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Rethinking Aikido for the 21st Century
Rethinking Aikido for the 21st Century
by Francis Takahashi
Rethinking Aikido for the 21st Century

First of all, what happened? O Sensei happened, and even as talented and proven researchers do their individual and collective magic in attempting to uncover the vast mysteries of the man, the myth and the magnitude of the aftermath of all that has transpired to date in Aikido's brief, but exciting history, there is more than ample fodder to digest and perhaps to reconstitute for generations to come.

Together with accompanying shifts to our perceptions and cherished beliefs we currently cling to, we may look forward to even more discoveries and paradigm shaping epiphanies that are probably unimaginable today. There is so very much more to anticipate, and in looking forward to the lessons of tomorrow, we may well ponder what roles we will individually and collectively play in their eventual arrival and impact.

With the herculean efforts of people like Stanley Pranin, Peter Goldsbury, and others yet to be recognized, can there be any serious doubt that our understandings and real knowledge of historical truths, will surely improve by quantum leaps and tidal surges. Let us all do our part to support those who keep up the research, and who willingly and generously produce such splendid writings and documentations!

What does it all mean? Who can definitively say, and with what proofs or reasoned arguments? Suffice to say that these discussions, and accompanying debates, will continue unabated for generations to come, not because of any lack of intelligence or desire to honestly do the due diligence, but simply because the concept of Universal Aiki is really that huge, and that the Founder's prodigious discoveries aside, his was merely a starting point for the rest of us, and for succeeding generations to deal with. It does prove one thing, however, that there is more than enough genuine interest in the subject matter, and that much, much more remains to be explored, to be uncovered, and to be generously shared in the spirit of Ueshiba Aiki. It truly means that this generation has just begun, continuing the opus started not that long ago, by a special man from Tanabe.

I do feel a bit sorry for those who insist and persist in thinking that Aikido is merely another martial arts construct. What a waste of inattention and misguided intention. Do smell the roses, but do not ignore the fragrant earth from which it springs, the gentleness of the life giving rains, and the life enhancing energy of sunlight, all of which play their respective roles in bringing the Founder's most cherished hopes and the profoundest of dreams to life, his Silver Bridge under construction by us.

What are some of the takeaways? In addition to what we are learning about the origins of the Founder's life quest, his epiphanies and subsequent discoveries, along with the unpredictable and improbable impact of the new interpretations of his legacy, we are also gaining important insights into those who were his mentors, his peers, and his direct followers. True genius does not grow in a vacuum, and it has become quite obvious that the Founder encountered and benefitted from his unique associations with other geniuses of his time and space. Even today, with different cultural expectations, and fresh interpretations of the original model, we are surely benefitting from the often novel and exciting expanded applications of the Aiki Principles that once nourished the Founder, and are now nourishing new generations as well. We can, and must continue to dare create our own versions of Aikido, not in shallow imitation or misguided homage to the past, but because this is the living legacy envisioned by the Founder himself. This is what he admonished his direct students to do, if they had "the goods" to do so. And now, it is incumbent on the current, and future generations, to take up the task. Are we up to it?

What happens next? We are the living witnesses to the power of the original message, the Founder's vision, and to the Fundamental Truths of Universal Aiki, and of Ueshiba Aiki, that invite us all to research, incorporate and to share. Like a growing tsunami of unavoidable momentum, we will be busy producing the current and future geniuses and innovators, who are taking up the challenge of fully exploring and cultivating the unlimited benefits of applying Aiki Principles to our lives, to our programming, and to the natural creation of legacies of our own. It is the human thing to do, even though we are fallible human carbon units striving to make it beyond Armageddon.

Will we make it? Time will tell.

Francis Takahashi was born in 1943, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Francis began his Aikido journey in 1953, simultaneously with the introduction of Aikido to Hawaii by Koichi Tohei, a representative sent from Aikikai Foundation in Tokyo, Japan. This event was sponsored by the Hawaii Nishi System of Health Engineering, with Noriyasu Kagesa as president. Mr. Kagesa was Francis's grandfather, and was a life long supporter of Mr. Tohei, and of Aikido. In 1961, the Founder visited Hawaii to help commemorate the opening of the new dojo in Honolulu. This was the first, and only time Francis had the opportunity to train with the Founder. In 1963, Francis was inducted into the U.S. Army, and was stationed for two years in Chicago, Illinois. He was the second instructor for the fledgling Chicago Aikido Club, succeeding his childhood friend, Chester Sasaki, who had graduated from the University of Illinois, and was entering the Air Force. Francis is currently ranked 7th dan Aikikai, and enjoys a direct affiliation with Aikikai Foundation for the recommending and granting of dan ranks via his organization, Aikikai Associates West Coast. Francis is the current dojo-cho of Aikido Academy in Alhambra, California.
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Old 11-18-2011, 06:13 AM   #2
SeiserL's Avatar
Location: Florida Gulf coast
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 3,902
Re: Rethinking Aikido for the 21st Century

Osu Sensei,

Well said as usual.

IMHO, there must be something here for the art to grow as it has.

What that is, I am not sure I will ever know.

But I will continue to show and train looking for it because something tells me its here somewhere.

Compliments and appreciation.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-18-2011, 09:37 AM   #3
Mary Eastland
Mary Eastland's Avatar
Dojo: Berkshire Hills Aikido
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,476
Re: Rethinking Aikido for the 21st Century

Dear Francis:

My Aikido is revealed on the mat. Though history can give us a starting point, it can't reveal the unfiltered truth. The mysteries are revealed through training. We can slowly unwrap them like my grandmother unwrapped a present on a holiday. She was always mindful to preserve the paper.

Thank you for your offering.

Last edited by Mary Eastland : 11-18-2011 at 09:37 AM. Reason: spelling

Mary Eastland

Dare to Tenkan
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Old 11-18-2011, 06:59 PM   #4
Conrad Gus
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Dojo: Eclipse Budo
Location: Victoria, BC
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 274
Re: Rethinking Aikido for the 21st Century

Your columns are consistently my favorite thing to read on aikiweb. I feel inspired to stay positive and open to the wonder of learning and interaction in aikido.

I believe you've hit the nail directly on the head in the way you describe O Sensei's intentions for the future of aikido, and they also reflect the teachings I received from Inaba Sensei before he died.

Thank you again, Sensei.

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Old 11-19-2011, 06:31 AM   #5
crbateman's Avatar
Location: Orlando, FL
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,502
Re: Rethinking Aikido for the 21st Century

Osu Sensei...

Will we make it? I think so, but there is never a real destination; only stops along the way.

In the meantime, I will be waiting for my next "paradigm shaping epiphany"...

Thanks for another well-considered article. It's good to hear your thoughts, as always.
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Old 01-31-2012, 06:51 AM   #6
Diana Frese
Dojo: Aikikai of S.W. Conn. (formerly)
Location: Stamford Connecticut
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 386
Re: Rethinking Aikido for the 21st Century

Hello again, Francis, for that is what "Father Joe" who visited our little YMCA dojo always called you when he spoke of you... the broad and expansive point of view of your columns give so much to think about that it takes me a while to focus my thoughts on an appropriate comment. But to many of us, each column inspires that we answer in some way. Although there are many subjects that can be found in this column, as in the others, the tone that impressed me the most this time was the heartening, even glorious portrayal of the possibilities for the future.

There has been great sadness at the passing of many over recent years and your columns always remind us to, while paying them our respects, continue on with whatever our own part in the future development of Aikido might be, in whatever aspects are natural to us as individuals, and however we may be able to work together with others.

Well, there's my attempt to put some of my feelings into words. And if I may quote you with thanks for your Hawaiian greeting "Haouli Maka Hiki Hou"

which you translated as "May 2012 bring you joy and fulfillment in abundance" and is meant to be passed on to everyone...
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