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Old 03-15-2003, 12:52 PM   #1
tedehara
 
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Question Is Morihei Ueshiba really O Sensei

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.

The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba has often been refered to as O Sensei. But is he really?

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.

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.

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

Some people have a self-effacing worship of the founder. Some writers have even place 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.

Morihei Ueshiba was a person. A person who had powers that we all have.
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Old 03-15-2003, 01:30 PM   #2
Nacho_mx
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I find your lack of humility...annoying. So who are these amazing super aikidoists that you think they are as good or better than the founder? What or who makes you judge of that? While the term sensei is used to refer to teachers or instructors of all kinds of disciplines (not just martial arts), the term O'Sensei refers only to a master teacher (teacher of teachers). I think that trying to bring down O´Sensei to your level just shows lack of respect or plain ignorance. Accept the fact that once in a while special and gifted beings walk this earth bringing us joy and wisdom about ourselves and our place in Creation. I believe O Sensei was (is) one of them.
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Old 03-15-2003, 02:00 PM   #3
tedehara
 
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Here are a quick three.
  • Morihiro Saito
  • Gozo Shioda
  • Koichi Tohei
This list is in no particular order. You have to consider these people as a group rather than a list. Of course there are more people you can add to this group and choices are completely subjective.

You sound like a true believer.

Last edited by tedehara : 03-15-2003 at 02:10 PM.

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Old 03-15-2003, 04:39 PM   #4
otto
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Mr. Ehara

Is your statement , that anybody's aikido equates to his ability to teach it...?

If you meant so ,and I were to believe it , then i would say YES , there are a few people out there with better aikido than him , Tohei Sensei comes to my mind inmediatly since i think the way he explains the principles of the art and his style of teaching is quite frankly the most complete and easy to grasp in my opinion , particulary when he teaches some alien concepts like KI , to us westerners..

But , i dont really think , if you meant so , that someones ability to transmit knowledge is the same as the knowledge itself the person has...

I think its healthy to question the laws of the world , if you have a purpose , and i do lots of questioning myself , but on this topic , do i have any remote hope of knowing the true?....

I think not.

My respect to you and the rest of the board.

Plus KI!.

Last edited by otto : 03-15-2003 at 04:51 PM.

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Old 03-16-2003, 12:14 AM   #5
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Hmmm - an interesting topic; one which I'm sure took a bit of courage to write; given the predictable gut-level responses some might give.

I don't know anything about it, of course; but in my own viewpoint; Morehei Ueshiba's title of O-Sensei is as much a mark of respect to the founder of Aikido as it is a description of his skill at Martial Arts, teaching and/or both.

But to the main point I gleaned from his post: I think it's healthy to keep in mind that our idols, whoever they are, are mere mortals like the rest of us. That they put their pants (or hakama ) on one leg at a time like everyone else. It's true; we've all seen that many aikidoka have in their own belief elevated O-Sensei virtually to the level of godhood; i.e. that he was perfect; could do no wrong, knew all, was supreme in all things. Such belief is IN MY OWN OPINION unhealthy, or if that is too strong a word then at least incorrect thinking.

Why?

It's the difference between intelligent respect and blind devotion. Learning with awareness; studying, poking, prodding and testing the limits of a skill; questioning and doubting it until your questions are answered and doubt is relieved - or flaws are found - these are the hallmarks of intelligent learning. As an Army combat instructor; nothing pleased me more than a student saying 'Mmmmmm, no. Sorry, Master Corporal; I don't believe you." That showed the student was thinking. Blind devotion on the other hand is extremely limiting - we are in effect voluntarily giving up our ability to think for ourselves, to question what we see.

Granted; O-sensei was many times better than I will ever be; both as a martial artist and as a man, but he was certainly no god; even with his phenomenal skill I'm sure he still clunked himself in the head with a jo once in a while; or at least forgot where he put his pen down. I can hear the screams of outrage already; but ask yourself - would O-Sensei have wanted to be revered as perfect? I doubt it; the truly great never do.

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Old 03-16-2003, 12:42 AM   #6
Kelly Allen
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WHAT! O Sensei wasn't a god! Next thing you'll tell me is there is no Santa Claws. Sorry I couldn't resist. ;D
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Old 03-16-2003, 01:43 AM   #7
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Hi Ted;

I don't think a persons level of Aikido is judged by his ability to teach it.

However, the potential for people to be more technically proficient than Ueshiba M. at any particular age (ie. person at 30 when Ueshiba was 30) certainly exists.

There are a number of reasons for this including; age started, raw talent, time spent under direct tuition.

I've heard one person described as the "best Aikidoist around - possibly ever" but I am forced to take the statement with a grain of salt. Not because the person is not seriously awsome but that no one knew him or Ueshiba M. when both were in their prime. I am sure others know people that may also fit the above bill although I suspect each and every one of them would deny the fact. And really, although Ignacio's response was a bit reactionary, who is going to judge?

By the way I also don't think O'sensei needs to imply technical dominance or even a superior teaching ability. We don't use the O sensei term, its usually just Ueshiba sensei, but really its just a cap on Shihan (model teacher). Something like model teacher's model. In Japan most Aikikai groups use the term Kaiso (founder) which makes more sense and makes Ted's point irrelevent as it does not imply superior anything.

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Old 03-16-2003, 02:42 AM   #8
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I show respect to O-sensei, but I don't think of him as a god or a diety. I show respect as a thank you.. I also show him respect out of respect, if that makes sence.

I don't think that true aikido can be taught. I think you can show someone the techniques and from then on they have to make aikido their own.

We can robot moves all we want, but I think that would take the dynamics out of the scope of what aikido is.

I don't think that O-sensei is a bad teacher, Im sure he taught what he could.

Perhaps the ones that are "better" at aikido just are really close to what true aikido is for **them**.

So if people say no one will ever be as good as O-sensei in aikido. Maybe it would be more appropriate to say;

" No one will ever be as good as O-sensei's Aikido" ( true self aikido) Your only limited to how good the aikido is that is inside you.


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Old 03-16-2003, 12:47 PM   #9
tedehara
 
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Quote:
Peter Rehse (PeterR) wrote:
...And really, although Ignacio's response was a bit reactionary, who is going to judge?
I've got to make that judgement. You've got to make that judgement. This is a subjective thing that may be a process that some may have to go through. Not because it will give some objective standard that can be used, but because it could help redefine a personal definition of Aikido.

One of the things I use forums like this for, is to organize and express my own thoughts. This is a controversial topic and responses like Ignacio's are to be expected. Not everyone can or needs to go through a process of subjective redefinition.

I'm not looking for an objective truth like Ottoniel and Brian mentioned. I'm only feeling out the limits of a personal reality.
Quote:
Peter Rehse (PeterR) wrote:
...In Japan most Aikikai groups use the term Kaiso (founder) which makes more sense and makes Ted's point irrelevent as it does not imply superior anything.
There are so many titles, I have a hard time keeping track of them. May be you can explain this - (For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, most students here refer to Tohei-sensei as "Soshu") What is a [color="red"]Soshu[/color]? Nothing bad I hope.

It is one thing for a person to be held in high regard and given a title like O Sensei. It is quite another thing to use that title to give an attitude that the founder is a divine being. Once you put someone in a divine or demi-god position, you lose that person's humanity and make their life and teachings harder to relate to.

two observations
  • Irimin Nage (figure 8 throw) This flowing koku-nage was developed from a bone breaking/neck snapping Aiki-jitsu technique. It's also known as the "twenty year throw" because it took that long for the founder to develop it. What kind of persistence does that take?
  • At Iwama the founder and another instructor were quietly walking down a dirt road. Suddenly the founder turned and said, "You know, I finally understand what this Aikido thing is all about." This was someone who had to learn everything from less than zero. How much work was that?

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Old 03-16-2003, 06:40 PM   #10
PeterR
 
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Quote:
Ted Ehara (tedehara) wrote:
I've got to make that judgement. You've got to make that judgement. This is a subjective thing that may be a process that some may have to go through. Not because it will give some objective standard that can be used, but because it could help redefine a personal definition of Aikido.
I agree with that except that my original point was that you don't have the frame of reference and therefore it is impossible to judge. I remember once before I was Shodan I was watching a Godan exam by a non-member of Honbu. Immediately afterward he came up to me and asked how he did. I was a bit put out considering my kyu rank but he was clear - you've seen enough. The frame of reference was there. I actually offered several comments one of which was dead wrong and therefore I learned something.

On the other side of the coin, outside of Japan a person specifically told me his rank and said who was I to judge his Aikido. I just remembered the above story. We may be wrong in our judgement but it does, as you say, provide context for our own Aikido training.
Quote:
It is one thing for a person to be held in high regard and given a title like O Sensei. It is quite another thing to use that title to give an attitude that the founder is a divine being. Once you put someone in a divine or demi-god position, you lose that person's humanity and make their life and teachings harder to relate to.
Not only that - it implies a cult like behaviour which in contrary to where I think the various Aikido organizations want to go.

No idea on the Shoshu. Shochu is a strong rice liqure.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-16-2003, 09:51 PM   #11
Edward
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Re: Is Morihei Ueshiba really O Sensei

No, he's an imposter. The real Osensei was an extra-terrestrial who used Ueshiba Sensei's body as a cover.

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Old 03-16-2003, 10:32 PM   #12
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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I don't really see the point in arguing over "Who's the best". It's true that not everything O-Sensei did or said is necessarily correct, that's just common sense. And I think he meant for Aikido to be an evolving art. But on the other hand, he does I believe deserve respect as a great thinker and an innovator.
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Old 03-18-2003, 07:48 AM   #13
ian
 
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I think it is hard to judge how good Ueshiba was since he gained much of his reputation on his pre WWII aikido where I am certain he was quite a lethal martial artist and extremely strong. I'd question whether Shioda was better than Ueshiba, since I am under the impression that Shioda himself didn't believe that, and he was a very candid person.

When we say who is best at aikido, it depends on what you think aikido is. I believe Ueshiba was one of the best martial artists who lived (though I think he was not against bolstering his own image). I also believe that aikido is not the whole of what Ueshiba was about - he was insanely dedicated and very physcially powerful. Also, I don't think he transferred his complete knowledge to anyone.

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Old 03-20-2003, 11:09 AM   #14
mike lee
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respect

The man basically committed most of his time and energy to training in Japanese martial arts. Even if he had no talent at all, he was bound to be an excellent martial artist.

Now add talent, a lot of perseverance and dedication, and you have one of the truly great ones. Then he unselfishly taught his art to many others and we all get to practice aikido today because of it.

Excuse me for having the highest respect and regard for O-Sensei, but I think he deserves it.

If some egocentric pig feels he's qualified to judge O-Sensei, then I pray he never crosses my path. Respect is the foundation of the martial arts, especially for the founder of one's art. If one doesn't have that, then one doesn't have anything, and I'll drink no beer with you.

(Sorry for the harshness here, but I've seen this line of reasoning on other threads, usually by DR people, and it REALLY pisses me off!)
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Old 03-20-2003, 12:53 PM   #15
Ron Tisdale
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"If some egocentric pig feels he's qualified to judge O-Sensei, then I pray he never crosses my path. Respect is the foundation of the martial arts..."

Oh really?

Ron (consider the source) Tisdale

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Old 03-20-2003, 01:08 PM   #16
DaveO
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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.
(Sigh) Why, Mike?

Suppose one crossed your path - what exactly would you do?

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Old 03-20-2003, 02:28 PM   #17
Vincentharris
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Lightbulb

Alot of people are getting upset over these posts and alot more are being just down right disrepectful to Aikido and O-Sensei's memory. O-Sensei isn't here to defend himself so I'll stand up for him.

"should not be called O Sensei because he was never able to train someone up to his level."

-That's not even funny. How, by any form of reasoning or logic, can you say that someone knows better than the creator. Is that even possible ? No, it's not.

I don't believe O-Sensei had "super powers" and I don't think he did either. He was just a man trying to help people find their way and that was it. Maybe he was enlightened, sure, but I didnt think we were all studying under shidoshi's are we ?

As far as who is the best I didn't think Aikido was about competition. I just thought Aikido was supposed to be about harmonizing. Isn't that what it means ?

Of course no one is going to be able to do the techniques exactly like O-Sensei or Sensei Tohei or anybody else but guess what? They can't do the techniques the exact way you or I or anybody does them either. Their way isn't automatically better than anyone else's just because they've done it about half a million more times.

Does it make it more effective ? YES, it does.

Down deep I'm very upset that someone would even pose the theory that O-Sensei didn't earn that title but that's not very Aiki to say it or think it.

Personally I think it's extremely disreprectful to O-Sensei's memory not to mention all the hard work and dedication that he put in AND I also think that someone is simply trying to cause trouble.

Go play in the sandbox little boy, the rest of us are tyring to learn.....RESPECTIVELY.

Last edited by Vincentharris : 03-20-2003 at 02:30 PM.

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Old 03-20-2003, 03:49 PM   #18
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Quote:
Vince Harris (Vincentharris) wrote:
"should not be called O Sensei because he was never able to train someone up to his level."

-That's not even funny. How, by any form of reasoning or logic, can you say that someone knows better than the creator. Is that even possible ? No, it's not.
Just picking on one specific point.

In 1891, James Naismith created basketball. I'd say there are hundreds of thousands of people who know more than him about his creation. I'd say virtually every basketball player today, at the high school level or higher, is better than what he was doing.

It is, however, a different game today.
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Old 03-20-2003, 07:16 PM   #19
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.
Nice!

Oh, and by the way, to whow do you pray?

Mel
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Old 03-21-2003, 12:10 AM   #20
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Hmmm.

Aikido and teaching are two different skills. To be deficient in one is not to be any less skilled at the other.

Besides, I'm not convinced he was a bad teacher. "He never trained someone up to his level." First of all, what is his level? Only he would know that. Second of all, how is he supposed to teach all of his knowledge and experience? Everything we know is connected to everything we are. That's how we learn. We build on associations. Somehow, your kindergarten math skills are connected to your college algebra skills. If you're going to teach someone absolutely everything you know about math, you'd have to start them there. The long and the short of it is that it isn't that simple. Experience can only partially be transmitted in word or teaching. The rest is your own experience, which changes the teaching recieved.

And yes, the people who worship him blindly, as with any figure, are nuts. I haven't run into any of those people though. They usually reserve that kind of thing for their shihan. In any case, the best thing you may be able to do is ignore those people and carry on, though it doesn't hurt to find out WHY they really feel that way. (shrugs) Sometimes they aren't as nuts as they first sounded.

Your original question is, "Is O Sensei really O Sensei?" Of course. "O" is an honorific showing great respect. He did some pretty amazing things (including creating a martial art), so he's earned a little something as recognition. It's that simple.

What kind of person he really is is another matter. It's one thing if he's an obvious and selfish hypocrite, or an egoist out to aggrandize himself. I've seen a few. From what I've read, O Sensei wasn't that. Yup. He was a man, and an imperfect one at that. Just like everyone else. Does he really have to be perfect to be O Sensei?

Heh. To throw in a psychology parallel, Sigmund Freud basically created and founded modern psychotherapy and psychology. Yeah, he was a sexually-obsessed nutbag and an irascible bullheaded jerk who would never change his views. But he's still the founder of modern psychotherapy and psychology, a relatively new science, and you have to respect that.

Don't forget, as some have already pointed out, that comparing levels of skill is the essence of competition. Competition is not Aiki. Anyone who calls him the greatest aikidoka is missing the whole point. Don't let your mind dwell there.

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Old 03-21-2003, 12:57 AM   #21
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I'm torn on this one. While I understand and agree with the idea of the title O-sensei as an honorific and a completely deserved one, I think I see where Ted is coming at with the literal translation of the word.

O-sensei means great teacher. From many of the things I've read Ueshiba really wasn't that great of a TEACHER, at least not by the modern sense of the word. He would demonstrate techniques and leave the students to puzzle out what he was doing. He would lecture on things his students themselves claim they couldn't understand. I've read on these very forums that some people attribute the growth of aikido not to Ueshiba's great ability as a teacher but to his followers great ability as students. It was the students who named the techniques to make learning them easier. They were the ones who figured out ways to actually TEACH it to somebody else, as opposed to just demonstrating and expecting the students to figure it out on their own.

Just my take on it.

Bronson

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Old 03-21-2003, 10:02 AM   #22
James Trueman
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I like Erik's and Bronson's take on this. I respect the fact that Ueshiba Sensei developed Aikido - but created could be a bit strong. I belive Ueshiba developed an art that was born from the teachings of masters before him.

He was truely a dedicated man, a man I do not know and cannot comment on personally. But I believe he did as we all do - he synthesised what he learned into something that was meaningful to him - and then showed others. I wouldn't be writing here now if I didn't believe in what he showed, although by now many have put their own slant on his techniques.

Unfortunately it appears that it is the students - the followers of Ueshiba who created the devine image. The followers of masters today act under the same fashion, and most masters I have seen and learned from would rather they were treated as the human being they are, and were before stepping into the hakama.
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Old 03-22-2003, 12:13 AM   #23
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Stop confusing yourselves

Quote:
I respect the fact that Ueshiba Sensei developed Aikido - but created could be a bit strong.
O-Sensei is the FOUNDER of aikido.
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Old 03-22-2003, 12:14 AM   #24
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No doubt

Quote:
Oh really?
Really.
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Old 03-22-2003, 12:17 AM   #25
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a real barker

Quote:
Oh, and by the way, to whow do you pray?
What's a "whow?"

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