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    Default Thought-provoking Blog

    Hi All,

    Ellis Amdur, sensei's most recent contribution to the Aikido Journal blogs is quite the read (as are the responses).

    Be well,
    Jigme

    *Please note that some may find the entire basis of the blog offensive.
    Jigme Chobang Daniels
    aoikoyamakan at gmail dot com

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    I am curious as to why you think that some may find the basis of Ellis's blog offensive.

    I have read all of Stanley Pranin's collections of interviews (in Japanese also, where relevant, to get the flavor of the original discussion) and have also talked at length to some of the shihans he interviewed, though not Kenji Shimizu.

    I think Stanley has done a very good job, but I also think that the interview method does have limitations. It is not the interrogation of someone who is reluctant to yield information, but, nevertheless, on occasion it is the interviewee, not the interviewer, who can contol what information is given and in what context.

    I know this from experience. At some point Stanley wanted to interview Arikawa Sensei. An interview had appeared in Susan Perry's Aikido Today Magazine, but I for one thought that Susan could have asked some harder hitting questions. Like Stan, I knew Arikawa Sensei and at some point suggested that we interview him together. I sent him a list of questions, some of which dealt exactly with the issues Ellis was alluding to: the difference in the technical repertoire between two generations: Morihei Ueshiba vs. Kisshomaru Ueshiba. The result was that we spent six hours in my hotel room interviewing Arikawa Sensei. The interview has never been published. Why? Because Arikawa Sensei refused to allow anything published under his name that could even remotely be interpreted as criticism of the Ueshiba family. Did we ask the wrong questions? Not really, but Arikawa Sensei considered that it was "too early" for publication.

    The Shimizu interview is not the first occasion that a vast generalization ('what A is doing is not X': a variation is 'what A is doing is not true X') has been attributed to O Sensei. I have heard Kisshomaru Ueshiba also say the same thing of another person's practice. I think Ellis is quite right to suggest rather strongly that such a generalization needs to have a context supplied in order to be understood. The alleged differences between 'Iwama aikido' and 'Hombu aikido' have also been pointed to and conclusions drawn as to which was closer to 'O Sensei's aikido'.

    Of course, a historian would be very unhappy about all this. A historian would need all the facts about Morihei Ueshiba and these facts then have to be analyzed and interpreted as dispassionately as possible and then presented in a narrative. Biographers also attempt to do this. Sons and daughters, of course, are usually in a good position to know facts that non-family members might not, but are not thought to be dispassionate.

    An additional problem for those who cannot read Japanese is that several crucial works by or about Morihei Ueshiba have never been translated.

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

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    Default Sacred Cows- a personal experience

    Professor,

    Though intended as minorly humorous, the reason for the caveat:
    Aikido here in the 'States (and I'm grossly generalizing here) seemed to (when I was a lad anyway) attract at least some practitioners who were quite willing view Ueshiba Morihei, sensei's enormous contributions to the world w/out even a dash of skepticism. Seeing photos of a kindly-looking old man, and hearing tell of wondrous tales of his abilities, juxtaposed with vigorous (and often quite charismatic) former Uchideshi instructors 'on-the-ground' certainly got my attention as a child. It wasn't until I was a late teenager (the late 1980's) that I became aware of Aiki News, and Mr. Pranin's efforts to document Aikido (and its parent arts).

    For a generation reared on second (third, or possibly, heck, probably, more)-hand stories, with a healthy dose of John Stevens, sensei's biographies, having Mr. Amdur ask those questions may prove uncomfortable.

    At no point did I mean to offer offense to anyone associated w/Aikido Journal, and most certainly not to Amdur sensei or Mr. Pranin. It is understandable how interviews can be difficult, particularly ones involving such delicate issues as loyalty to one's instructor, the school as a whole, one's own understanding of what that instructor was trying to transmit, and how best to do that, etc.

    Anyway, a book later, for those interested in hagiography, this is not the blog for you.

    Be well,
    Jigme
    Jigme Chobang Daniels
    aoikoyamakan at gmail dot com

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    I do not think you have caused any offence at all.

    Since I began aikido in the year that Morihei Ueshiba died, my whole experience of practising aikido has been secondhand. I learned the art at the hands of some of O Sensei's deshi.

    I first encountered Morihei Ueshiba directly when I was practising in the US, through the sayings collected at the end of Kisshomaru Ueshiba's book Aikido, first published around 1975, I think. This book is a translated and edited amalgamation of two other books, published in Japanese much earlier. I now have these Japanese originals and they include no sayings of the Founder, apart from the even more obscure douka. There is, however, an interview with two journalists, which Stanley has had translated and published somewhere.

    I think one crucial aspect of Morihei Ueshiba that is often overlooked is that he lived and flourished in the years when Japan was prepring for, waging its contribution to, and then recovering from, World War II. The defeat of the country had, and is still having, an enormous effect on how a large number of Japanese think about their country and themselves in general. This effect operates on several levels, from individual reflections on local history (as here in Hiroshima), to a more collective memory on how important prewar events are to be viewed (also relevant to Hiroshima, though I have in mind the collective memory of Morihei Ueshiba viewed as the Founder of Aikido). So there is the level of a man living his life and interacting with those he met and also the level of the man as a living symbol of something much bigger than himself.

    In his blog Ellis talks of recollections of Morihei Ueshiba as descriptions of a shaman. I think he was a shaman and thought of himself as one, but I am not sure that the deshi had the intellectual or especially spiritual resources at the time to see him as such. I mean no disrespect to any deshi, but I think very few of them were in any position to see Morihei Ueshiba in these terms.

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

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    Peter --

    Arguably, a deshi would be, almost by definition, unable to give an unbiased appreciation of The Chosen One. After all, to become a deshi the deshi has, as Ellis said in his blog, given himself over to the vision. In addition, by accepting the mantle of deshi, they have almost, again by definition, foregone becoming The Master. As the book says, many are called, but few are Chosen.

    As for asking those hard questions, it remains my thesis that there is absolutely nothing like asking Sensei questions, hard or otherwise, while Aunties are present, as I'm here to tell ya that Aunties have no compunction about hollering from the kitchen, "Hank, yer exaggerating again."

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    Hello Joe,

    Happy New Year!

    A few thoughts on your post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Svinth
    Peter --

    Arguably, a deshi would be, almost by definition, unable to give an unbiased appreciation of The Chosen One. After all, to become a deshi the deshi has, as Ellis said in his blog, given himself over to the vision. In addition, by accepting the mantle of deshi, they have almost, again by definition, foregone becoming The Master. As the book says, many are called, but few are Chosen..
    Yes. I would agree that the deshi gives himself oiver to the vision. In the case of Morihei Ueshiba I am less sure that the deshi had a clear notion of what this vision actually was, other than that he was a formidable martial artist and had something that they were seeking to possess. In an interview on AJ, K Chiba states that he could not buy into the prewar Shinto stuff because he had been educated not to accept it. Eventually he substituted Zen because he realised that there was an essential spiritual component to Ueshiba's aikido.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Svinth
    As for asking those hard questions, it remains my thesis that there is absolutely nothing like asking Sensei questions, hard or otherwise, while Aunties are present, as I'm here to tell ya that Aunties have no compunction about hollering from the kitchen, "Hank, yer exaggerating again."
    Yes. In my experience this virtually never happens in aikido interviews. I remember interviewing Kisshimaru Ueshiba and the only person present, other than the person translating for me, was Doshu's wife and she emerged only to present the regulation ocha and omochi.

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

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    I am in the presence of thoughtful, reflective, and respectful men. thanks God I came back to E-Budo. Thank you for the insights gentleman and Happy New Year.

    William Hazen

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    Quote Originally Posted by P Goldsbury

    I know this from experience. At some point Stanley wanted to interview Arikawa Sensei. An interview had appeared in Susan Perry's Aikido Today Magazine, but I for one thought that Susan could have asked some harder hitting questions. Like Stan, I knew Arikawa Sensei and at some point suggested that we interview him together. I sent him a list of questions, some of which dealt exactly with the issues Ellis was alluding to: the difference in the technical repertoire between two generations: Morihei Ueshiba vs. Kisshomaru Ueshiba. The result was that we spent six hours in my hotel room interviewing Arikawa Sensei. The interview has never been published. Why? Because Arikawa Sensei refused to allow anything published under his name that could even remotely be interpreted as criticism of the Ueshiba family. Did we ask the wrong questions? Not really, but Arikawa Sensei considered that it was "too early" for publication.
    That is interesting. Reading Amdur's blog entry made me think about what those differences might have been, if not simply Daito ryu techniques as opposed to the style of techniques used now in aikido. By saying its too early to publish these techniques, you suggest that it will be published at some stage? I await.
    Current notion: How would you define a 'skinny drink'?

    -Stephen Lewin

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    Default Ki and Standing ?

    I've been following the thread at AJ pretty closely. Unfortunately I am not a subscriber so I can't post there. Here on the other hand.... =)

    The point of this post is that the AJ and !!!!!!ido material raises as many questions as it answers. And so now I have lots of questions.

    Actually I'm fascinated by this subject, and took the time to browse through not only the blog entries which Ellis took the time to write, but also followed the discussions out on Aikiweb and !!!!!!ido. !!!!!!ido's discussion was very interesting because one of the participants took the time to go out and meet an instructor, one Akuzawa Jin, who seems to be teaching the free style application of something like aiki. This led me to contact one of the participants, Rob John, and have a few discussions (via IM) regarding his teacher, Akuzawa. Rob was kind enough to send me some video links, 2 of which were some kinds of standing/moving solo exercises and one of which showed Akuzawa kicking a pad. That was very interesting because, while one can fake great throwing skills with compliant uke, it is rather more difficult to fake pad deflection.

    A few of the questions:
    As to the whole kokyu thing: I've noticed during yoga and also standing post practice, that my arms are, for lack of a better term, driven by breathing. That is, in a static posture, breathing into the chest causes the arms to move in synch with the breathing. Is this a function of the fact that the chest cavity is lined with a fascial membrane which connects up through the shoulders and into the arms?

    More on fascia: I noticed, looking at some resources on stretching, which indicated that it was actually the fascia (as opposed to the muscle fibers) which is really getting stretched in most cases. Not the tendons either, since those don't stretch without injury it sounds like.

    So I'm thinking at this point that at the minimum, the stretching and breathing are a way to increase a person's awareness of this alternate support structure, and how it relates to breathing?

    This is all pretty confusing, but fascinating at the same time.

    BTW, I am not one of those New Age whoo-whoo types. I practice judo, lift and sprint. I'm interested in this material for performance gains, not because I want to achieve oneness with the universe.
    Tim Fong

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by edg176
    I've been following the thread at AJ pretty closely. Unfortunately I am not a subscriber so I can't post there.
    You don't have to have a subscription to post there, just to access member-only articles and mpegs.

    CU there

    http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/...7fe3ae93f71093
    Don J. Modesto
    Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
    ------------------------
    http://theaikidodojo.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by edg176
    I've been following the thread at AJ pretty closely. Unfortunately I am not a subscriber so I can't post there. Here on the other hand.... =)

    The point of this post is that the AJ and !!!!!!ido material raises as many questions as it answers. And so now I have lots of questions.

    Actually I'm fascinated by this subject, and took the time to browse through not only the blog entries which Ellis took the time to write, but also followed the discussions out on Aikiweb and !!!!!!ido. !!!!!!ido's discussion was very interesting because one of the participants took the time to go out and meet an instructor, one Akuzawa Jin, who seems to be teaching the free style application of something like aiki. This led me to contact one of the participants, Rob John, and have a few discussions (via IM) regarding his teacher, Akuzawa. Rob was kind enough to send me some video links, 2 of which were some kinds of standing/moving solo exercises and one of which showed Akuzawa kicking a pad. That was very interesting because, while one can fake great throwing skills with compliant uke, it is rather more difficult to fake pad deflection.

    A few of the questions:
    As to the whole kokyu thing: I've noticed during yoga and also standing post practice, that my arms are, for lack of a better term, driven by breathing. That is, in a static posture, breathing into the chest causes the arms to move in synch with the breathing. Is this a function of the fact that the chest cavity is lined with a fascial membrane which connects up through the shoulders and into the arms?

    More on fascia: I noticed, looking at some resources on stretching, which indicated that it was actually the fascia (as opposed to the muscle fibers) which is really getting stretched in most cases. Not the tendons either, since those don't stretch without injury it sounds like.

    So I'm thinking at this point that at the minimum, the stretching and breathing are a way to increase a person's awareness of this alternate support structure, and how it relates to breathing?

    This is all pretty confusing, but fascinating at the same time.

    BTW, I am not one of those New Age whoo-whoo types. I practice judo, lift and sprint. I'm interested in this material for performance gains, not because I want to achieve oneness with the universe.
    Hello Mr Fong,

    I know Ellis Amdur and follow his blogs closely.

    In his latest blog in the AJ forum, Ellis draws attention, as he has done before, to the supposed gap in knowledge of 'internal' arts between Morihei Ueshiba and his deshi. The latest blog starts from an interview with Kenji Shimizu. O Sensei apparently was angry because what people were doing during the practice at the Hombu Dojo that he saw was was not aikido. From the obvious ignorance among the participants of the AJ blog as to what O Sensei actually meant, the discussion veered towards competence in 'internal' arts.

    Morihei Ueshiba supposedly possessed this knowledge and interpretations of the douka and interviews with Shioda, Tohei and Inaba are produced as evidence that since thay had this knowledge, then their teacher rnust have had it.

    My own opinion is that in the absence of any real evidence, the pickings to be gained from such a discussion will be very slim indeed. None of the disciples of the Founder known to me has ever described in detail the 'internal' aspects of what O Sensei was actually doing when he taught in the Kobukan and the Hombu. Of course there were the early morning greetings of the Sun Goddess, the shamanistic rituals using the jo, the waza and exercises like torifune, but there were no explanations outside the discussions in Takemusu Aiki about the internal aspects of training, making use of the metaphorical structure that has been used in Ellis's blogs and the ensuing discussions.

    I know many of of Morihei Ueshiba's deshi and have also trained under their direction. The only deshi to give a 'separate' treatment of the internal aspects of aikido was Koichi Tohei and I know that this caused a major problem within the Hombu. The problem was not that Tohei was giving away state secrets, but that O Sensei had never taught his deshi to look at the 'internal' aspects of training in opposition to the other aspects. That there were these aspects was not in doubt. What was in doubt was whether they should be discovered by separate exercises, apart from the waza.

    However, O Sensei has been dead for nearly 40 years and times have changed. It might be that we need to look more closely at O Sensei's morning rituals with the sun goddess to see what else was going on. In the absence of other writings of the Founder, like the diaries he kept and his commentary on Deguchi's Reikai Monogatari, it will be difficult to find out. All we can do is to question surviving deshi like H Tada and N Tamura and hope that the hints they gve us from their own training and their recollections of their time as deshi will throw some light on the Founder's own practices. Otherwise we will have to forget about Morihei Ueshiba and train for ourselves.

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

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    Default Thanks

    Prof. Goldsbury,

    Thanks for the feedback.

    best,
    Tim
    Tim Fong

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    Default Inoue Sensei

    There are several potential sources for information in this area ie. the internal practices pursued by Morihei Ueshiba. In a discussion with Stan Pranin and Saotome Sensei the names of several teachers were mentioned in the context of which deshi attempted to most closely follow O-Sensei from the standpoint of his Spiritual vision of Aikido.

    The names that came up were Hikitsuchi Sensei, Abe Sensei, and Sunadomari Sensei (this is not an exclusive list just a few names that were mentioned). As American students of Aikido we have fairly good access to what Hikitsuchi Sensei did as there are a number of Shingu trained Americans, most notably Clint George Sensei who was at Shingu for 15 years.

    Matsuoka Sensei is undergoing extensive training with Abe Sensei and I expect we'll see the results of that training for years to come. I am going to make it a point, myself, of keeping up with what Matsuoka Sensei does with this instruction...

    I was wondering the other day whether Sunadomari Sensei has any senior students here in the states because they would certainly be an interesting source for inspiration in this area... Anyone familiar with any students over here of Sunadomari Sensei?

    The place I'd be most interested to investigate would be training with any senior students of Inoue Sensei, O-sensei's nephew. Peter, do you know if he turned out any senior students who are actively teaching? He was certainly active as a teacher long enough to have produced a few of skill I would think... I have never met anyone in the States who had trained with him except for Stan's encounters with him through his work on Aikido Journal. I've read his interviews and seen the videos and I'd have to agree that in terms od technique, Inoue looks more like Morihei Ueshiba than anyone else I've come across. That would be a great guest instructor for the next Expo if he has a successor.
    George S. Ledyard
    Aikido Eastside
    Defensive Tactics Options
    Bellevue, WA

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    Default internal aspects

    'internal' is maybe a little bit confusing word.

    I personaly think that (as it was indicated in the 'hidden in plain sights' thread of AJ) that maybe Ueshiba had two origins of what could be regarded as internal. One is from Daito-ryu (without breathing exercises, it seems that several of his deshi just got this aspect) and the other is during what he maybe aquired through the Omoto years.

    For example, as I have indicated, the organization of Kawatsura Bonji still exists and maybe we can found more information about Dr.Futaki.

    But I think it is important to consider separetly about Daito-ryu and Ueshiba's Misogi methods.

    This two are different 'internal' methods so to speak. So in Ueshiba's art there is a possibility that he got two separete aspects what could be considered as 'internal'.

    Tomoo Yawata
    Yoshinkan/Aunkai
    Tokyo Japan

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    Default

    From George L.
    "I was wondering the other day whether Sunadomari Sensei has any senior students here in the states because they would certainly be an interesting source for inspiration in this area... Anyone familiar with any students over here of Sunadomari Sensei?"

    George one of my students went to Japan several years ago and has been with Sunadomari Sensei since. He did the translation for Sunadomari Sensei's book to English. His name is Dennis Clark.

    Dennis Hooker
    www.shindai.com
    Dennis Hooker
    www.shindai.com

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