“Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 1,” by Peter Goldsbury

This column is an extended discussion of some recent topics already touched upon in the AikiWeb discussion forums and in private mail. The various topics are closely connected and treatment of one influences the perception and treatment of others. The column is very much work in progress and is not intended as a full-blown academic paper. The topics discussed are related to the various issues involved in the transmission of theoretical and practical knowledge in a non-competitive martial art like aikido, especially the transmission of knowledge across cultures. All these issues are fundamental to how we conceive the form and content of the aikido training we undergo at the hands of our teachers and can be presented as propositions, subsumed under the three headings in the title.

(a) Morihei Ueshiba made no attempt to ‘teach’ the knowledge and skills he possessed to his deshi.

(b) The latter all gained profound knowledge and skills during their time as deshi, but it is by no means clear that they gained all the knowledge or that all gained the same knowledge.

(c) Morihei Ueshiba appears to have made no specific attempt to check whether his deshi had understood what they had learned from him.

(d) On the other hand, all the evidence indicates that Morihei Ueshiba worried very much about passing on the art to future generations and finally designated his son Kisshomaru Ueshiba as heir and inheritor of the art.

(e) Kisshomaru Ueshiba seems to have changed the inheritance he received quite radically, again, with no clear reaction from his father, such that it has been stated that the aikido taught by him and by his successors nowadays is no longer Morihei Ueshiba’s aikido.

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