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Old 07-20-2006, 04:32 PM   #1
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Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Discuss the article, "An Aikido Journey: Part 10" by Peter Goldsbury here.

Article URL: http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/pgoldsbury/2006_07.html
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Old 07-20-2006, 08:06 PM   #2
Don_Modesto
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
"However, I was struck by the reaction of my Japanese colleague to this first visit. My colleague was a specialist in Japanese religion, knew very little about aikido and cared even less for the martial arts. He was singularly unimpressed and compared the Hombu to a yakuza (gangster) organization. His reaction showed something of the general ambivalence towardsJapanese martial arts in Japan."
I got a similar reaction many years ago from one Matsui Yayori, a well-regarded journalist at the Asahi Shinbun. She dismissed all BUDO as "so many rightists, fascism."

Don J. Modesto
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Old 07-21-2006, 03:23 AM   #3
RoyK
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Quote:
She dismissed all BUDO as "so many rightists, fascism."
Quick offtopic:
I 'love' it when people use this term so freely, without proper context. It shows how people find it easierr to dismiss and attack something they don't understand, or something that is harder to relate to. It goes beyond hobbies and relations, unfortunately, to a macro scale of politics and global human interaction.
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Old 07-23-2006, 10:19 AM   #4
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Quote:
Don J. Modesto wrote:
I got a similar reaction many years ago from one Matsui Yayori, a well-regarded journalist at the Asahi Shinbun. She dismissed all BUDO as "so many rightists, fascism."
Hello Don,

I suspect that her reaction was colored by what happened when the US/Japan treaty was ratified in the early 50s. Right-wing martial arts groups willingly supported the police to ensure that the treaty was ratified. Any dissent was crushed by the riot police, or groups of goons from the martial arts groups in Tokyo. The person who led the goons used to give 1 million yen to the Aikikai each year. I once had to accompany Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba on a visit to this person, to 'pay respects'.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 07-23-2006, 11:06 AM   #5
Lan Powers
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Fascinating....
Thank you for your eforts to collect this much relevant information into the differring styles and teaching concepts of the East and West.
Thank you Mr. Goldsbury
Warm regards
Lan

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Old 07-23-2006, 01:27 PM   #6
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Quote:
Roy Klein wrote:
Quick offtopic:
I 'love' it when people use this term so freely, without proper context. It shows how people find it easierr to dismiss and attack something they don't understand, or something that is harder to relate to. It goes beyond hobbies and relations, unfortunately, to a macro scale of politics and global human interaction.
Peter answered you comments better than I could have. I hadn't known that about MA-ists' complicity on bully-boy stuff.

But the Jpn have other reasons to be suspicious of MA. During the 15 year war (we call it WWII), the Jpn used MAs (through the Butokukai) to mobilize the populace into enthusiastic suicidal maniacs (then, a term of endearment).

This is where we get the term "DO," btw. It began to be distinguished from JUTSU in the 19-teens. It's a short-hand for Bushido (a newly minted tradition bearing almost no relation to actual Bushi/samurai), which the government was holding up as a romantic notion to unify the Jpn. There was Budo, which we all know and love, but also Kendo (named in 1930), and even Sportsdo. Everything was susceptible to the program. That's why GHQ banned MAs, not because they were dangerous.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 08-08-2006, 12:07 AM   #7
Brad Pruitt
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Thank You, I much enjoyed that history lesson through your experiences.

Brad Pruitt
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Old 08-08-2006, 03:34 AM   #8
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Mr. Goldsbury:


You wrote: Of course, Mr Kitahira is a very good aikidouka, but he does not regard himself as a 'special' student of anybody and has no 'special' students of his own. There is no uchi-deshi, senshusei or kenshusei system here. He practices, and teaches what he practices to those who want to learn from him. Actually, knowing him and training under him for nearly 30 years has led me to call into question the traditional master-student paradigm referred to above and Mr Kitahira himself had some pretty caustic remarks to make of those who claim to be 'uchi-deshi of the Founder' (with a special master-student relationship), when they were really 'special' students in the dojo and occasionally accompanied O Sensei on his trips to Iwama or elsewhere. So my relationship with Mr Kitahira is not the traditional master-student relationship, as I was led to conceive of this before I came to Japan. The relationship has endured over the years and I am now regarded as one of his senior yudansha. But I do not think it is quite the same relationship as the quasi-'mystical' relationship enjoyed by someone like Chiba Sensei with his own students. The reason is that Kitahira Sensei simply does not conceive of the relationship in the same terms--and I am not convinced that the quality of his aikido training and teaching suffers as a result.


Would you be willing to expand on Mr. Kitahira's "caustic remarks about the Founder's uchi deshi?" And when you say Chiba Sensei has a "quasi mystical relationship" with his students, what exactly do you mean?
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Old 08-23-2006, 04:18 PM   #9
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

I really enjoyed reading your 'Peter Goldsbury's Aikido journey' articles.

You have experienced so many aikido aspects/nuances (that many of us are only now touching upon), it makes your comments and insight about various subjects that much more interesting (at least I think so anyway).

Thanks for the good read!

Bruce Kimpel
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Old 08-26-2006, 03:11 AM   #10
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Mr Rodrigo,

I have been away in Europe and have not had access to a computer, so apologies for the delay.

Actually, the whole matter of deshi needs a separate column, which I might write at a later date, when I have the time.

Briefly, Mr Kitahira did not mention anyone by name when he made his "caustic" remarks and my own remarks tie in with what the late Kisshomaru Ueshiba once told me in a private conversation, namely, that O Sensei had no postwar uchi-deshi and that he himself had no uchi-deshi at all. Since I had been told previously by a number of shihans who entered the Hombu after the war that they were uchi-deshi of the Founder, Doshu's remarks were surprising, to say the least.

I myself have had the good fortune to have been taught aikido almost exclusively (there is just one exception) by teachers who themselves were directly taught by the Founder. All of these persons claimed to be deshi of the Founder and some claimed to be uchi-deshi. Since all met and learned from the Founder often, I was left pondering on the special nuances implicit in the 'uchi-' prefix.

I am at home and do not have access to the extensive Japanese-language materials in my office, so I cannot say anything illuminating about the history and context of the term uchi-deshi in Japanese. However, I think that Kisshomaru Doshu was thinking about the special conditions obtaining in the prewar Kobukan, where the number of students was few and thus each had a close relationship with Morihei Ueshiba. To enter the dojo they had to be recommended and also had to pay their own way. In return they had direct access to the Founder all day and every day and they also accompanied him on his trips to Osaka, the Takeda Dojo & elsewhere and were uke efodderf, if necessary. It was thought to be a great honour to be asked to accompany O Sensei on his trips outside the Kobukan and such trips were also regarded as an important aspect of personal training. I think I do not need to explain why.

What can we conclude from all this? First the relationship was close, even more so because there were so few students (though circumstances changed somewhat with the outbreak of the Pacific War: the students were still few, but were increasingly attached to the military establishments where the Founder taught). The 'uchi' prefix indicated a special relationship that was perhaps not enjoyed by the students at the many military establishments visited by O Sensei.

Between 1942 and 1955, O Sensei stayed in Iwama and his main student was Morihiro Saito. I think you know that Saito Sensei worked for Japanese railways on a shift system and was with O Sensei on his days off. This relationship was close and long-lasting, but was not 'uchi', which suggests to me that it does not matter very much whether the postwar deshi relationship was 'uchi' or 'soto'.

After 1955, there were effectively two centers of aikido in Japan: Iwama and the Tokyo Hombu. The Founder visited Osaka, Kumamoto and elsewhere and the deshi resident in the Hombu accompanied him. However, Kisshomaru Ueshiba ran the administration and these deshi were deshi of the dojo, the ie, rather than any particular individual within the ie. Of course, O Sensei was the central figure in the ie, so a deshi living in the Hombu could claim in some sense to be an 'uchi' deshi, and an uchi-deshi of the Founder. Actually they trained largely in the Hombu under the direction of Kisshomaru Ueshiba.

However, the looseness of expression here explains the quite different opinion of those who also trained very hard as deshi of the Founder, but who never lived in the Hombu. The resentment centres on the fact that 'uchi' deshi claim a special relationship with the Founder, which rather falls short when 'cashed out' in real terms.

Now I know that some postwar deshi of the Founder have sought to replicate with their own students the relationship that they supposedly enjoyed with the Founder. Why have I called this relationship 'semi-mystical'? Because it is largely based on a conviction, a faith, that some particular teacher is 'right' for you. Sometimes evidence can play a role in this, but the conviction is central. In my opinion, this kind of relationship is rather different from the relationship you have with the head of the dojo in the area where you happen to live, which was how the relationship I have with my own teacher started. I have been training at the dojo for 28 years now and so I know my teacher very well. Of course, he regards me as his student in some sense, but since I am only a few years younger, I think he conceives the relationship more as one of equals. And he insists that he has no deshi at all, in the sense he believes Kisshomaru Ueshiba intended.

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Old 08-26-2006, 04:23 AM   #11
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Dear Mr. Goldsbury:

Thank you very much for your reply. We often hear of the postwar deshi talk about their "special relationship" with O Sensei, with several people who were there at the same time going further by saying they each were the "favorite uke" of O Sensei. Hmmmm....We even know of one famous shihan whose books say he was a deshi of the founder since 1955 but when you examine the records he only started in Hombu dojo in 1960. So obviously we are looking at "deshi inflation" because proximity to the founder is normally equated with the purity and righteousness of one's aikido. I am glad to hear that your teacher, at least, doesn't buy into this. The endless arguments about which deshi was closest/most faithful to Osensei are like an argument about which apostle was closest to Jesus Christ.


best,


R
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Old 08-26-2006, 10:10 PM   #12
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Mr Rodrigo,

If you are interested in the subject of 'deshi', you might like to consider the case or professional sumo, which offers some interesting parallels to aikido.

Professional sumo in Japan has an organizational complexity that aikido and the Aikido do not possess. However, the basic unit of professional sumo in Japan is the heya, or stable, run by an oya-kata (stablemaster). The oya-kata once did sumo professionally, but retired as age and physical decline took its toll. (Sumo is strictly competitive and one's standing (and income) ruthlessly depends on the number of bouts won during one's entire career.)

In the stable are the young men who have entered sumo as a career and are proceeding (inevitably painfully) up through the ranks. They are deshi of the stable and receive a small income from the stablemaster until they have progressed as far as the Juryo division. Their entire function is to practise sumo, look after their senior deshi and help to train their juniors. When they reach Juryo, they may live outside the stable and receive a regular income from the Sumo Association, not from the stablemaster.

If the stable is run by a famous yokozuna like Chiyonofuji (now Kokonoe Oyakata), the deshi might claim to be uchi-deshi of Chiyonofuji (they are inevitably 'uchi'-deshi at this stage). However, it would be highly presumptuous for any deshi to claim a 'special' relationship with Chiyonofuji. They are deshi of the stable and train with all the other deshi there. A particular deshi might have a special relationship with a senior deshi in the stable (the relationship would be that of ani-deshi / ototo-deshi: older brother / younger brother deshi), but this would be highly individual and depend on personalities.

It seems to me that the old prewar Kobukan was run like a very small sumo stable, without the presentday organization and with just one Oya-kata ( = O Sensei). Training was very intense and all the technical expertise was 'stolen' from the Master. In the postwar Aikikai, training was also very intense, but there was a growing organization and other senior members like Kisshomaru Ueshiba. The pattern has been repeated outside aikido and is usually called 'iemoto'. The presentday situation has further changed and in sumo, as in aikido, the anxiety is sometimes expressed that too much has been modernized and the 'old ways' have been lost.

Now this complexity is not usually discussed by postwar Japanese aikido deshi, especially to foreigners, but it exists all the same and the implicit training ideology will be understood by any Japanese male who has passed through junior and senior high school (where deshi, sempai, kohai relationships are first formed). In some sense there is something 'uniquely' Japanese about all this and it tempting to make the (false) conclusion that foreigners are incapapble of understanding such complexities. In this respect, it is interesting to read Terry Dobson's contribution to the book Aikido in America, especially at the time of O Sensei's death.

Best wishes,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 08-26-2006 at 10:12 PM.

P A Goldsbury
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Old 08-28-2006, 08:39 AM   #13
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Hi Peter,

Something that occurred to me while reading your comments actually surprised me a bit...I remembered the 'age mate' traditions I was exposed to in East Africa, and noted some similarities between the ideas contained in sempai / kohai relationships. It would seem that many 'traditional' societies have much stricter rules about how people in the society relate to one another. Codification of these rules seems to vary...but they often seem to be under-pinning the society in interesting ways.

In East Africa, the 'age mate' system, for lack of a better term just now, binds together people who go through similar rites of initiation at the same time, and the bounds formed tend to reinforce the structure of the society. One of the noted problems in East Africa is that colonialism destroyed and / or warped this system (through banning / modifying / pushing underground the circumcision ceromonies), throwing whole societies off-kilter. It is to be noted that Japan avoided colonialism, and as a traditional society pushed head long onto the contempory scene, it was able to hold on to many facets of its past in some form of it's own choosing.

It would seem that having that choice has made Japan somewhat unique. Any thoughts on this?

Thanks,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 08-28-2006, 09:46 AM   #14
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Professor Goldsbury,

Is there anyone who claims to be deshi to Kisshomaru Doshu?
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Old 08-28-2006, 08:59 PM   #15
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
Professor Goldsbury,

Is there anyone who claims to be deshi to Kisshomaru Doshu?
Well, I would think a few of the younger Hombu shihans might claim this. I am thinking of people like Hayato Osawa and Shoji Seki, who would have been rather young to have trained in the Hombu when O Sensei was active.

However, I have actually never met anyone who claims to be a deshi of Kisshomaru Doshu, or even the present Doshu (in the 'full' sense I had in mind when I wrote this column). I suspect that this is evidence that times have changed and people no longer see their training in such traditional terms.

P A Goldsbury
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Old 08-28-2006, 10:12 PM   #16
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Well, I would think a few of the younger Hombu shihans might claim this. I am thinking of people like Hayato Osawa and Shoji Seki, who would have been rather young to have trained in the Hombu when O Sensei was active.

However, I have actually never met anyone who claims to be a deshi of Kisshomaru Doshu, or even the present Doshu (in the 'full' sense I had in mind when I wrote this column). I suspect that this is evidence that times have changed and people no longer see their training in such traditional terms.
Thank You
David
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Old 08-28-2006, 11:01 PM   #17
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Hi Peter,

Something that occurred to me while reading your comments actually surprised me a bit...I remembered the 'age mate' traditions I was exposed to in East Africa, and noted some similarities between the ideas contained in sempai / kohai relationships. It would seem that many 'traditional' societies have much stricter rules about how people in the society relate to one another. Codification of these rules seems to vary...but they often seem to be under-pinning the society in interesting ways.

In East Africa, the 'age mate' system, for lack of a better term just now, binds together people who go through similar rites of initiation at the same time, and the bounds formed tend to reinforce the structure of the society. One of the noted problems in East Africa is that colonialism destroyed and / or warped this system (through banning / modifying / pushing underground the circumcision ceromonies), throwing whole societies off-kilter. It is to be noted that Japan avoided colonialism, and as a traditional society pushed head long onto the contempory scene, it was able to hold on to many facets of its past in some form of it's own choosing.

It would seem that having that choice has made Japan somewhat unique. Any thoughts on this?

Thanks,
Ron
Hello Ron,

I am making a large generalization here, but think there are two features that stand out in Japanese society. To what extent these are features of a tribal society and can be seen in other societies is a matter for discussion.
1. Japanese society places great stress on age and the conduct expected of one when a certain age.
There are three major milestones in the life a Japanese person: (a) entering elementary school at the age of 6; (2) becoming adult at the age of 20; (c) one's kanreki, celebrated at the age of 60. All of these milestones are marked by quite elaborate ceremonies.
A corollary of this is one is expected to act in accordance with one's age and so, for example, I will virtually never enter certain bars, even certain stores, in Hiroshima because these cater exclusively for the 'teens' and 'young'. This is despite the fact that I am on the periphery of Japanese society, since I am a foreigner and my 'social antenna' are never expected to be as finely tuned as those of Japanese.
2. Relationships formed when one is a certain age are lasting, sometimes throughout one's life. Thus, reunions of classmates in junior high school often take place (it is even better of one's sensei is still living and also attends) and are occasions for collective nostalgia for the time when one was 'young'. Note that these reunions are of one's junior high school class, for it is at junior high school when relationships such as that of sempai\kohai system are firmly established and when the student learns the obligations expected of sempai and kohai.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 08-29-2006, 07:54 AM   #18
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Thank you Peter...

Best,
Ron

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Old 08-29-2006, 08:46 AM   #19
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Bringing the discussion to the present day: Would a current shihan at Hombu Dojo like Yasuno describe himself as having been a "deshi" of the late Seigo Yamaguchi? Or is the sensei-deshi relationship in Hombu more spread out, with a shihan having many teachers and influences? Of course, the shidoin today attend many teachers' classes, so its not a question of time spent in class but more of "allegiance", so to speak. I recently saw a young Hombu 4th dan, Makoto Ito, whose movement is really very Yasuno in character. Would someone like him say that he was a student of the "stable" in general, as Mr. Goldsbury put it, or of one shihan in particular?
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Old 08-29-2006, 01:11 PM   #20
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Not to seem disrespectful or anything (I am apologizing in advance as sometimes my brash manor of questioning can come off as impertinent), but I think it is interesting to look at how some things have changed over the years in Aikido and what that means in terms of 'perceived' credibility...

Pre-war students of Aikido preferred to be called uchi-deshi of O-sensei, when I evaluate their relationship honestly I see this statement (today) as meaning:
'I was a dedicated student of o-sensei himself.'
The credibility implied is that a ‘better' level of Aikido was received by learning it from O-sensei himself (which follows the martial arts lineage theme).

Post-war students prefer also to be called uchi-deshi of O-sensei, when I evaluate their relationship honestly I see this statement (today) as meaning:
'I was a dedicated student of Hombu dojo while o-sensei was alive.'
The credibility implied is that a ‘better' level of Aikido was received by learning it from Homubu-dojo while O-sensei occasionally meandered into a class during his visits.

Current students probably also prefer to be called uchi-deshi of Hombu dojo, when I evaluate their relationship honestly I see this statement (today) as meaning:
'I was/am a dedicated student of Hombu dojo'
The credibility implied is that a ‘better' level of Aikido was received by learning it from Homubu-dojo.

Two Interesting points fall out of this:

(1) The definition of uchi-deshi (as discussed by all above)

Does everyone agree with Kisshomaru Doshu's notion of what an uchi-deshi really is, as Mr. Goldsbury has been kind enough to share with us?

Does one define uchi-deshi as a paid-to-live-in-student of the founder, or the organization (Aikido), or the dojo (Hombu)?
Does one define uchi-deshi as a fulltime-live-in-student (i.e. their daily life consists of practicing Aikido and serving the organization -- they do not have another profession at that time)?

I would say that given the excellent sense of propriety Kisshomaru Doshu demonstrated, he must have considered it impertinent for him to state that student's were his uchi-deshi when o-sensei was alive (in the sense that the pre-war uchi-deshi were uchi-deshi to o-sensei), and doing so would only create more rifts (which Kisshomaru Doshu seemingly sought to prevent).

(2) How credible is it to associate one's self with Hombu dojo today

Can current students really gain anything at all from claiming to be an uchi-deshi from Hombu dojo now a day?
As stated, does anyone say I am uchi-deshi of present Doshi to lend credibility to their Aikido?

Just interesting to thing about…

Bruce Kimpel
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Old 08-29-2006, 08:04 PM   #21
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Quote:
Raul Rodrigo wrote:
Bringing the discussion to the present day: Would a current shihan at Hombu Dojo like Yasuno describe himself as having been a "deshi" of the late Seigo Yamaguchi? Or is the sensei-deshi relationship in Hombu more spread out, with a shihan having many teachers and influences? Of course, the shidoin today attend many teachers' classes, so its not a question of time spent in class but more of "allegiance", so to speak. I recently saw a young Hombu 4th dan, Makoto Ito, whose movement is really very Yasuno in character. Would someone like him say that he was a student of the "stable" in general, as Mr. Goldsbury put it, or of one shihan in particular?
Well, the Aikikai Hombu is a large organization and all the teachers there have their own dojos. For example, Tada Hiroshi Sensei used to teach at the Hombu Dojo and also ran his own dojos in Kichijoji and Jiyugaoka. It is probable that the regular students of those dojos rarely visit the Hombu. They are clearly deshi of Tada Sensei, as are the many members of the Aikikai of Italy.

In a less strict sense the regular members of Tada Sensei's classes at the Hombu would also regard themselves as Tada Sensei's deshi. I regard myself as a student of Tada Sensei because over the past 25 years I have attended his classes at the Hombu and also the seminars he has taught in Hiroshima. However, insofar as 'deshi' connotes an exclusive relationship, with one particular teacher at the expense of others, then, No, I am not a deshi of Tada Sensei. I used the term 'student' above, because I think 'deshi' does tend to have such an exclusive connotation in Japanese.

I think Mr Yasuno did regard himself as a deshi of Yamaguchi Sensei and did his best to train in the way that Yamaguchi Sensei taught. Of course, Mr Yasuno also trained with many other teachers and this is why the the term needs to be used more 'inclusively' in regard to the Aikikai Hombu. However, I think his main 'map' of aikido was the one given by Yamaguchi Sensei. The same is true of Endo Shihan.

P A Goldsbury
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Old 08-29-2006, 08:52 PM   #22
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Great article! Thanks for the history and bits about Kiss. Ueshiba.


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Old 08-30-2006, 09:58 AM   #23
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Very interesting article! Thanks Peter for sharing your memories with us.
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Old 09-03-2006, 07:39 AM   #24
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

I see that Mr Kimpel's questions have elicited no answers. As for the definition of uchi-deshi, I will pass, but I have a few opinions on the other question.

[quote=Bruce Kimpel]
(2) How credible is it to associate one's self with Hombu dojo today

Can current students really gain anything at all from claiming to be an uchi-deshi from Hombu dojo now a day?
As stated, does anyone say I am uchi-deshi of present Doshi to lend credibility to their Aikido?

Just interesting to thing aboutE/QUOTE]

Well, on another site there is a report of a huge seminar given by Moriteru Doshu in Brazil. Why would one attend such a seminar? Probably for similar reasons that people attend the All-Japan Aikido Demonstration, held every May, which invariably follows the same pattern each year.

This year there were 7,500 persons actually doing demonstrations, over the space of about five hours. The demonstrations ranged fron the superb to the awful, but the fact that there were so many participants was publicized, as if it was a major sign of health in the world of aikido, as this is seen by the Aikikai.

One would not go to such a demonstration to find out how to practise aikido, nor, I think, would one go to a seminar like the Brazil seminar to pick up the latest tips about how Doshu now does irimi-nage. It would be impossible to see what he is doing.

On the other hand, the seminar and demonstration are both a sign of loyalty to Doshu and to the Aikikai. You will find that the same people demonstrate every year, which means that a substantial number of dojos in Japan do not participate and do not demonstrate, even though they are bone fide members of the Aikikai. My own teacher, for example, never attends, on the grounds that it is a total waste of time and money. It is not that he is not loyal to the Aikikai. Rather, the loyalty should be expressed in other ways.

We hold similar seminars in the IAF. People gather for the Congress and the politicians discuss the politics, but the other participants practise. For Doshu's class the mat is very crowded, because his seminar is held on a weekend and is attended by precisely the same people who attend, or participate in, the All-Japan Demonstration. It reinforces the sense of belonging to a large organization and there is a strong sense for foreign aikidoists of pilgrimage, of visiting the 'motherhouse' of aikido: the place where it all began. In this case, Doshu is the embodiment of an ideal taught to them by their own shihan.

I really have mixed feelings about this. Personally, I do not like demonstrations or large seminars. I prefer a summer school with lots of time to train, preferably in groups that are small enough to fit the mat space available. On the other hand, the people who come to Tokyo for the IAF Congress tell me that they have had a fantastic experience: the sense of training with other people from all over the world, who they would never meet in their local dojo, gives them a sense of belonging, that their hours of training is somehow 'validated'.

As for uchi-deshi, I have written elsewhere that there is always a major problem for an organization offer 'charisma' that has the same 'cash value' as it would for an individual. You have a charismatic individual who attracts disciples and the assumption is that the 'charisma' will be transmitted by this individual to these disciples, who give their lives for this purpose. But (a) the transmission can never be guaranteed and (b) the tendency is for an organization to be created to replace the individual and for a parallel process of ossification to set in. Thus an organization which purports to offer the transmission of such 'charisma', which in myh opinion is an intensely personal experience, has to renew itself constantly, since its charismatic 'health' depends on the health of the individuals who are part of it.

Some organizations have developed ways to transmit such 'charisma'. In Japan professional sumo is one (as are certain gangster groups) and the major monastic orders in the west are other examples. So, I think an uchi-deshi can be an uchi-deshi of an organization, as with professional sumo, because the training and the rules are very clear. Because aikido eschews competition, the transmission is much more difficult, since it has to be assumed that the individual will have the technical ability and the psycho-physical means to do this.

I think the uchi-deshi relationship with O Sensei was very clear. He was a pioneer and was creating as he went along. So, to be an uchi-deshi was to have a ring-side seat in a major process. His son and grandson are much more conscious of the need to preserve the essential elements of a tradition, but this immediately raises the question of continued creativity. Where will it come from?

The Aikikai no longer offer facilities for overseas students to become uchi-deshi for a limited period. I think one reason for this is that the uchi-deshi relationship is for life. You do not sign up just for six months or a year and then go away. Another reason is that the professional members of the Aikikai have so many activities outside the Aikikai in Japan (because of the size of the Aikikai as an organization) that inability to speak Japanese is a major liability.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 09-04-2006, 03:02 AM   #25
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Re: Article: An Aikido Journey: Part 10 by Peter Goldsbury

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
This year there were 7,500 persons actually doing demonstrations, over the space of about five hours. The demonstrations ranged fron the superb to the awful, but the fact that there were so many participants was publicized, as if it was a major sign of health in the world of aikido, as this is seen by the Aikikai.

One would not go to such a demonstration to find out how to practise aikido, nor, I think, would one go to a seminar like the Brazil seminar to pick up the latest tips about how Doshu now does irimi-nage. It would be impossible to see what he is doing.
A pure and simple show of support for the Aikikai empire.
Nothing wrong with that, but yes, I see your point as to the ‘Doshu's stamp of approval / endorsement' being sought. Obviously it IS perceived as important to some Aikido organizations.

That points to another interesting change in Aikido:

Older sensei that actually trained with O-Sensei (or at Hombu while o-sensei was alive) had the choice of whether to join in on official functions, etc. without ‘choosing camps', for the most part.
That's not true anymore for the newer Aikido sensei, and they don't have the ‘get out of jail free' card that the original crew had.

It seems like organizations are choosing allegiances again in recent years.
We have already seen a number of Aikido organizations that left Aikikai rejoining after a very long time, and you have seen a couple make the choice to break away.

Why the sudden need to make alliances again, I wonder?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
It reinforces the sense of belonging to a large organization and there is a strong sense for foreign aikidoists of pilgrimage, of visiting the 'motherhouse' of aikido: the place where it all began. In this case, Doshu is the embodiment of an ideal taught to them by their own shihan.
This I find a bit weird, and it must be a Japanese thing that I don't understand.
If I were to draw an analogy, it's a bit like if Lisa Marie Presley's son ran around doing Elvis conventions.
In this situation one would expect the grandson of Elvis to either be:
(a) A musician who has developed (created) his own musical style/talents, possibly incorporating some element of his famous grandfather's style in his own (quite within his providence), or not.
(b) A non-musician that hosts Elvis event (so that there is a Presley presence at a Presley event).
One would not expect the grandson of Elvis to imitate Elvis's voice as it was, or to wear Elvis-style clothes, or to wear Elvis wigs, or to dance like Elvis (i.e. somehow imitating Elvis's ‘charisma').
It would seem tacky and odd.

Which leads us to…

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Thus an organization which purports to offer the transmission of such 'charisma', which in myh opinion is an intensely personal experience, has to renew itself constantly, since its charismatic 'health' depends on the health of the individuals who are part of it.
…and…
Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
His son and grandson are much more conscious of the need to preserve the essential elements of a tradition, but this immediately raises the question of continued creativity. Where will it come from?
Now that, I think touches the heart of what I was getting at with my second question.
If we establish that the current Doshu, and Hombu dojo in general, exists as some sort of ‘Ueshiba as I remember it' society (a difficult goal given the disparate views of ‘Ueshiba's Aikido' while he was still alive - let alone now after two generations), where will one look for today's Aikido.
There are only so many sensei that trained with O-sensei left now a days, and they are getting on in years.
We are stuck with a bit of dilemma:
(a) On the one hand, what a crime it would be if they are not able to transfer their ‘charisma' and skills onto their successors so that the next generation will benefit from their experiences
(b) On the other hand, what a crime it would be if the successor only preserves or imitates their sensei's ‘charisma' / skills and never grows beyond this to create their own ‘charisma'

So the question of today's uchi-deshi - where should they spend their time?
(a) Learning the ‘preserved works of Ueshiba', hopefully someday being able to grow their own from the same master roots
(b) Mastering one sensei's Aikido (regardless of whether or not it is ‘closest' to Ueshiba's Aikido) and spending their life preserving it
(c) Seeking to create their own Aikido, after taking what they can from their sensei

Hard decisions, none of them unworthy pursuits, and perhaps we are already seeing some of this happening already in Mr.Goldsbury's "Modern Learning: A Decline in Stealing?" article on AikidoJournal (http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=556).

By the way Mr.Goldsbury, I find it cool that you can put your finger on the current pulse of Aikido and tackle real issues in repose.

Last edited by BKimpel : 09-04-2006 at 03:07 AM.

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