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View Full Version : How did Aikido go from the Jigoku dojo to American cultism?



Jody Holeton
30th April 2001, 22:49
Dear all,

I got in a bit of an arguement with a buddy of mine a couple of weeks ago about aikido. He says that aikido is about peace, love and harmony. That aikido has no need for atemi or ground fighting and that it is the best martial art of all and that Ueshiba was a man of peace.

I thought Ueshiba cross-trained in a multitude of arts? From bayonet fighting to karate?
I was under the impression that he was part of Japan's invasion into Manchuria?
I was told in Japan that Ueshiba taught at the infamous Toyama-ryu Gakkou teaching killing techniques?
At one of the schools he founded (Jigoku Dojo) he would go out of way to hurt his students?

If I am incorrect about any of this please supply me with appropriate info.

My real question is--If aikido started so violently, how did it turn so peaceful and loving here in America? How did Ueshiba turn into such a god-figure?

Walker
1st May 2001, 06:36
If you consider that another famous group began worshiping a golden cow when left on their own, then an old man no one could understand is at least classy, presentable and may even be based on the classic model.

Yamantaka
1st May 2001, 11:19
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Jody Holeton
Dear all,
I thought Ueshiba cross-trained in a multitude of arts?From bayonet fighting to karate?

YAMANTAKA : Not so many. Documented arts effectively practiced by Ueshiba were : sumo, judo, Yagyu Shingan Ryu Jujutsu, Jukenjutsu(bayonet) and Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu. Other arts atributed to him, weren't really practiced, as Karate.

I was under the impression that he was part of Japan's invasion into Manchuria?

YAMANTAKA : No. He went to Manchuria, as a bodyguard, with his spiritual master, Onisaburo Deguchi.

I was told in Japan that Ueshiba taught at the infamous Toyama-ryu Gakkou teaching killing techniques?

YAMANTAKA : Don't know about "killing techniques" but yes, he taught the military in WW II.

At one of the schools he founded (Jigoku Dojo) he would go out of way to hurt his students?My real question is--If aikido started so violently, how did it turn so peaceful and loving here in America? How did Ueshiba turn into such a god-figure? [

YAMANTAKA : In the beginning, Ueshiba was teaching Aikijujutsu with a very violent master (Sokaku Takeda). Any special facts about that period?
The mellowing off of Aikido came after Ueshiba had a spiritual revelation and he began to see his art as an art of Love (in Japan, not in America).
Best

kusanku
2nd May 2001, 06:16
I think, after World War Two,and the SCAP Ban, and other things, including religious re evaluation in Japan,which had just had to submit to the , previously, unthinkable,namely being defeated,the focus in all Japanese budo shifted, at least for a while, to peaceful self development, in Japan as mentioned, and then was berought to America, especially Aikido, in that way.

If you read Ueshiba's writings you will see that they state these things about peace, love and harmony.Even he said, 'My Aikido takes religions and brings Them to completion, ' I'm sorry but it doesn't.

However he really believed this , and was a totally sincere man,but his Aikido and that of American practitioners who say, Aikido has no atemi, no groundfighting, etc, and no kicks,were two very different things.

I remember working out in dojo which besides teaching Karate and Judo also offered Aikido, how things would change when the Aiki people would enter and often they invited me to work out with them, and to some extent I did, though I am not an Aikido deshi per se.I think they liked having a big uke.:-)So I learned some lttle Aikido, and they learned how hard it is to throw a judoka.:-)

They had great ukemi however, which is more than I can say for the taekwondo guys who met the judoka on the mat.:D

And you didn't want to let them Aikido people) get you by the wrist, ever.Or start you spiraling after them, either, come to that.:-)

Some of the aikifolks would go the Aikido is Love route, other would say there are no strikes in Aikido, and others were much more pragmatic, like one guy now an acknowledged expert, whose name I won't mention, and who believed in atemi at first site, which I thought withal, a practical approach.

Others would tell me of the coming Aikido Messiah who woud lead us into the Golden age( no kidding), and who( gasp) might even be a Woman( it was 1978), and say that if ones heart was pure enough, one might master Aikido in five minutes.

Then I remember the japanese guy, four foot not too many inches, came down from Chicago, and one night in free practice, threw the two best big American Black Belts around the place like tenpins.

It seem the Americans like fantasy, and thnking their way to mastery, but the Japanese tend to train their way towards proficiency, and it was not a mystery how that was done that night, and training changed after that.

Guy simply had a lot better skill level, better waza and better execution(man what I mean, execution:-) , from training hard, and training intensely, and training regularly.Irimi nage, shiho nage, kote gaeshi, and a whirwind with Glenn in the center spreading havoc everywhere.What a sight.

For anyone who says there is no atemi in Aikido, let an outsider ask you this one:Why do you practice against atemi attcks then? Is not uke practicing atemi all the time, when s/he does attacks for you?

Of course, not thinking this way is probably to blame for sloppy attacks by some.

But part of the blame is on chnges made in Japan, and a larger part for Americans looking for an easy fix, an effortless mastery of the ultimate martial art, notwithstanding the severity of Ueshiba's decades long trining, and someone forgot to menton Sojutsu or spear fighting,that he also practiced, and did they mention Ono-Ha Itto-Ryu Kenjutsu, always taught with Daito Ryu?

Ueshiba was as legendary as was his art, preserved today in video and seen being performed incredibly, before the Emperor of Japan in 1935.

What he could do was real, but he did not teach many people, or may did not learn , how to themselves aquire all his skill.Nor could most, even if he had.He was one extraordinay practitioner.His skill went beyond the levels most people think human beings capable of, and some of his feats approached the seemingly miraculous,and he attributed this to love, enlightenment, and spirit,and not denying this has a great effect, but really, a lot had to do with what he was taught, and what he did to train for it.

Stories of him training hours on end with sword, bokken and spear, abound.If all you need is love:-), why train so hard?And with so many diverse skills?

Also, he was tremendously strong, even late in life.And built like a tank.

Takeda Sokaku may have appeared frail, but also had tremendous power, swordsmen had to.

Michael Becker
2nd May 2001, 10:33
Get hold of a copy of Ellis Amdurs exellent book, Duelling with O' Sensei, which has a forum for it here on Ebudo.

It is a fascinating insight into Aikido and some of its practitioners. You will find lots of intresting observations relating the questions you have asked.

As for peace and harmony, Ueshiba was not a product of the 1960's and I think his interpretation was quite different to that of the hippy era.

Check out Mr Amdur's book!