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Old 08-17-2004, 12:26 PM   #26
aikidofan
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ueshiba and chinese martial arts

I understand some people like Bruce Frantzis say that Ueshiba learnt some ba gua zhang during the war. Indeed Ueshiba was a professor of martial arts at Kenkoku university in Manchuria for a few years so he must have had exposure to them. Then again some people say that Daito Ryu can be very soft and men like Horikawa were just like Ueshiba so he was not unique in Japan.

I was wondering whether people here think that Ueshiba might have learnt some internal material from the chinese. Certainly his approach is markedly different pre and post WWII and so this is one possible explanation amongst others.

What exactly are these similarities then and how do people think Ueshiba's aikido differs from the chinese internal martial arts
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Old 08-17-2004, 12:35 PM   #27
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

From what I have read, it is highly unlikely that O Sensei learned any CMA. One reason is that relations between the Japanese and Chinese peoples during that time were not good. Also, a great deal of his time in Manchuria was spent hiding and running away from aggressive locals.

An explanation about similarities between Japanese and Chinese (or other countries') martial arts is that the human body will only move in certain ways. As such, there are bound to be similarities.

Robert Cronin
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Old 08-17-2004, 12:41 PM   #28
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

I have always thought of aikido as A (not THE) practical application of tai chi. I have made it a point to supplement my aikido training with the Yang Family form. I also thought it was interesting that Tamura Sensei, who spent a great deal of time with O'Sensei, demonstrated tai chi (chi gung) as a warm up during camp.
I think there may be something to the idea that O'Sensei used the principles if not a specific form of Chinese internal arts.
Whether it's tai chi, yoga, or ba gua, having an internal practice is very important in gaining a higher understanding of aikido.
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Old 08-17-2004, 12:46 PM   #29
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

More previous discussion on this subject iin a "similar thread" (as listed below) here:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2098

-- Jun

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Old 08-17-2004, 01:11 PM   #30
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

Quote:
Peter Strafford wrote:
I was wondering whether people here think that Ueshiba might have learnt some internal material from the chinese. Certainly his approach is markedly different pre and post WWII and so this is one possible explanation amongst others.
Tetsutaka Sugawara Sensei has a multi-volume work on the connection between aikido and CMA.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 08-17-2004, 01:12 PM   #31
Ron Tisdale
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

This is one of those topics that comes up continually, in spite of the fact that there is no substantiation whatsoever that I have ever seen. AikdoJournal also has threads on it.

Ron

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Old 08-17-2004, 03:24 PM   #32
Charles Hill
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

Abe Sensei said in an interview that M.U. did learn chinese arts when he was there. I considered the whole idea a lot of poo until I read that. I believe that it is at Matuoka Sensei's web site

Charles.
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Old 08-17-2004, 06:56 PM   #33
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

Quote:
Charles Hill wrote:
Abe Sensei said in an interview that M.U. did learn chinese arts when he was there. I considered the whole idea a lot of poo until I read that. I believe that it is at Matsuoka Sensei's web site

Charles.

Abe Sensei says many things that which unfortunately few people choose to listen. Much like O-Sensei, in that regard, I guess. In the case to which you are referring, he made the following comments to Stanley Pranin, of Aikido Journal. Interestingly enough, this was only released in the Japanese version of Aiki-News, so wasn't readily available to the masses until the (unfortunately rather unpolished) translation appeared on Matsuoka Sensei's Aikido Doshinokai Dojo website.




Quote:
Abe Seiseki Sensei, 10th dan wrote:


Abe: When Mr. Deguchi went to Mongolia (year of 1924), he took close aides along with him. He asked O-Sensei to go with him. It looked as if he was taken as a guard. But, in fact, O-Sensei just wanted to study about continental martial arts furthermore after he went through all martial art schools in Japan.

He went there as a warrior. He wanted to study continental martial art, what is now called Tai Chi, from Mongolia and after that, he tried to enhance Aikido more.



--- Do you mean that the trip to Mongolia gave great influence to O-Sensei?



Abe: Yes, it was for martial arts. I think he had foresight. O-Sensei thoroughly studied Tai Chi. There were many Tai Chi schools, and he had chances to see something great in Mongolia.

I followed same path (Laughter). The era was different, though. I have visited Beijing two times. The first time was for studying about Calligraphy. I mainly organized the second trip. Although I wanted to know about martial arts and Tai Chi, everyone else went there for Calligraphy.

When I went there, I said, "I do Calligraphy besides Aikido." and demonstrated Aikido. One of the audiences said to me, "I have studied Tai Chi from my father since I was 2 or 3 years old. As I was very touched your technique, I would like you to see my Tai Chi, please." And he showed it to me. It was completely different from Tai Chi people do at the streets. This was a special technique. It is as same as special technique of Aikido.
I visited with Abe Sensei shortly after this and an earlier article were published. We had previously discussed the ramifications of this and other strongly held misconceptions that continue to be fed to the aikido public by individuals who not only claim some level of "authority" on the subject, but whose same misunderstandings, inaccuracies, opinions or, um lies many unfortunate people take as sermons by disciples elucidating a learned version of the New O-Sensei Gospel, abridged version…. As always, he merely laughed, and made a joke about how back in the day most didn't make the effort to understand what O-Sensei had spent a lifetime pursuing, so it is not surprising to him that people today didn't understand when he himself, repeated it. "No one wanted to listen to the old man babble!" Rather, "Everyone wanted to do Kao-Tsuki Suwari Iriminage ura waza, instead. No matter how much things seem to change they really often stay the same.

Abe Sensei noted that O-Sensei laid out a very clear path through the end of the 60's and he and several other somewhat reclusive individuals have been doing the same thing ever since. He commented specifically about the path that has been artificially narrowed, so much so that in most cases, it precludes much of the core of what O-Sensei demonstrated Aikido to be, and leaves so much of something, well… else. He went on to say quite a bit on quite a few things. Oh, if the flies on the wall had written it all down. How much revenue might no longer finds its way into certain well oiled, machine-like coffers? Empires crumble, peddles head backwards… If you want all the gory details, you'll just have to buy the book! Someday, but not today.

I no longer participate in or read the discussion forums here on AikiWeb due to the unfair and uneven treatment of people by the owner/administrator.
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Old 08-17-2004, 07:08 PM   #34
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

Quote:
Peter Strafford wrote:
Indeed Ueshiba was a professor of martial arts at Kenkoku university in Manchuria for a few years so he must have had exposure to them.
Ueshiba M. visited Tomiki K.for a short time while the latter was teaching martial arts at Kenkuko university.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-17-2004, 07:21 PM   #35
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

Quote:
Shaun Ravens wrote:
Abe Sensei says many things that which unfortunately few people choose to listen. Much like O-Sensei, in that regard, I guess. In the case to which you are referring, he made the following comments to Stanley Pranin, of Aikido Journal. Interestingly enough, this was only released in the Japanese version of Aiki-News, so wasn't readily available to the masses until the (unfortunately rather unpolished) translation appeared on Matsuoka Sensei's Aikido Doshinokai Dojo website.
I'd note that Abe didn't meet Ueshiba until 1952, so the events he's referring to are one's that he's heard of or been told about, not ones that he experienced first-hand. People who were there at the time have had different things to say.

In any case, this issue has been covered in some detail in other threads, and Ron's right - there's been no substantive evidence revealed for a Chinese influence. There have also been a number of fairly convincing arguments for the other side, and negative testaments from such figures as Morihiro Saito and Kisshomaru Ueshiba.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-17-2004, 07:41 PM   #36
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

Kenji Tomiki joined Ueshiba M. about 2 years after the Mongolian fiasco and was Ueshiba M.'s host during his trips to Manchuko. From this end I have not heard of Ueshiba M. studying Chinese MA although I am sure that he had an interest and did see some demonstrations especially in the 1940s.

Statements like O-Sensei thoroughly studied Tai Chi and after he went through all martial art schools in Japan (translation inaccuracies aside) are matters of interpretation.

I tend to be very careful using terms like lies.

Last edited by PeterR : 08-17-2004 at 07:44 PM.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-23-2004, 11:58 AM   #37
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

To state that someone ""thoroughly studied tia chi chuan" implies at least several years of study, since tai chi chuan is as or possibly more complex and difficult to gain proficiency in than aikido. I know this because I studied tai chi chuan for over twelve years before I took up aikido. However, YMMV.

Robert Cronin
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Old 08-26-2004, 08:35 AM   #38
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

I'm not all too knowledgeable about the history surrounding this debate, but I do have a somewhat funny aside that is related:

During my last trip to China for gongfu training, my teacher asked me to demonstrate some aikido techniques. After doing a few I could muster up under pressure, he gave a reply that I had heard before in China: "Ah yes! That is Baquazhang! Nice job Jesse!" Similarly, everyday when practicing basic techniques, my coaches would crack jokes about my "baquazhang." Of course, they stopped cracking jokes after I had snapped one of them down with ushiro-ate (and a lot of luck) during free wrestling. So, instead of telling people in China that I practice heqidao (aikido in Chinese), which usually instigates some discussion on Sino-Japanese relations, I have given up and will from now on just tell them that I practice baquazhang. Meh.
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Old 08-26-2004, 06:46 PM   #39
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

Quote:
Jesse Pasley wrote:
Of course, they stopped cracking jokes after I had snapped one of them down with ushiro-ate
That makes me all tingly just thinking about it. Great technique what?

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-01-2004, 03:45 AM   #40
Mark Balogh
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

Hi everyone,

In the other thread (2098) Christopher Li says this...

Nice argument, but I don't buy it. There is very little of a technical nature in Aikido that isn't also present in Daito-ryu, including all the things that he mentioned. I'm still fairly sure that Sokaku Takeda didn't spend much time in China.

I'd like to say that I have done very little Bagua, but I have done some at least. I have also studied a reasonable amount of Daito Ryu. From what I can tell, all movement in Daito Ryu was originally COMPLETELY linear and Okabayashi Shogen is a massive advocator of this. The dragon walking in Bagua has what I could describe as "little tenkan's" in. Whatever arguement there is about history, IMHO it is clear that Bagua has at least had a significant influence on Aikido footwork.

O'sensei also has done things in demonstrations that I have not seen other japanese martial artists do, at least not the same way. Their is a common technique in Yoshinkan Aikido where the uke runs in and makes contact with tori's shoulders from the front. Gozo Shioda can be seen in many demo's projecting the person away very impressively!!! However, when I have seen O'sensei do this, it looks very different, softer in a way. My friend showed his Chi Gung teacher the video of O'sensei and he said that it was a common Chi Gung method of using your breath and body like a balloon.

I think in the case of O'sensei and the influence of Chinese Martial Arts upon Aikido, I feel that there is never this much smoke without any fire.
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Old 09-01-2004, 10:44 AM   #41
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

Quote:
Mark Balogh wrote:
I'd like to say that I have done very little Bagua, but I have done some at least. I have also studied a reasonable amount of Daito Ryu. From what I can tell, all movement in Daito Ryu was originally COMPLETELY linear and Okabayashi Shogen is a massive advocator of this. The dragon walking in Bagua has what I could describe as "little tenkan's" in. Whatever arguement there is about history, IMHO it is clear that Bagua has at least had a significant influence on Aikido footwork.
Somewhere there's a post by Ellis Amdur explaining why, despite some surface similarities, it is not clear at all. In any case, I think that it's hard to make an firm conclusion based on the "looks like" line or reasoning.

Circle's are generally, but not always, smaller in Daito-ryu - but it's not uncommon to see circular movement indistinguishable from Aikido even in the "orthodox" Daito-ryu schools.

Quote:
Mark Balogh wrote:
O'sensei also has done things in demonstrations that I have not seen other japanese martial artists do, at least not the same way. Their is a common technique in Yoshinkan Aikido where the uke runs in and makes contact with tori's shoulders from the front. Gozo Shioda can be seen in many demo's projecting the person away very impressively!!! However, when I have seen O'sensei do this, it looks very different, softer in a way. My friend showed his Chi Gung teacher the video of O'sensei and he said that it was a common Chi Gung method of using your breath and body like a balloon.
The "looks like" argument again. Does it matter that they do this technique in Daito-ryu as well?

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-01-2004, 11:43 AM   #42
Ron Tisdale
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

Quote:
The "looks like" argument again. Does it matter that they do this technique in Daito-ryu as well?
Unfortunately, probably not. Sloppy thinking leads to sloppy results. No offense, yada yada yada...

Ron

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Old 09-02-2004, 03:08 AM   #43
Mark Balogh
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

I enjoyed reading your reply Christopher, you obviously have something to bring to the table. From what I understand, circular footwork came into Daito Ryu AFTER Sokaku Takeda. His son did not practice circular footwork either. Is it possible that Ueshiba brought this into Daito Ryu?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
Somewhere there's a post by Ellis Amdur explaining why, despite some surface similarities, it is not clear at all.
Can anyone please find a link to this article, I would be interested in reading it. Thanks.
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Old 09-02-2004, 07:37 AM   #44
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

Hi !

The other day training with a fellow doka ,he told me that at seminar during break he was doing
some Tai Chi form , it must have been a couple of years ago ,Nishio sensei and his danish translater
came into the hall,and Nishio sensei lit up by seing that ,the translater told him that Nishio sensei
had accompanied O´sensei on travels in China and O´sensei had been very enthusiastic about Tai Chi. Since Nishio sensei started his Aikido training in 1952 ,this probably happened some years later.

Unfortunately that is all I can add.

yours - Chr:B.
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Old 09-02-2004, 09:15 AM   #45
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

Interesting concepts.

This reminds me of something Bruce Lee said in an interview regarding all human beings having 2 arms and 2 legs, so movements will be similar regardless of what martial art one is doing as long as they are trying to achieve a similar objective from a particular principle of movement. I tihnk this sort of helped his idea of having no structure as structure.

In studying a bit of Taiji Qin Na I have found some very similar movements to Aikido's kansetsu waza (joint technique) mainly. Of course my Taiji instructor said the Aikido movements I was doing were the same as Taijiquan and he also indicated that there was some historical link between the Chinese arts and Aikido. The same thing happened when I studied Qi Gong under a Chinese master. When I showed him some of my Aikido he said, Aikido is Qi Gong.

On the reverse side I have attended a Shaolin Qin Na workshop and at one point the guy proceeded to show a variation of Rear Naked Stranglehold Tenkai Kotehineri (Sankyo) with an atemi to the groin and called it an "Aikido" technique. Again, this was an attempt to show the "common foundations" of the different arts.

On another note, the Judo principles used for kuzushi and many of the throws are the same for many Aikido technique, except that the distance used is different.

Personally, I have gone from believing there is a historical Chinese link between all of these arts (even going wayyy back to the study of Aiki In Yo Ho by the Aizu monks and its roots in Taoism and Tai Chi), to seeing it as common principles expressed via a common medium of expression. If the human body is supposed to apply circles and straight lines to achieve certain tactical advantages in unarmed combat, then because of the similarities in the concepts/principles used and the general sameness of the medium involved (i.e. the human body in a vertical plane), there will be overlap.

But this is because of the limitations of the human body and the similarity in principles. Its sort of why a bubble is spherical in shape and so is a planet. The same laws of physics (generally) apply to both things, with the spherical shape being the most efficient form to be used to achieve a similar purpose. Martial arts are also based on the principles of efficiency in achieveing certain tactical objectives in combat.

Its the same way we see similarities in Graeco-Roman wrestling, Judo, BJJ and other forms of floor grappling. Similar principles, same medium of expression.

Just my thoughts on the thing.
LC

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Old 09-02-2004, 09:30 AM   #46
Mark Balogh
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

This is turning out to be a very constructive thread!

The question that this really leads me to is, are there training methods or skills within chinese internal arts that could help develop our Aikido? Something similar to Tohei believing that Ki training was required? Having seen the abilities of some of these Chinese martial artists I would say yes, although I think if they saw Tada Sensei even their jaws would drop!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 09-02-2004, 10:11 AM   #47
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

Having done both Ki Aikido and Tai Chi, I came to believe that the desired results were the same- unification of the mind and body. I found the moving meditation of Tai Chi more to my liking but the principles of moving from your center, staying relaxed, dropping your breath (weight underside), and flowing (ki is extended) were the same.
I think you can also achieve this from pure yoga, pilates, chi gung, or meditation.
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Old 09-02-2004, 01:59 PM   #48
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

Quote:
Christian Boddum wrote:
Hi !

The other day training with a fellow doka ,he told me that at seminar during break he was doing
some Tai Chi form , it must have been a couple of years ago ,Nishio sensei and his danish translater
came into the hall,and Nishio sensei lit up by seing that ,the translater told him that Nishio sensei
had accompanied O´sensei on travels in China and O´sensei had been very enthusiastic about Tai Chi. Since Nishio sensei started his Aikido training in 1952 ,this probably happened some years later.

Unfortunately that is all I can add.

yours - Chr:B.
Quite likely a mistake by the translator - AFAIK, Morihei Ueshiba made no trips to China after the war.

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-02-2004, 02:03 PM   #49
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

Quote:
Mark Balogh wrote:
I enjoyed reading your reply Christopher, you obviously have something to bring to the table. From what I understand, circular footwork came into Daito Ryu AFTER Sokaku Takeda. His son did not practice circular footwork either. Is it possible that Ueshiba brought this into Daito Ryu?
For a number of reasons, I think that is highly unlikely.


Quote:
Mark Balogh wrote:
Can anyone please find a link to this article, I would be interested in reading it. Thanks.

Here's a reposting from the Aikido Journal thread:

To return to the original subject, I think K. Frantzis' assertion is extremely dubious for a number of reasons.

1. Bagua is perhaps the most dificult Chinese martial art to learn, particularly in terms of application. The circular walking, with the particular "wringing" tension through the spine takes many thousands of hours to master - and quite a bit of meticulous instruction and correction. Despite what Mr. Frantzis states, (and notwithstanding his own skill in Bagua), I think the similarities are only superficial - yes, Bagua and aikido have some throws and locks that are similar, but Ueshiba shows none of the very specific qualities of movement that well-trained practitioners of Bagua display. His knees aren't bent, the torso and feet are never "twisted in opposite directions" in the wringing manner I refer to, and aikido, unlike bagua, is straightforward - uke attacks and nage throws. Bagua includes strikes with every unique parameters, and often a dynamic reciprocal exchange with both people attacking and defending in very subtle ways.

2. Ueshiba K. has been asked this question directly, and he stated that his father showed no interest in Chinese martial arts. (Perhaps, one will say, this is more politics, but none of the uchi-deshi, all of whom had to get up in the middle of the night to attend to Ueshiba and/or train with him in aiki, in weapons, etc., ever recalls him walking the circle. Note too, that in the 1950's. and early 1960's, Japan was so ignorant of Chinese martial arts that in a set of law suits between Sato Kimbei (a pioneer of bringing genuine Chinese martial arts to Japan) and the Shorinji Kempo organization, the latter, in attacking Sato, accused him of making up the existence of Bagua and Hsingi, claiming that neither existed any longer in China. Other than t'ai chi and the mythical shaolin (shorinji), almost no one in Japan had heard of the variety of Chinese martial arts. Wang Shu Chin, Sato's first major teacher, was always referred to as a t'ai chi teacher, even though he used that art to teach beginners - he was a hsingi, bagua instructor.

Ueshiba, in the 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's could easily have "walked the circle" and done the palm changes and when his students asked what he was doing, could have said he learned it from the Tengu and no one would have been the wiser.

3. In most of Ueshiba's known trips to China, he was a dignitary. Where could he have found the privacy to have taken lessons in such an esoteric art - I've travelled with Japanese teachers in "official trips" and it's very hard to ever be alone. Remember, Ueshiba is not known to have spoken Chinese. He would have somehow had to a) sneak out, find a Bagua master or be found by one and with no language in common, be taught b) do it publicly, which defeats the thesis.

4. Ueshiba is, however, known to have observed Chinese martial arts. There is (perhaps deceased now) a man by the name of Takeda, who in the 1930's lived in Beijing, and studied a soft-style martial art called Tom Bei Ch'uan ("Thru the back" boxing), a style of pugilism which makes the "center" between the shoulder blades, and does rapid trapping and slapping, but at a crouch and longer range than, say, Wing Chun. This art, though once again popular in China, (taught in Japan - teacher is named Tsunematsu, a returned war-orphan from N. China), was almost extinct in China at the time. Takeda wrote a textbook of the art - and he posed for the photos. The book is still sold in China, I believe. Anyway, Takeda stated in an interview in the mid-1980's that in 1936, during one of the get-togethers he had at his house in Beijing among martial artists, he was visited by some high ranking Japanese, among them Ueshiba Morihei.

Sorry - long-winded nit-picking. In sum, Ueshiba surely saw some Chinese martial arts. There is no evidence in his personal history, and no particular evidence in his movements that he studied any.

Ellis Amdur

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Old 09-03-2004, 03:36 AM   #50
Mark Balogh
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Re: ueshiba and chinese martial arts

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
Quite likely a mistake by the translator - AFAIK, Morihei Ueshiba made no trips to China after the war.

Best,

Chris
That doesn't sound very likely Chris.

I am sure I read something the other day about O'sensei going out to China regularly to visit someone. It may have been Tomiki according to this Fujita Sensei interview in Aikido Journal #120.

AJ: I understand your father learned aikido from Ueshiba Sensei in Manchuria.
Fujita: Yes, he was originally a judo man and he continued to practice judo during his work posting in Manchuria. There was a group called the Manchuria Budo Society (Manshu Budokai) whose members got together to practice not only judo, but kendo, sumo and other arts as well. My father was one of those involved in running this group and so he knew quite a few of the people practicing other martial arts. It was through that connection that he learned aikido when Morihei Ueshiba was invited to Manchuria. He trained with people like Kenji Tomiki (1900-1979), who was a professor at Manchuria's Kenkoku University, and sumo wrestler Saburo Wakuta (1903-1989, also known as Tenryu, a well-known wrestler who began learning aikido after being impressed by the techniques of Morihei Ueshiba).


The article is here...

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=103
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