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Old 05-28-2008, 10:55 PM   #1
rob_liberti
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who represents their shihans well

I was reading a thread which turned to a discussion about Shoji Nishio. Who are his students that represent his teachings well?

Is there a place where I can go look up the main students of each shihan? Is there a list of what the junior teachers in each line tend to look like?

I have limited experience with Nishio sensei style aikido. Unfortunately, the folks I saw doing that kind of aikido didn't impress me that much becuase it seemed that the uke's were having to pretend that nage was holding a sword- instead of nage's mental intention being so strong that the ukes would react as if the nage were holding a sword. However, I probably just saw some very junior practicioners.

Rib
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Old 05-29-2008, 06:10 AM   #2
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Nishio shihan

Well, I practiced for Nishio sensei and tried to understand his aikido for a couple of decades. There are definitely lots of people who pracitced more for him, and understood more.
His aikido was a very complex and advanced system, making anybody feel like a beginner, whatever other aikido experience they had.

There are some of his senior students travelling the world, teaching aikido - more or less according to his principles. Some of them don't agree with each other about it. Well, that happens.

I guess that the best to start with, is to watch films of Nishio sensei himself. For example, I put a set of five videos from a seminar he had in my dojo on YouTube. Here is the first one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEZWojpNnao

About Nishio sensei's tegatana (hand-sword), I can tell you that it worked excellently on me
He talked about atemi-no-kokyu, which I would guess was a way of emphasizing that any atemi must be done with distinct spirit, and also that if done so, it definitely creates a reaction in uke.

Stefan Stenudd
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Old 05-29-2008, 07:11 AM   #3
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: who represents their shihans well

I think it depends on the shihan and whether the legacy is here in Japan or abroad. Also, whether the legacy is somehow supposed to stand independently of the shihan.

By this I mean that you might think that Yamaguchi Seigo Shihan has left a more or less complete legacy in the training of William Gleason. Here in Hiroshima, we tend to think that Yamaguchi Sensei never intended to leave a legacy. Similarly with Arikawa Sadateru Sensei. Hence the question of who represents these shihans is really a non-question.

On the other hand, there are shihans who really do plan for when they are no longer around and this is very laudable.

I suspect that Shoji Nishio Sensei was somewhere in the middle, at least to judge from his legacy here in Hiroshima (his closest student being a 7th dan).

Best wishes,

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Old 05-29-2008, 07:34 AM   #4
rob_liberti
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Re: who represents their shihans well

I have also heard that Yamaguchi sensei disliked fame for himself or for his students. However, when I think of Yamaguchi sensei some names come immediately to mind. Takeda Yoshinobu sensei and Bill Gleason sensei for sure.

My point in the thread is - regardless of the teacher's intention - is there a list of aikido shihan somewhere that you can click on and get a short list of some of their more advanced students. If not, let's create one on the wiki or something.

Rob
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Old 05-29-2008, 07:36 AM   #5
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Re: who represents their shihans well

Another Nishio student worthy of note is Koji Yoshida Sensei. His technique is excellent, and reminds one very much of Nishio Sensei. And he is, for want of a better word, joyful on the mat.
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Old 05-30-2008, 08:08 AM   #6
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Re: who represents their shihans well

Dear Professor Goldsbury:

I understand that you've said this before, but I'd like to clarify exactly what you mean when you say Yamaguchi "did not intend to leave a legacy." Do you mean that in the sense that he didn't really care whether his students "received" his teaching properly, and were thus able to transmit it to their students in turn?

I've read that O-sensei was like this in the last two decades of his life: he trained for himself, and if other people caught on, then well and good; if not, it wasn't a problem. Do you mean that Yamaguchi was like this too? Or am I misunderstanding your meaning?

best,

RAUL
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Old 05-30-2008, 10:56 AM   #7
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Re: who represents their shihans well

I've never come across a list of shihan and their top students. Interesting thought, but tricky to decide who to put up.

My own aikido lineage is through Mitsunari Kanai. In his case, their is no doubt that Claude Berthiaume was his top student in both aikido and iaido. Claude was the first to be promoted to shihan himself and as far as I know he is the only 7th dan student of Kanai's.

In the case of Kanai sensei, he had a very distinctive aikido "style" that shows through in his high ranking students. But for someone like Yamada sensei, I'm not sure what the legacy means. Yamada has produces several top aikidoka, several of which are now shihan themselves. But these guys are all so different in their aproaches. I've trained at seminars with Harvey Koenigsburg, Peter Bernath and Donovan Waite, and their outword styles, as well as the feeling you get being thrown by these guys, seem very different to me.

So I guess one question is whether the legacy is the passing on of a specific technical variation or style or whether the legacy may simply be the forming of strong aikidoka that can continue to develop the art. Of course, these two aspects are in no way mutually exclusive.You can faithfully represent your teacher while still developing your own style and skill (which, incidentally, is how I view Claude).

Jonathan Olson
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Old 05-30-2008, 06:56 PM   #8
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: who represents their shihans well

Quote:
Raul Rodrigo wrote: View Post
Dear Professor Goldsbury:

I understand that you've said this before, but I'd like to clarify exactly what you mean when you say Yamaguchi "did not intend to leave a legacy." Do you mean that in the sense that he didn't really care whether his students "received" his teaching properly, and were thus able to transmit it to their students in turn?

I've read that O-sensei was like this in the last two decades of his life: he trained for himself, and if other people caught on, then well and good; if not, it wasn't a problem. Do you mean that Yamaguchi was like this too? Or am I misunderstanding your meaning?

best,

RAUL
Hello Raul,

Tada Hiroshi Shihan once said to me, in answer to the question 'How have you prepared for the time when you are no longer here?' that his aikido would die when he did. I understood this to mean that he was not specifically creating a legacy to pass on to others. This does not mean that he did not teach people in the way he learned from the Founder: he thought he did precisely that. He showed and encouraged stealing, but that was all. Yamaguchi and Arikawa, also.

PAG

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Old 05-31-2008, 10:48 AM   #9
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The king is dead, long live the king!

I tend to agree with Peter, who is of course very learned about this and most other aikido matters. Japanese teachers are rarely that specific about appointing a heir.

A friend of mine, who went to Nishio sensei in Japan frequently up until the day he died, told me that Nishio sensei's classes were formed as if to underline that he did not want to appoint any successor: He taught part of the class, and then handed the teaching over to just anybody - often not a senior at all, but a junior member of the dojo.

Peter, please correct me if I am wrong, but I have the feeling that Japanese aikidoka are more aware than westerners of the simple fact that the aikido that becomes yours is the one that suits you the best - no matter who your teacher was. Everyone of us has his or her characteristics (physical and mental), and these should be the basis of what aikido we develop. It may very well be something quite different from that of our teachers.

Stefan Stenudd
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Old 05-31-2008, 03:13 PM   #10
Ellis Amdur
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Legacy

Rather an interesting question! A couple thoughts come to mind.
1. Some intended to leave a legacy. Technical and "more" - Saito Sensei comes to mind. Another example would be Tohei Koichi. A third, I believe, would be Mochizuki Minoru. Would not Sudanomari also fall in this category?
2. Some intended to leave a legacy, BUT - - - -Shioda Gozo would qualify there, I think. He had a system, he enforced the system, (there was leeway for variations, though - witness Takeno and Chida )- BUT, it seems he left something out - or couldn't pass it on. This is my impression of Saotome, too, FWIW. The "gift" of such a teacher is that the student who wants to catch him must, at a certain point, break out and away - a combination of stealing and jumping the fence
3. Some intended to leave a legacy, but their manifest personality flaws made it impossible. They broke their students' creative spark or drove them away. Several - actually quite a few - come to mind here.
4. Others seem to have left a "stamp" of some kind, more spiritual than physical. Hikitzuchi falls into this category. He had a handful of brilliant students - Anno, Tojima are the two names I recall - but each was different. In my opinion, all five were FAR more skilled than Hikitzuchi, but they are truly Shingu aikidoka. Those who ended up imitating Hikitzuchi's movements were not doing very interesting stuff, on the other hand.
5. Others were journeymen - even wonderful in their way, such as Okumura, but they did not have an individual stamp so unique that they either tried or someone desired to do their ryu.
6. Others were quite willing to pass on a legacy, or left a legacy to be taken up, but no one picked up the torch. (Kuroiwa Yoshio was such). When I trained with Nishio in the 1970's, it was my impression that he had several people - soto deshi, so to speak - who were the next generation, but one of the most prominent quit, and, as I recall, several others were not at that brilliant level of talent.
BTW - speaking of tradition and legacy, I always thought it quite remarkable that Saito Sensei, in his older Traditional Aikido, besides the obligatory pictures of Doshu, had photos of only two other shihan - Shioda and Nishio. I always thought that, for him, Shioda represented the best of the glorious past, that he, Saito, stood in the center, maintaining what he believed was Osensei's art at it's peak, and that Nishio was the future - that the creative impulse did not have to end with Iwama.

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Old 05-31-2008, 03:21 PM   #11
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Re: who represents their shihans well

What of Tomiki?
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Old 05-31-2008, 05:45 PM   #12
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Re: Legacy

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
I always thought it quite remarkable that Saito Sensei, in his older Traditional Aikido, besides the obligatory pictures of Doshu, had photos of only two other shihan - Shioda and Nishio. I always thought that, for him, Shioda represented the best of the glorious past, that he, Saito, stood in the center, maintaining what he believed was Osensei's art at it's peak, and that Nishio was the future - that the creative impulse did not have to end with Iwama.
Thanks for this Ellis...We students of Nishio Shihan here in the USA have been told this story too and according to O'Sensei Saito was the keeper of traditional Iwama Akido... Shioda it's link to the Daito Ryu... and Nishio the future of Aikido...

I see a marked disagreement reflected between the Northern European and the Japanese US and Eastern European Branches of Nishio Sensei's Aikido and Iaido...Some of the Senior Nishio Yudansha in Northern Europe were not very happy with Shoji Nishio's personal appointment of Koji Yoshida to continue his legacy by spreading and promoting his Aikido and Iaido around the world. I have also have friends who went to some of Nishio Shihan's last classes and they reflect a different point of view than that of Stefan's friends.... namely that anyone can learn and eventually teach his Aikido and that it belongs to everyone. Nishio Shihan just wished to honor as many of his loyal students as he could before he formally retired. Kind of like in a offhand sense clearing the bench of your junior players to give them the experiance of playing in a world championship game. It was nothing more than his unique generosity of Aiki spirit as Nishio Shihan disliked Aiki Politics and did not waste much time with them. He did not like publicity. He only wanted folks to practice as hard as they could.

Now granted the folks I know have only been with Nishio Shihan for about 30 years or so I have only been practicing for 18 to 20 years of it myself...I have only met, practiced, and spoken briefly with Nishio Shihan a few dozen times...The same with Yoshida and Tanaka Sensei and a few other Senior Yudansha he brought on trips with him. I have only dedicated my Aikido life to his views of innovation and practice. Nishio often said for Aikido to continue to progress than one needed to practice with beginners mind and open up to it's possiblities. What I lack in "talent" I make up for in trying help other Aikidoka reach thier full pontential. Who knows where the next Shoji Nishio will come from!

So what do I know...

Back to your question Rob... Nishio Shihan's Aikido and Iaido is thriving. Since Nishio Shihan personally appointed Koji Yoshida one of his direct represenatives; His Aikido has spread into Eastern Europe and Russia and after many year of stagnation is starting to grow here in the US. The closest guy near you I can recommend is Tom Huffman down in Florida. Somewhere in Maryland there is a Godan by the name of Bill Hazen but I lost track of him about 10 years ago after Nishio's Santa Cruz Seminar (what are the odds two Bill Hazen's practicing his Aikido and Iaido one FAR better than the other LOL ) Hopefully over then next few years we can get it together in the US to form an organization

Here is the link to Koji Yoshida's Dojo in Japan Please note his Kancho's "mission statement."

http://www.yufukan.com/index_e.html

William Hazen

Last edited by Aikibu : 05-31-2008 at 05:55 PM.
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Old 06-01-2008, 03:08 AM   #13
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Re: Legacy

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
I always thought that, for him, Shioda represented the best of the glorious past, that he, Saito, stood in the center, maintaining what he believed was Osensei's art at it's peak, and that Nishio was the future - that the creative impulse did not have to end with Iwama.
I remember that Nishio sensei often talked about another aikido trio: He regarded Saito sensei as the one who guarded the tradition, he saw himself as the technician, and Yamaguchi sensei as the artist.

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Old 06-01-2008, 04:22 AM   #14
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Legacy

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
BTW - speaking of tradition and legacy, I always thought it quite remarkable that Saito Sensei, in his older Traditional Aikido, besides the obligatory pictures of Doshu, had photos of only two other shihan - Shioda and Nishio. I always thought that, for him, Shioda represented the best of the glorious past, that he, Saito, stood in the center, maintaining what he believed was Osensei's art at it's peak, and that Nishio was the future - that the creative impulse did not have to end with Iwama.
Ellis,

In my edition of Traditional Aikido Vol 1 there are no photos of Shioda or Nishio. However, these shihans have written two of the four 'greetings' on pages 6 and 7 of the book. These were not translated into English, but the two pages are a model of restrained diplomacy, with the barbs kept more or less beneath the surface.

In his forward, Kisshomaru Doshu gives a lengthy analysis of ken no riai. This is followed by a shorter piece by Nishio, emphasizing the importance of weapons training, but also underlining the differences between this training and aikido. Shioda follows with a shorter greeting, which emphasizes the 20 years that Saito spent with O Sensei. The twenty years of Saito's training in Iwama is also mentioned in the fourth piece, written by the chief instructor of the Akita Prefectural Dojo, whose name is Asakura Chotaro (I am not certain of the kanji reading of his given name).

I agree with your view of Saito, Shioda and Nishio, but suggest that Nishio was something of a maverick, perhaps like Kuroiwa in his own way. In Saito's book, he is a Hombu Dojo Shihan, but Masatake Fujita once spent about 30 minutes explaining to me that he was a Hombu shihan only in a very narrow sense.

His explanation was not convincing, but gave the impression of the shihans in the Hombu as a group of children vying for the biggest piece of O Sensei Cake. ("I have the biggest piece because O Sensei used me as uke most." "Ah, but he talked to me much more than to you." "You are both wrong, I scrubbed his back the most when he was bathing". Etc etc etc.)

Best,

PAG

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Old 06-01-2008, 04:36 AM   #15
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: The king is dead, long live the king!

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote: View Post
Peter, please correct me if I am wrong, but I have the feeling that Japanese aikidoka are more aware than westerners of the simple fact that the aikido that becomes yours is the one that suits you the best - no matter who your teacher was. Everyone of us has his or her characteristics (physical and mental), and these should be the basis of what aikido we develop. It may very well be something quite different from that of our teachers.
Hello Stefan,

Yes. I think you are right and I also think that the best example of this was the difference between O Sensei's aikido and that of Kisshomaru Ueshiba. I think there are many reasons for this, mainly to do with an assumption that is very common in Japan, namely, that one's behavior should match one's age.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 06-01-2008, 10:02 AM   #16
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Re: who represents their shihans well

Hi Peter - I don't recall which volume it was, but I do recall the photos. Am I in my dotage?
I agree that Nishio sensei was a rebel in that sense - and far more successful than Kuroiwa - although I wonder how different it would have been for the latter if he had not gotten so devastatingly ill. Nishio seemed to me to be a man who had a clear sense of himself from the beginning. One can see this, I believe, in the photos of him as a young man next to Osensei. He is dapper, urbane in appearance, truly standing out as unique - whereas the other young men seem all of a piece.
Quote:
His explanation was not convincing, but gave the impression of the shihans in the Hombu as a group of children vying for the biggest piece of O Sensei Cake. ("I have the biggest piece because O Sensei used me as uke most." "Ah, but he talked to me much more than to you." "You are both wrong, I scrubbed his back the most when he was bathing". Etc etc etc.)
Terry Dobson said to me, "Osensei had this quality that when he would talk to you, you would get a clear message that he was saying, 'Look, I'm doing the best I can with these other guys, but they will never get it. I'm giving you the real goods. He did this with all the deshi.' Honestly, I firmly believe he said this to me. But I think I'm the only one who thinks this is funny."

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Old 06-01-2008, 10:25 AM   #17
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: who represents their shihans well

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Hi Peter - I don't recall which volume it was, but I do recall the photos. Am I in my dotage?
I agree that Nishio sensei was a rebel in that sense - and far more successful than Kuroiwa - although I wonder how different it would have been for the latter if he had not gotten so devastatingly ill. Nishio seemed to me to be a man who had a clear sense of himself from the beginning. One can see this, I believe, in the photos of him as a young man next to Osensei. He is dapper, urbane in appearance, truly standing out as unique - whereas the other young men seem all of a piece.

Terry Dobson said to me, "Osensei had this quality that when he would talk to you, you would get a clear message that he was saying, 'Look, I'm doing the best I can with these other guys, but they will never get it. I'm giving you the real goods. He did this with all the deshi.' Honestly, I firmly believe he said this to me. But I think I'm the only one who thinks this is funny."
Hello Ellis,

No, you are not in your dotage. In Japan, this state is reserved for the over-sixties, like me.

The photographs are on pages 29 and 54 of Vol. 2. The one of Nishio was probably taken at the All-Japan Aikido Demonstration. The one of Shioda I have seen before: explosive power, from a superb posture.

Best,

PAG

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Old 06-01-2008, 10:30 AM   #18
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Re: who represents their shihans well

The pictures of Nishio Sensei and Shioda Sensei appear on pages 29 and 54 respectively in Traditional Aikido Volume 2 by Saito Sensei:
Click image for larger version

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ID:	496 Click image for larger version

Name:	TradAikidoVol2_Shioda.jpg
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Edit: Professor Goldsbury beat me to it. Anyway, here are the pictures, if anyone is interested in them.

Inocencio Maramba, MD, MSc
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Old 06-01-2008, 02:48 PM   #19
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Re: who represents their shihans well

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Terry Dobson said to me, "Osensei had this quality that when he would talk to you, you would get a clear message that he was saying, 'Look, I'm doing the best I can with these other guys, but they will never get it. I'm giving you the real goods. He did this with all the deshi.' Honestly, I firmly believe he said this to me. But I think I'm the only one who thinks this is funny."
You mean Irony is not a technique?!!?! I've seen that in reverse LOL

"No you're doing it wrong...This is the way Sensei meant it to be done!"

I love Stefans expression best. The beauty of Aikido is that with hard practice you can make it your own.

William Hazen
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Old 06-01-2008, 03:03 PM   #20
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Re: who represents their shihans well

Shioda sensei always looks like such controlled power - but almost bursting at the seems.

Like if you took the strength/power of 2-3 people and crammed it into him and he was keeping it under control through the sheer force of his will and determination.

Keith Lee
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Old 06-01-2008, 06:59 PM   #21
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Re: who represents their shihans well

In terms of "intending to leave a legacy," then, the concrete indicators would include: forming one's own organization (Birankai, Iwama, Yoshinkan etc), writing books, appointing successors, and so on. But surely a teacher's leaving a legacy is not just a matter of intent. If one is a teacher of great skill, and if one is fortunate enough to have a few students able and willing to pick up the torch, then we should able to say with some accuracy that these students are in fact their teacher's legacy.
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