British Aikido - Japanese Terminology 1950 / 60's
By Henry Ellis
British Aikido - Japanese Terminology 1950 / 60's
By: Henry Ellis Co-author of Positive Aikido
In modern Aikido circles and probably more so on the various forums there is a kind of competition going on of who knows the most Japanese terminology. I am sure that most of their Japanese would not be understood or recognised by many Japanese . I do however accept that the modern Japanese teachers do speak very good English and can therefore instruct the students in both English and Japanese. Where as in the early days when the Japanese teachers spoke very poor English a great deal of instruction was by indication or the use of a shinai rather than verbal. Non the less we did use a great deal of Japanese terminology.
At the Kenshiro Abbe 50th Celebrations at the Crystal Palace Sports Centre, London, on May 14th 2005. Where there were students from every part of Great Britain, Wales Scotland, Ireland Birmingham The North East of England and Europe to name just a few. As I walked around the mat area and along the concourse, it was interesting to listen to the wide range of dialects. It was all the more interesting to listen to the various Aikido technique terminology and the pronunciation of Japanese names in these accents. I am English, yet I found it difficult to understand some of the Japanese terms being used.
Many students do seem to have an obsession for learning a great deal of Japanese terminology. During my research on the internet, I often find myself directed to some of the Martial Arts Forums where perhaps my search term has been used. I am often surprised how many students use a large and variable amount of Japanese terminology, much of it beyond my limited 50 years of knowledge. I recall many years ago at a large seminar with a prominent Japanese teacher who stated Mr Ellis, all student try to speak in Japanese, all very different, I don't understand any of them he then smiled and walked away.
I am informed that my first teacher Ken Williams Sensei who was the first student in GB under Kenshiro Abbe Sensei for Aikido in 1955. Now teaches Aikido with no Japanese terminology, with all his techniques being named in English. I personally don't have a problem with that so long as the etiquette remains the Japanese way. It has no detrimental effect on our application of technique. Perhaps when Abbe Sensei first came to Britain and if his English had been better, maybe he would have used a mixture of Japanese and English terms, who knows ?
The Original Forms System
In the 1950's at the now famous Hut Dojo where British Aikido was born, from the very beginning we did use Japanese terminology during our studies. In the early 1960's with the arrival of Masamichi Noro Sensei who had developed a great method of teaching, the use of the Forms System each form was from left and right catching or any other method of attack there would be a form number.
First form: Gyaku Hanmi Katate Tori ----- Right to left or left to right wrist grasp
Second form: Ai Hanmi Katate Tori ----- Right to right or left to left wrist grasp
This system of numbered forms would cover the whole range of techniques.
Sensei would instruct a student First, second and third form Shihonage We adapted to the form system easily and quickly. We were also aware of the Japanese names for all the techniques. In the early days all students were taught this method, I believe that the E.S.T.A. Is the only school that still maintains this way of teaching and sees no reason to change such a well proven method.
My personal opinion is that we are not Japanese, we are Westerners involved in a Japanese Martial Art. Why pretend to be Japanese. Although Derek Eastman and I are considered pioneers of British Aikido we teach as much as we feel is necessary of Japanese and a mixture of English. One only has to listen to the students in their own dojo to hear a Japanese term pronounced slightly different from student to student. It is hard enough learning Aikido without pressurizing the new student with learning to speak Japanese.
Whilst writing this short article, I remembered when I first saw a computer in the very early days of the internet. One of my American students had started a message forum of some kind, It's a little vague now. The forum did receive quite a few visitors, I clearly remember one guy would come on the forum after every practice and without introduction enter every technique move I mean every thing was in Japanese terminology. There was no starter of Hi, I had a good practice tonight, here is what we did .not one single English word. I asked my friend to place a message asking if we could help the guy with his English so that he could communicate with the rest of the members. This resulted in a very nasty response from this American student and his teacher, they never visited again. most bizarre.
Co-Author of Positive Aiki
About the Author
Henry Ellis co-author of Positive Aikido was a direct student of the legendary Budo master Kenshiro Abbe Sensei 1915 - 1985.
Article Source: http://www.simplysearch4it.com/article/39203.html
|If you wish to add the above article to your website or newsletters then please include the "Article Source: http://www.simplysearch4it.com/article/39203.html" as shown above and make it hyperlinked.|
| Some other articles by Henry Ellis|