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Old 11-06-2003, 12:26 PM   #1
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11/06/2003 12:26pm [from Jun Akiyama]
Website: http://aikido-france.net/welcome/communique/200311/

A recent message from Hitohiro Saito sensei reveals that the Iwama dojo once presided by Morihiro Saito sensei has left the Aikikai organization. The message states, "1 - The Iwama group has decided to leave "The Aikikai Foundation", and will become independent as "Iwama Shinshin Aiki Shurenkai". 2 - Saito Sensei devoted every moment of his life to preserving the Founder's techniques. I, Hitohiro Saito, will continue to dedicate myself thoroughly to instructing people, transmitting and spreading those aikido techniques. From now, I will confer Iwama Ryu certificates to all Iwama Ryu students. 3 - The founder's Dojo in Iwama will no longer be used to practice aikido. We will pursue our daily training in the "Tanrenkan" in Iwama. 4 - The uchideshi courses will continue in Iwama.", and is signed "Hitohiro Saito, Iwama Ryu Soke, Iwama, Nov. 2003."
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Old 11-06-2003, 02:01 PM   #2
Nafis Zahir
 
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This is another sad day for Aikido. I studied the Iwama Style for 7 years. I enjoyed it very much. It gives you a very strong base and a good foundation. I've sinced moved on to the Aikikai. Every dojo is different. The Techniques are just the same as they are different. And even though alot of techniques are different in their applications, there are pros & cons to both styles. I was at a seminar where Chiba Sensei was instructing, and one thing he said was, "never get stuck doing technique the same way, always look for a better way." Of course a better way for me might be different than a better way for you. People must also realize, that O'Sensei developed his art in Iwama, but that's not how he taught at Hombu. Someone said on another post that a Shihan said that alot of the uchi deschi didn't understand O'Sensei's teachings. I'm working on Ni Dan and neither do I. But after 30 to 40 years, I believe that their understanding is now at an apex. The one thing I always disliked about the Iwama dojo, is that we were constantly being told that there was only one true aikido and only one way to do things and that everyone else was wrong and how those techniques didn't work. If you went to the Hombu dojo and not Iwama, you would do whatever O'Sensei showed you. Tohei Sensei was at Iwama. He received 10th dan from O'Sensei and he doesn't do Iwama style! To end this thread, I must say that I'm in transition now between the two styles. I love what I'm learning at the Aikikai. Now I have 2 systems to work with. And just like all of the Shihans who trained with O'Sensei and came out with different philosphies and applications and styles, so will most of us. I'm not going to look exactly like my old instructor or my new one, just as he doesn't look like Chiba or Yamada Shihans, with whom he trained. Iwama and Aikikai - different, yet the same. All Aikido. Let us all learn from each other. The problem with organizations is that they tend not to accept your rank if you come from somewhere else.

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Old 11-06-2003, 02:26 PM   #3
Aviv
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Quote:
Nafis Zahir wrote:
The one thing I always disliked about the Iwama dojo, is that we were constantly being told that there was only one true aikido and only one way to do things and that everyone else was wrong and how those techniques didn't work.
I've been training Iwama-Style Aikido since 1986 and have never heard those words from Saito Sensei, his son, or any senior Iwama-Style instructor.

Peace, Aviv Goldsmith
Aikido in Fredericksburg
www.aikidoinfredericksburg.org
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Old 11-06-2003, 02:33 PM   #4
Nafis Zahir
 
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Hey Aviv, I was talking about the dojo I used to go to. I've gone to a Saito seminar and him and all the other Shihans of different styles never talked bad about the other. But trust me, it is constantly mentioned in some dojos! I'm sure my old instructor was happy to hear the news.

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Old 11-06-2003, 05:16 PM   #5
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Ki Symbol

Quote:
Nafis Zahir wrote:
Hey Aviv, I was talking about the dojo I used to go to. I've gone to a Saito seminar and him and all the other Shihans of different styles never talked bad about the other. But trust me, it is constantly mentioned in some dojos! I'm sure my old instructor was happy to hear the news.
As someone who has trained in the Ki Society for over 10 years, I have had the opportunity on several occasions to attend several of M. Saito Sensei's seminars and several seminars by his better known senior students in the US.

Despite the differences in how we train and do technique, I have always been able to adapt and fit in. Probably had to make the most adjustment in the first seminar when I didn't yet know the unwritten assumptions. It was more like a different dialect with much that was in common. I never heard him or the other senior teachers bad-mouthing other styles. It doesn't surprise me though. I doubt any group is completely immune to it. KS certainly isn't.

As someone looking from the outside, it seemed that Iwama style was quite separate for a long time from Aikikai Hombu style. While every situation is different, this seemed very likely to happen given the history of aikido teachers who have evolved a very distinct system of teaching and style of technique.

Yohinkan - Shioda Sensei

Shodokan - Tomiki Sensei

Ki no Kenkyukai - Tohei Sensei

etc. with the older generation

now with younger generation

Iwama Ryu

and perhaps later Nishio Ryu ?

is it bad ?

don't know. It may just be inevitable as groups struggle to retain their own body of knowldege.

What's not inevitable is that the groups in future generations don't talk to each other or express insecurities but choosing to put each other down rather than accepting or even embracing diversity and learning from each other.

Craig

Houston Ki Society
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Old 11-06-2003, 05:24 PM   #6
Chris Li
 
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Quote:
Aviv Goldsmith (Aviv) wrote:
I've been training Iwama-Style Aikido since 1986 and have never heard those words from Saito Sensei, his son, or any senior Iwama-Style instructor.
I have, directly from Morihiro Saito's mouth. Things like "This is the way that they do it in Tokyo, and it's wrong", and "Tokyo is killing Aikido". Not surprisingly, I've heard similar things from Hitohiro and other Iwama instructors - water (or whatever) runs downhill.

Best,

Chris

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Old 11-06-2003, 06:39 PM   #7
sanosuke
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another break-off .......man, why don't we get together and establish a strong foundation to spread aikido further throughout the world?
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Old 11-06-2003, 06:51 PM   #8
ikkainogakusei
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Quote:
Reza Kauzar (sanosuke) wrote:
another break-off .......man, why don't we get together and establish a strong foundation to spread aikido further throughout the world?
I think it's because many want the foundation to be their view of the elephant only. Until people let go of ego and respect other points of view, the 'ai' part of the philosophy remains limited.

Gosh, it seems that the above could be said about so many things, so uh, we're human like the rest of the world eh?


"To educate a man in mind, and not in morals, is to educate a menace to society." ~Theodore Roosevelt
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Old 11-06-2003, 07:29 PM   #9
Nathan Plant
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I'm a beginner, taking lessons in an Iwama-style dojo... I'm not totally sure what all this means, since I'm so new to the politics of it all (if it can be called such), but it seems to me that if a technique is doable, usable, and effective, then it shouldn't matter who taught it or who came up with it. After all, wasn't O'Sensei's whole system of Aik-jutsu and Aikido an amalgam of several martial arts - all effective in their own ways to begin with?

Side note: I've heard Witt Shihan, the senior instructor at my dojo make comments not unlike the kind some of you have heard, but I think he was referring more to the ease and effectiveness of a particular way to do a technique, as apposed to "putting down" another style.

Yet stones have stood for a thousand years, and pained thoughts found
The honey of peace in old poems.
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Old 11-06-2003, 08:09 PM   #10
Erik
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Quote:
Christopher Li (Chris Li) wrote:
I have, directly from Morihiro Saito's mouth. Things like "This is the way that they do it in Tokyo, and it's wrong", and "Tokyo is killing Aikido". Not surprisingly, I've heard similar things from Hitohiro and other Iwama instructors - water (or whatever) runs downhill.
Change Tokyo to Hombu and I can say that I heard the same thing, well, at least the translator translated it that way.

I think this is largely a non-issue, however. I used to cross-train in 3 dojos under 3 different organizations (one was Iwama). Out of 200+ students I know of four people that did any kind of regular crossing over. I was the only one doing all three, two others crossed over maybe once a month between two of them and one other had in the past gone to all three.

It's a big deal historically, and clearly there's been stress amongst the high 'falutin' which has filtered down but for the average person absolutely nothing will change because most people never practice outside their home dojo or organization to begin with.

Last edited by Erik : 11-06-2003 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 11-06-2003, 08:32 PM   #11
Aviv
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We recently organized a very successful Aikido Friendship Seminar which included the seven senior instructors (from seven different associations) in the state. A lot of good information and even more goodwill was exchanged. We probably will continue to do these on a regular basis.

Peace, Aviv Goldsmith
Aikido in Fredericksburg
www.aikidoinfredericksburg.org
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Old 11-06-2003, 08:58 PM   #12
Esteban Martinez
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I've never trained under any Iwama Style dojo, instructor or seminar. However, I've been getting interesting in Iwama style weapons recently because I find them interesting.

As soon as I read the message of the breakup the link took me to the Aikido Iwama Ryu France website where the Message from H.Saito Sensei is posted. There I went to read M.Saito biography and quote: "He is the only true Aikido weapons specialist and his way of teaching the use of these weapons has become the benchmark for the whole world."

I have to say that I completely disagree with this statement, and I can see why some people in this thread has comments about the Iwama Dojo saying comments that Aikikai is not true Aikido.

Anyway I'm really sad that there has been another break in Aikido and I wish all of the Iwama Style students good luck in their independece.
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Old 11-06-2003, 09:10 PM   #13
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For an art of harmony, these types of splits are disturbing. Aikido was evolutionary from what I am able to gather from O'sensei's history-i.e., his aikido changed with time.

The aikikai has a responsibility to maintain a certain set of standards to certify dan ranks-otherwise these minimum standards would be inconsistent and vary dramatically for everyone. So why do we have to have another separate organization because they want to practice a style developed when O'sensei was at Iwama? I think the statement about ego was pretty much on target.

I know it is not going to happen but I think people should evolve back to the aikikai and restore harmony.

My two cents.
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Old 11-06-2003, 09:23 PM   #14
Erik
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Quote:
Aviv Goldsmith (Aviv) wrote:
We recently organized a very successful Aikido Friendship Seminar which included the seven senior instructors (from seven different associations) in the state. A lot of good information and even more goodwill was exchanged. We probably will continue to do these on a regular basis.
I assume this was partly in response to my comments. I think you took my comments differently than I meant them. If you don't throw the big 'shing ding' I guarantee that 95% of the students in those dojos never cross-train. They just don't do it. It's not necessarily because they are arrogant or superior it's just how people are when living their daily lives.

Since they aren't cross-training anyway I don't see much reason for them to care who signs their certificate or what some guy in Japan does. I know it won't work that way but maybe it should?

Last edited by Erik : 11-06-2003 at 09:28 PM.
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Old 11-06-2003, 09:39 PM   #15
Nafis Zahir
 
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Getting back to my old dojo (Iwama Style) My old instructor taught us Iwama weapons he learned from the Late Saito Shihan. But guess what? Saito Shihan changed some of the weapons for his own good reasons and even taught variations. Although my old instructor swore by Iwama weapons, he, at one point, critizied Saito for making changes and said that Saito was probably being influenced by his son! Imagine that! So finally, he gave up trying to keep up with the changes and sticks do whatever they're doing now. They also said that they didn't want to have get Pat Hendricks to teach them the new stuff! My Aikikai instructor knows and teaches weapons. He learned weapons from Saito as well as Chiba. Alot of his weapons are the same as I learned and some are different, but the goal is the same. O'Sensei continually developed aikido and if he were alive today, it would be different than it was when he past away. Remember, he expounded from Daito-Ryu, much the same way Bruce Lee did when he took Wing Chun into Jeet Kun Do. Everything evolves. All the Shihans who teach different stlyes are correct. No one is wrong.

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Old 11-07-2003, 06:50 AM   #16
Aviv
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Red face

Quote:
Esteban Martinez wrote:
Anyway I'm really sad that there has been another break in Aikido and I wish all of the Iwama Style students good luck in their independece.
Many "Iwama Style" students (in fact most of us in the US) have always been and continue to be in the Aikikai. Much of the European Iwama Style community has recently re-affiliated with the Aikikai. Around the world there are stylistic differences and organizational differences and attitudinal differences within the Aikido community -- the "Iwama Style" community is just one subset of the whole.

I agree with the writers on this Subject that more awase is better.

Peace, Aviv Goldsmith
Aikido in Fredericksburg
www.aikidoinfredericksburg.org
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Old 11-07-2003, 09:18 AM   #17
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Aviv, not to change the subject... but I'm unable to access your dojo website. Is it down for a while? Just curious. I like visiting websites of other dojos to see who/what is out there. Thanks!

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Old 11-07-2003, 09:51 AM   #18
Aviv
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Quote:
John Boswell wrote:
Aviv, not to change the subject... but I'm unable to access your dojo website. Is it down for a while?Thanks!
Interesting. The forwarding/domain site is down -- don't know why. here's a backdoor link:

http://members.aol.com/precursors/aikido/

not sure if some of the internal links will work or not.

Peace, Aviv Goldsmith
Aikido in Fredericksburg
www.aikidoinfredericksburg.org
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Old 11-07-2003, 10:36 AM   #19
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How much of this is rhetoric and how much of it is in a sense "real" politics?

I mean, is Iwama Ryu establishing itself as a separate Aikido line because of problems in promotion, certification of teachers and so on?

Aikikai as an organization has to deal with national governments some of which regulate and control all martial arts practiced in place. There's also the matter of recognizing one federation per country, or recognizing authority for promoting dan ranked students and so on?

My impression is that this split has to do more with the situation of Aikido in France and Germany than a sense that the so called "Aikikai" aikido is not real enough, or that the only "true Aikido" comes kissing the blarney stone located in castle O'Iwama ..

OR is this really a claim to be the "Real Aikido TM" ? I think that's already taken.

I can't buy that it's a methodology problem; I don't know of an "Aikikai curriculum" that forces every affiliated dojo to forbid static training or weapons work derived by Saito sensei.

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 11-07-2003, 02:19 PM   #20
BKimpel
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Leaving Hombu to become independent is not new folks, in fact due to the one representative per country rule many had to. A bunch of top-level sensei left to be independent shortly after O-sensei died. Why did they leave? Ultimately, most likely because they did not choose to "honor" the current hombu authority figures that would judge their Aikido and tell them what to do. Were there other factors involved such as personality types, restrictions imposed from many different levels (organizational, federations, governmental) -- sure probably.

Is H.Saito leaving for those reasons as well? Who knows? He hasn't shared that with us so it's none of our business.

Some of those independents have now rejoined Hombu-dojo, so who knows…maybe H.Saito will rejoin again later in life.

Will it change anything? Only where you get that little piece of paper!

If you train under H.Saito you'll get a paper that says, "such and such rank -- Iwama-Ryu". If you train with one of the other "Iwama-Aikikai converts" you'll get a paper that says, "such and such rank -- Aikikai".

Can you still run back and forth from Hombu to Iwama…I'm sure you can.

Will H.Saito welcome Aikidoka of all styles to Iwama to train -- you bet he will (his father did too).

So who cares!?! End of the day pick the teachers you like, learn all you can from them and seek out any teacher of any style that interests you. In fact grasp at every opportunity to study with great teachers regardless of your (or their) style.

M.Saito's efforts near the end of his life were to get people to see beyond the style barriers and absorb what is good (a fundamental change from his earlier days of criticizing Tokyo). If there is one thing you can learn from him is that the really great sensei (the real masters) are either dead or getting on in years folks -- make the best of their time.

P.S. Iwama is complex. Now there are three levels of separation at Iwama. There were the old students of Ueshiba that trained with him at Iwama who never accepted the "youngster" M.Saito as Iwama's dojo-cho (most are gone but their students are still around), there was M.Saito's students who didn't used to accept Hombu dojo-chos but since H.Saito was named succesor switched teams, and then there are Saito students who accept H.Saito as the Iwama dojo-cho. Old and new conflict entwined…maybe some day they will untangle it, maybe not

Bruce Kimpel
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Old 11-07-2003, 02:53 PM   #21
Nafis Zahir
 
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"There is one place that you have not looked. It is there, and only there, that you will truly find the Master!"

The Last Dragon

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Old 11-12-2003, 03:47 PM   #22
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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I think that an increasing number of aikido styles is beneficial.

First, I think we can all agree that while styles share common concepts and philosophy to some degree, and certainly should all be called 'aikido', they differ considerably.

Second, to the degree that an organization (AYANA, IYAF, Aikikai...) contains many distinct styles of teaching and technique, that organization must be increasingly decentralized and vague.

Now, for styles to bicker and insult one another, beyond friendly disagreement (we're aikidoka, we should be able to understand other people's viewpoints without abandoning our own), seems harmful.

In short, I don't mind if there are many organizations, and in fact think it usefully recognizes the many different forms of aikido that have developed over the years. However, it is best to have amicable relations between these organizations.
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Old 11-18-2003, 12:17 PM   #23
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Iwama Independence

Change is inevitable and change is good. I don't necessarily think Iwama branching off is good or bad. I do believe that Aikido was not made to become stagnant. Should Aikido remain as it has since the early '70's? The older generation of Shihan are now leaving us and it is up to us to now carry on. This is a much different day and time than it was for them. Tohei, Tomiki, Shioda and others were also considered radicals (maybe still). I train using the Ki Society method so believe me I've heard it all! But when people train with me they are surprised that I actually do Aikido:-) I started with the Aikikai but, I have found that the Ki Society method works best for me. My point is, there are and have always been inconsistencies in rank as relates to skill. Don't blanket the organization when it is a very local point. I'm not knocking the Aikikai but we don't need the Aikikai to govern all training. There are disparities there too. After all, how many us began training to join any organization. I thought the point was to train.
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Old 11-19-2003, 12:01 PM   #24
Bob
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I believe that all this is politics. I think that as long as nage (tori/shiite) is on balance and safe, and uke is off balance and vulnerable then it is an aikido technique.

The remainder of the issues come from our being normal human beings ... ever so ready to take a mere comment as a challenge/insult and spring to a defence that is equally challenging/insulting. This, of course, is one of the negative attributes of our human-being-ness that O'Sensei has given us the tools to overcome if we would only work hard at it rather than fall back to our pre-aiki behaviour as soon as a shadow appears on the horizon.

Unfortunately many of those who have gone before us show these same weaknesses ... I guess true aikido must be even more difficult than we short-timers can imagine!

My biggest concern for aikido is the barriers that are put up by the various aikido organizations to exclude other organizations, and aiki weapons is a good example. Each time that techniques are developed/changed that are specific to just one organization it is, in my opinion, an exclusionary move ... a student of one style, let's say Aikikai, has a hard time moving to another style, let's say Iwama, and feel that he/she is respected if he/she cannot do the particular weapons katas that Iwama students of equal rank can do. After all in the shattering of the karate world into so many (how many?) styles what is the main criteria that defines the difference between them if it isn't the arbitrary difference in the katas that were developed by the Founder of the style?

As an Aikikai student I wish that Hombu would give us a particular set of weapons techniques to work on rather than leaving it for whichever Shihan we happen to follow. And I don't care whether it is what Iwama uses or any other organization ... I just dream of the day that we can move from training with one organization to another with ease.

Bob
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Old 11-19-2003, 12:15 PM   #25
mj
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We are going to get to the stage...or perhaps are already at a stage, where anyone can open a club and call themselves a 10th dan or shihan or soke or grandmaster or founder or professor.

Maybe one style will focus on weapons or immobilisations or projections or kata or randori or ki or health or ukemi.

I come from Judo. Judo is described as 'that which was created by Jigoro Kano'.

Surely Aikido can be learnt from what was created by M Ueshiba?

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