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Old 08-12-2004, 02:39 AM   #1
Michael Cardwell
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Osensei and Duels

I remember reading somewhere in an autobiography on Osensei (I think John Stevens wrote it.) that Osensei stood in for his sensei in several duels. The book said that while Osensei's opponent probably meant to kill him, that it is not known if he respond in kind. I was just curious, does anyone think Osensei would have, or did, cut someone down in a duel?
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Old 08-12-2004, 05:34 AM   #2
ian
 
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Re: Osensei and Duels

I have heard from a reliable source that Ueshiba permanently damaged a top judo competitors hip after a challenge (when the judoka came in to throw, he struck the hip with his fist). Also, Ueshiba is known to have killed several bandits when trying to set up his hippy colony in Mongolia.

When you say cut someone down, do you mean kill them? I think in his earlier days I would say absolutely he would. I think later on he felt that killing was pointless (I personally believe it was a psychological effect of the Japanese defeat in WWII, possibly the A-bomb or personal changes which brought about this change in attitude).

Ian
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Old 08-12-2004, 05:57 AM   #3
Michael Cardwell
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Re: Osensei and Duels

Thanks for the info Ian, And I did mean kill when I said cut down. For some reason I was thinking that the duels that Sokaku has Osensei fight for him were sword duels, now I not sure that I every read if they were or not. Do you have any idea at what time of his life that this duel with the Ju doka happened? Sounds like it was earlier on in his life.
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Old 08-13-2004, 01:47 AM   #4
Michael Cardwell
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Re: Osensei and Duels

No other takers huh? I was genuinely curious as to what some other peoples opinion about Osensei's character was like in those days. Is this like a dark secret of the Ueshiba family? Is that why no one seems to want to commit on this? Am I going to be attacked in the middle of the night by aikidoka from the hombu dojo? He he. Anyway, some more feedback would be nice. Thanks all.
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Old 08-13-2004, 02:20 AM   #5
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Re: Osensei and Duels

Michael;

Just to point out if John Steven's wrote it - it can't have been an autobiography.

There is a story that Ueshiba sparred against a skilled kendo man who was unable to touch him. The way I read it was that it was a practice sword and Ueshiba M. avoided the blows. No duel to the death - sorry.

I never heard of Ueshiba M. standing in Takeda S.'s stead to fight sword duels.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-13-2004, 02:39 AM   #6
Michael Cardwell
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Re: Osensei and Duels

The way that I remember reading it was that Takeda was constantly getting challenges from his enemies ( family or friends of the people he had killed or defeated), and that he had Osensei, his star pupil, stand in for him in several duel as a learning experience. I think that was in the book Invincible Warrior. You're probably right about John Stevens. :0
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Old 08-13-2004, 03:30 AM   #7
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Re: Osensei and Duels

John Steven's books are enthusiastic - but what I meant was that an autobiography on Ueshiba M. had to be written by Ueshiba M.. If John Stevens did it then it would be a biography. Sorry about the quibble.

Ueshiba M. was not a trained swordsman - I doubt he would be asked to cut anyone down. However, there is along tradition in the martial arts that challengers first had to fight the student. This had several advantages for the master for it allowed to see what the challenger had and more importatly tired out and possibly wounded the challenger. I know one deshi of my teacher who was asked to do this, nothing recent though. No problem believing it of Ueshiba M. and his relationship to Takeda S..

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-13-2004, 03:58 AM   #8
Michael Cardwell
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Re: Osensei and Duels

Oops, now I feel stupid, to cover my mistake I'll ask a series of stupid questions and make stupider statements, that'll work.
Seriously though, I'm surprised that Osensei was not a trained swordsman, I assumed that in his study of classical Budo that he trained in swordsmanship. I also remember reading on a kendo website that Osensei was an excellent swordsman. Can't trust those Kendoka I guess ( just kidding, Kendoka).
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Old 08-13-2004, 04:11 AM   #9
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Re: Osensei and Duels

Takeda S. was a trained swordsman but I was always under the impression that his training with respect to Ueshiba M. did not involve kenjutsu. This refers to the time Ueshiba M. was travelling around with his teacher. Latter on he signed a blood oath with one school, observed a few classes and had his students attend - I assume they showed him what they had learnt. He practiced a lot.

I really have no idea about the quality of his sword work. I have heard kenjutsu people go positively anal about how it isn't real kenjutsu and others that point out it really wasn't that bad at all. There's a bit of ego in there I'm sure. Still it boils down to Ueshiba M. not being known for his swordwork.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-13-2004, 04:43 AM   #10
Michael Cardwell
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Re: Osensei and Duels

Well now you've sparked my curiosity Peter, Do you have any idea who might know about Osensei's sword training? I' ve read a few books on his life but they seemed kind of vague about the training he did. Someone just started a new thread asking about the origin of sword work in aikido, maybe that will bring about some answers.
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Old 08-13-2004, 04:51 AM   #11
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Re: Osensei and Duels

I believe that in a book by Gozo Shioda there's a story about O'Sensei's sword becoming sticky with the fat of dispatched Chinese folk. Perhaps someone can verify?

All a bit morbid really. I wonder assuming that O'Sensei did kill people (at least in his younger years) , does this make him more or less qualified as a prophet of peace? I don't know.

Regards,
Mark
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Old 08-13-2004, 05:52 AM   #12
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Re: Osensei and Duels

In the Shodokan syllabus, there's some kumi tachi waza which comes in at fourth dan. Nariyama sensei said that this was passed by Ueshiba-sensei to Tomiki-sensei with the comments that he was never allowed to change any of it since it was passed from Takeda-sensei himself. Last time I trained with Nariyama-sensei, he made a point of making sure we all did the kata as he was doing it because of the above.

However, I have no idea if this kata is "reasonable" to any kenjutsu folks. I've never done enough kenjutsu or sword fighting to judge.

The people who understand, understand prefectly.
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Old 08-13-2004, 03:22 PM   #13
Christian
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Re: Osensei and Duels

This is very surprising to me. Since the open hand techniques are based on sword techniques, it seems counter-intuitive to say O-Sensei was not a skilled swordsman. I, of course have no direct knowledge either way, but it doesn't seem to make sense.
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Old 08-13-2004, 06:19 PM   #14
Richard Cardwell
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Re: Osensei and Duels

From what I've heard, Takeda Sensei was rarely unarmed- apparently, he was never photographed without some form of visible weaponry. It seems he was constantly on guard against possible attackers. Could the armament have been a means of visible disincentive to his perceived enemies, or did he genuinely intend to use them? I don't suppose the question can be answered, since I don't imagine anyone he taught is still alive; but it's an interesting one, I think.
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Old 08-13-2004, 09:56 PM   #15
Michael Cardwell
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Re: Osensei and Duels

Hey Richard, good to see there are other Cardwells out there, not sure if we have any relation to each other or not, but our last name is not real common. In regards to your post, I think that Takeda was in fact paranoid. Probably with good reason though. I think he carried weapons because he expected to use them. There are several stories about him carrying concealed weapons on him, usually in a walking stick.
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Old 08-14-2004, 04:32 AM   #16
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Osensei and Duels

Quote:
Michael Cardwell wrote:
I remember reading somewhere in an autobiography on Osensei (I think John Stevens wrote it.) that Osensei stood in for his sensei in several duels. The book said that while Osensei's opponent probably meant to kill him, that it is not known if he respond in kind. I was just curious, does anyone think Osensei would have, or did, cut someone down in a duel?
I think that you are a bit murky on this subject. O-Sensei had some challenges. These were normally attempts by people to determine whether he could walk his talk.

For instance, the students at his Toyama Academy class decided to ambush him after calss one day. They had an assortment of bokken and juken and apparently he did quite the randori with them.

There was also the Naval officer who disputed O-sensei's ability and they went outside and the man attacked O-Sensei for quite a while with a bokken to no avail. This was the incident which occasioned O-sensei's first kensho experience.

It was Shioda Sensei who recounted the story of O-Sensei breaking the back of the Judo man using an atemi against his attempted koshinage.

O-Sensei seriously injured a man who had requested a friendly match. Apparently the man, rather than come in with the kind of conrtolled attack which one would do if one were seriously interested in learning from a teacher, came in with a potentially lethal strike delivered with full intention. O-Sensei didn't even do a technique but just did an irimi and the fellow collided with O-Sensei with such force that he bounced off and hit the wall with such force that he recieved a compouynd fracture and was not able to continue his sword career. O-sensei reportedly felt badly about this and afterwards refused to accept challenges any more.

Most of the challenges were friendly and at O-sensei's invitation. For instance in Manchuria he met the Sumo star Tenryu. He invited Tenryu to throw him but Tenryu could not and was inturn thrown himself. He became a student of the Founder after that.

I can't imagine a case in which O-Sensei would have been fighting duels in place of Takeda Sensei. One normally fought ones own duels. Challenge matches at the dojo, perhaps... If one wanted to have a match with a Teacher it was often the case that you would have to demonstrate your skill first by fighting some of the senior students. If your level was high enough and they liked your attitude, you might be granted a match with the head instructor. It could have happened but I can't recall any reference to this occurring.

Takeda Sensei himself did use his sword to deadly effect. He was attacked by a mob of construction workers as he passed by a construction site. They threw bricks and attacked him with long construction tools and when the mounted Tokyo riot police arrived an exhausted Takeda was standing amidst a circle of bodies. He was cleared of all charges.

I don't know of any other stories about either Takeda or O-Sensei. I sincerely doubt that he engaged in to the death matches. He was quite upset, apparently, about having injured the swordsman who attacked him. O-sensei was a combat veteran and didn't need to prove himself in that way. I think he would have had to be coerced into it and I have never heard of that happening.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 08-14-2004, 05:46 AM   #17
Devin McDowell
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Re: Osensei and Duels

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
Ueshiba M. was not a trained swordsman...
I read that he studied fencing.
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Old 08-14-2004, 08:44 AM   #18
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Osensei and Duels

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
Ueshiba M. was not a trained swordsman - I doubt he would be asked to cut anyone down.
I think it would be a mistake to say that O-sensei was not a trained swordsman. It is true that he did not have a teaching license in any koryu. But it is also true that he was officially on the roster of the Kashima Ryu (Meik Skoss was shown the scroll) and almost certainly did some "official" training early in his career.After that, he trained himself.

O-Sensei trained with the sword constantly. You can read stories of the thirties deshi doing paired live blade training in the dark in the middle of the night. O-Sensei could barely say more than a few sentences about Aikido without reaching for a sword (bokken) to demonstrate.

Some of the challenge matches O-sensei had were done with the sword aginst conventionally trained swordsmen and he purportedly hadled himself just fine.

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Old 08-14-2004, 10:14 AM   #19
MitchMZ
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Re: Osensei and Duels

When you look at Aikido, you can see where its basically an armed art that evolved into empty hand techniques. Anways, I was under the impression O' Sensei trained in kenjutsu.
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Old 08-14-2004, 10:23 PM   #20
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Re: Osensei and Duels

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Some of the challenge matches O-sensei had were done with the sword aginst conventionally trained swordsmen and he purportedly hadled himself just fine.
Me, I still think, that all these stories about duels are urban legends. We have no facts, no dates, no names, no witness....
When Don Dreager wanted to test Founder's skills he was refused. One may wonder why......

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Old 08-15-2004, 02:24 AM   #21
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Re: Osensei and Duels

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
I think it would be a mistake to say that O-sensei was not a trained swordsman. It is true that he did not have a teaching license in any koryu. But it is also true that he was officially on the roster of the Kashima Ryu (Meik Skoss was shown the scroll) and almost certainly did some "official" training early in his career.After that, he trained himself.
By "not trained" I would say that he was never "formally" trained - ie, that he never enrolled in a classical school as a student and followed the training curriculum in the normal manner for any significant length of time. His swordwork seems to have been more or less his own invention, with some heavy borrowing on the side.

He did have a license in Yagyu Shinkage Ryu from Sokaku Takeda, but I'm not sure how much that means since, AFAIK, Takeda didn't have any particular right to issue Yagyu Ryu licenses...

All though he was officially enrolled in Kashima Shinto Ryu, this was only in order to have instructors come and train Kisshomaru in the art - he never participated in the training sessions himself (although he apparently ended up lifting parts of the curriculum).

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-15-2004, 07:50 AM   #22
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Re: Osensei and Duels

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
By "not trained" I would say that he was never "formally" trained - ie, that he never enrolled in a classical school as a student and followed the training curriculum in the normal manner for any significant length of time. His swordwork seems to have been more or less his own invention, with some heavy borrowing on the side.

He did have a license in Yagyu Shinkage Ryu from Sokaku Takeda, but I'm not sure how much that means since, AFAIK, Takeda didn't have any particular right to issue Yagyu Ryu licenses...

All though he was officially enrolled in Kashima Shinto Ryu, this was only in order to have instructors come and train Kisshomaru in the art - he never participated in the training sessions himself (although he apparently ended up lifting parts of the curriculum).

Best,

Chris
No question... but I don't think that one would be wise to not think of him as a "swordsman". The sword was fundamental to how he envisioned his art. Whether or not he had completed any koryu curriculum, with his understanding of timing, spacing, etc coupled with his legendery and well documented "intuition", I think O-Sensei would have given a fair account of himself in any contest with blades. Most of swordsmanship, like most of martial arts, is about suki or openings and the ability to take advantage of these openings. Regardless of lack of formal ryu ha sword training, O-sensei was an expert on openings and he spent many years working on how one points those openings out to a partner using the sword. To me, that would qualify one as a swordsman even though it was his own unique usage.

Also, I don't think that working from a "negative", meaning inferring some significance to his non-meeting with Donn Dreager for instance, provides any information whatever in judging O-Sensei's swordsmanship. One may wonder why all one wants. I suspect that at that point in his life he simply wasn't interested. This was well after the point in his life at which he "officially" stopped taking challenges.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 08-15-2004 at 08:01 AM.

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Old 08-15-2004, 01:39 PM   #23
Don_Modesto
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Re: Osensei and Duels

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Also, I don't think that working from a "negative", meaning inferring some significance to his non-meeting with Donn Dreager for instance, provides any information whatever in judging O-Sensei's swordsmanship. One may wonder why all one wants. I suspect that at that point in his life he simply wasn't interested. This was well after the point in his life at which he "officially" stopped taking challenges.
Or maybe it was his deshi just insulating him from outsiders. He was sometimes more open to change/outsiders/progress than those surrounding him.

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Old 08-15-2004, 05:00 PM   #24
Stuart Mckay
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Re: Osensei and Duels

maybe a tad off-topic but my sensei told us a story tonight about osensei accepting a dual against a kendo master, and he said "before u can strike me in the head i will turn u into a pin cushin" naturally the kendo master went for his head and osensei won the fight.

Much more of a mind game in that the fight was over before it had begun, which is the point i think my sensei was trying to make.

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Old 08-15-2004, 08:09 PM   #25
Don_Modesto
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Re: Osensei and Duels

Quote:
Stuart Mckay wrote:
...a story tonight about osensei accepting a dual against a kendo master, and he said "before u can strike me in the head i will turn u into a pin cushin".
How do you say "pin cushion" in Japanese?

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