Dan Harden and Roy Goldberg
A message from Dan Harden about the preservation of aiki training and his continuing relationship with Roy Goldberg Sensei:
Most people now know that Roy Goldberg and I resumed our training many years ago after a few years off.
We were training at my house all day today and realized this was our 28th year anniversary of knowing each other and training together. While we each took a different turn in our training under Kiyama shihan; Roy remained, pursuing aiki in kata traveling with Kiyama to Japan, staying at Kiyama's home. We also trained privately with Kiyama in Roy's home, year after year, with Roy eventually becoming Kiyama's highest ranked student—indeed becoming the highest ranked Western practitioners in the world: receiving Kyoju Dairi, (only handed out twelve times in Sokaku's career) and being awarded 7th Dan and the third scroll.
I remained, (perhaps true to my nature) in pursuit of the same aiki body, in MMA, Judo and grappling and tried to develop aiki-in freestyle and at speed. What a delight it was to come together again and discover where we each had gone and then continue blazing our trail together. Two friends in Shugyo.
What a surprise when Roy showed up with a gift. He had commissioned two rings to be made by a world renowned jeweler. They are hand carved figures of Fudo Myo-o. The very definition of his name expressing our mutual pursuit: "Esoteric training to achieve immovability."
Without my knowledge Roy had offered—rooms full of people—his opinion of my direction, and a written a forward to my upcoming book. I had done the same about him both in public and on a private Daito Ryu website.
So today we thought we would celebrate our venture with the rings and our sharing our opinions about our two paths.
This was my opinion of Roy expressed to some rather frustrated students of Daito Ryu wondering why they never "got it.":
It's my understanding that quite a bit isn't shown to ni-dans and san-dans and such.
There is quite a bit that comes later...if at all. I know you all practiced for years. Everyone practices, but not every one is chosen. I don't know why you weren't shown, but stating what Aiki is or isn't, by your personal experience as defining the entire art, is simply not a good plan.
We have spent years reading on many forums and in countless interviews done with Stan Pranin where Japanese Daito Ryu shihan openly stated that they did not teach the majority of their own students. Instead, they picked one or two "so that the secrets wouldn't flow out of the school." (more on that later).
For that reason any of you making statements that "I don't think this or that is in the art, because I wasn’t shown it and haven't seen it." Is rather ridiculous at face value and can have serious logic flaws.
For starters it can be seen and can be mimicked without actually getting it.
Remember Takeda and Tokimune saying repeatedly that "they showed different things to different people in different places?"
What do you think you get when you ask those people what they think the art....is?
Remember Tokimune and Sagawa admitting that they never taught their ENTIRE school the true art?
Weird huh? Imagine being an insider, being the secretary or president of Tokimune's organization and finding out thirty years later he was actually only teaching Kondo... Who many considered AN OUTSIDER??? That wasn't even a regular member of the dojo. That really happened.
I think you need to consider who else might have done that.
Sagawa taught a lot about solo training, and breath work, then claimed he didn't!!
Kodo practiced Aiki-in-yo-ho breath work and solo training.
So did the Inue
So did Takuma Hisa
So did Okabyashi.
So did Tokimune
So does Goldberg
So do I
Much of which, Daito ryu People on forums have claimed didn't even exist.
We need to finally accept that there are levels of teaching in Daito Ryu not available to all.
There was in the end, a benefit to becoming Kyoju Dairi,
In Goldberg's case, we sat at countless dinner tables, and on mats all over New England hearing Kiyama state over and over that Goldberg is his number one student. Indeed when Goldberg received the third scroll, Kiyama openly stated that "Roy had single handedly changed his mind. That now he could see westerners were capable of true shugyo." This, while expressing dismay, that most of his students never really pursued the same path. Roy, and Danny Kiyama discussed much of this recently.
I was proud of seeing what my friend had accomplished after all these years. I was also surprised to hear of Kiyama's decision to put in the paperwork for Roy's Shihan, and Roy, summarily leaving Japan.
When I asked him why one night at one of our favorite watering holes. He told me: "Our philosophies were different. I felt it was necessary to spread this art to *real* Shugyo people. I have seen, first hand on many trips to Japan, the Kodokai shrinking, both in Japan and the United States and this once magnificent art could die. And all my teachers efforts could be in vain. As so many teachers have said "only teach one or two....so that the secrets wouldn't flow out of the school." I think times have changed and we need to teach, or this art will continue to fade.
Interestingly, Roy had recently received a letter from one of the leading Kodokai Shihans in Japan, supporting his efforts and decision. Stating: "I watched you and found your skills quite impressive. I support and am anticipating your future activities."
Dan is one of the best Martial Artists I have ever encountered. And I know that not just from a couple of seminars but some 28 years of training together in Daito Ryu. With his obsession to Shugyo, he has brought the combat part of Daito Ryu alive again. His internal power and aiki is pulled from another era. His approach reflects people like Sagawa and Takeda who took on any challenger
I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the leading martial artists in Aikido, Tai Chi Karate, Judo and classical jujutsu and Daito Ryu, none was able to create such soft power. Call it internal power or aiki or however you want to analyze it, he's got it.
Being a Physical Therapist for 45 years, I have tried to understand many of the aspects of Daito Ryu and realized it never helped me on the mat. Kiyama Shihan would always say "Golberg! It's in the Shugyo! Computer never understand! Do Shugyo. You decide."
Many people may say "Well Dan is a just a big guy, that's why he hits with such power.” But, these are only people who have never touched him. What he does is both powerful and soft and a true expression of Aiki, at speed, force on force, in a way I've never seen. I have also had the privilege of watching Dan tossing Shihan across the room with little effort. Many of these Shihan, are presently training with Dan. We must applaud Dan Harden Sensei for the depths he went to, to find this."
On this anniversary we wanted to recognize the different paths we took, and help those who were unaware we were training together privately. And now for the first time to openly share our research in Aiki-in-yo-ho, the creation of the aiki body, the one true power in Daito Ryu. And also acknowledge each others work, the future of the art and share our plans to work together in the future.
So many talk.....
We are continuing to spread the essence of this magnificent art in both the United States and internationally, to those like us... In pursuit of true shugyo.
Read more about the 2017 joint seminar in Madrid with Dan Harden and Roy Goldberg
Watch a playlist of videos from the first “Aiki: Two Sides of the Same Coin” joint seminar with Roy Goldberg and Dan Harden.