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Old 09-22-2005, 01:51 PM   #1
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Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

Discuss the article, "Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't" by George S. Ledyard here.

Article URL: http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/gledyard/2005_09.html
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Old 09-25-2005, 10:50 AM   #2
Paula Lydon
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

Hi George,

Excellent article; reflected many of the questions I've been seriously wrestling with in my practice these past few years, especially since attending the '03(?) AikiExpo. I posted a thread saying how I'd felt more aiki from nonAikido practitioners at that event. If Ushiro sensei wasn't in Osaka I'd be training in karate. Almost returned to my first art of jujitsu with Threadgill sensei here in Colo. and also investigated Systema for about a year while tumbling along inside myself. My biggest question, as yours, was asking what made Aikido an entity apart from other and/or the root arts it sprang from. Many of my mat fellows seemed upset that I could actually strike, choke, etc. I explained that if I didn't deliver a sincere attack with control and blending, than I not only showed disrespect their training but they would be training falsely. I don't think that sat well, or they'd decide that meant to full out attack me with no regard to control, aiki on their part, blending, connection. Just a pointless brawl. Many frustrated years...And I have trained with very accomplished practitioners where we could go to almost extreme levels because there was sensitivity, connection, controlled force, focus, committed intent, ect. All the elements that, when combined with understanding and experience, elevate any art to it's full potential. The goal, for me. Not wallowing in who's right or wrong, who's got it or not, just bringing the best you have to the table with an open mind and commitment to engage, exchange, uplift and be uplifted. To raise yourself, your mates and whatever art you're in to it's higher levels.

I also decided at this time that, for me, Aikido was more about internal intention. Nothing in Aikido techniques or weapons movement is different than say, jujitsu or kenjitsu, only the internal stance of the practitioner is what separates them. I'd chatted briefly with Peter Goldstein sensei in Japan about something he'd mentioned in a thread: In Japan Aikido wasn't about working on the self. When he went on to explain how this concept conflicted with the culture, it made sense. However, I'm very interested in following Aikido for this very reason. I'm certain all other MA have this potential, but Aikido's moved me the most, or at least the most consistently. At this time, I'm also very interested in delving into ki practices. As you mentioned, the energetic is where the higher heart of the art lies, not in technical supremacy or physical ability. While these other aspects are very important to learn, they are the foundation upon which we must keep building, not the end all. Very one dimensional structure. This I believe fully.

I was very impressed with the ukemi of Systema folks and have been working with that idea of softness and extreme relaxation as much as possible. Long way to go still.

Okay, I've spewed enough for now. Thank you, George, for elucidating these points.

Warmest regards,
Paula Lydon

~~Paula~~
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Old 09-25-2005, 11:02 AM   #3
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

~~Correction: Peter Goldsbury sensei in Japan. My most sincere apologies on the name flub~~

~~Paula~~
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Old 09-25-2005, 05:24 PM   #4
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

Wow! What an article.
Thank you George, for a very thought out opinion of where aikido is going.
Many of the things you said hit home for me.

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 09-25-2005, 05:57 PM   #5
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

In a word, brilliant, and very much appreciated.

Paul
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Old 09-25-2005, 07:29 PM   #6
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

George...very nice and much appreciated. You always give me things to think about.

--Michael

Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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Old 09-26-2005, 03:36 AM   #7
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

Thank George sensei. My field of vision of "what aikido is" has indeed been widen by your article.
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Old 09-26-2005, 09:51 AM   #8
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

As usual, George, excellent article - glad to have you writing again. I find your insight into Aikido to be very thought provoking and informative.

Greg Steckel
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Old 09-26-2005, 08:30 PM   #9
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

It is clear that a lot of thought and experience went into the article. I'd like to add my commendation.

There are things that I would disagree with mainly in regards to the best Aikido being found outside of Japan. I know little of Aikikai Hombu but even within that organization there is some awesome Aikido available in this country. Several members from Aikiweb have discovered that and go out of their way to make regular trips to Japan if not to study there for extended periods. All three Aikidoka mentioned in your article are products of that system.

I'd also say that the article reflects where your Aikido has taken you. My opinions, certain to change as my experience increases, differ from yours in several aspects. I wonder, as my time in art approaches yours, if there will be a convergence or not.

Still - well thought out, well tempered. Thanks for the article.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-27-2005, 08:47 AM   #10
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

Very nice article George. I am making it mandatory reading for my students. It pulls together a lot of what I have been saying to my students over time in bits and pieces.
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Old 09-27-2005, 09:21 AM   #11
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

Ledyard Sensei,
As always, my deepest appreciation, compliments, and respect for your clearly stated and refreshing perspective. I have always enjoyed our time together in these forums, on the mat, and in conversation.

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 09-27-2005, 02:34 PM   #12
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

Brilliant article! Offers many issues to contemplate on along with providing long-sought-for answers on mental disposition in ukemi and "martialness" of Aikido. I find myself very fortunate to be able to train with a sensei who (judging by my experience) shares most of the views discussed in the article.

Thank You!
Miha

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Old 09-28-2005, 02:34 AM   #13
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
It is clear that a lot of thought and experience went into the article. I'd like to add my commendation.

There are things that I would disagree with mainly in regards to the best Aikido being found outside of Japan. I know little of Aikikai Hombu but even within that organization there is some awesome Aikido available in this country. Several members from Aikiweb have discovered that and go out of their way to make regular trips to Japan if not to study there for extended periods. All three Aikidoka mentioned in your article are products of that system.

I'd also say that the article reflects where your Aikido has taken you. My opinions, certain to change as my experience increases, differ from yours in several aspects. I wonder, as my time in art approaches yours, if there will be a convergence or not.

Still - well thought out, well tempered. Thanks for the article.
Hi Peter!
When I write about Aikido, there's no doubt my experience is limited when it comes to some of the other organizations such as theYoshinakai or Shudokan. I don't have much of a sense of who their senior folks are... but in terms of many of the other, I hesitate to call them "styles", maybe "streams" would be better, like the Hikitsuchi stream, the Yamaguchi stream, the Shirata stream etc. even when there are still very skilled senior instructors in Japan, often their largest following is over seas. A number of these teachers have more students in Europe and / or the US than they do at home. As the last of the direct students of the Founder pass away, there simply aren't the range of folks in Japan that there are here or overseas in general.

On the other hand, our own teachers are passing away at an unfortunately quick pace. We've lost Kanai Sensei, Akira Tohei Sensei, Toyoda Sensei, Sugano Sensei's health is shaky... I think whether any of these teachers will leave behind students who are at or will later attain the level of their teachers is open to debate.

I am hopeful about Aikido's future however.. One of the things that makes me optimistic is that my generation of instructors, while not perhaps attaining the full level of proficiency attained by their teachers, has developed some very creative and effective ways of teaching what we have mastered. I think this may, in time, make a higher level of practice more accessible to the wider Aikido community than it was.

Teachers like Kevin Choate Sensei or Wendy Palmer Sensei, both students of Saotome Sensei, or Tres Hofmeister Sensei, a student of Ikeda Sensei, have done wonders in making their teacher's very sophisticated Aikido comprehensible to a wider group of students.

Folks like Ostoff and Nevelius Senseis, students of Endo Sensei in Europe, have developed a very creative way to teach ukemi which is quite revolutionary for many students of the art, They are teaching this system all over Europe and the United states.

William Gleason Sensei continues the tradition begun by Yamaguchi Sensei. Takeda Sensei in Japan may be the most notable of Yamaguchi sensei's successors but I doubt he provides anything like the detailed explanation of technique provided by Gleason Sensei.

Clint George, Mary Heiny, Lind Holiday, Jack Wada, and Tom Read Senseis are all fantastic teachers whose aikido was inspired by the practice at Shingu under Hikitsuchi Sensei. I think this "stream" is more vital here than it is in Japan itself...

All of these teachers have gone beyond their own instructors in terms of developing creative teaching methodologies. Given events like the Aiki Expos in which there has been an amazing exchange of ideas, the fact that these teachers travel quite a bit to teach, that books and videos are starting to be available that do more than just show senior teachers doing their Aikido, but rather contain actual instruction, all of this makes me think that despite the rapid growth of the art and the relative scarcity of the top level teachers, the general level of Aikido will get better rather than worse. Only time will tell...

Thanks to everyone for their kind words.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
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Old 09-28-2005, 03:17 AM   #14
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

George;

I realized that you were talking primarily about the Aikikia but the point I was making basically exposure to the western Aikido groups does not necessarily equate with the best Aikido (your term) - same with large followings in the west. Within the Aikikai (both those teaching in the West and those not) I am most seriously impressed by Kimura Shihan of Osaka Aikikai, our friend Bryan has found his teacher in Kobe, and any number of aikiweb members have experiences of superb Aikido that does not travel that much to the west or at all

I used to say the best Aikidoists within the Aikikai have travelled outside of Japan and that may still be very true but .... I am not so sure now as I once was.

Within Shodokan the best are still here and there are some seriously good young ones - no idea about Yoshinkan.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-28-2005, 04:02 AM   #15
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

I also was somewhat surprised by Mr Ledyard's assertion that the best aikido in the world was being practised outside Japan.

I would not want to commit myself so far. I suppose that to amass the evidence to make such an assertion, one would have to do a world tour and also visit all the main centres in Japan.

In Japan there are a large nunber of centres, so to speak, run by people who were direct disciples of the Founder and/or his immediate disciples. I am thinking of the large federation in the Tohoku district, trained by Rinjiro Shirata & Morihiro Saito and their senior students. There is Iwama, run by Hiroshi Isoyama and senior students of M Saito Shihan. There are Osaka and Shingu in Wakayama. There is Kyushu, where K Sunadomari and M Suganuma practise and train able students. And there is still a large accumulation of expertise in the Kanto area, centred on Tokyo. This is just the Aikikai.

The Aiki Expo might be a good basis on which to judge the quality of aikido in the USA. I do not know. The All-Japan Demonstration is not really a good basis for judging the level of aikido in Japan and the the demonstrations & training given at the recent IAF Congresses are not a good basis for judging the level of aikido outside Japan.

There are a number of people who were direct disciples of the Founder and of Kisshomaru Doshu. Many of these deshi chose to live and teach aikido outside Japan. Of course, anyone who wishes to judge the quality of aikido outside Japan will point to these shihans, their training methods and the senior students they have trained.

However, many of these deshi chose to remain in Japan and teach abroad for shorter lengths of time. Take Tada Hiroshi Shihan, for example. He lived in Italy for some years and established the Aikikai of Italy. He returned to Japan and established his home dojo near Tokyo, but taught regular classes at the Hombu for many years. Arikawa Sensei did the same, but never lived abroad.

Compare these shihans with a shihan like Chiba Sensei, for example. Chiba Sensei was unique in returning to Japan because he felt the training in the Aikikai Hombu was not up to scratch. Note this was when Kisshomaru Doshu and Kisaburo Osawa were still active and Yamaguchi, Tada, Arikawa still conducted their evening classes, as they had been doing for decades.

So I think that a such a judgment is rather premature and we need to wait a few more generations. As it stands we would need to praise those immediate disciples of the Founder for teaching students overseas so well and condemn the very same people for teaching students in Japan so badly.

I myself planned to discuss this same issue in a future column. When I do so, I will have Mr Ledyard's comments in mind.

Of course, I am well aware that Mr Ledyard is not the only one to express worries about the quality of aikido being practised and taught in Japan (= at the Aikikai Hombu). I am less and less sure that events like the All-Japan Demonstration are a good basis for such a worry.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 09-28-2005, 03:12 PM   #16
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
I also was somewhat surprised by Mr Ledyard's assertion that the best aikido in the world was being practised outside Japan.

I would not want to commit myself so far. I suppose that to amass the evidence to make such an assertion, one would have to do a world tour and also visit all the main centres in Japan.

In Japan there are a large nunber of centres, so to speak, run by people who were direct disciples of the Founder and/or his immediate disciples. I am thinking of the large federation in the Tohoku district, trained by Rinjiro Shirata & Morihiro Saito and their senior students. There is Iwama, run by Hiroshi Isoyama and senior students of M Saito Shihan. There are Osaka and Shingu in Wakayama. There is Kyushu, where K Sunadomari and M Suganuma practise and train able students. And there is still a large accumulation of expertise in the Kanto area, centred on Tokyo. This is just the Aikikai.

The Aiki Expo might be a good basis on which to judge the quality of aikido in the USA. I do not know. The All-Japan Demonstration is not really a good basis for judging the level of aikido in Japan and the the demonstrations & training given at the recent IAF Congresses are not a good basis for judging the level of aikido outside Japan.

There are a number of people who were direct disciples of the Founder and of Kisshomaru Doshu. Many of these deshi chose to live and teach aikido outside Japan. Of course, anyone who wishes to judge the quality of aikido outside Japan will point to these shihans, their training methods and the senior students they have trained.

However, many of these deshi chose to remain in Japan and teach abroad for shorter lengths of time. Take Tada Hiroshi Shihan, for example. He lived in Italy for some years and established the Aikikai of Italy. He returned to Japan and established his home dojo near Tokyo, but taught regular classes at the Hombu for many years. Arikawa Sensei did the same, but never lived abroad.

Compare these shihans with a shihan like Chiba Sensei, for example. Chiba Sensei was unique in returning to Japan because he felt the training in the Aikikai Hombu was not up to scratch. Note this was when Kisshomaru Doshu and Kisaburo Osawa were still active and Yamaguchi, Tada, Arikawa still conducted their evening classes, as they had been doing for decades.

So I think that a such a judgment is rather premature and we need to wait a few more generations. As it stands we would need to praise those immediate disciples of the Founder for teaching students overseas so well and condemn the very same people for teaching students in Japan so badly.

I myself planned to discuss this same issue in a future column. When I do so, I will have Mr Ledyard's comments in mind.

Of course, I am well aware that Mr Ledyard is not the only one to express worries about the quality of aikido being practised and taught in Japan (= at the Aikikai Hombu). I am less and less sure that events like the All-Japan Demonstration are a good basis for such a worry.

Best regards,
Hi Peter,

I will admit that when I say "the best" I don't really mean that in an absolute sense as in the difference between "first place" and "second place" but as more of an overview.

As Peter Rehse stated there are certainly great teachers still active in Japan... Yourself amongst them, ceratinly! I have friends who are students of some very fine teachers there and return regularly to train. I have also been impressed by many of the instructors who have appeared at the Expo as well. I agree that the All Japan Aikido Demo shouldn't be considered representative of the state of the art in Japan (at least one hopes not).

The teachers like Saotome Sensei and Chiba Sensei who came to the states early on, have held nothing back from their students, making a concerted effort to pass on as much as they possibly could of what they had learned from O-Sensei and their other teachers (obviously with varying degrees of success). I have noted a tendency amongst many Japanese instructors (and some over here as well) to simplify the training. They seem unconcerned with whether they pass on all of what they know and in some cases, actually refuse to teach caertain aspects of the art which they themselves were taught. I had a friend show up at one of my own seminars who wanted to do more self defense oriented application of technique. This fellow is the senior student of a prominent Japanese Sensei here in North America but his teacher won't teach this aspect of the art to his student. He seems to be content to allow the knowledge to go to the grave with him... thereby forcing his student who wants to be conversant in this area to go elsewhere for the knowledge. I certainly feel that this is what has happened at the Aikikai Honbu Dojo.

An additional factor is that the Aikikai Honbu dojo has systematically sent many of its best instructors out to run their own dojos. It is my understanding that this was to make way for younger deshi to work into teaching spots... but it also serves to remove that tremendous depth of teaching at the heart of the organization. One would expect that the home dojo of an organization would be the place at which one would see the most dynamic and exciting Aikido. This is not, in my opinon, the case.

I think Aikido faces the same challenge faced by many of the traditional arts of Japan... namely that the majority of the most senior, most talented students are foreigners. They are the ones who have been serious enought to leave their homes to study the art, perhaps travelling to Japan from other countries to study. It is hard to find many Japanese students who take their training as seriously.

Ellis Amdur Sensei is the senior student of Toda Ha Buko Ryu Naginata. Phil Relnick Sensei is senior to all but a very small number of Japanese practitioners of Katori Shinto Ryu Kenjutsu. There are even a few legitimate "sokes" amongst the foreigners (like Angier Sensei of the Yanagi Ryu).

Each of the Japanese teachers who left Japan early on to spread Aikido around the world has created a group of senior students who are in many ways better trained than their counterparts in Japan. Not always but often I think.

So while it may be an inaccurate exageration to say that the best Aikido is being done ouside of Japan, I do think that the number of places at which you could get the most complete, high quality training is greater here than in the art's homeland at this point. I defintely think that it is not necessary to go to Japan to train except as a way to become familiar with the culture in general.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 09-28-2005 at 03:14 PM.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 09-29-2005, 01:59 AM   #17
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
So while it may be an inaccurate exageration to say that the best Aikido is being done ouside of Japan, I do think that the number of places at which you could get the most complete, high quality training is greater here than in the art's homeland at this point. I defintely think that it is not necessary to go to Japan to train except as a way to become familiar with the culture in general.
I have to say that I can't think of a single US city that has even a tenth of the number of high ranking Aikido instructors that you would find in Tokyo - and that doesn't take into account the many other martial traditions you can dabble in there. Of course, many (most) skilled instructors in Tokyo are just unknown in the US - that doesn't mean that they aren't there. It goes the other way too - ask the average Japanese Aikido student in Tokyo who Yamada, Chiba, Kanai, or Saotome is and you're liable to just get a blank look.

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-29-2005, 02:17 AM   #18
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

One thought on the idea of the "hombu dojos" quality of teaching lessening.

I don't agree with this statement (at least in Yoshinkan) about *quality* but I do think that there is a difference that could be perceived as "lower quality". My thought is that since a hombu dojo is the source of a style then the purest form of that style must be taught there. Whatever makes the style "unique" must be distilled and handed out at the source so there isn't a lot of room *within hombu* for experimentation and new and interesting things. Changes and variations are very slow to evolve there.

However, all the instructors at the Yoshinkan Hombu also teach outside the dojo and there they are able to experiment and to vary their technique. But when they teach at hombu they teach the purest form of Yoshinkan they have.

I am not 100% sure this is true, but it has been my impression as to why other Yoshinkan dojos outside of the Yoshinkan Hombu have "more interesting and varied" techniques while purely the basics are taught at hombu (with some exceptions for senshusei and uchideshi).

One example that comes to mind is that we once asked Chida Sensei if he had developed any techniques himself. He said that he had. When we asked him to show us, he refused and basically said that whatever he developed wouldn't necessarily follow the ideas of Shioda G. so he couldn't show us.

Just a thought.

cheers,

--Michael

Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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Old 09-29-2005, 03:54 AM   #19
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
I have to say that I can't think of a single US city that has even a tenth of the number of high ranking Aikido instructors that you would find in Tokyo - and that doesn't take into account the many other martial traditions you can dabble in there. Of course, many (most) skilled instructors in Tokyo are just unknown in the US - that doesn't mean that they aren't there. It goes the other way too - ask the average Japanese Aikido student in Tokyo who Yamada, Chiba, Kanai, or Saotome is and you're liable to just get a blank look.

Best,

Chris
Chris,
I know you have trained very widely... you certainly have direct experience with the teachers in the States with whom I am familiar. If you and Peter G. tell me that there is training availabale in Japan which is as good or better than anything we have here, I will bow to your superior knowledge. I simply haven't seen it. I am familiar with what is happening at the Aikikai Honbu dojo. Shingu couldn't resolve the succession question effectively after Hikitsuchi sensei died and lacks coherent direction. Kobayashi Sensei seems to have gone more for quantity over quality...

If there are some great Aikido teachers who are as yet undiscovered by the wider Aikido public, let's get them out in front! Get Stan to invite them to the Expo. I am sure ready to train with them and support them. But I would say that I am probably more familiar with the various of prominent instructors in Japan than the average Japanese practitioner would be of the prominent overseas instructors,,, In most cases I don't see the range from these people which I expect from the best teachers here. There's generally a dearth of weapons training, little emphasis on applied technique or non-conventional attacks, etc.

I'd be glad if I am wrong about what I see happening to Aikido in Japan. At Rocky Mountain Summer camp two summers ago Stan Pranin asked in a public discussion whether it was time for American teachers of the art to "give something back" to Japan as the source for the art which we all do. I asked him whether there was the least evidence that the Japanese would be interested in what their American counterparts are doing. I don't think so. I believe that they see this as a one way street, flowing from the homeland to the rest of us. Hitohiro Saito can journey to the Expo alright but he told his students not to train with any of the other teachers...

Anyway, feel free to share with us the names of any teachers you think are really hot; i'll keep an eye out for them in the future. Teachers like Ushiro Sensei and Kuroda Sensei have changed my Aikido. If they have any Aikido equivalents I'd love to see them.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 09-29-2005, 05:37 AM   #20
David Yap
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

George sensei,

Sorry, I seem to have lost the directions in your last few posts.

What is your criteria for best or quality aikido? Is it:

1) The manner in which aikido is taught by Japanese shihans resident in the States versus the manner of instructions in Japan (within hombu or otherwise)? I think there are cultural and communication differences here - Japan and the rest of the world.

2) The technical ability (able to perform good aikido) of the shihans in States versus the shihans in Japan? This again can be cultural.

To me: emphasize on good kihon is what aikido is; chasing after techniques is what aikido isn't.

Regards

David
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Old 09-29-2005, 05:46 AM   #21
ian
 
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

I pretty much agreed with the whole article myself, although I would argue that aikido is not principally a weapon art. Personally I don't know if this differentiation necessarily existed in Ueshiba's mind - though obviously I wouldn't know that. However, an instructor that trained under Ueshiba told me that Ueshiba stopped the training of sword work for non uchi-deschi because the students spent too much time arsing around with the wooden swords and not doing aikido. This suggest to me that the sword is really a way to understand aikido. That is how I feel, and I find practically that students who do basic sword exercises improve more rapidly than those who don't.

I'm not sure that high ranking necessarily equates to better instructors. I have never trained in Japan, although I have trained both with high ranking Japanese and U.S. instructors. Although I feel I cannot give a totally authoritative viewpoint, my view is that Aikido in Japan has become intensely formalised, and that the essense of aikido (which I consider to be blending) is preserved more closely and investigated more deeply in the top (e.g. Yamada) instructors in the US. If I was to undergo an uchi-deschi program I would definately go to the U.S. to do it (although I currently like the situation I am training in currently).

I think it's false to believe that only aikido exhibits the problem of divergence within the art. I think it is much better to evaluate instructors than to evaluate the martial art within itself. I can be a brutal animal who has only really done ju-jitsu and still call myself an aikido instructor (in fact I have met a so called aikido instructor just like that). Personally I look up to instructors such as Ueshiba, Yamada, Kono because I know I have much to learn from them (and obviously some of the contributors to this site), whereas other instructors it is pointless me training with because all they are doing is repeating techniques which they have been taught. Not wanting to get esoteric, but in the words of Basho, learning from some instructors is like scratching your foot whilst you still have your shoe on - they are doing aikido as they have been taught, but it they are not really getting to the nub of it.

Ian

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 09-29-2005, 08:46 AM   #22
Chris Li
 
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Anyway, feel free to share with us the names of any teachers you think are really hot; i'll keep an eye out for them in the future. Teachers like Ushiro Sensei and Kuroda Sensei have changed my Aikido. If they have any Aikido equivalents I'd love to see them.
Cases in point, Ushiro and Kuroda, for example, would be virtually unknown in the US if they hadn't happened to get picked up by Stan Pranin. Another one - Hiroshi Kato has recently developed a following in the US, but I doubt that anybody could have told you who he was 5 years ago.

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-29-2005, 08:48 AM   #23
Chris Li
 
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

Quote:
Michael Stuempel wrote:
I am not 100% sure this is true, but it has been my impression as to why other Yoshinkan dojos outside of the Yoshinkan Hombu have "more interesting and varied" techniques while purely the basics are taught at hombu (with some exceptions for senshusei and uchideshi).
This is also more or less the case at Aikikai hombu. If you train at an individual instructor's dojo the classes are often quite different, IMO.

Best,

Chris

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Old 10-03-2005, 08:59 PM   #24
James Angelo
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

George,

You wrote the following in your article:

There is quite a bit of Aikido around which can only really be done by muscular students of large bone structure. Attempts to do these styles by people of smaller stature result in far too much stress on their bodies, especially their backs.

As I am a newbie to Aikido, could you please share some examples of Aikido that are more suitable for those who are muscular with large bone structures? Could you also elaborate on how you arrived at this conclusion since most of the old Japanese masters that I've heard of don't seem to fit the characteristics?

Thanks,

James
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Old 10-04-2005, 10:59 AM   #25
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Article: Aikido - What It Is and What It Isn't by George S. Ledyard

Quote:
James Angelo wrote:
George,

You wrote the following in your article:

There is quite a bit of Aikido around which can only really be done by muscular students of large bone structure. Attempts to do these styles by people of smaller stature result in far too much stress on their bodies, especially their backs.

As I am a newbie to Aikido, could you please share some examples of Aikido that are more suitable for those who are muscular with large bone structures? Could you also elaborate on how you arrived at this conclusion since most of the old Japanese masters that I've heard of don't seem to fit the characteristics?

Thanks,

James
I am not crazy enough to open that can of worms thankyou... Keep your eyes open and train around and you'll see what I mean.

I would like to point out, however, that your picture of the old Japanese Masters could use a bit of updating. They may have been short in stature but they were apt to be VERY strong. O-Sensei was around 5 feet tall yet at the age of fifty he weighed around 180 pounds! That's solid. He was, throughout his early life, renowned for his physical strength and use every opportunity to demonstrate that fact by engaging in all sorts of contests etc.

However, that said, most of the teachers who came out of the late twenties and early thirties were highly skilled and their Aikido was very sophisticated. Those guys understood aiki.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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