Saturday, September 18, 2010

Block Print - Morihei Ueshiba O'Sensei

A little something I whipped up today. I think I am improving.

Tomiki and Ueshiba in Manchuria

I have been reading the histories of famed Aikido teachers Morihei Ueshiba , Kenji Tomiki, and Hideo Oba. Again and again it comes up that Kenji Tomiki went upon Ueshiba's request to teach budo in Manchuria. Ueshiba and his son went there yearly to teach and demonstrate. What bugs me is this is the period of the Manchurian invasion. This was a period of facist Japan at it’s worst. This was essentially Japan's lowest and bloodiest point, perhaps in it's entire history. The Japanese army marched in, committed mass executions, pillaged, raped, did sick medical experiments on civilians and enslaved a nation. And in the middle of it all we find famous teachers arming the military with aiki-budo techniques.
I would like to look at the political climate of the time to understand what Ueshiba and Tomiki were doing in China during this dark time.

The War In Manchuria

“The Mukden Incident, also known as the Manchurian Incident, was an early event in the Second Sino-Japanese War, although full-scale war would not start until 1937. On September 18, 1931, near Mukden (now Shenyang) in southern Manchuria, a section of railroad owned by Japan's South Manchuria Railway was dynamited.[1] The Imperial Japanese Army, accusing Chinese dissidents of the act, responded with the invasion of Manchuria, leading to the establishment of Manchukuo the following year. While the responsibility for this act of sabotage remains a subject of controversy, the prevailing view is that Japanese militarists staged the explosion in order to provide a pretext for war.”


“Following the Mukden Incident in 1931 and the subsequent Japanese invasion of Manchuria, Inner Manchuria was proclaimed as an independent state, Manchukuo. The last Manchu emperor, Puyi, was then placed on the throne to lead a Japanese puppet government in the Wei Huang Gong, better known as "Puppet Emperor's Palace". Inner Manchuria was thus formally detached from China by Japan to create a buffer zone to defend Japan from Russia's Southing Strategy and, with Japanese investment and rich natural resources, became an industrial powerhouse. However, under Japanese control Manchuria was one of the most brutally run regions in the world, with a systematic campaign of terror and intimidation against the local Russian and Chinese populations including arrests, organized riots, and other forms of subjugation.[26] The Japanese also began a campaign of emigration to Manchukuo; the Japanese population there rose from 240,000 in 1931 to 837,000 in 1939 (the Japanese had a plan to bring in 5 million Japanese settlers into Manchukuo).[27] Hundreds of Manchu farmers were evicted and their farms given to Japanese immigrant families.[28] Manchukuo was used as a base to invade the rest of China, an action that was very costly to Japan in terms of the damage to men, matériel and political integrity.”

Kenji Tomiki in Manchuria

From Aiki News #128 by Stanley Pranin

Aikido Journal

“Relocating to Manchuria in March 1936, Tomiki became a part-time instructor at Daido Gakuin and taught aikibudo to the Kanton Army and the Imperial Household Agency. In the spring of 1938, he was appointed to the staff of the newly established Kenkoku University in what was then Shinkyo (present-day Changchun). This appointment came about due to Tomiki’s connection with Ueshiba’s Kobukan Dojo. As a historical note, Rinjiro Shirata, one of Ueshiba’s best prewar students, was originally selected for the Kenkoku University post, but was forced to bow out following his conscription into the Japanese Imperial Army in 1937.”
“Tomiki was living in a house in Daiyagai in Shinkyo where he also operated a private dojo. This was in addition to his teaching activities at Kenkoku University. He taught people from the town and commuted to the Military Police Training Hall and the university. Another top prewar student of Ueshiba named Shigemi Yonekawa also lived with Tomiki for a time and assisted him in his teaching duties.”

“ Largely through Tomiki’s efforts, aiki training become a compulsory subject for students of judo and kendo, and therefore he sent for his close associate Hideo Oba, then a 5th dan, from Akita in order to develop a teaching staff. Also, Morihei Ueshiba made regular fall trips to Manchuria during these years also to conduct classes at Kenkoku University. Professor Tomiki made great strides during the Manchuria years in fleshing out his theory of rikaku taisei. This term refers to the use of techniques for dealing with attacks by an opponent separated from the defender. This was part of Tomiki’s view of a “complete judo” which encompassed two parts: “grappling judo” (kumi judo) which equated to Kodokan Judo, and “separated judo” (hanare judo) which was equivalent to aikido.”

“Ueshiba began to adopt the dan ranking system about this time and promoted Tomiki to 8th dan in 1940. Tomiki was the first person to receive this rank from Ueshiba and this honor reflected the high regard in which he was held by the aikido founder. For the next four years, during the summer months Tomiki would visit Japan where he would give instruction to senior judo dan holders at the Kodokan.”

Seated front: Kenji Tomiki and Morihei Ueshiba; standing right: Hideo Oba. Photo taken in 1942 in front of Shimbuden Hall of Kenkoku University, Manchuria

So what was this university in occupied Manchuria? From what I have been able to piece together, the university was a wing of the fascist mass party, manipulated and controlled by the Japanese military, mobilizing rather than responding to popular opinion. Students entering the "Great Unity" college charged with training civil servants (Daido Gakuin, founded 1932) It appears that great numbers of Japanese citizens were being shipped over to Manchuria to repopulate and take over government control. I surmise that this university was a education center to educate a populace in the takeover to help run a puppet government set up on the mainland.
Kenji Tomiki’s work in Manchuria was going on with a backdrop of tyranny. The following atrocities happened the year after Kenji Tomiki arrived in Manchuria.


“When the victorious Japanese poured in, they brought wholesale carnage. Frightened Chinese who made the mistake of running - or standing still - were bayoneted or shot. Houses were entered repeatedly and their trembling occupants robbed, beaten and raped. One young Chinese girl brought on a stretcher to a missionary hospital more than a month after the city's fall described how she had been carried off from her home and kept in a hovel for 38 days at the pleasure of her Japanese captors, who attacked her as many as 10 times a day. Chinese men suspected of having served as soldiers were tied together in groups and machinegunned, used for bayonet or hand-grenade practice or simply doused with gasoline and set afire. According to evidence collected by members of the International Relief Committee, more than 40,000 unarmed Chinese were slaughtered by one means or another during the atrocities at Nanking.”

While by no means am I accusing Kenji Tomiki of participating in these crimes, I think it is worth noting he could not have been ignorant of the terrible oppression that was going on all around him. There he was in the true bloody beginning of the Second World War watching his nation devour another right at the front lines.

“Mr. Tomiki was actually recruited from the Kobukan Dojo to go to Manchuria by Hideki Tojo. Tojo had become the provost marshal of the Guangdong Army sometime before Kenkoku University was established. Mr. Tomiki came to Manchuria and set up the Tomiki Dojo in Daiyagai. Mr. Tomiki came to Manchuria and set up the Tomiki Dojo in Daiyagai. He was the Manchukuo government’s official aiki bujutsu teacher at Daido Gakuin and also an instructor to the military police. Kenkoku University was established a little later, in 1938, and from then on Hideo Oba taught the military police while Mr. Tomiki went to Kenkoku University as an assistant professor.….The military police took their aiki bujutsu training very seriously.” (Pranin, Aikido Journal)

Aikido Journal

When I look at the entire picture of the times it becomes clear to me that the entire staff of famed aikido teachers that actively taught in Manchuria were a product of this dark time. Somehow these great men got caught in the cogs of the fascist machine of imperial Japan. While each individual may have been innocent of war crimes, I think if we look realistically at the dark history of Japan at the pivotal time in the evolution of aikido we see them giving the weapons of budo to those who would use them for aggression and harm.
Perhaps it is in the face of these darkest times, we find the true birth of aikido. Perhaps after seeing the evil of war we may understand why Morihei Ueshiba switched gears and after the war he sought a more peaceful path.

Aikido Journal

“To continue, Ueshiba’s religious and ethical views assumed greater importance in his concept of budo due to the physical and psychological devastation Japan suffered during World War II. Aikido in its modern form developed during the founder’s intensive period of study in Iwama which spanned the period of 1942 through the mid-1950s. Ueshiba’s main impact on aikido during the postwar period was in a spiritual and symbolic sense, rather than technical.”

More readings about Tomiki and Ueshiba in Manchuria

Aikido Journal

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nagging Questions

What year is the film made?

How many Tomiki dojos are in Japan?

What year did Oba, and Miyaki start training with Tomiki?

Does anyone own a copy of Tomiki's book 'Judo Taiso'? I have to ask a few questions about it's contents.

Monday, September 13, 2010

History of Owaza Ju Pon, The Big 10

The Owaza Ju Pon is an interesting two man practice kata coming from the Tomiki lineage of aikido. According to Yoji Kondo Sensei the kata was introduced sometime in the 1950s by Hiroaki(Riki)Kogure Sensei.

Hiroaki Kogure - 8th dan

It seems that much of the basic training coming from Waseda University was a kihon version of kata. This is typically exercised with a static uke. In an attempt to create a more dynamic situation Kogure pieced together some techniques that demanded more movement.

Another of the angles this kata originally attempted to address was people coming in from a more distant ma-ai. In this way the kata also helped to teach students to deal with multiple attack situations. Many of the old timers I have seen perform this kata practice it with the attack as a straight armed run towards tori. Also, as a personal observation I see some more Ueshiba like techniques in this kata that were left out of Tomiki's curriculum such as a classical tenkan irimi nage and shizumi otoshi.

I personally have not seen evidence of this kata practiced by any Japanese or British dojos. From my casual observations this kata seems to largely be present mostly in American lineages of Tomiki Aikido. I believe this may be largely due to Kogure Sensei teaching in the United States from 1970-1975. In many schools in American Tomiki lineage branches it is required for shodan and nidan (1st and 2nd black) grading demonstrations. Typically the first five is demonstrated for shodan. The entire kata is often demoed for nidan.

So the original intention of the kata seems to have been to get attackers moving more dynamically when giving energy. Eventually the majority of kata practice grew to have a more committed attack, so practicing many of the techniques that were already in the 17 kata became somewhat redundant.

Some organizations dropped the redundant techniques and added others from aikido or judo. In other organizations the meaning of the kata began to morph in the 1970s and 1980s. Eventually the kata started being practiced with a go-no-sen timing. This gave it a new life and gave purpose to the techniques in the kata again. While the techniques of the 17 were often practiced sen-no-sen timing, the Big 10 started being practiced as the late timing kata. Other teachers saw this as a separating centers kata, as opposed to the 17 kata which were often closing centers. I have even attended lessons from teachers that teach the redundant techniques as henka, or variation from the standard kata taught. One organization now often refers to the kata as Ura waza - reversal techniques.

Needless to say the kata changed either techniques or fundamental intention to suit the various teachers, schools and organizations as the kata aged.

Owaza Ju Pon - The Big 10

1. Kubi-guruma - neck wheel
2. Kata-otoshi - shoulder drop
3. Ude-guruma - arm wheel
4. Hiji-guruma - elbow wheel
5. Aiki-nage - fitting in throw (Aigamae Ate)
6. Shiho-nage - four corner (all directions) throw
7. Ushiro-ate - behind (from the rear) strike
8. Kote-gaeshi - wrist turn
9. Ushiro-kubi-gatame - hold from behind (the rear)
10. Shizumi-otoshi - sinking body drop

Here is a demo by Nick Ushin Lowry of the KazeUtaBudoKai. He does a separation version here, very different from the late timing version I learned. He switched around the first two techniques, I am not sure if by accident or if he rearranged the kata around his own understanding.

Go here to see Lowry Sensei lecturing on the techniques.

Kaze Uta Budo Kai lessons

Here are two gentlemen performing the first 5 of the Big 10. This often is a requirement for shodan.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Man In Black

I just found an old manipulation video of mine that I totally forgot about. I hope you have a moment to enjoy it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

KyuRyu Anonymous Comments Policy

Why this picture? I thought it was funny

“Do not speak unless you can improve the silence”

Some of my readers enjoy commenting on my posts. I always am overjoyed to hear from readers.

I must say though there has been a swell of anonymous posters lately. Much of their commentary has been negative or belligerent. This is fine. My ego is not wrapped up in this game, and I have no problem playing the fool for someone else's bad day. I must say though I do find it hard to follow the sequence of the conversation when I have several posters all posting under the anonymous heading.

I would very much prefer if you wrote your name or at least a pseudonym if you comment on my posts. It helps me keep track of the characters who hang out in this corner of the net. Also I like to understand how many people are contributing to the conversation.

Now if you wish to point out how dumb I am, or start using foul language, this too is fine. I am a big believer in freedom of speech. I will institute the policy that you must put your full name and dojo down. I give you the right to call me names...etc. I really don't care. I gleefully invite the interaction. However if you are passionate enough to be insulting, you should be man enough to use your name and not hide behind internet anonymity. If your words get belligerent and your post is not signed I will simply delete it. I think this is only fair that if you get to call me a 'shit head'...etc, I get to call you by the name you use in life. Don't worry no matter how ill you behave, I will treat you with respect. This is my way.

This seems very fair to me. I give you the right to be abusive and I promise to always be respectful as long as you use your name.

For your information people here are not really anonymous as they believe. I have a fairly sophisticated tracker on my blog, and I see everyone's IP address. It would take me about 20-30 minutes but if I really ever cared enough I likely could find out the name and location of anyone who visits this site.

So man up and sign your words.

Eric Pearson
KyuRyu Aikibudo

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Refuting the Teacher?

I have been fascinated by the intricate working of the universe. I have been digesting as many physics documentaries as I can get my hands on. On of the fascinating quotes I pulled out from one of the films was something to the effect of, "In physics you achieve status often by refuting your teacher, what other field of study is like that?"

I propose that other field of study is budo. Maybe refuting is too strong a term, maybe breaking or changing methodology. Maybe it is just finding your own path.

Let's look at my own lineage. Takeda was a powerful artist. Eventually his great student Ueshiba learned to forge his own path. Ueshiba's student Kenji Tomiki studied under the great teacher for many years until he learned to think for himself. Mr. Geis took Tomiki's work in bold new directions, further polishing the mirror to see his own reflection. Russell Waddell and Nick Lowry learned from their teacher and forged their own path based on their preferences when the time was right. I learn from, yet challenge the work and ideas of all the great men who came before me.

Like I said in field of Budo 'refuting' might be too strong a word. The process might even be really friendly. We can morph to expose the weakness in previous methodology, or simply to find a personal prefernce in training. I do believe every student of the way has the right to become their own artist. While some believe in the feudal notion of following and copying is budo, I believe budo is something deeper. Budo is taking the art of your teacher and molding it with practice, science, artistry and insight into your own sculpture.

Budo is owned by no one person. Every person that touches it molds the result. Truth and perfection was not found by some master of old. It is found in the here and now - one practice session at a time.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Crucible of Criticism

crucible (ˈkruːsɪb ə l) [Click for IPA pronunciation guide]

— n
1. a vessel in which substances are heated to high temperatures
2. the hearth at the bottom of a metallurgical furnace in which the metal collects
3. a severe trial or test

I finished my quiz for anatomy of the eye early tonight, so I let myself look through all my you tube comments piling up. Over the years I have posted a lot of videos. The subjects range from magic, interviews, juggling, calligraphy and of course budo.

Reading down the list of comments is a laundry list of insults and degradations. You suck. On some days that is all I hear, about all my art forms.

Years ago when I first started I would burn with shame when I saw these comments. My fragile ego couldn't handle the attacks. Now, as a seasoned performer I see these as badges of honor - marks of achievement.

You see, I have performed among the elite magicians in Vegas. I have trained with top level jugglers. I have a successful martial arts practice, with people I love. My calligraphy is not masterful, but it is my expression of the joy of practice.

The criticisms over the years have burned off any self doubt. I stand now confident in my ability, and always eager to learn and experience more. I see all those criticisms as marks of honor, because at least I am producing. I am contributing to these arts and am not just another invisible critic trying to tear others down.