So JWS returned from his trip to Arizona sometime this past weekend. Good considering that I was getting a little deprived of shihan-level instruction (nothing against the yudansha that filled in, of course!). Anyway, he had a guest over – his original teacher from the early 70s. This teacher who I will call FSS (different from Frank Sensei, the 4th Dan). FSS is a 7th Dan Shihan who like NSS is a student of O’Sensei the founder of Aikido.
FSS has the distinction of being of the handful of Americans (About 5 I believe) who had the pleasure of studying under O’Sensei himself. So having him in a class was a pleasure.
It was weird though, I have been told about him many, many times before by my own sensei JWS as well as by many other people who have known him since he came back from Japan in the late 60s. Many of which have been very unflattering. Almost critical in nature? Praise for this shihan is a little lacking from what I’ve been hearing. Maybe it’s just the group of schools that I belong to – martial artists like society itself has a lot of politics and egos often get in the way of recognizing true and honest skill.
I uked for him a couple of times during class – I can feel his presence a little, but not really. Not the presence like NSS anyway. One thing I keep in mind is that different teachers have different “presences”; not one teacher is the same in the way the art is expressing itself through them.
Anyway the class entitled many FSS talking about the hara (“腹”) and how the three parts of the body – mind, hara, and spirit are separate and are working together to generate a technique. He also mentioned how to stand on the “floating bridge of heaven” – a term that was commonly used by O’Sensei to state Aikido’s true purpose.
I personally found all this talk about the hara and the floating bridge a little lofty; show me how and demonstrate – don’t talk about it. plus it really felt that somehow he was explaining something that he didn’t fully understand. I know it’s unwise of me to counter the words of a Shihan, but that’s just how I felt and I sincerely didn’t feel that way whenever JWS or NSS would stand there and teach. I guess I’m a harsh critic; or that the “floating bridge of heaven” and the “hara” are terms that even JWS and NSS rarely use. Hell, they both rarely use ki (“氣”).
Anyway, today has been an interesting day. Till next time.