Likes Likes:  0
Page 1 of 10 1 2 3 4 5 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 141

Thread: Is O-Sensei's level unattainable?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    125
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default Is O-Sensei's level unattainable?

    This is probably a question which most experienced Aikidoka have become tired with, but it stills gets me. When I read stories about Ueshiba, I get the impression of a completely invincible man.

    The stories of O-Sensei's triumphs over Judoka are really inspiring. As are most of his supposed achievements, such as being able to dodge blows from a master of kendo until the kendoka was unable to continue.

    Now then, that million-dollar-question, why aren't we that good? We are, essentially, training in the principles and techniques that he laid down. I would even go so far as to say that very little of my Aikido training has been martial in nature, its mainly been about form and kata. This suggests that the people training me are, likewise, not as good as O-Sensei at simply performing nage on a live opponent.

    I've heard some good suggestions. For example, iI read in an article I will look for again (but right now can't seem to find) that in Iwama, O-Sensei forbade kiai-shouts, and made the training as unmartial in nature as budo could possibly be. (Note that I practise Aikikai, not Iwama ryu, so I can't confirm this, but others using these boards could). Even then, what about those following the Yoshinkan style of Aikido? This style stems from a different era in Aikido's history, so why can't its practitioners show the same martial skill as O-Sensei at that time?

    It leaves a remarkable amount of questioning. One solution that comes to mind is that O-Sensei was simply incredible at kiai-jutsu, and so could mesmorize his opponents and gain the advantage. Another is ki. Look at what some Qi Gong pracitioners can do - take blades to the skin, be run over with a motobike, etc - it seems possible that O-Sensei drew his strength from ki as do modern Qi Gong and other similar arts. Whatever it was, you have to ask, why was this not taught to his students? Or was it, in secrecy (which would mean the knowledge was still in existence today)?

    On a related note - how did early Aikido sensei like Tomiki, Tohei etc appear so much stronger than modern Aikidoka? What's changed?

    Of modern Daito-ryu - how many today are as strong as Takada? What was he not showing?

    I accept that I will probably never reach these standards. The standard I will most likely reach is pretty worldly in comparison. I still have to ponder why this is when I still believe these people were this good.
    Current notion: How would you define a 'skinny drink'?

    -Stephen Lewin

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    29
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    You might have confused Iwama with Aikikai hombu regarding kiai etc.
    Here´s a link to Chiba Senseis memorial over Saito Sensei.

    http://takemusu.org/patsensei/ss/chiba.doc
    /Peter Gröndahl

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    29
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Interrupted in the middle of posting.

    And check out Ellis Amdurs "Hidden in Plain Sight"-blog over at Aikidojournal.com and the discussion that follows.

    Also check out George Ledyards latest column on Aikiweb.com
    /Peter Gröndahl

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    138
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Why aren't we that good? I believe we all can be, but acheiving that level of skill takes time and effort, more time and effort than most people have. Certainly more time and effort than someone with a job, wife, kids, and a morgage has.

    Here's my story, follow me for a minute. When I first started (bi)cycling, I would go out 3-4 times a week for maybe 5 hours total. My performance improved, but I was never able to surpass my friends, who seemed to be able to improve without trying. Then, I became a bike messenger. I was suddenly cycling 40 hours and 300 miles a week! And I'm sure you can predict the results. I became good---really, really, really, good. Riding that much took me to a level I didn't even realize was possible.

    The lesson I learned was that anything is possible, if you have the time and effort. I no longer idealize professional athletes, I realize they are just people who dedicated themselves to something.

    How good do you think you would be if you could devote 40 hours a week to budo?
    --Timothy Kleinert

    Aikido & Qigongs

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    125
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TimothyKleinert
    Why aren't we that good? I believe we all can be, but acheiving that level of skill takes time and effort, more time and effort than most people have. Certainly more time and effort than someone with a job, wife, kids, and a morgage has.

    Here's my story, follow me for a minute. When I first started (bi)cycling, I would go out 3-4 times a week for maybe 5 hours total. My performance improved, but I was never able to surpass my friends, who seemed to be able to improve without trying. Then, I became a bike messenger. I was suddenly cycling 40 hours and 300 miles a week! And I'm sure you can predict the results. I became good---really, really, really, good. Riding that much took me to a level I didn't even realize was possible.

    The lesson I learned was that anything is possible, if you have the time and effort. I no longer idealize professional athletes, I realize they are just people who dedicated themselves to something.

    How good do you think you would be if you could devote 40 hours a week to budo?

    I get what you're saying, but even with full-time training, even with years of live-in training at a dojo, it seems no one today meets O-Sensei's standard. Even before his lifetime, I can't find any reccords of a budoka of that skill level. Time and effort must have played their part, but there was definitely some knowledge he must of possessed to be that good.
    Current notion: How would you define a 'skinny drink'?

    -Stephen Lewin

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    1,549
    Likes (received)
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Green_Dreads
    Time and effort must have played their part, but there was definitely some knowledge he must of possessed to be that good.
    Time, effort, skill - and not a small measure of posthumous mythmaking.

    In response to Timothy's post: in physical endeavours, genetics do play a part. You might well be able to become above average, or even very good, through training and perserverance, but to become elite level takes something more. An extreme example would be, say, a 5'2" basketball player.

    In the case of Ueshiba, I would also argue that his style of budo was directly influenced by both his personality and body-type. This would obviously make it more difficult for people not sharing those exact traits to excel.

    Just my non-aikidoka tuppence worth.
    Cheers,

    Mike
    No-Kan-Do

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    29
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Green_Dreads
    Even before his lifetime, I can't find any reccords of a budoka of that skill level.
    Sokaku Takeda? As stated in the discussions that arised after "Hidden in plain sight" it seems that both Takeda and some of his other students (Sagawa, Horikawa) could display similar levels of skill as O´sensei.
    One thing seems to be certain, O´sensei didn´t train his students like he was trained himself.
    /Peter Gröndahl

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Posts
    34
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    To add some fodder to the discussion, I ran a poll several years back:

    "Do you think Morihei Ueshiba O-sensei's skill level in aikido will ever be surpassed?"
    http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=25

    -- Jun

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    29
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    And another wellwritten article by George Ledyard that I feel is relevant to subject.
    "Reaching Our Teachers"
    http://www.aikidojournal.com/index.php?id=62
    /Peter Gröndahl

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    125
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by grondahl
    Sokaku Takeda? As stated in the discussions that arised after "Hidden in plain sight" it seems that both Takeda and some of his other students (Sagawa, Horikawa) could display similar levels of skill as O´sensei.
    One thing seems to be certain, O´sensei didn´t train his students like he was trained himself.
    I knew Takada was incredible, but I didn't know whether he was counted as equal to Ueshiba.

    A good question is, if Ueshiba knew more effective techniques than he was teaching, why did he teach the newer versions? Look at shionage - apparently the modern Aikido one is less realistic in application than the traditional Daito Ryu one (please note there is hearsay, I have never practised Daito Ryu).

    Also, Ellis Amdur's articles were very interesting, thanks for the hint.
    Current notion: How would you define a 'skinny drink'?

    -Stephen Lewin

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Huntington, WV
    Posts
    97
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Speaking from my paradigm, O Sensei taught the versions of techniques that best allowed a practice and understanding of the principles underlying that technique.

    Take Shiho-Nage for example. Study it. Study it for a test. Hate it. Get it used against you in randori. Fall in love with it. Take a look at a bunch of versions from Daito ryu, how are they alike? How are they different? Look at how Yoshinkan uses it. Which is more "martial," to duck under the arm and roll up the elbow to use the person as a shield, or to just push straight up on the elbow with the opposite hand and disrupt their balance (the USMC version)? All the while, keep coming back to the "test technique," putting everything in perspective relative to your own practice and providing you a safe way to study it with a partner.

    Finally get the hang of "real" ukemi and study it from that perspective. Keep in mind every vicious, elbow crushing torqued variation and snap chicken wing for use if you ever have to defend yourself against deadly aggression. Keep in mind every soft, pain-free shoulder and spine manipulation variation to use to get an extremely drunken friend back to the car at 2 in the morning when he wants to try to get back in the bar he was just thrown out of to see if they're serving pancakes. Train the test technique until you can tell the difference. Train the test technique till you can't.

    Train the test technique till the best answer you can come up with for the question "Are they different or the same?" is "Yes." Stick to your guns when everyone calls b.s. on that answer. Wonder if it is a b.s. answer. Wonder if it's all bull. Train until the feeling goes away. Train until it comes back. Train until the answer is "Yes."

    Repeat for a lifetime.

    At least, that's what O Sensei left me. Check the will, you might have gotten something different.
    J.T. Hurley

    Sic vis pacem, para bellum

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Seattle WA
    Posts
    737
    Likes (received)
    2

    Default Dead Like Who?

    I always find it interesting we compare ourselves to people who are dead. Some reasons why I think it’s a waste of time to do this.

    You can kick their butts since they are dead. Not much satisfaction in stomping on ashes or moldy bones though. That’s like fighting a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken though, just no point to it.

    You can sit around and play philosophy games about what they meant and not get any argument from them since they are dead. This allows you to put whatever meaning you want to their teachings since they are not there to correct you.

    You can magnify them to the point they seem out of reach. It’s a handy excuse for not going the extra bit in your own training.

    One good important thing. You can draw inspiration from the stories about them as most of us do. Of course, you have to have common sense too. Realize these people were human and worked hard to try and better themselves at something they had a passion for doing.

    As much as you seem to think highly of Ueshiba Sensei, here’s a few things overlooked by most people to put it in perspective.

    He was really a slacker. He had one real job in his life, working for his relatives, the Inoue family in Tokyo and even that didn’t work out for too long. For the most part, he lived off family money and that of sponsors for most of his life. If he were alive today, he would be a character from one of Jimmy Buffet’s Tales from Margaritaville. Or maybe a character in one of Kevin Smith’s movies like ‘Clerks.’ "Silent Morihei" maybe?

    He was obsessive in some regards. Listen to Stan Pranins’ lecture –“Two Pillars of Aikido”. He was hardly a well-balanced individual. A great man perhaps but obsessive and driven to seek out answers for himself.

    Yet he remains a source of inspiration. Why? Because he managed to succeed(for lack of a better word) at something he devoted his life to seeking, and people want that in their own lives too. He left behind something that people want to believe can impact their own lives in a meaningful way, and they want to try and emulate. That is what the gift of aikido is for them. Of course, as already mentioned, you would have to undergo similar experiences and training to do that. Most don't.

    I could tell a few stories about Mas Oyama, Donn Draeger (to mention the bigger names) told to me by one of their students, that brings their being human and all the frailties that go with being human home quite well. But why bother, they are gone too.

    Instead, I’ll tell you an abbreviated story about Bernie Lau (who’s still alive). Bernie is by most people’s accounts, a tough bastard. But his personal life is hardly perfect. He’s got a couple divorces, substance abuse problems with one of his kids, helping to support one of his ex wives and kids at a point in time where he should be enjoying retirement. All through his not being willing to let go of past attachments. In short, he’s enabling them to continue with their own personal destructive behaviors.

    Does that make what he did in teaching police and others any less significant to them? No.
    Does that make his creation of Icho Ryu any less? No.
    Does that make what he’s done for his students any less meaningful?
    Of course not.

    What it does mean is Bernie’s human. Yet he keeps trying to do better in how he teaches and interacts with people. He’s got inner demons and he works to try and over come those just as we all do. Sometimes he succeeds, sometime he doesn’t. He doesn’t use those as excuses, he tries not to project onto others with those issues. He just gets on with life and training even though he claims he’s retired from martial arts.

    Bernie told me that "The best you can do is what you should do". If you don’t meet your own standards, well, welcome to training. As I recall, Ueshiba was also always telling his students to keep practicing, keep training.

    There is satisfaction in training and spending time with the people with whom you train, but it’s also frustrating. That’s the way it should be.

    You should be uncomfortable with your progress and lack thereof.
    You should always feel there is more to learn.
    You should always try to see what you are missing.
    You should always be trying to apply your dojo training to life outside the dojo.

    Repeat those last four bits until you can’t do it anymore. At that point, you retire, or you will be dead. Then people can sit around and compare themselves to you.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    138
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeWilliams
    In response to Timothy's post: in physical endeavours, genetics do play a part.
    I'll concede that my post was a bit of a simplification, and that there are other factors involved. But I still believe that in a hypothetical world---equal opportunity, time, and training---those other factors would be minor. Genetics are made out to be a big deal in professional sports, but the fact is that almost all professional athletes within a given sport are incredibly close in regard to skill and performace levels. Professional sports are so competitive that even a 1% or 2% advantage is often enough to crush the competition.

    Again, if I may use cycling, if a racer is able to win a time-trial by 10 seconds, it's a considered a big win. But think about that, 10 seconds over a 1.5 hour race? That's nothing. Even between the first and the last place, the difference is probably only 5 minutes. That's only like a 5% difference between the best and the worst.

    So do I think, given the time and opportunity, that I could surpass O'Sensei? Probably not. But I could get really, really close.
    --Timothy Kleinert

    Aikido & Qigongs

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Hiroshima, Japan.
    Posts
    2,550
    Likes (received)
    151

    Default

    I think Neil Yamamoto summed up the issues concerning Morihei Ueshiba quite concisely.

    There are many ways of defining/describing a martial art/way like aikido. One of these ways is as a set of skills (techne. in Greek: I add this because it was the Greeks who explored the concept and have left us terms like technique and technology).

    It seems to me that part of the concept of a skill is that it is open-ended. Some people can possess it to a greater degree than others, but no one possesses it to an absolute degree, such that no one else can ever be better.

    Another part of the concept is that skill implies training. A skill is acquired through training, namely, repeated actions/activities performed in a prescribed way.

    Once you are clear about what the skills are and how to acquire them, training is all that it left.

    Best regards,
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Marietta, GA
    Posts
    79
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Green_Dreads
    why aren't we that good?
    IMHO, there is a lot of excellent Aikido around, and without romanticizing O'Sensei, I believe that few of us have dedicated the time and energy he did to create the art.
    Until again,
    Lynn Seiser PhD MFT
    Yondan Aikido
    Lucaylucay Kali/JKD
    Mugai-ryu Iaido

    "We do not rsie to the level of our expecations. We fall to the level of our training." Now, get back to your training. KWATZ!

Page 1 of 10 1 2 3 4 5 ... LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •