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Old 03-20-2010, 05:53 AM   #1
dps
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Did O'Sensei frame his Aikido teachings in religious terms to hide them.

It was not an uncommon thing in Asia to hide meanings or teachings using religious explanation so that enemies or competitors could not steal.

I think that the residual of this old practice is that some take the spiritual explanations too literal and do not understand the information that is hidden.

David

Last edited by dps : 03-20-2010 at 05:55 AM.
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Old 03-20-2010, 10:15 AM   #2
bulevardi
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Re: Did O'Sensei frame his Aikido teachings in religious terms to hide them.

I'm taking those things too literal mostly, yes.
And in that case, it's even harder to learn what he meant.

It's not my purpose to pull down the whole idea of spiritual things. It's just me not understanding the how and why of spiritual things.

If you're grown up in another culture than the Japanese, it's even more difficult to understand some habits. Certainly people from the west learning weird things from the east.
I know lots of spiritual habits are pure crap, but some have truth in it, and it's difficult for a beginner to decide what's real and what's fake. If you know how and why, or some background information, you get more in depth information than just practice the exercise.

I'm very interested in Japanese culture, backgrounds,... and eager to learn new things. But for me it's always hard to try things that are related with more spiritual things. Certainly as I'm a disbeliever of anything related with religions, like an athe´st or scientist.
I'm open for lots of new things to learn, but for my own good, I'm not swallowing everything just immediately.
For example: as I'm reading a book about Ki at the moment, I just try memorizing the parts that are useful for me and seem scientifically relevant, the other parts that I dislike at the moment, I leave aside. But I give things a try to understand.

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Old 03-20-2010, 11:14 AM   #3
chillzATL
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Re: Did O'Sensei frame his Aikido teachings in religious terms to hide them.

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
It was not an uncommon thing in Asia to hide meanings or teachings using religious explanation so that enemies or competitors could not steal.

I think that the residual of this old practice is that some take the spiritual explanations too literal and do not understand the information that is hidden.

David
I had written this nice long reply about a few scenarios, but then it occured to me that it really just doesn't matter any more. So I erased it. What really matters is that there are people out there who can teach at least some of what he had in a straight forward, easy to understand manner. If we're interested in making Aikido what he intended it to be, we should be learning those things and focusing on reintegrating that training back into the art.
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Old 03-20-2010, 12:49 PM   #4
JW
 
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Re: Did O'Sensei frame his Aikido teachings in religious terms to hide them.

Two points came to mind for me--
1. His teacher, Takeda, may have forbade him to teach some things. Other students of Takeda indicated this. So, it may not be residual, but intentional-- it was the only way.
2. O-Sensei actually believed in spirits. Spirits of heaven and earth entering his body was a physical reality for him (I'm thinking of Tohei's story about drinking and gods not wanting to go in). So, when we separate physical and spiritual sometimes we are really distorting his views.
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Old 03-20-2010, 02:44 PM   #5
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Re: Did O'Sensei frame his Aikido teachings in religious terms to hide them.

I don't know. I wasn't there and her didn't tell me (or anyone that I have read about).

IMHO, he didn't hide anything. It was always right there is plain sight. This is how he thought about it. Just because I don't get it doesn't mean he hide it.

But I could be wrong. Often am.

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 03-20-2010, 03:10 PM   #6
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Re: Did O'Sensei frame his Aikido teachings in religious terms to hide them.

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
Two points came to mind for me--
1. His teacher, Takeda, may have forbade him to teach some things. Other students of Takeda indicated this. So, it may not be residual, but intentional-- it was the only way.
2. O-Sensei actually believed in spirits. Spirits of heaven and earth entering his body was a physical reality for him (I'm thinking of Tohei's story about drinking and gods not wanting to go in). So, when we separate physical and spiritual sometimes we are really distorting his views.
1. Why call it aiki budo or aikido, when you're not allowed to actually teach aiki? Seems like a huge waste of time and something he would have figured out and addressed in a more direct way than just showing up and freaking out because they're "not doing my aikido".

2. His spiritual beliefs didn't seem to get in the way of his ability to teach to his pre-war students. I also don't recall any of those guys mentioning his multi-hour long, incomprehensible lectures on the kami either. Of all the multitudes of people he personally instructed, they are the group that came the closest to getting some of what he had.

Pre-war he was obviously doing and teaching "something" that he was not doing post-war. While some might chalk it up to all the hands-on time the pre-war students got with him, there were a few people who trained with him just as close if not closer post-war and they didn't seem to get any of that.
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Old 03-20-2010, 03:23 PM   #7
Charles Hill
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Re: Did O'Sensei frame his Aikido teachings in religious terms to hide them.

Quote:
Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
I also don't recall any of those guys mentioning his multi-hour long, incomprehensible lectures on the kami either.
Hi Jason,

Actually, they did. I forget her name, but check out the interview with the woman who did the illustrations in the book, Aiki-Budo. You can find it at the Aikido Journal website.
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Old 03-20-2010, 04:14 PM   #8
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Re: Did O'Sensei frame his Aikido teachings in religious terms to hide them.

Quote:
IMHO, he didn't hide anything. It was always right there is plain sight. This is how he thought about it. Just because I don't get it doesn't mean he hide it.
I agree.

Quote:
Pre-war he was obviously doing and teaching "something" that he was not doing post-war. While some might chalk it up to all the hands-on time the pre-war students got with him, there were a few people who trained with him just as close if not closer post-war and they didn't seem to get any of that.
I may be way off on this one, but during his post-war days, his skills were entrenched in his being. He could do things spontaneously due to years of training and refining. It may not have been obvious to him to point out how he did them. In the early years he was still learning and so he would pass on his new discoveries as he went. Those students around at the time benefited. Also, didn't he see himself as more of a shaman in his twilight years, guiding rather than giving direct instruction?

I imagine the shinto talk and esoteric lectures increased as he aged. It seems to be a common pattern in older folk. As death draws nearer, God (whatever that may be) becomes more appealing.

*shrug* just some ideas.

Dean.

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 03-20-2010, 04:44 PM   #9
Chris Li
 
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Re: Did O'Sensei frame his Aikido teachings in religious terms to hide them.

Quote:
Jason Casteel wrote:
I also don't recall any of those guys mentioning his multi-hour long, incomprehensible lectures on the kami either.
Quote:
Charles Hill wrote: View Post
Hi Jason,

Actually, they did. I forget her name, but check out the interview with the woman who did the illustrations in the book, Aiki-Budo. You can find it at the Aikido Journal website.
Sure, Gozo Shioda used to complain about it too - and states specifically that the founder would spend hours praying each day (this was well before the war).

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-20-2010, 05:35 PM   #10
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Re: Did O'Sensei frame his Aikido teachings in religious terms to hide them.

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Sure, Gozo Shioda used to complain about it too - and states specifically that the founder would spend hours praying each day (this was well before the war).

Best,

Chris
Yah I remember the talk of him praying all the time and being in the next room and hearing him, but I don't recall him talking about him lecturing on the kami the way the post-war guys did. I'll have to log back into AJ and read over his stuff as well as the female uchi-deshi that Charles mentioned earlier.
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Old 03-20-2010, 07:17 PM   #11
crbateman
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Re: Did O'Sensei frame his Aikido teachings in religious terms to hide them.

The female you are referring to is Takako Kunigoshi.
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Old 03-20-2010, 07:57 PM   #12
JW
 
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he wanted it to take a lifetime?

Hi Jason, you have a point, but it is still far from settled.
Quote:
Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
1. Why call it aiki budo or aikido, when you're not allowed to actually teach aiki?
I really do think he wanted others to get it, but that doesn't mean he wanted them to get it easily. I certainly don't think it was a priority that all his students get it, or get it quick (the account of the teaching of the Sumo wrestler in Amdur's HIPS book suggests he did enjoy making it easier, and he could, if only once in a while).

Maybe he kept hoping, but just geting people trying was most important for him?

Quote:
Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
Seems like a huge waste of time and something he would have figured out and addressed in a more direct way than just showing up and freaking out because they're "not doing my aikido".
The two stories I think you are talking about is when he walked into Hombu post-war and yelled at everyone, and the statement on record near his death that no one is following him, right? I always wondered if the latter comment was calmly premeditated in order to get us all thinking. The former, maybe he really was annoyed, but obviously correcting the problems directly still didn't become a priority, if so.

Anyway its fun to think about, but really our training and information sources are up to us, just as it was with the original deshis.

Last edited by JW : 03-20-2010 at 07:59 PM. Reason: title
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Old 03-20-2010, 08:31 PM   #13
Ketsan
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Re: Did O'Sensei frame his Aikido teachings in religious terms to hide them.

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David Skaggs wrote: View Post

I think that the residual of this old practice is that some take the spiritual explanations too literal and do not understand the information that is hidden.

David
These days we live in a society that's dominated by science and rational thinking....even the creationists want a scientific, rational explanation. Anywho I think that means we're more likely to take things literally now than we were say a century ago.

The thing is that we're not very good at dealing with anything that isn't meant to be taken literally anymore and we don't like to be asked to think. If O-Sensei states that you can learn Aikido by watching a stream or studying a pine tree I think most of us will put that in the "was obviously on LSD" box and look for something that's more easily accessable.

Then you have to consider the subject matter: The principles governing everything. I think in that kind of situation either you start giving everyone mathmatical equations or you use rather esoteric language.

I think also that the form of the message was also in part the message. If you give people plain information and it makes sense they accept it, file it away and forget about it. If you give them something they have to sit and mull over and have to ponder what a stream, a pine tree and irimi nage have in common then you get a sense that O-Sensei is on about something universal in a way that a plain statement that Aikido is universal just doesn't quite convey.
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Old 03-20-2010, 09:41 PM   #14
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Re: Did O'Sensei frame his Aikido teachings in religious terms to hide them.

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote: View Post
The female you are referring to is Takako Kunigoshi.
Thank you Clark!
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Old 03-21-2010, 05:20 AM   #15
philipsmith
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Re: Did O'Sensei frame his Aikido teachings in religious terms to hide them.

It is my understanding that O Sensei considered joining the priesthood as a young man and always saw Aikido as an extension of his religious belief.
There is a lot of discussion of this in Kishamoru Senseis biography of his father.
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Old 03-21-2010, 01:27 PM   #16
Nicholas Eschenbruch
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Re: Did O'Sensei frame his Aikido teachings in religious terms to hide them.

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post

I think that the residual of this old practice is that some take the spiritual explanations too literal and do not understand the information that is hidden.

David
What about it being the other way 'round?
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Old 03-21-2010, 01:43 PM   #17
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Re: Did O'Sensei frame his Aikido teachings in religious terms to hide them.

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
So, when we separate physical and spiritual sometimes we are really distorting his views.
This fits with my understanding as well. It certainly fits with what I understand the Jinja Shinto view to be, and I know he looked to at least some within that group for better understanding of things.
Quote:
David wrote:
It was not an uncommon thing in Asia to hide meanings or teachings using religious explanation so that enemies or competitors could not steal.
We probably can't know one way or the other, but I suspect it's more like what Lynn said regarding plain sight, particularly, later in O Sensei's life. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a sense that students would understand certain axioms when they were at the natural stage for doing so. From that I can see why someone might say something, knowing it wouldn't be understood by all, or perhaps even most. For that matter, some of what he said might have been designed for specific people to cue in on, while others who happened to be around simply repeated the message as if it was for everyone. I'm just spit-ballin' here though.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 03-22-2010, 06:50 AM   #18
Amir Krause
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Re: Did O'Sensei frame his Aikido teachings in religious terms to hide them.

A different opinion:

A couple of years ago, after training for over 15 years, a friend from work joined the dojo, and we traveled together. Both of us electrical engineers, both non-spiritual and live in the physical factual world.

And yet, as we traveled to the lesson we often discussed responses to threat situations and techniques and such, and as we traveled back we often discussed the lesson we just had. While I tried to explain to him of my actual experience the same day and lesson - he kept blaming me for talking on philosophy. I was really trying to relate my own understanding of physical actions, timing, intentions, sensitivity and he kept saying I am not making sense, and discuss things on some distant sphere.

Our language is not well suited to describe M.A., try to describe a simple technique and see how complicate tings get. Now try to include in your description principles, intentions, timing, positions, expected and possible changes related to each move. You will find the language description becomes very complex, and you are just describing your actions in a second or so.

I am still far from the level of Ueshiba (or even dedicated students), if it happened to me, guess how would a spiritual person, at levels so much higher, sound while he speaks of mundane techniques?

Amir
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Old 03-22-2010, 11:10 AM   #19
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Re: Did O'Sensei frame his Aikido teachings in religious terms to hide them.

I think O'Sensei framed his "instruction" around a higher level of education (which is probably more appropriately "guidance") and choose to leave much of the simpler instruction to his senior students. Physics is garbbly goo for most of us...unless you're a physicist...

I think Ledyard sensei posted a comment about his teaching responsibilites which is analogous in the sense that senior instructors are responsible to unravel advanced issues while junior instructors provide elementary education.

So to me we have the following tarnishments on our origin instructions:
1. O'Sensei was unclear in his dissemination of advanced aikido to his senior students
2. The senior students who disseminated aikido incorrectly interpreted guidance from O'Sensei
3. Junior students who received instruction abridged their techniques
4. neo-generational students are consuming abridged aikido

It is definite that we do not teach the aikido that O'Sensei taught. It is probable that miscommunication is responsible for the majority of the difference. I don't think O'Sensei's religious background is any more or less at cause than several other factors, nor do I think he veiled guidance when he offered it.
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