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Old 11-28-2011, 12:55 PM   #1
Marc Abrams
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O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

A not-to-distant thread brought up the issue of how much O'Sensei taught at the Hombu Dojo in Tokyo after WWII. Stanley Pranin has recently re-posted something that he wrote a number of years ago, along with an update. I believe that this is a MUST-READ article to help place things in their proper perspective.

http://blog.aikidojournal.com/2011/1...in/#more-10648

If someone would like to dispute Stanley Pranin's position, you will have to provide people with some real historical FACTS to back up something that runs counter to what his many years of historical research has shown.

Marc Abrams
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Old 11-28-2011, 01:56 PM   #2
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

Hi Its a great article but no matter what you will always get a different opinion from Iwama deshi and Hombu deshi. Its well known that most of O'Sensei's time was spent in Iwama teaching and developing Aikido and he did travel lot to his other dojos. Morihiro Saito is famous for saying that O'sensei really only taught in Iwama but demonstrated at the Hombu. im not saying this is def how it was even as an Iwama deshi. But one of the big differences in the 2 are that in Iwama the teacher was O'Sensei or Saito in the Hombu it was Mostly his son or people like Tohei who both made MASSIVE changes to the founders art that he was teaching in Iwama. Im not saying ALL these changes where bad, but these changes happened. I think its better if some of the sempai here speak of there understanding, especially the ones who spent a long time in Japan.

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Old 11-28-2011, 02:50 PM   #3
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

Quote:
Stephen Miller wrote: View Post
Hi Its a great article but no matter what you will always get a different opinion from Iwama deshi and Hombu deshi. Its well known that most of O'Sensei's time was spent in Iwama teaching and developing Aikido and he did travel lot to his other dojos. Morihiro Saito is famous for saying that O'sensei really only taught in Iwama but demonstrated at the Hombu. im not saying this is def how it was even as an Iwama deshi. But one of the big differences in the 2 are that in Iwama the teacher was O'Sensei or Saito in the Hombu it was Mostly his son or people like Tohei who both made MASSIVE changes to the founders art that he was teaching in Iwama. Im not saying ALL these changes where bad, but these changes happened. I think its better if some of the sempai here speak of there understanding, especially the ones who spent a long time in Japan.
Stephen:

Even Mr. Pranin stated that Saito Sensei was NOT doing O'Sensei's Aikido, but his techniques were faithful reproductions of what O'Sensei taught. Changes happened because there appeared to be no direct attempt by O'Sensei to systematically pass on all that he knew, even to Saito Sensei. Compound that with the reality that even thought O'Sensei spent a lot of time in Iwama, he was traveling extensively. The lack of continuity of teaching in a systematic manner, over a long period of time led to people studying under him to pick up parts of what they saw, felt and were taught and they ran with it to the best of their abilities. The sharing within and outside of our community is (in my opinion) an essential component in trying to bring our own practice closer to the source. Too many heated debates occur when people try and assume that their own teachers were the one's that "got it" and that questioning them is next to heresy.

Marc Abrams
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Old 11-28-2011, 02:54 PM   #4
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

Totally agree with you, the only person who could do O'sensei's Aikido died in 1969.
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Old 11-28-2011, 02:58 PM   #5
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

Quote:
Stephen Miller wrote: View Post
Hi Its a great article but no matter what you will always get a different opinion from Iwama deshi and Hombu deshi. Its well known that most of O'Sensei's time was spent in Iwama teaching and developing Aikido and he did travel lot to his other dojos. Morihiro Saito is famous for saying that O'sensei really only taught in Iwama but demonstrated at the Hombu. im not saying this is def how it was even as an Iwama deshi. But one of the big differences in the 2 are that in Iwama the teacher was O'Sensei or Saito in the Hombu it was Mostly his son or people like Tohei who both made MASSIVE changes to the founders art that he was teaching in Iwama. Im not saying ALL these changes where bad, but these changes happened. I think its better if some of the sempai here speak of there understanding, especially the ones who spent a long time in Japan.
It was nearly the same in Iwama. Saito was perhaps the one with the most amount of time, but even then, it wasn't extensive. There were only two training periods per day.

Morihei's daily schedule in Iwama in those years:
7:00-9:00 A.M.: Aikido training followed by a simple breakfast.
4:00P.M.-6:00P.M. Aikido training.

Now, that might seem like a lot but consider that Ueshiba split his time between Iwama and Tokyo. Not only that, but he traveled extensively and entertained guests regularly.
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Old 11-28-2011, 03:01 PM   #6
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
It was nearly the same in Iwama. Saito was perhaps the one with the most amount of time, but even then, it wasn't extensive. There were only two training periods per day.

Morihei's daily schedule in Iwama in those years:
7:00-9:00 A.M.: Aikido training followed by a simple breakfast.
4:00P.M.-6:00P.M. Aikido training.

Now, that might seem like a lot but consider that Ueshiba split his time between Iwama and Tokyo. Not only that, but he traveled extensively and entertained guests regularly.
Add to that - in Iwama it was often the case that the actual instruction would actually be performed by Morihiro Saito, while Ueshiba observed.

Best,

Chris

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Old 11-28-2011, 03:10 PM   #7
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Add to that - in Iwama it was often the case that the actual instruction would actually be performed by Morihiro Saito, while Ueshiba observed.

Best,

Chris
Again we dont know how OFTEN this happened unless you have evidence? From what I was told this was only in the later years in Iwama.
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Old 11-28-2011, 03:17 PM   #8
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

One thing Ive learnt over the years is its NEVER the style or school that is wrong but the teacher and there understanding of the principles.
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Old 11-28-2011, 03:19 PM   #9
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Stephen Miller wrote: View Post
Again we dont know how OFTEN this happened unless you have evidence? From what I was told this was only in the later years in Iwama.
Well of course, there were periods of time when Saito was out working - but I've been given to understand that it was fairly common. Then again, given Ueshiba's teaching style I wonder how much actual hands on there was for the average student even when he was actually the active instructor. Saito's main advantage was as a crash test dummy during Ueshiba's personal training and research.

Best,

Chris

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Old 11-28-2011, 03:44 PM   #10
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Well of course, there were periods of time when Saito was out working - but I've been given to understand that it was fairly common. Then again, given Ueshiba's teaching style I wonder how much actual hands on there was for the average student even when he was actually the active instructor. Saito's main advantage was as a crash test dummy during Ueshiba's personal training and research.

Best,

Chris
Chris:

You raise an excellent point! The main modality from learning from the teacher was what could the "crash test dummy" glean from the "crash" ! Still that way with my teacher most of the time. Direct questions lead to more examples (= crashes ) and few words. Stealing the technique was never meant to be easy......

Marc Abrams
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Old 11-28-2011, 03:51 PM   #11
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Stephen:

Even Mr. Pranin stated that Saito Sensei was NOT doing O'Sensei's Aikido, but his techniques were faithful reproductions of what O'Sensei taught. Changes happened because there appeared to be no direct attempt by O'Sensei to systematically pass on all that he knew, even to Saito Sensei. Compound that with the reality that even thought O'Sensei spent a lot of time in Iwama, he was traveling extensively. The lack of continuity of teaching in a systematic manner, over a long period of time led to people studying under him to pick up parts of what they saw, felt and were taught and they ran with it to the best of their abilities. The sharing within and outside of our community is (in my opinion) an essential component in trying to bring our own practice closer to the source. Too many heated debates occur when people try and assume that their own teachers were the one's that "got it" and that questioning them is next to heresy.

Marc Abrams
Yep. Personally I regard O-Sensei's Aikido as something that essentially died with him and I can't square his behavior with someone who was interested in passing on what he knew. To me it's felt for a long time that he was focused on doing his own thing and just what that thing is people don't really seem to be sure of which leaves us in a Meno's paradox position: we don't know what he was doing so how can we reconstruct it and are we sure we would find any value in it?
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Old 11-28-2011, 04:12 PM   #12
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

There is a curious section in an interview with Minoru Mochizuki. It appears on pp. 117-118 of Stan Pranin's earlier volume Aikido Masters and on p. 91 of Aikido Pioneers. Mochizuki relates a request from Morihei Ueshiba to discuss with Minoru Hirai about returning to Tokyo after the war and getting 'the Ushigome Dojo back for O Sensei.' I myself believe that Morihei Ueshiba had handed over the Tokyo Dojo to Kisshomaru in 1942, when he moved to Iwama. Whether he expected the Tokyo dojo to survive the war is moot, but it did survive and, being located in Tokyo, would naturally come to be regarded as the Hombu. The crucial point would be Morihei Ueshiba's regular place on the daily teaching schedule: the first class every morning and the final class on Fridays. I suspect that Kisshomaru had this place right from 1942.

The point for this thread is that Morihei Ueshiba had been displaced from the administration of the dojo and was regarded in the same way as the grandparents in an extended Japanese family. Yes, there is some power, but this is concentrated in the hands of the son. There is a very poignant section in Shimazaki Toson's Yoake-mae, where the grandfather wonders if he did the right thing in handing things over to the son in the way he did. The situation was repeated with Kisshomaru and the present Doshu, who both lived in the same house (next to the Hombu at 17-19 Wakamatsu-cho). But I know from experience that Kisshomaru kept the power in his own hands and was closely involved with Hombu administration right to the end. Now, Mitsuteru has moved out and established his own house.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 11-28-2011, 04:51 PM   #13
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
There is a curious section in an interview with Minoru Mochizuki. It appears on pp. 117-118 of Stan Pranin's earlier volume Aikido Masters and on p. 91 of Aikido Pioneers. Mochizuki relates a request from Morihei Ueshiba to discuss with Minoru Hirai about returning to Tokyo after the war and getting 'the Ushigome Dojo back for O Sensei.'
And what follows is very interesting

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=654

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Old 11-28-2011, 05:35 PM   #14
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

http://www.aikidokids.hu/eng/media/readings4.htm

Interview with MICHIO HIKITSUCHI SENSEI, which goes quite contrary to the efforts are revisionism propagated by Pranin Sensei and others. If we take this passage from the narrative from Pranin Sensei, for example:

"Some have said that the Founder’s art changed greatly over the years and that this accounts for the differences in the techniques of his students who learned during different periods. Others state that O-Sensei would teach different things to different students according to their character and ability. I have never found either of these arguments to be particularly persuasive. In fact, when I discovered the old 1935 Asahi News film many years ago I was surprised at how “modern” the Founder’s art was even at that early stage. Moreover, the Founder usually taught groups of students, not individuals, and this fact does not lend support to the theory that he adapted his instruction to the needs of individual students."

We see that for evidence he provides: 1) he never found either of the arguments to be particularly persuasive and 2) he found the Asahi New film to look "modern." His not being persuaded is not conclusive and the Asahi film footage was artificially speeded up in translation... that is to say it is more static than flowing at the proper speeds.

I am not interested in debating this with those who have their minds made up and are trying to prove their case. I am speaking past them to others out there in the Aikido world who might be taken in by this. The fact that O Sensei did not teach every class and traveled often does not prove that he did not supervise the Aikido development of Doshu and a number of senior instructors. His supervision did not need to be on the mat all or even most of the time. This is not unusual. We all teach on and off the mat, giving pointers, giving talks, and hands on demonstrating. If we had the full transcripts of all the interviews that Pranin Sensei conducted I suspect that they would often be as the one with Hikitsuchi Sensei, that is to say that they would almost certainly, if asked, state that O Sensei guided Aikido's development after the war and that this future development was improvement.
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Old 11-28-2011, 05:47 PM   #15
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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The fact that O Sensei did not teach every class and traveled often does not prove that he did not supervise the Aikido development of Doshu and a number of senior instructors.
But it proves the opposite, isn't it?

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Old 11-28-2011, 06:14 PM   #16
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

"The only thing of value Osensei ever taught, was how to relax."
Seemingly that transmission has been lost too...

-Doug Walker
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Old 11-28-2011, 07:49 PM   #17
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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which goes quite contrary to the efforts are revisionism propagated by Pranin Sensei and others.
The statement represents to me profound ignorance of the overwhelming fact that until Stanley Pranin started doing research into Aikido, NO independent research had been done up until that point in time. Until Stanley Pranin did what he did, there were a lot of uncorroborated stories, myths, etc.. No one in the Aikido world has done as much as he has in establishing facts in Aikido and Daito Ryu. He has interviews more people, reviewed more documents and has cataloged more information about these arts than he can handle at least in his life time. If someone would like to debate Stanley Pranin on the history of our art, go right ahead.....

Marc Abrams
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Old 11-29-2011, 12:05 AM   #18
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

From an unpublished (in English) interview with Yoshio Kuroiwa, who started training at hombu dojo in 1954 and was one of the strongest practitioners in the hombu of the 50's and 60's:

Quote:
Q: Did you see the Founder at practice?
A: About once a month. He spent most of the time in Iwama, and would just show up unexpectedly at times. He'd appear suddenly, show about two techniques, and then disappear into the back. He would not give us any oral instruction. He'd say "If I show a technique twice it will be stolen", and only show each technique one time. He often said "Technique is not something you are taught, it is something you steal". It was really a kind of contradictory behavior. Anyway, at one time you'd just see him for about 10 minutes.
Best,

Chris

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Old 11-29-2011, 06:51 AM   #19
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

http://simonechierchini.wordpress.co...-saito-part-1/
http://simonechierchini.wordpress.co...partie-partie/

This is an interview with Hitohira Saito about the relationship between Saito and Ueshiba, and also about teaching after WW2. Part 1 is in English Part 2 is in French.
Some remarkable items are in this interview.

Eddy
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:23 AM   #20
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
There is a curious section in an interview with Minoru Mochizuki. It appears on pp. 117-118 of Stan Pranin's earlier volume Aikido Masters and on p. 91 of Aikido Pioneers. Mochizuki relates a request from Morihei Ueshiba to discuss with Minoru Hirai about returning to Tokyo after the war and getting 'the Ushigome Dojo back for O Sensei.' I myself believe that Morihei Ueshiba had handed over the Tokyo Dojo to Kisshomaru in 1942, when he moved to Iwama. Whether he expected the Tokyo dojo to survive the war is moot, but it did survive and, being located in Tokyo, would naturally come to be regarded as the Hombu. The crucial point would be Morihei Ueshiba's regular place on the daily teaching schedule: the first class every morning and the final class on Fridays. I suspect that Kisshomaru had this place right from 1942.

The point for this thread is that Morihei Ueshiba had been displaced from the administration of the dojo and was regarded in the same way as the grandparents in an extended Japanese family. Yes, there is some power, but this is concentrated in the hands of the son. There is a very poignant section in Shimazaki Toson's Yoake-mae, where the grandfather wonders if he did the right thing in handing things over to the son in the way he did. The situation was repeated with Kisshomaru and the present Doshu, who both lived in the same house (next to the Hombu at 17-19 Wakamatsu-cho). But I know from experience that Kisshomaru kept the power in his own hands and was closely involved with Hombu administration right to the end. Now, Mitsuteru has moved out and established his own house.

Best wishes,

PAG
Peter:

That is an important piece of information that is not well-known outside of Japan. I think that another interesting aspect with Aikido is also the lack of an established means of passing on all of the art onto a successor. This is a common practice in koryu and in traditional Chinese martial arts. This practice does not seem to have roots in Gendai Budo. I wonder if you have any cultural information that might shed some light on this apparent phenomenon? Certainly, Takeda Sensei was paranoid (delusional disorder or paranoid personality?) and did not have the personality to be able to remain settled and focused on passing on all aspects of his art onto a successor. O'Sensei certainly did not appear to be focused on the continuity of his art. Given that this seems to be somewhat common in Gendai Budo, I wonder what might factors might contribute to this.

Marc Abrams
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Old 11-29-2011, 09:22 AM   #21
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

This Jibes with many "unofficial" commentaries that were made from his prewar deshi, to their own student bases. Any number of whom essentially went and saw what Kisshomaru and Tohei were doing and simply said... that was not aikido.

Further comment from another previously untranslated interview with Kuroiwa (1950-60's deshi).
Q: Did you sit at the same table with the Founder and Sawai Sensei and Oyama Sensei?
A: No, but I did overhear Oyama Sensei say "Aikido will disappear after Ueshiba Sensei dies". I also believe that to be the truth.

...I think that today's Aikido basics are mostly Yamaguchi Sensei's showy Aikido. Maybe about 95 percent.

From 2004. A Koryu teacher who received nidan under Ueshiba
"I recognized that energy work you are doing. When O sensei would show up everything would stop and we would do that. They don't teach that anymore you know. It's not in Modern aikido!"

Shirata, as well as Shioda's opinions echo the above.

Of course none of this is going to go over easy, or be met with joy. Stan noted in his column that too many of the post war deshi had-for whatever reason- made quite show in America and Europe about their close relationship and daily training with Ueshiba to an unknowing, wide eyed, foreign audience. This was compounded with these new foreign students (themselves now senior teachers) lapped it all up and have over the years repeated these stories to their own students.

Poor Stan. First the myths about Ueshiba's past training. Kisshomaru's attempts to bury the Daito ryu story, and then finding out the big named foreign teachers dispatched had about 5-6 years under the belts. Then this stuff. Who wants to be the guy to go tell them their beloved Japanese sensei was telling tales. It's one thing to be able to culturally uhm....tell a story... if your Japanese, quite another if you have hundreds of students repeating these tall tales and believing their teacher had a profound relationship with the founder. Then Stan realizing many really don't want to know. They actually prefer the myth!

There was some discussion by our Mr. McGrew about Stan.
Quote:
Ken McGrew wrote:
which goes quite contrary to the efforts are revisionism propagated by Pranin Sensei and others.
Has it dawned on people that no one was more shocked THAN Stan when he started researching? Or that for a long time period it hurt his Aikido career? Did anyone know that Saito was approached by Hombu to try to reign Stanly in and control this information? I find it all so typical to attack the person who is telling you the truth and giving you information-particularly when it was so many who were in charge, who were obfuscating and exagerating events to boost themselves and their position. So typical.

Clearly the more profound issue should be- just what the heck is this stuff everyone has been doing? We now know Ueshiba was discussing internal training principles and pushing and pulling and trying to explain it to an uninformed and largely self-admittedly, uncaring audience more interested in cranking wrists.
From a previously untranslated interview with Tamura
Tamura, noted that Mochizuki once told him (pre war to post war deshi
"What you people are doing is not the real Aikido."

Last edited by DH : 11-29-2011 at 09:37 AM.
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Old 11-29-2011, 11:43 AM   #22
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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It's one thing to be able to culturally uhm....tell a story... if your Japanese, quite another if you have hundreds of students repeating these tall tales and believing their teacher had a profound relationship with the founder. Then Stan realizing many really don't want to know. They actually prefer the myth!
Seconded.

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Old 11-29-2011, 11:56 AM   #23
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
He has interviews more people, reviewed more documents and has cataloged more information about these arts than he can handle at least in his life time. If someone would like to debate Stanley Pranin on the history of our art, go right ahead.....
Pass the popcorn, please... :-)

Katherine
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Old 11-29-2011, 11:59 AM   #24
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

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Dan Harden wrote: View Post
Poor Stan. First the myths about Ueshiba's past training. Kisshomaru's attempts to bury the Daito ryu story, and then finding out the big named foreign teachers dispatched had about 5-6 years under the belts. Then this stuff. Who wants to be the guy to go tell them their beloved Japanese sensei was telling tales. It's one thing to be able to culturally uhm....tell a story... if your Japanese, quite another if you have hundreds of students repeating these tall tales and believing their teacher had a profound relationship with the founder. Then Stan realizing many really don't want to know. They actually prefer the myth!
Of course they do! As do most humans everywhere. Being associated with a glamorous story is almost always more desirable than associating with a prosaic reality.

Katherine
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Old 11-29-2011, 12:20 PM   #25
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Re: O'Sensei teaching Aikido at the Hombu Dojo after WWII

An interesting passage from http://www.nippon-kan.org/senseis_ar...interview.html

Quote:
Morihiro Saito Sensei: At the end of the war, there were many uchi deshi living at Hombu Dojo. For the most part, those people are very old or have already passed away. After the war ended, the Founder lived mostly at Iwama, going to Tokyo for only special ceremonies or events…Of the last generation of students to study directly under the Founder, many who say they were his uchi deshi were actually 2nd or 3rd dan shidoin [assistant instructors] at Hombu Dojo. Most received the equivalent of about two hundred dollars a month salary, lived in cheap apartments near the dojo, and came to the dojo only for practice. These kayoi deshi [students who lived outside the dojo] did not take care of the Founder. Except when they were assisting him as uke, the kayoi deshi were not allowed near him. The Founder commanded that much respect. Many now say that they were close to the Founder, but that was not actually the case. Late in the Founder’s life, just before he passed away, even high-ranking shihan were only allowed to offer greetings; they were not even in the position to engage him in conversation. The Founder did not want to have many people close to him, and there were really very few who personally took care of him.
Best,

Chris

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