Above: Morihei Ueshiba in his early thirties.
|A Daito ryu Teacher
"When you practice a technique and your partner smiles, it is modern Aikido. If he screams, it is Daito ryu."
Aikido purist, the mention of the great influence of Daito ryu in Aikido
is almost an insult. On the other hand, there are some Daito ryu
enthusiasts who would cringe at the idea that Aikido had anything to do in
the preservation of their art. Both statements are true, and neither of
them necessarily diminishes the other.
It is true that Sokaku Takeda taught many students and paved the way for the survival of Daito ryu, but Morihei Ueshiba had a lot to do with the popularity of Aiki arts during his lifetime. Although it is true that Ueshiba's knowledge of Daito ryu techniques was relatively small in numbers if compared to Daito ryu's complete curriculum, we can not deny that he had an impressive command of technique, a charismatic spirit and a dynamic and highly impressive way of performing these techniques. His demonstrations were fluid and elegant, while ko ryu bujutsu appears rough and rigid to the observer. The ukemi in pure Daito ryu is unflowing and rather abrupt, while Aikido's ukemi lends a feeling of power and continuity to the techniques that is no less than fascinating.
|It is very possible that without
Ueshiba's contribution, Daito ryu would have been ignored by many. In a
sense, both arts contributed to each other's survival and that seems to
have extended until the present day.
Ueshiba's ways influenced some lines of Daito ryu. A certain degree of imitation is not hard to find in more recent variations of Daito ryu techniques. On the other hand, Aikido techniques that drifted too far away from its roots began to lose their edge and the fluidity in some cases diluted the principle behind the tecniques. Fortunately, this is not the case in every single one of them.
|Daito ryu's small circle type of execution involves, apparently, less awase[blending]and the response is more direct, giving the impression of "unrefinement". Also, since the Daito ryu student is not require to "fly" with the technique, but to respond to it "as felt" a sudden drop is more likely to result, rather than an elegant loop.|
|Aikido flowing response carries within it a weakening factor: too much response (ukemi) thus no technique is ever properly finished (a deep hineri[twist], for instance). This is not the fault of the technique. A strongly executed Aikido technique with a sharp motion that creates the fall, produces a real response (not an elegant one, but a real one) and allows the student to properly apply a technique. There would be a decrease in elegance, but an increase in edge. Watching Ueshiba's performance of his Aiki Budo techniques brings back that true Budo flavor that, somehow, have been lost in some cases. Not all teachers have forgotten this type of technique, and it is a pleasure to see it being performed, because there lies the link between Daito ryu and Ueshiba's Aikido. There is no clashing in philosophies. There are no contradictions. It is wasteful and foolish to look for them.|
|The value of one does not
deny the virtue of the other.
Daito ryu has aiki age, jitto aiki, fure aiki, aiki nage etc. Which aikidoka has not experienced them, almost unknowingly, when performing any type of kokyu nage?
A Daito ryu student would understand Aikido better by trying wider circles and motion. An Aikidoka would understand Daito ryu better by trying smaller circles in their technique and carrying through the intent and the feeling of "cutting". There are no conflicts, just alternatives.
In harmony, there is room for both, and we are thankful for it.
|Traditional Aiki||Modern Aiki|
|Techniques are done with small circular motions, to fast conclusions.||Techniques use large, fluid circles, and wider motions, with much more graceful steps.|
|In practice, attacks are performed with sharp precision.||Attacks tend to be softer, fluid, and stylized.|
|Use of mushin[no mind]as the samurai faced the sword, turning defense into offense.||Techniques are designed to neutralize an attack and control it.|
|Techniques are designed to cripple or kill. Control is used according to the circumstances.||The defender blends with the attack to neutralize it without injuring the attacker.|
|Good ukemi[break-falling]is required for the harder and completed technique.||Good ukemi is necessary, but not critical. Many techniques can be used safely as uke blends with the throw.|
|Pressure point knowledge is necessary. Techniques make great use of pain. Strikes are frequent.||Pain is applied with restraint, in small doses. Strikes taught to some degree, but is discouraged.|
|Discipline, harmony, faithfulness and austerity are emphasized, with respect for tradition and aiki precepts.||Emphasis on peace, love, harmony, friendship, and aiki precepts, as taught by Morihei Ueshiba.|