An insider view into the Yoseikan dojo with David Orange - Part 3

Former uchi deshi of Minoru Mochizuki, David Orange Jr. has not only trained under the direction of one of the most famous masters of the 20th century, but also trained along with a number of his students who are now continuing his teaching. 

David is part of the living memory of Yoseikan, and his answers give us a rare insight into the practice of Minoru Mochizuki and at the Yoseikan dojo.

Part 3 - The Evolution of the Yoseikan

In this third part, we are talking about the future of the Yoseikan: how Mochizuki sensei's art evolved and how it has evolved to be now taught within a variety of groups and organizations across the world.

Mochizuki sensei studied many arts and dedicated his life to finding out what was linking them together. How was this apparent in his teaching or in the way he practiced? Did you notice any change in the way he was doing things over time?

I first began training in yoseikan aikido in 1974 in the line that came from Redstone Army Arsenal in the 1960s. That aikido was taught as an overwhelmingly powerful art of self-defense and protection. The training was painful and fast-paced. One of our main resources was a manual written by Capt. Thomas E. Bearden, US Army, trained by Japanese Self Defense Force Capt. Sadayuki Demizu, son in law of Minoru Mochizuki. The manual was comprehensive from a military perspective and included concepts of splitting an attacker’s mind, body and spirit through aiki technique. Glenn Pack, shodan, had trained as a teenager in the Redstone group under Demizu sensei and he developed an enthusiastic group at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, training vigorously. In 1975, Patrick Augé was sent by Mochizuki sensei to supervise training of black belts promoted under the Redstone program. Patrick de-emphasized thinking of ki and broadened the technical range of our practice to include judo, karate, and kenjutsu, in the smooth blend that Mochizuki sensei was teaching in Shizuoka by then, including sutemi waza.

Patrick Augé ©Budo Yoseikan

So I saw that kind of evolution in the technique early on. The old yoseikan aikido looked more like yoshinkan and the new stuff had sutemi waza and a looser personal bearing than yoshinkan, possibly more like judo. The old system was formal but technically fairly narrow. It had fifteen or twenty major techniques that could be performed in thousands of ways, as is commonly said of any style of aikido, but the spirit was seriously martial, intended to be suddenly and decisively victorious in every situation—not to swirl them around a time or two first. The question was one of technical mastery for victory in combat, not for psychological self-defeat. I’d just begun to learn that system when Patrick Augé came and introduced the hombu program, including the four major kata of yoseikan budo.
It’s hard to think about Sensei “evolving.” His techniques might seem to be evolving but I think he actually taught by cycles. His hand/arm techniques had three classes—uchi nejiri ho, soto nejiri ho, and choku tai ho. Inward arm twisting, outward arm twisting, and straight-line body methods. There were a few different ways to enter each class. For instance, you could to uchi nejiri ho by going forty-five degrees forward, toward aite’s rear corner, or ninety degrees, to your own side, or you could turn one hundred thirty five degrees and go toward your own rear corner. Or you could drain his grasp by twisting your hand toward the inside and down… And the soto-nejiri ho also had various methods for entry but chokutai ho was done from agete. Sensei had many variations of most techniques and he sort of cycled through the variations. After some months, he’d get back to the first way, then go through the many ways again. But his career was coming to its end when I knew him, he was finalizing his life’s work by rounding out his form of gyokushin ryu and leaving yoseikan budo, finally, in the hands of his son, Hiroo. I think that the old yoseikan aikido was the “real aikido” of the yoseikan and the blended art with sutemi waza and the various kata was actually Sensei’s revival form of gyokushin ryu jujutsu. Olivier Desrochers, a longtime student of Auge sensei, posted a close-up of Mochizuki sensei’s inkan, used to stamp the okuden certificates he gave out to his twenty top students. The stamp is engraved 柔術玉心流中興 (jujutsu Gyokushin Ryu Chûkō). Olivier explains, “The Japanese meaning of Chûkō is someone who is responsible for the revival of an art, a religion or a school, like a second founder.” This shows that revival of gyokushin ryu was a major factor in Mochizuki sensei’s thinking and it dominated the training when I was there. He explained to me that it was a personal obligation that was deeply important to him. I now think that Sensei may have created all five of his kata not for yoseikan budo, but for the gyokushin ryu. He was thinking some thirty-two generations into history and apologizing to each generation of gyokushin ryu. So that art evolved under his leadership from whatever it had been in history to what was happening at the yoseikan hombu from the 1950s until Sensei officially retired from everything in the mid-1990s. He stamped all his final documents (as he had been stamping many things for years) with his jujutsu gyokushin ryu chûkō stamp. And from that, Terumi Washizu sensei has taken the responsibility to guide the ryu into this next thousand years.

Washizu Terumi at the Yoseikan dojo

So as for Mochizuki sensei’s techniques evolving, I’m not sure what to say. Evolution clings to history and the human being retains a reliable lizard brain after all. The monkey doesn’t fall too far from the tree, so it’s important to train that aspect of our being in a way that doesn’t go too far from that nature. If training gets too stylized, it evolves into dance, not a new martial art and not really good dance, either. But failure to research what all has been learned and to consider whether it’s false or true is to fossilize in an important way. With Terumi Washizu as its new headmaster, the gyokushin ryu will be a fresh and awakening force in the world of martial arts.

Today the legacy of Mochizuki’s Yoseikan Aikido is rather divided and many schools have been created based on its original teachings. Among them we can name Yoseikan Budo, Aikibudo, Nihon Tai Jitsu, Gyokushin Ryu Aikido, the Seifukai, the Kobukai and many more. I don’t feel that Mochizuki sensei wanted to have people “following” him, but rather find their own path, would that explain in your opinion why we ended up with so many offsprings?

I think people shear away from one another the same as they do from a teacher, in a process like shu ha ri 守破離. When you train together in a generation of people, you all grow differently and changes and mutations arise, and organizations dedicated to keeping things pure, and someone ends up “owning” a name. It can be a lot of trouble for people who just want to train. But if shu ha ri applies to our teachers, how much more does it apply to our classmates? Sometimes people just feel the need to separate. Since OSensei split from Sokaku Takeda, also, that kind of spirit seems to follow down the ages. Mochizuki sensei didn’t split from OSensei but he had his own dojo, already called yoseikan, when OSensei visited him in June, 1932, and gave him the daito ryu teaching scroll. Under the name yoseikan, Sensei taught daito ryu aiki-jujutsu, judo, karate, katori Shinto ryu ken-jutsu and other things.

I think people shear away from one another the same as they do from a teacher, in a process like shu ha ri 守破離. When you train together in a generation of people, you all grow differently and changes and mutations arise, and organizations dedicated to keeping things pure, and someone ends up “owning” a name. It can be a lot of trouble for people who just want to train. But if shu ha ri applies to our teachers, how much more does it apply to our classmates?

Mochizuki sensei had so many students from all over the world and with all kinds of martial arts backgrounds. Many of those people were already teaching martial arts in their homelands when he met them and he encouraged people to teach his methods to raise the general quality of instruction but of course, they didn’t learn his whole art and many of them were missing important pieces of what it would take to represent his approach. But I think he also taught and encouraged people to teach in his name so their students would one day come to his dojo and he could help them go beyond what they’d been taught. He really meant to teach the world. He taught in the judo spirit of ji ta kyo ei and passed that attitude along with improving teachers’ technique. He showed every technique in many different ways. In fact, any technique is always an equation worked out in real-time by the body and mind to account for the unique qualities of the attacker and the specific way they’re attacking. So there was no permanent “right” way to do any technique. He intended martial arts training not to be continual teaching but continual personal research along with other people of a highly advanced level, all personally motivated to ask these questions together in sincere spirit of improvement of oneself and of all the participants. The process brings out everyone’s personal essence and concentrates it to the degree that at some point shear must occur among some of them, particularly after the great master passes.

I’d say, though, if you’re going to use Sensei’s name or the yoseikan name, you should really stick as much as possible to what he was doing. Specifically, if you’re going to teach his kata, you should teach them as he taught them. I heard of a school that teaches Ken Tai Ichi No Kata without the sword-against-unarmed segment. I find that a bit incredible. It presumes that the one who modified the kata is smarter and more practical than Mochizuki sensei himself. If you don’t understand the whole kata, then either stop teaching it, or find someone who can explain it properly. I can recommend Edgar Kruyning for that. Other than that, I guess it’s fine to teach in different ways and under different names while citing Mochizuki sensei’s influence. Hiroo Mochizuki sensei has asked that people not use the yoseikan name if they’re not remaining current with the research the Mochizuki family continues under the directives Minoru sensei gave Hiroo sensei seventy years ago when he left him in charge of teaching in France. He told Hiroo sensei to find the unifying principle behind all the arts taught in the yoseikan. And Hiroo sensei actually created the concept of yoseikan budo as a unified whole rather than the parallel teaching of yoseikan aikido, yoseikan judo, yoseikan karate, etc. He found a unifying principle and united all his teaching as yoseikan budo. His father sort of borrowed the name and made his dojo the world headquarters while he was actually teaching gyokushin ryu. But he finally left everything to Hiroo sensei, so I think Hiroo sensei has the right to define the art.

Minoru et Hiroo Mochizuki

However, some people had trained a long time with Minoru Mochizuki at that place with the kanban at the front door saying budo yoseikan kokusai hombu dojo and some of them received yoseikan okuden from Mochizuki sensei. They wanted to continue the honorable training tradition Minoru sensei had established at the Shizuoka dojo but Hiroo sensei declined to have a division in his yoseikan for that old practice. Another of Sensei’s sons, Tetsuma, a karate master, operated his father’s old seikotsu, named yoseikan. Tetsuma sensei joined with several of the other okuden holders, including Murai sensei, to form the Seifukai. The name comes from Minoru sensei’s pen name, Seifu, or “correct wind.” He signed many things that way and also produced a periodic publication called Seifu, transmitting his views on various matters. So Seifukai really means those that follow Minoru Mochizuki sensei’s way. People went different ways, with some organizations coming nearer Sensei’s intent than others.

I also thought it was very interesting that Washizu sensei alone chose to continue the gyokushin ryu and that’s what made me realize that it really was a real and continuing thing. Mochizuki sensei wanted the ryu to live and he wanted the teaching of the spherical heart to go with it. And now it seems that Washizu sensei has established a serious group of excellent teachers with appropriate rank to transmit gyokushin ryu to the people of the world. It is a worthy teaching.

You are now passing what you received from Mochizuki sensei to future generations under the name Budo Yoseishin. How different is Yoseishin from Yoseikan Aikido if at all?
As an educator, Mochizuki sensei was a close protégé to the man who brought Reason and Physics to the Japanese public education system. I mean Jigoro Kano, whose introduction of judo to the public school system was actually the introduction of Reason and Physics to the broad public. Like Kano sensei, Minoru Mochizuki sensei began martial arts training as a way to repel bullies. By the time he met Kano sensei, Mochizuki sensei had trained with two of Kano’s top students and had a black belt level of training in a koryu jujutsu. Jigoro Kano cultivated that young man’s martial and social spirit by training and having him trained in many martial arts by the masters of those systems. It was Mochizuki sensei’s duty to Kano sensei to create a program for kodokan, which kodokan declined, but Sensei created it anyway and also revived a near-dead koryu jujutsu. He was an international educator, himself. And he once told me, “Always teach my budo.”

So I consider myself something of an educator. I’ve worked to teach what I can. I grew up reading FBI agent training manuals of my father’s. I got my early interest in martial arts from a manual on agent defensive and arresting tactics and one on firearms taking. I was also trained in language teaching by a Georgetown Linguistics professor, Dr. Robert Lado, who proposed a five-stage theory of learning, which applies to any subject including martial arts. Dr. Lado trained me in that approach and I trained his teachers in Shizuoka to use it over my four years as head teacher of that school. I’ve studied I Ching, Tao Te Ching, and Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind all my adult life and those principles are major in the architecture of my thinking. In my life, I’ve worked with high-level specialists in many fields, including NIH and NINDS scientists, a Harvard epidemiologist and an Oxford neurology professor. My thinking is also shaped by Buckminster Fuller’s spherical paradigm rather than the cubical paradigm of general common sense. I think it’s a good way to look at the world. Sensei once told me “Always look at everything backward.” Everything connects. And it’s spherical. And it covers omote and ura.

Among questions of how to convey Mochizuki sensei’s budo to other people, I also had to process a lot of gyokushin ryu and its spherical paradigm. With the Zen paradigm, often represented by the ink-brushed Zero, as well as the saying “everything is nothing,” I conceived that Zero is actually a sphere (gyoku), thus the term gyokurei (spherical zero) to describe my own approach to martial arts. Zero is nothing, but it’s actually a broad term. It can be as large as the emptiness of space or the sky, or it can be the size of an atom. And since it is nothing, it can be infinitely smaller than an atom. But it’s always round because its borders are all equidistant from the center of nothingness. And that is kokoro, where human ki enters the human world from non-existence before birth. Since we come from non-existence, I think we should remain close to that spirit as we spend some time here because non-existence is eternity. Eternity isn’t a place where we go, that only begins after “all this” is over. We all exist in eternity now as eternal beings. I am aware of this in every moment of every day. It’s called the eternal now. So my motivations in making something called yoseishin are not primarily egotistical but educational, to support people in cultivating their own inner correctness with knowledge and perspective.

Calligraphy by Kanjuro Shibata XX "Ensō (円相)"
(CC BY-SA 3.0)

For martial arts, zero means that the smallest technique is the best, like the blade of a katana, almost nothing to it, slender and not as long as you might think, but everything needed for the purpose intended. So every technique should start at nothing and it should never become more than what’s needed for subduing the attacker. Most people unconsciously carry a lot of parasitic tension in their body/mind systems and when they do anything, they count all that parasitic tension as their ‘zero” or “natural” state. So I think a lot about having people recognize the reflexes of standing and walking, particularly in the context of fight or flight responses. By recognizing full, relaxed standing, learners can become familiar with the small urges to fight or flight that accompany a dangerous situation. With that awareness, they can “manage” the instinctive response and maintain upright standing until real action is required, at which moment, they can react decisively and employ their position and weight in effective aikido technique.

As to the meaning of the name, yoseishin means yosei-heart. Or yosei-mind.

Yo means to cultivate. Sei means natural or inner correctness. The kanji for sei can be read as tadashi, a quality of doing things. It cannot be taught because it relates to one’s own personality and way of doing things—if they are done correctly. Shunryu Suzuki said “When you do something, you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.” It’s like that. Close to mushin, which is kokoro. “Tadashii!” is often said to little children when they do something properly and completely without having to be told. “O riko chan!” Good little child! It’s that natural to human life.

In martial arts, sei means to do a technique or kata with full presence and with full fidelity to technical precision, without injecting anything of your own special self into it. When you burn yourself completely in practice, you live in sei, tadashi, and the training was Mochizuki sensei’s way to cultivate that kind of life. He wasn’t, in the higher sense, teaching technique but cultivating each person’s inner correctness in doing everything they do. Training in techniques, which he continually changed in exact ways, was to sharpen the mind and the spirit not only for fighting but for paying attention with one’s whole mind, body and spirit. So I want to teach about these things but since I’m not part of the yoseikan as the Mochizuki family continues it, I use the name yoseishin to say I reflect Mochizuki sensei’s heart with the aim of cultivating sei in my own life and continuing to work to pass along some things I learned from Mochizuki sensei.

When I first heard of Mochizuki sensei, we were doing a very mainline type of aikido and almost no one in the United States had heard of him. All the aikido people I met knew of Morihei Ueshiba OSensei and Koichi Tohei. Also, Morihiro Saito. But Minoru Mochizuki was unkown to Americans. Also, his mixing judo, karate and jujutsu with his aikido training was considered impure by many Americans. I once had a fellow who was enraged at the idea that I would consider all the arts as “the same thing.” He wouldn’t even wear the same dogi to practice karate, judo and aikido. But that was before MMA even existed in the public mind. To practice all the arts as if they really were one was outrageous. So it was a long time before Mochizuki sensei’s name was recognized in the United States but I’m glad that he has become so famous.

Sensei told me, “Always teach my budo.” And it felt like asking me to portray him in a movie. Impossible. But he taught me what he could and had me teach more than a little at the yoseikan hombu. And he told me, “Always teach my budo,” so yoseishin is a context for the work I do. For some years, I’ve been doing a series of fairly detailed drawings of Sensei’s techniques and methods. And I’ve been writing about Sensei and the many arts that have come from his dojo. Mochizuki sensei’s purpose was the same as Jigoro Kano’s, to cultivate erudite but indomitable individuals to uplift human society. He taught martial arts and his purpose was for people to learn and be changed by them, mentally and spiritually as well as physically and socially. I observed him as exactly as I could and followed him as well as I could, being myself. He wanted to honor and thank Jigoro Kano, Morihei Ueshiba, and Sanjuro Oshima by teaching people how to defend themselves, overcome bullies and work together with others for mutual prosperity and benefit in health and education. This is the process of yosei. Sei cannot be imparted from the outside and it cannot be taught. Everyone already has it but it must be developed. Yo means “cultivate,” as we cultivate food and plants. And the nature of cultivation is to encourage and protect good things that are already growing, while disciplining less desirable elements. Mind, body and spirit are cultivated differently, but martial arts as Mochizuki sensei taught them condition mind body and spirit together congruently. All Mochizuki sensei’s techniques conform with natural human movement and require no misuse of any part of the body. So that’s important for safety in training but also for old age. So I’ve been thinking of the elderly and developing some programs to improve their health and mobility using certain aikido pressure point and arm stretching and twisting exercises.

Sensei told me, “Always teach my budo.” And it felt like asking me to portray him in a movie. Impossible. But he taught me what he could and had me teach more than a little at the yoseikan hombu. So yoseishin is a context for the work I do.

I’m also producing a course called Judo for Educators, with a textbook and video. The core is a kata I created to teach the principles of firearms taking for emergency response. I’ve had a good bit of instruction on those methods from military and law enforcement sources, including the FBI manual that started my interest in martial arts and live instruction from a WWII US Naval intelligence operative and Mochizuki sensei, himself. It’s easy to find examples of firearms taking methods on the internet but many are foolhardy and should be avoided. I’ve made a kata of several basic disarming methods that best illustrate the principles of getting out of the line of fire and simultaneously deflecting the weapon in the same motion, never bringing the muzzle of the weapon back toward oneself, and taking the weapon cleanly in a stroke without fighting the attacker in any way. Last, each technique ends with the defender in control of the weapon, holding it in firing position. There are no fighting or punishing techniques, no throws or falls. The intent is to empower ordinary teachers to respond instantly and decisively in the admittedly unlikely event that they happen upon a gunman in their school, at close separation, just as he brings his weapon out to begin an attack. But the context is provided by the text and oral instruction during practice of the kata. This includes understand when one is too far away to safely disarm the attacker. And though the techniques aren’t strictly judo, the project is based on Kano’s educational method, including practical technique practiced slowly, step by step and at real speed, and the kata method of teaching.

As to whether I should be teaching such techniques, some people will find it more disturbing that I would create a kata. But I had a lot of kata instruction from Mochizuki sensei and I was a small part of his creation of his final kata, sutemi waza no kata. I was able to observe and participate in that process. And I perceive a need in the world for instruction in self-defense against firearms. It is a very strictly limited subject but I hope this course will have some positive effect in our society. Recently, several women in a yoga school tried to resist a gunman. They had some success in struggling with him, but the gunman killed some women and I think he then killed himself. From the length and effectiveness of their struggle, I believe a pistol taking technique would have been effective and would have neutralized the gunman’s power. So I think it’s reasonable for people responsible for the safety of large numbers of children in a public setting to train in such emergency techniques. Moshe Feldenkrais created a manual of self-defense for British civilians facing potential Nazi invasion in WWII. And I think the violence we’ve seen qualifies as meriting similar training. So, in developing this kata, I reviewed all my old resources and also looked at kodokan’s goshinjutsu no kata.

Concerning training in kata with Mochizuki sensei, we were working on tai sabaki no kata one day. The first technique is mae hiki otoshi (forward pulling drop) with nagashi tai sabaki to one knee. Sensei told me one day that he wasn’t really satisfied with that technique and he wanted me to come up with a better technique. I was unnerved and couldn’t think of anything to change in the kata. I don’t remember having any ideas, but a few years ago I got an idea and showed my son. I’m not sure of the name of the technique, but instead of pulling the arm forward in mae hiki otoshi, I bring the arm up and roll it back to his shoulder and pull down, as for shiho nage, without turning the body around.

In his short karate kata, happo ken, Mochizuki sensei changed that kata a number of times while I was around. There are eight “techniques” in that kata, done on a box with three sides. You do an inside/out block to the left, step up to the side of the box and rotate both feet to the left to deliver a right elbow strike. Then you step back to the opposite corner of the box and turn into downward block, stepping to the side wall of the box and doing yokomen uchi with the left hand. Only, it used to be a straight punch there. Then you shift back with a brushing left knife hand and rotate the feet left to deliver a right middle straight punch, rotate right to a squatting downward left punch, and rotate left to rise into an upward elbow strike. Which used to be an uppercut. Which was a straight face punch before that. Then you do it all to the other side.

Happo Ken no Kata at the Yoseikan dojo

So I do know something about how katas are made and modified. And they’re not to be made of trash. They are to be as fundamental as possible, dealing with the pure principles of the question with honest technique. With much background in these methods, I choose to create this kata for the purpose of education. So I guess yoseishin is my school. And the Firearms Tori no Kata is a difference in yoseishin and yoseikan. Also, it contains some elements of gyokushin reasoning.

So along with the gyokurei approach to teaching, I also teach rei no kamae, zero stance, which is a more natural form of shizentai (natural stance). It’s the stance your body takes when you are completely absorbed in something, such as looking at a beautiful painting in a museum, forgetting that “you” are there, that anything needs to be protected or guarded. And that unguarded state and stance is where I begin to teach aikido. If a threat approaches when you’re in that state, you manage the fight or flight impulses to hold that tall, upright stance until the nature of the threat is understood. This Zero Stance and attitude give no information to an attacker. Any attack is a transaction and follows a “conversation” of exchange. In an attack, the conversation is physical, beginning with aggressive body language. For the transaction to continue, you must reply with body language along with any verbal communication. Retaining Zero Stance means that no reply comes to his body language opening. This immediately spoils the transaction, which disrupts the plan it was intended to facilitate. Criminals rehearse these things like De Niro in Taxi Driver. No reply makes it difficult for them to continue their schtick. And absence of reply, even in body language, affects their subconscious awareness and weakens their mental congruency. Assuming a short series of aggressive body language signals with no reply, the attacker may launch his physical attack outside the timing he wanted to build up with the transaction of body language. By standing still in rei no kamae, you force him to attack only the area where you are. And when he attacks with full focus on that, the rei no kamae allows you to move the body swiftly in any direction and apply full weight in that direction. It’s also easier to turn in the narrow, tall rei no kamae than in any wider stance. And this stance affects the attacker’s mental congruency and confidence on many levels. Moving the target when he crosses ma-ai, moving out of his tunnel of vision, turning his body and putting him off balance split his mind, body and spirit from one another and further subdivide the mind as it tries to make sense of the sudden total change.

In cinematic work, I’m trying to develop something with a truer vision of the life of a martial artist without relying on violence. Budo means to stop violence. Projecting images of hyper-violence does not achieve that. Also, the kinds of storylines that develop characters that are so inhuman it’s OK to pop their eyeballs out of their heads are really opposite the kind of mind we need to develop now. All the earth is known now and there are countries all over it. There is no more frontier and we can forget space as a frontier for a long, long time. Human expansion has come all the way around the earth in both directions and there is no more new land to fight over so for the past twenty years, we’ve just been fighting. So we have to find a new frontier on another dimensional level called “humanity” to save the natural world or, it seems, we’ll have a final conflict that will render the earth uninhabitable for humans. The people willing to risk this have unimaginable wealth but don’t understand that not even their wealth can save them from their own insanity. So I’m interested in exploring that zone of human connection. And that is my purpose in budo yoseishin.


Alexis a dit…
C'est extrêmement intéressant cet Interview de David Orange. Ca offre énormément de pistes de travail pour moi en Taï Jitsu. Ca en confirme d'autres. La création de son kata contre armes à feu avec le souci du travail de Kano est la preuve d'une adaptation d'un art martial à origines "traditionnelles". Surtout en ayant bénéficié des retours de militaires et hommes de terrain. Ca me confronte à certaines lectures que j'ai faites de manuels de close combat et autres méthodes de défense militaires ou policières trouvés sur le net.
David is also remarkable in his drive to instill a spirit of togetherness amongst all the branches of the Mochzuki legacy as opposed to cutting and tossing the limbs. Very much in line with what I imagine was the intentions of the founder. This permeates all the time in his discourse. Domo arigato gozaïmas!

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