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Old 10-27-2010, 09:47 AM   #51
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

Hi George,

I don't want to give an impression that I totally disagree with you. I don't. And more often than not, when I do disagree, it's usually fractions instead of large amounts. For the most part and in regards to Modern Aikido, I agree with your post. I just wanted to look at specific parts in more detail.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Without exception, every senior teacher of Aikido with whom I am familiar spent some significant period of time during which they trained virtually every day, often more than one class each day. Ikeda Sensei told me that, remembering Mary Heiny Sensei when she was at Hombu Dojo, she not only trained every day, she trained in every class every day. Hardly anyone trains in all the classes... they start in the early am and go til the late evening.
From what I can gather, so please correct me where I get things wrong:

There were three to four classes per day at Hombu for most of the Aikido seniors out there. Class time was an hour to an hour and a half? Don't have my notes here.

But, from around 1945-1955, classes at Hombu were uncommon and not well attended. And during those years, Ueshiba Morihei didn't spend a whole lot of time at Hombu. If he did, it was lecturing most of an hour for one class (the early class).

Even from 1955 to his death, Ueshiba Morihei really only had one official class (that is when he was at Hombu and did actively teach) and that was the early morning one.

We are left with Ueshiba Kisshomaru, Tohei Koichi and a few other senior teachers to instruct. This is the first critical area to address in regards to training. Is two days a week enough? Consider that a lot of the Modern Aikido Seniors only had access to Ueshiba Morihei for at most 5 hours a week. If current Modern Aikido practice is 1.5 hours a day, then two days a week is 3 hours. Certainly an equal amount of hands-on time that a lot of Modern Aikido Seniors had.

But, let's take a look at Modern Aikido's creators: Kisshomaru and Tohei. If we look to them and the amount of time Seniors had training ... we can see quite a lot more time spent per week. So, in this regard, yes, two days a week won't hold up very well.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
So, if Mary Heiny Sensei is someone we are striving to model our training after, does anyone think they can become as good as that by training a fraction of the amount she trained? One could make the same argument about virtually any of our teachers.
The dedication some of the Modern Aikido Seniors had (and have) is certainly very exemplary. I think Mary Heiny has shown that. I think she held herself to a standard very few of us will ever reach. And I think that's it is also very sad that she was at Hombu at a time when Ueshiba Morihei wasn't teaching the secrets of aiki, wasn't there often to teach, and didn't care if anyone surpassed him. Had Ueshiba Morihei actively taught what he knew ...

Certainly the case for other people, too.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Everyone wants to feel good about what they are doing. Everyone makes the commitment he or she feels fits into their life as they currently live it. But what must it be like to be a teacher looking out at the student population knowing that very few of them are even trying to be excellent at the art, much less master what that teacher is capable of passing on.

Every year I go to big events at which my own teacher is instructing. This man trained with the Founder and the other post war giants of Aikido for 15 years. I watch as he tries to teach something more advanced and cannot because so many of the people are simply not training hard enough to come back each year better than the year before. So each year he tells them the same things are wrong and they go home and come back the next year with the same things wrong. So he can't teach what he'd like to teach because the majority of the folks aren't ready for it. And they won't be ready for it the way they are training.

So, what happens is that the art begins to adjust to the capacities of the folks doing it. Rather than have a standard that is too high for most people, which would certainly be demoralizing and cause large numbers to quit, the standard changes so that folks can get a win, feel included, pay the rent on the dojo, etc. This changes the whole culture of Aikido. If the standard is now set by the hobbyist, rather than the seriously committed student, then you end up with lots of dojos but none at which one could become excellent. I travel a lot and see lots of dojos around with all sorts of folks. But at very few would I honestly say one could become really excellent at the art.

The fact of the matter is that, if they decided that they really wanted the standard to be excellence, if they were to insist that the dojo be geared towards taking people to a true high level of skills in the art, there would be so few people willing to train that way that the dojo would probably close.

So, we end up with "market forces" determining the character of the art which started as an amazing, complex, and deep practice. It becomes not an art that is hard to comprehend, that is pursued by practitioners who strive each day for mastery but one that the average person understands and can do, with the kind of commitment that average person is willing to make. You end up with the larger dojo paradigm making it impossible for that small number of people who would and could do more to actually do so. You see students who could be great and want to train towards that goal held back by the fact that the majority won't or can't.

I am not really quite sure what the answer is to this quandary.
I have an answer. Most don't like it. Most don't even want to hear it. The answer comes from the shift between Ueshiba Morihei's aikido and Modern Aikido created by Kisshomaru and Tohei.

There is a profound and fundamental reason why Ueshiba's aikido techniques do not look like other Japanese jujutsu. The "aiki no jutsu" of aikido creates that profound and fundamental difference.

Without the changed body that is aiki (Ueshiba's statement of "I am aiki" is one of the more important things he has said), one must use 100% jujutsu to complete aikido techniques. Things like timing, small body movement, body placement, etc all become very important.

With aiki, the profound physical effects upon a person alter the encounter in ways most Japanese jujutsu would not have. With aiki, the training environment is different than most jujutsu.

If you remove aiki and attempt to train aikido techniques to become good at jujutsu, you find that the time frame is astronomically increased. That is why judo, BJJ, and other jutsu approaches can become proficient in usage in far, far less time than someone in aikido.

And yes, the square peg will fit in the round hole ... because after many hours per week, many weeks per year, and 20-40 years, one will become proficient in some very good jujutsu that relies on timing, body placement, etc. We have a whole world of aikido where some have gotten a bit of structure and a bit of internal power through aikido training. Most of those people have taken 20+ years to accomplish that.

It only takes a small bit of research to find out that the Aikido Greats accomplished far more in 5 years.

When you spread out the improvements over such a large time frame (20-40 years) amidst such large groups, you introduce impediments, which then creates the conditions you elaborated on in your above quote.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I am fairly sure that most folks, if you asked them, wouldn't wish to believe that what they are spending so much time and effort on is just "Aikido-lite" yet without a critical mass of really serious students striving to match their own teachers, that's what the art becomes.
The problem is in Modern Aikido itself. A time frame of 20-40 years is fairly standard to become good in the art. And people know this. They are told it in no uncertain terms. "This is a 20 year technique", etc. Who really wants to face those facts that you have to spend that much time per week (more than 2 days) over a period of 20 years? Modern Aikido has perfected the training to create "Aikido-lite" people.
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Old 10-27-2010, 12:57 PM   #52
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

Quote:
Pauliina Lievonen wrote: View Post
In aikido the situation is much more unclear because the professional training courses aren't there really. It's easy to start training at a dojo and imagine that what one's doing is the same as what the seniors did when they started, because where else could they have learned this? Especially if the seniors themselves are effectively amateurs as well, which seems to be the case in some dojo. I mean, I could start a dojo now and be a bad example to a new generation, and who would know any better?

kvaak
Pauliina
Hi Paulina,
yes, this is precisely it! My wife comes out of a music background in which it is much more clear. Top teachers don't even train lower level people, they do "master classes". You basically get invited or apply and get accepted to the "master classes". Lower level folks who are serious but not quite at the level to take part actually pay to watch the "master classes". I REALLY wish there was something like that here. There are Instructor Level seminars but usually they are Nidan or Sandan and up. While a considerable improvement over general admission training, because the Dan Ranking system has been so mangled, it doesn't mean what it should mean any more.

If you went back to Hombu Dojo back in the day, it was quite clear who the professionals were and who everyone else was. The uchi deshi got training that was not given the general membership, trained more frequently, had teaching responsibilities, and generally spent 6 - 8 hours a day on the mat either teaching or training. They had private classes with O-Sensei, did their own private training, were provided with opportunities to work with senior teachers of arts other than Aikido, all the while the general membership did their one class a day.

For a long time Hombu used the titles Shihan to designate these folks. Finally, there were simply too many foreigners who had trained for decades and were serious teachers themselves, so they extended the title to outsiders, but they still do not consider them equal to "Hombu" Shihan. Nevertheless, that title is the only designation, outside of Dan Rank that tells you much about the person's qualifications as a teacher. Right now it is still a very exclusive group and one is fairly well assured of some level of expertise. But, over time, I worry that it will end up like the Dan Ranks in which people just get kicked upstairs by virtue of hanging with it for years and years. There are folks you see getting promoted solely on time in grade whose Aikido hasn't changed one iota in 20 years.

And everyone expects this... People expect to be promoted for time in grade. In the ASU we typically don't test after 3rd Dan although a few teachers do test for 4th Dan. So after 4th Dan, it's simply time in grade... The Japanese tend to promote people "with their class" so to speak. It is not typical, in martial arts, or in a corporation, to fast track a whiz kid. It is very hard to move up past your sempai. So, if there is a lot of dead wood amongst the sempai, it doesn't matter if you are the "second coming of the Founder" you will get promoted when your peers do.

Take this and compound the issue by the fact that, since Aikido was so young in the US, in fact the martial arts were young, it became common place for lower Dan ranks to open dojos. So we got used to the idea of Nidans and Sandans running schools. My peers and I had dojos when we were San Dans... So, the fact is, most folks training in Aikido have not experienced training under a really qualified Shihan level teacher for any length of time. Most folks get this exposure a few times a year, at most, at seminars and camps.

All of this combines to create a situation in which people don't necessarily even know what truly high level Aikido is. If they do know, they tend to think it is this special thing that their Shihan does that the rest of us mere mortals can't even aspire to. The teachers at the dojos where these folks train can't do what their Shihan does, so how could they teach it? People actually get in the habot of not getting it. Time after time they attend a seminar with their Shihan and go home none the wiser. There is no one back at their dojo who can function at that level nor are they willing / able to training hard enough or frequently enough to work it out on their own. So they end up with this disconnected view of Aikido in which there is the Aikido done by the "special" folks... and then there is what everyone else does.

This would be fine if it were consciously recognized. But ordinary folks don't sign up for Aikido-lite lessons, they put a fair amount of time, money and effort in to their training and want to feel like they are doing Aikido. And over time they want recognition for this. They want those Dan ranks, they want to teach classes at their dojo and be "instructors". I have known a large number of folks over the years who either quit Aikido or left their dojos because they didn't feel validated by being promoted, being asked to be on the teaching schedule, or even, taking ukemi from the teacher when he or she was demonstrating.

The system can be fixed, in my opinion. But like any therapy, the patient has to admit there is a problem before he can get better. Everyone is capable of doing Aikido that is far more sophisticated than what they are doing. Aiki can be done by anyone. It just has to be taught properly.

If I had my way, and I don't expect to, so this is purely hypothetical... Every Aikido organization in the country which "in theory" oversees the Aikido done under its auspices, should have a certification process like the Systema folks do. You want to be listed on the website as an official member dojo? Fine... But in order to keep up that certification, you have to actually show up at the training conducted by Vladimir and Michael, attend seminars with the senior instructors, etc No one sees you , you are off the list. Initially this is a yearly process. later, when people know you are really serious, you won't be off the list just because you had a year when you couldn't train much for some reason. But that's for the seniors who have already shown they are willing to do the work. Everyone else has to show up EVERY year. So, it would be impossible to have a teacher who doesn't get out, who no one has seen in decades at a seminar or camp. There should be similar requirements at every member dojo for anyone teaching class. No one teaching a class at a member dojo should be able to teach without qualifying. By qualifying, I mean getting out and attending camp every year, hitting at least two or three seminars with the Shihan or other senior teachers. No one should be teaching anywhere in the organization who isn't participating in the training offered by the organization.

Then, once you have made participation mandatory at all levels of teaching, there should be instructor level training offered every year that is targeted and level appropriate for the instructors. As far as I am concerned, at least 60 - 70 % of the seminars and camps offered by the Shihan and seniors in an organization should be instructor training. Frankly, other than for inspirational reasons, there is no benefit to having a Shodan training under Saotome Sensei. It is a waste of Sensei's time and the poor Shodan spends most of his time mystified. The Shihan should be mostly teaching the 4th - 6th Dans. The Rokudans should be teaching the lower yudansha instructors. Only people who are actively teaching a class or classes at a dojo should be able to attend the instructor training events. There should only be a few general, all level, seminars, perhaps taught by the Rokudans at local area dojos.

Once there is a more stringent process for transmitting skills to the instructors, then it's time to fix the testing process.
A) people need to fail tests. (I don't want to get into a discussion of what organizations do what and who does not. So I will not discuss specifics here. People can decide for themselves if what I am saying applies in their situation). As things stand now, there is often no set standard for what constitutes passing a certain level of test. I have seen San Dan tests that were no better than another persons' Shodan test. I have seen people miserably fail on an important portion of a test and pass anyway. This needs to stop.

B) Teachers need to be held accountable for their students performance. Saotome Sensei has always said that when a student does not do well on a test, it is not the student's fault, it is the teacher's fault. As far as I am concerned, when a test takes place that is substandard, the teacher should hear about it. Imagine what would happen if once or twice one of he Shihan chewed out an instructor in front of the whole group for a bad test by one of his students... I guarantee that it would only have to happen once or twice before the word had gone all around the country to every dojo out there and no one would be sending mediocre students to test any more.

As far as I am concerned, teachers who want promotion should be evaluated on the performance of their students. Any teacher whose students consistently fail or are mediocre, doesn't get promoted. Teachers who consistently turn out superior students get promoted faster. Eventually, and this might take twenty years, you would have the best teachers at the top of the organization. Scarp this whole time in grade thing and look at performance. This takes care of the idea of not testing at the higher ranks. I don't have a problem with not testing after 4th Dan. But, for folks running dojos, there should be a standard based on evaluating their success in transmitting the skills of the art.

C) Students after a certain rank, need to be required to make additional commitment to their training if they want to be promoted. After 4th Kyu, students who wish to be promoted should have a minimum number of hours on the mat per week set as a standard. I would say three times a week if one wishes to be promoted. Now, no one can tell someone else how often to train... But it is certainly more than fair to require a certain level of commitment for someone who wants something back, like rank. Three times a week and a certain number of seminars or no testing. I would also allow folks who are training more to test more quickly. Once again , in an attempt to get the people training the hardest up to the top of the dojo hierarchy. So, if they can put the time in on the training and meet the required standard of performance on a given test, that's what is required. To keep people from simply trying to get rank by testing as quickly as possible, there can be a significant "time in grade before testing again" provision if someone fails a test. That way, everyone will be careful to be fully prepared when they test.

Also, I would use (as I currently do) Doran Sensei's system of having each student who wishes to test assigned a "trainer" who has done that test before. The "Trainer" has to sign off on the student and say he or she is ready for the test. If that student doesn't do well on the test, the "trainer" hears about it. Doran Sensei told me he finds that the students are harder on each other than he would be and he doesn't have to be the "bad guy".

The point of this whole effort is to raise the quality of Aikido as a whole by effecting the pieces. Set up a systematic method of transmission from the top down, set up performance standards for the membership, especially the teachers, and set more stringent commitment standards for the general membership that have to be met for promotion. Folks can train any way they like. Nothing whatever has to change for people if they don't want it to. But they cannot expect to move up in rank if they don't meet a standard. They can't teach at all if they don't meet a standard. They can't be a certified dojo within an organization if the teacher doesn't meet a standard. And teaching experience gets counted in with other factors when promotions are considered for the most senior folks, not just time in grade.

I think that twenty years of this would result in fewer people doing the art at a much higher level. There would be fewer dojos with more members. Those dojos would be better dojos with better instructors and higher level training. And the very top teachers would be able to pass on what they have learned to the folks below them in the line of transmission. Will this happen? Probably not... but there is no reason aside fro lack of will that it couldn't. I think an attempt to move things in this direction would result in huge resistance on the part of the general population of average folks and average teachers because it would require more effort. The folks whose dojos couldn't be financially tenable with fewer students would resist it. The teachers with spouses who don't like the time they already spend on the art would resist it. The folks who feel that they couldn't afford more financial commitment would resist it. And so on. That's why it is so hard to make positive change in any society. There is a vested interest in how things are and change requires more time, effort, and money. So I am not holding my breath. But it's what I would do if I had a say, which I don't.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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Old 10-27-2010, 01:47 PM   #53
Richard Stevens
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

The fact that people have lives outside of Aikido shouldn't bar them from testing for Shodan (or higher Kyu ranks). If you can only train two days a week, you can only train two days a week. If it takes longer to get to Shodan, so be it.

Some people are willing to make Aikido the focus of their lives. Some have higher priorities or simply see Aikido as a hobby that keeps them active.

Obviously two days a week isn't going to be sufficient to "master" the art, but I would guess that a big chunk of those practicing Aikido want to be proficient, not a Shihan.

In my own case, I am only able to formally train 3-5 hours per week, but I put in effort outside of the dojo. Is this sufficient amount of time to get me where I want to be skill-wise? Definitely not. However, work/family/school take priority at this point in my life. However, the training time I sacrifice now is allowing me to put myself in a situation where I can train at a very serious level.

Two days a week is certainly enough to progress in any art as long as the time is well spent. You have to get on the mat with intent and focus. You can't let yourself go through the motions. Self-motivation is essential.

In regards to Ledyard-Sensei's comments regarding failing students who are meeting testing requirements, I am in completely agreement. If you don't have the skills, you shouldn't get the rank.
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Old 10-27-2010, 02:28 PM   #54
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Hi George,

There were three to four classes per day at Hombu for most of the Aikido seniors out there. Class time was an hour to an hour and a half? Don't have my notes here.

But, from around 1945-1955, classes at Hombu were uncommon and not well attended. And during those years, Ueshiba Morihei didn't spend a whole lot of time at Hombu. If he did, it was lecturing most of an hour for one class (the early class).

Even from 1955 to his death, Ueshiba Morihei really only had one official class (that is when he was at Hombu and did actively teach) and that was the early morning one.
Hi Mark,
I just want to clear up something... since there is a revisionist tendency prevalent these days that the ushi deshi didn't really spend a loot of time with the Founder. Yes, the Founder only taught his early morning class daily. But the ushi deshi were with him every moment of every day. Training was a 24 hour a day issue for them. Chiba Sensei talks about the job they had of helping O-Sensei to the bathroom in the middle of he night. He learned to come awake just as O-Sensei opened his eys and was ready with his slippers. That's training.

Saotome Sensei has talked about the fact that they went everywhere with the Founder. When he went to Iwama, he had deshi from Hombu with him. He would show them things on the train, they would do all the misogi he did, they would get pulled out of bed in the middle of the night and shown stuff O-Sensei was thinking about. That was training.

O-Sensei was open to questions as well. Saotome Sensei used to ask him questions all the time. I gather he was something of a pest... And he said O-Sensei would always show him something when asked. He wouldn't explain, if you got it, you got it, if not, look more closely next time.

It is clear to me that, for the post war deshi, more of their training from the Founder himself was off the mat rather than in formal class, although they had that daily. Not only did they have class with him daily but they took all the ukemi. They had their hands on him to feel it repeatedly every day. Then they spent many hours a day assisting him, traveling with him, listening to him, absorbing more from him than they could possibly absorb at the time. Most have spent their lives digesting what they got during that period.

This tendency towards saying that these guys were really students of Kisshomaru and Tohei and not really influenced very directly by the Founder is a set of theories putout by people who either, a) haven't talked to many of these teachers who were deshi at the time or b) who have a particular point of view favoring another interpretation (like the Iwama folks for whom Saito was clearly the guy who had spent the most time with O-Sensei). This viewpoint is hard to credit once you talk to the actual people who were the uchi deshi at the time. Now some of them, like Imaizumi Sensei, did consider themselves to be students of other teachers, like Tohei, once the Founder had passed. Saotome Sensei definetly considered Kisshomaru as his teacher, once O-Sensei passed away. But every aspect of Saotome Sensei's Aikido was and is informed by his experience, on and off the mat with the Founder.

So I take this revisionist thing with a huge grain of salt... I've talked extensively with folks who were these deshi and know how deeply they were effected by the Founder, technically, spiritually, etc.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
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Old 10-27-2010, 02:49 PM   #55
Basia Halliop
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

I agree with so much of what you're saying... and love the idea of making higher rank promotions based on student progress -- clever -- but I'm still stuck on that days per week thing. If the testing standards were solid and designed as you propose, then don't people who don't train many days a week just take many many many years to reach any kind of ability or rank? If standards are high and not everyone can reach high levels, then there's not really much danger of someone who's 'not really trying to get excellent' becoming higher ranked than they've really earned, or ending up at the head of an organization. They will just reach whatever rank they earn in the time they have. Someone who trains 2 days a week for ten years has trained a lot more hours than any 4th or 3rd kyu and probably has better skills -- if you want ranks to be transparent and linked to ability, then to me it doesn't make sense to deny whatever rank they've genuinely earned to the 2 times a week for 10 years student...

I.e., I'm not convinced that the mere existence of 'hobbyists' threatens the quality of the higher levels or threatens the future of the art. If there aren't a certain number of people training very intensely and getting to a very high quality (note I didn't say a certain percentage -- 1 'future master' and 10 'hobbyists' vs 1 'future master' and 1 'hobbyist' is still 1 future master - you haven't gained any masters by getting rid of those hobbyists), THAT is a problem, but you don't create professionals by removing hobbyists or putting external pressure on them to train more than they're really interested in -- you create professionals by creating professionals.

E.g. in the analogy to music (or hockey or golf would work), most people who study piano a few hours a week will never go on to become professional concert pianists or teachers of other professionals. Does that mean we should try to discourage people who are interested from studying piano for a few hours a week, and say if you aren't interested in making it a career, go away, you insult us by pretending to be interested in music? NO! Every art, every sport, almost any skill has a range of hobbyists to serious amateurs to masters. They aren't somehow inversely related - an increase in hobbyists doesn't cause there to be less masters (usually if there's any relationship at all it's the other way around -- e.g. countries where a sport is a widespread popular hobby are more often than average the same ones that win olympics). If there's a problem with not having enough 'future masters' then deal with that problem directly...
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Old 10-27-2010, 03:21 PM   #56
aikilove1
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

Aside from all the friendly opinions bestowed above. The truth is that any training is good enough in the begining and its important that you enjoy your training and get the quality of training not the quantity. Aikido is a complex and endless art to learn and it will take the rest of your life, training never stops, and as some fellows have said previously... it should be a way of life to get any real benefit from it. But as O'sensei said....dont be be in a hurry as takes a minimum of 10 years to master the basics and advance to the first rung. Plus if all you accumulate while attending every class under the sun is a multitude of high quality techniques over the years then you still wont have learnt anything of any real value.

Understand this, aikido is an art that is designed to offer to transform your life, it is just an offer, you have to take up that offer, it is up to you how you train but like anything else you get back what you put in, but here im talking again about quality not quantity, you have to be willing to train in a productive way that will allow you to see the many benifits for yourself, this is what makes aikido a great martial art to learn.

Aikido ultimately is about inner and outer transformation, both spiritually and martial, but the outer techniques are nothing without proper inner development, this is the core of the art and the fertile ground for which your training and way of life will progress. It takes a very sincere and committed approach on your part to fully understand the principles for yourself, no one can show you these, it comes from inner knowing and understanding. So, as an eager fresh new student i would suggest to them that you set yourself a target of putting importance on learning about the "Hara" or "one point" and how to conduct your bodily function in such a way that you learn how to improve your posture, breathing, concentration and awareness, as these are the fundemental underlying principles that provides the foundation for your techniques in aikido and everyday life. This acts as a platform as how to proceed with your training and how you should conduct yourself as a whole and will act as the foundation of all your training throughout your life. Mastery of techniques will come with time and practice, but its the essence of whats behind the techniques that is important and a mark of the quality of your aikido.

So, in the begining, its important not to be in a hurry, take your time, look deep into the principles of aikido and look to train this way from the ground up. You can do this easily over time training once or twice a week at the dojo and progress faster by training yourself in inner development in your spare time and practicing how to move effectively ect, aikido is like learning to walk all over again, in every day activities try use every moment as an oppertunity to do this. Once you feel confident that you are starting to realise what this "centre" business is all about, you can put it behind your technique and feel it working for real, then as you begin to feel good at it, then you will want to train more and more and put the principles you have learned to use which makes aikido more interesting rather than just going through the motions.

When starting aikido, you will be overwhelmed by the amount of sheer learning involved and what it takes for you to get there. So the best thing to do is just take it slowly and easy and dont pressure yourself or alow yourself to become overwhelmed, learn it properly and go at your own pace and enjoy it. Dont get too excited, be patient and put sincere basic training in that you will enjoy, create a solid foundation that you can build from, then you can take it from there and you will want to train more and more as you progress!

O'Sensei when asked always said that the meaning of Aikido was "Masakastu Agatsu" (True victory is self victory), overcoming oneself (ego) in order to fully understand the way in its true light, this is the way to train.

Sensei Paul Love
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Old 10-27-2010, 04:19 PM   #57
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

Without a lot of cutting and pasting - replying to several different posts (sorry if I jump about a bit from topic to topic):

My experience is training at a dojo and organization where people do fail tests, and that does indeed to some extent take care of the question of how often is enough. On the one hand people will train harder when they know that failing is an option, and on the other hand if someone is ready to test despite only training twice a week then that will already be observable before testing. That works for us I think because were a small organization where everybody knows everybody and the standards are pretty clear.

Actually setting a clear testing standard and sticking to it would probably go a long way towards achieving the items on Ledyard sensei's list. Good luck to anyone trying to formulate clear testing criteria though.

Someone said that the fact that people have lives outside of aikido shouldn't bar them from testing for shodan... why not? If aikido isn't a priority, then how much does another grade really mean to that person? Of course it's nice, but isn't it more important in that situation to get recognition for the effort and time that has been put into work, or family, and so on, from the people at home or at work? Or should people get aikido grades for being such good parents and hard working employees? I think there are more appropriate rewards that one could think of...

About teacher training: I trained to become an Alexander Technique teacher at a three year course with just ten students at that time. We all paid for the training ourselves, the school doesn't get any kind of subsidies. I wonder if it would be possible to do something like that in aikido, to have some sort of intensive training course for people who want to become instructors, and whether or not that would do anything to solve some of the problems Ledyard sensei writes about. (I know some dojo have some sort of uchi deshi programs, but I don't know how long people usually take part in those, and how much the intention really is to become a teacher?)The problem of course is that having done such a course people would probably want to make some kind of a living teaching aikido, and that's almost impossible.

I've talked with my teacher about starting my own dojo. The reason I don't want to is because the difference to me is so clear - my teacher teaches aikido for a living, trains every day, I do aikido next to two other rather demanding disciplines, I don't train every day. I think people are much better off training with my teacher.

To return to the original question - for a brand new beginner I think two times a week is enough. Until you have some little idea of what aikido is and how deeply you want to throw yourself into practicing it. After that, you have to decide what you want to achieve, and train accordingly.

kvaak
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Old 10-27-2010, 05:28 PM   #58
Richard Stevens
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

Quote:
Pauliina Lievonen wrote: View Post
Someone said that the fact that people have lives outside of aikido shouldn't bar them from testing for shodan... why not? If aikido isn't a priority, then how much does another grade really mean to that person? Of course it's nice, but isn't it more important in that situation to get recognition for the effort and time that has been put into work, or family, and so on, from the people at home or at work? Or should people get aikido grades for being such good parents and hard working employees? I think there are more appropriate rewards that one could think of...
Going by that train of logic I shouldn't be able to turn in my thesis to get my Masters degree because I was only able to commit to two classes a semester.

I agree that someone who is training "part-time" shouldn't be given a "pass" during testing. However, I find it ridiculous to suggest that someone who has the skills to pass Shodan would be barred from testing.
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Old 10-27-2010, 06:43 PM   #59
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

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Basia Halliop wrote: View Post

I.e., I'm not convinced that the mere existence of 'hobbyists' threatens the quality of the higher levels or threatens the future of the art. If there aren't a certain number of people training very intensely and getting to a very high quality (note I didn't say a certain percentage -- 1 'future master' and 10 'hobbyists' vs 1 'future master' and 1 'hobbyist' is still 1 future master - you haven't gained any masters by getting rid of those hobbyists), THAT is a problem, but you don't create professionals by removing hobbyists or putting external pressure on them to train more than they're really interested in -- you create professionals by creating professionals.
It isn't that the "existence" of the hobbyists threatens the art. It is the fact that they far and away predominate in a system that is increasingly set up only to train them. In other words, the demographic on Aikido (and other traditional martial arts as well) is not very good right now. The young males, who used to supply the bulk of the new students for all the martial arts, do not want to do more traditional training, they want to fight. They want to do what they see on Prime Time Cable each night.

All across the country and around the world adult membership in many dojos is down. The membership at my own dojo is at a fifteen year low. So if you look at that fact you see that two things are happening. One, is that the average age of the dojos around is rising steadily and two, the proportion of women in these dojos is rising. While having more women in the dojo isn't an issue, at least for me, having the average age rise is. If someone is going to really be good at this, there is a stage of training one needs to go through that is very intense and physical. You need to do this when you are young because your body can't handle that level of physicality later in life. So when you have a dojo where the youngest folks are already in their thirties, there is no way you ca train folks with that intensity. This is a problem in my own dojo. My students can't experience the intensity of the training I went through because they are too old already to be able to not be injured all the time.

When folks only train twice a week, the conditioning that comes with daily training just isn't there. So if they try to train really hard, they tend to get injured more because their bodies aren't strong and flexible enough to handle it. So the intensity of the training gets adjusted downwards to allow the bulk of the students to train without getting too beat up. Couple that with the need to tone it down for older bodies and the training becomes even more toned down.

So, the question is, not whether the hobbyists represent a problem... because they don't. It's that when the art is tailored for their needs, where do the really serious folks train. Look around at most dojos and ask yourself if you honestly believe that there is anyone at that dojo who looks like he or she will be better than the teacher. Ask whether that dojo could turn out another Mary Heiny Sensei if someone was there with that capacity and drive.

Most dojos I see will not turn out anyone better than the teacher. If anyone who really wanted to train more intensely and more frequently than the dominant dojo paradigm allows for, pressure would be brought to bear and they would either toe the line or they would leave. I have seen this happen a number of times. I have seen folks leave a dojo and even quit Aikido after they were forced out because they were hurting people, being too rough. My take on it was that they really wanted to train hard and the folks in the dojo couldn't take it when they did.

So, as Paulina has stated, what really needs to happen is that there are dojos at which instructor level training takes place and dojos where it doesn't. The hobbyist wouldn't even consider training at the dojo that is committed to turning out instructor level students and folks who wanted to be instructors wouldn't train at the dojos devoted to the hobbyists. This is essentially what the ushi deshi program at Hombu is about... They get the higher level training, train with more intensity, train more frequently, do classes that are not offered to the public, and everyone else just does the homogenized stuff reserved for the hobbyists.

Most dojos here wouldn't put up with a two tiered standard like that. Everyone feels like they are doing their best and should be validated for that. They have little patience for some interloper who comes in and surges past them i rank and gets o the teaching roster when they've been at the dojo half the time... They simply will not admit that this person my be more serious than they are, is training harder, and should be put ahead of them.

If there were some standard for delineating dojos in to hobbyist dojos and instructor training dojos, and the rank one could attain aty a hobbyist dojo was limited to San Dan, say... then it wouldn't be a problem. If we started to look at things the way they do in Japan, which is that 6th Dan is really an instructor and normally someone under 6th Dan wouldn't be expected to have his own dojo... that 4th and 5th Dans might teach at their home dojos or run a community center intro class but normally wouldn't open his or her own place until much later in their training... Then we couple that with the assurance that anyone who does have a 6th Dan went through many years of instructor level training with other people at that level and we might have the start of a solution.

Right now, instructors are simply the most talented and committed students who come out of the very same dojos populated with the hobbyists. I would maintain that, short of having a real uchi deshi system as in Japan, the normal dojo doesn't do an adequate job of preparing future teachers and a dojo that was really geared to do that well, wouldn't be someplace that a hobbyist would survive any more than the average person at Hombu dojo could do the training the deshi get.

There is absolutely no problem with the hobbyist. It's that the hobbyists represent the pool out of which the instructors emerge. So the next thing you know, those hobbyists are teaching at the dojo. Then they move up the ranks but still remain hobbyist / instructors. Then perhaps they have a falling out with their teacher, or leave their organization, or their teacher simply retires and now they have their own dojo! Still being the hobbyist / instructor and they now train other folks. When that is the situation with the majority of dojos, the standard inevitably gets lowered. Folks have said that it shouldn't matter how often folks train, that they should simply be required to meet a given standard to get rank. But the fact of the matter is that the standard will be adjusted to fit the dominant training paradigm in order that folks can succeed. So, inevitably the standard will become what the average person training twice a week can do and succeed. Teachers want their students to be able to pass their tests. Shihan want their members happy. None is going to set a standard that can only be met by a minority of folks training.

When I come up with the three day minimum standard for promotion past 3rd kyu, it isn't arbitrary. It is my considered assessment that this is what almost anyone needs to master at an acceptable level, all the things we are responsible for knowing. Saotome Sensei has two sword forms, single sword forms, two sets of jo forms, an array of sword techniques which are derived from old koryu sword work. He has kihon waza, he has martial application. One is expected to be able to manifest a technique large or small and make adjustments as needed. I have never seen anyone be able to do all of this at an acceptable level of skill who wasn't training at least three times a week.

So, I simply state that expectation in our requirements. People who don't wish to train that much don't need to test. But we don't pretend that some lower level of commitment is enough because it isn't. At three times a week, which is what most of my serious students are doing, I can barely pass on the required curriculum. I simply can't pass on all that was given to me by my teacher, or pass on more than a piece of what I have been given by the other teachers I have trained with over the years.

I feel that I have managed to shorten the learning curve by developing much better teaching technique and explanation than I had available. My teachers didn't explain much of anything back then. So, I do believe I have several students who will be better than I am by the time they have train ed as long as I have now. But they won't know what I know because they aren't training enough to master all of it. There are whole blocks of stuff that Saotome Sensei did with us that I simply have never gone over with my students.

So, no two days is not enough. It is not enough to know what a Yudansha should, in my opinion only, know. It certainly isn't enough for someone to move up the Dan ranks and be competent. I don't wish to rain on anyone's parade... I know people love Aikido, that folks put themselves into their training in all sorts of different ways, that they have to balance their Aikido with all sorts of other concerns... it hasn't been any different for those of us who chose to make different choices. We all have the same 24 hour day. So we have to choose what we spend the time on. There is nothing wrong with choosing to spend most of your time on other things than Aikido. Makes sense to me... I have many times thought how completely crazy it has been to have devoted my entire adult life to pursuit of this arcane stuff.

My point is that people make what they see as the greatest commitment they can make and then they have the expectation that it will be good enough. They still want to be black belts, they eventually would like to teach class. They want their Sensei to recognize them, they want to be validated. So the standard will never be set as an absolute that people either meet or not. Rather it will continue to be adjusted to meet the commitment that folks are willing to make. As the gentleman said, no one should be excluded from getting a back belt because they can't train more than twice a week. Well, that totally illustrates my point. I would ask, as others have, why not? Is getting a black belt a "right"? Is it something you feel you've paid for after a certain amount of dues paying?

Well, I do exclude people from black belt rank because they don't train more than twice a week. I do because when a student has a black belt from me, he represents me and the dojo, just as I represent Saotome Sensei. I am not going to attach my name to someone as his or her teacher who will not "represent" adequately. People judge what you do as a teacher by the quality of your students. When someone gives you a black belt, they have accepted you into their line of transmission.No teacher who has the least concern for his professional reputation wishes to attach his or her name to someone who isn't competent. So that student who wants a black belt from me, under the authority given me by Saotome Sensei, is incurring an obligation. It is not a right to have rank but a privileged and it is earned. One of the things you have to do at my school to earn it, is to train with a consistent frequency that will realistically allow for mastery of the required curriculum at an acceptable (to me) level.

If folks feel like this is elitist or exclusionary, I suppose it is. I am an elitist in that I want Aikido to be far better than it has been. For that to happen people need to recognize what it really takes to be decent. Not the best, just decent. If folks do not wish or cannot give it enough commitment to be that good, I am fine with them not doing it at all.

While I am an elitist about what I think the standard should be, I also totally believe that everyone can do Aikido with "aiki". There is absolutely no reason that even a relative beginner can't do technique that works for the same reasons that Saotome Sensei's technique works. It is explainable, teachable, and anyone with average ability can start doing it. Making it your default setting to the point at which you can manifest the principles freely while under a lot of stress, as in a martial confrontation is very difficult. But understanding the principles of aiki and using them i ones Aikido is the normal practice setting is not difficult. It just requires better instruction than what has been typical. So in that sense, I am not an elitist at all. Because I actually believe that even the hobbyist can do Aikido with "aiki". I also believe that anyone who wishes to make the level of commitment we have been talking about can be quite competent in the art. Maybe not a Shihan level practitioner but certainly solid.

But for this to happen people have to stop believing that things are fine the way they are, which in my mind they are not, and they need to be willing to make the greater commitment to make the change. I don't expect that to happen, as I said before. I fully expect people to tell me I am wrong and the way they train or the standard they use at their dojo is all fine. What I am saying is required is definitely about going past the average person's comfort zone.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
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Old 10-27-2010, 07:13 PM   #60
Janet Rosen
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

I've been following this thread with great interest. George, your analysis is cogent. As a person who started training late in life and then lost time from injury, who may never test for shodan but plans to keep showing up and training, I can't argue with your description of the prevalence of "Aikido Lite" and I can understand your concern about the dilution of the art/teaching. Yeah, for every test I've seen in which a student failed and a teacher got chewed out, I've seen several in which students seemed to be "given a pass."

Part of the issue I think really is the idea of aikido being "for the world" - hence the "rightness" of "go forth and open another dojo and teach"and making it accessible to folks who have physical limitations does come smack up against the reality of how to maintain standards for teaching. Chiba Sensei I think may have one path, which is separately grading for teaching from rank. There are some dojos (Aikido of Berkeley comes to mind here in NoCal) that do have uchideshi programs to accommodate students who wish to be on a different track from us hobbyists.

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Old 10-28-2010, 07:50 AM   #61
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Hi Mark,
I just want to clear up something... since there is a revisionist tendency prevalent these days that the ushi deshi didn't really spend a loot of time with the Founder. Yes, the Founder only taught his early morning class daily. But the ushi deshi were with him every moment of every day. Training was a 24 hour a day issue for them. Chiba Sensei talks about the job they had of helping O-Sensei to the bathroom in the middle of he night. He learned to come awake just as O-Sensei opened his eys and was ready with his slippers. That's training.
Don't take this the wrong way. I'm going to paste a rather long section of stuff. Even though it's long, it's only a portion of my research and at that, my research doesn't encompass a whole lot of what's out there.

I'm posting it here because I want you to see what *I myself* am trying to reconcile. As you read through it, you will see that, through many different people, Ueshiba Morihei didn't teach in Tokyo often, didn't show much when he actually did teach, that tending to Ueshiba on off hours wasn't a very good learning experience in regards to aikido, talked quite a lot, entertained visitors, traveled, etc. On top of all that, you start to see that Ueshiba Morihei really didn't teach that often in Iwama, either.

Best,
Mark

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http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=99
Moriteru Ueshiba: I remember when I was small, there was not yet much activity at the Hombu Dojo. For a time my father (Kisshomaru) was actually in Iwama instead. He married there, and starting around 1949, he worked for about seven years at a company called Osaka Shoji. He had no other choice. Even if you have a dojo, you can't make a living if nobody is coming to train, which was largely the case after the war.

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http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=68
Having a wife, two children and several hungry uchideshi to feed, Doshu was at that time employed full-time at a securities company and taught aikido classes in the morning and evening. His father (Morihei) remained ensconced in Iwama training a few close students, among them Morihiro Saito. As practice in Tokyo gained momentum, Kisshomaru started to direct part of his efforts toward the spreading of aikido to a public almost totally ignorant of the art. A major turning point was a large demonstration held in the Takashimaya Department Store in 1956 where for the first time, not only the Founder, but senior instructors as well as demonstrated.

By the mid 1960s, large numbers of trainees crowded the mats of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo along with scores of foreigners who streamed to Japan to train in the mecca of aikido. The founder, although now in Tokyo much of the time, was already in his eighties and Kisshomaru and Koichi Tohei were the major figures at the dojo.

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Mitsunari Kanai (1939-2004)
1959-1966 Uchideshi at Hombu
1966 Dispatched to America (yondan)

Yoshimitsu Yamada (1938-)
1955-56 Uchideshi at Hombu
1964 Dispatched to NY Aikikai

Kazuo Chiba (1940-)
1958- Uchideshi at Hombu
1960 -- Sandan. Assigned to Nagoya
1962 Yondan and teaching at Hombu
1966 Dispatched to England
1970 6th dan
4 years from start to 4th dan.
12 years from start to 6th dan.

Mitsugi Saotome (1937-)
1955 Started Aikido
1958 Uchideshi at Hombu
1960 Teaching at Hombu
1975 Departed to America

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Seiichi Sugano (1939-2010)
1957 Started training at Hombu
1958-59 Direct student of Morihei Ueshiba
1965 Dispatched to Australia

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=94 (AJ #112)
AJ: Do you have any particular memories of the old Wakamatsu-cho dojo?
Seiichi Sugano Sensei: The present Doshu (Kisshomaru Ueshiba) was one of the first people I met there. The place had the feel of an old-style dojo; quite different from the way it is today. Most of the time only O-Sensei and Doshu were there. Koichi Tohei was the head of the teaching staff. In the afternoon we were taught by people like Sadateru Arikawa, Hiroshi Tada and Shigenobu Okumura. A few years later Saito Sensei started coming down from Iwama to teach on Sundays

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Masao Ishii
1965-ish Started training at Hombu

http://aikidocanberra.com/Docs/main/doc/MasaoIshii
NCT: Really? So you started training there. Did you have a chance to train with O'Sensei then?
Ishii Sensei: Well, at that time he was already retired and he didn't have a regular class. I was only 15 years old. I went to Hombu dojo many times, where there were many teachers teaching regular classes. I expected to see O'Sensei at the dojo. His home was just next to Hombu dojo, and I expected him to come out of his room to teach us. But he didn't come to the dojo often. After a few months I learned that it was only for Yamaguchi Sensei's and Kisshomaru Sensei's classes that he came to the dojo to join us. This means that O'Sensei was not interested in other teachers training.

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http://www.iwama-aikido.com/Saito_Interview.html

Q: Who among the Senseis today have been uchi deshis?

A: Well, if you speak of Senseis like; Yamada, Tamura, Tohei, Saotome and Kanai they all are students of Kisshomaru Ueshiba. They never went to Iwama and practised for O-Sensei. Chiba Sensei once stayed in Iwama for 3 months.

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Black Belt Magazine Vol 1 No. 2.

In an article about Tohei. "His contributions to the art of Aikido are legend. He has devised many of the exercises and throws which are now standard and taught in all Aikido schools both in Japan and the United States."

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Yoseikan NA website:
9. What is the relationship between Yoseikan's robuse and the similar techniques practiced as ikkyo in most other aikido schools?

Mochizuki Minoru Sensei said that when he was studying with Ueshiba Sensei (late 1920's), robuse was the name given to the technique that later became Ikkajo, then Ikkyo after the war. The present ikkyo as taught by most Aikikai (and Aikikai related) teachers is the result of the modifications made by Tohei and Kisshomaru Sensei in order to simplify Aikido and make it available to more people....[edited for length]

Patrick Augé Sensei

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Black Belt 1966 Vol 4 No 5
"The uchideshi's day begins around 6 a.m., when he cleans the dojo and the grounds outside. The first class of the day starts at 6:30. This class is usually taught by Uyeshiba himself, the Osensei, which means the old teacher. The young uchideshi sit on their knees during this hour, which can be an uncomfortable and tiring experience.
The first class is usually taken up mostly with discussions about God and nature - Uyeshiba doing the talking and the uchideshi listening. It is in this hour that the young uchideshi is exposed to Zen philosophy and the deeper meanings of aikido - its nonviolent and defensive perfection and understanding.
If this all sounds rather remote and difficult to grasp for a Western reader, he may be interested to know that the young Japanese uchideshi often feels the same way. The 83-year-old Uyeshiba many times speaks about highly abstract topics, lapsing usually into ancient Japanese phraseology, so that his listeners often find it difficult to follow him.
When this long hour is over, the young uchideshi exuberantly spill out onto the dojo floor for a half-hour exercise break. All the restless energy pent up within seems to come out and they throw themselves into the practice of their techniques with each other.
At 8 a.m. begins the real study of aikido techniques. This class is taught by a different instructor every day, and is attended by a large number of persons from outside the dojo. Sometimes this hour is taught by Uyeshiba's son, or Waka sensei as he is called. Sometimes Tohei sensei, the greatest of Uyeshiba's followers, instructs the class."

"If the uchideshi isn't helping out at this time, he may have a private class of his own with Tohei or Waka sensei or some of the other instructors."

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Black Belt 1968 Vol 6 No 5

At a typical training session, the instructor demonstrates a technique once or twice, then everyone practices for at least five minutes. Another technique is then shown and the practice is resumed.
The concept of ki is part of the regular instruction, because as the younger Ueshiba points out, you can't separate ki from the ordinary lessons."

Article also notes that because of the shortage of instructors, Kisshomaru has a battery of promotion examinations.

While his 45-year-old son handles the administrative end, the 85-year-old father spends most of his time these days at the martial art's tutelary shrine known as the Aikido Shrine in Iwama, Ibaragi Prefecture, north of Tokyo."

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Black Belt 1974 Vol 12 No 2

Article by Andy Adams about Yoshinkan.
Quotes Shioda, "I don't really feel that I broke away from the mainstream of aikido since there was nothing to break away from back then. Uyeshiba sensei (the late Morihei Uyeshiba) was farming, his son Kisshomaru was working for some company, and the sensei's aikido dojo at Iwama in Ibaragi Prefecture was being rented out as a dance hall."

But Shioda notes that Hirai, Koichi Tohei (chief instructor at the WAF hombu) and even Kisshomaru Uyeshiba were not used as the sensei's uke and therefore didn't have to undergo the constantly rough treatment at the sensei's hands that he and a handful of others experienced."

From 1947 to 1950, there was virtually no aikido for Shioda, who was forced to devote all his energies to the task of scraping out a living in a ravaged, destroyed Japan.

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Black Belt 1984 Vol 22 No 10
Article by Gaku Homma
Regarding Ueshiba entering a class…
Usually instructors taught only basic techniques when Uyeshiba was in the dojo, knowing he preferred those over fancy, advanced techniques. In some cases, instructors were scolded openly when caught teaching dangerous techniques.

In the dojo, after greeting a few students, he would lecture on the essence of aikido in Omotokyo teachings, which few students could understand completely.

The day began as usual, Uyeshiba rising at 5:00 a.m., taking his bath and putting on a set of clean kimono. At about six o'clock, he headed for the Aiki Shrine for his morning religious ritual, which took about an hour and a half each day.

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Black Belt 1985 Vol 23 No 7
Article about Shoseki Abe by James and Mari Berkley
Abe: In 1954, there was an opening ceremony for the Shingu Dojo. I went with O-Sensei and we stayed two weeks. We trained in the morning from six to seven, and then again from 11 to 12. The afternoons were free, and then we trained again in the evenings from six to seven.

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Black Belt 1989 Vol 27 No 8
Interview with Mochizuki

BB: What was the status of martial arts in Japan after World War II?
Mochizuki: Uyeshiba Sensei's techniques had lost most of their martial appearance. He apparently had gone through some very deep emotional states. The war, the atom bomb, all contributed to his belief that there would be no other war, that budo had to become only a do (way). Uyeshiba Sensei believed that, after the war, an era of peace and love had started. Since there was no necessity to fight, aikido had to become a means of physical education. Also, in order to make it easier for a lot of people to take it up, he had to simplify it. That's where I did not agree.

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Intro to Takemusu Aiki book by Morihiro Saito

Saito quoted as saying, "In the early 1960's, even though the Founder was still enjoying good health, he did not teach weapons or basic taijutsu techniques anywhere other than Iwama. His teaching elsewhere consisted mainly of demonstrations-like performances with little explanation."

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Aiki News Issue 025
Doshu: After the war, he isolated himself in Iwama. He lived on potato gruel while there. In any case, that experience became one of the spiritual bases for our training.

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Aiki News Issue 027

In 1942, largerly because of the fact that the Second World War war in progress and most of his students were involved in the war effort, O-Sensei retired to the small country town of Iwama in Ibaraki Prefecture where he had purchased land the year before. His was a very secluded existence devoted primarily to training, meditation and farming. He remained in Iwama for the most part for the next ten or so years.

From the 1950's until his passing in 1969, O-Sensei divided his time between Tokyo and Iwama.

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Aiki News Issue 028
Letter by Bruce Klickstein
During the "taisai" the best teachers in the world talked about how so much of what is called Aikido barely even resembles the Aikido O-Sensei taught. There will be some changes here (in Japan) to correct this.

From all that I've heard of O-Sensei teaching daily classes from Saito Sensei, Inagaki-Sempai, Isoyama Sensei and other people I've trained with, he stopped to do static, basic techniques. He broke them up, said, "This is right. This is wrong," etc., ... and was severe in his corrections. In his later life he just would demonstrate once or twice and then watch. At that time, the sempai would go around and correct.

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Aiki News Issue 031
Editor: During O-Sensei's long martial arts experience, he underwent a number of changes. In the initial period he especially emphasized power and technique, later, I understand he attached greater importance to spiritual matters.
Doshu: During his later years, rather than teach, my father demonstrated movements which were in accord with the flow of the universe and unified with nature. Thus, it was a matter of students watching his movements, learning by themselves, in that way understanding his technique. He wasn't deeply concerned about teaching students …

Editor: You mentioned earlier that O-Sensei in his later years would demonstrate his technique in front of his students and that the students learned Aikido by watching and being attracted to his movements rather than O-Sensei teaching them. Was O-Sensei's teaching method like that from the beginning?
Doshu: No. At first he taught techniques point by point although it didn't seem that he was attached to a specific teaching goal. But he emphasized that you have to do things exactly, one by one, so you won't make mistakes. Recently, there has been a tendency for Aikido training to become too soft and flowing and some beginners lightly bypass hard training. That's not the way it should be. If you are going to practice you must practice basics earnestly. This he told me frequently even in his later years … exactly, not changing anything … if you don't reach the level of softness beyond technique by getting the basics down perfectly, you won't develop true strength. If, from the beginning, you practice a "tofu-like (bean curd) soft style, you will be vulnerable to an attack.

Doshu: That's how it was. So, he went from Hokkaido to Ayabe in Kyoto prefecture; he trained in Ayabe; he came up to Tokyo where he was, let's see … for about 14 or 15 years; then he went to Iwama and spent about 10 years there; and again he came to Tokyo for five or six years where he came to the end of his life.

In the dojo, he would sometimes intently watch students training, or gather everyone together and lecture on the Aiki path, or sometimes he would personally teach beginners.

… he was besieged by visitors starting from early in the morning and he spent large amounts of time in receiving them. In addition, the occasions when he would, on invitation, travel to teach or lecture were not few.

Thus, the sight of those present not immediately understanding the true meaning of his remarks and ending up completely baffled was a frequent one. This was understandably so because O-Sensei 's lectures involved difficult to comprehend explanations based on mental and physical austerities far more numerous than those undergone by ordinary people, remarks about intuitive spiritual realizations, and words about extraordinary things he experienced.

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Aiki News Issue 032
Saito: During the war O-Sensei had been busy. Though he had old students in many places those who learned from O-Sensei were few. All the junior students learned from their senior students. We were lucky because O-Sensei himself remained at Iwama all the time. During the war he was ordered by the military to teach the martial art he himself had studied as a method to defeat the enemy and to kill people. He was also asked by the military school at Nakano to teach lethal techniques. But the war ended and it became unnecessary to do so. O-Sensei was glad because he was finally able to absorb himself in the Aikido of harmony which he had been contemplating … Aikido according to his own belief. Morning after morning he would pray to the kami and instruct us. Since we had to eat, we also farmed. O-Sensei was so exhuberant that he was not satisfied with using the normal farming tools that his students used. He ordered a blacksmith named Narita to make an especially heavy tool for him. He also carried double the weight of rice bundles on his shoulders compared to we students. We raised silkworms together, too … and we would harvest and plant rice.

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Aiki News Issue 033

[Summary from Kisshomaru's book]
As I have written above, the Founder was in his prime from 1927-40. Then after the war the popularization of Aikido was handed over to a group of we young people while the Founder oversaw our activities with a benevolent eye from Iwama.

At about the same time, in 1942, he established himself in Iwama, along with his wife and handed over the direction of the Tokyo dojo to me. He then built the Aiki Shrine and immersed himself in training and farming.

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Aiki News Issue 038
Editor: I have been studying the life of O-Sensei and the history of Aikido. As a result, some of the points that had previously given me trouble have slowly cleared up. Don't you think that probably most of the present teachers actually received only a little direct teaching from O-Sensei? The reason for this being that for 15 years after the war he lived in Iwama and visited other dojos for only very short periods of time. I wonder if a proportion of the teachers didn't have very much opportunity to learn the sword and stick.
Kanai Sensei: I suppose that one could say that, but in my own case, when I entered as an uchideshi (circa 1958), O-Sensei divided his time equally between Iwama and the Hombu Dojo. For that reason, I don't think anyone can say that Hombu people didn't learn much directly from O-Sensei. It's simply a matter of each person taking from within O-Sensei's technique that which he could grasp and the resulting differences are another problem. Isn't it unfortunate that the number of such people is so small?

Kanai Sensei: He would throw the uchideshi (live-in disciples) with very little in the way of explanation and we would grasp what we could of the feeling of the technique while we were flying through the air.

Editor: Were you allowed to start training right from the beginning? [references Yonekawa and early training]
Kanai Sensei: We were in the same situation. Field work, splitting firewood, hauling water, laundry, and preparing the bath … In the first place, these were jobs that I thought no one ever did any more and, in addition, there was nothing to eat!

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Aiki News Issue 045
Abe Sensei: For 20 years I spent one week of each month with O-Sensei.

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Aiki News Issue 049
Mr. Kamata: Those trainees who came from outside would attend one class a day but the live-in group trained four times a day; the early morning and morning classes, plus the afternoon and evening workouts. In addition, they had the various classes outside such as those held at the Naval Academy or the Army Secret Police School (Kempai Gakko), among other places.

Editor: Did O-Sensei give verbal explanations of techniques?
Mr. Kamata: It varied. Sometimes he would explain and at others his idea seemed to be to let us find out for ourselves. He always said, however, "You have to enter into the inside of the training partner; get into the inside and then take him into your inside!" But in the end you can't learn just by having Sensei throw you and taking ukemi. A person has to positively take action to master it, don't you agree?

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Aiki News Issue 056

Doshu: The dojo was entrusted to me around 1942. That is because my father left for Ibaraki with the rest of the family.

Doshu: After the war, I began to practice seriously because I thought it was my duty.

Doshu: I have come to hold the belief that the most important task for Aikido since the war has been to conform our way of thinking, teaching and philosophy to the trends of the time. It was around 1937 or 1938 that I began to practice Aikido seriously. I had already learned techniques by then. One can learn techniques in two or three years.

Doshu: Until the war ended, the dojo was closed. After the war I re-opened it and about 100 people came to live in it but unfortunately they had no sense of propriety.

Doshu: It took until about 1955 to get them all to leave.

Doshu: I started practicing seriously in 1949.

Doshu: I used to work in a company for a living until 1955. At the same time I managed the dojo.

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Aiki News Issue 058

Okumura Sensei mentions that he returned to Tokyo in 1948. He states there were no people training because of lack of food. This situation changed after the Korean War started (1950).

Okumura Sensei: It was at the time that a French gymnastics teacher named Andre Nocquet entered the dojo that it became active [1954-55].

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Aiki News Issue 060

Editor: When you began practicing Aikido [around 1951], was O-Sensei living in Tokyo?
Nishio Sensei: No. He rarely came down from Iwama. It was half a year after I joined the dojo that I saw his face for the first time. Until then, I only knew about him by hearsay.

Editor: When you entered the dojo, there weren't many students, were there?
Nishio Sensei: No, there were only a total of seven or eight. Some days no one was there and I swung the sword by myself and went home. The present Doshu and Mr. Tohei were the teachers. Everybody was at about the same level.

Nishio Sensei: (When I was a beginner) I asked how they applied the body techniques to the ken, but no one showed me. Since there was nothing to be done about the situation, I began practicing the ken in 1955 soon after I began Aikido training. What else could I do? Nobody taught me! O-Sensei did sword techniques at lightning speed and would say, "That's how you do it," and then disappeared from the dojo. I tried in vain to understand what he was doing and the next moment he was gone.

Yonekawa recollected, "The new uchideshi started his day cleaning the toilet, eventually being promoted to taking care of O-Sensei - massaging his shoulders and accompanying him on trips and so forth. Doing everyday jobs was a form of training in a certain sense."

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Aiki News Issue 066
Aiki News: Who was teaching at that time? [1953 or 54]
Tamura Sensei: Since the present Doshu was head of the dojo then, he usually taught classes. We used to call him "Wakasensei" (young sensei) in those days. Of course, we called Morihei Sensei, O-Sensei. At that time, these two were the only instructors at Hombu dojo so I thought they were the only teachers of Aikido.

Aiki News: Did O-Sensei come to the dojo every day?
Tamura Sensei: As I said earlier, since his house was attached to the dojo, he would pop in when the present Doshu was teaching and show 2 or 3 techniques and then disappear like the wind. He sometimes taught the entire class but on occasion he would talk for more than half of the practice time.

Aiki News: Proportionally speaking, how long would O-Sensei stay in each place?
Tamura Sensei: Well, there were times when he stayed in Tokyo for about a week or a month and other times when he stayed for two or three days and then went of to the Kansai area.

Tamura Sensei: When O-Sensei came to the dojo, he threw us one after another and then told us to execute the same technique. At the beginning we didn't even know what kind of technique he did. When I practiced with a senior student he would throw me first. Then, he would say, "It's your turn!", but I didn't know what to do. While I was struggling to throw him, O-Sensei began to demonstrate the next technique. During the first period of my training which lasted a long time, I was just thrown and made to feel pain. It took one or two years for me to be able to distinguish techniques a little.
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Old 10-28-2010, 10:05 AM   #62
niall
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

Wow, fascinating interviews. Thanks, Mark. I'll read them carefully but one point I noticed already was this quote:

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Ishii Sensei: Well, at that time he was already retired and he didn't have a regular class. I was only 15 years old. I went to Hombu dojo many times, where there were many teachers teaching regular classes. I expected to see O'Sensei at the dojo. His home was just next to Hombu dojo, and I expected him to come out of his room to teach us. But he didn't come to the dojo often. After a few months I learned that it was only for Yamaguchi Sensei's and Kisshomaru Sensei's classes that he came to the dojo to join us. This means that O'Sensei was not interested in other teachers training.
Ishii Sensei concludes in the final sentence (and with the perception of a teenager) that O Sensei was not interested in other teachers. A powerful counter-argument would be that an experienced teacher like O Sensei would want to join the classes of the teachers who still needed support or supervision.

we can make our minds so like still water, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life
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Old 10-28-2010, 10:14 AM   #63
Rabih Shanshiry
 
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

Mark,

In addition to the Warders of the Gate sequel, please put me on the pre-order list for your history of aikido book. You've clearly done a lot of research and I think you should put it to good use.

...rab
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Old 10-28-2010, 10:22 AM   #64
Basia Halliop
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

Quote:
Everyone feels like they are doing their best and should be validated for that. They have little patience for some interloper who comes in and surges past them i rank and gets o the teaching roster when they've been at the dojo half the time... They simply will not admit that this person my be more serious than they are, is training harder, and should be put ahead of them.
I've seen this happen many times and no-one seemed to care that much as far as I could see - they might lament that they wished they had time to practice more... but they can see for themselves that the other person has put in more training time and energy. And at the kyu level in particular, testing requires a certain number of 'days of training' so if you haven't got them, you can count for yourself and see you can't test for a while longer... As long as the promotions are clearly based on training hours and skill and there's no appearance of politics or anything, people seem to take it as a matter of course that someone who trains more hours a week will usually progress faster. If in doubt they can always look at the attendance records and compare number of days of training, or watch the person's test. Also people often go through phases -- someone trains 4-5 days a week, then something changes (usually they either have a new child or go to school) and cut back to once a week for a year or two, then after a few years get back up to 3, or in some cases back to 4-5...

Quote:
When I come up with the three day minimum standard for promotion past 3rd kyu, it isn't arbitrary. It is my considered assessment that this is what almost anyone needs to master at an acceptable level, all the things we are responsible for knowing. ... (snip) One is expected to be able to manifest a technique large or small and make adjustments as needed. I have never seen anyone be able to do all of this at an acceptable level of skill who wasn't training at least three times a week.
Seriously, even if they trained for ten years for two days a week, you've never seen someone reach a real 3rd kyu level when looking at their skill?

Last edited by Basia Halliop : 10-28-2010 at 10:35 AM. Reason: fixed quote tag
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Old 10-28-2010, 12:09 PM   #65
Ryan Seznee
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

Quote:
Basia Halliop wrote: View Post

Seriously, even if they trained for ten years for two days a week, you've never seen someone reach a real 3rd kyu level when looking at their skill?
I would have to agree with Mr. Ledyard on this issue. I've seen people's aikido get sloppier when their attendance drops. I felt sloppy as hell the last time I missed 2 weeks due to a knee injury. Any kind of physical activity is a "use it or loose it" mentality so if you go 2 times a week you are actively loosing it for all but 2 to 3 hours that week. Is this really that hard of a concept to accept? I mean that is the reason that professional athletes and musicians exist (they spend all their time practicing so they can't afford to have another job).
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Old 10-28-2010, 12:56 PM   #66
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
I've been following this thread with great interest. George, your analysis is cogent. As a person who started training late in life and then lost time from injury, who may never test for shodan but plans to keep showing up and training, I can't argue with your description of the prevalence of "Aikido Lite" and I can understand your concern about the dilution of the art/teaching. Yeah, for every test I've seen in which a student failed and a teacher got chewed out, I've seen several in which students seemed to be "given a pass."

Part of the issue I think really is the idea of aikido being "for the world" - hence the "rightness" of "go forth and open another dojo and teach"and making it accessible to folks who have physical limitations does come smack up against the reality of how to maintain standards for teaching. Chiba Sensei I think may have one path, which is separately grading for teaching from rank. There are some dojos (Aikido of Berkeley comes to mind here in NoCal) that do have uchideshi programs to accommodate students who wish to be on a different track from us hobbyists.
I think Kayla Feder Sensei has it right... she has an uchi deshi program nicely suited for the young, unattached, deshi who wants to put in beau coup hours on training. I wish my facility lent itself to something like that but I just don't have the space and couldn't afford it, based on the pure numbers of folks training. But it is a great opportunity she is providing and I have recommended her to several young people who wanted to train like maniacs while they still could do so.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 10-28-2010, 01:08 PM   #67
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

Quote:
Basia Halliop wrote: View Post
I've seen this happen many times and no-one seemed to care that much as far as I could see - they might lament that they wished they had time to practice more... but they can see for themselves that the other person has put in more training time and energy. And at the kyu level in particular, testing requires a certain number of 'days of training' so if you haven't got them, you can count for yourself and see you can't test for a while longer... As long as the promotions are clearly based on training hours and skill and there's no appearance of politics or anything, people seem to take it as a matter of course that someone who trains more hours a week will usually progress faster. If in doubt they can always look at the attendance records and compare number of days of training, or watch the person's test. Also people often go through phases -- someone trains 4-5 days a week, then something changes (usually they either have a new child or go to school) and cut back to once a week for a year or two, then after a few years get back up to 3, or in some cases back to 4-5...

Seriously, even if they trained for ten years for two days a week, you've never seen someone reach a real 3rd kyu level when looking at their skill?
Sure they'll make 3rd kyu... but so what? If, as I think is generally agreed upon, Shodan represents the point at which one is considered a serious beginner, that the person at that point has enough of a foundation to really start training on something with a bit more depth, not advanced yet, but at least a bit deeper... then what would the point be in taking ten years just to get to 3rd kyu? 15 years to Shodan? Unless one started Aikido at age five, at that pace, one would NEVER actually get to the point at which anything of any substance could be taught. They'd spend their entire lives learning the basic motor skills. I see no value in that at all. It's not even Aikido-lite...

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
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Old 10-28-2010, 01:42 PM   #68
niall
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

George you're being judgemental. Didn't Saotome Sensei ever tell you that it's the journey, not the destination.

we can make our minds so like still water, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life
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Old 10-28-2010, 02:00 PM   #69
Rabih Shanshiry
 
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

George,

Forgive me if I missed it, but what role does at-home training play in your equation? Does practice time spent out of the dojo count for anything?

How would you reconcile the person who attends your dojo 3x per week and doesn't practice at home with the person who can only attend twice and yet trains everyday on their own time?

I have a hard time believing that the former practioner has much advantage (if any) over the latter. In fact, I'd tend to argue the opposite.

What do you think?

...rab
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Old 10-28-2010, 02:29 PM   #70
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Don't take this the wrong way. I'm going to paste a rather long section of stuff. Even though it's long, it's only a portion of my research and at that, my research doesn't encompass a whole lot of what's out there.

I'm posting it here because I want you to see what *I myself* am trying to reconcile. As you read through it, you will see that, through many different people, Ueshiba Morihei didn't teach in Tokyo often, didn't show much when he actually did teach, that tending to Ueshiba on off hours wasn't a very good learning experience in regards to aikido, talked quite a lot, entertained visitors, traveled, etc. On top of all that, you start to see that Ueshiba Morihei really didn't teach that often in Iwama, either.

Best,
Mark

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=99
Moriteru Ueshiba: I remember when I was small, there was not yet much activity at the Hombu Dojo. For a time my father (Kisshomaru) was actually in Iwama instead. He married there, and starting around 1949, he worked for about seven years at a company called Osaka Shoji. He had no other choice. Even if you have a dojo, you can't make a living if nobody is coming to train, which was largely the case after the war.

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http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=68
Having a wife, two children and several hungry uchideshi to feed, Doshu was at that time employed full-time at a securities company and taught aikido classes in the morning and evening. His father (Morihei) remained ensconced in Iwama training a few close students, among them Morihiro Saito. As practice in Tokyo gained momentum, Kisshomaru started to direct part of his efforts toward the spreading of aikido to a public almost totally ignorant of the art. A major turning point was a large demonstration held in the Takashimaya Department Store in 1956 where for the first time, not only the Founder, but senior instructors as well as demonstrated.

By the mid 1960s, large numbers of trainees crowded the mats of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo along with scores of foreigners who streamed to Japan to train in the mecca of aikido. The founder, although now in Tokyo much of the time, was already in his eighties and Kisshomaru and Koichi Tohei were the major figures at the dojo.

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Mitsunari Kanai (1939-2004)
1959-1966 Uchideshi at Hombu
1966 Dispatched to America (yondan)

Yoshimitsu Yamada (1938-)
1955-56 Uchideshi at Hombu
1964 Dispatched to NY Aikikai

Kazuo Chiba (1940-)
1958- Uchideshi at Hombu
1960 -- Sandan. Assigned to Nagoya
1962 Yondan and teaching at Hombu
1966 Dispatched to England
1970 6th dan
4 years from start to 4th dan.
12 years from start to 6th dan.

Mitsugi Saotome (1937-)
1955 Started Aikido
1958 Uchideshi at Hombu
1960 Teaching at Hombu
1975 Departed to America

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Seiichi Sugano (1939-2010)
1957 Started training at Hombu
1958-59 Direct student of Morihei Ueshiba
1965 Dispatched to Australia

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=94 (AJ #112)
AJ: Do you have any particular memories of the old Wakamatsu-cho dojo?
Seiichi Sugano Sensei: The present Doshu (Kisshomaru Ueshiba) was one of the first people I met there. The place had the feel of an old-style dojo; quite different from the way it is today. Most of the time only O-Sensei and Doshu were there. Koichi Tohei was the head of the teaching staff. In the afternoon we were taught by people like Sadateru Arikawa, Hiroshi Tada and Shigenobu Okumura. A few years later Saito Sensei started coming down from Iwama to teach on Sundays

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Masao Ishii
1965-ish Started training at Hombu

http://aikidocanberra.com/Docs/main/doc/MasaoIshii
NCT: Really? So you started training there. Did you have a chance to train with O'Sensei then?
Ishii Sensei: Well, at that time he was already retired and he didn't have a regular class. I was only 15 years old. I went to Hombu dojo many times, where there were many teachers teaching regular classes. I expected to see O'Sensei at the dojo. His home was just next to Hombu dojo, and I expected him to come out of his room to teach us. But he didn't come to the dojo often. After a few months I learned that it was only for Yamaguchi Sensei's and Kisshomaru Sensei's classes that he came to the dojo to join us. This means that O'Sensei was not interested in other teachers training.

---

http://www.iwama-aikido.com/Saito_Interview.html

Q: Who among the Senseis today have been uchi deshis?

A: Well, if you speak of Senseis like; Yamada, Tamura, Tohei, Saotome and Kanai they all are students of Kisshomaru Ueshiba. They never went to Iwama and practised for O-Sensei. Chiba Sensei once stayed in Iwama for 3 months.

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Black Belt Magazine Vol 1 No. 2.

In an article about Tohei. "His contributions to the art of Aikido are legend. He has devised many of the exercises and throws which are now standard and taught in all Aikido schools both in Japan and the United States."

---

Yoseikan NA website:
9. What is the relationship between Yoseikan's robuse and the similar techniques practiced as ikkyo in most other aikido schools?

Mochizuki Minoru Sensei said that when he was studying with Ueshiba Sensei (late 1920's), robuse was the name given to the technique that later became Ikkajo, then Ikkyo after the war. The present ikkyo as taught by most Aikikai (and Aikikai related) teachers is the result of the modifications made by Tohei and Kisshomaru Sensei in order to simplify Aikido and make it available to more people....[edited for length]

Patrick Augé Sensei

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Black Belt 1966 Vol 4 No 5
"The uchideshi's day begins around 6 a.m., when he cleans the dojo and the grounds outside. The first class of the day starts at 6:30. This class is usually taught by Uyeshiba himself, the Osensei, which means the old teacher. The young uchideshi sit on their knees during this hour, which can be an uncomfortable and tiring experience.
The first class is usually taken up mostly with discussions about God and nature - Uyeshiba doing the talking and the uchideshi listening. It is in this hour that the young uchideshi is exposed to Zen philosophy and the deeper meanings of aikido - its nonviolent and defensive perfection and understanding.
If this all sounds rather remote and difficult to grasp for a Western reader, he may be interested to know that the young Japanese uchideshi often feels the same way. The 83-year-old Uyeshiba many times speaks about highly abstract topics, lapsing usually into ancient Japanese phraseology, so that his listeners often find it difficult to follow him.
When this long hour is over, the young uchideshi exuberantly spill out onto the dojo floor for a half-hour exercise break. All the restless energy pent up within seems to come out and they throw themselves into the practice of their techniques with each other.
At 8 a.m. begins the real study of aikido techniques. This class is taught by a different instructor every day, and is attended by a large number of persons from outside the dojo. Sometimes this hour is taught by Uyeshiba's son, or Waka sensei as he is called. Sometimes Tohei sensei, the greatest of Uyeshiba's followers, instructs the class."

"If the uchideshi isn't helping out at this time, he may have a private class of his own with Tohei or Waka sensei or some of the other instructors."

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Black Belt 1968 Vol 6 No 5

At a typical training session, the instructor demonstrates a technique once or twice, then everyone practices for at least five minutes. Another technique is then shown and the practice is resumed.
The concept of ki is part of the regular instruction, because as the younger Ueshiba points out, you can't separate ki from the ordinary lessons."

Article also notes that because of the shortage of instructors, Kisshomaru has a battery of promotion examinations.

While his 45-year-old son handles the administrative end, the 85-year-old father spends most of his time these days at the martial art's tutelary shrine known as the Aikido Shrine in Iwama, Ibaragi Prefecture, north of Tokyo."

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Black Belt 1974 Vol 12 No 2

Article by Andy Adams about Yoshinkan.
Quotes Shioda, "I don't really feel that I broke away from the mainstream of aikido since there was nothing to break away from back then. Uyeshiba sensei (the late Morihei Uyeshiba) was farming, his son Kisshomaru was working for some company, and the sensei's aikido dojo at Iwama in Ibaragi Prefecture was being rented out as a dance hall."

But Shioda notes that Hirai, Koichi Tohei (chief instructor at the WAF hombu) and even Kisshomaru Uyeshiba were not used as the sensei's uke and therefore didn't have to undergo the constantly rough treatment at the sensei's hands that he and a handful of others experienced."

From 1947 to 1950, there was virtually no aikido for Shioda, who was forced to devote all his energies to the task of scraping out a living in a ravaged, destroyed Japan.

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Black Belt 1984 Vol 22 No 10
Article by Gaku Homma
Regarding Ueshiba entering a class…
Usually instructors taught only basic techniques when Uyeshiba was in the dojo, knowing he preferred those over fancy, advanced techniques. In some cases, instructors were scolded openly when caught teaching dangerous techniques.

In the dojo, after greeting a few students, he would lecture on the essence of aikido in Omotokyo teachings, which few students could understand completely.

The day began as usual, Uyeshiba rising at 5:00 a.m., taking his bath and putting on a set of clean kimono. At about six o'clock, he headed for the Aiki Shrine for his morning religious ritual, which took about an hour and a half each day.

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Black Belt 1985 Vol 23 No 7
Article about Shoseki Abe by James and Mari Berkley
Abe: In 1954, there was an opening ceremony for the Shingu Dojo. I went with O-Sensei and we stayed two weeks. We trained in the morning from six to seven, and then again from 11 to 12. The afternoons were free, and then we trained again in the evenings from six to seven.

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Black Belt 1989 Vol 27 No 8
Interview with Mochizuki

BB: What was the status of martial arts in Japan after World War II?
Mochizuki: Uyeshiba Sensei's techniques had lost most of their martial appearance. He apparently had gone through some very deep emotional states. The war, the atom bomb, all contributed to his belief that there would be no other war, that budo had to become only a do (way). Uyeshiba Sensei believed that, after the war, an era of peace and love had started. Since there was no necessity to fight, aikido had to become a means of physical education. Also, in order to make it easier for a lot of people to take it up, he had to simplify it. That's where I did not agree.

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Intro to Takemusu Aiki book by Morihiro Saito

Saito quoted as saying, "In the early 1960's, even though the Founder was still enjoying good health, he did not teach weapons or basic taijutsu techniques anywhere other than Iwama. His teaching elsewhere consisted mainly of demonstrations-like performances with little explanation."

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Aiki News Issue 025
Doshu: After the war, he isolated himself in Iwama. He lived on potato gruel while there. In any case, that experience became one of the spiritual bases for our training.

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Aiki News Issue 027

In 1942, largerly because of the fact that the Second World War war in progress and most of his students were involved in the war effort, O-Sensei retired to the small country town of Iwama in Ibaraki Prefecture where he had purchased land the year before. His was a very secluded existence devoted primarily to training, meditation and farming. He remained in Iwama for the most part for the next ten or so years.

From the 1950's until his passing in 1969, O-Sensei divided his time between Tokyo and Iwama.

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Aiki News Issue 028
Letter by Bruce Klickstein
During the "taisai" the best teachers in the world talked about how so much of what is called Aikido barely even resembles the Aikido O-Sensei taught. There will be some changes here (in Japan) to correct this.

From all that I've heard of O-Sensei teaching daily classes from Saito Sensei, Inagaki-Sempai, Isoyama Sensei and other people I've trained with, he stopped to do static, basic techniques. He broke them up, said, "This is right. This is wrong," etc., ... and was severe in his corrections. In his later life he just would demonstrate once or twice and then watch. At that time, the sempai would go around and correct.

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Aiki News Issue 031
Editor: During O-Sensei's long martial arts experience, he underwent a number of changes. In the initial period he especially emphasized power and technique, later, I understand he attached greater importance to spiritual matters.
Doshu: During his later years, rather than teach, my father demonstrated movements which were in accord with the flow of the universe and unified with nature. Thus, it was a matter of students watching his movements, learning by themselves, in that way understanding his technique. He wasn't deeply concerned about teaching students …

Editor: You mentioned earlier that O-Sensei in his later years would demonstrate his technique in front of his students and that the students learned Aikido by watching and being attracted to his movements rather than O-Sensei teaching them. Was O-Sensei's teaching method like that from the beginning?
Doshu: No. At first he taught techniques point by point although it didn't seem that he was attached to a specific teaching goal. But he emphasized that you have to do things exactly, one by one, so you won't make mistakes. Recently, there has been a tendency for Aikido training to become too soft and flowing and some beginners lightly bypass hard training. That's not the way it should be. If you are going to practice you must practice basics earnestly. This he told me frequently even in his later years … exactly, not changing anything … if you don't reach the level of softness beyond technique by getting the basics down perfectly, you won't develop true strength. If, from the beginning, you practice a "tofu-like (bean curd) soft style, you will be vulnerable to an attack.

Doshu: That's how it was. So, he went from Hokkaido to Ayabe in Kyoto prefecture; he trained in Ayabe; he came up to Tokyo where he was, let's see … for about 14 or 15 years; then he went to Iwama and spent about 10 years there; and again he came to Tokyo for five or six years where he came to the end of his life.

In the dojo, he would sometimes intently watch students training, or gather everyone together and lecture on the Aiki path, or sometimes he would personally teach beginners.

… he was besieged by visitors starting from early in the morning and he spent large amounts of time in receiving them. In addition, the occasions when he would, on invitation, travel to teach or lecture were not few.

Thus, the sight of those present not immediately understanding the true meaning of his remarks and ending up completely baffled was a frequent one. This was understandably so because O-Sensei 's lectures involved difficult to comprehend explanations based on mental and physical austerities far more numerous than those undergone by ordinary people, remarks about intuitive spiritual realizations, and words about extraordinary things he experienced.

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Aiki News Issue 032
Saito: During the war O-Sensei had been busy. Though he had old students in many places those who learned from O-Sensei were few. All the junior students learned from their senior students. We were lucky because O-Sensei himself remained at Iwama all the time. During the war he was ordered by the military to teach the martial art he himself had studied as a method to defeat the enemy and to kill people. He was also asked by the military school at Nakano to teach lethal techniques. But the war ended and it became unnecessary to do so. O-Sensei was glad because he was finally able to absorb himself in the Aikido of harmony which he had been contemplating … Aikido according to his own belief. Morning after morning he would pray to the kami and instruct us. Since we had to eat, we also farmed. O-Sensei was so exhuberant that he was not satisfied with using the normal farming tools that his students used. He ordered a blacksmith named Narita to make an especially heavy tool for him. He also carried double the weight of rice bundles on his shoulders compared to we students. We raised silkworms together, too … and we would harvest and plant rice.

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Aiki News Issue 033

[Summary from Kisshomaru's book]
As I have written above, the Founder was in his prime from 1927-40. Then after the war the popularization of Aikido was handed over to a group of we young people while the Founder oversaw our activities with a benevolent eye from Iwama.

At about the same time, in 1942, he established himself in Iwama, along with his wife and handed over the direction of the Tokyo dojo to me. He then built the Aiki Shrine and immersed himself in training and farming.

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Aiki News Issue 038
Editor: I have been studying the life of O-Sensei and the history of Aikido. As a result, some of the points that had previously given me trouble have slowly cleared up. Don't you think that probably most of the present teachers actually received only a little direct teaching from O-Sensei? The reason for this being that for 15 years after the war he lived in Iwama and visited other dojos for only very short periods of time. I wonder if a proportion of the teachers didn't have very much opportunity to learn the sword and stick.
Kanai Sensei: I suppose that one could say that, but in my own case, when I entered as an uchideshi (circa 1958), O-Sensei divided his time equally between Iwama and the Hombu Dojo. For that reason, I don't think anyone can say that Hombu people didn't learn much directly from O-Sensei. It's simply a matter of each person taking from within O-Sensei's technique that which he could grasp and the resulting differences are another problem. Isn't it unfortunate that the number of such people is so small?

Kanai Sensei: He would throw the uchideshi (live-in disciples) with very little in the way of explanation and we would grasp what we could of the feeling of the technique while we were flying through the air.

Editor: Were you allowed to start training right from the beginning? [references Yonekawa and early training]
Kanai Sensei: We were in the same situation. Field work, splitting firewood, hauling water, laundry, and preparing the bath … In the first place, these were jobs that I thought no one ever did any more and, in addition, there was nothing to eat!

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Aiki News Issue 045
Abe Sensei: For 20 years I spent one week of each month with O-Sensei.

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Aiki News Issue 049
Mr. Kamata: Those trainees who came from outside would attend one class a day but the live-in group trained four times a day; the early morning and morning classes, plus the afternoon and evening workouts. In addition, they had the various classes outside such as those held at the Naval Academy or the Army Secret Police School (Kempai Gakko), among other places.

Editor: Did O-Sensei give verbal explanations of techniques?
Mr. Kamata: It varied. Sometimes he would explain and at others his idea seemed to be to let us find out for ourselves. He always said, however, "You have to enter into the inside of the training partner; get into the inside and then take him into your inside!" But in the end you can't learn just by having Sensei throw you and taking ukemi. A person has to positively take action to master it, don't you agree?

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Aiki News Issue 056

Doshu: The dojo was entrusted to me around 1942. That is because my father left for Ibaraki with the rest of the family.

Doshu: After the war, I began to practice seriously because I thought it was my duty.

Doshu: I have come to hold the belief that the most important task for Aikido since the war has been to conform our way of thinking, teaching and philosophy to the trends of the time. It was around 1937 or 1938 that I began to practice Aikido seriously. I had already learned techniques by then. One can learn techniques in two or three years.

Doshu: Until the war ended, the dojo was closed. After the war I re-opened it and about 100 people came to live in it but unfortunately they had no sense of propriety.

Doshu: It took until about 1955 to get them all to leave.

Doshu: I started practicing seriously in 1949.

Doshu: I used to work in a company for a living until 1955. At the same time I managed the dojo.

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Aiki News Issue 058

Okumura Sensei mentions that he returned to Tokyo in 1948. He states there were no people training because of lack of food. This situation changed after the Korean War started (1950).

Okumura Sensei: It was at the time that a French gymnastics teacher named Andre Nocquet entered the dojo that it became active [1954-55].

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Aiki News Issue 060

Editor: When you began practicing Aikido [around 1951], was O-Sensei living in Tokyo?
Nishio Sensei: No. He rarely came down from Iwama. It was half a year after I joined the dojo that I saw his face for the first time. Until then, I only knew about him by hearsay.

Editor: When you entered the dojo, there weren't many students, were there?
Nishio Sensei: No, there were only a total of seven or eight. Some days no one was there and I swung the sword by myself and went home. The present Doshu and Mr. Tohei were the teachers. Everybody was at about the same level.

Nishio Sensei: (When I was a beginner) I asked how they applied the body techniques to the ken, but no one showed me. Since there was nothing to be done about the situation, I began practicing the ken in 1955 soon after I began Aikido training. What else could I do? Nobody taught me! O-Sensei did sword techniques at lightning speed and would say, "That's how you do it," and then disappeared from the dojo. I tried in vain to understand what he was doing and the next moment he was gone.

Yonekawa recollected, "The new uchideshi started his day cleaning the toilet, eventually being promoted to taking care of O-Sensei - massaging his shoulders and accompanying him on trips and so forth. Doing everyday jobs was a form of training in a certain sense."

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Aiki News Issue 066
Aiki News: Who was teaching at that time? [1953 or 54]
Tamura Sensei: Since the present Doshu was head of the dojo then, he usually taught classes. We used to call him "Wakasensei" (young sensei) in those days. Of course, we called Morihei Sensei, O-Sensei. At that time, these two were the only instructors at Hombu dojo so I thought they were the only teachers of Aikido.

Aiki News: Did O-Sensei come to the dojo every day?
Tamura Sensei: As I said earlier, since his house was attached to the dojo, he would pop in when the present Doshu was teaching and show 2 or 3 techniques and then disappear like the wind. He sometimes taught the entire class but on occasion he would talk for more than half of the practice time.

Aiki News: Proportionally speaking, how long would O-Sensei stay in each place?
Tamura Sensei: Well, there were times when he stayed in Tokyo for about a week or a month and other times when he stayed for two or three days and then went of to the Kansai area.

Tamura Sensei: When O-Sensei came to the dojo, he threw us one after another and then told us to execute the same technique. At the beginning we didn't even know what kind of technique he did. When I practiced with a senior student he would throw me first. Then, he would say, "It's your turn!", but I didn't know what to do. While I was struggling to throw him, O-Sensei began to demonstrate the next technique. During the first period of my training which lasted a long time, I was just thrown and made to feel pain. It took one or two years for me to be able to distinguish techniques a little.
Hi Mark,
I generally do not dispute what you see here. There are a couple of statements that are in direct opposition to some things I have heard from Saotome, Chiba and Imaizumi Senseis but overall, it's really the interpretation that I have a problem with.

No one claims that O-Sensei "taught technique" even when he did teach. He showed stuff, usually by way of illustrating something he was talking about, which was always obscure. Saotome Sensei himself said he could remember three times in fifteen years in which O-Sensei actually talked about "How" to do something technical.

This doesn't mean that he wasn't the ultimate model the students had in their minds that they were striving for. As stated above, these guys put their hands on him constantly. They were expected to figure stuff out from that. No one I know would maintain that this represented a very useful method of transmission. The students necessarily relied on their seniors to pass on whatever they had figured out on their own to their juniors. In this respect it was a very collective, group form of transmission. But O-Sensei was still the main source.

Looking at how this works in my own dojo, I teach three times a week. I do not even teach the beginner classes. So one could say that my beginners are not even my students but rather the students of these junior instructors. This rather ignores the fact that what the instructors are passing on is pretty much what I taught them. Sometimes when I watch class, I can hear things I said, word for word, being passed on by the instructor I said it to.

So, yes, Kisshomaru and Tohei, Arikawa, and Osawa, and later Yamaguchi were the folks that taught frequently. Kuroiwa Sensei was important as well. Each one had trained with the Founder extensively. I mean, if O-Sensei didn't really teach in Tokyo much after the war. And the Tokyo guys didn't train much in Iwama, as Saito would maintain, then where did a generation of post war instructors come from? They didn't spontaneously generate.

There are teachers I learned from who changed my Aikido entirely. Yet, if one did an analysis like the one you did, you'd see that I had a total of a few hours of exposure to them over all. Yet the things they showed me or told me were so central to foundational principles that two classes with them changed my Aikido entirely. O-Sensei was a catalyst more than a teacher. He had worked out the basic form of post war Aikido with Saito in Iwama. Somehow that magically got passed on to a generation of teachers in Tokyo who supposedly didn't have much exposure to the Founder. Not sure how this happened but if you look at what everyone was doing, there was a generally agreed upon set of movements and techniques that constituted modern Aikido. No one would look at Tohei, Saito, Yamaguchi, or Osawa and think they weren't doing Aikido. And if one looked back at O-Sensei in the 30's, one could clearly see the Daito Ryu it all came from and in many respects it wasn't all that different.

I think that there is absolutely no evidence that the Founder didn't in some sense set the direction of post war Aikido. Yes, he handed it off to his son. But, from what I have read, his explicit instructions about not messing it up had to do, not with technique, internal power, martial application, etc but rather don't lose the spiritual content.

The one place where you can see a continuous connection between post war Aikido and pre-war Aikido was in the person of Shirata Sensei. He was actually Sempai to the big three, Shioda, Tomiki, and Mochizuki but he was the only one to stay with the Aikikai and the Ueshiba family after the war. While there were aspects of his Aikido that had a different flavor from the other teachers of the post war period, I guess I don't find that surprising since he had different training initially and by the time the post war period comes along, he had trained far longer than any post war teacher at Hombu or Iwama. He had over 25 years in Daito Ryu, Aikido Budo and finally Aikido, before most folks who became the top post war teachers had even started training.

Yet if you watch his Aikido, it's not drastically different in form from everyone else's Aikido. How he trained people was quite different but the form it took wasn't. So what I am trying to say here is that there simply isn't the difference that is implied by the revisionists between what went before and what came after the war. And Kisshomaru and Tohei didn't change things as much as everyone says.

Then of course we have to look at the thirties guys themselves, not a one of whom actually taught what O-Sensei did, except Inoue and everyone has forgotten him. If you want to see Aikido as O-Sensei taught it, he was the guy to look at. He had more time with the Founder than anyone. He was O-Sensei's closest student by far until their falling out over the Omotokyo Incident. There is quite a lot of him on video. You'd swear that you were looking at O-Sensei in his old age. And guess what. He doesn't look anything like any of the prominent 30's teachers we are familiar with.

Everyone changed O-Sensei's Aikido! This si because he didn't attempt to pass on technique, he passed on principle. And even that he expected you to figure out for yourself. So Mochizuki Sensei's Aiki Budo is no more like O-Sensei's Aikido than Kisshomaru's. He took an entirely different direction from Tomiki.

And Shioda...he was at least the systematizer that Kisshomarus was. He had to entirely change the way Aikido was taught because he had to train large classes of law enforcement folks, not the small, intimate groups that represented traditional Aikido training before the war when the training was still "private".

The idea that Shioda's Aikido was drastically different than what was taught in post war Hombu just doesn't cut it. I train quite nicely with Yoshinkai folks with some frequency. Aside from a certain martial outlook that is sometimes absent these days fro much of Aikido, these guys pretty much do the Aikido I was taught ny my teacher. We don't have any trouble being on the same page. I don't find their stuff far more powerful or effective and I don't get the impression that they find my stuff weak or lacking in intention.

There is no question that, at some point, much of the internal power solo work dropped out of post war Aikido. Some teachers, like Shirata never dropped it out. I was told by one of his students that EVERY class had a portion devoted to these exercises. I think the deshi, when with the Founder, did everything he did. From what Saotome Sensei has said I have been lead to conclude that much of what Sensei has in terms of internal structure he developed doing some of these exercises but was perhaps unaware of it. O-Sensei didn't explain it certainly. So, at 135 pounds Sensei can drop me where I stand effortlessly and, even in my much reduced state, I still have 100 pounds on him. That cane from somewhere but it was never presented to us in any systematic form nor was there explanation of why these exercises existed or that they should be done daily to develop the body for internal power.

Anyway, I can and do go on and on about this... so I will conclude by saying that , the fundamental assumption in these discussions is that post war Aikido wasn't as good as pre-war and that it was all the fault of changes made by Kisshomaryu and Tohei.

Well, my take on this is quite different. I believe that post war Aikido became much more the practice that O-Sensei intended it to be as a transformative, personal practice. I see no evidence whatever that it bothered O-Sensei that it was less effective from a fighting standpoint. He virtually NEVER talked about that. To the extent that he was dissatisfied, I am convinced it was because the folks training kept focusing on physical technique and he wanted them to understand how technique was merely an expression of large, much deeper spiritual principles. I do not think there is a single shred of evidence, and quite a bit to the contrary, that O-Sensei's oft quoted "no one is doing my Aikido" had anything whatever to do with the lack of internal power training in post war Aikido. Rather it was the focus on technique to the exclusion of the spiritual that bothered him.

Anyway, thanks for the input. It's always interesting to see how folks can look at exactly the same information and draw different conclusions.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
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Old 10-28-2010, 04:16 PM   #71
George S. Ledyard
 
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Clarification

I just had a very nice exchange with one of my on-line friends and she motivated me to clarify my views a bit. I know I seem very hard ass and judgmental on this stuff. I want to say that I pretty much am addressing my posts to folks who are teachers, who instruct others, or who aspire to do so.

I do not wish to give the impression that the regular folks out there are not valued or important, in fact crucial to Aikido. There are plenty of folks here who do not train more than a couple times a week or even less, but they think about Aikido all the time. Aikido informs every activity they do. They genuinely love the art and will talk about it with any one who will listen for as long as they will do so. Look at all the time and effort people put in on the forums...

The average practitioner is the backbone of the art. Without them there would be no professional teachers, there would be few dedicated dojo spaces, there would be few, if any, seminars out there. There would be no videos or no books because the market would just be too small. There will always be someone who is more talented, more serious, more everything than the average person. That's why we call it the average...

At my own dojo my students are just like the people here... they train as hard as they can, as frequently as they can. The fact that this is different from what I did when I was younger is neither here nor there. They are my students and I have to teach to that reality. So I don't waste time worrying about it not being how I would like but rather how to do the best with what is. And I am happy with that.

Where I am a real hard ass, and unapologetic is when it comes to the folks who are teachers. I have no patience for well meaning mediocrities who set up dojos and then become the limiting factor in the training of their students. I am definitely not kind when it comes to the hobbyist teacher. It's not just that a teacher takes the student's money, for that can be replaced, it's that the student gives the teacher his or her most prized possession, their time. Every minute a student spends in a dojo is a minute they didn't spend elsewhere and is a unit of time they can never get back.

Opening up a dojo is a huge responsibility, a massive obligation. You have a responsibility to represent your art, your teacher, and to deliver the goods to your students. Not "as best you can" which is an excuse that folks use to justify mediocrity, but simply deliver the goods. If you can't deliver the goods, don't teach. Simple as that.

I encounter teachers who will tell me, "well, I'm not really very good at Sensei's Kumitachi..." well, the question is why not and what are you doing about it? If you know you aren't up to par on something it is your responsibility to teach to others as part of their preparation for yudansha testing, why aren't you torturing yourself over that fact every night. Why haven't you trotted yourself off to the dojo of one of the teachers who could help you with it, why haven't you asked them to your dojo to teach the kumitachi, grabbed that guest instructor before, in between and after regular classes and pestered him to show you more? Screw going to lunch... why aren't you fixing this problem? It is your duty as a teacher to become instructor level at the material. Not just good enough to pass the damned Nidan test on which the kumitachi appear. You have an obligation to take your understanding far past what the average student requires. Otherwise you will be the limiting factor in the training of any student who is above average potential.

As far as I am concerned that is virtually fraudulent behavior. You've set yourself up as a teacher but you actually can't do your job. And passing off the responsibility to one of the other instructors isn't the answer. I see that all the time. The teacher who isn't interested, doesn't want to do the work, feels guilty about the fact that some aspect of his or her Aikido is sub standard but simply passes off the responsibility to a junior instructor as if that takes away the problem. The teacher is the model for the students. If the teacher has a lackadaisical attitude, then the students will have the same. The teacher must model the attitude of never being satisfied, always striving, going after what is needed to better and to teach better.

So, while I am totally supportive of any and all folks doing Aikido as serious student or hobbyists, I feel no obligation to baby anyone who sets himself up as a teacher. Do your jobs. If you don't want to, go back to training and close your dojo. No training is better for your students than poor training.

And so, when I am talking about time requirements etc to move up in grade, I am really addressing the next and future generations of students who will end up teaching. Start off expecting less of yourself than you are capable of and you will end up that way. And your students will be worse.

If this were a competitive art, things would take care of themselves. You can't fool yourself about how good you are when there is competition. You aren't any good, you lose. You have twenty years of experience and still suck, a three year junior beats you up. Not in Aikido... You can teach, you can stay the same for twenty years and not get any better. You can rationalize your defects by saying it's not about fighting anyway. You train your ukes to take the ukemi that makes your stuff look good and you don't leave your dojo to train else where because the folks out there are jerks (i.e. they don't fall down for you). I see teachers like this all the time.

And when did the problem start? Way back when they were white belts and they told themselves that what they were willing to do would be enough. That just passing the test was enough. Just getting through the weapons work well enough to not fail was enough. That training twice a week, because that was all that would fit into the schedule, was enough. And then twenty years later we have a teacher who is the product of years of wishful thinking and just barely enough.

So when it seems like I am too strict it is only to try and get people thinking about what Really is enough? And I mean to be the kind of black belt that would be an ideal in your mind, to be the kind of dojo instructor that you would be proud to be, to be the kind of master of the art which a dojo head should be, how much is enough for that? When most folks ask how much is enough they are asking how much is the bare minimum required... Anyone who has the least aspiration towards mastery of the art, especially towards teaching the art, even if it's only at someone else's dojo, needs to be asking what it takes to be excellent. It's not how little you can get by with, it's what it takes to do your job and do it well.

The average practitioner is not responsible to anyone but himself for his level of commitment and how far he or she wishes to go in the art. It is the job of those of us who have made training our lives to pass on everything we can to these folks. It will be their effort and commitment that determines what they take from that instruction. But everyone deserves our efforts and no one is a waste of time, if they at least try when they are there.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 10-28-2010 at 04:19 PM.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 10-28-2010, 07:54 PM   #72
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Re: Clarification

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Where I am a real hard ass, and unapologetic is when it comes to the folks who are teachers. I have no patience for well meaning mediocrities who set up dojos and then become the limiting factor in the training of their students.
My guess is that they wouldn't be teaching if they didn't have a dan grade under their belt. Seems like your anger/frustration should be directed more to the those who promoted them in the first place.

Can you really blame the sandan who sucks for being deluded when some shihan somewhere gave them that rank and told them they were ready to teach in the first place?
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Old 10-28-2010, 08:30 PM   #73
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Clarification

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Rabih Shanshiry wrote: View Post
My guess is that they wouldn't be teaching if they didn't have a dan grade under their belt. Seems like your anger/frustration should be directed more to the those who promoted them in the first place.

Can you really blame the sandan who sucks for being deluded when some shihan somewhere gave them that rank and told them they were ready to teach in the first place?
Hi Rabih,
I am simply not in a position to comment about what goes on "above my station", especially on the internet. Suffice it to repeat what my own teacher Saotome Sensei said, if the student doesn't do well, it's the teacher's fault. One can easily extend that to instructors who are below par.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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Old 10-28-2010, 10:48 PM   #74
RED
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

I'm becoming more and more annoyed by this attitude where people want to get as much as they can for as little effort as possible.
I've been talked down to about the "real meaning of tenkan" by 2year student 6th kyu who admittedly train once every few weeks. I'm willing to respect everyone as a practitioner, but you have to be intellectually honest with yourself about what Aikido is in your life.

If you want to be successful in Aikido, or any other en-devour, you need to put your hours in, under the eyes of an instructor. (I'm not keen on the entire "but I study in my livingroom"..Aikido is an apprentice program. I do kata in my living room too, but I don't disrespect the art or my instructors by calling it serious training!)

Would you expect to get your Bachelor's degree while only making 2 out of the 24 classes your instructor teachers?Why should Aikido be any different? When you get an F in class you can't go to your teacher and say "Oh but I was reading the text book at home a WHOLE lot!!" The point is, you didn't make it to class enough to advance. Likewise, don't expect to advance in Aikido when you are absent from class."A" students show up to all their classes on time and complete the course work. Aikido is no different. It requires discipline, dedication and commitment. You have to give up time, money, other activities and some socialization to part-take seriously.

If you expect to get better and learn Aikido you have to sweat some hours on the mat.. a lot of hours!
Aikido like any fine art is an apprentice program to me. Find yourself the highest instruction you can, and commit yourself to studying it.

There is nothing wrong with taking Aikido 1 or 2 hours a week, so long as you don't fool yourself into thinking you are serious. If your life does not permit practice more than 1 or 2 days, reorganize your life. A serious person schedules their life around their training. A weekend warrior schedules their training around their life.

I've sacrificed a lot of time, money, jobs, and socialization to commit to a self-imposed minimum training requirement. I've put off a few personal goals to guarantee my body is in the condition it needs to be to continue training for now. And on bad days, I still call myself a hobbyist, because I have too much respect for my Shihan to ever be diluted enough to consider myself as serious as them.
When I say this to people I hear people complain "Well, not everyone is as lucky as you to just be able to not be able to worry about other obligations!!" The fact is I do worry about obligations, I just like Aikido a hell of a lot more.

Aikido is about love for me, being in love.
When people find their first love, they blow off family members, friends sometimes, they sneak in and out windows, sometimes skip school to meet them, just to get to them, they are day dreaming about them at work and counting the seconds in between dates. Being committed isn't hard when you are in love.

How about doing Aikido for Aikido's sake? Go to the dojo because there's no where else you rather be, nothing else you rather do. If you found out you had 24 hours to live, would you be training? Are you in love, or is it just a nice way to spend an evening?

Einstein once said "There is no such thing as Genius, only obsession."
If you wanna do that "unreachable" Shihan quality Aikido, you gotta get a little obsessed. IMHO.

AGAIN: nothing is wrong with you if you train 2 hours a week! So long as you aren't diluted into thinking Aikido is more than a recreation for you. And there is nothing wrong IMO about Aikido being some people's recreational activity.

Last edited by RED : 10-28-2010 at 10:56 PM.

MM
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Old 10-29-2010, 12:02 AM   #75
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Is two Days a week enough?

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Rabih Shanshiry wrote: View Post
George,

Forgive me if I missed it, but what role does at-home training play in your equation? Does practice time spent out of the dojo count for anything?

How would you reconcile the person who attends your dojo 3x per week and doesn't practice at home with the person who can only attend twice and yet trains everyday on their own time?

I have a hard time believing that the former practitoner has much advantage (if any) over the latter. In fact, I'd tend to argue the opposite.

What do you think?

...rab
Well, it's not that I don't put some value on training at home... I used to do 1000 sword cuts each day, practiced my iaido... used to do some solo work, such as it was, watched tons of videos, back when you actually had to buy them... But none of that is worth much without hands on partner work. This art is about connection. It is fine to do things at home which can augment your practice but as a substitute for the hands on partner practice, no. Outside work can make your partner practice stronger, calmer, more precise, but it isn't any kind of substitute.

There's a reason that you don't get to check off your home-study hours on your attendance card at the dojo. Those solo training hours don't count when calculating your training hours towards the next test. Two days a week at the dojo is still two days a week. I can pretty much guarantee that someone training two days a week at the dojo and doing all sorts of solo training at home, will only be marginally, if at all better at his paired practice than the person who just trains twice a week and watches TV at home.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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