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Old 05-13-2005, 09:15 AM   #1
Paula Lydon
Dojo: Aikido Shugenkai
Location: Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2002
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For Aikikai folks


~~I've been training predominantly at Boulder Aikikai for eight years now but attend other groups classes and seminars at times. I've come to relalize lately that, whereas these other groups seem more exacting in what their style teaches, stands for and can be defined as, I couldn't honestly say those things about Aikikai. Someone asked me, of course...got the wheels turning. Or is (very roughly) Harmonized Energy Society just that, a loose affiliation of practicioners and instructors? Albeit under one head (that's far away). There are the very basic testing requirements of Aikido, but I'm referring to the sense of understanding principles, interpretation of such and personal daily practice. My teacher's Aikido seems very different from his teacher's, other Aikikai instructors Aikido seem also different from each other and not in small ways. Yes, all have the same general thread of proper principle but how they manifest that, the directions they've taken, seem quite different some times. Then I see it filter down to the senior and junior students. Especially the seniors who, again, seem to be pursuing mostly their own way (myself included). I don't really mind it as I like the whole 'always open to new things' idea. It's fine if Aikikai is a loose affiliation of basically independant folks, just curious.

~~Paula~~
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Old 05-13-2005, 10:55 AM   #2
MatthewJones
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Re: For Aikikai folks

????

Do you have a question?
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Old 05-13-2005, 11:11 AM   #3
Paula Lydon
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Re: For Aikikai folks

In my rambling way, just being open to others' observations. If I asked it as a question: How would the 'style'--if it's even a style--of Aikikai be described? What does it mean/stand for as a style and also as an organization? Sorry for the meandering...it was pre-coffee time

~~Paula~~
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Old 05-13-2005, 11:24 AM   #4
giriasis
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Re: For Aikikai folks

Hey Paula,

I have an interesting story. I train at Florida Aikikai with Peter Bernath and he is a student of Yamada Sensei. When I was away from Fort Lauderdale and visiting my parents I visited a local dojo -- the folks of Melbourne Aikikai, who were very welcoming to me. One of the students there asked me if I trained with Yamada Sensei. I responded that I train with Peter. Apparently, I had the "look" and "style" of Yamada Sensei. So, in some way style of doing a technique has been transferred on down the line.

HOWEVER

My sensei does not strive to have us all look like him. We often have people transfer into our school from other "styles" but still Aikikai schools. He doesn't seek for them to change the way they do a technique and is more concern that they understand a principle he might be teaching. He also doesn't demand that they teach the way he does. (There have been times where we had folks from ASU, Iwama, Systema-influenced teach classes at my dojo. Not as seminars, but they taught as assistant instructors or were substitutes) He leaves a lot of room for self-expression. He even encourages this in his students. For example, after my 2nd kyu test Peter told me to "find my own aikido."

So perhaps, this idea really is part of the "style" of Aikikai -- finding your own aikido as a means of self-expression.

Last edited by giriasis : 05-13-2005 at 11:28 AM.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 05-13-2005, 11:36 AM   #5
MatthewJones
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Re: For Aikikai folks

I have always thought that Aikikai was more a political thing than style based. There are so many sub organizations under the Aikikai like USAF and various others in the US and around the world, each one practicing differently. Instead what they all have in common is that they all send money and allegience back to the hombu dojo. What makes them Aikikai is their loyalty to O'Sensei and the patrilieal descent of his teachings.

The threads of styles that exist within the Aikikai exist more at the sub-organization level, as in the example of Yamada and the USAF.
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Old 05-13-2005, 11:52 AM   #6
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
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Re: For Aikikai folks

Hi Paula,

Sounds like this would best be discussed at the B&N over coffee (again) . 'Sides, I enjoyed our time on the mat and miss training with you. This answer is probably going to be as meandering as your question seemed, so 20 somethings may want to skip right over it, and just let us older folk babble a bit.

Quote:
I've come to relalize lately that, whereas these other groups seem more exacting in what their style teaches, stands for and can be defined as, I couldn't honestly say those things about Aikikai.
I think of the Aikikai as an umbrella, a big one, with a lot of different people crowded under it all trying to stay dry. If possible, without crowding each other too much. There are simply too many different approaches in that organization to training methods, technical form, weapons, and other intangibles for me to generalize. Every thing from the strict form and posture of Chiba Sensei / Iwama, to the fluid formlessness of Yamaguchi Sensei, to the composite Martial way of Shoji Nishio Sensei and everything in between.

I think you and Anne Marrie both touched on what is important...A line of teaching from one of the Ueshibas, to a first generation instructor, to another instructor, to a student. This line of teaching represents what that particular group focusses on in terms of the items I mentioned above (training methods, technical form, weapons, etc.). Sometimes a particular line will not find exterior form to be a primary focus. This will lead to many people utilizing the same principles but manifesting them in different ways.

Organizations like the yoshinkan do happen to place great focus on the exterior form. This is not to say that the interior form is neglected...just that the style is easily recognized by the posture, kamae, movement patterns, etc.

I consider myself to be extremely lucky. In a style which stresses exterior form, my teacher is open to his students exploring the best of the aikido that is out there. The result for me has been that things I wasn't picking up on in my own style have been made clearer to me when I see them somewhere else, where they may be a primary focus. This doesn't mean that I abandon what I do...just that I open my experience to these other 'priorities', and the possibility that some of those things have been going on in my own style all along...just somewhere under the surface.

The last two months have been extrordinary for me...just because my teacher is so open (for a style not necessarily known for that), and because my aikido friends in other places have been so welcoming.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 05-27-2005, 05:36 AM   #7
M.E.Perona
Dojo: Paris Aikido Club
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Re: For Aikikai folks

Let's do quick bit of Aikido history : O'Sensei sent some of his pupils abroad to teach Aikido. Those pupils, were not very old (altought they had started Aikido early), and started to develop their own style in quasi isolation from each other, transports being what they were. However, most of them remained under one sigle organization, the Aikkikai.

This seminal fact is enough to explain that several fairly different styles co-exist within Aikkikai, since each of this senseis have taught their own style to their pupils, that some of them went also to Japan and were influenced by what was going on in the Hombu or in Iwama at different times, etc.

--
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Old 05-27-2005, 09:42 AM   #8
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Individuality within Aikikai

I would say that individuality and difference is an essential principle of the Aikikai. I think Kisshomaru Ueshiba Doshu stated firmly that he refused to give an exact directive of "this is how you should do ikkyo". He wanted aikido within the Aikikai to show variety. I believe that Osensei was quite determined about the same thing. From what I have heard, he could burst out: "Don't copy me!" I have not seen that the present Doshu should want to change that.

Aikikai is an organization of aikido teachers and dojos, centered in the Hombu dojo and the Aikikai Foundation (Zaidan Hojin Aikikai). It does not strive for homogenity of techniques, but of mind and heart. IMHO

Stefan Stenudd
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Old 05-27-2005, 10:01 AM   #9
aikidoc
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
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Re: For Aikikai folks

I like the following statement by Kato Sensei:

"Aikido is not something to learn from others, but to learn by oneself. Ideally, the practice should be for oneself, and it should be rigorous and sternly self-disciplined, by one's own choice." Hiroshi Kato, Shihan

He has been a long time student at the Aikikai training every Friday for over 50 years. He was a soto deshi and spent a lot of time exploring his own Aikido. He also apparently served as a body guard for O'Sensei and shows up in the honored guest positions in Aikikai pictures (see their website and you will find him up front with doshu). He is often referred to as one of O'Sensei's more original students. When you watch and feel his aikido you will notice differences from the Aikikai. These seem acceptible and he was apparently given permission by nidai doshu to explore his own style of aikido. To me all the martial arts are similar in principle and concept at the higher levels. Although Kato Sensei's "style" is slightly different (I see a lot of similaries with Ikeda Sensei) in execution, the principles remain the same. Just MHO.
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Old 05-27-2005, 06:29 PM   #10
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Osensei bodyguard?

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
He also apparently served as a body guard for O'Sensei
A body guard for Osensei? Pardon me, but I find that unlikely.

Stefan Stenudd
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Old 05-28-2005, 12:17 AM   #11
James Young
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Re: For Aikikai folks

One can experience a variety of approaches to aikido techniques and interpretations of the art even from the various instructors that teach within the aikikai hombu dojo. That's one of the things that makes taking different classes from different instructors there so interesting. One can assume if the aikikai allows so much variety to be taught within its own dojo's walls then there is bound to be variety within the organization outside of the dojo which is also acceptable. Like others have said, it's pretty obvious that the aikikai is not really about a style of aikido but more about an organization to provide legitimacy to those who need it and provide a link back to the founder.
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Old 05-28-2005, 10:57 AM   #12
David Yap
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Re: Osensei bodyguard?

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote:
A body guard for Osensei? Pardon me, but I find that unlikely.
Stefan,

When you are 80 something and happened to be in midst of a Tokyo rush hours, it is very likely.

Regards

David Y
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Old 05-28-2005, 04:09 PM   #13
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Re: Osensei bodyguard?

Quote:
David Yap wrote:
When you are 80 something and happened to be in midst of a Tokyo rush hours, it is very likely.
Well, Osensei was in his 80's during the 1960's. In those days, the Tokyo rush hour was not that 'rushish'. And at Iwama, everything was still very rural

Stefan Stenudd
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Old 05-28-2005, 05:56 PM   #14
Charles Hill
Dojo: Numazu Aikikai/Aikikai Honbu Dojo
Location: Three Lakes WI/ Mishima Japan
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Re: Individuality within Aikikai

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote:
I have not seen that the present Doshu should want to change that.
Hi Stefan,

Actually, at a recent seminar in Iwama, the Doshu taught specific techniques done in a specific style, what he said were the basic points of Aikido. He said that to add on to it at advanced levels was fine, but that what he showed was the base. My interpretation of Aikido history is that the Founder just didn`t care to unduly influence those he did not consider to be his direct students, ie. the current generation of shihan. There is also the idea that his concern was of the spiritual world and not on how people were doing techniques. At Honbu now, there is a younger generation of shihan who do techniques in a much more uniform style. I suspect that in a number of years, we will be able to say that there is a specific Aikikai style.

Charles
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Old 05-28-2005, 11:10 PM   #15
Lan Powers
Dojo: Aikido of Midland, Midland TX
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Re: Osensei bodyguard?

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote:
A body guard for Osensei? Pardon me, but I find that unlikely.

Actually, I believe the term "Otomo" was meant. One of the functions of one serving as Otomo for another is to be a protector/bodyguard if necessary. (Not too likely in this instance, I suppose )
My knowledge is of course, quite limited, so it is possible that I am way off the beam, but I understand that this relationship is (was) fairly common in the culture.
Anyone else have more input on this?
Lan

Play nice, practice hard, but remember, this is a MARTIAL art!
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Old 05-29-2005, 04:14 AM   #16
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Hombu

Quote:
Charles Hill wrote:
At Honbu now, there is a younger generation of shihan who do techniques in a much more uniform style. I suspect that in a number of years, we will be able to say that there is a specific Aikikai style.
Maybe a Hombu style?

Stefan Stenudd
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Old 05-30-2005, 02:05 AM   #17
Fred26
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Re: For Aikikai folks

One of my senseis told me that for every aikidoka, regardless of professed style, there is one specific, indivudual style of aikido.

Obviously that doesn't mean that every aikidoka can found his/her own style of aikido, but it does mean that every individual puts his/her own "touch" on aikido and makes it his/her own.

A talented individual can take that extra step and create a whole new system thus ensuring the survival of his/her own aikido-uniqueness.

I suppose that makes good sense. Having your individuality reflect upon aikido sounds like a good way to evolve not only yourself but aikido too.
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Old 05-30-2005, 06:20 AM   #18
Mark Uttech
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Re: For Aikikai folks

It is a social fact that people, especially western peoples, like to categorize everything.
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Old 05-30-2005, 11:05 AM   #19
ikkitosennomusha
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Re: For Aikikai folks

As long as the principle is there, everything will be fine. Personally, I like seeing different ways to achieve the same result as it is fresh and exciting to learn how to do the same technique a different way. It puts different perspectives on things and makes one realize that there is not just one right way to do something as in situations the need to adapt and improvise is often acute. So, I hope to not see a categoric methodolgy among schools for this and many other reasons. Even O-sensei remarked how he never did the same technique twice meaning that it is impossible to duplicate perfectly the manner in which you just performed a particular technique.
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