Jun
29

“Aikido Interview with Stan Pranin” by Jun Akiyama from aikiweb.com

“The history of aikido had not been systematically recorded. In 1977, the second Doshu, Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei, published the founder’s biography which is the first extensive biography of his father. But, certain very important areas were not really dealt with in-depth and certain people who had fallen out of favor with the Aikikai were neglected or not even mentioned. I don’t think it was something I could call a “balanced” biography although the book really is essential for anyone interested in the history of aikido.

I found the history for me to be a way of organizing a body of material and establishing its roots. It’s like an anchor-point for the activity, the discipline, the family, and so forth. It gives you a tie to some focal point that can help you guide and give you a sense of belonging or the desire to want to contribute to that extended family.”

Please click here to read entire article.

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Comments

  1. Louis Gonzalez-Coca says:

    Very interesting article. I often wonder, what would Aikido and its related arts be today in the western world or in the United States for that matter if it wasn’t for the contributions of Mr. Stanley? I am thankful…

    Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu is clearly the most important technical influence on Aikido. Unfortunately when it comes to making distinctions between Daito-ryu and Aikido in general terms, these discussions tend to turn into heated debates between Aikido and Daito-ryu practitioners. Perhaps I feel some individuals seem to take such comparison, as “one art is better than the other”

    However I feel is safe to state that although O-Sensei mainly dedicated his life to Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, and as Mr. Stanley indicated he was exposed to other arts in considerably less amounts than Daito-ryu, one cannot say that his time and studies in Tenjin Shinyo-ryu Jujutsu and Yagyu-ryu Jujutsu as brief as they might have been did not count for anything not even in the minimal when it came to expressing himself in the creation of Aikido. I also think that the fact that he studied other “weapon” arts (even in the Army) influenced his interpretation of empty-handed techniques and that cannot be discounted as an ingredient in the creation of Aikido and therefore as perhaps one of the flavors that differentiates Aikido from Daito-ryu as small as it could be.

    That’s the nature of creativity. For example, a lady that I met a long time ago in a Dojo we used to share with a Dance studio, in one of our conversations, mentioned she had studied Classical Ballet for many years since she was a child and most recently she was exposed to other dance styles such as Jazz, Latin and so on. She then went on to teach dance, but in a more modern sense; ballet outside of the classical music and rigid postures. And even though most of her background was on classical influences you can see the “touch” or the “flavor” of her other influences on her new style of dance which for anyone else might have just appeared as Ballet.

    O-Sensei might have been exposed “briefly” and to a “few” other arts, but Daito-ryu was not the single, exclusive, limited thing he only knew. I am not excluding the philosophical facet of Aikido but I am referring specifically to the technical aspects of the art.

    After all O-Sensei didn’t just “copy and paste” techniques from Daito-ryu and then just added a few “raw” techniques that he learned from other Jujutsu schools in order to create Aikido. He internalized the essence and the principles of the techniques he studied to create a concept that encompasses what “Aikido” is (or was at least during the pre-war years). Therefore, his creation was a manifestation of his persona and background and as such, it has the touch of what he learned.

    Generally speaking regardless of the many styles of Aikido and the few others of Daito-ryu, we can never say that Aikido is 100 percent Daito-ryu. After all O-Sensei was the creator of Aikido not the Innovator of Daito-ryu.

  2. Dan Harden says:

    I think you would do better to consider that the connection is not about technique, or technical form, but rather about the true power behind the art; aiki and the way it is made manifest in the body. Ueshiba “got it” and “had it,” from Takeda Sokaku. Looking at waza is only going to confuse the issue and obscure the real point of what was driving the art.
    In their day; Takeda, Sagawa, Ueshiba, Kodo, and Hisa were very unusual men in the Japanese arts. They stood out and were noted. Each was known for one definable quality-aiki. In the many discussion about them among students and outsiders alike, their unusual power; being pushed on and not going over, not being able to be thrown, or hit with a sword, for having their ability transcend the traditional arts and indeed be seemingly inured to various arts attacks, are well known tales. They became “tales” for the simple reason that their power was unusual and thus stood out among the budo wallpaper of the day; “you attack this way I will defend that way.”
    And this power is the heritage that Ueshiba made use of in his art, to mark him and put him on the map. Not a collection of technical waza.
    As an aside:
    Before you make too much of the influences of other arts on him you also might want to make note of one single definable act-that being; what he himself chose to teach.
    1. Let’s assume these others “arts” were somehow influential on Ueshiba.
    2. Lets assume they made a serious impact on him in some way.
    3. Then let’s look at the results of that impact.
    On that auspicious day when he finally decided to hang a shingle, when he announced to his family that he was finally going to become a jujutsu teacher, when he finally “arrived!”
    He set up shop and….taught Daito ryu.
    In fact he handed out scrolls in Daito ryu for years to what has been mistakenly been referred to as “the early aikido students.” Most or many of whom still had their DR scrolls signed by Ueshiba. This went on till the late 30′s with a gradual change and morphing the waza that was less capturing and more of a send off type of finish to them. But isn’t interesting- that in that time and place-among the men who were aware of the martial arts; Ueshiba was always considered “Takeda’s man.” Which he himself had admitted to-
    “Sokaku opened my eyes to true Budo.” That is no small statement.

    Back to my point:
    I would again suggest that the key to understanding here, is to ignore and forget about the (albeit, obviously Daito ryu) waza that aikido is, and instead concentrate on the internal power behind both arts. That true common thread between them, the most defining and unusual power, that allowed these men to stand out among giants in budo in their day-Aiki.
    It is my opinion that this power and ability is all but lost to the art today. Few have any real understanding of its meaning and how to train it. You might want to consider the following:
    1. Go watch the videos of Ueshiba again and see the displays of power by Ueshiba. They are singular and definable and they are everywhere; with students pushing on him, pulling on him, pushing on his head, shoulders, arms, hips,etc.
    2. Then consider the many anecdotal testimonies given from students and visitors who state clearly that Ueshiba’s preferred method for demonstrating the power of aikido to people was not waza, but rather that he used these unusual demonstrations of “The power or aiki” as the defining statement of the ultimate expression of the art.

    It seems to me that a smart guy would be seriously looking hard at that and asking questions. If it were that important to Ueshiba and used so often to demonstrate the art, why is it not the single most common defining quality shown and demonstrated today? Is it any wonder that Osensei would come visit the hombu and watch practice-now under Kissomaru and shout “This is not my aikido!”

    We know that the way of aiki or Aiki…do, was so powerful in Ueshiba’s hands that is stopped Judo and Koryu men, with weapons and without. We also know that it has turned into a hollow collection of moving and cooperative forms called Aikido™ today. The good news is that some seriously accomplished teachers in the art have finally gotten to feel men with power and aiki and have begun a second career; training in internal power the cornerstone of the power in the Asian arts. It is this power that created aiki in the first place. And they are bringing “aiki” back home, and reinvigorating the art of Aikido. Not without note is that every one of them had to go outside the art of Aikido™
    to get it. And some are doing so from those who trained in….Daito ryu. That should not come as a surprise to anyone.

    Much of this is covered in Ellis’s new book coming out. I would buy it and read carefully.
    Cheers
    Dan