Tag Archives: stevens

Morihei Ueshiba, Budo en Kamae deel 2 [Dutch Version]

John Stevens Aikido Hawaii

John Stevens at the Aikido Celebration 2011 banquet in Honolulu, Hawaii

*This is a Dutch translation of the article “Morihei Ueshiba, Budo and Kamae Part 2 – A note from John Stevens“, courtesy of Ernesto Lemke of Seikokan Aikido.

Een opmerking van John Stevens

Recentelijk (27 februari 2012) plaatste ik een Blog getiteld ‘Morihei Ueshiba, Budo en Kamae.’ In dat artikel gebruikte ik een citaat uit de vertaling van Budo, ‘Budo: Teachings of the Founder of Aikido’ door John Stevens.

John Stevens vroeg me of ik een reactie wilde plaatsen, wat ik bij deze doe, samen met mijn reactie daarop.  Continue reading »

Morihei Ueshiba, Budo en Kamae [Dutch Version]

On Kamae, from Budo

‘Kamae’ van de technische handleiding ‘Budo’, Morihei Ueshiba 1938

*This is a Dutch translation of the article “Morihei Ueshiba, Budo and Kamae – Why we don’t know how to stand up and walk.“, courtesy of Ernesto Lemke of Seikokan Aikido.

Waarom we niet weten hoe we moeten staan en lopen

Staan en lopen, dat lijkt me nogal fundamenteel. Het is zo fundamenteel dat het zo’n beetje het eerste is wat je leert in de meeste budo. Of zelfs in het leven, als je tenminste zo ver terug kunt herinneren.

Zoals iedereen kreeg ook ik basis les in hoe ik moest staan toen ik met Aikido begon. Richt de voorste voet naar voren en de achterste voet naar buiten in een hoek. Sommige scholen gebruiken een meer gedetailleerde omschrijving maar dit is meestal de algemene strekking.

Nogal eenvoudig nietwaar? Iedereen kan het. Wat misschien ook het probleem is. Als iedereen het kan, en je doet in essentie hetzelfde wat je altijd al hebt gedaan…waarom breng je dan al die tijd op de mat door?

‘Budo’ is een vooroorlogse handleiding gepubliceerd in 1938 door de Grondlegger van Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba. Het werd oorspronkelijk geschreven voor Prins Kaya Tsunenori, een lid van een zijtak van de Keizerlijke familie. Kayanomiya werd uiteindelijk inspecteur van de Toyama Legerschool waar Morihei Ueshiba voor de oorlog als instructeur werkzaam was.

‘Budo’ blijft de grootste en meest geordende verzameling technieken van de vooroorlogse periode. Een Engelstalige editie (‘Budo: Teachings of the Founder of Aikido’), vertaald door John Stevens, werd gepubliceerd in 1991.

Een andere editie, de ‘Takemusu Aikido Special Edition’, vertaald door Sonoko Tanaka en Stanley A. Pranin werd gepubliceerd in 1999 (‘Budo: Commentary on the 1938 Training Manual of Morihei Ueshiba’). Deze editie bestaat uit fragmenten uit de Japanse tekst en voorzien van commentaar door Morihiro Saito, zowel in het Engels als in het Japans.  Continue reading »

Aikido ™ – Kan er echt een handelsmerk op zitten? [Dutch Version]

合気会

Reg. No.2313434, June 28, 1991 – Registered Trademark “Aikikai”

*This is a Dutch translation of the article “Aikido ™ – Can it really be trademarked? – Who’s doing Aikido, who isn’t, and who decides.“, courtesy of Ernesto Lemke of Seikokan Aikido.

Wie doet er aan Aikido, wie niet, en wie bepaalt dat.

Hier is iets wat me opviel in het boek ‘Best Aikido, The Fundamentals’ (Kisshomaru Ueshiba Doshu en Moriteru Ueshiba Hombu Dojo-Cho) die in 1997 werd gepubliceerd als「規範合氣道基本編」 in het Japans:

Q:合気道の分派はあるのですか。

A:確かに巷には合気会とは別に「○○合気道」と名乗っている団体が存在します。 中には、素姓の知れぬ訳の判らぬようなものもあるようです。
しかし、開祖・植芝盛平に連ならないもの、その教えを逸脱したものは、いかに外見を似せようが、深遠そうな哲理を語ろうが、合気道ではありません。 例えば、競技試合を行っているようなものは明らかに合気道本来の姿を忘れたもので、合気道と呼ぶことはできません。
私どもで言う合気道には分派は存在しないと考えています。分派がいくつもあるという考えは、それ自体が合気道を貶(おとし)めるものでしょう。

Q: Bestaan er verschillende scholen in Aikido?
A: Er bestaan zonder meer vele systemen die beweren ‘zo en zo Aikido’ te doen zonder echt te weten wat Aikido is. En er bestaan ook versplinterde groepen die gesticht zijn door voormalige leerlingen van de Grondlegger waarbij enkele zelfs zo ver zijn gegaan om georganiseerde competities te introduceren, iets wat volledig tegen de geest van Aikido indruist. Los van hoe de technieken ook overeen mogen komen, als ze gescheiden zijn van de geest van de Grondlegger is het geen Aikido.

We beschouwen het niet zozeer als verschillende Aikido scholen. Als we te veel onderscheid maken tussen de verschillende interpretaties van de technieken zal het universele karakter van Aikido verzwakken.  Continue reading »

Morihei Ueshiba, Budo and Kamae Part 2

John Stevens Aikido Hawaii

John Stevens at the Aikido Celebration 2011 banquet in Honolulu, Hawaii

A note from John Stevens

The other day (February 27th 2012) I posted a blog here entitled “Morihei Ueshiba, Budo and Kamae“. In that article I cited a quotation of the John Stevens translation of Budo, “Budo: Teachings of the Founder of Aikido“.

John Stevens has asked that I post a response from here, which I will do, along with my own response.

Note from John Stevens:

I was guided through the entire text of Budo by Shirata Rinjiro. Shirata Sensei demonstrated each technique on me, and gave me his interpretation of the book’s instructions. (In other words, I received kuden “secret transmission.”) I also had access to Shirata Sensei’s annotated copy of Budo. (It was the photocopy. The original that Sensei had received from Morihei disappeared in the chaos of WWII.) Regarding the passage in question, Sensei and I talked at length about the concept of roppo kamae. The term “flexible” was chosen to describe a good stance that is vital and solidly rooted yet at the same time a stance that allows one to respond immediately to any contingency. “Flexible stance” was also meant to include the sense of “whirling,” “swirling,” “twirling.”

Shirata Sensei—who received direct instruction from Morihei on the matter–interpreted a roppo kamae as one where the outer foot and the inner foot are opened at a 60-degree angle, as opposed to a 90-degree front foot and a 45-degree back foot. The roppo kamae is the basic stance that Morihei and Shirata Sensei assumed. It the same kamae I try to assume as I train and teach. This roppo kamae is nearly impossible to explain in words so one has to rely on, as Budo says, “oral instruction.” In fact the entire book needs to be explained by “oral instruction” from a qualified instructor (which Chris certainly is not.) In the final analysis, however, this principle should never be forgotten when discussing kamae: “If your mind is true, your kamae is correct.”

Honestly, reading through this response hasn’t really changed my thoughts as expressed in the original blog posting.

If you have a certain knowledge and background, then I think that his response really only strengthens the arguments that I made originally. If you don’t, then maybe that won’t be the case.

In either event, I hope that everybody will take this as a chance to re-think and re-examine the assumptions that they have held in the past.

Total AikidoFrom “Total Aikido”, by Gozo Shioda and Yasuhisa Shioda

I will make a couple of points:

  1. The only major Aikido style that I am aware of that still uses the term “Roppo” on a regular basis (the Yoshinkan – whose founder also received direct instruction from Morihei on the matter) actually keeps their feet at a 90 degree angle. Somewhat similar, but more angled, to the 90 degree foot position in “Shumoku no Ashi” which other direct students of Morihei claimed to have seen (enough of that – I’m really not trying to advocate for a particular foot angle).
  2. Further, Gozo Shioda made a very clear statement about “Roppo” in his book “Total Aikido” (page 30): Originally, there was no position in Aikido that might have been called a “basic stance”. The founder, Morihei Ueshiba Sensei, while saying that the basic stance was “to open your feet to the six directions [north, south, east, west, up, down],” also wrote, “The complete kamae is what arises from where the gods lead you, depending on time, situation, the lie of the land, the spirit of the moment – kamae is what is in your heart.” [from Budo], so that the explanation for the real battle is to adapt to the circumstances that you are in.
  3. The term as used most commonly in Kabuki (this was actually cited, if you remember, in Morihiro Saito’s commentary on “Budo”), uses it in the sense of six directions of the compass (up, down, east, west, north, south) – not the angle between the feet.
  4. The response to the issue of “Roppo” is basically that it represents a hanmi of 60 degrees instead of 90. Do people really spend 30 or 40 years training daily in order to condition a difference of 30 degrees? Is that really the “secret” of the Aikido kamae? Might it not be possible that there is a different, deeper, type of conditioning being referred to?
  5. Morihiro Saito’s commentary on “Budo” has a portion of the original Japanese text, the John Stevens translation of “Budo” has none of the original text at all. I included the complete original text in Japanese – everybody is free to examine it and decide for themselves.
  6. I don’t know whether I’m a “qualified instructor” or not – and neither does John, who has never seen me teach anything, has never been to our dojo, has never seen our training. We’ve never really even touched hands, except in the pre-arranged uke-nage format of an Aikido class, and even that was really only a few times (I don’t remember exactly, but less than five). I’ve been training in Aikido for more than 30 years, and I’ve had some very fine instructors – I hope that I do them at least some justice.

In closing, here is a comment on the blog posting that was posted (publicly) to Google+ and my response (both posted a week before I received John’s response). It more or less summarizes what I was trying to accomplish.

Feb 28, 2012

Great article. I have long felt that John Stevens is a well intentioned but unreliable translator. My knowledge of Japanese is very low, but when I have heard other interpretations of texts that Stevens has translated, I have always felt there was more depth in the text than Stevens is willing or able to present.

One of the problems is that Stevens is sometimes presenting his own technical interpretation as translation. In other books, he has said that the 60 degree angle stance can be observed in photos and films of Morihei Ueshiba, but this appears to be original research on his part. I see this as presenting ones own teaching as O Sensei’s.

As long as the translators are also prominent teachers or representatives of prominent teachers, these kinds of problems will creep in. The temptation to insert one’s own understanding, often well earned, for the intention of the author is too strong.

Feb 28, 2012

Christopher Li – John’s quite knowledgeable, he’s also a friend of mine and lives (literally) down the street from me, so I’m really not talking smack about him (even though that may appear to be the case).

John has always said that his goal was about providing access to the widest range of people possible. He’s done that so well that there are some sources (“Budo” for example) that are available in English, but not in Japanese!

On the other hand, that means that he’s had to make certain choices in translation to make things more or less understandable for a general audience – a “lite” version, so to speak. That doesn’t mean that the translation is necessarily bad – but that you have to understand the limitations under which it was done.

Any translation is going to be seen through the lens of the translator’s opinion, mine as much as John’s, so what we really need are more translations and more examination rather than acceptance by the population of a single version or versions as canonical.

Anyway, glad you enjoyed it! There should be more interesting things to come.

And I hope everybody enjoyed this follow-up as well! Still more interesting things to come…


Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI      

Morihei Ueshiba, Budo and Kamae

On Kamae, from Budo

“Kamae” from the technical manual “Budo”, Morihei Ueshiba 1938

Why we don’t know how to stand up and walk.

Standing and walking – that’s pretty basic. It’s so basic that it’s really the first thing you learn in most budo, or even in life – if anybody can remember back that far.

Like everybody else, I received basic instructions in how to stand when I started Aikido – point the front foot forward and the back foot out at an angle. Some places break that down into a more detailed description, but that’s usually the gist of it.

Pretty easy right? Anybody can do it – which may be the problem. If anybody can do it, and you’re doing essentially the same thing that you’ve always done…why are you spending all that time on the mat?

“Budo” is a pre-war technical manual published in 1938 by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. It was originally created for Prince Kaya Tsunenori, member of a collateral branch of the imperial family. Kayanomiya would eventually become Superintendant of the Army Toyama School – where Morihei Ueshiba would act as an instructor before the war.

“Budo” remains the largest and most organized collection of technique from the pre-war period, and an English edition (“Budo: Teachings of the Founder of Aikido“), translated by John Stevens, was published in 1991.

A separate edition, the “Takemusu Aikido Special Edition”, translated by Sonoko Tanaka and Stanley A. Pranin, was published in 1999 (“Budo: Commentary on the 1938 Training Manual of Morihei Ueshiba“). This edition is composed of some excerpts from the Japanese text, along with a commentary by Morihiro Saito, in both English and Japanese.  Continue reading »