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Old 07-16-2002, 12:31 PM   #1
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7/16/2002 11:31am [from Jun Akiyama]
Website: http://www.aikiweb.com/weapons/gleason1.html

I have just put up a new article entitled, "Sword and Aikido" written by Bill Gleason (6th dan, Shobu Aikido of Boston), that deals with the question, "Why is swordsmanship so valuable for understanding the essence of aikido?" With insights into the koryu sword arts that the founder studied, this article is sure to be enlightening to anyone interested in this subject.
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Old 07-17-2002, 03:02 AM   #2
Chris Li
 
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It required the great spiritual vision of O-sensei to see barehanded training not as grappling but rather as sword without a sword. Even the great Kano sensei, the founder of Judo, declared aikido to be the art he had been searching for all his life.
To be honest, I don't think that's really an innovation of M. Ueshiba - they connect sword and empty hand pretty much the same way in Daito-ryu - as in this quote from an interview with Tokimune Takeda:
Quote:
Would it be correct, then, to say that Daito-ryu is based on sword movements?

Yes. Sokaku's techniques are based on the sword. In learning Daito-ryu, it is absolutely essential to study the sword. The first short sword technique in the Ono-ha Itto-ryu is the same as the first technique in Daito-ryu, where you pin your opponent, then thrust at and cut him. This technique was only used during the Sengoku Jidai [Age of the Warring States, 1467-1568], but Sokaku taught it as an important technique.
Further Kano didn't say that Aikido was the art that he had been searching for all of his life. In "Aikido Kaiso Ueshiba Morihei Den", page 201 K. Ueshiba gives the quote (in Japanese) as "This is my ideal conception of budo, in other words, genuine Judo.", which is a little different. Kano later elaborated (when asked) that he had meant the comment in a general sense.

Best,

Chris

Last edited by Chris Li : 07-17-2002 at 07:48 AM.

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Old 07-17-2002, 03:39 AM   #3
Robert Cowham
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I am curious as to whether the "ancient Kashima style" which O Sensei studied was Kashima Shinto ryu or Kashima Shinryu (I know that Gleason sensei studied the latter with Noguchi sensei)?

Robert
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Old 07-17-2002, 05:14 AM   #4
Chuck.Gordon
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According to Karl Friday (menkyo kaiden in Kashima Shinryu), there's no evidence supporting Ueshiba's ever studying KSR. There are some folks who have done so in the Ueshiba lineage however, and there's some debate about whether or not they're actually qualified to be teaching KSR, but that's a whole 'nother cuppa fish.

Look here for more info:

http://listserv.uoguelph.ca/cgi-bin/...aido-l&P=R4657

or here:

http://listserv.uoguelph.ca/cgi-bin/...aido-l&P=R8456

I've heard of some connection between the Ueshibas and the Kashima Shinto Ryu, however, but have no firm info on that.

Chuck

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Old 07-17-2002, 07:36 AM   #5
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Quote:
LOEP wrote:
According to Karl Friday (menkyo kaiden in Kashima Shinryu), there's no evidence supporting Ueshiba's ever studying KSR. There are some folks who have done so in the Ueshiba lineage however, and there's some debate about whether or not they're actually qualified to be teaching KSR, but that's a whole 'nother cuppa fish.

Look here for more info:

http://listserv.uoguelph.ca/cgi-bin/...aido-l&P=R4657

or here:

http://listserv.uoguelph.ca/cgi-bin/...aido-l&P=R8456

I've heard of some connection between the Ueshibas and the Kashima Shinto Ryu, however, but have no firm info on that.

Chuck
According to his own words in "Aikido Ichiro", K. Ueshiba was ordered by his father to study Kashima Shinto Ryu with the 63rd headmaster of the ryu. According to Meik Skoss M. Ueshiba made keppan (blood seal) with Kashima Shinto Ryu, but didn't actually train there, sending some of his students to train instead.

Best,

Chris

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Old 07-17-2002, 08:39 AM   #6
Chuck.Gordon
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That's the reference I was forgetting! Chris, you rock! Hope we get to train together someday and spend some time over good beer (or tea for that matter) talking about life, budo and everything.

Chuck

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Old 07-17-2002, 04:27 PM   #7
Bruce Baker
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Sticks or no sticks?

Last weekend, July 13-14, I got to spend some time with John Stevens, author and teacher, and we discussed a number of subjects when most of the class went to lunch at a nearby bistro.

One of the things that Steven sensei made very clear, is the sticks we train with are not weapons in the sense we carry them for defensive or offensive purposes, but they are training tools for Aiki-ken and Aiki-jo. These two terms, Aiki-ken and Aiki-jo, being the best description at this time for what they are and what they do.

The second thing that became very apparent was the fact that some of the attendees did not train with Aiki-ken or Aiki-jo. Some teachers were trying to teach without displaying the roots of Aikido, or using these two simple tools, maybe because they were considered weapons and not training tools.

There were a number of students, I don't remember where I read this, who tried to ask O'Sensei about training with Aiki-ken, and he scolded them with "... we have covered this before ..." or something to that effect. He became quite angry at them wanting to learn the sword, or take up weapons.

Our conversation wandered into realm of training, as Shirata sensei did, and that in his travels the places O'Sensei went to affected him deeply, much as he describe himself being the vessel for the many deitys of the countryside.

It seems that O'Sensei was a different man when in different places, hence people experienced and observed different types of training, from a man who was somewhat different in different locations ... just like he was indeed posessed by the spirits of each location to urge him to react differently.

This, of course, is the relation of the stories by John Stevens as he traveled with his teacher, Shirata sensei, and these travels priviledged him to listening to many conversations with former students of O'Sensei.

There is a bigger picture, and the details of particular history's are not as complex or as well constructed as many of the fictionalized stories that have surfaced over the years, so there was a lot of laughter as many of us listened to some of the questions which were not particularly relevant to training, or enlightening to his pursuit of Aikido.

As the old saying goes, one picture is worth a thousand words, so too does our words become inadequete for describing practice that enlightens us by using Aiki-ken or Aiki-jo verses strickly using no sticks at all.

Take the words of this article and find the pictures that will enlighten you. I believe that was the purpose of it?
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Old 07-17-2002, 04:47 PM   #8
Chris Li
 
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Quote:
Chuck Gordon (LOEP) wrote:
That's the reference I was forgetting! Chris, you rock! Hope we get to train together someday and spend some time over good beer (or tea for that matter) talking about life, budo and everything.

Chuck
Unfortunately, I think that there's less chance that I'll get to Germany then there would have been of getting to Indiana...

Anyway, we're moving back to Honolulu next spring - not much closer than Japan, but the weather's a lot better !

Best,

Chris

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Old 07-19-2002, 04:59 AM   #9
Kami
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Question UESHIBA AND KASHIMA SHINTO RYU

Quote:
Christopher Li (Chris Li) wrote:
According to his own words in "Aikido Ichiro", K. Ueshiba was ordered by his father to study Kashima Shinto Ryu with the 63rd headmaster of the ryu. According to Meik Skoss M. Ueshiba made keppan (blood seal) with Kashima Shinto Ryu, but didn't actually train there, sending some of his students to train instead.

Best,

Chris
KAMI : Hi, Chris!

I don't know if he was the 63rd headmaster of KSR but Ueshiba didn't send any of his students to him.

According to S.Pranin, the headmaster sent 3 of his instructors to the Kobukan, where Kisshomaru and a few others engaged in training for some years.

Curiously, Ueshiba Morihei Okina made the keppan with the school but NEVER trained. One wonders if he just observed or if he trained, after hours, with Kisshomaru.

Mysteries...

Best

"We are all teachers, and what we teach is what we need to learn, and so we teach it over and over again until we learn it".
Unknown author

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Old 07-19-2002, 06:14 AM   #10
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Re: UESHIBA AND KASHIMA SHINTO RYU

Quote:
Ubaldo Alcantara (Kami) wrote:
KAMI : Hi, Chris!

I don't know if he was the 63rd headmaster of KSR but Ueshiba didn't send any of his students to him.

According to S.Pranin, the headmaster sent 3 of his instructors to the Kobukan, where Kisshomaru and a few others engaged in training for some years.

Curiously, Ueshiba Morihei Okina made the keppan with the school but NEVER trained. One wonders if he just observed or if he trained, after hours, with Kisshomaru.

Mysteries...

Best
Thats whats been bugging me, I couldn't remember what it was, but now I do. I recall reading somewhere that some of the weapons work in KSR resembles Saito Sensei's jo kata quite closely.

Anyone care to enlighten me further?

Mike
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Old 07-19-2002, 06:33 AM   #11
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Thumbs down Re: Re: UESHIBA AND KASHIMA SHINTO RYU

Quote:
Michael Haft (Ecosamurai) wrote:
Thats whats been bugging me, I couldn't remember what it was, but now I do. I recall reading somewhere that some of the weapons work in KSR resembles Saito Sensei's jo kata quite closely.

Anyone care to enlighten me further?

Mike
KAMI : I believe it might have been in Stanley Pranin's, THE AIKI NEWS ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AIKIDO and it refers to the first set of KSR and Aikijo.

As to the 63rd headmaster, cited by Chris, I'm worried because the most ancient ryu in Japan (except some dubious schools), with more than 400 years of history, are just up to the 30th headmaster. I guess I'll have to take a look in my books tomorrow...

Best

"We are all teachers, and what we teach is what we need to learn, and so we teach it over and over again until we learn it".
Unknown author

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Old 07-19-2002, 07:38 AM   #12
Chris Li
 
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Re: Re: Re: UESHIBA AND KASHIMA SHINTO RYU

Quote:
Ubaldo Alcantara (Kami) wrote:
KAMI : I believe it might have been in Stanley Pranin's, THE AIKI NEWS ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AIKIDO and it refers to the first set of KSR and Aikijo.

As to the 63rd headmaster, cited by Chris, I'm worried because the most ancient ryu in Japan (except some dubious schools), with more than 400 years of history, are just up to the 30th headmaster. I guess I'll have to take a look in my books tomorrow...

Best
All I know is that in "Aikido Ichiro" K. Ueshiba specifically states that he was ordered by his father to train with the 63rd headmaster of Kashima Shinto Ryu. The actual training took place at the Kobukan led by three shihan dispatched by the headmaster who went to the Kobukan after teaching their class at the Kodokan.

At that time, in addition to Aikido there was also a Kendo section at the Kobukan.

Best,

Chris

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Old 07-19-2002, 08:54 AM   #13
Aikilove
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Let me see if I can sum it up.

O-sensei saw and trained some Kashima Shinto Ryu katas through his son K. Ueshiba who was taught these by instructors of this school.

He probably saw and experienced other schools sword and weapon katas as well. It's e.g. reported that O-sensei practiced with a student within one of the Kuki shin schools. I bet it didn't end there. Remember there is a great deal of weapon work in Daito ryu. O-sensei was probably interested in budo enough to visit and watch many sword schools, even if he didn't practice there.

O-sensei more than most was a man who took his own budo development and practice more seriously than his teaching. During the Iwama years O-sensei would practice and experiment with the jo and sword and of curse the things he had seen and trained would color his own creations. Since he needed a partner for many of the weapon practice Saito was available.

So the weapon practiced today within the aikido community - that comes from O-sensei - containes stuff that look very close to old koryu katas (e.g. some kumi jo and kumi tachi, not to mention the old kata Ki musubi no tachi) and other stuff that look far from koryu weapon work (e.g. some ken and jo suburi).

He didn't try to do KSR or other Koryu school weapon. He just tried to improve his own budo (aikido), and so trained day out and day in with the stuff he had experienced and the creations of his own.

This is at least how I see it from the various stories and interviews that is out there.

Jakob Blomquist
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Old 07-19-2002, 09:58 AM   #14
Peter Goldsbury
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Down here in Hiroshima, we are still very much in the rainy season and there was yet another major deluge outside as I was teaching a class: you know, several millimetres in about 30 minutes. As I was paddling my way to my car, I briefly envied you, Chris, on your impending move to Hawaii, but then dismissed the thought: 'Go ni ireba, go ni shitagai...' etc etc. Having got home and dried out, I chanced upon this thread and, of course, read Mr Gleason's all too brief article. It is all too brief because in virtually every paragraph there is a whole lot more that could be said.

With the recent passing of Saito Morihiro Sensei, the question of Iwama vs. Tokyo (= training through weapons vs. training without weapons) has again begun to be debated on Internet forums. The question has even been raised as to what will happen to Iwama (inheritance taxes etc etc), now that no one any longer has a direct commission from O Sensei to be the guardian of the shrine.

Because of the Iwama - Tokyo divide (which is simply a fact of history, brought about by WWII), a version of aikido history that has come to be accepted is that O Sensei TAUGHT weapons in Iwama and FORBADE the teaching of weapons in Tokyo. I do not believe this is true. I believe that O Sensei used weapons for his own personal training in Iwama and, obviously, taught (in his own way, by repeated practice) to disciples such as Saito Sensei what eventually emerged as kata. I do not think that the Founder ever conceived a teaching plan for weapons. This, like the names for the techniques, came from his disciples.



I think that in his post about John Stevens' reminiscences of Shirata Sensei's reminiscences of O Sensei, Bruce Baker touched upon a very important point about Morihei Ueshiba. O Sensei had a very fine sense of the relationship between Japan's kami and the world we live in. He was born in the Kii region, which is a major centre of both Shingon Buddhism and what was later known as Shinto, The Kii region is thought by most Japanese to be a major meeting point between the kami and the Japanese people. Of course, O Sensei understood very well the importance of history and ritual. He actually believed that he was the reincarnation of a whole load of deities, one of whom used a sword (a tsurugi, called Kusanagi) to slay a large dragon with several heads. O Sensei also believed that he could call down various deities to help him in his training, by performing certain rituals, such as funa-kogi and furi-tama.

If it were not for his brilliant swordwork and taijutsu, I would think we would probably dismiss O Sensei as yet another strange product of the confluence of Meiji/Taisho culture and modern attitudes to the arts of self-defence. We do not do this, because our historical sense conflicts somewhat with our devotion to his disciples. I myself have been struggling with this problem for many years. I do not believe that the essence of aikido can be summed up simply by the question: weapons or no weapons.

In my own aikido training, here is what my own direct teachers said/ did about weapons.

K. Chiba: teaches weapons from very early on. Basically Aiki-ken/aiki-jo (learned from a period in Iwama), plus much that is original.

S Yamaguchi: never studied or taught weapons; stated in private conversation that he watched sword practice and then incorporated the moves into his own aikido training.

H Tada: teaches weapons in his own dojo and abroad,the jo kata is an adaptation of kata devised by K Tohei.

S Arikawa: never teaches weapons, but sometimes uses them during practice. Once explained that O Sensei used weapons solely to explain body / mind : human / kami relationships, i.e., basic aikido techniques like 1-kyuo etc.

K Ueshiba: trained in Kashima Shinto-ryu at the suggestion of his father. Never taught weapons after the war, on the grounds the training was too personal, too much like kata, and that the whole point of weapons training is 'riai': the grasp of the relationship between weapons and tai-jutsu ( = basic techniques like 1-kyou and shiho-nage).

M Fujita: trained in weapons from his father, but has never taught weapons in aikido, on the grounds that towards the end of his life O Sensei did not think that weapons training was essential in order to grasp the essence of aikido.

Thus, to me the issues are clear. There are several ways of grasping the essence of aikido (though you always need to be clear that you are grasping the actual essence, and not what you think is the essence):

(1) In order to grasp the essence of Aikido, you re-tread, as far as possible, the path that O Sensei himself trod. Very difficult, in my opinion, even in a modern uchi-deshi training schedule.

(2) You attach yourself to a particular teacher, whom you believe transmits the essence of O Sensei's aikido, and follow his/her training schedule. Again, quite difficult. (And note that there is no consensus among O Sensei's disciples about the importance of weapons trainjng for aikido as a general postwar martial art.)

(3) You go your own way. You learn from many different teachers, read, study, train, explore the posibilities and limitations of your own body / mind and ideas about budo and come up with a training menu that satisfies you. But there is always the possibility of self-delusion, especially with sword / jo /tanto.

I myself have chosen a mixture of routes (2) and (3). So, for me, the issue of whether O Sensei actually believed that weapons training lies at the centre of aikido is really mainly historical. I can see why O Sensei believed that training in ken, jo and tanto was important for grasping the essence of aikido, but I can also understand someone who believes that the essence of aikido can be grasped without such training.

Alas, what was meant as a short pithy post has become a long lecture. Many apologies.

Best regards to all,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 07-20-2002, 11:31 AM   #15
mike lee
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Thumbs down practicality

From a purely practical point of view, sword work kills multiple birds with one cut.

It strengthens the grip, focuses ki, improves posture, opens up ki channels in the body (good for health in Western lingo), improves breathing by opening up the chest cavity, enhances footwork, builds an awareness of distancing, strengthens the arms and shoulders, gives the student a way to practice individually, it's an excellent teaching and training aid, etc., etc., etc.

I see no downside here. Besides, it seems that young people have a natural desire to learn something about the sword, especially with Star Wars flicks coming out periodically. Why not let the children play?

I think that if there is any major failing here, it's the way instructors teach the sword. They make weapons sessons way too long. Often they devote an entire class to it.

Like everything else, it's better if students learn little by little. Fifteen or 20 minutes of weapons during a class is enough for most basic-level students.

Last edited by mike lee : 07-21-2002 at 04:02 AM.
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Old 10-05-2004, 06:58 PM   #16
Michael Cardwell
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Re: AikiWeb News: New Article: Sword and Aikido

I'm just curius, has anyone ever read: "The Spirit of Aikido" by Kisshomaru Ueshiba? I just ask because in that book he says "The founder mastered serveral martial arts, including swordmenship in the Shinkage school."
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Old 09-18-2012, 03:48 PM   #17
Chris Evans
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Thumbs up Re: practicality

Quote:
Mike Lee wrote: View Post
From a purely practical point of view, sword work kills multiple birds with one cut.

It strengthens the grip, focuses ki, improves posture, opens up ki channels in the body (good for health in Western lingo), improves breathing by opening up the chest cavity, enhances footwork, builds an awareness of distancing, strengthens the arms and shoulders, gives the student a way to practice individually, it's an excellent teaching and training aid, etc., etc., etc.

I see no downside here. Besides, it seems that young people have a natural desire to learn something about the sword, especially with Star Wars flicks coming out periodically. Why not let the children play?

I think that if there is any major failing here, it's the way instructors teach the sword. They make weapons sessons way too long. Often they devote an entire class to it.

Like everything else, it's better if students learn little by little. Fifteen or 20 minutes of weapons during a class is enough for most basic-level students.
Interesting. Too bad steel practice swords ares still so expensive.

"The state that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools."
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