Monthly Archives: March 2012

Aikido and the Structure of the Universe

Morihei Ueshiba Lectures

In "Kiichi Hogen and the Secret of Aikido" we traced a connection between what Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba cites as one of the "Secrets" of Aikido and Chinese military strategy. In "Morihei Ueshiba, Budo and Kamae" we traced a connection between a section of the technical manual "Budo", published in 1938 by Morihei Ueshiba, and certain very common concepts in Chinese martial arts.
Of course, there’s more, a lot more, threaded all through Morihei Ueshiba’s lectures and essays. Once the connections are laid out I think that this will become clear – even obvious. What will also become clear is the training methodology being laid out, in no uncertain terms, by the Founder.
For a start, Morihei Ueshiba would often say that "Ichirei Shikon Sangen Hachiriki" ("One Spirit, Four Souls, Three Origins, Eight Powers") represented the basic structure of the Universe, and the basic structure of Aikido.

Aiki Budo is the Way of Human Development

Aiki Budo is the Way of Human Development
I was looking through Kisshomaru Ueshiba’s books "The Spirit of Aikido" and "The Art of Aikido" and I happened to notice that there is virtually no mention of Daito-ryu in either one. Of course, neither of them are historical works, but I thought it odd that there was no mention of the art that Morihei Ueshiba has studied for over 20 years, the only art that he was ever licensed to teach, the only art (outside of his own) in which he ever issued certificates of rank.
OK, moving along to "Best Aikido", written by Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Moriteru Ueshiba. In this one there is a short mention of Daito-ryu as one of the many arts that Morihei Ueshiba studied, but no mention is made of the relative depth of study of those arts – the section entirely fails to note the fact that, with the exception of Daito-ryu, all of those arts were studied for very brief periods of time.
The section ends by implying that Morihei himself denied any substantial connection with Daito-ryu. This is a common theme, check out this article for another example of the sanitizing of the history of Aikido.
I know, this is kind of an old story – most people these days have been made aware of the great technical debt that Aikido owes to Daito-ryu, primarily through the efforts of Stan Pranin at Aikido Journal.
Additionally, in two previous posts, "Kiichi Hogen and the Secret of Aikido", and "Morihei Ueshiba, Budo and Kamae" I explored the possibility of ties between the core training methods of Morihei Ueshiba and traditional Chinese martial training paradigms.
But what about the other half of the art – the great philosophical and spiritual repurposing of the martial arts that was supposedly implemented by Morihei Ueshiba?

Morihei Ueshiba, Budo and Kamae Part 2

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