Friday, January 8, 2010

Tomiki Sensei's totally average video

Mokuren blog posted a video of Tomiki Sensei and Oba (Obha) Sensei performing the Junana hon kata, the 17.

I have the highest respect for Mr. Tomiki, his teaching method and his written work. I even consider myself a scholar of Tomiki's work. But honestly I think the video does come close to demonstrating the higher principles of aiki or ju.

Jeff Duncan of Full Circle suggests that both Ueshiba's and Tomiki's work were foundations. They were rough drafts of the future art to come. I myself concur with this view. While I always enjoy watching the famous great teachers, I watch it with the eyes of an English teacher reading a rough draft. I circle the mistakes in red pen and rephrase the awkward sentence fragments in the margins.

Now I think many students of the Tomiki lineage will try to rationalize away what they see in the video. "He was old" or "He was just showing the basics". Is this a rationalization away that perhaps the founder of our system was not as super human as we like to believe him to be? Do not view the video with cloudy dreamy eyes of the love struck school boy justifying away the blemishes. See it for what it is; a rough draft of the art.

I myself am not discouraged. In fact I think the progress we have made in the Tomiki line since the death of Keni Tomiki shows his contribution more than his personal technique does. He helped us frame the problem of moving in Aiki. He gave us training wheels so we might go further than he did.

Our teachers are giants, and they allow us to stand on their shoulders so we can see farther than they could.

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