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Old 10-04-2003, 08:59 PM   #1
Ari Bolden
 
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O Sensei's Aikido technique..the best?

Don't get your hakamas in an uproar.

Forward: I've never been one to just accept things because others tell us "that's how it's always been." Why should we accept things based on pure dogma?

I've watched many clips, documentaries, and movies of O Sensei's aikido. At times, it seems almost (PLEASE FORGIVE ME).....clumsy.

I suspect many of you will be thinking "you had to feel O Sensei's aikido. Movies can't do it justice." I'd like to avoid that line of reasoning for this post please. I think it is possible to SEE the soundness of technique.

Just because he was the founder, does that mean his aikido was the most technically sound? Does this go for the Doshu(s) as well?

I've seen many aikidoka shihan whose technique (in my opinion..or APPEARED) seemed to be much better.

There is no doubt that he mastered the ESSENCE of aikido and the philosophy behind it. But what of his skill?

<Again...please avoid the "what is the best" line of reasoning. I am looking for your gut level reaction to what you have witnessed in his technique and other high ranking aikidoka.>

I look forward to your replies.

Warm Regards,

Ari B.

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Old 10-05-2003, 06:52 AM   #2
aikilouis
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Turn on the flamethrowers !

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Old 10-05-2003, 08:10 AM   #3
Nacho_mx
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"I've watched many clips, documentaries, and movies of O Sensei's aikido. At times, it seems almost (PLEASE FORGIVE ME).....clumsy."

So now you are an expert...let´s see your movies and let us compare.

"There is no doubt that he mastered the ESSENCE of aikido and the philosophy behind it. But what of his skill?"

Aikido practice is meant to achieve unification of body and mind and mastery of ourselves, conditioning of the body, improved health, agility, flexibility and self defense skills being side effects, therefore if he achieved that in his lifetime his technique is probably better than 99.9% of us, but that fact is probably irrelevant, at least to me.

Last edited by Nacho_mx : 10-05-2003 at 08:14 AM.
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Old 10-05-2003, 12:00 PM   #4
Nick Simpson
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I was talking to one of my sensei after yesterdays class, he's not very traditional when it comes to aikido techniques, prefering to be more spontaneous on the mat rather than do shionage and kotegaeshi in the standard way. He said something very interesting to me about o-sensei and how many people start where he started instead of starting where he left off and as such aikido doesnt evolve much. (Of course everyone has to learn the basics but I see his point)

He also stated that the things he likes us to do are to make us artists instead of technicians (someone who is mechanically perfect in there aikido, in his terms). To me this seems to be about the development of aiki rather than the development of aikido. From what ive seen of Ueshiba sensei, in the later years he seemed to practise less set techniques and more spontaneous aiki, of course we have to practise our basics before we can even begin to understand anything or walk before you run if you like, but I find this concept very interesting and I think it relates to this thread.

Ari, perhaps it is Ueshiba's less traditional techniques that you think look clumsy, but I would say that they are a true exprssion of aikido, in my humble opinion.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 10-05-2003, 12:03 PM   #5
Nick Simpson
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And of his skill? I would say that to do effective techniques that harness aiki takes considerable skill, More than say executing an ikkyo to specification. But thats just how I feel.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 10-05-2003, 01:50 PM   #6
Ari Bolden
 
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"So now you are an expert...let´s see your movies and let us compare."

Never claimed to be. Isn't it possible to pick something apart through observation? Just a thought.

"Ari, perhaps it is Ueshiba's less traditional techniques that you think look clumsy, but I would say that they are a true exprssion of aikido, in my humble opinion."

YES! O SENSEI opted for lots of movement in his technique. Throws, such as kokyonage and even aikinage, he loved. Much like a whirling dervish on the mat.

Perhaps my comparison was aiming at the fact that our studies today are much different than that of O Sensei's aikido practice. Having studied Daito Ryu, his technique is basic (true to the form of his Daito background) and much different from what is taught today.

<is the flamethower still on?>

Cheers..keep it coming....

ARi B...provoking thought..that's all...

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Old 10-05-2003, 02:34 PM   #7
PhilJ
 
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I'm not professing my opinion, but asking, "Why not?"

Aikido is about change, not stagnation. Even the founder's technique changed substantially in his later years.

So does that mean today's technique is no better than his was? Maybe today's isn't better, but more "relevant" (or other verbage)?

I could see O'Sensei might believe that claims of his technique being the 'best' would be arrogant, but I didn't ever meet the man.

Phillip Johnson
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Old 10-05-2003, 02:44 PM   #8
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Well I don't know about "clumsy", but I could certainly agree with less fluid in his films (which are very old). Take a look at old footage of Kondo-sensei (of Daito-Ryu) in one of the friendship seminar tapes and you'll see a similar look of more direct, less fluid movement (seemingly rougher, almost jerky movement).

It has been said that O-sensei constantly refined his art over time, and perhaps the more fluid and circular movements came later or maybe they were actually a product of Kisshomaru and the other shihan that remained at Aikikai after O-sensei's death. Many people have said that Kishhomaru actually developed the very circular irimi-nage that is the Aikikai trademark, not O-sensei…but Rinjiro Shirata was an early student (1931) and he demonstrated all three types of irimi-nage (circular, triangular, and direct). Only he knew whether the circular form was from O-sensei or Kisshomaru (or himself, after all he was one of the few shihan that statyed to support Kisshomaru after O-sensei's death and certainly was one of the main proponents of Aikikai Aikido thereafter).

But is "nicer looking", and more fluid versions even better (while yes they look appear to be more refined)? Wushu looks great too, but I would bet that the practical Wushu is much less pretty than the movie-wushu (which looks nice).

The irimi-nage and ikkyo movements that I find effective are not pretty at all (and not the circular versions), but they are powerful and work against cooperative and uncooperative uke's alike so they must be "better"

It is a good question though. Much along the lines of Victor Ditoro's questions about when uke's role changed ("Receiver" versus "Partner" versus "Attacker" thread). I think many of us have questions as to how much was actually changed and/or influenced by Kisshomaru and the senior shihan after O-sensei's death. It's not disbelief -- just curiosity.

Bruce

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Old 10-05-2003, 05:43 PM   #9
Ari Bolden
 
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Very good points...

Now both Phil and Bruce point to the "ever changing" face of aikido.

Perhaps aikido and it's practicioners are getting better as the years go by.

More people=more input?

cheers

Ari

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Old 10-05-2003, 07:06 PM   #10
PeterR
 
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There are contemporaries that did critisize Ueshiba M.'s technique. Ohba Shihan said at one point it was not very fluid, at another Tomiki was not pleased by the direction it was heading (in an attempt to be more fluid maybe it was becoming less effective). There were others within Aikido I am sure and there are well documented impressions offered by those from other arts.

On the other side Ueshiba M. did manage to impress a lot of people.

Are there people past or present that were better at the Aiki arts - most certainly. Does that detract from Ueshiba M. - certainly not.

He was well trained, practiced hard, and by all accounts was exceptionally good. I think one could do worse for a model and he surely did inspire.

Clumsy - the only place I saw that was him loosing his balance in one video. You could concentrate on the momentary slip of an old man or the fact that he didn't miss a beat and kept on going. I choose the latter.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 10-05-2003, 07:06 PM   #11
Victor Ditoro
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I almost hate to even chime in on such a topic, but...

(** General disclaimer about me being more "well read" than "well practiced", I am not nor have ever been a student of O Sensei or any of his direct students **)

From my secondhand understanding, a few things should be kept in mind...First, I would imagine that O Sensei would have taught that Aikido has no technique. It is only one technique, the technique of Aiki, of moving in unison with the heavens, etc... Many interviews with his students indicated that he would show something, then, when asked to show it again, would do something totally different. His aikido was without thought or structured curriculum, it just happened spontaneously when someone attacked him. And as such, he was able to handle attacks even by quick jabbing boxers, or sumo wrestlers(Tenryu, who was so impressed he studied with O sensei a while). The notion of "formal attacks" was not of concern to O Sensie, since he would host more than his share of "dojo busters".

The structured curriculum and list of techniques we now associate with Aikido was the result of the tireless efforts on the part of Shioda, Saito, Doshu, Tohei, and many other of his students who made a valiant effort to understand what it was O Sensei had figured out. In the process, techniques were distilled, codified and organized so that the art would not die with him. I've read many times that his direct students knew O Sensei had stumbled upon something incredible, but were totally baffled when trying to make sense of what he was saying.

So, to ask whether O Sensei's Aikido technique was the best is an "impossible" question since there was no Aikido technique, other than the "inifitinely generative art of Aiki". Shioda, at least, felt that even though he was a technical master, he never reached O Sensei's level of speed, timing and power. He felt that O Sensei could read people's movements and intentions perfectly and was essentially un-attackable. Shioda chose to focus on developing a master technical curriculum in the hopes that through good practice with solid technique, students might stumble upon the real Aikido along the way.
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Old 10-06-2003, 11:28 PM   #12
Alan Lomax
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Re: O Sensei's Aikido technique..the best?

[quote="Ari Bolden"]Just because he was the founder, does that mean his aikido was the most technically sound? Does this go for the Doshu(s) as well?

I've seen many aikidoka shihan whose technique (in my opinion..or APPEARED) seemed to be much better.

]/QUOTE]

Ari,

This is the best line of questions I've seen on the threads so far. I too have had the pleasure of pouring over hours and hours of old videos of O'sensei as well as some others in Daito Ryu and Aikijujitsu and combinations of related Arts. I also have been faced with the "Huh, what's this?" syndrome.

In my opinion, and this is just opinion, I see O'sensei doing his thing. We now call it Aikido. He derived it from many years of training and experiences (the short version of how it came about).

What we see people doing these days is also called Aikido, but is most definitely not the same as his. (Big cool points for O'sensei here) I understand from my little bit of digging and scratching around, O'sensei allowed for and accepted everybody's personal differences and acknowledged that each person's Aikido would be different from his due to the differences in all people.

All of the feedback prior to my chiming in, are great explanations of why some Aikido seems to be more formulated and sometimes even appears to be more effective. Easy answer is, yes in some cases it may very well be, why not. Of course Aikido can progress. O'sensei progressed through out his martial path, others can, have and will too. Another occurrence has been over time, an almost systematic refining of teaching by some, has created some very stylized methods to bring Aikido to others.

O'sensei was a clever fellow. He purposefully sought out and recruited high-ranking officials, folks of influence, power and especially members of other martial arts who were already highly regarded. He did this for many reasons but one reason was that if these highly regarded martial artist from other background would get behind this Aikido(Aikibudo/Ueshiba Ryu Aikijujitsu), others were sure to accept it. Another, in seeing the assimilation of his Art into the styles of these other martial arts experts, he gleaned more valuable insight into his own. He didn't condemn their different styles of learning or performance. In fact, he rewarded some by publicly citing them with names for their styles and sending them out to spread Aikido in his name. Look how well this has worked out so far ! He was more than a martial arts great, he was also a marketing genius.

Now, if you don't mind taking a little bit more time and investing a good deal more of yourself than most are willing to. You will have no trouble realizing the potential and freedom of form gained from 30, 40, 50 or more years of study, practice and application of your chosen martial path. According to what I've read and been told, O'sensei learned about several different martial arts and loads of other good and bad stuff getting to where he finally began calling it Aikido. It wasn't just because of some leaded well water. Even after this he continued on his path.

As long as the Shihan has spent approximately the same time, under pretty much similar circumstances, learning from similarly skilled folks on their way, why couldn't they be as effective or even more so. On another side, many folks teach, demonstrate and or appear to apply very effective waza, but are seldom exposed to the pressure of having all of the variables that O'sensei dealt with, from the continuous testing of his credibility by the people who challenged him. It seems he did OK. Can the people you have watched stand up under similar circumstances?

Me, I've still got some time left to keep on learning. I think I'll just see where all this can take me. Also, I'm not trying to be anything but me. Don't have enough time in life to foster dillusions.(Man! Good coffee today!)

(as I am a Fire Fighting Instructor in the Navy, I have taken the precaution of suiting up in full turn out gear, dozo…)

Best regards

Alan Lomax
Doumukai Aikido
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Old 10-07-2003, 12:02 AM   #13
Largo
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Could part of it also have been due to o-sensei's age? I've only seen a few clips of him, but they looked like his later years. For 70 or so, I don't think you can really complain
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Old 10-07-2003, 12:34 AM   #14
Ari Bolden
 
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Thank you Alan, but again, just trying to provoke some thought on the matter.

Paul:

For man in is 70 and 80's, O Sensei was amazing. Try and find some earlier footage of him...worth the hunt!

cheers

ARi

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Old 10-07-2003, 09:31 PM   #15
Alan Lomax
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Ari,

Sorry if I got out off from the limb you were shooting for. I do enjoy this particular line.

I think that the earlier footage of O'sensei demonstrating the Daito Ryu Aikijujitsu shows him with very delibrate and strong form. Doesn't really reflect the softness of his later style. However, on the flipside, every so often you can see the tell tale signs of his earlier hard style come out in his later demonstrations.

Alas, I've only seen him on the taped footage and although I have a pretty good veiwing of his taped performance, it is still just that.

Thanks Ari, hope I didn't side track things too much.

Best regards

Alan Lomax
Doumukai Aikido
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Old 10-07-2003, 09:40 PM   #16
Ari Bolden
 
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No worries Alan...I very much like your posts and how you push...

if anyone is interested, I have 2 25 minute documentries on o sensei...pre war and post war stuff. EXCELLENT..

Be more than happy to send it your way via MSN or Kaaza...

veritas_1@hotmail.com is my msn.

Both are about 160 megs.

Cheers

ARi Bolden.....

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Old 10-07-2003, 10:18 PM   #17
John Boswell
 
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Quote:
I suspect many of you will be thinking "you had to feel O Sensei's aikido. Movies can't do it justice." I'd like to avoid that line of reasoning for this post please. I think it is possible to SEE the soundness of technique.

I have only one thing to say and it would be this:

Aikido can not be taught or understood or learned through visual means. Unless you feel it and experience it for yourself, you do not know it and nor will you understand or fully get it.

I've practiced Aikido a while now and I would understand Nothing if it had not been for actually Doing Aikido. You can watch videos and scan things and get idea's and "steal" techniques for yourself... but until you get out on the mat with it? or experience it for yourself? You just don't know.

Personally, I'd pity any man that would 'challenge' O'Sensei. Not saying the originator of this post has... but... ?

Debate the issue all you want. Provoke all the thoughts and theories you like... but if you weren't there (and I wasn't and don't claim to be) then the truth is... you'll never know. Period.

Sorry.

Have a nice day though. That's my 2 cents.

You said you wanted to "avoid" such a post. I believe in what I'm saying so much... I'm saying it anyway. Not in disrespect, but more out of respect for O'Sensei and the fact that I KNOW... had I not moved a certain way, stepped a certain way, acted a certain way on the mat, then I would not know anything about Aikido.

It *must* be felt. I believe that!

Last edited by John Boswell : 10-07-2003 at 10:27 PM.

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