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Old 03-22-2003, 12:19 AM   #26
mike lee
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your worst nightmare

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Suppose one crossed your path - what exactly would you do?
What do you think?
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Old 03-22-2003, 01:52 AM   #27
Edward
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Hmmmm, I really find it interesting that such thread has been started by a member of the Ki society. According to Stanley Pranin, Tohei Koichi Sensei, the founder of this style, had absolutely no respect neither for the founder nor his son, and openly criticized in not so diplomatic terms the founder's way of teaching, or absence of teaching method to be more accurate.....
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Old 03-22-2003, 03:20 AM   #28
mike lee
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new levels of nonsense

Then why do Ki Society dojos continue to maintain a photo of O-Sensei if their leader has "absolutely no respect" for the Founder?

If I didn't respect someone, I wouldn't keep a large photograph of them in a prominent place in my living room and put fresh flowers by it everyday. I may put their picture on my dartboard in the basement.
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Old 03-22-2003, 10:08 AM   #29
otto
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Re: new levels of nonsense

Quote:
Mike Lee (mike lee) wrote:
Then why do Ki Society dojos continue to maintain a photo of O-Sensei if their leader has "absolutely no respect" for the Founder?
Think you're going way too far on that Mike , i dont see in any part of the original post any lack of respect for the Founder , what was only questioned i understand is wheter or not he (Ueshiba) developed an efficient method of teaching his art.

Neither i've read any interview or article where Tohei Sensei or any other Uchi Deshi of Ueshiba expressed any lack of respect for the later , all of them i believe are or were men of great value , and paying that way would be rather a shame.

If you make some investigation you'll encounter that most of the Deshi were often lost between Ueshiba Esoteric and religious dissertion , so they ended learning more seeing him that actually hearing.

So , the original question remain valid , was Morihei Ueshiba as great as a teacher as he undoubtely was a martial artist?

On a personal level , altough "I" consider this a rather interesting issue (personally) , really can't see how this would make our community any better.

So i think is better for the sake of an fruitful and adult "conversation" , that we hold our horses and dont be so quick to label anyone else opinion.

Best Regards

Ottoniel David

Last edited by otto : 03-22-2003 at 10:11 AM.

"Perfection is a Process"
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Old 03-22-2003, 08:31 PM   #30
Mel Barker
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Re: respect

Quote:
Mike Lee (mike lee) wrote:
If some egocentric pig feels he's qualified to judge O-Sensei, then I pray he never crosses my path.
Is it to Ueshiba that you pray? Does he answer? Is it he that tells you how to deal with said pigs?

Mel
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Old 03-22-2003, 08:37 PM   #31
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Re: Re: new levels of nonsense

Quote:
Ottoniel Ojeda (otto) wrote:
Think you're going way too far on that Mike
Um I think Mike was responding to Edwaard who perhaps is going to far. There was an interview with Tohei K. where he stated that all Ueshiba M. did was teach him to relax. I think many have misinterpreted that.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-22-2003, 10:12 PM   #32
otto
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Hello Mr.Rehse

I stand corrected...

Yes , you're right i shouldnt have addressed Mike personally but the comment on itself , basically because I get from the ironic way in wich he stated his question to Edward that he himself doesnt believe such absurd thing.

Neither do i think Mr.Karaa could be blamed of going too far , he's only quoting someone else on the subject.

You're also right on the fact , that Tohei Sensei highlighted how Ueshiba did teach him how to relax altought i didnt get from the interview that it was all he got from the Founder.

On the same interview however, Sensei Tohei also refers to the Founder as "Master of the art of relaxing" , in another article based on an Interview conducted by W.Reed , he (Tohei) calls Ueshiba a "Master of KI".

But i wonder why always that kind of comments takes the spotlight...

Sensei Tohei was certainly unorthodox on his ways , but saying he didnt have Ueshiba Sensei in high esteem , again i think , its going too far.

Best regards to you all , and thanks Peter for helping me see my mistake.

My apologies to Mike if i did hurt your feelings.

Please excuse my broken english

Plus KI!.

"Perfection is a Process"
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Old 03-22-2003, 11:57 PM   #33
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Below is an excerpt for Stanley Pranin article published on aikidojournal.com:

"Finally near the end of my stay I asked Iwao Tamura, one of Tohei Sensei's deshi who was fluent in English, if it would be possible to ask Tohei Sensei again about helping me. As a result, I was called to a room on the second floor of the dojo late in August. Present were Tohei Sensei, Mr. Tamura and myself. I was told clearly that I was considered to be a student of Tohei student and as such was mistaken to have trained with other teachers during my stay in Japan. Tohei Sensei also criticized the Founder's teaching methodology and said in no uncertain terms that I should focus my efforts on his ki approach to aikido. I was 24 years old at the time and emotionally unprepared to deal with such a confrontation. Totally deflated, I left the dojo almost in trance and wondered seriously how I could continue my aikido training having heard such words about the Founder from his top student."

On the other hand, and to go back to the thread subject, O sensei taught the traditional Japanese way, and I believe that he succeeded in forming a group of outstanding aikidoists who might have even surpassed in skills, starting from early pre-war students such as Mochizuki, Abe, Shioda, Tomiki... etc, untill the after war period students such as Tohei, Tamura, Noro, Yamada...etc.

Now it is obvious, at least to me, that while Osensei produced such highly-skilled studenst with his non-methodical aikido teaching, the ones who established instructional systems such as Saito, Tohei, Tomiki, Shioda failed to produce any outstanding students of their own, I mean not as skilled or more skilled than themselves.
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Old 03-23-2003, 12:12 AM   #34
mike lee
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so, so sad

Quote:
My apologies to Mike if i did hurt your feelings.
I cried myself to sleep. But in the morning, I got up and played with my dolls for awhile and felt much better!

Your English is not bad — very understandable. Your grammar is good, but if you run a spell-check program, you can catch a lot of mistakes. (Spelling is a pain!)
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Old 03-23-2003, 12:36 AM   #35
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Quote:
Edward Karaa (Edward) wrote:
I was told clearly that I was considered to be a student of Tohei student and as such was mistaken to have trained with other teachers during my stay in Japan. Tohei Sensei also criticized the Founder's teaching methodology and said in no uncertain terms that I should focus my efforts on his ki approach to aikido.
I like wrestling with Edward so I do. Traditionally speaking the idea of training with multiple shihan is a no go. You really only have one teacher of Aikido. Some of the current shihan are more relaxed about this, some less. Some differentiate quite strongly between deshi and the others (including yudansha) in the club. At Shodokan Honbu for example, receiving Shodan implies that you have become a student of Nariyama. The associated piece of cloth is a personal gift. As such I am very careful to ask his opinion about training outside the dojo and making sure I listen to him. The official (ie. full time) deshi of course have no time. He is quite reasonable but ... you are his.

Apparently many people critisize Ueshiba M.'s teaching style why should Tohei be any different?
Quote:
Now it is obvious, at least to me, that while Osensei produced such highly-skilled studenst with his non-methodical aikido teaching, the ones who established instructional systems such as Saito, Tohei, Tomiki, Shioda failed to produce any outstanding students of their own, I mean not as skilled or more skilled than themselves.
Don't be so sure, Tomiki said some interesting things about some of his students. I am sure Shioda and Mochizuki might have had similar commments.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-23-2003, 03:58 AM   #36
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Hello Peter,

I agree with your points, but please take into consideration the following:"Totally deflated, I left the dojo almost in trance and wondered seriously how I could continue my aikido training having heard such words about the Founder from his top student."

Stanley Pranin does not metion exactly what he has heard about Osensei during this meeting, but it must have been outrageous in order to shock him the way it did.

We can only speculate, or ask Dr. Pranin himself.

Last edited by Edward : 03-23-2003 at 04:01 AM.
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Old 03-23-2003, 07:34 AM   #37
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Another thought on the matter:

O sensei himself has said that every student should develop his own aikido, and that every time he executes a certain technique, it could never be the same, so it is somehow different. That's why he never went into technical details since his techniques changed continuously, he just showed them to the students who learned by example.

That is probably why Osensei's students came up each with his own very successful personal styles. But when they tried to impose their personal styles and methods on their own students, the result was good technical skills but no really out of the ordinary talents.

In this respect, I believe that he really was the greatest and most farsighted teacher of aikido ever.

Last edited by Edward : 03-23-2003 at 07:36 AM.
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Old 03-23-2003, 08:16 AM   #38
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Re: your worst nightmare

Quote:
Mike Lee (mike lee) wrote:
What do you think?
Mike; normally I let comments like this go; but I'm going to hold you to this one. I want an answer; I suspect others do too: What would you do? Are you actually threatening physical force - attacking for the specific intent of causing someone pain - for having an opinion you find distasteful? Because unless you mean something else; I think we can quite safely reject any opinion from one with such a thug-like attitude.

To the group; I apologize for my actions here; I can only assure you that at least in intent; I am not making a personal attack; I'm rebutting his argument.

Answers are only easy when they're incomplete.
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Old 03-23-2003, 01:27 PM   #39
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Back to the subject.

Comparing someone's abilities with some others in a given art form is valid up to a certain point.

Past that level of skill, the person has achieved "mastery", some are called "geniuses", and debate over who's better becomes irrelevant.

Mozart or Beethoven ?

Van Gogh or Rembrandt ?

Pacino or de Niro ? (or Seagal ?)

One can have preferences, but objective criteria don't apply anymore. That's the way I feel about O Sensei.
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Old 03-23-2003, 08:17 PM   #40
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Quote:
Edward Karaa (Edward) wrote:
But when they tried to impose their personal styles and methods on their own students, the result was good technical skills but no really out of the ordinary talents.
Two come to mind from personal experience; Chiba (who one could argue is not a deshi of Ueshiba M.) and Nariyama who is fond of saying there is no style of Aikido beyond the personal. Both these men are technically superb and extermely talented. I would hesitate to say better than their teachers because it is sort of not said but you could. All depends on your criteria and is really a personal judgement.

All of Ueshiba M.'s students would say they could never be as good as their teacher and their students would say the same.

I suppose we could ask Stanley Pranin but you know I've had a few delusions shattered in my time also.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-24-2003, 06:34 AM   #41
James Trueman
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Re: Stop confusing yourselves

Quote:
Mike Lee (mike lee) wrote:
O-Sensei is the FOUNDER of aikido.
Can you clarify what you want to say in your reply, as according to my thesaurus founder can mean 'creator', but also 'initiator and organiser'. In my eyes these last two do not have such religeous connatations such as 'the maker', rather one who brings things together. As in bringing what he has learned into a form of martial art that has meaning to him, something many people do.
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Old 04-01-2003, 02:29 PM   #42
Les Kelso
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Re: a real barker

check out the other masterful contributions made by mr mike lee on other threads throughout the forum discussions.

---------------------------------------

i was angry with my friend

i told my wrath, my wrath did end

i was angry with my foe

i told it not, my wrath did grow.

William Blake

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Old 04-01-2003, 06:43 PM   #43
jimvance
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Quote:
Edward wrote:
...Now it is obvious, at least to me, that while Osensei produced such highly-skilled studenst with his non-methodical aikido teaching, the ones who established instructional systems such as Saito, Tohei, Tomiki, Shioda failed to produce any outstanding students of their own, I mean not as skilled or more skilled than themselves.
Aikido allows its practitioners to train (barring major physical ailments) right up until they DIE. While the above gentlemen were alive, they probably got attention for creating different systems, but were never associated with Ueshiba on a skill-to-skill basis. I doubt that they would have even allowed it (Japanese false modesty being the way it is) and these comments were probably made after they had passed (not Tohei, of course) by their students. Thing is, those students are now the bigger teachers, and they--in imitation of their Japanese forebears--also don't like to tell people how good they really are, and insist on talking about how good their teachers really were.

The other thing is to watch a movement as it grows, especially from a charismatic singular leader surrounded by a group of motivated and talented acolytes. First century Christianity had the same discussions, and broke into two camps, one obsessed with Jesus as God (later converted into the Greek idea of light, or Christ), the other obsessed with Jesus as ideal man (much like some Buddhist beliefs). Of course, the Jesus-as-God group took over the Roman Empire and killed any followers of the Jesus-as-ideal man group they could get their hands on.

Hopefully the dissent between these two groups as they relate to the founder of Aikido (yes, I am using lower case letters on purpose) will stay only on the internet, and will never lead to killing or brutalization. (If you think Western religion sucks in general, don't forget about the not-so-distant Zen group fighting within itself over succession rights. I forget their name, but they are Korean.)

Jim Vance
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Old 04-03-2003, 12:35 AM   #44
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hu-chu academy

Quote:
check out the other masterful contributions made by mr mike lee on other threads throughout the forum discussions.
Now I see how more is actually Les.
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Old 04-03-2003, 05:09 AM   #45
Peter Goldsbury
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I have been outside Japan and away from computers for a while. This will be a long post, I'm afraid, so apologies beforehand to those with more modest attention spans...

I suppose the title of the thread is meant to be provocative. One good answer would be, "Yes, but so what? It is a title, not a job description, which we can really give to anybody, but in aikido the custom has arisen of giving it principally to one man." Perhaps this would suffice, but Ted Ehara's posts are usually thoughtful as well as provocative and deserve a more detailed response. My personal view is that far too much significance has been given to the "O" prefix.

Ted Ehara writes: "The term O Sensei indicates a truly great teacher. This is someone who not only instructs, but inspires. It is a term that can apply to a teacher on any subject."

PAG: The problem here is that the term is taken out of its cultural context. In Japanese, the term shorn of the prefix would indicate a title, as much as a description of expected abilities, and with the prefix I think this is even more the case. I cannot think of a single case outside the traditional arts in Japan where a teacher has ever received such a prefix. So, it is indeed possible, but so improbable that the possibility is not worth considering.

Ted Ehara writes: "The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba has often been referred to as O Sensei. But is he really?"

PAG. The question is ambiguous. Does he really have the title, or does he really fit the job description? See previous comments.

Ted Ehara writes: "Some aikidoists say that there will never be someone as good in Aikido as its founder. If this is true, then Morihei Ueshiba should not be called O Sensei because he was never able to train someone up to his level."

PAG. Notice the hidden premises here. The provision that a teacher should be able to train someone to equal or surpass him/her has quietly been added to the job description/ title. In some respects the premise is obviously false. I teach my native language to non-native speakers, but if my students do not equal or surpass me in ability, I could never even aspire to have such a title. Thus, there is another hidden premise that aikido is teachable, as well as learnable. The two are not the same and the complexities involved in seeing something as a skill, in learning the skill, in teaching the skill, need to be unpacked and examined before we can then consider the extra conditions to be fulfilled for someone to have the "O" title.

Ted Ehara writes: "Personally, I think there are a group of aikidoists and I certainly am not in this group, who are as good or better in Aikido than its founder. They are not members of any one style or organization, yet their Aikido is as good or better than the founder's. If not on a general level, then in specific arts, especially areas that they have helped develop."

PAG. I certainly agree that there is a group of very good aikidoists, but I have no means of knowing whether they actually equal or surpass Morihei Ueshiba in ability. Moreover, I would not be surprised if aikidoists became more proficient, rather than less, and adapted aikido to suit the needs of the 21st century, rather than the 20th, as Ueshiba saw the art. But so much is taken for granted here. For example, how would one compare the relative skills of e.g., Inoue, Nakakura, Tomiki, Shirata, Shioda, Mochizuki, Tohei, or Saito?

Ted Ehara writes: "O Sensei was a human being who accomplished a great deal. He was able to do that by understanding his own humanity."

PAG. I am not entirely sure what is meant here. From what I have read of Ueshiba's own writings, if he believed he accomplished a great deal (and this is questionable), he believed he was able to do this by understanding his own divinity! He regarded himself as the instrument of other, divine, powers and if this is not understood, then a great part of what he himself thought he was doing is misunderstood. I am not really in a position to distinguish what his achievements really were from what he himself believed them to be.

Ted Ehara writes: "Some people have a self-effacing worship of the founder. Some writers have even placed him in a position of a divine being. They emphasize the mystical nature and enlightenment of the founder. This seems to be a path of self-deception. However taking this viewpoint, Morihei Ueshiba cannot be called O Sensei because in their estimation, he was never able to train someone up to his level."

PAG. I agree completely with the fact of bright-eyed adulation of O Sensei in certain circles—and dislike this custom very much, but I have found this to be more prevalent outside Japan than here. In my experience Japanese teachers of aikido living abroad are elevated on to much higher pedestals than their counterparts living in Japan. Here, being an aikido sensei is regarded as a somewhat unexciting job, with virtually no prospects. As for the divine, the Japanese have a much more fluid interpretation of this concept than some westerners, and, since he is dead, some of my Japanese aikido colleagues even regard O Sensei as a kami (= a 'divine' being, but without all the powers and trappings that we usually give to our pantheon). As a kami, he has about the same powers as those of his picture at the shomen of the dojo.

Ted Ehara writes: "Morihei Ueshiba was a person. A person who had powers that we all have."

PAG. Agreed. He himself never used the "O" prefix and his students generally avoided using it in respect of their own organizations. Thus Yoshinkan has a Kancho, which carries much more content as a 'job description' and title than (O) Sensei, and I know that K Tomiki never gave himself such a title. In the Aikikai, Morihei Ueshiba tends to be called "Kaiso" (this has been criticized by some as being too 'Buddhist') and his successors "Doshu". By what title was Tohei Sensei known?

In general, I am all for demythologizing where necessary, but I think that "O Sensei" in aikido is simply a title which has come to be reserved for the founder of the art. Thus, I think that in this thread Don Ehara is perhaps tilting at a windmill on a blustery day.

With very best wishes,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 04-03-2003 at 05:12 AM.

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Old 04-24-2004, 07:00 PM   #46
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Re: Is Morihei Ueshiba really O Sensei

Any time someone founds an art, it is often assumed that they are the greatest authority on that art.Morehei Ueshiba accomplished something that many of us would be truly blessed to accomplish ourselves. Was he infallible? Absolutely not. However, look what has happened to Aikido. It is a form that has changed into several different styles. Not to mention as far as martial arts go it is still relatively young. If anyone earns the right to be deemed O-Sensei it would be the founder. Aikido is not the same now as it was when M. Ueshiba founded it, but consider this. Compare Aikido in O-Sensei's time to what it is now, Comparatively speaking O-Sensei knew more than anyone about Aikido in his time. In the "modern" era though, no one is a complete authority on all forms of Aikido, because it has grown and changed. I have always treated O-Sensei's memory with the utmost respect. I don't think the question raised in this post ever truly was "is Morehei Ueshiba a deity of some sort?" the question posted was: is he worthy of the title O-Sensei? If he never founded it, it may or may not have ever existed. But we do know this. It currently exists because he DID found it. IMHO that alone earns him the title of O-Sensei.
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Old 04-26-2004, 03:54 AM   #47
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Re: Is Morihei Ueshiba really O Sensei

I think it is interesting that in almost all these discussions people seem to view O-Sensei's acomplishemnys in terms of the creation of his physical. Vertainly Ted's original question seems to be considered from that point of view.

I think it is important to remember that O-Sensei was an extremely spiritual person and had had at least one, if not a series of what could be called "enlightenment" experiences (kensho or satori in Zen). If he had been acting within a Zen Buddhist context, he would have been considered a "Roshi".

I think the "O" in O-Sensei was accorded as a way of recognizing that O-sensei wasn't merely the highly skilled Founder of a physical martial art but a man of truely deep spiritual insight who had founded an art through which he hoped others could experience and develop their own insight and spiritual practice.

When it comes to a discussion about whether O-Sensei's students reached or exceeded his skill, it always seems to leave this question of spirituality out and for O-sensei, I think this was the most important element of his Aikido. Very few of his students either could, or cared to, venture there.

There is no doubt in my own mind that O-Sensei was the kind of larger than life spiritual genius that crops up from time to time throught out history in different arts and religious traditions that serve to revitalize those traditions. He was truly an "O-Sensei". Perhaps what was lacking for Morihei Ueshiba was very many "O-Deshi" who were inclined to go the distance to make their art as deep spiritually as they did technically.

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Old 04-26-2004, 08:28 AM   #48
Mark Balogh
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Re: Is Morihei Ueshiba really O Sensei

I think George has really hit the nail on the head. Sorry to back track or get off the spiritual note but I'd like to comment on some overall stuff earlier on...

Quote:
Edward wrote:
On the other hand, and to go back to the thread subject, O sensei taught the traditional Japanese way, and I believe that he succeeded in forming a group of outstanding aikidoists who might have even surpassed in skills, starting from early pre-war students such as Mochizuki, Abe, Shioda, Tomiki... etc, untill the after war period students such as Tohei, Tamura, Noro, Yamada...etc.
Most of my opinion here is from watching various videos. The first AJ Tape O'sensei tape Aikibudo shows the founder to have exceptional ability, quite incredible. Tada Sensei seems to be the only one who comes close to that particular display.

I honestly don't think that anyone has surpassed the founder at his peak. On the First Friendship Demo Tape, Saito Sensei says something like "I will now perform the Kumi Tachi that the founder left, but obviously not at that level" and smiles.

However, I find that Tamura (have been lucky enough to get on his mat), Yamaguchi, Shoida, Tohei, Saito, and Osawa are all inspirational to watch and with fantastic Aikido. No doubt he produced amazing students. He must have been a GREAT teacher. It is my personal opinion that as we get further away from the founder, generation by generation, the skill levels are becoming less impressive. Is anyone else of this opinion?

Last edited by Mark Balogh : 04-26-2004 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 04-26-2004, 08:56 AM   #49
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Re: Is Morihei Ueshiba really O Sensei

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
I think the "O" in O-Sensei was accorded as a way of recognizing that O-sensei wasn't merely the highly skilled Founder of a physical martial art but a man of truely deep spiritual insight who had founded an art through which he hoped others could experience and develop their own insight and spiritual practice.
One thing about the "O" in "O-sensei" that some folks outside of Japan don't know is that it's not the character for "dai" meaning "big but, rather, "okina" meaning "venerable old man."

I've attached an image of the characters for "O-sensei" that is often used in Japanese.

-- Jun
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Old 04-26-2004, 09:00 AM   #50
Yann Golanski
 
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Re: Is Morihei Ueshiba really O Sensei

Quote:
Mark Balogh wrote:
It is my personal opinion that as we get further away from the founder, generation by generation, the skill levels are becoming less impressive. Is anyone else of this opinion?
I do not share that point of view. Ueshiba developed his Aikido and he was the best at it. Tomiki developed his Aikido and he was the best at it. Shioda devel.... you get the idea.

Ueshiba took some techniques from Daito-ryu, coloured them with his own philosophy and knowledge of other martial arts. He passed on a living, evolving Aikido not a dead art of set techniques to be performed only one way regardless of size, age and ability. Some of his students took what he had to offer and following his own advice found their own Aikido -- Tomiki, Shioda, Tohei, to name just a few.

Are they better? No. Are they different? Yes. Is that a good thing? Yes, because then I can learn Aikido.

Besides, if no students could surpass his teacher then Sokaku must be better at Aikido than Ueshiba ever was. Meaning that sometime ago, when we were covered in fur and living in caves, there must have been a super-sensei capable of doing ikkajo on mammoths!!!! RYAAAAA!!!....

The people who understand, understand prefectly.
yann@york-aikido.org York Shodokan Aikido
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