Thursday, June 20, 2013

Shishida on Kano's ideal judo

Fumiaki Shishida demonstrating Itsutsu no Kata.

Professor F. Shishida makes a really interesting assertion in an article titled, Counter techniques against Judo: the process of forming Aikido in 1930s.  His assertion is that Morihei Ueshiba's aikido was largely developed as a foil or counter-art to Kodokan Judo.  Initially, this sounded like a stretch, but the more I think about it, the more it seems to fit with pieces of the judo and aikido apocrypha that we have talked about for a while.
For instance,  There's the famous story of Kano's visit to watch Ueshiba in 1930, after which Kano supposedly said something confusing and mysterious along the lines of, "Kodokan Judo is the Judo of 90 degree angles and Aikido is the Judo of 180 degree angles.”
I've had my pet theories for a good while about the meaning of this statement, but Shishida's article suggested an alternate meaning.  What if Kano was saying, "Kodokan judo is regular (proper, 90-degree, upright, orthogonal) judo, and aikido is the flip-side (or 180 degree or counterpoint) to Kodokan judo."  What if Kano was saying that aikido is a counter to judo.
I know, the whole supposed statement is a historical stretch, and this interpretation might stretch it a bit further, but it makes for an interesting what-if.
That idea also makes sense when looking at Mifune's and Hirano's judo counter katas.  Watching these things (especially Mifune's) the viewer gets a creeping suspicion they are doing aikido to bust uke's judo maneuvers.
I and some of my teachers have thought for a while that aikido generally makes a pretty good foil to judo, and it is interesting to see someone much smarter than me (like Shishida sensei) say something similar.

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Patrick Parker
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