychological profile of Takeda Sokaku, an often speculative but very credible portrayal which Ellis is eminently well-qualified to write. Takeda Sokaku was Ueshiba Morihei's primary martial arts teacher, and one of the very best martial artists, unarmed and with weapons, of any culture in the last 150 years. Notwithstanding all the legends and whispers to the contrary, Takeda Sokaku created Daito-ryu. Daito-ryu formed the core of Ueshiba's martial art. Takeda Sokaku's brutal upbringing, the martial skill of his maternal grandfather, the fratricidal terror of the civil wars that gave birth to the Meiji Emperor and modern Japan . . . Ellis describes all of these in analyzing known and probable influences on Takeda's martial development and teaching personality. Sumo plus burning incense on a ten-year-old boy's fingernails until the seared flesh curled make for one fierce martial artist as an adult.

Chapter Three is "A Unified Field Theory: Aiki and Weapons." Ellis earlier (Chapter Two) quotes Kono Yoshinori's description of Takeda Sokaku's maternal grandfather, Kanenori Dengoru Kurokochi: Likely he (Kanenori) realized through experience that in order to master different arts it is important to train the body in the essence of movements—in other words, to create within the body what might be metaphorically described as a ‘precision ruler, like a carpenter's square.' Kanenori seems to have believed, however, that cultivating such a measuring stick through jujutsu training alone is insufficient, and he emphasized the synergism born of training also with a variety of weapons. Takeda Sokaku taught sword (he could wield a sword with either hand), and practiced with both sword and spear. Ellis provides an interesting analysis of the probable importance of weapons work in Takeda's body forging (tanren). Like his teacher, Ueshiba also made weapons training a core element of his personal practice (both solo and partner). How wielding a weapon trains the internal connections in the body that allow aiki to take place make this chapter perhaps the martial-arts core of Hidden in Plain Sight.

For Chapter Four, I put on my favorite Allman Brothers album, Eat a Peach, and sliced up one of the last frost peaches from my trees to have with a cup of tea. Why? Because I'm that kind of guy. "Aikido Is Three Peaches" is the weakest chapter of the book overall, where Ellis bravely attempts an apologia for the scattered spiritual and metaphysical perambulations of Ueshiba, justifying them as essential to Ueshiba's continuing progress in skill and power right into the final decade of his life. I was frankly surprised by the detail and extent of argument that Ellis was willing to make in support of this thesis, given his own rejection of aikido as a personal training path and the often-sardonic tone of his past writing about these aspects of aikido. But Ellis seems to find enough tidbits whilst wandering through Shingon, Shinto, Omoto-kyo and the Kuki family heritage, warbling kotodama all the while, to provide a tantalizing proposal that Chinkon-kishin and other ritual practice sets adapted by Ueshiba really did empower him. Ultimately, Ueshiba saw himself as a kind of avatar, instrumental in ushering in a golden age of redemption, the unification of Heaven, Earth, and Man. To a considerable degree, he was unconcerned about whether others became avatars like himself. He regarded aikido practitioners as living out their fate as appointed by their ‘chief guardian deity,' doing the work of the "spiritual proletariat,' accumulating merit and energy through aikido practice . . .

The last part of Chapter Four deals with ukemi, and for me was the most valuable part of the book in terms of actual training. Aikido is often justly criticized for the aiki-bunny uke (the partner that attacks and receives the aikido defensive counter/technique, which is performed/delivered by nage), who seems to throw herself under the delusion that blending with the opponent means striving to be as empty and limp as the mink stole in your grandmother's wardrobe. Ellis notes, however, that (i)t is through real ukemi that real aikido is born. In classical martial arts, the teacher is uke. He templates skill within the student through his mastery of the form . . . demands that the students perform at the limits of their capacity. The student receiving an attack from a skilled and sincere teacher will be forced to feel how their own body responds, either moving the energy of the attack through or getting stuck and collapsing. The skill of the teacher lies in delivering an attack with force and clarity sufficient to challenge the student while not overwhelming her. Aikido practitioners at a truly high level are those created by skillful teachers who mindfully place their students in situations where they must learn freedom through responsiveness—counters and strikes implicit, if not explicit, in their every move.

This should also be true in taiji tuishou, where, unfortunately, the vast majority of encounters are students who don't really know what they are experiencing being dominated by teachers or more experienced students who only want to show off their relative skill—or students who think they are being dominated and provide vaudevillian slapstick for the world through their Youtube videos where they hop, skip, jump and fall over in worship of their teacher. By contrast, one of the great things about Brazilian jiu jitsu training is this constant feedback for each other while rolling, in an atmosphere where everyone submits sometimes. Working together so that all improve in real skill.

In addition to the importance of real ukemi to partner work, Ellis also goes into some detail on how ukemi can be tanren, if kasutori (softening and increasing the resiliency of the body, making it flexible yet strong like a willow branch) is a conscious tone of the practice. Joints are moved through a full range and connective tissue is stressed and rebounds in taking falls. The body is folded, twisted, and impacted repeatedly, analogous to the folding and pounding and folding of the highly-refined damascene steel in sword blades. But as Ellis writes, to do this and to really learn from falling, you must learn, truly, how to stand. So what did Ueshiba—and Takeda and others—really train on their own, away from the demonstrations and classes where the partnerwork presented the art's public face?

Chapter Five, "Hidden in Plain Sight," addresses the question of solo training by surmising that physical laborers (farmers, masons, etc.) learn efficient movement and gain extraordinary strength, resilience and endurance through daily work learning to deal with variable loads, ballistic force, and shifting postures while under a lot of physical stress—quite different from the controlled application of force in weightlifting. . . Internal strength, however, is not farmer's strength although it may have emerged from the latter. It requires incredibly sophisticated and specialized training. Ellis notes that intensive solo training seems to be a commonality among Daito-ryu practitioners, and involves a) wringing/twisting/coiling of the body to develop the connective tissue; b) methods of breathing to generate ‘pressure,' which builds power from the inside out; and c) mental imagery and focused attention that causes subtle micro-adjustments of the nervous s ystem that, in essence, ‘rewire' the body, so that it functions at increasing levels of efficiency, without unnecessary conflict between extensor and flexor muscles, for example.

Ellis further develops the probable/possible importance of Ueshiba's misogi (purification) practices to his martial power, suggested in Chapter Four, and concludes by asserting that these exercises, and incessant prayers, and evolving bo routines, and a host of other actions and rituals that Ueshiba demonstrated when beginning classes or giving public demonstrations, were in fact essential to his martial skill and power—a fact which was apparently missed by most of Ueshiba's post-WW2 disciples and derided by later generations of aikidoka as aikido spread through Japan and to North America and Europe.

Chapter 6, "Circle, Square, Triangle: How to be O-Sensei in Sixteen Easy Steps," provides a wry yet accurate synopsis of how you, too, can be O-Sensei, then concludes with the recommendation and observation: The larger issue is this: live your life. What made Ueshiba so wonderful is that the life he lived was undeniably his own. Ueshiba Morihei is dead—is there really a need for him to be reborn in you?

The Epilogue and two appendices provide notes on key players in the centuries leading up to Aikido, and in its spread, as well as suggest sources and questions for people interested in further research.

Hidden in Plain Sight is a sign of our changing times. Whereas early on in the Internet era, books were written first and then discussed on the Internet, Hidden in Plain Sight started as a blog for Aikido Journal's online website—and quickly attracted the attention and contributions of a well-placed and enthusiastic coterie of commenters, researchers and translators, many of whom eventually contributed to the book. All of this is reminiscent of the provenance of the current movie, Julie and Julia, which evolved from a blog that Julie Powell wrote about doing all of the recipes from Julia Childs' cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, over the course of a year. Eventually the blog became a book, and then a movie. While I doubt there will ever be a movie made from Hidden in Plain Sight (though stranger things have happened), at least Ellis does not have to worry about Ueshiba Morihei still being around to diss him (as Julia Childs did to Julie Powell).

Overall, Hidden in Plain Sight is a wonderful read, full of serious historical research, pithy critiques, solid training insights, and flashes of humor (much of which shows how much of a martial arts nerd the author really is). I laughed to myself because in the end, the book seemed to be an excuse for Ellis to wax poetic about cognac and his grandmother's crystal collection--a perfectly apt set of metaphors, it turns out, for Ueshiba's, and our own, training progression. How so, you ask? Read the book.
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Old 09-10-2009, 02:04 PM   #57
DH
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

Easier to be judged by 12 than carried by 6...just got told it was okay to post it here!
Dan
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Old 09-10-2009, 02:18 PM   #58
gregstec
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
An excellent review of Ellis's book by our own Tom Campbell from another ICMA site:....
Fantastic review - Mr. Campbell appears to be an excellent writer in his own right - please pass along my compliments to him.

I am still in the middle of my read so I cannot comment on all chapters, but of what I have read so far, all I can say is ditto to Tom's stuff - just a fascinating book.

Greg
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Old 09-10-2009, 03:48 PM   #59
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

Quote:
Greg Steckel wrote: View Post
Mr. Campbell appears to be an excellent writer in his own right -
He is also a generous individual.
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Old 09-19-2009, 12:14 PM   #60
crbateman
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

I recently posted a review here. Cut to the chase? Buy it, borrow it, steal it, but read it.
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Old 09-19-2009, 02:18 PM   #61
aikilouis
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

In one slogan : The Moneyball of martial art books !

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Old 09-19-2009, 04:39 PM   #62
Suru
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

My compliments on the title. What do most people want to do more than anything else? They want to uncover secrets. It is a rush, a jolt to the sympathetic nervous system. And there is nothing misleading about it.

Drew
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Old 10-02-2009, 06:23 AM   #63
frankvgb
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

Dear Mr. Amdur,

I just finished your book. Beautiful cover. Very interesting book. Lots of things to research. I also think Lovecraft rocks .
On the subject of one-handed sword. Hirokaze Kobayashi visited Europe a lot. He frequently taught twoperson one-handed sword movements. Where he learned them I don't know. According to his senior students in Europe (amongst whom Yves Flon, who was at one time married to one of his daughters and stayed several times in Japan with Hirokazu Kobayashi) Kobayashi sensei always maintained he practiced the aikido from Osensei.
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Old 10-02-2009, 09:53 AM   #64
Ellis Amdur
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

Frank - as you know, I posted on Kobayashi on another thread, and mentioned something I'd read of a Daito-ryu instructor praising the former as doing real Daito-ryu. To be clear, he was not talking about where Kobayashi learned - just that the techniques were essentially DR - yet another bit of now unnecessary supporting evidence that the aiki of aikido and of DR are <essentially> one.
Best
Ellis Amdur

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Old 10-05-2009, 06:54 AM   #65
fred veer
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Talking Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

Just finished reading the book for the third time. A highly impressive effort, maybe not academic scholarship, but probably because of this a better book.

Clearly also not aikido/daito ryu or internal strength for dummies, but a thought provoking work tying together many loose ends.

I think a must be read for the serious aikido/daito ryu student.

At the end I have one question left for Mr Amdur. (Prof Goldsbury)

The text refers to O-sensei stating he had some kuki-ryu scrolls, In the book secret teaching is I think a reference to a katori shinto scroll.
In the film founder of aikido there is a scene where Saito sensei attacks O-sensei where he is reading while I remember seeing some photos of O-sensei's impressive library in Iwama.

Could there be influences from written sources somewhere.
Nothing is known as far as I know about O-sensei's library, some years ago before the separation of Saito Hitohiro sensei from the aikika there was a suggestion to catalogue this library. Maybe an interesting retirement project for Goldsbury sensei.

Usually what a man reads, says a lot about his personality.
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Old 10-05-2009, 08:09 AM   #66
Ellis Amdur
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

For my part, I do not know anything about Ueshiba's library - either in Tokyo or in Iwama. One think about old material, however. I have some old scrolls and shahon (old bound books) or copies of same from ryu I'm involved in. Here's the problems reading such material:
1. A lot is written in Kanbun - this is Japanese-written-in-Chinese - requires specialized knowledge on how to alter the word order
2. A lot is written in such scripts as grass style, which requires specialized knowledge. I has one scroll that was rewritten in modern Japanese for me, and for the life of me, I cannot fathom how the characters correspond to the original, which does look like grass
3. Even if one can read such things, the language is archaic - I've had readable versions and shown them to well-educated Japanese and they say, "I have absolutely no idea what this means. I can read the words, but don't know what it says."
4. As for martial arts scrolls and the like, they are often highly cryptic phrases which are, in essence, mnemonic devices to remember the curriculum. Few explain "How-to-do."

I do recall reading or hearing somewhere that Ueshiba wrote notes in the margins of some of his books - now THAT would probably be interesting to read!

Best
Ellis Amdur

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Old 10-05-2009, 06:09 PM   #67
crbateman
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

I do know that O'Sensei has been described as a prolific reader (hence my avatar), and I remember being told by someone (frankly, I don't remember by whom) that the bulk of his library was retained, along with most of his writings, by the family. I do think that Saito Morihiro ended up with some pieces, though. I suspect that Saito Hitohiro could shed some light on the whereabouts of that portion.
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Old 10-05-2009, 06:51 PM   #68
Ellis Amdur
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I believe that avatar was from the picture with Terry Dobson studiously sitting at the other side of the table? With a book? Terry told me about that - said he couldn't read the book and the photo was staged. No, no, no, I'm not denying that Osensei was a reader and a studious passionate man - just that sometimes the other side of the history of an event - staged - is amusing.

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Ellis Amdur

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Old 10-05-2009, 06:53 PM   #69
raul rodrigo
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

HI ELLIS:

Just a question: knowing what you know now, and looking back on your years of training in Japan, was there a teacher who had IT/"the goods" but you didn't recognize it at the time? To put it another way: was there a teacher that you wish you had studied with more, in the light of your recent studies encapsulated in HIPS? And if so, specifically what skill or methodology would you have wanted to get from this teacher?

best regards,

RAUL
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Old 10-05-2009, 07:16 PM   #70
Ellis Amdur
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

Honestly, I'm glad I studied with exactly the teachers I did - I learned exactly what I needed at the time. People find, in my experience, the teacher they are looking for. Furthermore, even if things were in front of me, I didn't have the capacity to see them. And there is a lot more to martial arts than IT - for example, focused will is another type of skill, applied in martial arts. Understanding of ma-ai, combative psychology, weapons handling, courage in the face of a weapon - of COURSE, IT can be intertwined with this - but I didn't see it, and no one presented it to me. I'm actually aware, now, of several old schools which have retained the IT training as part of their combative system - and no, I will not publicly state the names, because it was another case of me being told because I wouldn't state it publicly.
Anyway, the proof of my lack of capacity to see is that I studied, briefly with Wang Shu Chin. He of the famous devastating belly bump. (He'd hug you and nearly knock you out and you knew he had lots of power in reserve). He was spoken of with awe (he allegedly shook the torii at Meiji shrine). So he had us doing stirring motions shifting our weight from one foot to another, while repetitively doing simple movements with the arms. It was made clear to us that this was the route to his power. We were told he did it 6 hours a day when young. My response was that was a long time and I really couldn't believe it. So I quit. I wish . . .
Ellis Amdur

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Old 10-06-2009, 01:57 AM   #71
fred veer
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

Hi Ellis,

If O-sensei made notes in his books this would be an important primary source of information, of course only related to the books in question. It would certainly illuminate as to his thinking.

Another question. The menkyo-kaiden in aiki bo-jutsu given to Hikitsuchi sensei.

This dates from the 1955 period where you assume O-sensei was most fully developed.

The text was presumably written by O-sensei, while the artist probably used O-sensei as a model for the illustrations.

Considering the time investment/cost of this scroll it would obviously have to be something O-sensei considered important.

The progression from ikkyo to gokyo which you describe in some way mirrors O-sensei's progression. The variable jo/spear exercise which he shows corresponding to the fourth and fifth levels. The 31 step jo kata would be an exercise on the second/third level.

Do you think a translation of this work might be valuable/possible ?
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Old 10-06-2009, 09:10 AM   #72
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Hikitzuchi's Aiki-bojutsu

Quote:
Do you think a translation of this work might be valuable/possible ?
1. I really do not know the status of Shingu's aikido since the death of Hikitzuchi - who controls what, who learned what, who is responsible for what.
2. If, however, any way tradtional, the scroll, in cryptic fashion, outlines what the recipient learned in full. One who didn't learn it merely has a scroll with some pictures and phrases.
3. Such scrolls are often regarded as secret and are only released to someone who mastered what the scrolls outline.
4. An outsider could read the scroll, let us say, and be no wiser than before about what the scrolls are about.

In sum, I do not think such a project would be all that valuable. What would be valuable would be to seek out Tojima, Yanase or Anno sensei(s), by-all-accounts brilliant senior teachers at Shingu, and actually learn from them what Hikitzuchi actually passed on.
An acquaintance of mine, a many decade long practitioner of koryu weaponry, who trained with most of Ueshiba's senior shihan (under Aikikai aegis) said that Hikitzuchi's weapon-work was at the pinnacle of them - that in his quite educated opinion, HIkitzuchi was the individual who truly got "transmission" of Ueshiba's weapon-work.
Best
Ellis Amdur

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Old 10-07-2009, 04:33 AM   #73
crbateman
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

Good advice, Ellis. Some other good sources with Shingu cred might be Jack Wada, Linda Holiday or Mary Heiny.
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Old 10-07-2009, 06:05 AM   #74
M. McPherson
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

By report, Anno Sensei has been helming things in Shingu, and to good effect (again, so I'm told. And I have absolutely no idea how well he's mastered the arcana of pine, bamboo, and plum...which of course contain the mysteries of IT, don't ya know).
One name that might be considered amongst old Shingu hands, as far as English-speaking resources, is Tim Detmer, who I believe has been living and training there for just under 25yrs - most of that under Hikitsuchi S.

Best,
Murray McPherson
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Old 09-03-2010, 07:32 PM   #75
Rob Watson
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" Book Discussion

How is it possible that all this good stuff is HIPS? I certainly don't know but science is catching up to a limited extent. The August 27, 2010 issue of Science magazine has an interesting article "Optimally Interacting Minds" pp1081 describing how two or more observers can actually "see" better than just one. The sum is greater than the parts (in certain situations). Interesting to note that when the 'skill' of the observers is dis-similar the results are worse than when the skills are more or less equal.

The 'perspectives' section on pp 1022 "Decisions Made Better" is a commentary on the main article and also provides some interesting food for thought. The concept of 'collective' or 'group' think is routinely knocked but this is something all together different. 'Collaborative think' may be more along the lines and is shown to produce superior decisions.

Given the context of traditional 'steal the techniques' with individuals jealously guarding whatever they manage to glean there is no strongly encouraged collaboration and exchange based on the materials in question so the opportunity for this mode of learning is limited.

None of this may help in learning the ins and outs if IP,IT, IS, aiki or whatever but it does imply that if one does not work collaboratively with ones peers in an open exchange then progress will be slow or maybe even backwards. Not only IHTBF but IHTBTAF (it has to be talked about freely). At least that is what the current science has to say about that.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

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