Aikido Sangenkai Blog http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog Honolulu, Hawaii - Oahu Fri, 10 Feb 2017 10:33:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.2 Interview with Aikido Shihan Yasuo Kobayashi – Part 2 http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-yasuo-kobayashi-part-2/ http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-yasuo-kobayashi-part-2/#respond Sat, 14 Jan 2017 18:46:44 +0000 http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2783 Yasuo Kobayashi in Hawaii in 2008 the late Robert Kubo – Aikikai 8th Dan, Aikido Hawaii International, on the left “At that point in time, I was caught up in some of the political nonsense amongst various teachers residing in the States, and held forth on this one drunken night at one of the regular parties the dojo had, and Kobayashi sensei said, “X-sensei is … Continue reading Interview with Aikido Shihan Yasuo Kobayashi – Part 2 »

The post Interview with Aikido Shihan Yasuo Kobayashi – Part 2 appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
Yasuo Kobayashi in HawaiiYasuo Kobayashi in Hawaii in 2008
the late Robert Kubo – Aikikai 8th Dan, Aikido Hawaii International, on the left

“At that point in time, I was caught up in some of the political nonsense amongst various teachers residing in the States, and held forth on this one drunken night at one of the regular parties the dojo had, and Kobayashi sensei said, “X-sensei is my friend, Y-sensei is my friend, Z-sensei is my friend. It all seems simple to me.” In his happy air, in his unpretentious practice and refusal to mystify aikido as either the ultimate combat or a means of establishing world peace, it would have been easy to regard him as an unexceptional man, one who simply liked pleasure, be it jovial laughter, enough beers to make him wobble when he bicycled home, and a regular routine of thumping his students and being thumped in turn. Rather, he always seemed to me to be a man of sublime common sense. As theoretical physicists strive for elegance and simplicity in their equations, Kobayashi sensei appeared to me to do with his life. Such simplicity is far from easy, and all too rare.”

It Had to Be Felt #30: Kobayashi Yasuo – A Living Axle, by Ellis Amdur

Yasuo Kobayashi was born in Tokyo in 1936 and started training in Judo in his fifth year of elementary school. He enrolled at Aikido Hombu Dojo in 1954, the same year that he entered Meiji University, becoming one of the early post-war students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Now an eighth dan, he is the head of Aikido Kobayashi Dojo, which has more than 120 affiliated dojo around the world

A round table discussion with Kobayashi Sensei appeared previously on the Aikido Sangenkai blog as “Yasuo Kobayashi and Fumiko Nakayama – Living Aikido” (Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3).

The current interview is the second part of a two part interview with Kobayashi Sensei that originally appeared in the May 2005 issue of Gekkan Hiden (月刊秘伝 / “Secret Teachings Monthly”), a well known martial arts magazine in Japan. You may wish to read Part 1 of the interview before reading this section.

This interview was also published in a collection of interviews with students of the Founder published in Japanese as 開祖の横顔 (“Profiles of the Founder”) in 2009. There was a short introduction to this work in the article “Morihei Ueshiba – Profiles of the Founder“. A number of English translations of interviews from that collection appeared have appeared previously – Nobuyoshi Tamura Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Hiroshi Isoyama Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Shigenobu Okumura Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Nobuyuki Watanabe Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Masatake Fujita Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2) , Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Kanshu Sunadomari Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Hiroshi Kato Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Yoshio Kuroiwa Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Morito Suganuma (Part 1 | Part 2) and Kenji Shimizu (Part 1 | Part 2).

Yasuo Kobayashi and Morihei Ueshiba“However hard we pushed the staff would not move.” – Yasuo Kobayashi

Interview with Aikido Shihan Yasuo Kobayashi – Part 2

Q: I see. Do the jiyu-waza (“freee-style techniques”) that are often seen at demonstrations date from that time?

A: No, that began to be done after a system of examinations was established. After the number of members began to increase a system of Dan and Kyu examinations was established, and the uchi-deshi took ukemi at the time. However, there were only about five uchi-deshi then, so they weren’t able to partner with everybody as the numbers increased and so it came to be that those taking examinations would alternate taking ukemi for each other. It was then that jiyu-waza was added as an item on the examinations. Demonstrations began to be held from the time that I enrolled, but kihon-waza (“basic techniques”) alone weren’t interesting, so as the result of much thought it was decided to show kokyu-nage. Until that time kokyu-nage was not really done in the dojo.

Q: Why was that?

A: O-Sensei wasn’t very fond of kokyu-nage. Because “It’s just impossible to throw somebody flying that simply!” was his thinking. However, it’s excellent for conditioning so it was introduced into the curriculum. Something similar happened with aiki-nage, against the same background that accompanied the beginning of jiyu-waza. Speaking of that, as far as I know koshi-nage was not practiced at first either, it was after Shoji Nishio Sensei and Yoshio Kuroiwa Sensei researched it themselves that it became popular with other instructors.

Yasuo Kobayashi student uniforms“When we went to Hawaii for a seminar wearing our student uniforms
the customs officer asked me if we were in the army.”

Great individuality among the Shihan

Q: Did you often go to Iwama?

A: When there was something happening, like the Aiki Taisai, I was often called there. But it might be better to say that I was dispatched there rather than called. Sometimes a phone call would come from O-Sensei “I’m sick!”, but when I hurried to Iwama he would be doing farmwork in good health. (laughing) I understood later that when O-Sensei became lonely he would use illness as an excuse to summon the young students. Certainly, they didn’t have training every day in Iwama, and since Morihiro Saito Sensei was employed by the National Railway there were times that nobody was there and he must have suddenly become lonely. When that happened I would be made to go and be someone for him to talk with. I would work the farm with him in Iwama, and we would eat together. Normally he was very mild-mannered and even if he only had a single steamed bun there were times that he would divide it with the students. However, when it came to taking care of him he was like a normal selfish old grandfather. (laughing) In any case, his mood would make 180 degree changes very quickly, often going this way and that. For that reason, if one could look ahead and begin to read his habits then one would gradually begin to understand what O-Sensei wanted, but if one couldn’t do that they would have a really difficult time working as an uchi-deshi. There were more than a few people who, although having ability as Budoka, failed through a lack of this kind of sensitivity. However, the experiences from that time were useful later when opening a dojo, so I think that the shugyo of the uchi-deshi was by no means wasted.

Yasuo Kobayashi, Koichi Tohei and Nobuyoshi TamuraNobuyoshi Tamura (left), Koichi Tohei (center), Yasuo Kobayashi (right)

Q: I’ve heard that you interacted with Morihiro Saito Sensei, Sadateru Arikawa Sensei and Shoji Nishio Sensei, what were your impressions of them?

A: I think that Saito Sensei was attempting to faithfully hand down the techniques that O-Sensei taught in his sixties. As O-Sensei moved from his sixties to his seventies and eighties he inevitably lost physical strength, which caused the movements of his techniques to become softer and more circular. Kisshomaru Sensei changed the techniques at Hombu in accordance with that, but to the last Saito Sensei was fixed on what had been transmitted to him. I think that Gozo Shioda Sensei’s Yoshinkan was the same. On the other hand, since Kisshomaru Sensei mostly didn’t interfere with the details of other’s techniques each of the Shihan at Hombu dojo were a little bit different. Depending upon the instructor, the impression left by even the same technique could be completely different. However, it could be said that it is this depth and breadth that created today’s Aikikai.

Q: Certainly, when one watches Aikikai demonstrations there is a lot of variation. You had many chances to be taught directly by Arikawa Sensei and Tada Sensei, what were your impressions of them?

A: Arikawa Sensei came from Karate, and his training was intense. For that reason, there were a relatively large number of young people among those who followed Arikawa Sensei, even among the regular students, and he would mainly specialize in teaching at universities. Perhaps because of that he did not teach very much outside of Hombu Dojo, and he himself rarely spoke to people of personal matters, so although he was very popular not very many people know much about him in detail. Tada Sensei was a person who never neglected his personal training, so he accumulated an unusual amount of damage from techniques. Depending upon the shihan there were some cases in which they could not apply techniques unless the uke followed them, but that was absolutely never the case when it came to Tada Sensei.

Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

Q: Is there an instructor who influenced you the most?

A: I started with O-Sensei and then attended training with a variety of instructors at Hombu, but each of their techniques were different and I would adjust to each of them, so it felt as if I built my own style from there. Apart from O-Sensei, I was influenced by Kisshomaru Sensei. He had the fewest idiosyncrasies, and felt the most straightforward.

Tokyo University ProtestsSuppressing protesters at Tokyo University – January 1969

Moving among the common people, I spread Aikido

Q: When did you open the current Kobayashi Dojo?

A: April of Showa year 44 (1969). That was right in the middle of the university protests – universities had been locked out across the board and studies had been halted. Many of the students had fallen into a lifestyle of self-indulgent drinking and massages. It was then that I thought that there may be something that I could do. Well, the only thing that I was capable of was teaching Aikido, but even so I wasn’t able to just go ahead and use Hombu Dojo for my own purposes, so I thought about establishing my own dojo. I didn’t have any money, so I tore down the parking lot next to my house and build a hand-made eighteen tatami mat dojo (*Translator’s note: each tatami mat is approximately three feet wide and six feet long), and I would teach there when I didn’t have to teach at Hombu.

Hiroaki KobayashiHiroaki Kobayashi Sensei, now a professional instructor

Q: In other words, you built a dojo for the sake of the students?

A: That’s right. In any case, students don’t eat and drink in small amounts, so those expenses were a real burden. Therefore, when I began recruiting new members I had to make the monthly fees fit their budgets. When my son Hiroaki was three years old, passersby would see me teaching students and my son and ask me “Please teach my children too”, so the number of members began to increase gradually.

Morihei Ueshiba and Morihiro Saito

Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba and Morihiro Saito in Iwama

Q: It seems that you place importance on sword and staff at your dojo?

A: The sword and staff that I teach is that which was organized by Saito Sensei. O-Sensei would do something different every day, so Saito Sensei, who was taught in Iwama for many years, organized them so that they would be easy to understand and that it would be easy to understand the extension of the technical principles of the sword and staff into the body arts. I think that collecting O-Sensei’s techniques like this was a great achievement. During a day of training in my dojo we always practice with both the sword and the staff, the thirteen step jo kata, the twenty-two step jo kata, the thirty-one step jo kata, we practice them just like that. I also place importance on training in the sword and the staff when I am overseas.

Q: What are your thoughts concerning Aikido as a budo?

A: Truthfully, this is a problem. There are some who criticize Aikido practice as being watered down, and even I don’t deny that. However, if we put that aside, I think that the fact that it has been able to attract those who had no previous interest in budo is an achievement. I myself trained intensely when I was young, so I understand that the evaluation of a budo is connected to its power to handle the strength of a budo’s attacks, but I feel that perhaps we should turn our eyes to the achievement of “the budo that was opened to 10,000 people – Aikido”.

Q: When I hear you speak this way I understand that the narrow and inaccessible path of Aikido has become the broad path that it is today through the efforts of many teachers. So, what are your objectives for the future?

A: I love Aikido and have trained hard for many years so that now I have opened a dojo and am teaching, and I would like to continue in the same way to, as it were, move among the common people and spread Aikido. For that reason, even now I take ukemi for the beginners! In the end, I like to move around when I teach. (laughing) Also, if the locations and the teachers are available then I would like to move forward with opening more dojos. I have more than one-hundred students raised in my dojo that have opened up their own dojos around the country, and I would like to continue to develop capable people.

Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

Gekkan Hiden – May, 2005


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

The post Interview with Aikido Shihan Yasuo Kobayashi – Part 2 appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-yasuo-kobayashi-part-2/feed/ 0
Happy New Year of the Rooster 2017 from the Aikido Sangenkai http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/happy-new-year-rooster-2017-aikido-sangenkai/ http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/happy-new-year-rooster-2017-aikido-sangenkai/#comments Sun, 01 Jan 2017 17:04:34 +0000 http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2811 Happy New Year 2017 – the Year of the Rooster! Thank you all for your help and support over the last year. We had a great time training with everybody in 2016, and we’re looking forward to even more of us getting to train together in the coming year! Can you spot the rooster on our New Year’s card? The illustration here is from the cover of “Budo”, a 1933 … Continue reading Happy New Year of the Rooster 2017 from the Aikido Sangenkai »

The post Happy New Year of the Rooster 2017 from the Aikido Sangenkai appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year 2017 – the Year of the Rooster!

Thank you all for your help and support over the last year.

We had a great time training with everybody in 2016, and we’re looking forward to even more of us getting to train together in the coming year!

Can you spot the rooster on our New Year’s card? The illustration here is from the cover of “Budo”, a 1933 (2593 in Imperial Time) publication of the Dai-Nippon Budo Senyokai (大日本武道宣揚会) and Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.  As with 2017, 1933 was also the year of the rooster.

Ueshiba and Deguchi, Budo Senyokai

Under the Dai-Nippon Budo Senyokai (大日本武道宣揚会) banner
Morihei Ueshiba (left) with Sumiko and Onisaburo Deguchi in 1932

Aritoshi Murashige standing back right

The cover’s main theme is the opening of the stone door. As we can see on our New Year’s card above, Morihei Ueshiba often described Aikido as the “second opening of the stone door”. But what about the first opening?

The first opening of the stone door (sometimes the “stone door of heaven” / 天の岩戸) refers to a story from the Kojiki – the 8th century “Record of Ancient Matters that forms the basis for Japanese Shinto and was often referred to by Morihei Ueshiba.

Here is a summary of that story extracted from “Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 11“, by Peter Goldsbury:

The Stone Door in the Kojiki
1. The behavior of the deity Susa-no-o (his ‘victory rage’ at having beaten the Sun Goddess Ama-terasu in the contest to make oaths and bear children – one of whom was Masakatsu-agatsu katsu hayabi), led to one of the most famous events in the whole mythology. Ama-terasu opened Ame-no-iwa-ya-to [Heavenly Rock Cave Door] and shut herself inside. This had a similar effect to that of the howling rage of Susa-no-o, mentioned above. ‘Myriad deities appeared like summer flies’, it was constant night, and ‘all manner of calamities arose’. The deities (there were ya-ho-yorozu-no-kami [many myriads of deities – in modern Japanese, eight million] at this point) held a meeting in the riverbed of the Ame-no-yasu-gawa [Heavenly Tranquil River] and gathered the cocks of Toko-yo [eternal world]. (This land is thought to be the home of the earthly deities and corresponds to the Takama-no-hara, where the heavenly deities dwelt. The cocks were made to crow in order to summon the sun at dawn.) The deities called upon the counseling services of Omoi-kane-no-kami [Thought Combining Deity], to make a good decision, and then took decisive steps to deal with this unprecedented situation, which the Kojiki describes in exhaustive detail.

2. The deities first took hard rock from the river Ame-no-yasu-gawa and iron from Ame-no-kana-yama [Heavenly Gold/Metal Mountain] and enlisted the services of Ama-tsu-mara [Heavenly Blacksmith] and a mirror maker, named Ishi-kori-dome-no-mikoto [Stone Cutting Noble Deity]. Another deity, Tama-no-ya-no-mikoto [Jewel Ancestor Deity], was commissioned to make a long string of maga-tama beads and two other deities were commissioned to perform futo-mani [solemn divination]. These deities were Ame-no-ko-yane-no-mikoto [Heavenly Baby/Little Roof Lord] and Futo-tama-no-mikoto [Solemn Jewel/Spirit Lord]. They removed the whole shoulder bone of a deer from Ame-no-kana-yama, produced some hahaka [cherry or birch] wood and performed this ritual (which was similar to the ritual performed when Izanagi and Izanami failed at their first attempts to produce children). The two deities then pulled out a sakaki tree by the roots. The strings of maga-tama beads were attached to the upper branches and the giant mirror was hung from the middle branches. White and blue cloth was hung from the lower branches. Finally, Futo-tama-no-mikoto somehow held these objects in his hands, while his colleague Ame-no-ko-yane-no-mikoto intoned futo-norito-goto [solemn chanting]. Another deity, Ame-no-Ta-jikara-o-no-kami [Heavenly Hand Strength Male Deity] stood behind the door, while Ame-no-uzume-no-mikoto [Heavenly Formidable Female Deity] became divinely possessed by turning over a bucket and stamping on it, with ma-saki vine in her hair and bundles of sasa leaves in her hands, and exposing her breasts and genitals. Then Takama-no-hara ‘shook’, ‘as all the eight hundred myriad deities laughed at once.’

3. This elaborate ceremony had the required effect, for Ama-terasu opened the door a tiny crack and wondered aloud why Ame-no-uzume was singing and dancing and all the deities were laughing. Ame-no-uzume responded that they had found a deity superior to Ama-terasu. At which point Ame-no-ko-yane and Futa-tama brought the mirror and showed it to Ama-terasu. As the latter approached the mirror, Ame-no-Ta-jikara pulled her out and Futa-tama extended a rope behind her, saying, “You can go back no further than this”. Light was restored to the Takama-no-hara and to Ashi-hara-no-naka-tsu-kuni [Central Land of the Reed Plains = Japan].

In the Kojiki, this is the story of how the light of Ama-terasu returns to the world. Certainly a good thing for all concerned. 🙂 It’s also said (by some) to be the origin of clapping at Shinto shrines – in order to attract the attention of the god in the cave.

Floating Bridge of HeavenThe Gods Izanagi and Izanami on the Floating Bridge of Heaven
from the series “An Illustrated History of Japan”
by Utagawa Hiroshige, circa 1847-1852 – 
Honolulu Academy of Arts

Moving on, we can see that Morihei Ueshiba stated that the “second opening of the stone door is the Floating Bridge of Heaven”. Conversely, one could therefore say that since “Aikido” = “second opening of the stone door” and “second opening of the stone door” = “the Floating Bridge of Heaven” that “Aikido” = “the Floating Bridge of Heaven”. Fortunately, we don’t have to do that…because Morihei Ueshiba already did:

合気道は「天の浮橋に立たされて」ということである。

It is said that Aikido is “Standing on the Floating Bridge of Heaven”.

We examined the Floating Bridge a little bit in “Aikido and the Floating Bridge of Heaven“, where we saw that the Floating Bridge (with the opposing forces of Yin and Yang, Heaven and Earth, represented as the gods Izanagi and Izanami) is actually a form of the classic “Ten-chi-jin” (“Heaven-Earth-Man”) model that is so common in Chinese martial arts – the Yang of Heaven and the Yin of Earth united in Man:

合気道は天地人和合の道と理なり。

“Aikido is the Way and Principle of harmonizing Heaven, Earth and Man.”

As a side note, the three elements that are modeled by the Floating Bridge make up Morihei Ueshiba’s “Sangen” (as in the “Sangenkai“) – the basic elements of the Universe, and the basic elements of his training method. In any case, he was repetitive about the importance of the Floating Bridge:

この道は、天の浮橋に最初に立たなければならないのです。天の浮橋に立たねば合気は出て来ないのです。

In the Way, you must first stand on the Floating Bridge of Heaven. If you do not stand on the Floating Bridge of Heaven then Aiki will not come forth.

So…moving from the the unification of opposites (Yin and Yang, In and Yo, Heaven and Earth) to the stone door…

△○□の鍛練、引力の養成により光と熱と力を生ず

The training of the triangle/circle/square and the training of connective force begets heat and light and power.

I should note here that Morihei Ueshiba stated that the triangle/circle/square is another way of modeling the Floating Bridge, and that the “connective force” that he’s talking about here is the force that joins opposing forces. The training of that connective force, by the way, was something called “Takemusu” (as in “Takemusu Aiki” – more here…) by the Founder.

In other words, “standing on the Floating Bridge of Heaven”, a training method that unites opposing forces in the body”, creates heat, light and power – physical power, internal power, martial power.

Happy New Year!


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

 

The post Happy New Year of the Rooster 2017 from the Aikido Sangenkai appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/happy-new-year-rooster-2017-aikido-sangenkai/feed/ 4
Interview with Aikido Shihan Yasuo Kobayashi – Part 1 http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-yasuo-kobayashi-part-1/ http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-yasuo-kobayashi-part-1/#comments Sat, 17 Dec 2016 18:05:47 +0000 http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2766 Yasuo Kobayashi (小林保雄) Sensei – what a happy guy!  Yasuo Kobayashi was born in Tokyo in 1936 and started training in Judo in his fifth year of elementary school. He enrolled at Aikido Hombu Dojo in 1954, the same year that he entered Meiji University, becoming one of the early post-war students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Now an eighth dan, he is the head of Aikido … Continue reading Interview with Aikido Shihan Yasuo Kobayashi – Part 1 »

The post Interview with Aikido Shihan Yasuo Kobayashi – Part 1 appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
Yasuo KobayashiYasuo Kobayashi (小林保雄) Sensei – what a happy guy! 

Yasuo Kobayashi was born in Tokyo in 1936 and started training in Judo in his fifth year of elementary school. He enrolled at Aikido Hombu Dojo in 1954, the same year that he entered Meiji University, becoming one of the early post-war students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Now an eighth dan, he is the head of Aikido Kobayashi Dojo, which has more than 120 affiliated dojo around the world.

Aikido Journal editor Stanley Pranin called him a “man of honor” – when put under pressure to withdraw from Aikido Journal’s 1st Friendship Demonstration in 1985 he simply said “I promised to attend and therefore I will do so.”. His refusal to succumb to outside pressure was the leverage that allowed that demonstration to proceed successfully.

A round table discussion with Kobayashi Sensei appeared previously on the Aikido Sangenkai blog as “Yasuo Kobayashi and Fumiko Nakayama – Living Aikido” (Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3).

The current interview is the first part of a two part interview with Kobayashi Sensei that originally appeared in the May 2005 issue of Gekkan Hiden (月刊秘伝 / “Secret Teachings Monthly”), a well known martial arts magazine in Japan.

This interview was also published in a collection of interviews with students of the Founder published in Japanese as 開祖の横顔 (“Profiles of the Founder”) in 2009. There was a short introduction to this work in the article “Morihei Ueshiba – Profiles of the Founder“. A number of English translations of interviews from that collection appeared have appeared previously – Nobuyoshi Tamura Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Hiroshi Isoyama Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Shigenobu Okumura Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Nobuyuki Watanabe Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Masatake Fujita Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2) , Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Kanshu Sunadomari Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Hiroshi Kato Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Yoshio Kuroiwa Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Morito Suganuma (Part 1 | Part 2) and Kenji Shimizu (Part 1 | Part 2).

Yasuo Kobayashi in Old Hombu DojoAikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in old Hombu Dojo
Yasuo Kobayashi Sensei entering from the right

Interview with Aikido Shihan Yasuo Kobayashi – Part 1

From Judo to Aikido

Q: What motivated you to begin Aikido?

A: I had practiced Judo from the time that I was a child. When I entered high school I was friends with the son of Tomoaki Danzaki (檀崎 友彰) Sensei from the Iaido Renmei and he invited me – “There’s a kind of Budo called Aikido, don’t you want to go see it?”. So we went to Hombu Dojo and for the first time I actually saw Aikido with my own eyes. That was the fall of my third year in high school. That was the height of Rikidozan’s popularity, and pro-wrestling was incredibly popular. However, when one spoke of Budo there was absolutely no talk of anything other than Judo, Kendo or Karate, it was a time when something like Aikido or koryu jujutsu would never fall from one’s lips.

Tomoaki DanzakiTomoaki Danzaki, 1906-2003, of the Muso Shinden Ryu
He was a student of Morihei Ueshiba’s close friend Hakudo Nakayama

Q: What was your first impression upon seeing Aikido? I think that it must have been something of a completely different nature from Judo.

A: Yes, that’s right. It had a completely different image from the budo that I had seen previously. Conversely, that was one of the things that fascinated me. It wasn’t like Judo, in which one paired up and applied techniques – applying techniques to each other after establishing a distance felt new to me. When we went to visit there was no explanation, they would just apply techniques to each other in silence. I was just told “If you want to do it then come at me!”. The person who was teaching at that time was Hiroshi Tada Sensei.

Q: Did you turn towards Aikido right away?

A: No, I was studying for the university entrance examinations at the time, so I enrolled after I entered the university. I also continued Judo separately through my second year at the university. The Kodokan in Suidobashi, the Aikikai in Ushigome, both of them were close enough to walk to from my home. However, I gradually began to feel that there was a limit to my Judo. That is to say, since I don’t have anything close to a large build, no matter what I did I couldn’t win against large opponents. That was a time when they didn’t have the weight classes that they have today, which made me think that all the more.

Q: I see.

A: Further, as opposed to Judo, in which most of one’s opponents are young, there are a wide range of ages in Aikido. There are young people, but there are also older people. Then, there were those who had resolved to come from the countryside to learn. It was a time in Aikido when both those learning and those teaching were young, so there was a kind of enthusiasm. For those reasons I gradually began to fall towards Aikido rather than Judo, and I came to learn Aikido exclusively from my second year at the university.

Yasuo Kobayashi and Koichi ToheiYasuo Kobayashi taking ukemi for Koichi Tohei
Akasaka Palace (State Guest House)

Q: That was a time when Aikido was young. What was it like back then?

A: O-Sensei was living in Iwama and Kisshomaru Sensei was a company employee, so instruction was centered around Tada Sensei. Even if one calls it Hombu Dojo, there were only around ten students. Unlike now, it was a wooden building, and there were two or so war refugee families living there – the space was partitioned for their use. The tatami was tattered and the roof was falling in – light was provided by a naked light bulb swinging from the ceiling. (laughing)

Q: That’s quite different from the way it is now, isn’t it?

A: Yes, it is. At the time I would attend the morning training at 6:30 a.m., and Kisshomaru Sensei was teaching that class. There were some five students living in the dojo, and although there were those who aspired to become professional Aikido instructors, there were also those who commuted to school or work from the dojo. Those people all had a sense of purpose, so they were all interesting human beings – there were many areas in which I was inexperienced, so there were many things that I was able to to learn from them.

Q: Did you become an uchi-deshi?

A: I was living the the Kudan district and I was close enough to walk to the Hombu Dojo in Ushigome, so I commuted. However, although I only attended the morning training at first, as time went on I became interested in the training being done by the uchi-deshi. I would go to the dojo early in the morning, and except for when I was in school I would spend all of my time living with the uchi-deshi, just returning to my home late at night. So, it seems that everybody thought that I was an uchi-deshi. (laughing) I also took care of O-Sensei, so I was treated almost the same as an uchi-deshi.

“When one was thrown by O-Sensei power would be added to the center of their body.”

Q: Who were the uchi-deshi that were living in the dojo at that time?

A: Tada Sensei wasn’t living there, the uchi-deshi that were living there were Sadateru Arikawa (有川定輝) Sensei, Masamichi Noro (野呂昌道) Sensei and Nobuyoshi Tamura (田村信喜) Sensei, who later went to spread Aikido in France.

Aikido Hombu Dojo InstructorsFront row second from left: Tadashi Abe (阿部正)
Front row right: Nobuyoshi Tamura (田村信喜)
Front row center: the “King of Mounted Bandits” Kohinata Hakuro (小日向白朗)
Second row right: Kazuo Chiba, Yasuo Kobayashi, 

Q: In your book (“Aikido, My Way: the Story of Kobayashi Dojos”) you also wrote about Tadashi Abe (阿部正) Sensei and Koichi Tohei (藤平光一) Sensei…

A: Yes. Tohei Sensei was good at teaching, so I think that there were many people who were influenced by him. Abe Sensei once came to the dojo unexpectedly and shouted at me “Is Tohei here!?!”. I had never met him, but I thought “Is this the Abe Sempai that I’ve heard so much about?”. While this was happening Tohei Sensei came in, and as I was showing Abe Sensei in he said “Bring me some water”. As I rushed to bring him the water he said “No matter what I do I’m no match for this guy, so you throw the water on him!”. (laughing) Of course, it was an impossible situation since there was no way that I could do that, but as I snatched up the cup I spilled the water on Tohei Sensei’s face on my own. As you might expect, Tohei Sensei just gave a strained laugh.

Q: What an incredible scene! (laughing) When did you become an instructor at Hombu?

A: At the same time that I graduated from the university. Work was difficult to find at the time, and without an introduction from the education department or the employment office it was difficult to find employment, but I carelessly stood up an interview that I had been recommended for by the employment office. (laughing) They scolded me – “We’re not going to throw any more leads your way!”. But at the time that I graduated I was a 3rd Dan, so I just became an instructor at Hombu.

Q: I’ve heard that your classes at the time were severe and that you received some complaints…

A: At the time that wasn’t limited to me, and it happened more than a few times. The instructors were all young and aggressive, and it wasn’t unusual for them to not take it easy even on the beginners when they were throwing. As for myself, rather than teaching other people I was more interested in my own training than anything else, so it was a time when that sort of thing couldn’t be helped. For that reason, when the uchi-deshi practiced together it was really something. Because at the time there was no training system like the one that is currently established the beginners would be mixed into the training with everybody else. We didn’t do a wide variety of techniques like we do now. “Watch and remember!” was how it was. All the same, I thought that wasn’t the right way, so when I taught I would separate the beginners and teach them separately. Thanks to that I became popular.

Q: You received instruction from the Founder Morihei Ueshiba, felt his techniques, what was your impression?

A: The O-Sensei that taught me was around 70 years old and he still had a lot of physical power. In Iwama he would lift bales of rice without a problem. While he had white hair and a small frame, he shoulders were broad and he had a solid build. When he held a bokken or jo his eyes would become especially sharp. When one was thrown by O-Sensei power would be added to the center of their body. When one is thrown normally it feels like a bouncing ball, it was only with O-Sensei that it felt as if you were being destroyed as you fell. That was really mysterious. O-Sensei would show us the techniques, but there was virtually no explanation of their content. He would often speak of the Kojiki, or about Omoto-kyo, but unfortunately the content was like grasping at clouds, and at the time I just thought “When will we get to move our bodies?”. (laughing) When I think about it now, I think that I should have paid closer attention.

Yasuo Kobayashi taking ukemiYasuo Kobayashi taking ukemi for Koichi Tohei (top)
and Morihei Ueshiba (bottom)

Q: There wasn’t any technical explanation at all?

A: Speaking of how to apply technique specifically, depending upon the person there are those who claim – “Ahh, he said this, he said that” – but I, at least, never heard any. When one watches O-Sensei’s demonstrations from his later years he appears to move like someone who has been liberated from earthly desires, but it is because one would be damaged if they didn’t take the fall that the people taking the falls must move in that manner. There are those who failed to understand that point and only saw the external appearance – this is the root of many misunderstandings.

Continued in Part 2…


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

The post Interview with Aikido Shihan Yasuo Kobayashi – Part 1 appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-yasuo-kobayashi-part-1/feed/ 2
Interview with Aikido Shihan Kenji Shimizu – Part 2 http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-kenji-shimizu-part-2/ http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-kenji-shimizu-part-2/#respond Sat, 19 Nov 2016 22:33:57 +0000 http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2695 Kenji Shimizu Sensei with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba “You should think of ukemi as being the secret to aikido”. This is my personal experience. During my uchideshi time the founder made me fall without questioning, on top of this I was scolded mercilessly when my ukemi was bad. I had so many painful experiences, that I continuously worried about whether there would be ever any … Continue reading Interview with Aikido Shihan Kenji Shimizu – Part 2 »

The post Interview with Aikido Shihan Kenji Shimizu – Part 2 appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
Kenji Shimizu Sensei with Aikido Founder Morihei UeshibaKenji Shimizu Sensei with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

“You should think of ukemi as being the secret to aikido”. This is my personal experience. During my uchideshi time the founder made me fall without questioning, on top of this I was scolded mercilessly when my ukemi was bad. I had so many painful experiences, that I continuously worried about whether there would be ever any progress, if I would do things like this. Having made it in Judo to the fourth dan grade and thinking I did good ukemi, I doubted that I had to be scolded like this.

But that was a mistake. I had forgotten to put Judo aside and start from zero. I only took my ukemi as I pleased. Yet I was made to become aware of the fact, that my body didn’t move as one with o-sensei’s body. When I think about it now I feel ashamed, that I thought it would be good just to take a showy ukemi.

Ukemi means reading your partner’s breath, and if one will not respond towards the nage (the person who throws) you cannot speak of true ukemi. Mastering ukemi means noticing the signs of your environment, which enables you to deal promptly with the circumstances. The bamboo for examples moves according to the relative strength of the wind, and when the wind stops, the bamboo returns to its original state. That is completely natural and it is alive. In aikido we don’t fight for victory or defeat. It is a way where we improve ourselves through training by repeating the techniques. It is important that you always can correspond with shite (the person, who is executing the technique) whom you are facing. This however is very difficult.

Though it is hard to learn a natural ukemi, an ukemi without force, you have made a huge progress in your technique whenever your body understands a little bit more about it. That may be, because you have learnt to utilize the executing person’s breath power in your own technique. And in my case, I was uke of osensei…

It is important to experience naturally strong techniques. If you cannot do ukemi soft and flexible, it is most likely, that you cannot execute a technique soft and flexible. The natural ukemi in aikido also makes you understand life.

“The Ukemi in Aikido” by Kenji Shimizu

Already an accomplished Judo-ka, Kenji Shimizu (清水健二) Sensei became one of the last uchi-deshi (“live-in student”) of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in 1963.

After the passing of the Founder he established his own style of Aikido – Tendo-ryu Aikido (天道流合気道), “School of the Way of Heaven”. In 1991 Shimizu Sensei received his eighth dan from the Nihon Kokusai Budoin, and in 2002 was honored by the Japanese foreign minister for spreading knowledge of Aikido as a part of Japanese culture. He travels and teaches extensively in Europe.

He is the author of “Zen and Aikido” (with Shigeo Kamata) and “Aikido: The Heavenly Road“.

This is the second part of a two part interview with Shimizu Sensei that originally appeared in the July and August 2006 issues of Gekkan Hiden (月刊秘伝 / “Secret Teachings Monthly”), a well known martial arts magazine in Japan. You may wish to read Part 1 of the interview before reading this section.

This interview was also published in a collection of interviews with students of the Founder published in Japanese as 開祖の横顔 (“Profiles of the Founder”) in 2009. There was a short introduction to this work in the article “Morihei Ueshiba – Profiles of the Founder“. A number of English translations of interviews from that collection appeared have appeared previously – Nobuyoshi Tamura Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Hiroshi Isoyama Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Shigenobu Okumura Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Nobuyuki Watanabe Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Masatake Fujita Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2) , Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Kanshu Sunadomari Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Hiroshi Kato Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Yoshio Kuroiwa Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2) and Morito Suganuma (Part 1 | Part 2).

 

Kenji Shimizu - KatatedoriKenji Shimizu takes ukemi for Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

Interview with Aikido Shihan Kenji Shimizu – Part 2

Concerning Morihei Ueshiba and Sokaku Takeda

Q: Was there anything else about the Founder than left an impression on you?

A: While doing muna-dori during one demonstration I grabbed O-Sensei’s beard along with his keiko-gi. “Oh no!”, I thought, but he just applied the technique to me calmly. It felt as if he had mastered every applied variation in his skin. Then, O-Sensei had an interest in calligraphy, and at that time it was usually my job to prepare the ink. I would prepare a large quantity of ink, and O-Sensei would apply it to a thick brush and write on a large piece of calligraphy paper – at that time the ink from the brush would often drip down onto the calligraphy paper. But even then O-Sensei would just say “Huh”, gather himself and use it as one part of the character that he was drawing. When he did that the shape of the characters would become unique. Later on a calligraphy specialist saw that and said “That O-Sensei drew it this way must have some kind of meaning…”. As you might expect, I had some mixed feelings when I heard that. I certainly couldn’t say that it was the result of dribbled ink.

yoshio-sugino-minoru-mochizukiYoshio Sugino and Minoru Mochizuki training in Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu

I heard this from Minoru Mochizuki Sensei (望月稔) of the Yoseikan (養成館). Long before I became a student there were many high ranking Judo and Kendo practitioners who would come to train, and O-Sensei would criticize Judo and Kendo without compunction. He would even turn towards Kendo students and say “Kendo today is just hitting with a sword”. The former Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe (近衛文麿) came to train for a time, and one day he finished training and prepared to go home. At the time O-Sensei was with a guest in the reception room and one of the students came to say “His excellency Konoe is leaving”, but O-Sensei just said “Is that so? Well, give him my regards.” and didn’t even stand up from his seat. The guest, surprised, asked “Is it OK if you don’t see him out?”, but O-Sensei said “You are a guest, Konoe-san is a student.”. He certainly had that kind of fiber. There are those today who never actually met O-Sensei who just repeat hearsay, but I bathed with him and we broke bread together. (laughing) According to Mochizuki Sensei, in the beginning of the Showa era (1926-1989) the Kodokan’s Jigoro Kano Sensei gave O-Sensei a look or two. Truthfully, it seems as if he wanted to pull him into the Kodokan, but O-Sensei had already created his own school. So then he directed his own senior students to study under him. Yoshio Sugino Sensei of the Katori Shinto-ryu was also one of those people.

Q: Did you have some interaction with Mochizuki Sensei while he was alive?

A: Yes. During the time that Mochizuki Sensei was the Director (塾頭) of Hombu Dojo he met Sokaku Takeda, and he would often talk about that. Sokaku Sensei came to visit while Mochizuki Sensei was watching the dojo. He seemed like one of those ancient warriors that appear in period novels. He would always carry a sword cane with him when he went out, and he would conceal a knife under the front of his clothing, so his abdomen was covered with cuts. Then, when he went to go home in a taxi after visiting the dojo a wild dog started barking at Sokaku Sensei insistently, and when he hit it with the butt of his sword cane it fell over right there. When Mochizuki Sensei checked he found that it had died instantly. Sugino Sensei also met Sokaku Sensei, and according to him Sokaku Sensei would always check the room before entering – there were times when he made Sugino Sensei open the door for him. It was also difficult when he drank tea, he would always carry tea leaves and a tea cup with him and would just ask for hot water when he was out. When Sugino Sensei prepared the hot water for him he would say “You take a sip”. The point being that he must have been afraid of being drugged or poisoned.

Q: Those must have been normal precautions for ancient warriors.

A: Even in O-Sensei’s case, he wouldn’t stay in the bath long, and wouldn’t display openings carelessly. In any case, he was an extremely cautious person. Perhaps that is something that he learned from Sokaku Sensei.

Kenji Shimizu taking ukemiKenji Shimizu taking ukemi

Memories of Hombu Dojo

Q: Did the Founder do sword and staff in his later years?

A: No. He almost never did. Most of the time the O-Sensei used a sword or a staff it was for explaining the Riai (理合 – “unified principles”) of Aikido. Because Aikido is not Kendo. We were often taught the Riai of Aiki-ken and Aiki-jo. The demonstrations left an impression on me. There was a demonstration that was given at one place in which O-Sensei carried a folding fan. He gave me a bokken and said “I’ll go easy on you, so come and cut me as strongly as you can!”. In the instant that I tried to strike him as hard as I could I took an atemi to the jaw and flew backwards. It wasn’t anything like “going easy”! (laughing) O-Sensei would often use a folding fan to express yokemen-uchi and tsuki movements. If I had thought that was going to happen then things would have gone differently. At the time, there were many people who came to learn who were from the class of company presidents and politicians. For example, one who was very kind to me was Sunao Sonoda (園田直), who was employed as the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare and the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Also, Takeo Kimura (木村武雄), who was the right hand man for former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka (田中角栄), Tomisaburo Hashimoto (橋本登美三郎) and Toshiki Kaifu (海部俊樹), who would later become Prime Minister, were there. Among those Mr. Sonoda was the first head of the Kokkai Aikikai (国会合気会 – National Diet Aikikai), where I taught for about three years as the first shihan.

Toshiki KaifuToshiki Kaifu speaking at the 80th Anniversary of Hombu Dojo,
the 70th Anniversary of the Aikikai

Also, there was Mr. Shigeru Sahashi (佐橋滋), who was the Administrative Vice‐Minister of International Trade and Industry (通産省事務次官). When Mr. Sahashi was the Administrative Vice‐Minister the Minister of International Trade and Industry (通産大臣) was Mr. Takeo Miki (三木武夫), who would later become Prime Minister (*Translator’s note: Takeo Miki also ran for election as Prime Minister in 1942, against Hideki Tojo), and in the Ministry of International Trade and Industry the Administrative Vice‐Minister was at the top of the career ladder. One time, a bill was passed by Minister Miki’s office, but failed to pass through Vice‐Minister Sahashi’s office. From that time they were called “Minister Sahashi and Vice-Minister Miki” in the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. That Mr. Sahashi wrote just a little bit about his time training with me in the Showa year 44 (1969) issue of Bungeishunju (文芸春秋). Mr. Watanabe, who was a Bureau Chief in the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, and the Giant’s coach Mr. Hiroshi Arakawa would also come to practice often.

Sadaharu Oh and Hiroshi ArakawaCoach Hiroshi Arakawa watches Sadaharu Oh practice cutting – 1964

Q: Who were the uchi-deshi at the time that you enrolled?

A: I don’t have much chance to meet them these days because most of them are now overseas, or for other reasons, but the uchi-deshi at the time were Tamura (Nobuyoshi) Sensei, Saotome (Mitsugi) Sensei, Sasaki (Masando) Sensei, Chiba (Kazuo) Sensei, Imaizumi (Shizuo) Sensei who was was the captain of the Waseda University Aikido club, also Sugano (Seiichi) Sensei, Kurita (Minoru) Sensei and Kanai (Mitsunari) Sensei. There were always about ten uchi-deshi there. In any case, the life of an uchi-deshi is difficult. One is always hungry. Of course, the compensation is small, so in the end one had to hang on to their parent’s legs. My parents wanted me to find another job quickly, and we used to fight about that a lot. When my parents came to Tokyo we took them to some of the better places that we would sometimes go to eat, but my mother said “You eat in places like this?” and broke out in tears. However, it’s said that those who come from hunger build spirit, and we certainly had that. It is said that in the past only those with enough money were be able to become uchi-deshi, so these were really very fine people.

Kenji Shimizu and Morihei Ueshiba around 1965-1966Kenji Shimizu and Morihei Ueshiba around 1965-1966

Tendo-ryu is “Shimizu Aikido”

Q: Was it from Showa year 45 (1970) that you became independent as Tendo-ryu?

A: Yes, that’s right. That was after O-Sensei passed away. I first I used the name Shimizu Dojo, I rented space from a Judo dojo called Sato Dojo (*Translator’s note: 佐藤道場 – now continued by the children of the original instructor as an osteopathic clinic) in Setagaya Ward. After that I moved to our current location and took the name Tendo-ryu.

Q: Did you have a plan of your own when you became independent?

A: Even if you use the one word “Aikido” there are a lot of variations, aren’t there? Yoshinkan, Tomiki-ryu, even at Aikikai Hombu Dojo the techniques could be quite different depending upon who is instructing. We use he word Aikido as a general term for all of them, but since the content of each of them is different I decided to call my Aikido – “Shimizu Aikido”. In the Bujutsu (Kenjutsu) of the past, it is said that there were more than fifty ryu-ha (schools). The ryu-ha would polish each other, and there there was great progress in Bujutsu. Morihei Ueshiba Sensei was certainly my instructor, but if I have a dojo and teach then it’s my Aikido, isn’t it? That was the reason that I called it Shimizu Dojo when I became independent. After that, it wasn’t that I hid my individual name in order to expand, I thought that a solid ryu-ha should have a name, so I named it “Tendo-ryu”. For that reason, I never consciously changed the techniques. What I was doing were O-Sensei’s techniques, and the foundation was constructed strictly by O-Sensei, but my movements are not the same as O-Sensei’s. My thoughts and physique are different, at any rate it becomes Shimizu’s Aikido. Accordingly, although it is called Tendo-ryu, it has not been altered greatly.

Q: Is there something that you are particular about when it comes to instruction?

A: What I am particular about when it comes to instruction concerns ukemi, as we discussed earlier. For the uke to match their kokyu to the nage is something that is extremely difficult. In Aikido there is kokyu-ho and kokyu-nage, and depending upon the person large individual differences emerge. Well, it can’t be helped that there are skillful people and then those who are not so skillful, those who have the feeling but whose bodies can’t keep up and so forth. For that reason, there are issues that of skillful/unskillful in casual training that can’t be helped. There are those who develop quickly but end up stagnating, and there are those who develop slowly, a little bit at a time. One more thing, I believe that fighting for victory and defeat in training is not good. Since this is Budo, one might think that it looks like fighting to outward appearances, but the reality is different. In the repetition of kata the shite acts as the blade, and the uke must act as the sharpening stone. I believe that it is through that repetition that one becomes tempered. It is my belief that Aikido today is too conscious of strength, it seems as if the techniques are being destroyed. Perhaps one could say that people are “pursuing the strength that can be seen with the eyes”.

Kenji Shimizu and Morihei Ueshiba around 1965-1966Kenji Shimizu and Morihei Ueshiba around 1965-1966

The relationship of Shite as the blade, Uke as the sharpening stone

Q: Do you mean that the relationship between the blade and the sharpening stone has been destroyed?

A: Yes, that’s right. If the sharpening stone is uneven then the blade will be uneven as well. When one turns an old bolt, if the bolt is rusty then they apply some oil and turn it a little bit at a time, if one just tries to force it without any oil then it will break. I am fearful of becoming that kind of Aikido. In other words, I am fearful of falling into the delusion that one cannot become strong without applying a technique strongly, of pursuing external strength.

In the case of Aikido, one does not apply technique suddenly, even though one applies it slowly it is effective. I have often experienced attempts of people struggling with each other to apply techniques that will injure the partner. However repetitive kata practice is, I do not think that it is acceptable to injure someone unnecessarily, and if one side resists needlessly the one being resisted will just respond by resisting in turn.

Q: As you said before, the role of the Shite is to act as the blade, and the role of the Uke is to act as the sharpening stone, so will the Uke be able to bring their role as the sharpening stone to fruition if they are not of a higher level than the Shite?

A: There is an important meaning there. For example, during demonstrations Uke becomes able to read the kokyu of the Shite. If that’s not the case then the Shite is simply throwing around someone who is of a lower level then they are, and one is just being thrown around. There are also those who say “The truth is that in Aikido technique one cannot take ukemi”, but it is easy to make it impossible to take ukemi. One just has to apply a technique halfway – but that is a mistake. Controlling the opponent without damaging them is the best. Conversely, when one thinks that it is acceptable to damage the opponent they will not be able to apply their technique on powerful opponents. The reason for this is that once they encounter resistance partway through the technique it’s all over. If one actually tries this then they will understand – if one attempts to use force “I’ll hold you down!” during training then one could say with confidence that the opponent will always sense that and instinctively resist. However, if one applies the technique slowly so that the opponent cannot tell when they will be immobilized, they will be strangely unable to resist. In other words, when there are corners left in one’s movement it won’t be effective on someone who’s a little bit strong. One ought to use a form that protects them against unexpected surprises. In other words, a posture in which one is prepared to destroy the opponent at any time, although controlling them without damage is best. I would like to faithfully preserve these kind of important points that have been passed down to us through the ages.

When training in Budo, what must really become strong is one’s mind. External strength can not be relied upon. In other words, strength that relies on youth is like steel heated in fire – as time passes it becomes cold. However, internal strength is without limit. Strength is limited, the mind is without limit. For that reason, in the past it was through mental training such as zazen that one created “resolve”. Especially when one stood in a position above others, without mental strength nobody would follow them. O-Sensei also said “Real Aikido begins after one is 60 years old. Until one passes 60 the real strength of their spirit does not emerge.”, and now I really understand the meaning of he was saying.

Q: In society, if one says sixty years old they are talking about retirement age, aren’t they?

A: That’s right. But that’s completely backwards. Also, it’s true that there are no competitions in Aikido, but there are certainly diferences in levels. The reason for that is that one can usually learn the basics of Aikido technique in about three years. However, that is still just the entranceway. The problem is from that point forward. While there are those who progress from that point, there are those who just draw a horizontal line, and those who go into a downward curve.

For that reason, it’s not really a problem of how many years one was with some person. What is needed is intensity of training and a willingness to take things in. If one takes things seriously, anyone can progress with certainty.

Q: I see. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us today. I will pray for the ever-increasing growth of Tendo-ryu.

Gekkan Hiden 2006, July-August


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

The post Interview with Aikido Shihan Kenji Shimizu – Part 2 appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-kenji-shimizu-part-2/feed/ 0
Interview with Aikido Shihan Kenji Shimizu – Part 1 http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-kenji-shimizu-part-1/ http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-kenji-shimizu-part-1/#comments Mon, 07 Nov 2016 18:06:33 +0000 http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2671 Kenji Shimizu (清水健二) in 2007 Was O-Sensei irregular about coming to the dojo? Yes, he was. When I was actively practicing there he often came and went. When he showed up everyone immediately sat down. At first, I thought that people were being courteous toward him. However, it wasn’t only that. It was also that the practices we were doing were different from what O-Sensei … Continue reading Interview with Aikido Shihan Kenji Shimizu – Part 1 »

The post Interview with Aikido Shihan Kenji Shimizu – Part 1 appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
Kenji Shimizu - 2007Kenji Shimizu (清水健二) in 2007

Was O-Sensei irregular about coming to the dojo?

Yes, he was. When I was actively practicing there he often came and went. When he showed up everyone immediately sat down. At first, I thought that people were being courteous toward him. However, it wasn’t only that. It was also that the practices we were doing were different from what O-Sensei expected us to do. Once he lost his temper at us. No one realized that he had come and he shouted: “What you people are doing is not aikido.” His shout was so powerful it felt like the earth was trembling. He was then in his seventies but his voice nearly pierced our ear drums. Everybody just became quiet and looked gloomy.

Interview with Kenji Shimizu,” by Stanley Pranin

Kenji Shimizu (清水健二) was born in Fukuoka, Japan in 1940. After starting out with ten years of Judo an acquaintance persuaded him to meet with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba – impressed with the Founder, he immediately enrolled as one of the last of O-Sensei’s uchi-deshi, in 1963. After the passing of the Founder in 1969 he went on to found his own style of Aikido – Tendo-ryu Aikido (天道流合気道), “School of the Way of Heaven”.

Tendokan Shomen“Tendo” calligraphy

He is the author of “Zen and Aikido” (with Shigeo Kamata) and “Aikido: The Heavenly Road“.

This is the first part of a two part interview with Shimizu Sensei that originally appeared in the July and August 2006 issues of Gekkan Hiden (月刊秘伝 / “Secret Teachings Monthly”), a well known martial arts magazine in Japan.

This interview was also published in a collection of interviews with students of the Founder published in Japanese as 開祖の横顔 (“Profiles of the Founder”) in 2009. There was a short introduction to this work in the article “Morihei Ueshiba – Profiles of the Founder“. A number of English translations of interviews from that collection appeared have appeared previously – Nobuyoshi Tamura Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Hiroshi Isoyama Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Shigenobu Okumura Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Nobuyuki Watanabe Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Masatake Fujita Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2) , Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Kanshu Sunadomari Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Hiroshi Kato Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Yoshio Kuroiwa Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2) and Morito Suganuma (Part 1 | Part 2).

Kenji Shimizu and Morihei UeshibaKenji Shimizu takes ukemi for Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

Interview with Aikido Shihan Kenji Shimizu – Part 1

Even when one pushed on him O-Sensei would not move, not even an inch.

Q: Thank you for coming today. I’ve heard that you turned to Aikido from Judo, how did that happen?

A: I started Judo when I was thirteen years old. From then I trained for about ten years. I liked Judo, so when I entered the university I had the idea that I would like to specialize in Judo as an instructor. It was then that someone advised me “Judo is certainly spreading around the world, but it’s a sport rather than Budo.”. That person had some connection to O-Sensei, and he recommended that I visit him “Now there is a person who is the last Budoka in Japan. At the present time there is no Budoka greater than him! Would you like to meet him?”. At the time I was under the impression that Judo was the best in Japanese Budo, so I wasn’t very enthusiastic, but I became more and more convinced as we spoke. So it was that I was introduced to Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei.

Q: What was your first impression when meeting the Founder?

A: In any case, he was completely different from the instructors that I had met previously. I remember the feeling of having met one of the ancient warriors that appear in stories. O-Sensei said “Do you want to try it?”. So right there I enrolled as an uchi-deshi. As a matter of fact, I was the last uchi-deshi, you know. That was in Showa year 38 (1963).

Aikikai Hombu ground breaking ceremonyAikikai Hombu ground breaking ceremony – 1966
Morihei Ueshiba and Kisshomaru Ueshiba – center
Kenji Shimizu – back left

Q: And the Founder was around eighty years old at the time?

A: That’s right. But O-Sensei would never tell anybody his age. He would always say “After I passed seventy I forgot how old I was”.

Q: You enrolled as an uchi-deshi from the very beginning?

A: That’s right. Actually, at that time the Aikikai no longer had an uchi-deshi system. O-Sensei also had a policy of taking no more uchi-deshi. In my case it was really a special exception. For that reason I was serious from the moment of enrollment. There was the fact that I had switched from Judo, and that I was in “active service”, but I became a good practice platform for the students. They would try out their Aikido techniques on me. So my wrists really hurt! There were also many times when I applied techniques that there was a kind of strange resistance, my Judo habits would always come to the fore, and I would reflexively throw them. I don’t know who he heard it from, but Osawa Sensei (大澤喜三郎 – Kisaburo Osawa) gave me a scolding – “This isn’t a Judo dojo!”.

Q: How many years were you an uchi-deshi?

A: I was enrolled at the Aikikai for six and a half years. During that period the time that I spent close to O-Sensei receiving his instruction was three years. That is, and it was the same for all of the uchi-deshi, I was was sent here and there to teach. At Hombu I was often asked by Osawa Sensei to teach in his place, and when I was asked I would accept, saying “Yes, Yes…”. When I think about it now, I was really presumptuous, wasn’t I? The other person was an eighth dan instructor, and I was an untalented uchi-deshi, so normally one would say something like “I’m sorry, but it would be impossible for someone such as me to take your place as an instructor”, but I would always just accept lightly. (laughing)

Q: Was there anything special about your teaching at the time?

A: No, there was nothing like that. However, it may have been that O-Sensei liked my instruction. At the time Aikido was in a transitional period. When I enrolled, if one was asked “What do you do? What’s your job?” there was no way that I could reply “Aikido”. Because nobody had heard of it. If I answered “Aikido” then I would always be asked “What’s that?” next. Making that explanation was really tiresome. That was the kind of era that it was.

Q: Was there some about the Founder that especially left you with an impression?

A: Well…there were so many things that left an impression on me…I don’t know where to start. One day he said “Shimizu, are you free?”, and when I answered “Yes” he sat down in a backless chair and said “My back is tight, could you massage it a little?”. At the beginning, when I pushed on his back lightly, he said “What’s this? You don’t have any strength – push harder!”, so I put more strength into it and pushed on his back strongly but O-Sensei didn’t move at all. He just said “Push harder!” so I added even more strength and pushed on his back, but he didn’t move, not an inch. He was the same during training – O-Sensei would hold up his te-gatana (手刀) in kamae and say “OK, try pushing me!”. In any case, no matter how much of a master one is, he was of such an advanced age that one would think that he would fall over if pushed strongly. However, since he would become angry if we pushed lightly we would push with all of our strength. Even so, he wouldn’t move, not an inch. Thinking about it now, I interpret that to mean that he matched the power of his mind and body to the power of nature, and mobility transformed through the unified body resulted in tremendous power.

Kenji Shimizu and Morihei Ueshiba demonstrationTaking ukemi for Morihei Ueshiba around 1965-1966

Taking ukemi for O-Sensei felt good.

Q: What did it feel like to be touched by the Founder?

A: At the time he was already of an advanced age, so his body wasn’t all that strongly muscled. But his basic physique was firm. I thought that he must have been incredible when he was young. Outside of Aikido training he almost never displayed his strength in normal circumstances. In terms of energy (気力), he was strong enough to dislocate your back. For example, when he met young people with no sense of manners he would scold them – ”Rude!” – unapologetically. One day he gave a scolding to a taxi driver and the driver, hearing that voice, leaped out of the car without thinking about it. He turned towards me and asked “Who’s that old man?”.

Q: What was your impression of taking ukemi for the Founder during training and demonstrations?

A: It was extremely easy to take ukemi for him. There aren’t many times that one takes ukemi and it feels good, but O-Sensei’s techniques were like that. The techniques didn’t hold one down stiffly, it felt like you would flow right into an immobilization. Well, how one speaks about this depends upon when they became a student or took ukemi, and there are those who say that the were slammed down hard onto the tatami. My personal impression was that O-Sensei’s techniques were soft and beautiful. I remember this even now, a time when O-Sensei was teaching a single individual (Hidehiko Hyoki – 日能英彦). I was taking ukemi, and as soon as Mr. Hyoki took a break I would spot the opening and impolitely start asking questions. One day I asked “Muna-dori Nikyo is very difficult, isn’t it? When the opponent grasps my lapel firmly I can’t get their hand turned back.”, whereupon O-Sensei’s face seemed to say “What!?” and he said “Well then, grasp my lapel as strongly as you can!”. I grasped his lapel, rolling it in my hand, and O-Sensei turned my hand and the lapel back together in a circle and applied Nikyo to me in an instant. I was really surprised. It’s not the Egg of Columbus, but I guess that when one is shown something like this they think “Indeed!”. But we would always be thrown simply with those methods that wouldn’t normally come to mind. Applied variations. They must have been the results of his long training. My feeling about him was like the saying “Bushido scoffs at knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Knowledge is not the primary goal, it is just a step towards gaining wisdom.”.

Aikikai Hombu groundbreaking demonstration - 1966Aikikai Hombu groundbreaking demonstration – 1966
Kisaburo Osawa and Kisshomaru Ueshiba, back left

Q: As an uchi-deshi, did you often accompany O-Sensei as an otomo when he went out?

A: Yes, but to be honest, there were many difficult tasks involved. In any case, O-Sensei would always leave earlier than the schedule called for when he went out. From an hour before he would start saying “Not yet?”. I would try to manipulate the numbers a little and say “About thirty more minutes”, but a short time later he’d start saying “Not yet?” again. This would continue four or five times. For example, when we went to Iwama we’d be on the train platform waiting at least an hour early. Then…he’d start with the repetitions of “Not yet?”. To put it simply, he didn’t like to leave himself without some margin for error. But he left himself with a little too much margin. (laughing) On the other hand, I assisted him many times in the bath while we were traveling, and he would never stay in the bath for long. Just as I thought that he had entered the bath he’d be hurrying out. So there was no time to wash his back! I’ve often been told that the bath is a place that leaves vulnerable openings, so perhaps that is a feeling that he shared.

Q: Since the Founder was a pre-war Budoka I think that he must have also had some violent techniques, were you taught any of those?

A: O-Sensei put those aside and we were not taught them. Perhaps it could be said that he kept them for himself. During training O-Sensei would become angry if tried to watch the outer surface of his movements. “Move more! You’re not moving!”, he would say. In any case, he would absolutely not forgive training that did not fit his design. When he became angry he could be extremely threatening. For that reason, I think that Aikido from that time must have been very strong.

Group photo with Kisshomaru Ueshiba“Training was centered around Ni-Dai Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba”
Kenji Shimizu – second row left

Uke studies the nage’s kokyu

Q: You studied Judo for ten years before beginning Aikido, were there times that your Judo experience was useful?

A: Yes, there were. Of course, the need for strength in the legs and hips is the same. Judo and Aikido were both originally jujutsu, so they have many points in common. Even when my Judo training could not be useful, it was never wasted. However, in Judo one always pairs with an opponent and then grabs and destabilizes them in order to throw or hold them down. Aikido starts from a greater distance and first separates from the opponent’s attack through tai-sabaki. Even understanding these differences intellectually, at first my body didn’t really follow along. And one more thing. I took a lot of ukemi for O-Sensei, and was made to teach a lot of beginners – I believe that it was because of these two things that I was able to improve. In Judo if one is thrown then they have lost, so there is extremely high resistance to being thrown. In the case of Aikido, if one cannot take ukemi for techniques then they will not improve. That is to say, in Aikido kokyu is important, so learning the kokyu of the uke is also connected to the kokyu of the nage. In ukemi, moving after the technique has become fully effective is too slow. If one practiced Aikido in a competitive format..first you would destroy your body. For that reason, one takes ukemi in order to protect their body in the instant that the technique becomes effective. I had some resistance to that kind of ukemi in the beginning. But as the training continued I think that it gradually sunk in. Ukemi is for protecting oneself, not for just falling on one’s own – if the ukemi does not match the opponent’s kokyu then it has no meaning. For that reason, we are very picky about ukemi in my dojo these days.

Q: What does it mean to do ukemi that matches the opponent’s kokyu?

A: For example, if the wind blows then the branches of a tree will bend, right? When the wind passes they return to their former state. But the branches won’t bend on their own if there isn’t any wind. Ukemi in Aikido is the same, it is cooperative, but you can’t just fall down on your own. I came to understand that from teaching large beginners, and from taking a lot of ukemi for O-Sensei, Ni-Dai Doshu and many other instructors in the beginning. No matter how experienced a shihan might be, if they had poor ukemi then O-Sensei was strict with them. After all, he attached great importance to matching kokyu. I was a new participant, so I certainly had some resistance to instigating the falls myself, but I became used to following the movement of the opponent’s throws. For that reason, when O-Sensei applied techniques he must have felt some of that feedback. When I taught O-Sensei almost never gave me direction, and I think that this may have been the reason for that.

Q: In Judo and Aikido the ukemi is different, did you have to relearn things?

A: It got better naturally. I took a lot of ukemi for O-Sensei, and although he sometimes said “Yes, like that” with regards to my ukemi, he never said “That’s no good”.

Continued in Part 2…


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

The post Interview with Aikido Shihan Kenji Shimizu – Part 1 appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-kenji-shimizu-part-1/feed/ 4
Takuma Hisa – Kannagara no Budo, Daito-ryu Aiki Budo Hiden 1940 http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/takuma-hisa-kannagara-no-budo-daito-ryu-aiki-budo-hiden-1940/ http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/takuma-hisa-kannagara-no-budo-daito-ryu-aiki-budo-hiden-1940/#comments Sat, 08 Oct 2016 18:41:27 +0000 http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2715 “Kannagara no Budo, Daito-ryu Aiki Budo Hiden” – 1940 (惟神の武道・大東流合気武道秘伝 – 昭和15年) “In the spring of 1933, the bureau chief of the Asahi News sales office, Mr. Mitsujiro Ishii, who is presently the Minister of Justice, introduced us to Morihei Ueshiba Sensei, vouching for him as an expert on a par with the founder of judo [a reference to Jigoro Kano]. He recommended to the … Continue reading Takuma Hisa – Kannagara no Budo, Daito-ryu Aiki Budo Hiden 1940 »

The post Takuma Hisa – Kannagara no Budo, Daito-ryu Aiki Budo Hiden 1940 appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
Kannagara no Budo cover“Kannagara no Budo, Daito-ryu Aiki Budo Hiden” – 1940
(惟神の武道・大東流合気武道秘伝 – 昭和15年)

“In the spring of 1933, the bureau chief of the Asahi News sales office, Mr. Mitsujiro Ishii, who is presently the Minister of Justice, introduced us to Morihei Ueshiba Sensei, vouching for him as an expert on a par with the founder of judo [a reference to Jigoro Kano]. He recommended to the person in charge of security that we learn aikijujutsu from Ueshiba Sensei. Mr. Ishii was a leading figure at the Asahi News and had tremendous influence, so while it was supposedly a “recommendation,” it was really more like a supreme command. Since those of us in the General Affairs section were responsible for security, we very much welcomed Ueshiba Sensei, and we began learning at the Asahi Budo Dojo.”

“Meeting Morihei Ueshiba” – from “Remembering Takuma Hisa
by Stanley Pranin, Aikido Journal

Takuma Hisa occupies a unique place in the history of pre-war Aikido. One of the major students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in Osaka, he also went on to became one of the major students of Daito-ryu Chuku-no-so Sokaku Takeda, Morihei Ueshiba’s instructor,

Born in Kochi Prefecture in 1895, he made a name for himself as a sumo wrestler during his time as a student before going on to become the Director of General Affairs of the Asahi News corporation in Osaka.

Yoshimura, Tonedate and Takeda in Osaka

Front row: Yoshiteru Yoshimura, Sokaku Takeda, Masao Tonedate

Here is the classic (and oft-repeated) story of how Takuma HIsa met Sokaku Takeda, in his own words:

On June 21st 1936, when we were training in Aikido under Ueshiba Sensei, a man came to the headquarters reception desk thrusting an iron staff suddenly with his right hand and holding a fine sword in his left “I am the Founder of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, Soke Sokaku Takeda. I have heard that you lads are learning from my student Morihei Ueshiba, but he is still inexperienced. If you have the will to learn true Aiki-jujutsu then become my students now and learn from me!”. Before anybody could say a word he took the security guards into the dojo. Keeping the fact that I was the division head a secret, I snuck in after the security staff and was astonished to see the reality of Takeda Sensei’s secret techniques. I went to Ueshiba Sensei right away and informed him of the appearance of the Soke, Takeda Sensei. I thought that Ueshiba Sensei would immediately go to beg his teacher’s pardon, but contrary to my expectations he became extremely dismayed and ended up withdrawing! So it came about that Ueshiba Sensei’s students would receive instruction in the early morning as before at the Umeda dojo, and then in the afternoon we would train with Sokaku Takeda Sensei in the night duty room of the headquarters building. At some point he left for Tokyo without any farewell to Asahi whatsoever, but Sokaku Takeda Sensei became increasingly committed and started to appear with Mr. Tokimune Takeda. According to the records:

  • First Time: June 21st 1936 to July 25th, 36 days
  • Second Time: November 1st 1936 to November 30th, 30 days
  • Third Time: August 17th 1937 to September 30th, 44 days
  • Fourth Time: October 22nd 1938 to November 14th, 22 days
  • Fifth Time: March 26th 1939
    Takuma Hisa – Menkyo Kaiden and eighth dan
    Yoshiteru Yoshimura (吉村義照) – eighth dan.
    Masao Tonedate (刀祢館正雄)

He gave us the certificates and left for Hokkaido. As I look back now, it is almost fifty years since I began to learn Aikido. During that time, beginning with both Takeda Sensei and Ueshiba Sensei, then Director Tonedate and Security Chief Yoshimura, everybody has passed away. I am the only one left alive. I am eight-four this year, and have been stricken with paralysis, but I would like to use what strength I have left to transmit these techniques to future generations and somehow repay my debt to my Sempai.

“The Appearance of Takeda Sensei”
Menkyo Kaiden Takuma Hisa, 1982 – Takumakai Kaiho issue #50

Takuma Hisa and Sokaku TakedaTakuma Hisa receives Menkyo Kaiden (“Certificate of Complete Transmission”)
pictured with Daito-ryu Chuku-no-so Sokaku Takeda, 1939

Takuma Hisa was one of two people to receive Menkyo Kaiden in Daito-ryu directly from Sokaku Takeda, the other person being Masao Tonedate (presumably an honorary certification due to his position at the Asahi News company). Kodokai Founder Kodo Horikawa would receive Menkyo Kaiden from Tokimune Takeda after his father’s death (but at Sokaku Takeda’s request).

After the war he would go on to establish the Takumakai, but before that, one year after receiving Menkyo Kaiden from Sokaku Takeda, he published a book on Daito-ryu – “Kannagara no Budo, Daito-ryu Aiki Budo Hiden” (惟神の武道・大東流合気武道秘伝). Representing what may have been the most comprehensive manual on Daito-ryu published until that time, the title page specifies that the volume is not to be distributed to non-students.

Interestingly, Takuma Hisa excerpted large portions of the technical explanations directly from Moritaka (Morihei) Ueshiba’s 1933 technical manual “Budo Renshu” (see “Aikijujutsu Densho – AKA Budo Renshu, by Moritaka Ueshiba“). Further, although Hisa’s volume consists of photographs rather than drawings, it’s clear that many of the techniques themselves are identical.

This ought not to be surprising, since what Morihei Ueshiba was teaching at the time was, without question, Daito-ryu. This was clearly stated by Yoshio Sugino, who was a student at the time and a contemporary of Takuma Hisa – “Of course Aikido was with Ueshiba Shihan – when I was studying it was still called Daito-ryu Aiki-jutsu” (“Interview with Yoshio Sugino of Katori Shinto-ryu, 1961“).

Takuma HIsa had an extraordinary opportunity to compare the teachings of his two instructors – Daito-ryu Chuku-no-so Sokaku Takeda and Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba:

Takeda’s instruction gave Hisa the chance to compare the techniques that he had been taught for the previous three years (1933-1936) by Ueshiba with those taught by Takeda. His conclusion was that they were the same—meaning that Ueshiba had not by that time significantly modified or evolved what he had been taught by Takeda. In later years, Hisa was adamant about Ueshiba’s and Takeda’s techniques being identical. He stated this clearly at a round table talk, “When Tomiki came to Osaka to teach aiki-bujutsu to the Asahi people, the techniques that both master Ueshiba and Takeda taught were the same. Definitely the same. Master Ueshiba should say that he was taught them by master Takeda. He should say that it was Daitoryu. But he never said that. Mr. Tomiki (who also traveled from Tokyo to Osaka to teach Ueshiba’s system at the Asahi dojo) knows this, doesn’t he. But Ueshiba never said it.” And Tomiki answered, “Definitely not. ‘I [Ueshiba] established everything…[smiling mysteriously]’. However old martial artists would often do that way.” [Shishida (Ed.), 1982, p.1]

“The Process of Forming Aikido and Japanese Imperial Navy Admiral Isamu Takeshita: Through the analysis of Takeshita’s diary from 1925 to 1931”
 – Fumiaki Shishida (Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan)

Thus, it should not be surprising that the explanations of principle and technique that Takuma Hisa learned from Morihei Ueshiba in 1933 should be repeated in his volume documenting the teachings of Sokaku Takeda published in 1940.

But there’s more…

In 1954 (five years after he told Morihiro Saito in Iwama that he had “completed” Aikido) Morihei Ueshiba published a book that he distributed privately to his students. This book was mentioned by Aikido 10th Dan Michio Hikitsuchi during the course of this interview:

Is our current style of practice different from that when you started?

Yes, the waza were done differently. You know, the other day I pulled out a book, Maki-no-Uchi. That was O-Sensei’s first book. We practised along the lines described in Maki-no-Uchi. ‘

Did O-Sensei distribute that book?

No. To have it, you had to have O-Sensei’s permission. For me, that was when I reached what would now be called shodan.

Was it a secret book, something that was never shown around?

Well, I don’t know whether I would call it “secret”. It was, after aIl, a book, and there probably are people who can learn just by reading. But it would have been very hard for someone to read the book end understand what it was about unless that person were practicing Aikido. Unless you were shodan or higher, you wouldn’t know what to make of it. I think that is still true today. It’s not as if you can tell someone, “Here, do it as the book shows.” Aikido is something that becomes a part of you – something that comes through the spiritual training [shugyo] of physical practice [keiko].

Comparing the three volumes – Moritaka (Morihei) Ueshiba’s 1933 “Budo Renshu“, Takuma Hisa’s 1940 “Kannagara no Budo, Daito-ryu Aiki Budo Hiden” and Morihei Ueshiba’s 1954 manual “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi” reveals some interesting similarities.

First, it’s important to note that the techniques pictured in the two volumes by Morihei Ueshiba are virtually identical, and are duplicated in many cases by the photographs in Takuma HIsa’s volume:

Kubi Shime 1933Kubi-shime, “Budo Renshu” by Moritaka Ueshiba – 1933

Kubi Shime 1940Kubi-shime, “Kannagara no Budo” by Takuma Hisa – 1940

Kubi Shime 1953Kubi-shime, “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi” by Morihei Ueshiba – 1953

Next, and perhaps more telling, is that the technical explanations given by Moritaka (Morihei) Ueshiba in 1933 in “Budo Renshu” are duplicated verbatim in Takuma Hisa’s volume – but they are also duplicated verbatim in Morihei Ueshiba’s 1954 volume “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi“. That is, there was virtually no change in either the technical depictions or explanations over a 21 year period, and there was no variation even when the volume in question was discussing Daito-ryu and not Aikido (although, for what it’s worth, Takuma Hisa often referred to his art as simply “Aikido”).

What does that mean?

Well, as I previously argued in “Budo – Moritaka Ueshiba’s 1938 Technical Manual“, all of this lends support to the argument that the radical phase change to the technical core of Aikido that is so commonly accepted to have occurred after the war…never happened. Or perhaps, it happened, but not at the behest of Morihei Ueshiba.

This is further affirmed by Yasuo Kobayashi Sensei’s testimony as to the content of his training with Morihei Ueshiba when he entered Aikikai Hombu Dojo in 1954:

Moderator: There were two books published before the war, “Budo” and “Budo Renshu”, was it only those techniques?

Kobayashi: Yes, that’s right. Of course, we did not do staff (jo) or sword (ken).

There is a discussion of this issue in “The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray” which you may like to read if you find this topic interesting.

Here is a good visual comparison of the pre-war and post-war technique of Morihei Ueshiba that illustrates this point quite clearly:

Also of interest is this very interesting study by John Driscoll, originally published on AikiWeb, showing the almost exact correlation between the techniques taught by Morihei Ueshiba and the techniques of the Daito-ryu Hiden Mokuroku – 82% according to this study, although that percentage would undoubtedly be much higher if the comparison were carried out against Morihei Ueshiba’s 1954 volume “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi” rather than the modern Aikido curriculum spread by the Aikikai in the post-war years.

…and here comes the download – this freely available PDF formatted version of “Kannagara no Budo, Daito-ryu Aiki Budo HIden” is available through the efforts of Scott Burke, who lives in Fukuoka, but often comes to Hawaii to join the Sangenkai workshops with Dan Harden.Many thanks to Scott, and kudos for his continuing series of “Aikileaks”.

I hope that you enjoy it!


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

The post Takuma Hisa – Kannagara no Budo, Daito-ryu Aiki Budo Hiden 1940 appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/takuma-hisa-kannagara-no-budo-daito-ryu-aiki-budo-hiden-1940/feed/ 2
Interview with Aikido Shihan Morito Suganuma – Part 2 http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-morito-suganuma-part-2/ http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-morito-suganuma-part-2/#comments Sat, 01 Oct 2016 19:10:09 +0000 http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2640 Morito Suganuma and Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba “I show everybody the secrets everyday” What I try to keep in mind is to follow O-Sensei’s teachings and philosophy, at least my understanding and interpretation of his teachings. I want to convey what O-Sensei himself taught to Aikido students. The most important thing, as O-Sensei used to say, is don’t get injured, don’t do wrong things, and … Continue reading Interview with Aikido Shihan Morito Suganuma – Part 2 »

The post Interview with Aikido Shihan Morito Suganuma – Part 2 appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
Morito Suganuma and Morihei UeshibaMorito Suganuma and Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba
“I show everybody the secrets everyday”

What I try to keep in mind is to follow O-Sensei’s teachings and philosophy, at least my understanding and interpretation of his teachings. I want to convey what O-Sensei himself taught to Aikido students. The most important thing, as O-Sensei used to say, is don’t get injured, don’t do wrong things, and don’t force techniques. Rather than show how strong you are, cultivate each other, and work together to show Aikido’s good techniques. This is how we become good Aikidoists. This is what O-Sensei said.

O-Sensei also used to say something like all the people in the world should work, hand in hand, to create or develop a peaceful world. This is how we help society to work to achieve the idea of this kind of world. I try to do this through Aikido. When I have a chance, I always tell this to Aikido students.

Interview with Morito Suganuma Shihan
USAF Eastern Region Summer Camp – August 2003

Living and training in Japan we would often say “Kobayashi in the east and Suganuma in the west” – referring to the large networks of Aikido schools established by Yasuo Kobayashi Sensei in eastern Japan and Morito Suganuma Sensei in western Japan.

In 1970, shortly after Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba passed away, Suganuma Sensei was dispatched to Fukuoka by Ni-Dai Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba as the Aikikai’s representative for the Kyushu area of Japan. Today the network of schools that he established boasts some 70 dojo and more than 4,000 students.

This is the second part of a two part interview with Suganuma Sensei that originally appeared in the January 2005 issue of Gekkan Hiden (月刊秘伝 / “Secret Teachings Monthly”), a well known martial arts magazine in Japan. You may wish to read Part 1 before reading this section.

This interview was also published in a collection of interviews with students of the Founder published in Japanese as 開祖の横顔 (“Profiles of the Founder”) in 2009. There was a short introduction to this work in the article “Morihei Ueshiba – Profiles of the Founder“. A number of English translations of interviews from that collection appeared have appeared previously – Nobuyoshi Tamura Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Hiroshi Isoyama Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Shigenobu Okumura Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Nobuyuki Watanabe Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Masatake Fujita Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2) , Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Kanshu Sunadomari Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Hiroshi Kato Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2) and Yoshio Kuroiwa Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2).

Morito Suganuma SenseiMorito Suganuma (菅沼守人) Sensei

Interview with Aikido Shihan Morito Suganuma – Part 2

“Shiai” (試合 – “competition) is “shiai” (死合 – ”joining in death”) – an exchange of lives.

Q: Were there many young people among the students at that time?

A: Yes, there were. The Giants coach Hiroshi Arakawa (*Translator’s note – 荒川博, mentioned here), Hiroshi Hiraoka (*Translator’s note: 平岡煕 – the “father of Japanese baseball”, mentioned here), and Sunao Sonoda (園田直), who would later become the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare, also received instruction from O-Sensei. Coach Arakawa was extremely enthusiastic about his training and would run to training in the morning (laughing), we would train together. Arakawa-san published a book called “Can you become Sadaharu Oh?” (君は王貞治になれるか), and most of what he wrote there are things from Aikido. It must have had a great influence on the way that he thought about baseball.
Sadaharu Oh and Hiroshi ArakawaCoach Hiroshi Arakawa watches Sadaharu Oh practice cutting – 1964

Can You Become Sadaharu Oh?“Can you become Sadaharu Oh?” (君は王貞治になれるか)

Q: Is there something in particular that you remember from your days as an uchi-deshi?

A: Sensei would speak very quickly in a typical Wakayama accent. The long time students were used to it, but it was difficult for me to understand. One day in the midst of a discussion at the dojo he directed me to do something, but he spoke so quickly that I couldn’t really understand what he meant. I could only understand that he said “go get something“. (laughing) But O-Sensei didn’t like to be asked to repeat himself, so when I cocked my head in puzzlement he shouted at me “read the situation!” (気を読め!). So I said “yes”, but when I brought the usual scroll with the symbolic portrait that I talked about earlier he yelled “Not that!” angrily. (laughing) But after that his mood shifted suddenly and he said “I used to have a body like this…”. When O-Sensei became angry he would become really angry, but he would cool down swiftly and he never held a grudge. His mood changes were sudden.

Q: “Read the situation” seems to be something that the Founder would teach…

A: That’s right. In any case, one really couldn’t ask “what was that?” while he was speaking. I was told, “When you’re told to do something you must react immediately, if you can’t do that then you’ll never be a fully qualified Budoka!”. One can’t just ask carelessly “Sensei, what did you mean?”. That was really a major blunder.

Also, and I remember this clearly even now, he was very strict about time. At demonstrations, even from quite a bit of time before, he would start asking “Are we still OK? Will we make it?”. Also when we would go out someplace he’d say “Always leave with the intention of riding on the previous train”. If there was a train that left at exactly nine o’clock then we’d have to be on the platform in time for the train that left just before that one. My sempai would say “Ichi Kisha Mae” (一汽車前 – “One Train Ahead”). Since one never knew what might happen on the way there we would always make sure that there was extra time – even now I still teach this lesson.

Morito Suganuma and Morihei Ueshiba on a train platformMorito Suganuma and Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba wait for a train

Q: Now that you mention it, I remember seeing a photograph of you holding O-Sensei’s bag on a train platform…

A: Yes, I often accompanied O-Sensei as an “otomo” (“attendant”) when he went out. As I recall now, there was one year that we went to Iwama near the Obon season. Since the steam train was crowded I boarded first and went to look for an open seat, but somehow I lost sight of O-Sensei. (laughing) At the time I hadn’t been an uchi-deshi for very long, and I thought “Oh no, what a disaster!” – though I looked left and right, back and forth, I couldn’t find him anywhere. After a while, at a loss as to what to do, there was nothing else left but to call Hombu Dojo – “Idiot! O-Sensei’s already come back!”. (laughing) I got a vigorous scolding later on.

Q: (laughing) I there something that the Founder said that was especially memorable?

A: One day during morning training one of the beginners said “O-Sensei, instead of always doing the same things, could you teach us some of the secrets every once in a while?”. As I was thinking “he’s going to get angry now…”, O-Sensei just laughed and smiled “I show everybody the secrets everyday”, he said. In other words, the secrets are not any special kind of thing, he meant “the secrets are in the day-to-day repetition”. When I heard that I thought “that’s right!”. Every day’s training was certainly a repetition of basics, but it is because they are important that we repeat them. “When you are lost, return to the basics”, some people say, and even today I keep those two things in mind when I train.

Q: Was there some times that the Founder became particularly angry?

A: Rather than “angry”, I would say that his tone of voice became strongly remonstrative, and that was with regards to competitive contests that tested techniques against one another. “Shiai (“competition”) is “shiai” (“joining in death”), it means an exchange of lives, so it’s not something to participate in lightly for the comparison of strength.”, he would always say. O−Sensei himself lived through the scenes of many battles, so it may be that he was unable to approve of contests for the comparison of strength in this peaceful era.

Morito Suganuma group photoAikido’s youth power – from right:
Norihiko Ishihashi Shihan, Nobuyuki Watanabe Shihan, Morito Suganuma Shihan
Hiroshi Arakawa, Kenji Shimizu Shihan, Minoru Kurita Shihan

‘Serious’ means to tighten the gaps

Q: I have heard that you also practice Zen?

A: Our family originally belonged to the Soto Zen Buddhist sect, so I had that connection, and by chance I had a connection to the Zen Master Shinryu Umeda (梅田信隆 – former director of Soto Zen Buddhism), so I became a student in Showa year 56 (1981).

Mushin nareba daido ni kisu.Calligraphy by Shinryu Umeda
「無心なれば大道に帰す」 – “Mushin nareba daido ni kisu”
“Having no mind you return to the Great Way”
Meaning that a mind free of desire and attachments
is the mind of enlightenment.

Q: How is your training going?

A: I have learned many things from both Zen and Umeda Zenji. When I first began I was told “value the present”. “There is no yesterday or tomorrow, what is important is right now. The continuation of the present becomes your life, so make the present the most important.” – I remember those words even now.

Q: What is important for you in the transmission of Aikido as Budo?

A: The technical is important, of course, but first what is important is one’s mental attitude. One’s everyday speech and conduct, their attitude – the importance of “one strike with the hand, one throw with the legs” (一拳手一投足). Also, in the old dojo one day O-Sensei suddenly asked me “Suganuma, do you understand what ‘serious’ is”?” (真面目 – “majime”) – “‘Serious’ means to tighten the gaps – because idiots leave them open.”, I was told. At the time I didn’t really get it, but now I think that it is to correct oneself, regulate oneself, and that from this stems mastery of the etiquette of Budo – that the carriage of one’s body becomes without openings.

Q: In the later years of the Founder the words “softness” and “harmony” were often used, were those also used to make one think of Aikido in terms of Budo?

A: I think that for O-Sensei Aikido was always Budo. Sometimes when he looked in on training he would see the students throwing in Kokyu-nage and say “People don’t fall over that easily!”. (laughing) Of course, forced struggling, or throwing with needless violence is just dangerous. Osawa Sensei (大澤喜三郎 – Kisaburo Osawa) would say “Strong and stupid are different. One’s sensitivity cannot be stupid.”. For that reason, just falling even though the technique is not working is not training. I think that we must sense each other’s power precisely when training so that we can develop together and knead our bodies.

Morito Suganuma - Daruma calligraphyDaruma and calligraphy by Morito Suganuma
「ころがせ、転がせ、まだ角がる」
“I roll and I roll, but I still have corners”

Q: The word “knead” (練る) is also used in arts like Chinese Kempo (*Translator’s note: often in the sense of “temper” or “harden”), how do you understand the meaning here?

A: For example, something that you would want to knead, like a rice cake. We take the individual grains of rice, knead them and knead them, and make them into a sticky rice cake. Human beings bodies are the same way, one takes the disparate pieces and kneads them through Aikido practice until a soft, strong, unified body is made, that is the image. For that reason, one ought not to think about controlling some joint in training – I think that it is important that both the uke and the tori use their entire bodies, sense each other’s power, and knead each other.

Q: That’s a very easy to understand example.

A: That was one of O-Sensei’s teachings, to respect the principles of nature – in other words, not to struggle in one’s movements. When one struggles during their movements it becomes what I mentioned before, we injure each other. Also, not to make unnecessary movements. Not to make one’s training uneven. In other words, not to suddenly stop by training recklessly. I call these the “three nothings” (三無) – no struggling (無理), no unevenness (むら), as much as possible using no waste (無駄).

Q: The “three nothings”? You certainly seem very relaxed, to be speaking like this.

A: Out in society when one says that they are a Budoka it has a strict or frightening image, but I don’t like that very much. In the dojo, and during every day life, I just want to act normally. Because it’s less exhausting that way. (laughing)

O-Sensei often quote Kiichi Hogen (*Translator’s note: see “Kiichi Hogen and the Secret of Aikido“), and this is one of the things that he would say:

「来たるを迎え、去るは送る、対すれば相和す。五・五の十、一・九の十、二・八の十。大は方処を絶し、細は微塵に入る。活殺自在」

If it comes meet it, if it leaves, send it on its way, if it opposes then unify it. 5 and 5 are 10, 1 and 9 are 10, 2 and 8 are 10. The large suppresses all, the small enters the microscopic. The power of life and death.

I believe that I would like to create that kind of feeling and that kind of a body.

 

Gekkan Hiden, January 2005


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

 

The post Interview with Aikido Shihan Morito Suganuma – Part 2 appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-morito-suganuma-part-2/feed/ 4
Interview with Aikido Shihan Morito Suganuma – Part 1 http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-morito-suganuma-part-1/ http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-morito-suganuma-part-1/#comments Fri, 16 Sep 2016 19:13:30 +0000 http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2637 Morito Suganuma Sensei faces dueling jugglers in Hilo Hawaii – 2013 Morito Suganuma (菅沼守人) was born in Fukushima, Japan in 1942. A regional pole vaulting champion in high school, he moved on to studying Aikido with Nobuyoshi Tamura in 1963 and then entered Aikikai Hombu Dojo in 1967 as one of the last uchi-deshi to train there under Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. He is the head … Continue reading Interview with Aikido Shihan Morito Suganuma – Part 1 »

The post Interview with Aikido Shihan Morito Suganuma – Part 1 appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
Morito Suganuma Jugglers Hilo

Morito Suganuma Sensei faces dueling jugglers in Hilo Hawaii – 2013

Morito Suganuma (菅沼守人) was born in Fukushima, Japan in 1942. A regional pole vaulting champion in high school, he moved on to studying Aikido with Nobuyoshi Tamura in 1963 and then entered Aikikai Hombu Dojo in 1967 as one of the last uchi-deshi to train there under Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

He is the head of Aikido Shoheijuku, which has a large number of Aikido dojo centered around the Fukuoka area of Kyushu, Japan, and was promoted to 8th Dan by the Aikikai in January 2001.

This is the first part of a two part interview with Suganuma Sensei that originally appeared in the January 2005 issue of Gekkan Hiden (月刊秘伝 / “Secret Teachings Monthly”), a well known martial arts magazine in Japan.

This interview was also published in a collection of interviews with students of the Founder published in Japanese as 開祖の横顔 (“Profiles of the Founder”) in 2009. There was a short introduction to this work in the article “Morihei Ueshiba – Profiles of the Founder“. A number of English translations of interviews from that collection appeared have appeared previously – Nobuyoshi Tamura Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Hiroshi Isoyama Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Shigenobu Okumura Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Nobuyuki Watanabe Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Masatake Fujita Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2) , Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Kanshu Sunadomari Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Hiroshi Kato Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2) and Yoshio Kuroiwa Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2).

Morito Suganuma SenseiMorito Suganuma (菅沼守人) Sensei

Interview with Aikido Shihan Morito Suganuma – Part 1

The Founder’s body was extremely soft.

Q: First, I would like to ask what first inspired you to learn Aikido.

A: At first it was because I read an article about O-Sensei in a magazine when I was in my sixth year of elementary school. After that, I enrolled at the physical education department (*Suganuma Sensei was a pole vaulter) at Juntendo University (順天堂大学 ), but I got injured and ended up enrolling at Asia University (亜細亜大学). There I was able to see the training of the Aikido club with my own eyes, and that was how I began Aikido. That was in Showa year 38 (1963).

Q: What was the instruction like at the university?

A: It was Nobuyoshi Tamura Sensei. Now he is teaching in France.

Q: When did you enroll at Hombu Dojo?

A: I enrolled as an uchi-deshi when I graduated in Showa year 42 (1967). Those who were there around the same time were Seishiro Endo Sensei (遠藤征四郎) and Masatake Fujita (藤田昌武). O-Sensei was 84 years old at the time, I learned from O-Sensei for the next two years, until he passed away.

Q: You were living in the dojo, not commuting from outside?

A: That was just at the time when they were rebuilding the dojo, so we rented rooms nearby. When they rebuilt the dojo they first began with O-Sensei’s living quarters, so O-Sensei would go back and forth between Iwama and Hombu Dojo, and would stay in the office of the old dojo. At those times we would massage O-Sensei’s fingers and shoulders until he went to sleep. So we would be with him the entire time from when he arose in the early morning until he retired in the evenings. We would wash his back in the bath.

Q: What was O-Sensei’s body like at the time?

A: When I saw him in the bath the muscles of his upper body were drooping down, and O-Sensei would joke “Look, wings!”. (laughing) In the past that had all been solid and firm, so I think that he must have had really thick arms and an extremely good physique.

Eiji Tamura's drawing of Morihei UeshibaEiji Tamura’s drawing of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

Q: Now that you mention it, there is a scroll with a drawing of O-Sensei’s body, isn’t there?

A: That was drawn by a famous artist, but that wasn’t a direct sketch, it was based on the artist’s image of O-Sensei with power in his body, a kind of symbolic image. When I touched his body in the bath his muscles were extremely soft, and when we did flexibility exercises before practice O-Sensei would stretch his body with the students for about thirty minutes. He was so soft that one could hardly believe that he was an old man of more than eighty years. When we did what is now called “Funakogi Undo” (船漕ぎ運動 – “rowing exercise”), but was previously called “Ame-no-torifune” (天之鳥船 – “Heavenly Bird Boat”), his movements were extremely soft.

Q: Funakogi Undo is an exercise unique to Aikido, isn’t it. What is its actual meaning?

A: One rows a boat in order to move forward, keeping their eyes turned towards their goal. O-Sensei often called this goal “A world of harmony and unity” (和と統一の世界), in other words, a world without conflict. Then as now, violence and war continue, but I believe that the meaning was for “everybody to row together” with the goal of asking for assistance through Aikido training that a world would come where all of the world’s people could join hands with each other.

Morito Suganuma - warm-upsMorito Suganuma demonstrating warm-up exercises

Q: Is that also the reason that we do warm-up exercises together?

A: Yes, it is. I think that this is an excellent method of creating the unified body that we seek in Aikido, in other words, a body in which the hands, waist and legs are made to operate together.

Q: Did you get concrete explanations from the Founder?

A: From a state in which the hands are open, close them firmly and pull them backwards. Conversely, there are exercises in which one thrusts the hands forward while closing and then opens them while pulling backwards. Also, we always practiced what was called “Furitama” (振魂 – “spirit shaking”), in which we clasped our hands in front of our abdomen and shook them. At this time the right hand was on the bottom and the left hand was on the top – in Kototama (言霊) the right represents the body and the left hand represents the mind. We were told “Place your mind on the foundation (the body)” (土台「身体」の上に霊を載せる).

Q: Are Funakogi Undo and Furitama practiced together as a set?

A: Yes, that’s right. O-Sensei would always do three sets, with each set consisting of three repititions of Funakogi Undo and one repitition of Furitama as a set.

Hombu Dojo BonenkaiA Hombu Dojo Bonenkai (Year-end Party). From right to left:
Masando Sasaki Shihan, Minoru Kurita Shihan, Shizuo Imaizumi Shihan
Yoshio Kuroiwa Shihan, Seishiro Endo Shihan, Yasuo Kobayashi Shihan
Morito Suganuma Shihan, Akira Tohei Shihan, Nobuyuki Watanabe Shihan
Nobuyoshi Tamura Shihan, Seijuro Masuda Shihan, Koretoshi Maruyama Shihan

Drawn into effortless technique.

Q: What was the Founder’s daily life and training like at the time?

A: When the current dojo was completed there was a simple Kamidana in O-Sensei’s room, so before each practice he would would always chant the Norito (Shinto prayers). Then he would go to the dojo. O-Sensei was someone who possessed a unique presence, and just by entering the dojo everything would stop – one sensed some kind of aura emitting from his entire body. The training was extremely severe, but there was kindness in that severity. For example, he was extremely skilled at letting you know where you ought to be, he was very careful about that kind of thing.

Q: What were your impressions of actually taking ukemi for the Founder?

A: O-Sensei’s techniques were completely effortless. Even when one was thrown the ukemi had a good feeling. It felt as if one were being absorbed. Even when it is the same technique, when one receives it from someone who has not mastered it there are odd times when there is pain and one has to endure certain things, but there was none of that. His movements were truly effortless. I was fortunate to have been able to receive O-Sensei’s techniques.

Q: I have heard that the Founder’s techniques were extremely fast…

A: Yes, they were fast. There are probably not very many people who can move that quickly at that age. During tai-sabaki his entire body would move in an instant – it was the same when he was using a staff or a sword.

Q: Did he use many weapons?

A: During practice, in addition to staff and sword, he would also use a folding fan. This may have also been used in place of a tessen (鉄扇 – “iron ribbed fan”), but O-Sensei always carried a folding fan and would often use it to instantly control opponents coming to strike with a sword.

Morito Suganuma - Atemi in Irimi-nageSuganuma Sensei demonstrates Atemi in Irimi-nage

Q: I have certainly seen many photos of demonstration in which a folding fan was used to control a sword.

A: That’s right, those are movements that can also be used with a tessen or with a short sword. Also, he often demonstrated atemi with the folding fan. At the same time as he controlled his opponent’s attack in an instant, he would thrust with the folding fan, saying “Look – you enter here!”. For example, within the flowing movement of Irimi-nage there are a number of places where atemi can be inserted, but it’s so fast that they are difficult to understand, so he would explain them with the folding fan.

Morihei Ueshiba at McKinley High School 1961Demonstrating with a folding fan
Nobuyoshi Tamura taking ukemi for Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei
McKinley High School Aikido demonstration in 1961, Honolulu Hawaii

Q: I see. In your case, since you came in with the viewpoint of a competitor in the pole vault, didn’t you feel that there was some “vagueness” in Aikido?

A: I did feel that way sometimes. (laughing) However, during training in Kokyu-ho when O-Sensei grabbed both my wrists I was instantly unable to move. At the time O-Sensei was 158 centimers tall (5’2″) and he weighed less than sixty kilos (132 lbs), but just by holding me lightly I was completely unable to move. While actually touching hands with that O-Sensei and my sempai I began to feel “there’s a magnitude of difference”. For that reason I thought “I want to be like that someday” and that yearning grew stronger.

Q: There was some power other than just weight, wasn’t there?

A: It wasn’t a matter of my wrist hurting, or something like that. It felt as if he used his entire body so efficiently that my center was controlled. Things like Nikyo are certainly techniques that are effective against the wrists, but I think that is a technique that takes one part of your opponent and controls their entire body. So, by just applying a small amount of pain they become unable to move.

Q: One often hears that the technique of the Founder Ueshiba in his later years was extremely soft…

A: I wasn’t just being soft. It felt as if in each instant he would be able to move his body freely, and while there were times in which one felt as if they were being absorbed while being thrown, there were also times when one was held down firmly in place.

Q: So that is “complete freedom” (自由自在)? When one watches films of the Founder in his younger days one can see him holding down people firmly…

A: There are also some where he appears to run around in a rampage. (laughing) But I believe that O-Sensei’s techniques did not depart from the principles of nature. He moved as his mind directed and that became technique.

Q: I think that it must also be different depending upon the era during which one learned the Aikido transmitted by the Founder.

A: I think that is also an issue, but in the end I think that what is important is how each of the Shihan following him took in what they were given. Even Shihan who trained during the same era have different kinds of movement, and I don’t think that one can say which is correct and which is mistaken. If you have ten people none of them will be the same, I think it is the same as that.

Continued in Part 2…


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

The post Interview with Aikido Shihan Morito Suganuma – Part 1 appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-morito-suganuma-part-1/feed/ 2
Mamoru Okada – Training with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/mamoru-okada-training-with-aikido-founder-morihei-ueshiba/ http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/mamoru-okada-training-with-aikido-founder-morihei-ueshiba/#comments Sat, 13 Aug 2016 21:28:36 +0000 http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2602 Mamoru Okada Sensei (岡田主), 1921-2014 This is another of a type of essay that I really enjoy reading – memories of meeting and training with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba from the perspective of ordinary students. In this essay Mamoru Okada recounts his memories of meeting Morihei Ueshiba in Osaka in 1949, after seeing him at a public demonstration held for members of the Nishi Health System. Interestingly, it … Continue reading Mamoru Okada – Training with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba »

The post Mamoru Okada – Training with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
Mamoru Okada SenseiMamoru Okada Sensei (岡田主), 1921-2014

This is another of a type of essay that I really enjoy reading – memories of meeting and training with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba from the perspective of ordinary students. In this essay Mamoru Okada recounts his memories of meeting Morihei Ueshiba in Osaka in 1949, after seeing him at a public demonstration held for members of the Nishi Health System. Interestingly, it appears that the Founder was already making regular trips to the Kansai area at that time.

Okada Sensei would go on to establish the Aikido Nobi Dojo (合気道野比道場) in Yokosuka in August 1980, and passed away in 2014 – a seventh dan in the Aikikai.

If you enjoy this type of essay you may also enjoy “Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories” (Part 1 |Part 2) – which presents memories of training with Morihei Ueshiba at the pre-war Kobukan Dojo in 1942, and “Aikido and Me – Training with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba” – which presents memories of training with Morihei Ueshiba in Osaka in the 1960’s.

Osaka Central Public HallOsaka Central Public Hall, 1951

Mamoru Okada – Me and Aikido

– Translated by Christopher Li

The first time that I saw a demonstration by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba Sensei was in March of Showa year 24 (1949), at a lecture held by the Nishi Health System (西式健康法) at the Osaka Central Public Hall (大阪中之島中央公会堂).

Koichi ToheiKoichi Tohei on his way to Hawaii in 1953

Translator’s Note: Katsuzo Nishi created a series of exercises in 1927 that he named the “Nishi Health System”. He was also a student of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, who adopted some of those exercises into his warm-up exercise routines. The Nishikai (the organization formed around the Nishi Health System) was instrumental in inviting Koichi Tohei to Hawaii in 1953.

Kingyo Undo and Hifuku UndoTwo of the Nishi Health System exercises
Kingyo Undo (“goldfish exercise”) and Hifuku Undo (“dorsal-ventral exercise”)

That day, after the regular lecture by Katsuzo Nishi Sensei (the founder of the Nishi Health System), there was a special demonstration by Morihei Ueshiba Sensei, so that the members of the Nishikai would be able to see his exquisite skills in Aikido for themselves.

Katsuzo NishiKatsuzo Nishi demonstrates the “Hifuku Undo” (背腹運動) exercise

Nishi Sensei had a long friendship with the Founder, and was even on the board of directors for the Aikikai. I was twenty-seven years old and employed by Harima Dock Co., Ltd. (later to merge with Tokyo’s Ishikawa Heavy Industries and become the IHI Corporation) in Aioi City in Hyogo Prefecture. Influenced by my parents, I had admired Nishi Sensei since the time that I was a child, and that day we took about three and a half hours to come all the way from Aioi City to attend the lecture. During his lectures Nishi Sensei would often say “Aikido is surely true Budo, the movements of Morihei Ueshiba Sensei’s techniques can be likened to a tetrahedron composed of equilateral triangles, and the Nishi Health System has also incorporated the theoretical system of that structure, it is used on our association emblem. Compared to other structures, a tetrahedron composed of equilateral triangles provide the greatest level of strength for the smallest volume, and can be said to be the most efficient. I think that everybody should certainly experience Aikido at least once.” – and on that day he gave all of the members that chance.

Nishi Health System EmblemThe Nishi Health System emblem and an explanation of
the four primary elements – nutrition, skin, mind (in the center) and limbs

I attended together with my parents, and I remember being deeply impressed to see the exquisite flow of the Founder’s techniques for the first time. At the demonstration it was announced that there would be a special training workshop held beginning the next day at the Sonezaki Police Station in Umeda in Osaka, so the three of us decided to participate. There were many participants at the workshop, which was held over the period of a week, and the Founder instructed even us beginners with kindness.

Running Water Never Spoils“Running water never spoils”
Calligraphy by Nishi Health System Founder Katsuzo Nishi

We immediately applied to become students, and our names were entered into the student register that the Founder carried with him. He did this publicly as soon as we were accepted as students. At the time we also had a house in Rokko, in Kyoto City, and we traveled to training from there. When we returned home we practiced the shiho-nage technique that we had been taught that day with each other, repeating our training through trial and error.

My father came from a farming family and had a business selling seeds and seedlings. My mother was the daughter of a fishmonger and had graduated from a women’s teaching college, she was working as a teacher at an elementary school. I was an older child with no idea what it would be like to have siblings. From my childhood my mother would tell me tales of great heroes instead of fairy tales.

For example, Yamato Takeru (日本武尊), Minamoto no Yoshitsune (源 義経), Kusunoki Masashige (楠木 正成), Kimura Shigenari (木村重成), Sanada Yukimura (真田 幸村), Araki Mataemon (荒木又衛門), Toju Nakae (中江藤樹), Yoshida Shoin (吉田松陰), Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬), Saigo Takamori (西郷隆盛), and others. It might be thought that this is what germinated my yearning for the sword. Wanting to learn Kendo even one day sooner, when I was a fifth year student in elementary school I asked my mother to take me to ask advice from someone who worked at the same school where she was employed and excelled at Kendo. That teacher advised me “Your body hasn’t developed yet, and you still have to deal with your middle school entrance examinations, so it would be better for you to learn Kendo after you enter middle school.”. I felt deflated, but I waited impatiently until the day that I would become a middle school student.

Happily, in April of Showa year 9 (1934) I was able to enter Hyogo Prefectural Kobe Middle School #1. I was a fresh first year student, unused to the khaki colored uniforms and the white furoshiki that we used at the school, but I immediately went to visit the after-school Kendo dojo inside the school and applied to join. There were a number of sempai lined up around the entrance to the dojo, but I was permitted to join and became a member of the Kendo club. I was filled with happiness, and from then on I would train every day, plunging myself in a life dedicated to the sword.

Thank you for visiting the Aikido Sangenkai blog. You can show your appreciation and support the distribution of more free content by donating today!

Thanks,
Chris

In Showa year 14 (1939) I went to school at Kobe Kotoku Kogyo’s mechanical engineering department (now Kobe University’s engineering department), and at the end of Showa year 16 (1941) I received an accelerated graduation due to the outbreak of the war in the Pacific. In October of Showa year 17 (1942) I enlisted in the army, and until August of Showa year 20 (1945) I worked on the front line of domestic defense as an aviation mechanic.

After the war I entered Harima Dock Co., Ltd. of Aioi City in Hyogo Prefecture and returned to my life as a member of society.

When I was in middle school and vocational school I would sometimes travel for Kendo tournaments – the joy of victory and the teeth-grinding agony of defeat were both repeated uncounted times. After I entered the Harima Dock Co., Ltd. I joined the Kendo club, and traveled to tournaments and participated in company competitions. In November of Showa year 16 (1941), before graduating from Kobe Kotoku Kogyo, I received a san-dan certificate from the Dai Nippon Butokukai (大日本武徳会), and after the war I received go-dan in April of Showa year 31 (1956) and then a Renshi certificate in December of Showa year (1959) from the All Japan Kendo Federation (大日本剣道連盟). So, I felt that I was able to realize a little bit of the dreams of the sword from my childhood.

The Founding of the All Japan Kendo FederationThe Founding of the All Japan Kendo Federation, 1952
Morihei Ueshiba’s close friend Nakayama Hakudo, center-right

However, I cannot doubt that being able to meet Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba was a turning point in my path of the sword, and along with my contact with Katsuzo Nishi Sensei was the biggest turning point in my life.

At the time the Founder was living in the dojo in Iwama, in Ibaraki, or at the Hombu Dojo in Wakamatsu-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. Every month, or every other month he would come to Kansai (Western Japan) for one or two weeks, and instruct workshops for the students there. I still hadn’t found a good place to train, so I trained intermittently by grasping those opportunities. There was a workshop held at the Nagata Police Station. I believe that the majority of the participants were teachers of the Nishi Health System or were Nishi Health System members. It was at this time that I met Aritomo Murashige Sensei (村重有利) and received instruction from him.

Translator’s Note: Aritomo Murashige (1895-1964) was a student of Morihei Ueshiba from around 1931, and also studied Judo with Jigoro Kano and Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu along with Minoru Mochizuki. He was the first person to bring Aikido to Burma (Myanmar), in 1953, as part of the Japanese government’s program of compensation for their WWII occupation. Murashige Sensei was active during WWII – one person is known to have said “When one came near him it felt as if there was a rain of blood”.

Seigo Yamaguchi and Aritomo MurashigeSeigo Yamaguchi (left) with Aritomo Murashige (right) in Myanmar

In between training sessions the Founder would speak about Omoto-kyo – before the war he went to China with Onisaburo Degushi Seishi (the Founder of Omoto-kyo), fought with mounted bandits and was arrested together. They were rescued miraculously at the last instant, just as they were ready to give up their lives – he made a great presentation to Murashige Sensei and the other students.

Onisaburo Deguchi and Morihei UeshibaUnder arrest in Mongolia
Onisaburo Deguchi (second from left) with Morihei Ueshiba (third from left)

Soon after that Murashige Sensei was sent to teach in Burma, and then I heard that he passed away in a traffic accident. It’s a sad thing. There was also training at the house of Mr. Ishimi in Osaka (the older brother of the current mayor of Himeji City), I think that there were about fifteen tatami mats, and I also participated in that training.

Also, I followed the Founder to Isaburo Tanaka (田中伊三郎 / also called 万川 / Bansen Tanaka) Sensei’s dojo in Suita City and was able to train a little there.

I’m sorry for talking about personal matters, but while my mother was a woman she was also extremely decisive, and she was overflowing with a desire to seek the truth. Throughout her entire life she followed that path, it wouldn’t be too much to say that she would learn from great personages whenever she encountered them, from the very beginning to the very end. In my mother’s later years she gave me five photographic portraits and told me to hang them up in the tatami room of my home. They were the Founder Ueshiba Sensei, Katsuzo Nishi Sensei, Hideo Sonobe (園部 秀雄) – the Soke of Jikishinkage-ryu Naginata (a woman) , Masataro Sawayanagi (澤柳政太郎 – the former president of Kyoto University), and one more person – the Jodo Shinshu follower Shiro Tsuyama (津山四郎). Since then, in our home every morning and evening our entire family sits in front of the altar and, after praying to the Buddhas, pays their respects to the photographs of those five great personages.

奥村、富木、植芝・満州国

In front of the Shinbuden Dojo
at Kenkoku Daigaku in Manchukuo (occupied Manchuria)

Kenji Tomiki and Morihei Ueshiba center,
Hideo Ohba in back row – second from left

Shigenobu Okumura in back row – second from right

Translator’s Note: It was Hideo Sonobe who commented on Morihei Ueshiba’s famous demonstration in 1939 with Hideo Ohba in Manchuria. Here is the story as told by Fumiaki Shishida (a student of Kenji Tomiki and a professor at Waseda University) in Ohba’s biography 

It was Hideo Ohba who took ukemi for Ueshiba for the demonstration. He later talked about this event as follows: “Since the Emperor of Manchuria was in an exalted position at that time like the Emperor of Japan, I thought I should not take ukemi for Ueshiba in the way I usually did. If Ueshiba Sensei were a true master, he could freely handle a true punch, thrust or grab. Therefore, I decided to attack him seriously. When we stood on the platform, I saw many martial arts masters present in the large dojo of the Shimbuden. When I glanced at Ueshiba Sensei, his beard was sticking out towards me, his hair was standing on end and his eyes were glittering. I thought to myself that he was indeed a true master. Then I concentrated on taking ukemi for him, thinking how different it was to face a master. After the demonstration, we bowed and sat in the corner of the dojo and were supposed to walk over to the seats where the masters were sitting. However, I heard someone thunder, ‘You idiot!’ Ueshiba Sensei was short-tempered. He couldn’t wait until we returned to our seats. He shouted at me in that way in front of everyone. Until then, I thought he was a wonderful and truly great master, but his shout made my spirit pop like a bubble. We sat down. Ueshiba Sensei didn’t even smile. He was in a bad mood. So I felt tiny. Who do you think showed up then? It was Hideo Sonobe who was said to be without peer in Japan or anywhere in the use of the Naginata. She came all the way up to where the masters were sitting while Iai and Naginata kata were being demonstrated one after another. She said, ‘Mr. Ueshiba I have never seen more wonderful techniques than what you showed today. They were fantastic!’ Ueshiba Sensei, who had been in a bad mood, asked her what part she liked. He asked me to find a place where they could talk and we all went down to the basement of the Shimbuden and they discussed the theory of martial arts for two hours. While I was listening to their discussion Ueshiba Sensei asked her what she liked and she replied that she liked the ‘connections’ (tsunagari) between techniques. However, I didn’t understand these connections. I understood that the Dai Nihon Butokukai [Kyoto-based organization which governed Japanese martial arts] then was having a hard time trying to decide who they should choose as the best swordsman of that year and had asked Sonobe Sensei for her opinion. When I heard Sonobe Sensei tell Ueshiba Sensei that she had never seen such wonderful techniques even though she had seen him demonstrate often, I decided to learn Naginata in order to search for these ‘connections.'”

Hideo would always recount this story to his students when he was in a good mood. One time I asked him the following question, “Sensei, when you attacked Ueshiba Sensei seriously, could he execute techniques like he usually did in his regular demonstrations?” Judging from the fact that he was scolded on that occasion, the answer was obvious. I asked this question because I wanted to confirm it. He answered, “Ueshiba sensei seemed to have a hard time executing techniques smoothly.”

I think that Tomiki sensei was critical of the fact that Ueshiba’s demonstrations became gradually softer. Tomiki’s belief was that such softness was a way of making the person throwing look good, and was different from how martial arts should be. This demonstration of Ueshiba and Ohba received the highest praise from a top martial artist because of Ohba’s serious attacks, and the fact that he refused to participate in a prearranged performance the way he normally would have. I think that behind this fact lies an important hint as to what aikido should be. There seem to be some people within the Japan Aikido Association who see that their kata demonstrations are different from the flowing demonstrations of other schools, and try to change them in that direction. However, things should be the opposite. I think what is important is that we should master each technique perfectly as did Ueshiba Sensei, and then try to achieve a connection or flow between techniques. Hideo’s experience taught us not only the limitation of Ueshiba’s techniques (one cannot throw someone in a dance-like manner), as well as his incredible mastery, but also how a demonstration should be.

Sonobe HideoHideo Sonobe (sixth from right) at the Kobukan (光武館) Dojo around 1954

When she had the chance during a workshop at the Sonezaki Police Station my mother invited the Founder to visit us in Aioi City. This wasn’t something that any of us could have thought of, much less have been able to do. But the Founder consented and it came to pass. I think that it was around October of Showa year 24 (1949). We used the banquet hall of the Aioi Credit Union (相生信用組合) to gather Judo students and other people who were interested to view a demonstration by the Founder. As otomo (“attendants”) the Founder brought with him Tadashi Abe Sensei (阿部 正), who would later go to France as an instructor, Nariaki Hirano Sensei (平野成秋) from Tanabe City, and Mr. Oyama, who came from boxing (Translator’s Note: This may be Kunio Oyama, from Iwama.). Abe Sensei took ukemi for the demonstration. Thus it was that the light of Aiki shone even in the shipbuilding city of Aioi. We were especially grateful that the Founder stayed with us in our home while he was in Aioi.

When I think of all of our carelessness back then I feel ashamed. We served him a humble meal, which he ate cheerfully, and then after a short chat he introduced our family to the basics of suwari-waza shomenuchi ikkyo. He stayed with us for the night and the next day, after taking the time to watch us clear the fields and cultivate the land of our mountain farmland, he returned to Tokyo in the afternoon.

Later on around Showa year 33 (1958), during a trip to Kansai, the Founder stopped by my home. His otomo at the time were Nobuyoshi Tamura Shihan (田村信喜), who would spend many years teaching in France, and Seiichi Sugano Shihan (菅野誠一) who teaches in New York.

On that occurance he was only able to stay for a short time, so I believe that we served him lunch. I think that this was the time that the Founder said “Let me write something for you.”, and wrote “Masakatsu, Agatsu, Katsuhayahi, Takemusu Aiki, Tsunemori” (正勝、吾勝、勝速日、武産合気、常盛) for me on a piece of calligraphy paper. Aside from the name “Morihei”, the Founder would also use the name “Tsunemori” (常盛).

Takemusu Calligraphy“Takemusu” calligraphy by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba
signed “Tsunemori”

I framed that calligraphy paper, and now it hangs in my Aikido Nobi Dojo. I hope that I can impress on my children that this is a family treasure of our household. We were honored that he would come to stay twice at the home of rank beginners. I often reflect deeply on the warm feelings of the Founder and I must continue to impress this on my children.

I, who had begun to burn with a passion for Aikido, somehow managed to get by until that one day in the summer of Showa year 24 (1949) when I went to visit the Founder in Iwama for the first time.

The Founder came to greet me cheerfully. It was also the first time that I had met his wife. I visited the Aiki Shrine and was able to hear the voice of the Founder as he prayed. After that he permitted me to join the training.

At that time Morihiro Saito Sensei (斉藤守弘) was serving as an uchi-deshi, and I also asked Saito Sensei for instruction. I was still a beginner, so I was completely absorbed. I believe that the dojo had a wooden floor. After being kindly entertained in the evening I stayed there for the night.

Early the next morning, after the Founder greeted the sun respectfully, we visited the Aiki Shrine, where we heard the Norito (“shinto prayers”) rising resonantly – it was an extremely refreshing feeling. If you could excuse me, many years have passed and some of the details have become fuzzy, so some of the details might be mistaken. I am trying to give you an outline of what it was really like, so please be forgiving.

So, that day the Founder was scheduled to go to Aikikai Hombu Dojo, so I accompanied him as his otomo. It was still not long after the war and Hombu Dojo was an old fashioned wooden building. The dojo was divided into a number of small rooms, and it appeared that there were a number of families living there. It was the first time that I met Ni-Dai Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba and his wife. I left Hombu Dojo that day after receiving much generous hospitality.

After that my mother also became enthusiastic about visiting the Iwama Dojo, so she took off for Iwama Village in Ibaragi Prefecture on her own from Aioi City in Hyogo Prefecture. When she transferred to the Joban Line at Ueno Station she saw a young person in a car and asked them the way to Iwama. Miraculously, that young person was training Aikido in Iwama at that time – his name was Mr. Yoshitomo Machida (町田良友), and he lived in Iwama at the time. Mr. Machida told my mother that he was training in Aikido, and took her to the Aikido dojo in Iwama so that my mother was able to meet the Founder and his wife there.

The meeting of Mr. Machida and my mother was certainly unexpected. My mother completed her journey to Iwama and returned home without incident. After telling us about her trip she told us something that the Founder had said – “It seems that you son is pursuing the path of Aiki with enthusiasm, if you leave him with me I can develop him into a professional.”, was the gist of it, I believe. My spirit was moved, but I had already followed the path of a mechanical technician and I had a responsibility to protect the livelihood of my family, so I couldn’t make such a bold decision and was unable to take advantage of the Founder’s kindness.

Mr. Machida was a university student at the time, and my mother asked him to help with some projects related the the Nishi Health System. As a result, he came to Kansai just for that and I was able to meet him face to face for the first time. Mr. Machida gave us a great deal of assistance during that time and we have remained friendly to this day.

Published in the Kobe University Technical Club (KTC) newsletter issue 72, March 1st 2011


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

The post Mamoru Okada – Training with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/mamoru-okada-training-with-aikido-founder-morihei-ueshiba/feed/ 2
Budo – Moritaka Ueshiba’s 1938 Technical Manual http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/budo-moritaka-ueshiba-1938-technical-manual/ http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/budo-moritaka-ueshiba-1938-technical-manual/#comments Mon, 25 Jul 2016 00:08:14 +0000 http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2557 Ushiro technique – Gozo Shioda and Morihei Ueshiba in “Budo”, 1938 First there was “Budo Renshu” (武道練習) in 1933 (published in English under the name “Budo Training in Aikido“), which was given to select students at Moritaka Ueshiba’s pre-war Kobukan Dojo as a teaching license. This work includes pictures of techniques hand drawn by Takako Kunigoshi and explanatory text assembled and edited primarily by Kenji Tomiki. … Continue reading Budo – Moritaka Ueshiba’s 1938 Technical Manual »

The post Budo – Moritaka Ueshiba’s 1938 Technical Manual appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
Gozo Shioda and Morihei UeshibaUshiro technique – Gozo Shioda and Morihei Ueshiba in “Budo”, 1938

First there was “Budo Renshu” (武道練習) in 1933 (published in English under the name “Budo Training in Aikido“), which was given to select students at Moritaka Ueshiba’s pre-war Kobukan Dojo as a teaching license. This work includes pictures of techniques hand drawn by Takako Kunigoshi and explanatory text assembled and edited primarily by Kenji Tomiki.

Budo Renshu - 1933Ushiro technique – “Budo Renshu”, 1933

At the time of its publication and through the end of World War II Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba used the name “Moritaka” – a name he received through his relationship with Onisaburo Deguchi (出口王仁三郎), from the word “shukou” (“Moritaka” can also be read “shukou”) that appeared in Deguchi Seishi’s Norito (祝詞, “Shinto prayers”).

Don’t worry if you don’t have a copy, the PDF formatted version is freely downloadable from “Aikijujutsu Densho – AKA Budo Renshu, by Moritaka Ueshiba

Aikido Maki-no-Ichi - UshiroUshiro technique – “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi”, 1954

In 1954 Morihei Ueshiba published “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi”, edited by Ni-Dai Doshu Kisshomaru (Koetsu) Ueshiba. This book duplicated many of the pictures and most of the text of the earlier 1933 manual “Budo Renshu”.

Again, don’t worry if you don’t have a copy, the PDF formatted version is freely downloadable from “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi – O-Sensei’s First Book on Aikido“.

Thank you for visiting the Aikido Sangenkai blog. You can show your appreciation and support the distribution of more free content by donating today!

Thanks,
Chris

In between the above two works, in 1938, Morihei Ueshiba privately published another book, a technical manual called “Budo”, for Prince Kaya Tsunenori, who was one of his students at the time. This manual was (re) discovered entirely by accident in 1981 when Aikido Journal editor Stanley Pranin was shown a copy by Zenzaburo Akazawa during the course of conducting an interview.

Zenzaburo AkazawaZenzaburo Akazawa with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, 1938
Morihei Ueshiba’s wife Hatsu, center
Morihei Ueshiba’s daughter Matsuko, kneeling
Matsuko was once married to Morihei Ueshiba’s 
one-time successor Kiyoshi Nakakura

A loose translation of “Budo” was published in English under the name “Budo: Teachings of the Founder of Aikido” by John Stevens. There is also a commentary by Morihiro Saito published under the name “Budo: Commentary on the 1938 Training Manual of Morihei Ueshiba“.

I’ve discussed parts of this book before, in articles such as “Morihei Ueshiba, Budo and Kamae” (if you’re interested, the injunctions about “six directions” in “Budo” are repeated in “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi”) and the following parts two and three.

Strangely enough, “Budo” has never been published in Japanese (wthe Morihiro Saito commentary contains both Japanese and English, but omits much of the original text).

Do I have to say “don’t worry if you don’t have a copy”? Well don’t, because the PDF formatted version of the 1938 technical manual will be freely downloadable below. This is the Japanese version, of course, so you may want to refer to the two editions above with regards to the English translation and commentary. This copy was originally posted by Eric Grousilliat on his French language Budo Shugyosha blog.

Like “Budo Renshu”, “Budo” was often distributed to students as a licensing document.

Ogi no Koto - BudoThe Last Page of “Budo”

On the last page of “Budo”, displayed above, we can see that this copy was issued by Moritaka Ueshiba in 1938 as a licensing document. The text on the right confirms that this document certifies the transmission of “Ogi no Koto” (奥義之事 / “Inner Mysteries”). This may likely be in imitation of the Daito-ryu “Hiden Ogi no Koto” scrolls that Morihei Ueshiba both received from his instructor Sokaku Takeda and distributed to students such as Kenji Tomiki and Minoru Mochizuki.

In comparing the three volumes, you will see that the techniques from “Budo Renshu” carry through to “Budo” and then carry through to “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi“.

Aikijujutsu Densho - Ikkyo“Budo Renshu” – 1933


Budo, 1938 - Ikkyo“Budo” – 1938

Aikido Maki-no-Ichi, 1954 - Ikkyo“Aikido Maki-no-Ichi” – 1954

If you chance to examine and compare the text of the three volumes, which give very detailed and complete explanations of Morihei Ueshiba’s technical principles, you will find something similar – the textual explanations are consistent and continuous across all three volumes.

This is significant because it shows that what Morihei Ueshiba was teaching in 1954 was the same as what he was teaching in 1933 and in 1938. It shows that five years after he told Morihiro Saito in Iwama (in 1949) that he had “completed” Aikido…he was still distributing the same material, containing the same explanations and the same techniques that had given his students in 1933 – when they were firmly students of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu.

Further, we have Morihiro Saito’s repeated testimony that what the Founder taught him in Iwama in the 1960’s most closely resembled what appears in the publication “Budo”, from 1938.

Morihiro Saito BudoMorihiro Saito references the 1938 teaching manual “Budo”

“I once doubted that Saito Sensei’s methods were closely rooted in O-Sensei’s teachings because of the apparent differences in their execution of techniques. I based myself on the Founder’s demonstrations in the films from his final years where he performed very few techniques, many of them involving little contact with his uke. On the other hand, Saito Sensei’s aikido was precise, martial and technically diverse. However, I was forced to reevaluate my opinion on this key point following the discovery of O-Sensei’s 1938 technical manual “Budo” where photos of several key basic techniques are virtually identical to the aikido forms taught by Saito Sensei in Iwama. My later exposure to the more than 1,000 photos from the Noma Dojo series of 1935 reinforced this change in my thinking.”
– Stanley Pranin, Aikido Journal editor
The Iwama Aikido Conundrum

There is another important person, Takuma HIsa, who had a chance to compare the teachings of his two instructors – Daito-ryu Chuku-no-so Sokaku Takeda and Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba:

Takeda’s instruction gave Hisa the chance to compare the techniques that he had been taught for the previous three years (1933-1936) by Ueshiba with those taught by Takeda. His conclusion was that they were the same—meaning that Ueshiba had not by that time significantly modified or evolved what he had been taught by Takeda. In later years, Hisa was adamant about Ueshiba’s and Takeda’s techniques being identical. He stated this clearly at a round table talk, “When Tomiki came to Osaka to teach aiki-bujutsu to the Asahi people, the techniques that both master Ueshiba and Takeda taught were the same. Definitely the same. Master Ueshiba should say that he was taught them by master Takeda. He should say that it was Daitoryu. But he never said that. Mr. Tomiki (who also traveled from Tokyo to Osaka to teach Ueshiba’s system at the Asahi dojo) knows this, doesn’t he. But Ueshiba never said it.” And Tomiki answered, “Definitely not. ‘I [Ueshiba] established everything…[smiling mysteriously]’. However old martial artists would often do that way.” [Shishida (Ed.), 1982, p.1]

“The Process of Forming Aikido and Japanese Imperial Navy Admiral Isamu Takeshita: Through the analysis of Takeshita’s diary from 1925 to 1931”
 – Fumiaki Shishida (Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan)

The explanations of principle and technique showing what Takuma HIsa learned in 1933 (“Budo Renshu”) are repeated in 1938 (“Budo”), which Morihiro Saito testified was what Morihei Ueshiba was teaching in Iwama in the 1950’s and 1960’s. This is supported by the fact that the identical explanations and techniques appear in 1954 (“Aikido Maki-no-ichi”), in a volume distributed by Morihei Ueshiba long after the war.

All of this lends further support to the argument that the radical phase change to the technical core of Aikido that is so commonly accepted to have occurred after the war…never happened. Or perhaps, it happened, but not at the behest of Morihei Ueshiba.

There is a discussion of this issue in “The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray” which you may like to read if you find this interesting.

One last tidbit before we proceed to the download…

Kannagara no Budo“Kannagara no Budo – Daito-ryu Aiki Budo Hiden”, 1942

Here we have the same technique appearing in Takuma HIsa’s “Kannagara no Budo – Daito-ryu Aiki Budo Hiden”, published in 1942. Takuma Hisa received Menkyo Kaiden in Daito-ryu from Sokaku Takeda in 1939. Interestingly, he gives there the same exact explanation (word for word) about Shomenuchi in this book about Daito-ryu that Morihei Ueshiba gave in “Budo Renshu” in 1933…which is also the same exact word for word explanation that appears in “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi” in 1954.

“Strike while exercising the technique of the unity of opposites (陰陽合致) in the hand-sword.”

The “opposites” above are, translated more literally, “In” and “Yo”, “Yin” and “Yang”, the core principles that suffuse so much of Morihei Ueshiba’s explanations, and form the basis for Chinese martial arts and cosmology. Interesting in and of itself, but it is also interesting that the bulk of the explanation of principle and technique through this entire book about Daito-ryu…duplicates the text in Morihei Ueshiba’s 1933 and 1938 manuals, and that the same explanations that appear in Morihei Ueshiba’s 1954 manual.

And now, the full scanned PDF version of the 1938 technical manual “Budo”, by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba:

Enjoy!


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

The post Budo – Moritaka Ueshiba’s 1938 Technical Manual appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

]]>
http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/budo-moritaka-ueshiba-1938-technical-manual/feed/ 7