Friday, June 26, 2015

Congratulations! And a Sad Obituary.......

I have to share both a an incredibly happy moment, and at the same time acknowledge an incredibly sad one.First happy: Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors on bringing the 2015 NBA Championship to the bay area. For those of us who have followed you for over 40 years and in particular following you through a magical regtular season of 21-2 that eventually led to67-15 and led to the 16 playoff wins needed for a title, thank you! I must admit having to radically shift my whole paradigm on what it means to be a sports fan to keep up witih you. You passed test after test during the 82 game schedule, then you capped it off with an incredible playoff run that had its anxious moments.

Probably my favorite playoff moment was game 3 on the road again New Orleans. You were trailing by 20 points going into the 4th quarter. Against all odds you came back. Stephen Curry's corner 3 tied the game n regulation and you went on to win in overtime. Also being down 2-1 against Memphis and in the finals against Cleveland and coming back with 3 straight in both to take both series. I must admit my faith was tested.but rewarded.

And what was the overriding theme of the season? Success built on sacrifice. There are many examples of this but two come to mind. First  a couple of seasons ago we made the playoffs and defeated a 3 seeded Denver team to advance. I remember thinking this one player was a real pest. Making shots, especially 3's. against us. Playing lock down defense. I realized he was a pest because he was so good. That was none other than Andre Iguodala. Well he became a free agent and because he sensed what was building here and wanting to be a part of it, he took less money to sign here. This is an unheard of sacrifice in today's world of professional sports. And this season he was asked as a former all star, a member of the NBA;s all defensive team, and a starter his whole career, to come off the bench, which he did. What was his reward? For playing defense against Labron James in the finals and stepping up offensively when needed, he was voted MVP of the finals. And all star Davit Lee willing to sit on the bench and contribute when asked to allow the emergence of Draymond Green was another example.

The commitment to defense, to sharing the ball on offense, and to playing a fun uptempo game on both ends was a fun alternative to the star power based isolation sets of the NBA. Hopefully this is a trend that will continue. And the Warriors will be good for awhile. If Stephen Curry concentrated strictly on scoring, taking more middle distance shots and getting to the free throw line, there is no doubt in my mind he might lead the league in scoring. After all he led the nation his last year at Davidson. But he is willing to be a more transparent superstar to let this team be the focal point. And to have both the regular season MVP, Curry, and the NBA finals MVP, Iguodala, is telling and indicative of team success. And fan enjoyment and pride.

And now for the sad. Yesterday Patrick Macnee passed away at the age of 93. He was John Steed of the British show 'The Avengers' to Diana Rigg's Mrs Peel..And the word sacrifice is important here as well. His portrayal of John Steed was revolutionary as well. Here was an intelligent, powerful male outwardly steeped in tradition, who was none the less able to allow an unforgettabe performance by his female partner literally steal the show. Steed and Mrs Peel were equals, but he was the established star. When first asked to play the role he was given the James Bond books to prep him. He found the violence and obvious sexism 'tiring' so he created a unique character. The recent gentleman spy film 'Kingsmen' owes a lot to the John Steed character. He didn't carry a gun, preferring his steel plated bowler hat and umbrella as well as his intelligence to solve problems..And when things really got tough there was always Mrs Peel to the rescue.He was a gentlelmlan and treated women well, and this was a sixties show. I don't think he really gets his due. He is more Andre Iguodala-ish in his contribution. Not the obvious. I will personally miss you. In 1988 I had a chance to meet him. He had written a book, an autobiography(Blind in One Ear') and was set to have a local book signing. A high school friend and I went but due to his wife's ill health he was forced to  cancel. Oh well. Steed/Patrick, I will miss you. And wherever Mrs Peel may be, I'm sure she is a little sadder as well......

Monday, June 01, 2015

A Very 'Radical ' View of the 2015 NBA Finals

I mean no real disrespect with this blog. Maybe this is just a Warrior fan having to wait 40 years to see his team once again in the finals. And projecting things and truths around this that have not merit. But that aside.....

The finals match-up between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers represents a clash between the old order and the new order that must come. If not in the finals later in some other form...Mainly this is reflected in the stars representing the two teams. Lebron James for Cleveland. Stephen Curry for the Warriors.

Years ago Carl Jung was happy to hear that to the holy trinity of Father/Son/Holy Ghost they were considering adding the Virgin Mary. First the Trinity is a 3. In Jumg's psychology 4 is the number of wholeness representing the Self.. He considered Western Spirituality to be overly masculine based and thus adding a fourth which was feminine made him feel like society was moving in his model closer to balance.Now my uses of the terms masculine and feminine have nothing to do with gender. Masculine could easily be Yang, positive, fire, heaven......and feminine easily yin, receptive, water, earth.....other metaphors could be used to describe what I mean to say. And one cannot really exist without the other so it's just a question of which one predominates. And we are due for the pendulum to shift. So, with that out of the way......

Lebron very easily represents thus what you would call the masculine element, which has ruled for a couple of thousand years. Remember the Goddess based religions which were based on the feminine were buried by the dominance of what  became Christianity. It is revealing that his nickname is "King' James........The basketball hierarchy is in love with size, speed, and power.......I'll make my battleship bigger, faster, stronger, more high tech than yours. The establishment(to use a sixties/seventies word) is about a power structure of haves and have nots.We see this especially economically in our society and culture. Labron has freakish physical gifts that he to his credit, through hard work, personal development, has parlayed into a very successful public image and playing career. But he is definitely a 'have'....
 I totally respect Labron the player, the person, the persona.......But in this way he is the old order......and of the establishment.

Contrast that with Curry. Whereas Lebron's high school games were broadcast on ESPN.......Steph was unable to get a scholarship to a major program and wound up at Davidson. And even though an outstanding high school player he was considered too small, too weak, not athletic enough........which followed him into his professional career for awhile. Even though he made a huge splash in the NCAA's taking Davidson to the elite 8, and led the nation in scoring his last year at the collegiate level. he had his doubters....Was he tough enough to make it as a pro? I found it revealing that he was the leading vote getter this year for the all star team. It seems we are ready to embrance a different paradigm. Curry embodies skills that embrace more the feminine, and again I stress this word has nothing to do with gender. He moves with a deceptive yet very skilled attack, using what Bruce Lee called a broken rhythm. In his movement phrasing he is very much like Chet Baker in jazz. Never in a rush. Seldom if ever forcing a shot or play. Sometimes seeming to play even too casually. Yet tough. As opposed to a 'King' we have a 'baby-faced assasin'. What other name would the basketball establishment give him? Both shooting and driving to the hoop he puts up floating shots which go in from great distance and over the reach of tall long-armed shot blockers at the hoop. We are seeing basketball moving back more towards an art form. Even though the way he plays does differ he reminds me of the great Earl Monroe. So Steph's power comes from an ability to mix his energies and to create basketball 'Magic'......He is Billy Batson/Captain Marvel's Shazam to Labron's Superman..

So I am waiting for the finals to start. Will the new order replace the old? Will the establishment win again or will we be treated to a new order? Let's tune in and find out!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

On Winning and Losing...Sports vs Aikido

I enjoy the world of professional competitive sports as a fan. Locally we have enjoyed the Giants recent success, three world series titles in the last 5 years.....And we are now enjoying the Golden State Warriors as they are moving towards the best record in professional basketball and being a serious contender for the NBA title.How do we equate this with winning and losing in Aikido, which has a non-competitive structure?

One thing that I have come to realize is that you must look at things both from the standpoint of product and process........Product is easy. The ego thrill of winning in a dominant fashion. I remember in the recent World Series realizing our Giants didn't win in a way a lot of people wanted them to. While there were a couple of important home runs that won games, the Giants tended to play good fundamental baseball and often times the other team would make a mistake and beat itself.... a wild pitch, a crucial error...Everyone likes winning, being on top, identifying with a championship level team. So how does this fit into aikido?

I think we need here to go into process. The current Warriors are a good example. Rather than focus on beating the other team there are three keys to this team:

1. Playing good defense
2. Taking care of the basketball
3. Moving the basketball, ie the extra pass....someone with a good shot defers to someone with a great shot.

If they do these three things, the product, ie winning....entertaining moments....spectacular plays....will take care of it self. So what is process?

Process is inner referent. As opposed to fixing on a strategy to beat so and so, one prioritizes one's goals and one's inner development and growth. And there is a a clear inner commitment or intention to continue. In the Giants world series run a key game was the second game of the NLDS againts the Nationals, who had dominated them in the regular season. Our locals won game one, surprising the baseball world. Game two went 18 innings. I started following the game at its first pitch. I took about an hour off to have  lunch and coffee with a friend. Then I follow it. It went on and on. 18 innings. Neither team could score. It would be such an advantage for the Giants to win this game and and go up two games to none. When it became apparent this was going to be long, I went to the place where I listened to the Giants game 4 victory over the Tigers in the 2012 World Series, with the same radio, and dug in as a fan. I went throug a lot. Just give up and get the score on ESPN......I felt almost as if I were in the game. But given the nature of sports someone had to win......And since I had committed to following the game and had gone to my 'magic spot' I was not going to move unitl it was over. 8 hours. A Brandon Belt home run in the 18th. Hunter Strictland with a big save. I remember having similar feelings when I was training in Japan. I can't do this. I should quit. Nothing works. What am I doing with my life. But the term was Gambatte or hang in there. So I continued past the negative. Buster Posey caught all 18 innings, an example of focus and process. And of course the Giants got past the Nationals, who were picked by most to win the NL pennant, and won both the pennant and World Series themselves. There is a lot to be said for clear intention and follow through. Choosing a goal and sticking with it no matter what. Honing oneself in the process, not fixing or worrying about the product....

Ueshiba Osensei stressed Masaka Agatsu Katsuhayahi or True Victory is winning over the 'I'/ego which is a neverending battle. Polishing oneself on a daily basis with the goal of going from persona/ego to self.. Most people fixate on the throw, or accumulating strength or rank...........Osensei stressed misogi which is a whittling away of the ego/'I'. And he also stressed shugyo or findng a path of personal transformation......and walking acheiving or completing your mission in life.......

It is ironic that the strength needed to do this does require a strong ego. A great athlete must have total belief in his or her ability to do what they must do.But something that has come to me recently is that the true strength therefore the true purpose of the ego is to surrender to the true self inside. Osensei talked about calling upon the limitless power of the universe, at the same time purifying oneself from the controlling ego that is ever persistent. The current Warriors follow an interesting pattern. There is a definite star on the team, Steph Curry. There is a rising star in Klay Thompson. There job is to dominate the offense . Yet they are a part of an offense that moves the ball like no other in the league. Everybody touches the ball. When things are going well the extra pass is always made. Draymond Green can play defender to all 5 positions on the basketball court. And their defense leads to early and good offense. Offense is product. Defense is hardwork, committment, and finally that word again, process.

In Aikido we have a daily chance to win over the competitive side of ourselves and to treat our partner as a team mate, not an opponent. And team mates can help each other grow.and improve as they together walk the path. So strength of technique, rank are in aikido product. Let us make sure we at the same time keep our attention of process, as the Giants of the last five years and the current Warriors have done so well.. And let's all try and keep Osensei's message alive in our hearts on a daily basis......

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Celebration of Love and Creation

It is the last day of 2014 and we are about to welcome in the New Year. Tomorrow we will hold our annual New Years training at Aikido of San Jose from 11am to 12:30pm. We've taken the last week off to let instructors and students alike rest.It has been a busy year. It has included among other things:

-A January trip to Japan to Hombu dojo and the Kumano Area.
-Another Osensei Revisited weekend in Occidental.
-A wonderful Summer Retreat in Santa Cruz made memorable by Anno sensei's presence
-Fall workshops in Roseville and at Sophia University with the Western States Aikido Association
-Seeing Betsy Hill sensei promoted to 5th dan
-Presiding over a great session of black belt exams earlier this month
-Learning that my daughter Jennifer and her fiance Dover will tie the knot next month

On the other side I have witnessed the passing of 2 dear aunts, one uncle, and my step mom. It is interesting that life is definitely always in motion. Children in the family being born while older members pass. The Giants win still another championship, the Warriors burst out of the gate, and the 49ers collapse. There is an impermanence to everything. Yet this gives everything a poignancy it would otherwise lack.

I would like to thanks Robert Nadeau shihan for his continued support and guidance. Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba for his warm welcome and hospitality at Hombu dojo. Anno and Yanase sensei's for continuiing in their own ways to walk the path. Mary Heiny and Linda Holiday is good to have friends. And the teachers and students of Aikido of San Jose for their continued support and growth.

In the 'Kojiki' Izanagi and Izanami stood on the floating bridge of heaven and with a magic spear created the islands of Japan. I decided they needed a love song:

Monday, November 10, 2014

Go Giants!

I want to take this occasion to congratulate the San Francisco Giants for their third World Series Championship in 5 years! This was perhaps the most unexpected and least probable of all in their magnificent run. Both 2010 and 2012 featured exceptional starting pitching and depth of starters. This year especially in the World Series it was Madison Bumgarner and for the  rest hope we make it to the bullpen, which has been outstanding in all three playoff runs to the World Series.

I guess what amazed me most about this team was how literally all the players stepped up in the playoffs and seized the moment. Facing teams with much better regular season records(the Giants were the lower of the 2 wild card teams) the Giants persevered. Players I considered automatic outs like Juan Perez, Joaquin Arias, and Gregor Blanco, all made siginificant contributions  . I would urge them on while watching on tv and say "It;s the postseason! It's the postseason!" and indeed some magic seemed to come in the form of clutch   hits.

And I must admit I continue to admire Bruce Bochy and his ability to adjust to the postseason.. No Matt Cain. Tim Lincecum up and down. He rode Madison Bumgarner all the way to the championship. One dominant starter. One dominant force of nature, quite literally. Most managers use a regular season formula for the postseason. Not Bochy. He might bring a late inning reliever in during the first couple of innings. He seems to read the game like no other. He trusted Hunter Strictland, a young pitcher, who, while having his problems, got some big outs in the playoffs. And he had his ace, Bumgarner , for the seventh and deciding game. He did not hesitate to use Jeremy Affeldt early when Tim Hudson faltered.

And what can we say about Madison Bumgarner? He might be the Giants most exciting player. I know I used to be glued to the radio or television not just when he pitched, but also when he hit. Remember he hit not one but two grand slams this year. I would follow his at bats in hopes he would hit one out. Exciting! And his performance in this postseason, especially the World Series, may never be matched. 2 wins and a save. A  career Earned Run Average in the World Series of 0.29. More than anything else he was like a wall, projecting a feeling of 'loving protection'. He would not let the other team steal victory away from his teamates or from the Giants fans.Incredible!

Buster Posey had an up and down playoffs. He was thrown out on the bases at home plate several times. Though his overall postseason numbers seem okay they were low in the World Series and he had an extreme power outage. I believe all his hits were singles. Sports Astrologist Andrea Mallis informed me that he had Saturn on his Mars. Saturn is limitation, the cosmic traffic cop. Mars symbolizing energy, assertion, and aggression, is vital to an athlete, so Buster's offensive contributions were not what we came to expect. But his leadership, defense, and handling of pitchers was vital. And he caught every inning of the 18 inning Giants victory in the NLDS. Wow!

So obviously the key in the offseason is to sign free agent Pablo Sandoval. Their young core is capable of winning some more championships. Joe Panik at second base was a godsend. Andrew Susac during the regular season proved a capable backup catcher to Posey and provided some clutch pinch hits during the postseason.  Matt Duffy came through with some big pinch hits in September to get the Giants to October and continued his hitting in the postseason along with some fine base running. So the youth is there adding another infusion of energy. So I hope Sandoval can be resigned, that the Giants can add another good starter to support Bumgarner, that Lincecum can find himself. So maybe this is the time they can go back to back. Go Giants!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

On Clayton Kershaw and Takemusu Aiki

The other week Robert Nadeau sensei showed me an interesting article in the San Francisco Chronicle about what scientists have found out about our brain and learning.. Here is a link to that article:

Basically researchers at UCSF studying the brain's motion-control system found that the brain is geared to constant adjustment. Therefore any movement pattern over time will have a tendency to drift off course due to this. This was initially studied in macaque monkeys. And locally the researchers took advantage of this   to check this in humans. They decided to study an elite athlete to see if this held for the human brain. The basis of competitive athletics is to be able to hone a skill to where it seems repeatable. Locally Golden State Warrior fans are treated to the astonishing accuracy of NBA all star Steph Curry and his ability to put the ball through the hoop from seeminly anywhere. A pitcher must in baseball be able to throw strikes and must able able to adjust them to game situations and to different hitters. So since most everything is recorded on film these days they studied Dodgers lefthander Clayton Kershaw , who during the 2014 REGULAR season had a season for the ages(21-3 won/lost and 1.77 earned run average). They traced him for the season charting only the four seam fastball. They found the same drift in his mechanics as he threw this pitch over time. AS much as we value the ability to repeat an action in sports over and over, this is not how the brain works or even wants to work.

So how might this relate to Aikido and more specifically to Ueshiba Osensei's Takemusu Aiki? One of the first things a student is taught is pattern. This is how you rolll. Front. Back. This is a side fall. As you get more advanced, this is a breakfall. This is how shihonage is done. Feet. Hands. Now this is how ikkyo is done. Now some of this is essential. Without a framework for movement practice is not possible.But the findings of the researchers seems to indicate any sort of emphasis that is too mechanistic and stresses repetition of the same movement is doomed  drift due to the brains ability to adjust. In fact the brain wants to adjust. So my sense is that the pattern or form be taught in a clear way that emphasizes feeling and being in the moment. Therefore allowing the student to experience whatever pattern that is being presented as an alive experience as opposed to a set routine to some degree from the beginning is crucial. In more ancient times all learning was direct from teacher to student, ie jikiden or direct transmission. I remember a movement in 1974 at the Shingu dojo when Hikitsuchi sensei used me in front of the class for a sword demontration of take no ken(the sword of bamboo or circle). I attacked him with a shomen strike which is a quick direct movement. He seemed to shift into another space and followed a curved circular route to get behind me with his cut. It was eerie and wonderful at the same time. My quick time movement was met with a much slower time movement which exactly met and matched mine. When I demonstrate that movement I call up the same space. It is hard to teach someone like that as students try to be mechanical and repeat the movement. I only felt that once. It was never repeated.

Getting more into what Osensei might have meant by Takemusu Aiki, he is quoted in The Secret Teachings of Aikido as saying:

"Aikido has no forms because it is a study of the spirit."

Now here it is easy to say that he is getting esoteric and spiritual. But what does he mean by spirit? Oftentimes ki is translated as spirit.. Osensei referenced the 3 realms of manifest hidden divine. He also referenced spirit fluid hard soft(also translated as spirit, flow, willow diamond). What if leaving out divine and spirit, these represent the dimensions of the universe finer to less finer to dense. Let's postulate the existence and being of something that when it begins to move is spirit. And spirit as it goes  from finer to denser begins to identfy as an ego or an 'I'. This 'I' gets so entwined with the dimensions finer to denser it forgets its essence of what it was at its beginning or inception. Hence the need for what Osensei meant perhaps by misogi, the unentwining of the 'I' and the stuff(dimensions of the universe finer to denser) so that the 'I' can return to its more original or divine level. The tendency in the manifest or dense level is to have a definite mechanistic approach to the movement. But the 'I' can too early have a memory of its more divine level and go spiritual way too quick. Either approach would to me obstruct both a true journey back to the more original or divine, and would also cause a lack of appreciation for the stuff of creation, which also came out of the divine.

Here are a few quotes from his The Heart of Aikido: The Teachings of Takemusu Aiki:

"Aikido is the eternal principle of the universe."
"Aikido is the heavenly truth that marvelously functions as takemusu aiki."
"Aikido is the way that harmonizes heaven, earth, and humankind"
"Aikido is the marvelous functioning of kototama and misogi."

So Aikido is or comes out of an eternal principle that perhaps defines and explains yet at the same time sustains the universe. It is not too much of a stretch to connect principle with heavenly truth, and to see his viewpoint that takemusu aiki is the functioning of that truth, ie how it works both with itself and within the dimensions of the universe. At present I read heaven as that original thing. I read earth more extensively to mean the dimensions of the universe from finer to dense. And humankind to mean our condition, ie this principle originally meant to be dynamically on the move now fixed as an ego/'I' mainly either in the dense material or on a spiritual journey looking  for the finer. Currently I see kototama as a connector between the stuff and the 'I' allowing the 'I' to its more original state of being. We know that matter is really vibration, and the 75 kototama sounds might represent a type of code allowing the more divine aspects of both creation and oneself to manifest in the here and now. And of course misogi is referenced. How can one return to one's true being when one either locks mechanistically into physical movements or goes on a journey into the finer to find itself, ie transcendence? One thing Ueshiba Osensei was adamant about was that heaven, this more original sense of ourselves was right here and now, and that transcendence was of the profane realm, ie could lead you astray. But for those prefering a mechanistic  physical approach, we goe back to his original quote:

"Aikido has no forms because it is a study of the spirit."

One thing I will admit is that studying Osensei's words is difficult because the same word, for example kokoro, can be read interchangeably as heart, soul, or spirit. For my own purposes when whatever it was started to move, ie the start of the universe or creation, I tend to call it spirit. The  rest is for now at least the great mystery.

I think it is somewhat common to consider Takemusu Aiki as simple technical variation. Remember it is the functioning of that original heavenly truth. We can begin its study with the movements and shapes of the techniques of the art. But to begin to really touch that I feel we must begin to understand ourselves at truer and truer levels and to understand the universe/creation in the same way. Quite a load, I must admit.

As much as Aikido as a martial art shares some similarity to sport, I have found in recent years a closer connection to music.My sense is that Osensei, using metaphor, was a great classical player who as he got closer ot this own true self went into jazz. I think it is easier to see Takemusu Aiki in jazz terms than martial movement. Is a great classical background necessary to get to Takemusu Aiki? Miles Davis graduated from the Juillard School of Music. Chet Baker learned it on the street. His close friend Artt Frank recently emailed me that Baker even in the melody of the song never phrased the same way twice. I am not sure Ueshiba Osensei ever looked at even shihonage as something you repeated twice the same way. He said in the Secret Teachings that technique was totally dependent on the here and now situation.

The thesis of the newspaper article was that Clayton Kershaw's brain operated the same way a monkey's does. But so do all our brains. We are creatures of evolution and change....And hopefully development and evolution.

A word or two on Kershaw. He is brilliant at what he does. And in the regular season he owns the Giants. I compare him to in my day Sandy Koufax, who seemed to dominate the Giants whenever he pitched. But maybe someday we will meet him in the playoffs and see what happens. Go Giants!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

On Watching Osensei on Video

Recently 3 previously unavailable to the public Osensei videos were unearthed. I watched them and I was surprised at my response. I felt that most people watching him would probably have one of the following responses:
1. What's he doing? He doesn't look like my sensei?
2. When is he going to show me some technique?
3. Boy he's soft. I wonder if it's real?
4. He is so spiritual. Maybe if I meditate and pray I can walk through people like he does.

So I thought it might be important to highlight what I notice when I watch him. I started my Osensei watching almost from the beginning of my aikido career. Robert Frager and Robert Nadeau senseis were both direct students of the Founder. In 1969 they would once a month co-teach a weekend where they would combine aikido classes with energy work which was inspired by their contact with Osensei. There was a lot of meditation, chanting/sound work, and in those days there were no  videos. So we would watch Osensei on 8mm and Super8mm home movies. And these were for me the highlight of the weekend.. I had started with another martial art, but upon reading about him I definitely decided aikido was what I wanted and I got my with when Robert Frager sensei started an Aikido club on the University of California Santa Cruz campus my senior year. And in the movies it seemed like he was working a form of magic. And it seemed as if the key to doing what he was doing was not in the technique but in something else. We did a lot of practices to become more aware of the energy/ki.. These were also tied to practices we could do on our own such as walking from center and playing with fields of energy. After my senior year, one academic year of aikido, I went to UC Davis for 2 years of graduate work. Since there was only aikido there in a club for once or twice a week, I had a lot of time to practice what I had learned in the workshops on my own. Energy work. Moving from center. Being present and aware. In 1973 I made the first of 3 major trips to Japan to study at the Shingu dojo. I was fortunate to go to a place where Osensei's spiritual message was recognized and stressed. So my perspective from Frager and Nadeau senseis was then balanced on the other end by Hikitsuchi, Anno, Yanase, and Tojima senseis. So what might I point out now about what I see when I watch Osensei now on video?

1. How naturally he moves. He seems to have no mental, physical, or spiritual set points as he demonstrates his aikido. He seems to avoid long deep stances( although you definitely see those in 1935 in the Osaka film) He is very free. Frager sensei showed films of Osensei to Moshe Feldenkrais, founder of the Feldenkrais method. Feldenkrais's response was he had never seen a human body in a gravitational field move that freely and perfectly. He did not reference the martial aspect of what was going on. He referenced only that whatever Osensei called aikido, when he was demonstrating it, his accomplishment was that his body moved perfectly. By comparison Feldenkrais once met Julius Erving(Dr J of basketball fame). Watching Erving move Feldenkrais correctly diagnosed this was one very advanced system of movement in human form . But he told Erving, correctly at that stage of his career, that thou;gh he had once been a 'god', that is was at this point not something Erving could do on demand anymore. . He noticed several sublte things in Erving's movement in response to gravity and posture that clued him in. Yet this same man said Osensei, and at a very advanced age, moved to in his opinion the ultimate potential of the human body in motion.

2.He is outwardly very empty/yin/receptive. When he touches his uke that person seems to be drawn into Osensei's gravitational field, much like a planet orbiting a sun. And Osensei's touch would appear to be very easy and deep. There appears to be no attempt on his part to control the attacker 'out there'.......He gives no weight to the attacker by trying to twist, jerk, pull, or leverage . And by being so fully receptive or yin, the postive or yang seems to kick in on its own as needed.

3.He understood very deeply the difference between strength and power and obviously chose the latter..Strength is a form of power, but his has a set point. Power is fluid. Just flip and switch and the lights go on. Or turn the faucet and water flows. Many people would see what Osensei did as soft. I would say he was fluid. One student who watched the recent video made an observation. He had seen a video of an elephant attacking people. The elephant would make little moves and people would go flying. He said even though Osensei's body was that of an aged man, he saw an elephant when Osensei moved. Is an elephant soft? I tend to see a dragon sweeping people with inivisible wings and a tail when I watch Osensei from a similar perspective. Power is the ability to affect change and may have little to do with putting strength into technique. Now I believe one can have ki strength as opposed to ki power. Mary Heiny sensei once said during a class in which she was present, Osensei stopped the class and berated the men for 'ude kurabe'...just a testing of arm strength in technique. And he said the women were much closer to doing aikido as he did than the men. So he is hinting that power is something that is not gender specific or in his case something that diminishes with age. He was once asked by Shioda sensei when he was the strongest, in his forties, fifites, etc. And Osensei answered him by saying he, Osensei, would be at his most 'powerful' his last day on this earth. I guess the larger question for all of us is how did Osensei 'flip the switch' or 'turn the faucet' and how can that apply to what we do?

4. He seems to have a sense for what the attacker does before the attacker moves. Having not set point of his own, perhaps he is able to 'read' the set point of the attacker? The other thing is that he often seems to insert in the mind of the attacker what the attack should be by gesturing  or shifting his posture. We chould get a little Star Wars here and say this may be a little of  ' These are not the droids you are looking for'.......I heard a story once where a karate club visiting Hombu dojo asked what he would do against a kick. They were then told they could train their best kicker, come back in a month, and see. Well their best kicker trained his best kick, mae geri(front thrust kick) for one month. On the fated day he faced Osensei and.......Osensei offered his wrist, the kicker went to grab it and took a flip. When asked after why he didn't kick, especially after all this prep, he simply said, "He offered his wrist...". So something more than we can at present explain I'm afraid.

And what I'm about to say means no disrespect to any person or teacher. But there is the very real possiblity that as good as your teacher is or my teachers are/were(some are now deceased)., the distance between them and Osensei might be virtually the same as the distance between us and Osensei. Just a thought. Hope this has helped. And here is the first video: