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Old 02-01-2010, 12:58 PM   #1
George S. Ledyard
 
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The "love" schtick

Quote:
Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Shinkage ryu menkyo
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Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
BTW - Mutoh Masao rather gleefully told me that he had a copy of Admiral Takeshita's diary and - here's a direct quote, "Everyone today talks about 'aikido is love, love, love.' But Takeshita sensei quoted Ueshiba-san as saying, "Aiki is a means of achieving harmony with another person so that you can make them do what you want."
Quote:
Exactly. Think how much that would change Aikido practice if people simply understood that "Aiki" is part of all the demonstrations Ueshiba was fond of showing and was the basis of his art, "Aiki-do". However, many of the current "Aikido Teachers" are so invested in the "love" schtick that few of them would drop the schtick for what Aikido really is. The schtick is more important than the art and besides, it would take a lot of hard work to change over.

Mike Sigman
I made this a new thread because it certainly is about Aikido and not about any Non-Aikido Martial Tradition which is where the comment was made.

a) On all things related to Koryu, Japanese culture, language, history. etc. I defer to Ellis, Peter, Josh, and the rest of the amazing community of scholars posting here.

b) On issues concerning Internal Power, I absolutely defer to Mike S, Dan H, Ark and his long term students, and the small number of "fellow travelers" who have done such an important job of bringing awareness to the Aikido community of what O-Sensei had that post war Aikido failed to transmit.

However, when it comes to discussions of the Founder's vision of Aikido, there is a tendency amongst various folks who never so much as saw the Founder, certainly never trained with him, to engage in a sort of revisionism concerning the spiritual side of the art.

The direct students of the Founder were faced with a great challenge after the war. While many of them, and I would certainly place Saotome Sensei, my own teacher, amongst these, were deeply effected by the Founder's teachings, they were simply unprepared to understand his ideas precisely as he did. With the exception of Hikitsuchi Sensei, Sunadomari Sensei, and Abe Sensei, the majority of them did not have a "classical" education, much less a familiarity of things more esoteric like the Omotokyo practices.

However, these teachers spent extended periods of time with the Founder, periods in which the training was really a 24 hour a day affair. That is, of course, the whole point of a true uchi deshi experience, the direct transmission of knowledge. Often this transmission is made on a non-verbal level. These students of the Founder did everything the old man did when they were on deshi duty. They participated in his misogi practice, they assisted him when he did his calligraphy, they drew his bath, and they took his ukemi, all the while listening to his constant stream of instruction on the spiritual side of the art.

The inference that these guys all got it wrong, that Kisshomaru and Osawa, Arikawa, and the other seniors who created the post war form of modern Aikido fiddled around with the Founder's ideas to the point at which they really weren't representative of his true thinking is simply wrong. I think it is incredibly arrogant for people who never heard a word from the Founder's lips to claim some special understanding that these students who spent years in the company of the Founder didn't have.

As Ellis has pointed out in his latest book, Aikido during the life of the Founder was centered on him. O-Sensei himself thought of his place as being at the center of the practice. That his efforts, somehow bolstered by a community of practitioners, could on some cosmic level change the nature of the world.

The challenge faced by the inheritors of this art was to define an Aikido that would survive the Founder while preserving what was central to his presentation of the art. I think that various teachers did a better job of this than others. But the direct students of the Founder went forth and spread the message and it took hold all over the world.

The tone underlying phrases like the "love schtick" is dismissive and insulting. It also shows a lack of understanding of the fact that it was the Founder himself who was doing this "love" schtick. His ideas about Aikido as an art for Peace, that its practice could on some level harmonize our interactions in the world were pretty much all he talked about.

Now it is a fact that much of what he said, his students weren't able to understand as it was too esoteric. But I do not think they misunderstood the "gist" of it. They had to reinterpret what they had heard for a larger audience. The message had to be translated into modern terms and made comprehensible for people all over the world. But, I will maintain strongly that the message was the reason that Aikido spread all over the world in a single generation. And I do not believe that this message was at variance with the fundamental ideas the Founder had about the art.

It has been maintained that the Founder's statement the "no one is doing my Aikido" showed his dissatisfaction with the lack of understanding of internal power and "aiki" in the post war practice. On the contrary, I believe that on those occasions when he offered such pronouncements, it had to do with his students resorting to a merely physical Aikido practice that seemed to lack the larger, and more important, spiritual aspect which was so important to him.

As everyone has been so good in pointing out, "aiki" is a value neutral term describing what is essentially technical. Statements like the Takeshita quote bear this out. Which is precisely why the transmission of a deeper understanding of "aiki" as technique has been so murky, or even non-existent. It simply wasn't what the Founder focused on in his later years. What he focused on was the message, his "love" schtick, so to speak.

Any number of the Founder's students couldn't go there with him. They wanted the technique but didn't want the "trimmings". This was entirely at variance, I think, with the Founder's view that technique without the underlying spiritual connection was just empty, physical technique.

The problem with Aikido is not the teachers doing their "love" schtick. The problem is that there has been a progressive divide between the message and an understanding of how technique actually relates to the message. In order to make the "message" more accessible, the art has been opened up to a whole community of folks who, if they weren't doing Aikido, wouldn't be doing martial arts at all.

That doesn't mean there's a problem with the message. It's a problem with the practice. Our job as Aikido practitioners is to get the depth of the practice into accord wit the depth of the message. This whole schizophrenic split between the martial artists on the one hand and the "aiki bunnies" on the other is a distortion of the art. For the Founder it was both a martial art and a spiritual pursuit. Ignoring central tenets of the Founder's ideas, such as Budo is Love, while pursuing technical achievement, no matter how accomplished, simply isn't the Aikido of the Founder. Holding hands and singing "Kumbaya" with no actual ability to really manifest the principles of "aiki", even in a minimal way, isn't the Aikido of the Founder either.

If folks who have great skill wish to talk about how we can be better at our art, then fine, I have no problem with that. But when those folks start to rewrite Aikido's spiritual ideas based on little more than their own personal predispositions, ignoring the actual direct experience of the folks who trained under the Founder during the last quarter century of his life, then I have a problem with that. Making fun of the folks out there who spend every free moment of their time practicing this art, who put every spare dime into their training and their dojos, who love this art and its "love" schtick on a deep level just shows how so many folks didn't "get it" then, or now.

Fix the practice, yes. But the whole "love" schtick, is still the point, at least if one wants to do a Aikido as envisioned by the Founder.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:23 PM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: The "love" schtick

George, I find myself wishing for a moment this were Facebook and I could just click a "like" button. Thanks for so cogently expressing this.

Janet Rosen
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Old 02-01-2010, 02:02 PM   #3
jxa127
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Re: The "love" schtick

Sensei Ledyard,

I get what you're saying, but in the end, I'm still confused. If I understand Peter's columns on "Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation," then O Sensei was talking about "love" in the very specific context of the Kotodama and Japanese seed syllables and creation myths. Check out Peter's 14th column, for instance, for specific references to love.

So, fundamentally, his use of "love" and the understanding that so many of us have/had when reading his statements in English are very different. For instance, I always thought of a brotherly love when reading translations of O Sensei, and that concept did influence my technique to a certain extent.

So where does that leave us? What is/are the meaning(s) of "love" in the context of modern aikido? Is it different from what O Sensei thought? Is it the same as what his post-war students thought? How should that concept influence our practice of aikido? Is is possible to lovingly drop somebody into a nasty gokyo pin?

I'm asking, frankly, in total ignorance. I used to think with great conviction that I knew what aikido was all about from the spiritual end of things. Now I realize I have no idea.

Regards,

----
-Drew Ames
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Old 02-01-2010, 02:18 PM   #4
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Re: The "love" schtick

So very well put. This is my understanding of the "life giving sword."
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Old 02-01-2010, 02:20 PM   #5
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Re: The "love" schtick

Aikido is not Aikido without the Love Shtick

Aikido is not Aikido without the Budo Shtick

Both are one and the same....and only together can it make Aikido a Martial Art...

My direct lineage is very clear to me... O'Sensei...Shoji Nishio...Micheal Fowler...Me...

I leave you Sensei with something from the Hagakure...

"It is said that something called 'the spirit of an age" is something to which one cannot return. That this spirit gradually dissipates is due to the worlds coming to an end. For this reason although one would like to change today's world back to the spirit of 100 years or more ago, it cannot be done. Thus it is important to make the best out of every generation."

Allot of us (including most importantly... you ) "get it" and we're just doing the best we can to pass it on.

William Hazen
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Old 02-01-2010, 02:50 PM   #6
Mike Sigman
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Re: The "love" schtick

So we have Takeshita, with his credentials and knowledge of Ueshiba, giving a fairly explicit definition of aiki:

"Aiki is a means of achieving harmony with another person so that you can make them do what you want."

We have a pretty clear English-language-translated interview with Inaba Minoru saying pretty much the same thing:

Even though you focus the energy in your lower abdomen, you will not be able to move the energy to the area where you need it right away. You have to think about how you are going to move it. You have to think about two things, gathering and filling up the power, and then moving the power to where the opponent will attack. Also if you have a weapon, you have to project energy through the weapon. If you understand this point, you'll know how to train and what you need to develop. At the same moment you meet your opponent, you focus on your abdomen (hara) and project your ki where you need it. The result will be that you will shut down your opponent's power. I understand that as the power of "aiki."

A mutual friend of mine and Geoge's (with equal time and exposure to Aikido) discussed some of the divergence in Aikido today and why so much dominance of definition goes against what classically-trained Aikidoists of the past thought. His comment to me was that I was out of touch... there has been a war going on for control of Aikido and what it means, and the a...oles won, he said. Worth a thought.

The way I always handled these types of discussions about what "ki" or "qi" was (particularly in the "aiki" sense) was to say "show me your ki". Because these skills are certainly demonstrable (as Ueshiba showed Tenryu, as Tohei shows, etc.). I'm willing to accept that somehow "Aiki" means two things, but before I'd accept that someone knows this definitively as an expert knowledge, I'd want to see/feel the simple ki skills and make up my mind then.

As it stands, the other side of the problem is that people like Takeshita and Inaba don't also take the time in their explanations to say that aiki means "love". Is that problem simply that they aren't/weren't qualified enough in Aikido to know these things?

Nomex on.

Mike Sigman
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Old 02-01-2010, 04:03 PM   #7
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Re: The "love" schtick

After reading Hidden in Plain Sight, I re-read Duelling with O Sensei.

Ellis Amdur's essay Aiki: A State of the Union (published in DwOS) is specifically addressing Admiral Takeshita's quote.

I suppose Ellis Amdur might change a few things of his text, taking into account what he learned about internal technique after he wrote it, but the conclusions still seem relevant to me.

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Old 02-01-2010, 04:44 PM   #8
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: The "love" schtick

Well put George. So many people hope to gain so much and so many lose so much over the many different definitions/interpretations of the word "love."

It's time for practice and fortunately, I love to practice...

Chuck Clark
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Old 02-01-2010, 05:12 PM   #9
Mike Sigman
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Re: The "love" schtick

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Chuck Clark wrote: View Post
Well put George. So many people hope to gain so much and so many lose so much over the many different definitions/interpretations of the word "love.".
I think that's true and I also think it's true what George' and my friend had to say. So I enjoy watching the debate over the meaning of "aiki" just as much as I enjoy reading the interesting misunderstandings of "aiki" translations in well-thought-of Aikido books (in English).

To me it's all fun to watch. I think that the idea of "steal this technique" had a lot to do with the same idea when some of my teachers showed me something and said, "Understand?". I.e., you get it or you don't. If you get enough people banded together who 'understand', you move forward. If you get enough people banded together who don't really understand but who become teachers, the real essence of an art dies even though the name continues as a Name Brand (tm).

FWIW

Mike Sigman
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Old 02-01-2010, 05:44 PM   #10
Kevin Flanagan
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Re: The "love" schtick

George sensei,
You are so freakin' brilliant. No wonder I love training with you so much.

Buck Fuller once asked me," Kevin, which is more important to you, inhaling ... or exhaling?"

See you soon.
Kevin
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Old 02-01-2010, 05:51 PM   #11
Mike Sigman
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Re: The "love" schtick

Perfect.
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Old 02-01-2010, 06:23 PM   #12
Rob Watson
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Re: The "love" schtick

I always thought aiki and love were two completely separate things. I see no dissonance between aiki as making some one do what you want and the 'love schtick'. OSenseis message about harmony and love stands on its own without the budo aspect at all kind of like MLK and Ghandi but without the turn the other cheek part. Active pacifism in which peace is laid upon the aggressor.

Aiki is not aikido. Aiki with the intent of 'love' becomes aikido. Aiki with the intent of dispatching the enemy ... well that's another art, no?

Being able to manifest the 'loving intent' in the heat of battle (or even daily life) that takes active character building/development and thus the michi of aikido.

Works for me anyway.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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Old 02-01-2010, 06:58 PM   #13
Mike Sigman
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Re: The "love" schtick

Quote:
Robert M Watson Jr wrote: View Post
Aiki is not aikido. Aiki with the intent of 'love' becomes aikido.
Well, the logical implication of that is that "Do" (Tao) means "with the intent of 'love'". Maybe that's worth a discussion on some level. I'm not sure. Whaddya think? Can you support that idea logically or scientifically or academically or whatever?

Best.

Mike
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Old 02-01-2010, 08:07 PM   #14
dps
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Re: The "love" schtick

Quote:
Robert M Watson Jr wrote: View Post

Aiki is not aikido. Aiki with the intent of 'love' becomes aikido. Aiki with the intent of dispatching the enemy ... well that's another art, no?

Being able to manifest the 'loving intent' in the heat of battle (or even daily life) that takes active character building/development and thus the michi of aikido..
In the heat of the battle, you better make sure you have built your character with "that other art" or all your loving intent won't be of use to you.

David
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Old 02-01-2010, 10:24 PM   #15
Janet Rosen
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Re: The "love" schtick

(sigh) I don't think OSensei posited aikido as a battleground m.a......

Last edited by Janet Rosen : 02-01-2010 at 10:24 PM. Reason: clarity

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Old 02-01-2010, 11:01 PM   #16
L. Camejo
 
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Re: The "love" schtick

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Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
(sigh) I don't think OSensei posited aikido as a battleground m.a......
It depends on which O-Sensei and when in his lifetime we are referring I think.

Guys like Takeshita, Tomiki and all those high-ranking members of the military did not go to him to find out how to Love the Universe in the 1920s. He did not teach this in the 1920s either.

Having said that I think it is very possible that after understanding the aiki of "instantly disrupting your attacker's mind and body" it may be a bit easier to appreciate or develop the Aiki of "Universal Love" as well.

Just a thought.

LC

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Old 02-02-2010, 07:03 AM   #17
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: The "love" schtick

QUOTE: BTW - Mutoh Masao rather gleefully told me that he had a copy of Admiral Takeshita's diary and - here's a direct quote, "Everyone today talks about 'aikido is love, love, love.' But Takeshita Sensei quoted Ueshiba-san as saying, "Aiki is a means of achieving harmony with another person so that you can make them do what you want."

Well, the Japanese for harmony is wa 和 and Morihei Ueshiba also uses this term in his published writings. the Japanese word for Japan is 大和 (great harmony). Throughout Japanese history, the preservation of wa was regarded as paramount, and in the Tokugawa era, the practice of ryoseiba(tsu): punishing both sides, arose in order to preserve the tatemae (outward appearance) of wa. (Of course, wa was determined by social standing. Punishing two samurai for fighting was one example of preserving wa; crucifying commoners for protesting about high taxes was another.) If we take Takeshita's quote of Ueshiba as it stands, largely 'fascist' Japanese governments demonstrated aiki all the time: they went to great lengths in preserving wa, as they compelled generally willing subjects to do what they wanted. The supreme example of preserving wa for a samurai was 切腹/腹切り seppuku/harakiri (ritual suicide). There is no evidence that Ueshiba understood wa 和 or 合 as fundamentally different in concept, as applied to aiki. Of course, 愛 would be a 'wonderful' homonym for both concepts.

I think the 'aiki is love' theme is largely based on the fact that (1) the ai of aiki 合 and ai 愛 = love, are homonyms. So it was very easy for someone like M Ueshiba to make a new word aiki (愛気) without worrying too much about the precise meaning of the combination, for it sounds 'wonderful' in Japanese. It is a generally recognized principle that if If you can combine Chinese characters to increase the 'wow' factor of a concept or message, the meaning will follow as a matter of course. So, obviously ai-ki 愛気 has a meaning--a 'wonderful' meaning. However (2), there is no evidence of M Ueshiba using such homonyms before he met Onisaburo Deguchi and studied kotodama-gaku, under Deguchi's tutelage. Ueshiba's time with Deguchi, especially after the first suppression in 1921, largely determined how he presented his view of budo.

The irony is that Deguchi might well have borrowed Christian ideas of love to create the complete structure found in Reikai Monogatari. The problem is whether he, and Ueshiba also, understood the cultural background of the term, especially the tension between eros and agape in Christian theology (beginning with the letters of St Paul).

Best wishes to all,

PAG

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 02-02-2010 at 07:14 AM.

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Old 02-02-2010, 10:26 AM   #18
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Re: The "love" schtick

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
Well, the logical implication of that is that "Do" (Tao) means "with the intent of 'love'". Maybe that's worth a discussion on some level. I'm not sure. Whaddya think? Can you support that idea logically or scientifically or academically or whatever?

Best.

Mike
Well, if I knew what 'aiki' and 'love' really were then I could begin ... I use michi (do) in the sense of a process in action (I totally just made that up) and the adjunct is ones purpose or intent on the path is for self improvement (all roads lead to Rome and all paths lead to hell notwithstanding). One hopes the intent is aligned with the 'greater way' or the will of the kami. And in the great reductionist mode I abrogate that all these terms are open to definition/debate modified by ones context - things are never as simple as they seem but then again it is pretty simple. That is what makes it so complicated.

'in the heat of battle' is a euphemism for whatever struggle one is currently waging whether against internal demons or hoodside thugs, etc.

But, then, I really shouldn't be posting anyway ... what do I know.

Whatever OSensei was up to I can only say what I'm up to and with hubris admit to have called it aikido.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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Old 02-02-2010, 10:30 AM   #19
dps
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Re: The "love" schtick

Don't discount the effect Japan's involvment in world affairs had on O'Sensei spiritual beliefs.

In 1918 Japan was on the winning side of World War I.
In 1945 Japan was on the losing side of World War II.

David

Last edited by dps : 02-02-2010 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 02-02-2010, 11:32 AM   #20
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: The "love" schtick

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
QUOTE: BTW - ...

I think the 'aiki is love' theme is largely based on the fact that (1) the ai of aiki 合 and ai 愛 = love, are homonyms. So it was very easy for someone like M Ueshiba to make a new word aiki (愛気) without worrying too much about the precise meaning of the combination, for it sounds 'wonderful' in Japanese. It is a generally recognized principle that if If you can combine Chinese characters to increase the 'wow' factor of a concept or message, the meaning will follow as a matter of course. So, obviously ai-ki 愛気 has a meaning--a 'wonderful' meaning. However (2), there is no evidence of M Ueshiba using such homonyms before he met Onisaburo Deguchi and studied kotodama-gaku, under Deguchi's tutelage. Ueshiba's time with Deguchi, especially after the first suppression in 1921, largely determined how he presented his view of budo.

The irony is that Deguchi might well have borrowed Christian ideas of love to create the complete structure found in Reikai Monogatari. The problem is whether he, and Ueshiba also, understood the cultural background of the term, especially the tension between eros and agape in Christian theology (beginning with the letters of St Paul).
Peter,

I think these two paragraphs are extremely important in trying to understand Morihei Ueshiba's usage of these terms. Coming from different culture and trying to get into the heart/mind of another person is difficult to say the least. I, personally, think that the important thing we can do is to do our best with the tools at hand to create our own aiki - do as he suggested to his students.

We can not do his aikido, as he plainly stated, and we must find our own.

Thanks again for your work and contributions.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
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Old 02-02-2010, 01:25 PM   #21
Allen Beebe
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Re: The "love" schtick

I love you George.

I love you Peter.

I love you Chuck.

If you show me your Ki Mike I'll show you mine!

Sincerely,
Allen

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Old 02-02-2010, 01:34 PM   #22
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Re: The "love" schtick

or . . .

Some folks "love" their Shtick but I love my '40s Gillette Super Speed! Built to last, no gimmicks or hype, clear in purpose, does what it does well, clean and with high efficiency. (Plus the blades are cheap!)

~ Allen Beebe
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Old 02-02-2010, 01:56 PM   #23
David Board
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Re: The "love" schtick

Quote:
Allen Beebe wrote: View Post
or . . .

Some folks "love" their Shtick but I love my '40s Gillette Super Speed! Built to last, no gimmicks or hype, clear in purpose, does what it does well, clean and with high efficiency. (Plus the blades are cheap!)
Two minutes for low schticking.
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Old 02-02-2010, 02:09 PM   #24
Allen Beebe
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Re: The "love" schtick

Oh fine!

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Old 02-02-2010, 04:43 PM   #25
Janet Rosen
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Re: The "love" schtick

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote: View Post
It depends on which O-Sensei and when in his lifetime we are referring I think.
LC
Larry, I understand it was a military thing... but in the koryu sense of going into battle - doing aikido on the battleground, even in the prewar era?

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