Sunday, April 05, 2009

40th anniversary & Lineage

I have been reflecting recently on the 40th anniversary, both of the founder's passing and of my own start in aikido. And one of the most important things is the concept of lineage. Everything comes from a source point or beginning. Many things stop with a thud. However, some lines gather momemtum, expand, evolve, and may take on what seems like a life of their own. Sometimes it its useful to harken back to the beginnings of things and compare things then to things as they are in the present. Obviously, the art of aikido had its beginnings in the life of Morihei Ueshiba Osensei. His earlier arts and spiritual traditions predate him. But the alchemy he worked to produce what he called aikido came through him and his life. Actually what he called "aiki" was something he felt existed pretty much from the beginnings of the universe. That his art or expression of himself was tied to how the universe was created, how this creation unfolded, how what we might term divine and what we term human are untimately connected.

I have included some photos to cover how the students and teachers of Aikido of San Jose view their lineage. Yes, in aikido you are a part of one. Above my original teachers, Robert Frager and Robert Nadeau, are both shown in pictures taken in the sixties with Osensei. The nature of the photos gives an obvious sense that both had a relationship with the founder. They knew him personally both as the master of Aikido and as a human being. And their lives have reflected this strong connection to
Ueshiba Osensei. Robert Nadeau was I believe the first full time instructor in Northern California and has been instrumental in the proliferation of both Aikido instructors and schools in this area, all the while maintaining a deep sense of the Founder's message. Robert Frager founded the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and has given Aikido a forum in the academic world, aikido being a required class at his graduate school.

The other picture is of Hikitsuchi sensei and Anno sensei with the founder. In this photo, Anno sensei represents also 2 other men: Motoichi Yanase sensei and Yasushi Tojima sensei, who were my other teachers at the Shingu dojo. I don't have any pictures of them with the founder to post. Hikitsuchi sensei was deeply moved enough by the founder to become a full-time teacher. Anno sensei has succeeded him as the chief instructor at the Shingu dojo.

Both Nadeau and Frager senseis were strongly influenced by the Founder's message to where you got that you weren't going to understand the profound depth of aikido simply by learning technique and being assimilated into its hierarchy. So you might call their approach transpersonal. And this is the approach I myself entered the art on. The Shingu dojo of the early to mid-seventies strongly emphasized the spiritual side of Osensei's message. This then might give you a sense of the influences that have shaped Aikido of San Jose and its philosophy and purpose.

Robert Frager gave me my first full-time teaching position when he left the UC Santa Cruz Aikido Club to open the then California Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. Robert Nadeau opened Aikido of San Jose in July of 1976, asked me to be on of the original faculty, and sold me the school in 1980. So both of them were instrumental in my becoming a full-time aikido instructor.

I am including an earlier video of training at the Shingu dojo to help illustrate some things. A lineage is not something that one agrees upon in one's mind. The video shows Hikitsuchi sensei transmitting what he got from Osensei to a line of people. Anno sensei and Yanase sensei were also Osensei's students, and they are shown training and transmitting working with students in the class.Mary Heiny sensei, Linda Holiday sensei, and I also appear. But you see how quick and direct things were. There is not a lot of time for the mind to stop and figure things out. You were expected to give your best, move, relate, and continue. The degree to which you received the transmission was totally dependant on the level of your shugyo(transformative process) as opposed to just physical effort. I am going to try to put this lineage on a video. Anybody who has the video of Hikitsuchi sensei taking ukemi for Osensei at the Hongu Grand Shrine, please contact me. Also, anyone who might have Summer Retreat footage of the early '80's of my taking ukemi for Robert Nadeau, please let me know.


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