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Old 03-14-2015, 01:29 PM   #1
Chris Li
 
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Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2

New blog post! Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2 - "When we stood up to face Sensei both of his eyes would shine - it was very frightening."

Enjoy!

Chris

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Old 03-15-2015, 12:39 PM   #2
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Re: Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2


This was just enough to kick me back out of a hiatus.
Ueshiba was an educated fellow. He knew what was from China and what wasn't..... what is going on in this story? Is there some interpretation of history that makes judo somehow from China (and other Japanese jujutsu-employing systems not)?

Well at the very least this is showing an idea I hadn't appreciated. At least from the personal point of view of the interviewee, with his life history, there was at that time a point of view that Japanese=good and Chinese=bad. Centuries ago, it seems Japanese culture became fascinated with the culture of the big country on the mainland-- that's why there is the writing system that there is (and even changes to the spoken language in conjunction). In bujutsu, we have Ellis Amdur's stories of the Heiho Okugisho and Chen Yuan Yun (see HIPS). So my thought was that in Japan, Chinese=cool. But of course there were other points of view, especially at that time.
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Old 03-15-2015, 04:37 PM   #3
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Re: Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2

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Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post

This was just enough to kick me back out of a hiatus.
Ueshiba was an educated fellow. He knew what was from China and what wasn't..... what is going on in this story? Is there some interpretation of history that makes judo somehow from China (and other Japanese jujutsu-employing systems not)?

Well at the very least this is showing an idea I hadn't appreciated. At least from the personal point of view of the interviewee, with his life history, there was at that time a point of view that Japanese=good and Chinese=bad. Centuries ago, it seems Japanese culture became fascinated with the culture of the big country on the mainland-- that's why there is the writing system that there is (and even changes to the spoken language in conjunction). In bujutsu, we have Ellis Amdur's stories of the Heiho Okugisho and Chen Yuan Yun (see HIPS). So my thought was that in Japan, Chinese=cool. But of course there were other points of view, especially at that time.
I've seen speculation that Jigoro Kano was influenced to some degree (some say a little, some say a lot) by shuai jiao. Whether that's true or not, generally speaking Chinese=not so good in pre-war Japan, especially in the right-wing circles that Morihei Ueshiba travelled in.

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-16-2015, 09:34 AM   #4
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Re: Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2

And one other thought beyond both the Chinese principles that were passed down in the root arts (Yoshin-ryu and Kito-ryu) of judo, and the nationalism of the time.

Ueshiba had gone to China both as a soldier, as an adventurer, and as a government representative. He had observed Chinese martial arts (though he had no time to study them). For example, he stayed at the home of a remarkable man named Takeda in Beijing, who was a high level practitioner of Tongbeich'uan. (Though the Chinese say that they didn't teach him the real goods, because he was Japanese). He had seen genuine Chinese martial arts, and had, per Okumura sensei, praised Chinese broadsword which he observed in an enbu in Manchuria.

Ueshiba's got judoka amongst his leading deshi, he's entertained Kano as a personal guest, in later years he and Mifune take dinner together and compare notes (1955, with his oblivious deshi unable to recall what they were talking about).

Essentially, he, angered, (either out of jealousy because they weren't practicing 'his' art or because he saw it as impeding their progress) uses a racist trope to knock his students in line, either assuming that will ring true to them, or simply saying something so ugly and harsh that they are intimidated from continuing. Imagine a classical music teacher of your own time who, when s/he finds you listening to jazz or blues, says, "turn off that n**gr music" The feet of clay of this great man grow ever larger in my eyes.

Ellis Amdur

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Old 03-17-2015, 12:08 AM   #5
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Re: Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2

I guess there are 2 different aspects of this for me:
my dismay at the utterance of the racist comment, and my astonsihment regarding the underlying ideas that prompted it.

Regarding the first, all of us who follow in his footsteps by practicing the art he founded will have to wrestle with it. Maybe he changed after the war, or maybe this comment isn't even accurately recounted here. Both are slight "maybe"s and are thus not much comfort. Nor can we say his word choice only reflected the racism of his culture-- the semantic content of the sentence was itself racist!
Maybe it's true he was only talking in a way that he thought would speak well to the audience at hand (by shocking them). That doesn't explain it away for me enough though. I guess that explanation doesn't move him far enough away from feelings/ideas like that to settle me. And it's just another "maybe" explanation anyway. Feet of clay indeed.

So-- that aside now (I shouldn't have skipped it in the first place), the idea that judo is "from China" and aiki isn't..... it just seems so backwards to me. Regarding the Chinese principles in the root arts: from the point of view of "Ueshiba must have seemed like the ghost of jūjutsu past to Kanō -- everything [ki/kokyu stuff] he left behind risen from the grave," wouldn't that make aikido and DR "more Chinese" than judo? Only if the strong version of Chris' shuai jiao suggestion is right could it be the other way around as far as I can see...

Maybe I should be reassured by Ellis' post. To add to that list pro-judo and pro-Chinese sentiments there is also the fact that Ueshiba himself did judo as a youngster and then visited the Kodokan as an old man. But I suppose his visits could have been done with a feeling of contempt... and maybe he just met with high-profile people even if he didn't really respect them as a status/politcal thing... and said positive things when calm because he wasn't showing his true colors in a temper tantrum. I don't know, maybe I am being too cynical.
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Old 03-17-2015, 11:23 AM   #6
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Re: Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2

Having said [many] inappropriate things in my lifetime, I will certainly not be the first to cast stones about comments without context.

I have also heard some speculation about judo having some origin from Chinese influence. Here is a link that talks briefly about that:
http://judoinfo.com/judohistory.htm
FWIW. as a largr observation, I think it is hard to ignore the general influence of China on Japan and vice versa. The countries have a long... military... relationship and I don't think it is far-fetched to see some rub between them.

I think another aspect to consider is the pseudo-deification of O Sensei and the divergence between that persona and the more personal recollections of individuals which portray him in a different light. I am not so sure it's what O Sensei said that was shocking, but maybe the fact that his public image is
contrasted against what he said...

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Old 03-17-2015, 12:56 PM   #7
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Re: Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
So-- that aside now (I shouldn't have skipped it in the first place), the idea that judo is "from China" and aiki isn't..... it just seems so backwards to me.
One thing to remember is that the Chinese connections to Judo are fairly widely acknowledged, while the legend of Daito-ryu (true or not) pretty much makes it out to be entirely of Japanese origin.

Even today it's common for Japanese people to make themselves out to be unique and entirely of Japanese origin, despite the obvious contradictions. It was even more so in the 1930's and in Ueshiba's circles.

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-17-2015, 02:32 PM   #8
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Re: Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
One thing to remember is that the Chinese connections to Judo are fairly widely acknowledged, while the legend of Daito-ryu (true or not) pretty much makes it out to be entirely of Japanese origin.

Even today it's common for Japanese people to make themselves out to be unique and entirely of Japanese origin, despite the obvious contradictions. It was even more so in the 1930's and in Ueshiba's circles.

Best,

Chris
Tokimune Takeda participated in a demonstration of martial arts in China. TBH, Ueshiba's attitudes to China can be more coherently traced back to the Neo Shinto cult that he was involved in.

It also makes sense taking into account Takuma Hisa's statements that what Ueshiba and Takeda Sokaku were doing was completely different regarding "aiki", plus the fact that he referred to his art at the time as Ueshiba ryu aikijujutsu (as opposed to Daito Ryu), plus the fact that Ueshiba's sword work as filmed in the 1930s was using a lot of muscle. It all points to the fact that ueshiba's art and body methodology was quite different from advanced DR from the beginning, due in no small part to Ueshiba's ideological and spiritual influences.
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Old 03-17-2015, 02:59 PM   #9
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Re: Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2

Quote:
Oisin Bourke wrote: View Post
Tokimune Takeda participated in a demonstration of martial arts in China. TBH, Ueshiba's attitudes to China can be more coherently traced back to the Neo Shinto cult that he was involved in.

It also makes sense taking into account Takuma Hisa's statements that what Ueshiba and Takeda Sokaku were doing was completely different regarding "aiki", plus the fact that he referred to his art at the time as Ueshiba ryu aikijujutsu (as opposed to Daito Ryu), plus the fact that Ueshiba's sword work as filmed in the 1930s was using a lot of muscle. It all points to the fact that ueshiba's art and body methodology was quite different from advanced DR from the beginning, due in no small part to Ueshiba's ideological and spiritual influences.
Morihei Ueshiba participated in demonstrations of martial arts in China as well, I'm not sure what your point is there.

FWIW, there were a number of Takeda's Daito-ryu students involved with the radical right wing, not only Morihei Ueshiba. Actually, it wasn't that uncommon among the Budo crowd, who tended to be (on average) a bit more conservative.

I think that you're misreading Takuma Hisa's statements. For example, Yutaka Amatsu puts it this way:

Quote:
Watching Takeda teaching, Hisa san judged that Takeda’s wazas were same kind as Ueshiba’s. But Takeda’s were much more developed than Ueshiba’s
Of course, that's understandable to me - if my teacher showed up all of a sudden I think that it's fairly likely that people would judge their techniques to be more developed.I'd also like to think that Ueshiba developed some over the next 34 years.

You also have to remember that Hisa actually only spent a short time with Takeda - less than three years during a time when Takeda was only sometimes in Osaka. Ueshiba interacted with Takeda over a period of some twenty years, and Takeda actually lived with him for some six months.

There were a number of issues going on with the naming, I'm not convinced that it indicates much of significance on a technical level.

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-17-2015, 03:28 PM   #10
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Re: Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
There were a number of issues going on with the naming, I'm not convinced that it indicates much of significance on a technical level.
A last thought, Yoshio Sugino stated that when he trained with Ueshiba in the early 1930's the art was callled "Daito-ryu Aiki-jutsu".

Also, some thoughts from another of Hisa's direct students:

Quote:
Kobayashi Kiyohiro: Yes, as I said before, Hisa Sensei started to learn from Ueshiba Sensei and he later became a student of Takeda Sensei. There is no incompatibility. Whether they are Ueshiba's or Takeda's techniques, there is no profound disagreement because very naturally, Daito-ryu techniques evolve into Aikido techniques.
Best,

Chris

Last edited by Chris Li : 03-17-2015 at 03:30 PM.

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Old 03-18-2015, 03:33 AM   #11
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Re: Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2

Quote:
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Even today it's common for Japanese people to make themselves out to be unique and entirely of Japanese origin, despite the obvious contradictions. It was even more so in the 1930's and in Ueshiba's circles.
OK, I get that the "myth of Japanese uniqueness" was in full swing at the time... but I thought certain information was making it look like Ueshiba had more of a worldly (and pro-Chinese) viewpoint, at least regarding martial arts. It never occured to me that he might not know/acknowledge the pre-Japan history of such ideas.

Unless-- Jon, are you suggesting that he maybe really did believe that everything good and wonderful in budo came direct from the kami to Japan, and that over history, sometimes the Chinese "got it" from Japan?
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Old 03-18-2015, 06:00 AM   #12
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Re: Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2

Ueshiba at that time was developing the "anti-judo" or so it seems.

http://www.archbudo.com/abstracted.p...=5&ICID=855001

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Old 03-18-2015, 07:44 AM   #13
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Re: Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2

Huh. That's interesting. I suppose on some level that may also explain why there was cross-training between the schools - if aikido was showing defense against judo outside of judo (which may give a judo player an advantage in competition). Although from the time frame outlined in the article it would have been one of the other names. I would express some caution because the time period 1925-1938 is pretty loose for aiki budo - there is considerable speculation about what Ueshiba was doing, what he was teaching and also whether he had even developed a unique curriculum. I think it is probably as likely that he took advantage of judo talent in the dojo to work on his stuff.

Jonathan, from what I have read regarding the relationship between Japan and China, I think you would find a strong sense of national pride emanating from each culture and likely a prejudice against the other culture. Generically put, the Japanese guy would say, "my art is the best and you Chinese are copying us." The Chinese girl would say likewise, "my art is best and you Japanese are copying us." In some sense, I think there is a strong national pride in the arts cultivated by each culture and a sense of ownership for each art. I would not include Budo, being a modern phenomenon, in the conversation, but budo is certainly considered to be a national identity for Japan.

Obviously, historical records indicate a Eastern migration of fighting systems and I would hazard to say that China probably had stronger influence on Japan's fighting systems than the other way around, but that is not necessarily a supported position any more than the influence of firearms in the Japanese fighting systems.

I do not like the New England Patriots Football team (current Superbowl Champions). But don't think that NFL teams are not evaluating what the Patriots do, how they do it and how they can be more competitive by emulating it. Political correctness aside, there is nothing wrong with disliking your opponent while learning how to be a better adversary though study of your opponent. Given the time period and the circles Ueshiba ran in, I am not sure he would have been able to express a pro-Chinese perspective, even if he held one.

Gods are often used as placeholders for a "why". I don't know why it rains, so it must be controlled by a god. I don't know why the sun comes up and goes down, so it must be controlled by a god. They can also be used to describe aliens (i.e. foreigners) to a land. It is entirely possible in a grand conspiracy setting that the gods the early Japanese saw rolling around on the beaches were Chinese or Indo-Chinese foreigners. Or aliens - like the ones that made the pyramids. That, too.

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Old 03-18-2015, 08:07 AM   #14
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Re: Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2

(Some) Japanese wouldn't say the Chinese were "copying" them. Some, (obviously Ueshiba in an unguarded moment) would say that the Chinese were polluting something pure (hence the attack includes that judo was "dirty" - this is a reference to spiritual pollution).

On the other side, when Terry Dobson wished to become an uchi-deshi, sponsored by Tamura sensei, all the hierarchy was in opposition. And O-sensei ordered that it be so.

Ellis Amdur

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Old 03-18-2015, 03:21 PM   #15
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Re: Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2

Quote:
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Morihei Ueshiba participated in demonstrations of martial arts in China as well, I'm not sure what your point is there.
did Ueshiba demonstrate at the invitation of Chinese martial arts groups during peacetime? If not, you're not really comparing like with like. My point is that there is nothing inherent in Daito ryu that explains Ueshiba's anti Chinese bias at the time. There is a lot, however in the Shinto cult he was involved in: the uniqueness of the Japanese language for example.
Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
FWIW, there were a number of Takeda's Daito-ryu students involved with the radical right wing, not only Morihei Ueshiba. Actually, it wasn't that uncommon among the Budo crowd, who tended to be (on average) a bit more conservative.
Sure, but equally, traditional aristocratic feudal arts didn't sit all that well with a nationalistic militaristic ideology.In some ways, they undermine each other. The same happened with the mensur fencing groups in Nazi Germany.I don't see there's any strong evidence for example that Sokaku takeda was the avid nationalist that Ueshiba was: not that he was a peacenik, but it just wasn't that high on his list of priorities. In other words, Ueshiba's Chinese views aren't really a direct result of his exposure to DR.
Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
I think that you're misreading Takuma Hisa's statements. For example, Yutaka Amatsu puts it this way:

Of course, that's understandable to me - if my teacher showed up all of a sudden I think that it's fairly likely that people would judge their techniques to be more developed.I'd also like to think that Ueshiba developed some over the next 34 years.
TBH, you can interpret that quote in a number of ways. The fact is that Hisa stated that Takeda turned up, declared that his student Ueshiba had incomplete knowledge of the art. Whe Hisa trained with him, he stated that indeed, what Takeda and Ueshiba were doing was completely different.

I do agree that Ueshiba's art developed, especially in the fifties onwards though.
Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
You also have to remember that Hisa actually only spent a short time with Takeda - less than three years during a time when Takeda was only sometimes in Osaka. Ueshiba interacted with Takeda over a period of some twenty years, and Takeda actually lived with him for some six months.
Did Ueshiba have any contact with Takeda after the incident in Osaka?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
There were a number of issues going on with the naming, I'm not convinced that it indicates much of significance on a technical level.
Personally, I think it does. But that's probably something that takumakai people can answer more clearly.
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Old 03-18-2015, 03:26 PM   #16
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Re: Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
A last thought, Yoshio Sugino stated that when he trained with Ueshiba in the early 1930's the art was callled "Daito-ryu Aiki-jutsu".

Also, some thoughts from another of Hisa's direct students:

Kobayashi Kiyohiro: Yes, as I said before, Hisa Sensei started to learn from Ueshiba Sensei and he later became a student of Takeda Sensei. There is no incompatibility. Whether they are Ueshiba's or Takeda's techniques, there is no profound disagreement because very naturally, Daito-ryu techniques evolve into Aikido techniques.

Best,

Chris
On the level of Daito ryu aikijujutsu, I'd agree with him. On the deeper levels DR and Ueshiba's art diverge. I think Ueshiba got closer later on in life though.
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Old 03-18-2015, 03:49 PM   #17
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Re: Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2

Quote:
Oisin Bourke wrote: View Post
did Ueshiba demonstrate at the invitation of Chinese martial arts groups during peacetime? If not, you're not really comparing like with like. My point is that there is nothing inherent in Daito ryu that explains Ueshiba's anti Chinese bias at the time. There is a lot, however in the Shinto cult he was involved in: the uniqueness of the Japanese language for example.
He didn't. Did Tokimune Takeda give that demonstration prior to WWII? He didn't - it was some forty years after the war, in a completely different world, so I'm not sure how relevant that was to the conversation. I don't think anybody intimated that there was an anti-Chinese bias due to Daito-ryu...before you brought it up, that is.

Quote:
Oisin Bourke wrote: View Post
Sure, but equally, traditional aristocratic feudal arts didn't sit all that well with a nationalistic militaristic ideology.In some ways, they undermine each other. The same happened with the mensur fencing groups in Nazi Germany.I don't see there's any strong evidence for example that Sokaku takeda was the avid nationalist that Ueshiba was: not that he was a peacenik, but it just wasn't that high on his list of priorities. In other words, Ueshiba's Chinese views aren't really a direct result of his exposure to DR.
Again, nobody brought that up or argued that Sokaku Takeda was a nationalist...until you did, so I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.

Anti-Chinese sentiment was common pre-war. Actually, it's still common, although in a somewhat more diluted sense.

Quote:
Oisin Bourke wrote: View Post
TBH, you can interpret that quote in a number of ways. The fact is that Hisa stated that Takeda turned up, declared that his student Ueshiba had incomplete knowledge of the art. Whe Hisa trained with him, he stated that indeed, what Takeda and Ueshiba were doing was completely different.
Well...not in those words, and certainly not that clearly - that's a big jump to make off of a single statement. Have you looked at the accounts in Japanese? I trained with direct students of Takuma Hisa, and they had many recordings of him on audio tape having long discussions, and I think you're off base here.

Quote:
Oisin Bourke wrote: View Post
Did Ueshiba have any contact with Takeda after the incident in Osaka?
Not really, but there were twenty years prior to that, what's your point?

Best,

Chris

Last edited by Chris Li : 03-18-2015 at 03:52 PM.

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Old 03-18-2015, 05:35 PM   #18
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Re: Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2

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One thing to remember is that the Chinese connections to Judo are fairly widely acknowledged, while the legend of Daito-ryu (true or not) pretty much makes it out to be entirely of Japanese origin.
I'd forgotten that Tokimune's version of history places DR completely outside of the idea that the bulk of Japanese jujutsu (or all of it) has its origins in Chen Yuanyan (Chin Gempin in Jon's link). Indeed, he claims that it went: kami-->early Japanese-->emperor's family-->Minamoto Yoshimitsu. All well before Chen.

So Ueshiba's comment may well be 100% in reference to Chen and Kito Ryu, rather than Kano's personal influences.

I wonder what Ueshiba believed the provenance of DR to be (since this was before Tokimune's research). Maybe there was 20 generations of unnamed headmasters involved, tracing back to pre-Kito-ryu times.
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Old 03-18-2015, 05:52 PM   #19
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Re: Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 2

FWIW, according to Fumiaki Shishida:

Quote:
Takeda’s instruction gave Hisa the chance to compare the techniques that he had been taught for the previous three years (1933-1936) by Ueshiba with those taught by Takeda. His conclusion was that they were the same---meaning that Ueshiba had not by that time significantly modified or evolved what he had been taught by Takeda. In later years, Hisa was adamant about Ueshiba’s and Takeda’s techniques being identical. He stated this clearly at a round table talk, “When Tomiki came to Osaka to teach aiki-bujutsu to the Asahi people2, the techniques that both master Ueshiba and Takeda taught were the same. Definitely the same.
from "The Process of Forming Aikido and Japanese Imperial Navy Admiral Isamu Takeshita: Through the analysis of Takeshita’s diary from 1925 to 1931"

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-10-2015, 06:05 PM   #20
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Re: Mr. Kimura's Aikido Memories, Part 2

Now available in Romanian, courtesy of Aikido Jurnal. The original English version is available on the Aikido Sangenkai blog.

Best,

Chris

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