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  #26  
Old 01-21-2011, 12:20 PM
Francis Takahashi
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Legacy and the Founder

Morihei Ueshiba, O'Sensei to most, was responsible for developing several generations of quality students who in turn, became well respected instructors and representatives of the Founder's teachings. Certain number of these went on to form stand alone organizations that, while giving due and...

Last edited by akiy : 01-21-2011 at 11:54 AM.
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Old 01-31-2011, 10:55 AM   #25
aikishihan
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

Hello Fasen Sensei,

Thank you for posting, and for your kind words of support and friendship. Congratulations on your recent promotion to 5th dan, which is so richly deserved and timely.

Your unstinting support for so many years of the ASU leadership, including Messers Saotome, Ikeda, Hooker, Ledyard, Choate, Hofmeister, Messores et all, is a valuable lesson and example for all of us to respect and emulate whenever possible.

Thanks again for sharing.
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Old 01-31-2011, 11:58 AM   #26
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

We have an obligation to carry aikido from generation to generation. Each generation is different and each require different motivation and different dissemination tactics. If we were talking business, everyone would be nodding their heads in agreement; heck, we even name the generation so we can complain about what aspects they bring to the table.

In today's aikido I am more compelled to train under someone whom I respect as a capable martial artist, rather than someoine who throws out names; yeah, I once saw that guy too. In the early days, there was a filter that could limit who trained. Many of the older students can almost recall everyone in their dojo who trained in earlier days; now, I can't even recall the names of the people who came and went last month. The was a value to name association because of quality control and confirmation, not to mention that shidan or uchi deshi or whoever had the only goods. Today, there is a greater selection of competent aikido people who satisfy the needs of those who train. Why train under a shihan if you do not aspire to be a shihan? Just train under the local guy... The filter of quality control has diminished as the number of practioners grew.

Today (or probably starting 10-20 years ago), we have more non-shihans in training than ever before... Trouble is we're now running out of existing shihan.

Takahashi Sensei touches upon an important point, many of the shihan were great martial artists, but they were also human. But they stepped forward. I think we are emerging from a generation of aikido people who did not step forward; we have a bunch of non-shihan senior instructors. We need new shihan to lead the curriculum and develop new (and better methods) of instruction, disseminated in a teaching method that may be consumed by its students. "Martial Arts" are dying; the military style of education is fading. The time and dedication to the art is waining. We are in need of revising the curriculum to teach more in less time and deliver the information within a new teaching paradigm.
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Old 01-31-2011, 12:22 PM   #27
phitruong
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

reminded me the song "the living years" sang by Mike & the Mechanics.

"Every generation
Blames the one before
And all of their frustrations
Come beating on your door
.....
"
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Old 01-31-2011, 02:53 PM   #28
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

On one hand, I think Phi couldn't be more right. Generation wars have existed for a long time. Whether your parents were too strict in the 40's, too lenient in the 60's, too excessive in the 80's or too protective in the 90's, we all are guilty of playing the blame game on the generation before us for our woes. Personally, I think it all comes down to the hippies .

On the other hand, you are beginning to see emerging leaders in aikido who are younger; they are evolving the curriculum, and they are learning how to deal with the new challenges facing aikido. How old was Tohei Sensei when he went to Hawaii? Saotome Sensei when he came to America? Yamada, Shioda, Tomiki, Kuriowa? These leaders where not in their demise when they shared their aikido with others. I do not see a pre-requisite that says you need grey hair to be a leader in aikido.

Blame who you will, but I believe the younger generations do not like the older instructional styles and they are not interested in prioritizing their life around aikido. Now, this may not be a bad thing; I think aikido could benefit from some contraction. However, the days of pushups over broken glass while sempai sit on your back are over...for most of us.
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Old 01-31-2011, 05:49 PM   #29
aikishihan
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

Greetings Mr. Reading

I very much appreciate your valuable input on this thread, and want to thank you for your contributions on other threads that I truly enjoy reading.

There are several profound issues confronting the smooth and harmonious transition and transmission of the authentic, authoritative and legitimate Aikido understanding of the Founder’s original model by succeeding generations. I will attempt to address a couple of these.

The acceptable, correct and verifiable transmission of the Founder’s true message, overall vision and the martial validity of his system of Budo was initially entrusted, by default, to those direct students who kept the faith of their lessons, and attempted their very best to accomplish this herculean task. Such individuals were both from within the Aikikai system, as well as from without. Some began in the Aikikai system, but were compelled to leave and pursue their own directions. Further, the Ueshiba identity, via the Iemoto System of natural inheritance, was not unlike that of the Pope of Rome who, when speaking “Ex Cathedra”, was deemed to be infallible on church doctrine, implying that any true and final interpretation of the Founder’s Aikido was to be unquestioned if from the Doshu position.

Much research, discussion, and the prolonged first hand experiences with the actual conduct of these otherwise amazing individuals has caused the above notions to be seriously questioned, and almost universally discarded as being applicable or true. This is not to say that they were or are without merit or deserving of our respect and gratitude. It simply means, to my mind, that the Aikido of the Founder, as he repeatedly expressed it to be, is a continous “work in progress’ for succeeding generations to make necessary changes to concomitant with the new epiphanies, discoveries and understandings that naturally accrue for such novel ideas and workable systems. To err is human. To admit to humanity is enlightenment. To persevere mightily is genius.

As to any obligation any one should have to carry the Aikido tradition and essence to succeeding generations, I believe to be way beyond the abilities of the average student. Rather, it falls to those talented and driven few to make the conscious and voluntary effort to internalize lessons and research acquired, and to engineer the necessary breakthroughs for the current and succeeding generations of dedicated students of the Founder’s Aikido. The Founder himself implored us to do so, not in homage to his invention, but in honor of the real momentum of the truth of his findings, that we must improve ourselves, our art, our craft and our growth on a daily basis. This is his Aikido envisioned.

Shihan designations are at best arbitrary, confusing, inaccurate and not representative in the least of proven authority, skills, status or accomplishment. There really is no “gold standard” to compare any individual to, as no attempt was made to create or maintain one by Aikikai Foundation. To say that political, economic and personal considerations were the norm is unfortunately more accurate than we might want to believe. This is not to say that those who have been accorded such designations are not worthy of respect or appreciation. Most of them certainly are. This means only that other considerations and factors play as equal if not more an impact on treating our instructors with appropriate accord and support.

It is also my opinion that there are in fact hundreds of proven teachers throughout the Aikido family who are deserving of the designation of “Shihan”, and that the real proof of who is or is not, should rest in the real support they enjoy, the quality of the teachings they have to offer, and the quality of students they are able to produce over time. No need to wait for them to be anointed. They are already here, and only require our recognition and daily support.

Let’s get started yesterday!

And thanks Phi for the background music!

Last edited by aikishihan : 01-31-2011 at 05:53 PM.
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Old 02-01-2011, 02:28 PM   #30
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

Hi George,

Great post as usual. I have a question, if you dont' mind.

Why was Saotome Sensei asked to move to USA? English language skills? Disponibility to travel? Who told the original group Saotome Sensei was the teacher they were looking for?

Thanks in advance.

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Old 02-01-2011, 11:28 PM   #31
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Hi George,

Great post as usual. I have a question, if you dont' mind.

Why was Saotome Sensei asked to move to USA? English language skills? Disponibility to travel? Who told the original group Saotome Sensei was the teacher they were looking for?

Thanks in advance.
There was a group of folks in Florida and their Chief Instructor had met Sensei in Japan. He went home and proposed they bring Sensei to the States. That's the basic story, there are details I don't know as I didn't start until two years later when he moved to DC.

I don't know what it was that made this little group in FL have the chutzpah to invite someone of Sensei's caliber to be their Chief Instructor. It certainly was something Sensei very much wished to do. Saotome Sensei is very much the artistic, creative, individualist... he is definitely not an organization man. He could never have been happy staying in Japan... the US was the perfect place for him. As an uchi deshi I think he followed what was expected. But once O-Sensei died, I think he felt free to pursue his own path.

Osawa Sensei and Kisshomaru, the Nidai Doshu, tried on a couple of occasions to talk him into returning the Hombu but I think that would have been disastrous for him personally and of course we are all glad he didn't. I never heard him entertain the idea of returning for a second. He fully committed to be here and to us as his students. That's something I never doubted.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 02-02-2011, 02:36 AM   #32
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

Thanks again George,

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
There was a group of folks in Florida and their Chief Instructor had met Sensei in Japan. He went home and proposed they bring Sensei to the States. That's the basic story, there are details I don't know as I didn't start until two years later when he moved to DC.
Here is an extract of an interview with Peter Shapiro Sensei published some time ago in aikidojournal -the european one, not related to Pranin afaik-, maybe you find it interesting.

…Je suis arrivé en 1967. J'ai connu O Sensei pendant les dernières années de sa vie. En 1970, je suis devenu disciple de Hikitsuchi Sensei à Shingu. Entre 1969 et 1972,j'ai fait partie d'un petit groupe qui a étudié avec Saotome Sensei à Tokyo. Parce qu'à l'époque, à Tokyo, il était le seul qui était disposé à parler un tant soi peu de ses expériences avec O Sensei. Après sa mort, pendant deux ou trois ans, par respect pour son fils, il était mal vu de parler d'O Sensei. Dans le groupe des professeurs à Tokyo, à ma connaissance, Saotome Sensei était le seul à vouloir s'exprimer. Nous avons donc formé un petit groupe pour en parler, et nous entraîner aussi. Et c'est parce que nous avons fait ce groupe composé seulement d'étrangers que Saotome a décidé d'aller aux Etats-Unis. Il a pensé que les gens y seraient plus ouverts à son enseignement.

If you need a translation, I could give it a try.

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Old 02-02-2011, 04:54 AM   #33
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

Quote:
I arrived in 1967. I knew O Sensei in the last years of his life. In 1970 I became a deshi of Hikitsuchi Sensei at Shingu. Between 1969 and 1972 I belonged to a small group studying with Saotome Sensei in Tokyo. Because at that time he was the only one prepared to talk at all about his experiences with O Sensei. For two or three years after O Sensei's death it was considered inappropriate, out of respect for his son, to speak about him at all. To my knowledge Saotome Sensei was the only of the group of teachers in Tokyo who didn't mind talking about him. So we made a small group to talk about him and to train as well. This group was made up exclusively of foreigners and that's why Saotome Sensei decided to go to the USA. He thought people there would be more open to his teaching.
Peter Shapiro
That's it roughly.

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Old 02-02-2011, 06:41 PM   #34
Diana Frese
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

I come back to this thread whenever I can (weather is a bit weird around here now, and I guess this is an example of the rigors and the beauty of nature) and will continue to study it for the history and the inspiration. I mentioned hardships faced by those who came over later, and hoped that others would mention them, and they have. We also have descriptions from George Ledyard and Peter Shapiro of their own interests and training.

Peter Shapiro knew that "gaijin deshi" were interested in learning about O Sensei and Shinto, etc. Hikitsuchi Sensei was a Shinto priest as many on Aiki Web know, and many "gaijin deshi" went to Shingu to study with him. At Hombu, Saotome Sensei very generously offered to teach those who were interested, along with the classes on sword and bokken. Please keep in mind that he did not know English, Peter Shapiro, the senpai of the group, knew Japanese. I think of the people who knew the most Japanese, the French were the most fluent. Many of them studied with Yamaguchi Sensei. Gleason Sensei, teaching in Massachusetts was a direct student of Yamaguchi Sensei.

Not meaning to make too long of a post, but just to mention a few people and topics, as I think I remember Saotome Sensei wrote in one of his books, or an article in the small magazine the Florida group printed in the early years in Sarasota. Bill MacIntyre while in Japan for a few weeks asked Saotome Sensei to send one of his nidans. Noone expected Saotome Sensei to go to America, he had said he intended to stay in Japan. However, he often spoke of the environment -- he wanted to meet Ralph Nader! -- and I think at some point he had an intuition that he had a message about Aikido and Nature that would be understood by people over here. His first book was called Aikido and the Harmony of Nature.

I guess I should close this post with a quote from Japanese, it's one of O Sensei's doka so I will defer to those who have translated it better than I could. I don't really speak Japanese, I just remember a few phrases. Here it is

Uruwashiki
Kono Amatsuchi no Misugata wa
I ka nerikeri

This is my hope for the Aikido community as well. Anyone who read my bio as Francis has will understand.

Oh well, here's my attempt: So beautiful, the August Shape of Heaven and Earth is One Family

(Translations of ancient texts often translate the syllable Mi as
"august" , the adjective. Shape can also be translated as form, if I remember correctly. )
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Old 02-02-2011, 11:44 PM   #35
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

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Diana Frese wrote: View Post
His first book was called Aikido and the Harmony of Nature.
Hi Diana,
You mentioned the book... that reminded me of when I started Aikido. The book was due out "in the Spring"... when Spring came no book... we'd ask Sensei again and get the same answer, "in the Spring". That book was due out "in the Spring" for ten years. Finally, it was published in France by Sedrirep where it was a huge success. The first English version was an import. only later did it get republished here by Shambala. Anyway, I still remember how we looked forward to when the book would come out, only to find it would be another year.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 02-03-2011, 01:31 AM   #36
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Finally, it was published in France by Sedrirep where it was a huge success. The first English version was an import. only later did it get republished here by Shambala.
Good info, George Sensei. Actual spelling is "Sedirep". First English edition produced in 1986. I get intel that Sedirep may have reissued this book in 2009, but I can't confirm it. So much info wandering around out there is erroneous. Sedirep 1986 editions do appear for sale from time to time in the usual places.
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Old 02-03-2011, 07:57 AM   #37
Diana Frese
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

Hi George and Clark,

I hope I can help out a little bit here. Clark mentioned in one of the threads that a demo by the late Ed Baker Sensei inspired him to begin Aikido. Baker Sensei was interested in Saotome Sensei's manuscript while it was in process at the original publishing company. Ed showed it to his professor of sociology or anthropology, Dr. David Jones, whom you may know, he does Aikido probably as a result of being Ed's academic teacher, and of reading the manuscript. Dr. Jones thought that the book should have more of the Japanese background for Western readers and either wrote to Saotome Sensei or visited him or both. The rest is history. I think you will find Dr. Jones in the book as writing the introduction.

Many people helped with the revision, some adding Saotome Sensei's articles from the Sarasota-published small magazine.
Paul Kang greatly facilitated this process. Paul was from the dojo Terry Dobson founded with Ken Nisson, and I feel greatly contributed to Saotome Sensei's ability to communicate with those who did not know Japanese, or didn't know enough to deal with the topics in detail.

Saotome Sensei's wife, "Patty" Patricia Saotome I guess formally, is a beautiful writer in her own right, and I'm sure she should take much credit for the appearance of the book in its ultimate form. She was one of his first students in the U.S. and the secretary of the dojo at the time he came over.

The original publisher? The revisions were essential, and it was fortunate Ed passed the book to his professor to read. But by the time the revisions were completed the original publisher had financial problems and it turned out to be best for another publisher to take over. I think Christian Tissier was the contact for this.

Sorry to ramble so much, but it seems to be an important question. Sometimes delays are absolutely necessary in order to properly produce something without leaving out important elements.
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Old 02-03-2011, 10:20 AM   #38
Diana Frese
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

I hope Saotome Sensei's students will continue to post in this column's replies but in the interest of drawing in some of the others that Francis has mentioned I will mention a few.

First the Hawaiians, of which Francis is one and could tell us much more of the names he has mentioned. The first president of the United States Aikido Federation was a Hawaiian, if I remember correctly. Yamada Sensei mentioned he himself likes to sing, and while he mentioned Sinatra in an editorial, I also remember him singing a few songs which I later found out were from the famous Don Ho, I think the name was.

I just feel I should mention a few more names to get more people posting who might be wondering if they have something to add.
Francis mentioned the early students who left. I know there are
Yoshinkan students here in the US and on Aiki Web, but many of us have been curious about Tomiki Sensei, especially those who have studied judo in the past or are studying at present. One of the British students of the Tomiki branch might be willing to add thoughts and impressions....

My question, Francis is this, what format do you think these memories should take? Should we mention more names, contribute more actual stories of training. I notice you take active part in your column's replies and it is a great help. I want to make sure I pick up on your cues.

thanks for your help so far I look forward to your guidance on what my further contribution to these topics could be.

Last edited by Diana Frese : 02-03-2011 at 10:26 AM. Reason: substitute word active for actual I typed wrong word
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Old 02-03-2011, 11:12 AM   #39
aikishihan
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

Gosh, Diana, I feel like that proverbial and fortunate fly on the wall, taking in the precious and priceless historical details contributed to date by Clark, Demetrio, George, Niall and of course, yourself. More, much more please!

The easy conversational flow of the contributing stories and perspectives received to date appear most appropriate and illuminating as a foundational narrative for the Aiki Web readership to enjoy. Perhaps, however, the formal gathering of key individuals, including the likes of Patty Saotome, Dennis Hooker etc., could actually produce a more organized and focused template for true historical reconstruction. Names like Peter Goldsbury, Stan Pranin, Clark Bateman amongst others come readily to mind in addressing such a project.

Of course, this would necessitate the identification and cooperation of those individuals with both first hand contact and detailed knowledge of the various greats of Aikido history in America. This could very well take several years or more, but who’s counting when it is clearly imperative to get it all down, and to get it all right.

Lest we err grievously, let us encourage similar projects from our brethren in Aiki residing in nations other than Japan and the United States. England and France especially, undoubtedly have treasure troves of historical relevance to uncover and to share with the rest of the interested Aikido world.

Thank you again, Diana, for being a catalyst and inspiration for us to ponder and to act upon with all due haste. This would be another example of building “bridges” for the Aikido faithful everywhere to cross together and share the Founder’s legacy, one awesome steward of Ueshiba Aiki at a time!

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Old 02-04-2011, 03:25 AM   #40
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

Francis mentioned my name in the post above, but I think I should make it clear that my direct experience of aikido in the USA consists of two amazing years spent training in the New England Aikikai (at the old dojo in Central Sq.) when I was at Harvard. I arrived in the US in September 1973 and returned to the UK in the autumn of 1975. The USAF had not yet been created and K Chiba had just returned to Japan from the UK.

In some sense, I am reminded of Wittgenstein's famous dictum:

'Those things of which we cannot speak we pass over in silence',

but would change 'cannot' to 'do not'.

The names of K Tohei and M Saotome were simply not uttered. Y Yamada and A Tohei occasionally visited from New York and Chicago, respectively. One of these occasions was the papal visit made by Doshu in 1974 (he was actually going to Hawaii to meet K Tohei, but we rank and file had only the dimmest of ideas why). K Osawa made a visit in 1975, I believe, and I think he was accompanied by M Fujita and N Suganuma.

I had a distant American relative and her husband was a 'Boston brahmin', whose family had always gone to Harvard. He encouraged me to see the other side of America--the Mid-West and California, but he couldn't help sounding like an Englishman advising me to see Africa and experience how the 'other races' lived.

Anyway, I was training very intensively in the Cambridge dojo and so (1) I had no exposure at all to US aikido 'politics' and (2) the furthest I ever got to California was Vancouver, after a rail trip across Canada.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 02-04-2011, 06:55 AM   #41
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

Thank you all for the wonderful postings. Being a student of aikido and its history I find these things of interest. From all I've heard and read the above rememberances seem spot on. Of course a persons unique window always come into play but the pertinent stuff (IMHO) seems to fit with the first hand accounts that were relayed to me. In Virginia we are very fortunate to have a very good working relationship amongst the various schools of thought (Aikikai, Iwama, Ki Society). We have friendship seminars and attend each others organizational gatherings without any other thought but to 'just train'. I would say we have made it our business not to continue any carry over of past issues that separate aikido in practice.
That said being aware of the past issues shouldn't cause us reluctance to give serious thought to the how & why's but more importantly to continue to move aikido forward.
Being from NYC I've been exposed to the aikido of Yamada Sensei, Imaizumi Sensei, and the good people at Bond St. Upon moving to Northern Virginia I've trained primarily with instructors of Hawaiian decent. Reading the accounts of Ralph Glanstein
http://www.aikidohawaii.org/dojo_windward.html and Tom 'Doc' Walker http://www.aikidojournal.com/article...ghlight=walker as well as Roy Suenaka and Imaizumi Sensei bio's gave me such a broader perspective on the culture of aikido in the US.
Maybe some of you have memories of Mr. Glanstein, Mr. Walker, and Virginia Mayhew. I'd love to hear them.
Thanks again to you all.
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Old 02-04-2011, 09:14 AM   #42
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

Peter is being modest and humble in light of his proven potential and unsurpassed execution of insightful writing based on exhaustive and scholarly research into the history of the Founder. The many fans of his priceless Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation series unconditionally attest to his value to the Aikido traditions, and to the Founder’s true legacy.

Yes, his two years in Boston appear paltry in comparison to others’ longevity here in America, but not so. The real impact of his insightful review of the giants he has known, without being indiscreet or revealing of private confidences, would be immeasurable. First hand accounts and memories of figures such as the late and current Doshus, Senseis Tada, Fujita, Ichihashi, Tamura, Chiba, Yamada, Kanai and more would incalculably enhance our appreciation for and understanding of these representatives of the Founder’s art and vision.

I mentioned Peter’s name, along with those of Stan Pranin and Clark Bateman, as probable candidates to review the contributions, not only of the American legends, but of those in the Continent and Japan as well. If he would be willing, along with others aptly talented, what a magnificent gift and tribute it would be for us to treasure indefinitely.

So, thank you, Peter Goldsbury, for your past contributions and magnificent story telling. If you would, please continue to favor us with your kind and gracious ability for telling it like it really was.
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Old 02-04-2011, 09:16 AM   #43
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

Thank you, Asim, for your endorsement of this ongoing tribute to the legacy of the Founder of Aikido. Bringing our attention once more to the need to properly observe and conserve the contributions of Aikido greats anywhere, but especially here in America is both welcome and timely.

Thank you as well for those marvelous links to accounts of Senseis Ralph Glanstein and Tom “Doc” Walker, which I am certain are interesting tips of a much larger iceberg of historically important figures in American Aikido.

I hope that your example will prompt even more of the “silent masses” to come forward in time with their own contributions, perhaps in threads of their own.
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Old 02-09-2011, 10:58 AM   #44
Diana Frese
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

I a m very happy that more and more people have entered this thread. One thing that I have been thinking about and might be able to make a small contribution to, is the question of the role of the man who we were told was to be called Second Doshu, the first being Kaiso Morihei Ueshiba. I'm not sure if it was mentioned otherwise in some of the threads and I hope Francis will clarify this for us. I remember Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei being referred to as Nidai Doshu in Japanese and in some threads, maybe even this one!

People sometimes question the iemoto system and I wonder if it is appropriate for me to bring this up in this thread of comments. Some of those questions that people have in other threads deal with martial effectiveness. It's too bad I couldn't make it to more of the 6:30 a.m. classes but from what I did see Second Doshu Kisshomaru Sensei's aikido was the perfect and correct form, the standard, if you will. These were the techniques, but the other instructors had their own ways, and yet they were all there teaching class on the weekly schedule. I feel that Second Doshu was like that, he respected his father's students and they respected him. In addition I heard it said years ago "Doshu fed us"
this was when he was still alive and called simply Doshu.

Evidently in the old days when the economic situation was dire, he got a regular job to help feed his father's students and they never forgot that.

As a person, he seemed kindly and what you might call "unassuming" if you saw him in the hallway his smile had a quiet radiance. I don't have the writing skills of many on Aiki Web but I just had to make the attempt.

When I was teaching at the local YMCA and had a few students I recommended they come to NYC to see him. I mentioned he was very thin but oboy could he throw people. They came they saw they said I was right. They were wide-eyed. I leave it to others to decide for themselves whether the iemoto system is purely administrative. I'm sure Third Doshu Moriteru Sensei in addition to writing books (which I look forward to reading) and promoting Aikido both in Japan and internationally, in his teaching passes on valuable Aikido knowledge and technique just as his father and grandfather did. Though there is great teaching outside of Aikikai too, the iemoto system is an important way to insure Aikido continues on into the future. It has meant immense dedication among those who have accepted the mantle, so to speak. And among the other students, notably Osawa Sensei, Kobayashi Yasuo Sensei if I remember correctly, and Sugano Sensei many have passed on the treasure of Aikido to their children as a legacy for the future.
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Old 02-10-2011, 10:58 AM   #45
aikishihan
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

Thank you, Diana, for your tenacity and persistence in honoring the memories and contributions of the direct students of the Founder, and of the late Nidai Doshu especially.

I was introduced to Kisshomaru Ueshiba as being “Nidai Doshu”, after years of being called “Waka Sensei”, an accepted title while O Sensei was alive. Since then, both Moriteru and Mitsuteru have, and continue to be addressed in this fashion. Later on, the “Nidai” was dropped, and he was referred to simply as “Doshu”. Moriteru was also referred to alternately as “Sandai Mei” and as the “Gen” Doshu (New Doshu), especially during the 12 months following the death of his father.

I am afraid that the volumes that exist in the minds and memories of countless students of the Founder’s direct students, and of their own respective students, are far too vast to be contained in a thread or two on online repositories such as Aiki Web, Aikido Journal, Aikido Online etc.. Rather, as more folks come forward with their contributions, Jun Akiyama may be persuaded to add yet another category to house those invaluable accounts of Aikido’s pioneers.

It is the arena for those far advanced in scholarship and knowledge of Japanese customs to discuss the “iemoto” system, and its relevance or appropriateness to Japanese cultural standards for succession of leadership. For me, it simply meant that an Ueshiba male would always be accepted as the head of the Founder’s organization, as long as he was capable and willing to do so. This had little or nothing to do with perceived abilities, skills or other criteria. I took it to be simple Chujitsu, Giri and On playing their part in history.

Yet, I do recall Hambei (Mitsunari Kanai Sensei) and Yas san (Yasuo Kobayashi Sensei) telling stories of the kindnesses received from both the late Doshu and his wife in the early days of little food, and lots of training.

Opinions vary as to how well the late Doshu, or any other direct student of the Founder for that matter, was able to replicate or exactly duplicate the Founder’s genius, both on and off the mat. To me it was always a non issue. Doshu was simply a true gentleman, dedicating himself, his health and his personal obligations to his father, and to maintain the spread of the messages of Aiki and Aikido throughout Japan, and to the world at large. I never heard him utter a disparaging word about any other human being, and was always painstakingly humble in describing his own efforts and their effects on the growth and maintenance of his father’s beloved art.

This is how I remember Doshu.
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Old 02-10-2011, 12:12 PM   #46
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

Aikido is a vehicle that can take you into deep areas of personal transformation. The Doshu's job is to maintain that vehicle. The Nidai Doshu wasn't just given a "finished product" to represent. He was tasked with deciding how the impossibly complex teachings of his father and his technical virtuosity could best be passed on to the public.

I think the Nidai Doshu, for this is how I was introduced to him, was the embodiment of what Aikido practice can represent. He was a total gentleman. He showed us an open, beautiful, gentle and yet powerful Aikido that to me, is the total expression of what Aikido Kihon Waza should be. Everyone else was free to go off into whatever realms of personal investigation they wished to take their Aikido. But K Ueshiba was the center around which all of this rotated.

Back in the eighties, 1987 I believe, I had the good fortune to travel to Tokyo to train for a week, I was the first of Saotome Sensei's seniors to go back. Sensei armed me with several letters of introduction to the Doshu, Osawa Sensei, Yamaguchi Sensei and Kuroiwa Sensei. This was still before the big "rapprochement" between the ASU and Hombu. Despite that, these teachers fell all over themselves to be hospitable to me.

Kuroiwa Sensei was kind enough to set up a meeting with the Doshu. I had tea with him, he was kind enough to sign a copy of one of his books I had brought for the occasion. Afterward, I went to his class. I was honored to have him call me up for ukemi any number of times. This was a very big deal because normally, he only used the uchi deshi. It was quite unusual for him to throw around someone no one had ever seen before. Anyway, I can't describe how it felt to be taking ukemi for the Doshu as I thought how things had come full circle, He had been one of my Sensei's teachers and now here I was, taking ukemi from the man for whom my own teacher had taken so much ukemi over the years.

Osawa Sensei was unbelievable to me. I was partnered with my friend, Janet Johnson, who lived in Tokyo and spoke Japanese. She had been training at Hombu for several years. Every time I turned around in class, Osawa was there, showing us something, correcting us, challenging us to do it better. At the end of class, Janet said that we had just had more attention in that class than she'd had in the whole three years she had trained at Hombu put together.

Unfortunately, Yamaguchi Sensei turned out to be in France when I was at Hombu. I never did get a chance to train with him. I recently bought a DVD from Aikido Journal of Yamaguchi Sensei teaching a seminar in France and I suddenly realized it was that seminar that cause me to miss him in Japan.

I don't harbor any illusions about why these teachers gave me so much during my stay. It wasn't to do with anything special about me, it was them sending a message to Saotome Sensei through me. Knowing how thins were with Saotome Sensei and the ASU, I found many of the foreign students inclined towards being political. But it was the senior Shihan and the Doshu that made me realize that the important thing was not politics but personal relationship. These teachers still considered Saotome Sensei as one of their own, That made me one of their own by extension. The politics didn't enter into it... at least not when it came to how they treated me.

I was actually relieved when I had made my appearances in the classes of these senior teachers to whom I had been given formal introduction. I was certainly "representing" and was scared to death I'd do something that would embarrass Saotome Sensei. These seniors were certainly looking at me to get an idea of what "their boy" had been doing all those years after he "left home". By the end of my week at Hombu, I was free to train with teachers who didn't know me and I didn't have to feel like I had to measure up for. The last classes I took were with Watanabe Sensei, a teacher I had never heard mentioned by Saotome Sensei. However when Watanabe Sensei found out I was Saotome Sensei's student. he started laughing with that huge belly laugh he's git. "Hah, hah, hah, Saotome Sensei... hah, hah, hah..." He then proceeded to use me for uke the entire class and a good portion of the next one as well. It was the most pure fun I had on my visit. At one point he did one of those huge step out kotegaeshis on me and threw me across the whole dojo. I was one of two Westerners in the class and far and away the largest person i the room, by magnitudes. I still remember as I flew across the whole mat, maybe a good ten or fifteen feet in the air or more, I heard the small Japanese students in line going "oooooooh!!!" as I flew by. I'm not sure they had ever seen some my size take that much air before.

So, Saotome Sensei was gone but certainly not forgotten at Hombu at the time. Now the older generation is gone or retired and many of the teachers are the sons of the men who had trained my teacher. Sensei chose to stay in the States, marry, and become a citizen. Now, not many are still at Hombu who remember him. It is recognition of what he gave up in order to come here and teach us that makes me feel all the more committed to trying to understand Sensei's Aikido. He could have stayed and been a big deal at Headquarters. Instead, he came over here and he got us... I think it is incumbent on us to justify that decision by becoming the best possible transmitters to the next generation of the incredible gift we got from Sensei. If he hadn't chosen to come here, I would never have met him, would probably have never done Aikido, and my life would be totally different.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 02-21-2011, 06:47 PM   #47
Dale Matthews
Dojo: Aikido-Louisville Aikikai
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

I've not posted here before but better late than never I suppose. I was at the airport when Saotome Sensei arrived in Tampa back in May, 1975.

Several instructors from around the country who trained with Yamada Sensei visited Hombu dojo. Bill McIntyre was among them. As I recall the story they had the opportunity to train with the Hombu shihan and liked Saotome Sensei's classes the most, but more importantly Sensei would go to the coffee shop after class with students and speak with them about Aikido.

They asked Sensei if he would please send a student to teach in Florida and Sensei replied none of his students would leave him. Three days later he said he would come. Rather like a little mission church asking for a priest and getting a Cardinal.

It took some time to arrange for Sensei's green card but finally, with the intervention of the local congressman, arrangements were finalized.

At first we practiced in McIntyre's dojo. Sensei had been promised a house and a monthly stipend. Eventually those agreements were unable to be kept. One night at the dojo Sensei said he could no longer teach in that dojo.

Those of us who determined to go with Sensei removed our name tags from the wall.

John Messores at the time worked as the grounds keeper and caretaker for a local parochial church and school. He arranged for us to be able to use their gymnasium for classes. Training never stopped!

I'll have to continue later I must leave for an appointment.

Thanks for bringing up the great memories George. Oh, by the way, I am still studying and teaching. LOL!

Dale
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Old 02-21-2011, 08:19 PM   #48
Dale Matthews
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

One more memory. When George returned from that trip to Japan he showed up for a training camp in D.C. with his arm in a cast. In keeping with our philosophy one must be in harmony with one's environment, and, one's environment includes one's body no matter what shape it's in, George had a Sandan test. He did an excellent job and in all these years it is still the only time I've seen a dan test performed literally with one arm tied behind one's back!
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Old 02-21-2011, 09:07 PM   #49
Janet Rosen
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Re: Legacy and the Founder

I have nothing of substance to add to this thread; just want to offer a heartfelt thank you to all who are sharing remembrances.

Janet Rosen
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