The series of articles that begins here is the key to the door that separates the Saito method (the suburi practice of Aikido) and the Founder’s Aikido.
This key is needed to leave the educational framework of the method, when the practitioner has reached the threshold of this new phase, and she/he is finally ready. Attempts can be made in this direction, but without the knowledge of this key, may parasitize the method with elements that are foreign to it, without allowing leaving the field of suburi.
First of all, it is necessary to return to Morihei Ueshiba’s fundamental teaching regarding the guard stance (kamae), which was raised quickly in Kajo #19 but will now find the development it deserves.
We are talking about that famous page 9 of Budo, the book written by Morihei Ueshiba. The English translation of John Stevens has very serious shortcomings, along with the translation French too, which is normal since it was established from the English version.
Christopher Li was the first one in February 2012 (1, 2, 3) to raise this issue immediately followed in March 2012 by, Eric Grousilliat (4, 5, 6). Both made an independent translation of this page 9 directly from the original Japanese text : Christopher Li in English, Eric Grousillat in French.
These two translations, established simultaneously by two different people and in different languages, match perfectly, and they highlight deviation of John Stevens’ translation. One can check that both are rigorously faithful to the text of Morihei Ueshiba.
I thank Chris and Eric who can not imagine how their work has helped me to discover the remarkable system of O Sensei’s movement. Without their efforts, the following series of articles which begins would have never been written.
In this short passage about the kamae, O Sensei provides us with some crucial information for the practice of Aikido :
... Open your feet in the six directions, and face the enemy in the hanmi irimi position of Aiki. - O Sensei
John Stevens does not meet the very specific meaning of the Japanese word "Roppo"(six directions). He translates as: "the feet should be opened at an angle of 60 °". But this has nothing to do with the original version, the "60 °" just does not exist in the Japanese text!
Stevens actually gives an interpretation of O sensei’s text, his or Shirata’s. And this interpretation may itself be understood in different ways, the 60 ° angle being defined with respect to nothing. It is therefore a source of confusion.
Regarding the movement, there are six outer directions (soto Roppo) six inner directions (uchi Roppo), and also an outer spiral (soto tomoe) and an inner spiral (uchi tomoe). - O Sensei
As incredible as it may seem, the first part of O sensei’s sentence is translated as: "The front foot, as well as the rear foot should be open at a angle of 60°" ! John Stevens therefore does not only invent an angle of 60 °, he then adds two angles that do not appear in the Founder's text.
These two 60 ° angles become even more incomprehensible since the photos of O Sensei’s kamae, if they show a rear foot that can be seen at 60°, show a front foot in alignment with the leg, and therefore is never opened at 60 ° (I speak here of hanmi kamae irimi and not hito e mi which is not a guard stance).
As to the second part of the sentence, concerning the outer spiral and inner spirals, well it is very simple, it has not been translated at all, it does not appear in the English version.
All this is very unfortunate, because these three lines of explanation from O Sensei’s hand are extremely valuable. It is them – as we will discover - that will allow finding the Founder’s authentic movement system. Without them, Aikido movement remain sealed, hermetic.
At the end of each movement, always open your feet in the six directions (Roppo), it is necessary to train so / this way. - O Sensei
Unabashed, John Stevens keeps translating "Roppo" the six directions as : "An angle of 60 °".
The three statements above are essential. They punctuate the three moments of aiki action. They are obviously written by the founder of Aikido to explain and convey a transmission.
So I ask here to John Stevens as the translator of Budo under the eminent control his teacher Rinjiro Shirata, the following three questions:
How is it possible that the Instruction No. 2, which is so important for understanding Aikido movement, has disappeared from the English version ?
How is it possible that "Roppo" has been systematically translated without any link to the Japanese original text, making O Sensei’s text impossible to understand?
Is it incompetence or is it a deliberate attempt to conceal a fundamental traditional knowledge?
Is it possible that when delivering the world an unvaluable information enclosed in the only book that O Sensei ever wrote, an act of censorship may have closed the access to knowledge ?
Thousands of readers of TAI website around the world would enjoy, I believe, a clarification on this point, and I thank in advance Mr. John Stevens for the answer he may wish to provide.
Whatever the facts, we now have the information we previously lacked to understand the authentic movement of Aikido's Founder. And thanks to them, we now can find this movement
So there are six internal and six external directions directions, from the same hanmi position. We will gradually show these twelve directions.
In the inner direction 1, aite, the opponent, just comes frontally:
The first inner direction is shown in the photograph of O Sensei we are familiar with (to be translated) Aiki ken #8 :
Philippe Voarino, may 2014
Aikido is not a sport, it is a martial art which laws (takemusu) are in harmony with the laws of the universe. Studying them allows the practitioner to understand his place in the universe. Aikido was born in Iwama, O sensei achieved in that village the synthesis of tai jutsu, aiki ken and aiki jo.
The International Takemusu Aikido Federation (ITAF) brings to the practitioner the structure he needs in order to work as close as possible to the reality O sensei MU defined. The official national representations are the guarantee of a teaching faithful to the Founder's.
In modern Aikido, weapons are hardly taught, if taught at all. In O sensei's Aikido, on the contrary, aiki ken, aiki jo and tai jutsu are unified and form together a riai, a family of harmonious techniques stemming from one unique principle. Each techniques helps understand all the others.
Peace is a balance between a human being and the world around him. The true martial art's goal is not to become stronger than one's opponent but to find in that opponent a way to realize harmony. There is no enemy anymore as such, but an opportunity offered to reach unified ki.