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Old 03-22-2013, 03:10 AM   #1
David Yap
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The transmission of aikido

"Imitate me as I imitate O sensei. Understand me as I understand O Sensei."

If the above statement was made by a direct student of O Sensei, who do you think is best qualified to make that statement? Why?

Thanks for sharing your thought.

Regards

David Y
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Old 03-22-2013, 05:29 AM   #2
robin_jet_alt
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Re: The transmission of aikido

Quote:
David Yap wrote: View Post
"Imitate me as I imitate O sensei. Understand me as I understand O Sensei."

If the above statement was made by a direct student of O Sensei, who do you think is best qualified to make that statement? Why?

Thanks for sharing your thought.

Regards

David Y
Well, any of his students would be qualified to make it, but it would carry a different connotation for each. For example, from Nishio sensei it would mean "don't imitate me" but from Saito sensei, it would mean "imitate me".

Don't mean to disparage Nishio-sensei, by the way. Just making the point that instead of direct imitation, he found his own way a bit.
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Old 03-22-2013, 05:55 AM   #3
SeiserL
 
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Re: The transmission of aikido

Remember that game where you sit in a circle and pass on a whispered message around the circle?

Yea, its like that.

No copy is a perfect copy.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 03-22-2013, 08:05 AM   #4
Carl Thompson
 
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Re: The transmission of aikido

Dear David

I have my own ideas about who, but I thought I'd share a method of finding that person rather than just plugging who I think is best.

You might be familiar with the term "Xerox Effect". It hasn't been officially recognised as an expression due to the efforts of the Xerox company, who insist that you can't even use "Xerox" as a verb (they fear it might become a generic word, endangering the trademark).

Anyway, you get the picture... you Xerox (photocopy) a document. Then you Xerox the copy. Then you Xerox a copy of that Xeroxed copy. Then you Xerox that copy and so on and each time what you're Xeroxing gets grainier and fuzzier and the details start to disappear.

To get the best impression of the original document, I would look at multiple Xeroxed copies, ideally the ones closest in sequence to master. Also, since we're dealing with more fallible hardware than actual photocopiers, we can assume a great deal of variance in the quality of the Xeroxing being done, so even a direct copy, Xeroxed from the master, could be riddled with errors. Obviously, if you find a good machine that Xeroxes well and produces copies that correspond with the the clearest parts of the other Xeroxed copies from elsewhere, then that is a good guide for correlating the other Xeroxed information.

Carl

(I notice my browser hasn't put red wiggly spell-check lines under any words here except "recognised")
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Old 03-22-2013, 09:27 AM   #5
graham christian
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Re: The transmission of aikido

Well as virtually all of them said they didn't understand him that makes it an even more interesting proposition.

There was one however who followed some kind of 'traditional' responsibility I remember reading somewhere. That was of passing on the exact copy (xerox) of what Ueshiba said and as far as I can tell did so until he himself passed away.

I often wondered why he wasn't quoted very often by the big voices in the Aikido field.

Anyway even he said he didn't understand a lot of what Ueshiba said but nonetheless would pass it on as a duty and replicate as best he could. His name was Hikitsuchi Sensei.

Peace.G.
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Old 03-22-2013, 11:32 PM   #6
David Yap
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Re: The transmission of aikido

Guys,

1. Let's discuss the "copy" (as you've put it) of the original. Let's not go into the "copies" of the "copy".
2. "Imitate" and "Understanding" are inter-related. Making a watch which looks like a real Rolex is one thing but making a watch which looks, functions and almost as precised as the real Rolex is another matter.

Regards

David Y
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Old 03-23-2013, 08:53 AM   #7
Carl Thompson
 
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Re: The transmission of aikido

Quote:
David Yap wrote: View Post
Guys,

1. Let's discuss the "copy" (as you've put it) of the original. Let's not go into the "copies" of the "copy".
2. "Imitate" and "Understanding" are inter-related. Making a watch which looks like a real Rolex is one thing but making a watch which looks, functions and almost as precised as the real Rolex is another matter.

Regards

David Y
In order to know which is the "best" copy, you'd need to compare that copy to others. Even then, "best" is relative. Keeping within the more absolute facts of the matter, the first copy of the original isn't necessarily the "best" precisely because of your second point (in conjunction with my comment on humans being fallible, the opposite is also true, a gifted copier could reproduce the original better than the original).
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:40 AM   #8
Bernd Lehnen
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Re: The transmission of aikido

Quote:
David Yap wrote: View Post
Guys,

1. Let's discuss the "copy" (as you've put it) of the original. Let's not go into the "copies" of the "copy".
2. "Imitate" and "Understanding" are inter-related. Making a watch which looks like a real Rolex is one thing but making a watch which looks, functions and almost as precised as the real Rolex is another matter.

Regards

David Y
You can never keep up with someone if only you always try to get into his footsteps….
You can always try and make the best of it.

A machine can copy, a living being like man, if gifted, can imitate and copy and go further
Look at any real piece of art; there may exist a copy that is in a certain way, if not clearer and finer than the original, nevertheless a piece of art per se. People adore "La Gioconda" at the Louvre in Paris.

If you have the gift to understand and see through, you may be better off with creating your own version of the art. You may very well start with imitating and copying, to become a good artisan, then, after having digested the essence of what has been created before, you may go further and extend to find out about your limits.

Compare Ueshiba and Shirata, Ueshiba and Shioda, Ueshiba and Hikitsuchi, Ueshiba and Tohei, Ueshiba and Ueshiba.
Then compare Takeda and Ueshiba, Takeda and Sagawa.
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Old 03-24-2013, 03:42 PM   #9
Anjisan
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Re: The transmission of aikido

However, I believe that human beings evolve and change over time.Osensei's Aikido certainly did! So the real question might be who reflected Osensei's Aikido best during diifferent stages of his life?
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Old 03-24-2013, 03:54 PM   #10
Dan Richards
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Re: The transmission of aikido

Quote:
Bernd Lehnen wrote: View Post
If you have the gift to understand and see through, you may be better off with creating your own version of the art. You may very well start with imitating and copying, to become a good artisan, then, after having digested the essence of what has been created before, you may go further and extend to find out about your limits.
Yes, and that would point directing at shuhari. In the shu stage you're The Beatles playing cover songs in Hamburg. Ha, you're The Beatles composing and playing original material that's close to the cover songs they played in Hamburg - and even the members look similar. In the Ri stage, you're The Beatles at the stage began by recording Rubber Soul and then Sgt Peppers; and then subsequently moving into total mastery as individuals and a band with The White Album and Abbey Road.

All that occurred within about a 10-year period. And probably that magic mastery number of 10,000 hours of active duty figured in as well.

And it's interesting that all these British "Masters" - Clapton, Beatles, The Who, etc - all started out copying the sound and attitude of Black American musicians - Muddy Water, BB King, Freddy King, etc..

I think an interesting question is; does a given individual seek to merely be a copy, or to become a master.

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Old 03-24-2013, 09:57 PM   #11
David Yap
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Exclamation Re: The transmission of aikido

Yes, indeed. We should consider "imitating/copying" from the aspect of Shuhari. It is always the wish of a good TEACHER that his/her students will surpass his/her own level. Shuhari like any good system of transmission, the objective is progression. SHU is about obedience or imitate/copy if you like. As time passes, one may have copied from improved version of the original or a watered down version or inadvertently a improvised version from a con artist or a pretender of the art.

My point of discussion is about/on the very first copies not the subsequent ones. Of course, you can/may bring up the latter to prove your points (whatever they are). The agenda is not about lineage versus lineage - my granddad can beat your granddad. I hope from this discussion, we should be able to stitch the elephant back together again.

Regards

David Y
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Old 03-25-2013, 09:33 AM   #12
phitruong
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Re: The transmission of aikido

problem is we don't really know about the original version. we only know about the parts of the sum from various deshi. then you have the problem of asking 10 deshi, and you got 11 versions of the original. in my organization, Saotome sensei said "aikido is principles and ideas". He also encouraged that we didn't look like him. So none of his direct students' aikido looked much like him, and each one's aikido didn't look much like each other either. and that's just 3rd level down from the original. by the time you get to 4th and 5th level down, we are screwed in term of understanding the original. of course there will be folks said they know the original, and i said they smoked something really good. even the deshi wouldn't say that, because they knew better. personally, i don't think it matter that much now.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 03-25-2013, 01:59 PM   #13
Dan Richards
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Re: The transmission of aikido

I think we could be careful using the definite article "The" original. Ueshiba was "an" original, and one of many. He also provided an environment for the development of other originals. And Ueshiba had teachers - throughout his life - who created environments for his liberation and mastery. And many of his "teachers" were his "students."

I think to have respect and appreciation is certainly in order. And I think the real doing of that is in moving forward; continuing to develop and innovate. One thing that Ueshiba did, like all masters do, is he developed within the zeitgeist of his life and its varying phases. And while I'm sure he had respect for those went before him, he had no problem taking the tools that were applicable and using them, and discarding other tools and concepts that were irrelevant. He also freely innovated.

His concept of Takemusu is what he indicated was the highest expression of the art. Takemusu is nothing more than straight-up, on-the-fly improvisation. And it's interesting that we can see its development corresponding precisely at the same time - 40's and 50's of improvisation in many arts. Aikido literally became the "jazz" of martial arts. Offering a box of principles and ideas - that included form - and in that form was a format for individual expression.

Many of Ueshiba's students were direct contemporaries of innovative 20th century jazz artists. This is not a coincidence. We can also find this in architecture, dance, business, fashion, lifestyle, technology, sports, media, telecommunications...

When we look at Ueshiba, he was in or near the generations that produced the likes of Einstein, Bohr, Tesla, Edison, FL Wright, Ford, Hitchcock, Picasso, Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, J. Krishnmurti. His students were contemporaries of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, George Martin, Greg Knoll (surfing), Jackson Pollack, ML King, Warhol, Lennon, Kerouac, Baldwin, Leary, Allan Watts.

Ueshiba didn't so much invent any kind of art, as he took bits and pieces of arts he was exposed to, and made them his own - during his time, and his life, and his culture. He put a different slant on things. He also changed his tune as he moved throughout his life; continuously refining, developing, and innovating. He also studied with the top people of his time that were accessible to him, as did his students.

Aikido, as it's known, was created as an in-the-box product after WWII, and the production line and factory was put together by K Ueshiba. I'd compare K Ueshiba with someone like Dave Thomas of Wendy's, who figured out how to mass produce a decent product. And his first was Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Ueshiba would be closer to someone like Colonel Sanders, who was a real character. But it took Dave Thomas to really take what Sanders had done, and turn it into something on a much larger scale, as did K Ueshiba with Aikido.

So, here we are in 2013. Things have changed a bit since Ueshiba's time. And Aikido, although it's been sold as a Japanese product, is largely Japanese only in its outer look and feel. If you look more closely at its development, many nations and cultures and people are responsible - including Germany, Russia, China, India, and United States. Even Ueshiba said Aikido was his gift to the world. And it took the world to create it.

Focusing on one man and one culture is looking too closely and creates tunnel vision. And while there's certainly merit in understanding some of the history and concepts; but if we look less at the people and more at the principles and practices they embodied, we'll discover that these various "blueprints" are accessible to anyone who wants them.

Zoom out, and we find there's more going, and more available than we might initially think. And that the growth of something that might be labeled as "aikido" is occurring, but not in areas that might be obvious.

If we're interested in a "transmission" - which is not a "copy," but a communication - a relationship. We can start by looking at some simple things that Ueshiba and his top students did. One thing they all did was get around and learn from the best people and arts available to them. All of them were what was originally called something along the lines of "mixed martial artists."

In the end, you can either make an art that's your own. Or you can be a copy. I liken this concept to bands. There are original bands - that take the classic components and run with it - making something their own. And there are "copy" bands. Of course copy bands have all kinds of great material available to them - Elvis, Beatles, Hendrix, etc.. But what you also find is that copy bands are really more concerned about the "gig" and getting paid. And they are the ones you'll largely find playing at weddings and hotels. Original bands play anywhere from garages, to the internet, to major media and stadiums. And it's their own music. Made their way, on their terms. Ri.

Get in there and get your "shu." Then know when it's time for your "ha." "Ri" will appear initially as a death that eventually begins to sprout and then grows into new life.

Aikido seems to have a lot of people remaining in "shu" or even a hesitant "ha." And when that happens, the "shu" gets watered down and in some cases forgotten. And in many cases all that's left is a shell and copies of shells.

The moon and sun and stars and heavens are still there and shining as brightly for us as they did for Ueshiba.

And in all our pointing, let's not forget that the finger is not the moon.

Last edited by Dan Richards : 03-25-2013 at 02:09 PM.

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Old 03-25-2013, 03:33 PM   #14
phitruong
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Re: The transmission of aikido

so what you are saying here is that we should get our shoes wet, walk down to the local KFC, and get a bucket of chicken the original recipe, instead of extra crispy. what about sides, cole slaw and mashed potato?

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 03-25-2013, 04:05 PM   #15
Chris Li
 
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Re: The transmission of aikido

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
His concept of Takemusu is what he indicated was the highest expression of the art. Takemusu is nothing more than straight-up, on-the-fly improvisation. And it's interesting that we can see its development corresponding precisely at the same time - 40's and 50's of improvisation in many arts. Aikido literally became the "jazz" of martial arts. Offering a box of principles and ideas - that included form - and in that form was a format for individual expression.
I think that's a real over-simplification - Ueshiba spoke about Takemusu quite a bit in "Takemusu Aiki", and it gets quite a bit more involved than that, but that's probably another, longer, discussion.

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Ueshiba didn't so much invent any kind of art, as he took bits and pieces of arts he was exposed to, and made them his own - during his time, and his life, and his culture. He put a different slant on things. He also changed his tune as he moved throughout his life; continuously refining, developing, and innovating. He also studied with the top people of his time that were accessible to him, as did his students.
He certainly did take things from various places and made them his own, but there's no denying that he really only studied one art seriously, was only really licensed to teach in one art, only issued certificates in one art other than his own, an art in which virtually all Aikido technique can be found - Daito-ryu.

Ignoring that as if all these different arts had an equal influence is somewhat misleading, IMO.

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-25-2013, 05:35 PM   #16
Dan Richards
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Re: The transmission of aikido

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
so what you are saying here is that we should get our shoes wet, walk down to the local KFC, and get a bucket of chicken the original recipe, instead of extra crispy. what about sides, cole slaw and mashed potato?
Ha! Well, there's a problem with that. First would be that what we can get at KFC today is not the quality that was there during its formative years. Another funny thing is that those "11 Herbs & Spices" were later tested, and found to really only be salt, pepper, and MSG. But that's by the time it was "tested." I imagine that, originally, the Colonel probably did have some secret spices; by after the operation expanded to the point that accountants were designing the products, things changed.

Look at Aikikai these days. Even Yamada's calling them "clerks," and saying there's no spirit anymore.

What's "spirit?" Well, one thing it is, is love. And I'm sure the Colonel put a lot of love into what he was doing. You can taste love in cooking - it's the most important ingredient. Compare any basic tomato in a store - that was designed by accountants, and compare it with an heirloom tomato. Night and day difference. Good wholesome food empowers people. Poor-quality, mass-produced food weakens them.

If this topic is looking to explore the transmission of aikido, we probably ought to be looking at those who have had access to heirloom seeds - and more importantly, who took them, and sowed them. We also might be surprised at who has some of those seeds. And we might be surprised at the form in which parts of the vine are growing, because it could be right in front of our eyes; but unless we're perceptive, we're not going to see it.

Like Yamada said, "In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality."

So, the important question we all can ask is, "Who's "we?"

Each one of us can decide if they want to be a Colonel or a KFC. And in the words of Howard Rheingold; "What it is ---> is up to us."

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Old 03-25-2013, 08:27 PM   #17
Dan Richards
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Re: The transmission of aikido

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
I think that's a real over-simplification - Ueshiba spoke about Takemusu quite a bit in "Takemusu Aiki", and it gets quite a bit more involved than that, but that's probably another, longer, discussion.
Fire it up, please.

Quote:
He certainly did take things from various places and made them his own, but there's no denying that he really only studied one art seriously, was only really licensed to teach in one art, only issued certificates in one art other than his own, an art in which virtually all Aikido technique can be found - Daito-ryu.

Ignoring that as if all these different arts had an equal influence is somewhat misleading, IMO
What does "studied one art seriously" mean? And does "recorded" history give any kind of accurate picture? Ueshiba could have been waiting on a train somewhere and met some old dude or cute girl, and have gotten as much or more out of that interaction than anything he got from Takeda. How do we know? I wouldn't even include what Ueshiba "studied" with Takeda as "serious." Not in terms of where Ueshiba really progressed and came into his own, and what we can see developed into at least Aiki Budo. That was Ueshiba's "ri" - during which Onisaburo was heavily around.

Look at Miles Davis' education. He went to Juilliard for a bit. Do we figure that because he didn't have a "formal" education with all the rank and file degrees, that he wasn't serious? And when he got really serious, he started hanging out at an apartment in Harlem with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. And bebop was the shu education Miles Davis received. His ri stage saw him moving more into Cool Jazz. Look at post-war aikido as a softer more expressive version of Bebop, which came out of Swing. Same thing, same exact time period.

Do we determine Einstein's "serious study" by academic records? I wouldn't. Einstein did his "serious" work hanging out zoning on the couch, and making love to his wife, Mileva Maric, and their magical discussions. He was studying her ass. That's where his genius came alive. Not in any school. Einstein continuously blasted the educational system in Germany.

Takeda was the "shu" stage, and some of the "ha." Fine. It's a form. So what. You start digging around in DR, and you're going to run into CMA, and their core Taoist sciences, pretty fast. And the DR "form" doesn't teach that much. DR and Aikido do appear similar, and most version will get you to "shu." You try to even move into "ha" around aikido, and you'll run into problems. A lot of aikidoka who manage to get to ha, and then to ri, will find themselves going where the goods are, CMA.

Japan is a small country. They have longed looked outside and brought in "the goods" and repackaged them - often as their own, giving little to no credit to the source. Look at automotive design and engineering last decade. Yes, there were Toyotas, Nissans, Mitsubishi, etc.. And they make good, decent, dependable cars. But if you want to look at the "source" of what those companies did, you'll have to go to Germany for the engineering (at BMW), and to their American designer, Chris Bangle, and to the American company that made the software that all car companies use, Microsoft. The "source" for the original car that was THE mold for cars made last decade was the BMW 7 Series. Japan grabbed it, saw a market, and ran with it.

If you look at BMW now, since Chris Bangle left in '08, BMW has been looking to Japanese companies for inspiration. Jump in a BMW in the last few years, and you'd swear you're in a Lexus. Drive a '06-'07 750i, when BMW was really entering the sweet spot of the design and production of the 7 Series, and you understand the major impact that car had.

It's interesting, because this "stuff" this "spirit" seems to blow around the globe. The Germans will have it for awhile, make some innovations and then fizzle out. Make a mess. Clean it up. Rinse and repeat. Same with US, Japan, China, UK, and Russia - the major world players. And then it'll blow around to whomever's turn it is, and the fun is on again.

So, where's the excitement in aikido today? Where's the innovation? The heirloom seeds? Where's the spirit? Who are the voices and the people who will influence and offer leadership in the coming next 10+ years, as the torch of one generation is passed - or taken - from the preceding one?

Great thing about heirlooms. None of them look alike. In fact, they're pretty funny looking. Not uniform at all. But you get a taste of one...and you remember. Even Shoji Nishio would say, "You already know this, I'm just reminding you." I heard this directly from his mouth. Not from some book I've read. I don't even know if there's a record of him saying this anywhere. It was the single most important transmission of information I've ever received concerning aikido and martial arts. Something along the lines of what you might call a seed.

Last edited by Dan Richards : 03-25-2013 at 08:29 PM.

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Old 03-25-2013, 08:32 PM   #18
Chris Li
 
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Re: The transmission of aikido

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Fire it up, please.
I already discussed it some in other places - and the historical stuff has been kicked around for years on AikiWeb and is still available.

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-25-2013, 09:42 PM   #19
Dan Richards
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Re: The transmission of aikido

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
I already discussed it some in other places - and the historical stuff has been kicked around for years on AikiWeb and is still available.
Yes, I'm aware of that. I just thought you had something else in mind when you mentioned, that's probably another, longer, discussion.

Has there been any correlations between a more free, spontaneous improvisational Takemusu Aiki and American jazz? Because they both came of age at around the same time. Similar to Lee's JKD approach. It's as if the middle of the 20th century went through a big "ha" stage, breaking with outer form, and then moving into ri. Even Ueshiba's later Takemusu Tsunamori seems to have corresponded with others in art, fashion, lifestyle, spiritual approaches. LSD even came of age during that time. And there again, more of that German (and Swiss) engineering that so heavily affected and influenced what became modern aikido. Any discussions along those lines somewhere?

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Old 03-26-2013, 08:14 AM   #20
phitruong
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Re: The transmission of aikido

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post

Has there been any correlations between a more free, spontaneous improvisational Takemusu Aiki and American jazz? Because they both came of age at around the same time. Similar to Lee's JKD approach. It's as if the middle of the 20th century went through a big "ha" stage, breaking with outer form, and then moving into ri. Even Ueshiba's later Takemusu Tsunamori seems to have corresponded with others in art, fashion, lifestyle, spiritual approaches. LSD even came of age during that time. And there again, more of that German (and Swiss) engineering that so heavily affected and influenced what became modern aikido. Any discussions along those lines somewhere?
ever heard of cum hoc ergo propter hoc? essentially, the sounds one makes when one chokes on a KFC chicken bone.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 04-09-2013, 11:18 AM   #21
David Yap
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 561
Malaysia
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Re: The transmission of aikido

Henry Kono sensei's learning experience with O Sensei:

http://www.guillaumeerard.com/aikido...yang-in-motion
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