Aikido Sangenkai Blog Honolulu, Hawaii - Oahu 2016-07-22T15:48:33Z http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/feed/atom/ WordPress Christopher Li http://www.aikidosangenkai.org <![CDATA[Aikijujutsu Densho – AKA Budo Renshu, by Moritaka Ueshiba]]> http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2525 2016-07-18T03:14:39Z 2016-07-18T03:14:39Z Aikido Founder Morihei (Moritaka) Ueshiba “Aikijujutsu Densho” AKA “Budo Renshu”, 1934 From the early 1920’s 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 … Continue reading Aikijujutsu Densho – AKA Budo Renshu, by Moritaka Ueshiba »

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Aikido Founder Morihei UeshibaAikido Founder Morihei (Moritaka) Ueshiba
“Aikijujutsu Densho” AKA “Budo Renshu”, 1934

From the early 1920’s 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”).

The actual voice of Onisaburo Deguchi chanting Shinto prayers

It was during this time period that he published the books “Budo” (1938) and “Budo Renshu” (1933), which both appeared under the name “Moritaka Ueshiba” (植芝守高).

Aikijujutsu Densho - Mokuroku pageThe last page of “Aikijujutsu Densho” (“Budo Renshu”) showing its
status as a licensing document, issued in Showa year 9 (1934).
Signed “Ueshiba Moritaka” and stamped (top right) “Aikijujutsu”.

“Budo” was originally created for Prince Kaya Tsunenori, a member of a collateral branch of the imperial family. Kayanomiya would eventually become Superintendant of the Army Toyama School – where Morihei Ueshiba would act as an instructor before the war. An English edition (“Budo: Teachings of the Founder of Aikido“), translated by John Stevens, was published in 1991, and a separate edition -“Budo: Commentary on the 1938 Training Manual of Morihei Ueshiba“, translated by Sonoko Tanaka and Stanley Pranin, was published in 1999.

“Budo Renshu” (published in English under the name “Budo Training in Aikido“), published in 1933, was given to select students as a teaching license. Unlike “Budo”, which is composed of still photographs of Morihei Ueshiba demonstrating technique, “Budo Renshu” is composed of pictures hand drawn by Takako Kunigoshi, a student at Morihei Ueshiba’s Kobukan Dojo who began training shortly before her graduation from Japan Women’s Fine Arts University. This was also discussed in the article “Three Doka and the Aiki O-Kami“.

“Budo Renshu” also contains detailed written explanations of the forms and principles of Morihei Ueshiba’s art that were largely complied and edited by Kenji Tomiki, one of Morihei Ueshiba’s senior students who began training at the Kobukan Dojo in Tokyo around 1926.

More information about Tomiki Sensei is available in the articles “Kenji Tomiki: Judo Taiso – a method of training Aiki no Jutsu through Judo principles” and “Aikido Shihan Kenji Tomiki’s Goshinjutsu“.

In 1954 Morihei Ueshiba published “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi”, edited by Ni-Dai Doshu Kisshomaru (Koetsu) Ueshiba. This book, which was not publicly distributed (but is available here), duplicates most of the text and many of the drawings that first appeared in the 1933 publication “Budo Renshu”. That is to say – this book demonstrates that the technical explanations, both written and graphical, and the descriptions of principles that Morihei Ueshiba taught were the same in 1954 as they were in 1933, when the art was called “Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu”.

The document that will be available for download below, as well as the rest of the content on this site, is provided free of charge as a service to the community, and will continue to remain free of charge. You can help support this project by contributing a little bit to help support our efforts. Every donation (even $1) is greatly appreciated and helps to cover our server and bandwidth costs, and the time involved. The more support that we get the more interesting new content we can get out there!

By donating you also help support our efforts at Aikido Hawaii, which has provided a state-wide resource for all Aikido in Hawaii, regardless of style or affiliation, for almost twenty years.

Thanks,
Chris

The edition of “Budo Renshu” that will be available for download below is presented courtesy of Scott Burke, who lives in Fukuoka, but often comes to Hawaii to join the local Sangenkai workshops. He was also generous enough to provide scanned copies of “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi” and “Kenji Tomiki: Judo Taiso – a method of training Aiki no Jutsu through Judo principles“. It was issued by Morihei (Moritaka) Ueshiba in Showa year 9 – 1934.

The cover of Aikijujutsu DenshoThe cover of “Aikijujutsu Densho”

As you may have noted above, the actual title on the cover of the book is not “Budo Renshu” (武道練習), but rather “Aikijujutsu Densho” (合気柔術伝書).

The book opens with a formal portrait of the founder (above) and includes photos of Morihei Ueshiba demonstrating Happo Bunshin (八方分身) at the Kobukan Dojo in Ushigome (Wakamatsu-vho) that opened in 1931. The technique he was showing was included in the Daito-ryu scrolls issued in that same year.

If you look closely, the person the second from the right in both photographs is none other than Aikido 9th Dan Rinjiro Shirata, who was known as the “Kobukan Prodigy”.

Rinjiro Shirata in Aikijujutsu Densho

Happo bunshin – second from right in both photos:
Rinjiro Shirata Sensei (白田林次郎)

Shirata Sensei was one of the few post-war Aikido instructors to have received copies of both “Budo Renshu” and “Budo” directly from Morihei Ueshiba before the war.

Here’s a little interlude about Ichiro Shibata’s experiences when he encountered Rinjiro Shirata in 1977 (from “It Had To Be Felt #21: Shibata Ichiro: A Lean and Hungry Look“, by Ellis Amdur: ):

Another day that I vividly recall was during the first International Aikido Federation consolidation in, I believe, 1977. That morning, instead of Doshu, Shirata Rinjiro sensei taught class. There were easily one hundred and fifty people on the mat. Shirata sensei was allotted one and one-half hours. The majority of the students were foreign, with a particularly numerous French contingent, many of whom had high dan rankings. Shirata sensei had a very quiet demeanor, very gentle, very humble. The manners of French students were particularly appalling. Shirata sensei bowed in and started warm-ups. Many of these high-ranking Europeans started engaging in conversations, ignoring the warm-ups (these were not the dojo regulars — these were representatives of national organizations, many of whom ranked each other, who behaved with all the uncouth gaucherie of a United Nations bureaucrat with diplomatic immunity). After fifteen minutes (this was one of those “hidden in plain sight” moments — he did some solo exercises that, as poorly as I remember, I’d never seen before), Shirata sensei took a bokken. He started speaking about shihonage, underscoring what an important technique it was, and demonstrated shihogiri with the bokken. With surely a chuckle — well aware that the majority of those in the class were dismissing him merely because he was unknown to them – he said, “I’m sorry, I don’t know much about the sword. Osensei developed a lot of things after I studied with him.” The French kept talking, something that Shirata sensei ignored. I made a small mark at this point, because two of these six dans were standing, conversing in front of me, in the front row of the serried ranks of students <yes, standing!> while he was teaching, and enraged, I grabbed both of them by the koshiita of their hakama and slammed them into seiza, like cracking a whip. They whirled around and I said, “Shut the f**k up.” Cross-cultural communication — they understood my English! — and they turned around, bustling like a couple of broody hens on their knees. I suddenly felt a hard poke in my back. I turned around, ready for some kind of Gallic expostulations, and there was Waka-sensei (Moriteru), giggling with a big grin on his face.

Then Shirata sensei called Shibata-san out for ukemi. It didn’t start out well. The class was over one-half hour old, the old man had just done warm-ups and a “simple” set of sword swings, and he hadn’t exerted any authority over the class. Shibata-san, perhaps, can be forgiven, in that he reached out, in bored fashion, to take what he apparently assumed was a nice, apparently ineffectual old guy’s arm. I should mention that Shirata sensei’s hands were huge, like rhododendron bushes hanging from massive wrists. Imagine Shibata-san sticking out an arm towards the west. Shirata-sensei went further west. And further. I believe he covered one 1/3 the width of the Aikikai’s mat. Shibata-san’s face was like that of Wiley Coyote in the Roadrunner cartoons when he realizes that the rope he took hold of was attached to an anvil that had just been dropped off a cliff. The final cut of Shirata sensei’s shihonage was like Itto-ryu’s primordial cut: perfectly centered, from sky to ground, except he was cutting with a human being in his hands instead of a sword. Shibata-san made one of the most magnificent recoveries I’ve ever seen. I truly thought his arm was going to be ripped off his body, but he managed, with two huge strides and a dive to get around in time to take a thunderous breakfall. Shirata sensei threw him three more times, Shibata-san taking impeccable ukemi now, and he got up, a man in love. Others of us felt the same, both for the deserved come-uppance of our well-liked, but feared sempai, and also for this unknown-to-us, titanically powerful old man. Unbelievably, though, many of the French were still talking, casually strolling off the mat, even as Shirata sensei demonstrated another technique. Shibata-san, who, I’m sure, had been fuming at their behavior already, launched himself like an out-of-orbit comet managing a multiple attack of the entire Western world. Well, actually, he attacked the entire Western world. He was sweeping around the mat, jumping in to a pair of practicing foreigners, and grabbing one after another, launching them through the air, off the mat onto the wooden runway, or literally splattering them against the walls, then moving on to another pale-skinned pair and doing the same. It was like watching a fin-nipper in an aquarium, with all the guppies swirling away every time he drew near, one after another caught and mangled. Then, all of a sudden, he grabbed me, and spinning, wound up to throw me right into a wall. I managed to step inside him and turn, an inward tai-no-henko, spun him another half turn, and with our momentum, his back slammed against the wall. His eyes were blank and he raised a fist, but before he knocked me out, I grabbed his shoulders and yelled, “Shibata-san, Ore da! Ore da!” (It’s me! It’s me!). He shook himself like a wolf throwing off water, patted me on the shoulder and in English, said in a merry tone, “Oh, I’m sorry!” and spun away, grabbed another Frenchman and sent him flying.

The last half-hour of the class was much better behaved, I must say. Shirata sensei simply continued, unperturbed throughout the entire time, as if to say, “I’m simply here doing what I’m doing. If you want to pay attention, you are welcome.”

Just one more interesting note before we get to the download…..it is immediately apparent from comparing the post-war versions of “Budo Renshu” that were published by the Aikikai and Ni-Dai Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba (published in English under the name “Budo Training in Aikido“) to the original edition that in the post-war version many of the drawings have been re-traced. This is most-likely because they were working from photocopies or other low quality copies of the original work. What is interesting, is that many of the people in the post-war drawings appear to be….happier!

Budo Renshu - pre-war versionOriginal version – stern and focused Kobukan practitioners
Note the downturned eyebrows

Budo Renshu - post-war versionPost-war version – happy Aikikai practitioners

And now, the full scanned PDF version of the 1934 “Aikijujutsu Densho” AKA “Budo Renshu”:

Enjoy!


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

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Christopher Li http://www.aikidosangenkai.org <![CDATA[Aikido Shihan Kenji Tomiki’s Goshinjutsu]]> http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2478 2016-06-26T16:40:54Z 2016-06-25T22:35:37Z Around 1926 – the year Kenji Tomiki started Aikido Morihei Ueshiba next to Admiral Isamu Takeshita, Center rear: the son of Gonnohyoe Yamamoto* Lt. Colonel Kiyoshi Yamamoto Kenji Tomiki standing next to Kiyoshi Yamamoto Right: nephew of Gonnohyoe Yamamoto* Vice Admiral Eisuke Yamamoto *Admiral Gonnohyoe Yamamoto was the 16th and 22nd Prime Minister of Japan Kenji Tomiki … Continue reading Aikido Shihan Kenji Tomiki’s Goshinjutsu »

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Kenji Tomiki with Morihei Ueshiba in 1926

Around 1926 – the year Kenji Tomiki started Aikido
Morihei Ueshiba next to Admiral Isamu Takeshita,
Center rear: the son of Gonnohyoe Yamamoto*
Lt. Colonel Kiyoshi Yamamoto
Kenji Tomiki standing next to Kiyoshi Yamamoto

Right: nephew of Gonnohyoe Yamamoto*
Vice Admiral Eisuke Yamamoto

*Admiral Gonnohyoe Yamamoto was
the 16th and 22nd Prime Minister of Japan

Kenji Tomiki (富木謙治) began training under Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu in 1926.  He was largely responsible for the compilation and editing of the text in Morihei Ueshiba’s 1933 training manual “Budo Renshu”  (published in English under the name “Budo Training in Aikido“), and was later appointed to be Morihei Ueshiba’s representative at Kenkoku University in Japanese occupied Manchuria.

At the time that he started training with Morihei Ueshiba he was already a student of Judo – an uchi-deshi (“live-in student”) to Judo Founder Jigoro Kano. He was encouraged to visit Ueshiba by a fellow Judo student at Waseda, Hidetaro Kubota (who later changed his name to Nishimura), who had trained with Morihei Ueshiba in Ayabe during the 1920’s.

Daido GakuinDaido Gakuin (大同学院) in Manchuria prior to 1945

In 1936 Tomiki left Tokyo to become a part time instructor at Daido Gakuin in Japanese occupied Manchuria. Before he left he went to pay his respects to Jigoro Kano, and was told:

「富木君、講道館には植芝さんのところで君が学んできたような技が必要なんだ。昔の柔術というのは、みな植芝さんと同じようなことをするのだ。しかし、あれをどうやって練習させるかが難しいんだよ」

“Tomiki-kun, the Kodokan needs the kinds of techniques that you learned at Ueshiba-san’s place. Because the jujutsu of the past, they all do the same kinds of things that Ueshiba-san does. But it’s how to practice those things that is difficult!”

This was Kenji Tomiki’s conundrum after the war, just as it was a conundrum for JIgoro Kano, and even Kisshomaru Ueshiba – namely, how the older arts could and should be modified for popularization among the general public (there’s a little about the changes in post-war modern Aikikai Aikido in “The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray“) .

Judo TaisoA page from “Judo Taiso” by Kenji Tomiki, 1954

In 1954 Tomiki published a book called “Judo Taiso” (“Judo Exercises” – the book is available for free download from the article “Kenji Tomiki: Judo Taiso – a method of training Aiki no Jutsu through Judo principles“). This book represents some of Tomiki’s earlier work at integrating the work of his two teachers and then presenting the results to the general public.

“Judo Taiso” (mentioned above), the texts that will be available for download below, and the rest of the content on this site are provided free of charge as a service to the community. You can help support this project by contributing a little bit to help support our efforts. Every donation (even $1) is greatly appreciated and helps to cover our server and bandwidth costs, and the time involved. The more support that we get the more interesting new content we can get out there!

By donating you also help support our efforts at Aikido Hawaii, which has provided a state-wide resource for all Aikido in Hawaii, regardless of style or affiliation, for almost twenty years.

Thanks,
Chris

When Keizou Yamamoto (山本敬三) went to train with Kenji Tomiki at Waseda University in 1957 he encountered that book:

Although I had gone to Waseda University with the intention of learning Aikido, we were given a booklet called “Judo Taiso”, and we did the Judo exercises that Sensei had invented. I understood at last, years later, that Sensei had deeply respected the late Jigoro Kano Sensei – “The way that I see Aikido is through Judo”, he said. In the forward to that book that Tomiki Sensei wrote was the following:

“I was introduced to Kodokan Judo some forty-five years ago, when I was in elementary school. Leading to the present day I have received instruction beginning with the late Jigoro Kano Sensei, and then through many Sempai. From around thirty years ago I was taught Aikido by Morihei Ueshiba Sensei. “Judo Taiso” was born through the comprehensive study of both of these people, with the structure based on Aikido technique. The movement of the body has been transformed to modern gymnastics and with this the unification of power developed through the “Principles of Judo” and the management of the body can be practiced.”

Tomiki further discussed some of the issues surrounding this problem in this interview with Aikido Journal, in which he was asked about some of the spectacular feats that Morihei Ueshiba was able to perform with his internal skills:

This problem is one of modern physical education’s muscle training. It’s called isometrics. That is to say, by pushing or pulling you train either the outer muscles or the inner muscles. When you get perfect at this form of training you can hardly see any muscle movement at all during the exercise. When you can’t see any movement you are using the muscle very skillfully. But, in the educational field if you demand a similar level of perfection then you are making a big mistake. If anyone trains sufficiently it is possible to do it to some degree, but, of course, there are limits what a human being can do. Perfection is a problem of belief. Can we call it religious faith? If we have to disrupt our partner’s psychological state through some hypnotic technique it would not be a matter of religion as we usually think of the word. I for one, take the normal point of view that education appropriate for the general public is correct and I think aikido should be something usual, or normal, as well.

Tomiki wasn’t alone in these sentiments, his teacher Jigoro Kano also wrestled with the problem of balancing his desire to preserve the traditional arts of Japan with the his desire to create an art that would be suitable for the modern educational system and the general public:

The pioneer who modernized the feudal era schools of bujutsu and brought them to into the context of modern physical education was Master Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo. When I say that he modernized ancient bujutsu, what I mean is that, first of all, he categorized and arranged the techniques so that they transcended schools. The main feature of this rearrangement was organizing and categorizing the major techniques according to the form of combat, so as to make tournaments (shiai) possible. 
– “On Jujutsu and its Modernization” by Kenji Tomiki

And Kano dealt with similar issues as well – according to Takamura-ha Shindo Yoshin-ryu (新道楊心流)  Menkyo Kaiden Toby Threadgill, there was a point in time when the entire Internal Power (内力の業) training syllabus of Shindo Yoshin-ryu was included in Kodokan Judo textbooks – a chapter that was removed from later editions. Here he speaks a little bit about that section of the training:

They are solo exercises that inculcate the proper balance, movement and muscular application utilized in our greater curriculum. These types of exercises are actually quite ubiquitous in Japanese jujutsu schools of the Edo Period, although they are rather unfamiliar to those outside the membership of specific Nihon koryu. According to Yoshin ryu lore, this form of body training was introduced to Japan from China in the mid-Edo Period. In the case of Yoshin ryu, the Nairiki no Gyo were specifically created adaptations of Chinese practices intended to augment the study and application of specific body skills required in Yoshin ryu’s greater curriculum.
– From “An Interview With: Toby Threadgill, Menkyo Kaiden, Takamura ha Shindo Yoshin ryu

In the end, Tomiki opted to follow Jigoro Kano’s thinking and introduce a form of competitive Aikido:

I introduced Randori Aikido so that students could make their techniques more effective by ‘free play’. These techniques originate from Kata and can develop through Randori to competition. In order to teach the spirit of Budo in a modern educational system, it is necessary to introduce it as a sport. The reason I developed Randori Aikido from Kata Aikido is because I wished to follow the method and thinking of Dr. Jigaro Kano in which he evolved Judo from old style Jujutsu

That would lead to his eventual break with the Aikikai and the Ueshiba family over the issue of competition in Aikido. Morehei Ueshiba’s granson Moriteru Ueshiba even went so far as to say that Aikido with competition can no longer be considered “Aikido”:

For example, those that have instituted competitive matches have obviously forgotten the true nature of Aikido, and cannot be called Aikido.
– From “Aikido ™ – Can it really be trademarked?

Nonetheless, Tomiki was still in Morihei Ueshiba’s thoughts in his last moments, as we see here in this recollection from Yoshinkan Aikido Founder Gozo Shioda:

Four of the younger deshi were staying with Sensei. He was asleep when I went there, but he suddenly woke up and said, “It’s you, thanks for coming. I’m riding on a winged horse around the heavens. I can see the earth. Shioda, what is [Kenji] Tomiki doing now? I’m watching.”

At that time Kisshomaru had changed his name and was called Koetsu. He was waiting at the foot of the bed and Ueshiba Sensei said the following, “Shioda, I want you to support Koetsu on the technical side. I want you always to cooperate with him. I’m counting on you.” Kisshomaru stood there and listened.
– From Aiki News issue 93 (now Aikido Journal)

So…now we have a couple of downloadable documents in PDF format (provided from scans originating with Eddy Wolput and the Study Group Tomiki Aikido).

Kenji Tomiki - Goshin Jutsu no KataKenji Tomiki shows a technique from the Goshinjutsu no Kata

The first is “Kodokan Goshinjutsu” (講道館護身術), by Kenji Tomiki. This is Kenji Tomiki’s commentary on the Kodokan Goshinjutsu no Kata (講道館護身術の形 / Kodokan Self Defense Kata), first published in 1958.

The Kodokan Goshinjutsu no Kata is a set of pre-arranged forms, set techniques, intended to focus on self-defense applications. Created by a Kodokan committee over a period of some three years, Kenji Tomiki had a huge influence on the final form of the Kata.

In the introduction to the Kodokan book “Goshinjutsu”, Risei Kano (嘉納 履正), Jigoro Kano’s son and the second president of the International Judo Federation, wrote:

The writer of this Book, Professor Kenji Tomiki, has deep understanding of Judo as Professor of Waseda University and also is an authority on the research of Aiki-Jutsu in the light of Judo principles. In formulating the Goshin Jutsu no Kata, he played a leading role in the panel.

Kenji Tomiki and Tadao Otaki gave the first public demonstration of the Goshin Jutsu no Kata at the Kagami Biraki in 1956 at the Nippon Budokan.

Kenji Tomiki - Introduction to Goshinjutsu“Introduction to Goshinjutsu” by Kenji Tomiki, 1974

Next is Kenji Tomiki’s “Introduction to Goshinjutsu” (護身術入門), published in 1974. This book is an interesting follow-up to the “Kenji Tomiki: Judo Taiso – a method of training Aiki no Jutsu through Judo principles” publication mentioned above.

It is also clearly aimed at the general public, although there are also some interesting sections.

Teko no Genri - Kenji Tomiki, Introduction to Goshinjutsu

For example, here is one about the “Principle of the Lever”. Here Tomiki talks about Yin/Yang (In/Yo) opposing forces with a central non-moving pivot in the text, but in terms of modern mechanics as a force couple. According to Wikipedia this is defined:

A couple is a pair of forces, equal in magnitude, oppositely directed, and displaced by perpendicular distance or moment.

Further:

Its effect is to create rotation without translation, or more generally without any acceleration of the centre of mass.

The above ought to be familiar material to those folks training in the Sangenkai method.

Also, here is one demonstration using a spinning top to illustrate the stability and power of spiral force:

Koma no GenriThe principle of the spinning  top

Gendai AikiThe “Gendai Aiki” correspondence course

As a final bonus, the six volume “Gendai Aiki” series of books below is a 1970’s correspondence course in Aikido – the type of course one often sees advertised in the back of Manga and other popular magazines. The series was not authored by Kenji Tomiki, but was clearly written by someone who had experience with the Tomiki system of Aikido. I hope that you find these interesting as well.

Enjoy!


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

The post Aikido Shihan Kenji Tomiki’s Goshinjutsu appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

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Christopher Li http://www.aikidosangenkai.org <![CDATA[Kenji Tomiki: Judo Taiso – a method of training Aiki no Jutsu through Judo principles]]> http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2460 2016-06-12T16:40:54Z 2016-06-12T16:40:54Z “Secret Teachings of Budo (Poems)” – from “Budo Renshu”, 1933 also see “Three Doka and the Aiki O-Kami“ The first known book published by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba (“Moritaka Ueshiba” at the time of publishing) was the 1933 training manual “Budo Renshu”  (published in English under the name “Budo Training in Aikido“). This manual was initially … Continue reading Kenji Tomiki: Judo Taiso – a method of training Aiki no Jutsu through Judo principles »

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Budo Renshu - Secret Teaching Poems

“Secret Teachings of Budo (Poems)” – from “Budo Renshu”, 1933
also see “Three Doka and the Aiki O-Kami

The first known book published by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba (“Moritaka Ueshiba” at the time of publishing) was the 1933 training manual “Budo Renshu”  (published in English under the name “Budo Training in Aikido“). This manual was initially given to his students as a kind of a teaching license.

It was filled with illustrations depicting techniques taught at the Kobukan Dojo which were drawn by Takako Kunigoshi, a student at the Kobukan who began training shortly before her graduation from Japan Women’s Fine Arts University.

The text portions of this work were largely complied and edited by Kenji Tomiki, one of Morihei Ueshiba’s senior students. Kenji Tomiki began training at the Kobukan Dojo in Tokyo around 1926 after being encouraged to meet Morihei Ueshiba by Hidetaro Kubota (who later changed his name to Nishimura), a fellow Judo student at Waseda.

Kobukan Gasshuku in 1934Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, back row center
Kenji Tomiki, back row right (red box)
1934 summer gasshuku, from the Kobukan Dojo newsletter “Kobu” (皇武)

Hidetaro Kubota had trained with Morihei Ueshiba in Ayabe, on the Omoto-kyo compound. One of Kuboto’s fellow students, Yutaka Otsuki(大槻豊), would later go on to found his own school of “Otsuki-ryu Aiki-jujutsu”.

Otsuki-ryu Aiki-jujutsu HIden Ogi“Hiden Ogi” scroll issued in “Otsuki-ryu Aiki-jujutsu” by Yutaka Otsuki (大槻豊), 1940

Kenji Tomiki, also a senior student of Judo Founder Jigoro Kano, would go on to become Morihei Ueshiba’s designated representative at Kenkoku University in Japanese occupied Manchuria.

Kenji Tomiki and Morihei Ueshiba in 1942Kenji Tomiki and Morihei Ueshiba in Manchuria, 1942

When the Dan ranking system became required by the consolidation of Japanese martial arts by the Japanese government prior to World War II under the Dai Nippon Butokukai he would receive the very first 8th Dan ever to be issued by Morihei Ueshiba.

Tomiki was an instructor at Aikikai Hombu Dojo after the war, but a division gradually developed over the issue of competition in Aikido and the division grew into a split between Tomiki and the Aikikai organization when Tomiki established his Shodokan Dojo in 1967 to refine his teaching methods and then held public tournaments beginning in 1970.

The cover of Aikido Maki-no-Ichi, 1954

“Aikido Maki-no-Ichi”, published by the Aikikai in 1954

In 1954 Morihei Ueshiba published “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi”, edited by Ni-Dai Doshu Kisshomaru (Koetsu) Ueshiba. This book, which was not publicly distributed (but is available here), duplicates much of the text and many of the drawings that first appeared in the 1933 publication “Budo Renshu” – text that was originally compiled and edited primarily by Kenji Tomiki.

Also in 1954, Kenji Tomiki published a book demonstrating his own efforts at combining the scientific methodology and educational pedagogy that he had absorbed from Jigoro Kano with the teachings that he had received from Morihei Ueshiba.

Judo Taiso, by Kenji Tomiki Sensei

“Judo Taiso – a method of training Aiki no Jutsu through Judo principles”
by Kenji Tomiki, 1954

Like “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi” mentioned above, this manuscript (which includes a forward written by Jigoro Kano’s son Risei Kano – 嘉納 履正) was recovered through the efforts of Scott Burke, who lives in Fukuoka, but often comes to Hawaii to join the local Sangenkai workshops.

About half of the work itself is text – but the pictorial content in the remaining sections should be understandable even to non-Japanese speakers.

Enjoy!


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

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Christopher Li http://www.aikidosangenkai.org <![CDATA[Aikido Maki-no-Ichi – O-Sensei’s First Book on Aikido]]> http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2386 2016-06-24T20:53:47Z 2016-05-16T00:29:50Z The cover of “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi” (1954) and the first page of the technical explanations This page is identical to the first page of “Budo Renshu” (1933) The 1933 training manual “Budo Renshu”  (published in English under the name “Budo Training in Aikido“) was initially given to the students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba as a … Continue reading Aikido Maki-no-Ichi – O-Sensei’s First Book on Aikido »

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The cover of Aikido Maki-no-Ichi, 1954

The cover of “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi” (1954) and the first page of the technical explanations
This page is identical to the first page of “Budo Renshu” (1933)

The 1933 training manual “Budo Renshu”  (published in English under the name “Budo Training in Aikido“) was initially given to the students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba as a kind of a teaching license. It was hand illustrated by Takako Kunigoshi, a student at Morihei Ueshiba’s Kobukan Dojo who began training shortly before her graduation from Japan Women’s Fine Arts University. This was also discussed in the article “Three Doka and the Aiki O-Kami“.

Daiwa Goshinjutsu - Isamu Takeshita

Women’s self-defense demonstration.
Fujiko Suzuki (鈴木富治子 or 富士子), founder of Daiwa Goshinjutsu (大和流護身術)、 left
Sokaku Takeda and Morihei Ueshiba student Admiral Isamu Takeshita on the right.
The book “Daiwa Goshinjutsu” was published in 1937 and illustrated by Takako Kunigoshi.

In 1938 Morihei Ueshiba privately published another book, a technical manual called “Budo”, for Prince Tsunenori Kaya, who was one of his students at the time. This manual was (re) discovered entirely by chance by Aikido Journal editor Stanley Pranin during an interview with Zenzaburo Akazawa.

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“. Oddly, “Budo” has never been published in Japanese (with the exception that the Morihiro Saito commentary contains both Japanese and English).

I’ve discussed parts of this book before, in articles such as “Morihei Ueshiba, Budo and Kamae” and the following parts two and three.

In 1954 a book called “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi” was privately published by the Aikikai Foundation – 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 practising 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].

Now, you don’t have to be too sharp to note that Aikido Maki-no-Ichi was not Morihei Ueshiba’s first book, since it was preceded by (at least) both “Budo Renshu” and “Budo”, but it is the first book by the Founder that contains “Aikido” in the title and was published after World War II and the formal adoption of the name “Aikido” for Morihei Ueshiba’s art.

So what is it? This book was privately published and distributed in 1954 by the Aikikai Foundation in mimeographed bound format, and was edited by Koetsu Ueshiba (Ni-Dai Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba’s birth name).

aikido-maki-no-ichi-backThe back pages of Aikido Maki-no-Ichi
On the left – the signature of Koetsu Ueshiba, dated April 8th Showa 31 (1956)
On the right – published April 1st of Showa 29 (1954) by the Aikikai Foundation
and authored by Koetsu Ueshiba, Wakamatsu-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

The material will be familiar to you if you are already familiar with Morihei Ueshiba’s pre-war publications. The text is mostly a combination of text from both “Budo Renshu” and “Budo” (cleansed of most of the pre-war imperial language), with the bulk of the book (which totals some 150 pages) consisting primarily of hand illustrated techniques from “Budo Renshu”.

Why does this matter, except as a curiosity? Well, this work is significant because it shows that what Morihei Ueshiba was teaching in 1954 was the same as what he was teaching in 1933. That five years after he told Morihiro Saito in Iwama 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.

Atemi in Budo Renshu and Aikido Maki-no-IchiAtemi
“Budo Renshu”, 1933 on the left  /  “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi“, 1954 on the right

In other words, the idea of a radical phase change in the technical core of Aikido after the war that is so commonly accepted…never happened.

This supports what Yasuo Kobayashi said about what he practiced during the early 1950’s at Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo:

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 issue interesting.

This won’t be news to everybody, of course, Morihiro Saito used to carry a copy of the 1938 technical manual “Budo” with him while he was teaching so that he could show people that what O-Sensei had taught him in Iwama after the war most closely resembled what was represented in that manual published before the war, and not necessarily what was commonly being taught in other places.

Kamae - from the technical manual Budo, 1938
Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba demonstrates Kamae in “Budo”, 1938
“In footwork there is an external six directions and an internal six directions as well as an outer spiral and an internal spiral, this will be taught in practice.”
– From “Morihei Ueshiba, Budo and Kamae

Aikido Maki-no-Ichi, on KamaeThe identical instructions appear in the Kamae section of “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi”, 1954

What is news is that, for the first time, this 1954 work presents hard evidence that what Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba was teaching and distributing after the war in the 1950’s was essentially the same material that he was teaching and distributing before the war. That, while some things changed, of course, there was no phase shift in core technology, or radical invention of new martial technology.

We also have this very interesting study by John Driscoll, originally published on AikiWeb, the almost exact correlation between the techniques taught by Morihei Ueshiba and the techniques of the Daito-ryu Hiden Mokuroku shows the continuing technical links between the two arts.

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

So..how did “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi” come to see the light of day (and the light of the internet!)?

Last year I was talking to Scott Burke, who lives in Fukuoka, but often comes to Hawaii to join the Sangenkai workshops with Dan Harden.

Dan Harden and Scott Burke in Hawaii, December 2013

Scott Burke, left, in Hawaii – December 2013
Aiki-age at the Sangenkai workshop with Dan Harden

We got to talking about how riffling through old library archives led me to what I believe to be the oldest recorded interview with Morihei Ueshiba – the one contained in the article “A Leap of the Spirit – Moritaka (Morihei) Ueshiba in 1932“.

We talked about doing more of that kind of research (easier for Scott, since he’s actually in Japan), and Dan Harden encouraged the idea enthusiastically.

"Kannagara no Budo - Daito-ryu Aiki Budo Hiden"“Kannagara no Budo – Daito-ryu Aiki Budo Hiden”, by Takuma Hisa – 1942

After returning to Japan he started frequenting the prefectural library and accessing the university library catalogs, and things started moving. In addition to things like “Kannagara no Budo – Daito-ryu Aiki Budo Hiden”, published in 1942 by Takuma Hisa (which he published about Daito-ryu, as a menkyo kaiden in the art, but duplicates large sections of the text in “Budo Renshu” and “Budo”), he also came across….”Aikido Maki-no-Ichi”.

And now you have too – here is the 150 page complete scanned edition of “Aikido Maki-no-ichi” in PDF format. Published in 1954 and edited by Koetsu Ueshiba. There is only one alteration, the name to whom this particular volume was dedicated has been omitted for reasons of personal privacy.

 Enjoy!


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

The post Aikido Maki-no-Ichi – O-Sensei’s First Book on Aikido appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

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Christopher Li http://www.aikidosangenkai.org <![CDATA[Three Doka and the Aiki O-Kami]]> http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2297 2016-04-24T23:18:46Z 2016-04-24T23:17:42Z “The Secret Teachings of Budo (Poems)” – From “Budo Renshu” – 1933 The 1933 training manual “Budo Renshu”  (published in English under the name “Budo Training in Aikido“) was initially given to the students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba as a kind of a teaching license. It was filled with illustrations depicting techniques (such as the … Continue reading Three Doka and the Aiki O-Kami »

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The Secret Teachings of Budo“The Secret Teachings of Budo (Poems)” – From “Budo Renshu” – 1933

The 1933 training manual “Budo Renshu”  (published in English under the name “Budo Training in Aikido“) was initially given to the students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba as a kind of a teaching license.

It was filled with illustrations depicting techniques (such as the one above) taught at the Kobukan Dojo which were drawn by Takako Kunigoshi, a student at the Kobukan who began training shortly before her graduation from Japan Women’s Fine Arts University.

Takako Kunigoshi and Shigemi Yonekawa

Takako Kunigoshi and Shigemi Yonekawa

It is believed that the sections of text were assembled by Kenji Tomiki, under the direction of Morihei Ueshiba.

Among the text that precedes the technical portion of the manual is a section entitled “The Secret Teachings of Budo (Poems)” that contains many of the Doka (“Poems of the Way”) written by O-Sensei.

There is a similar collection in the 1938 technical manual “Budo”. 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“, but if memory serves that edition did not include the Doka.

Together, those two collections make up the bulk of the pre-war Doka that exist today. There are also a number of Doka that appear in the post-war works of Morihei Ueshiba such as “Takemusu Aiki” (a highly abridged version of which was published by John Stevens as “The Heart of Aikido: The Philosophy of Takemusu Aiki“).

The Doka are often quoted without context or explanation (for example, as they appear in John Stevens’ “The Art of Peace: Teachings of the Founder of Aikido“, or in various internet memes).

Why are they important?

Just like the man said – these are “The Secret Teachings of Budo (Poems)” – Morihei Ueshiba encoded many of the inner teachings of his art in these short poems.

Actually, it was/is a very common practice in China and Japan to preserve knowledge (particularly martial knowledge) in the form of poems or “songs” for future generations – and Morihei Ueshiba was no exception.

For example, here is one that was quoted by Morihei Ueshiba, who often stated that it contains the secret of Aikido:

来たれば即ち迎え、去れば即ち送り、
対すれば即ち和す。
五五の十
二八の十
一九の十
是を以て和すべし。
虚実を察し、陰伏を知り、
大は方処を絶ち、細は微塵に入る。
殺活機にあり、変化時に応ず。
事に臨んで心を動ずること莫(なかれ)や。

If it comes, then meet it, if it leaves, then send it away.
If it resists, than harmonize it.
5 and 5 are 10.
2 and 8 are 10.
1 and 9 are 10.
You should harmonize like this.
Intuit true and false, know what is hidden,
The large suppresses all, the small enters the microscopic.
There are chances for life and death, without reacting to changes.
Approach things without moving your heart (without being disturbed).

The above is a passage from a Chinese text on strategy that is more than 900 years old – for a more detailed discussion about that you may want to read “Kiichi Hogen and the Secret of Aikido“.

For some some other examples, let’s take a look at a few of Morihei Ueshiba’s classic Doka here, and then take a brief look at how he further encoded his training method for future generations.

Here is the first Doka…

Morihei Ueshiba Doka - Spirit of Great Love

Doka and calligraphy by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

主之御親至愛

之心大壺空

世の営み之本と

生りぬる

“The spirit of the great love of the divine parent Su-,

vast and limitless.

It is the origin of the workings of the world

“Su-” (主) has one of those layered meanings that the Founder was so fond of using. While it is sometimes translated as “Lord” (we’ll see a place where that happened later on in this article), according to Seiseki Abe, the Founder’s calligraphy teacher (the original of the calligraphy above belonged to Abe Sensei), it represents two things – “breath” and Amenominakanushi (天御中主).

Let’s start with Amenominakanushi – the “Diety at the Absolute Center of Heaven” – the Founder said that this diety represents you, yourself.

Amenominakanushi was the first Kami to come into being on the “High Plain of Heaven” (“Takamagahara” / 高天原).

Where is the High Plain of Heaven?

Here’s what Masahisa Goi had to say about it:

高天原がここにあるんですよ。みんなの体ですよ。

Takamagahara is right here. It’s everyone’s body.

Goi Sensei was a close friend of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. The Founder once said that Goi was the only person who truly “knew his heart”. He was also the inventor of the Peace Prayer.

But there’s more about that, the Founder himself was quite specific:

タカマガハラも自分にあるのであります。天や地をさがしてもタカマガハラはありません。それが自己のうちにあることを悟ることであります。

“Takamagahara is within yourself. If you search for Takamagahara you will not find it on Heaven or Earth. That is when you will become enlightened to the fact that it exists within yourself.”

Morihei Ueshiba

from “Aikido and the Structure of the Universe

Amenominakanushi manifests in a triumvirate with Takamimusubi (representing “Yang” or “Heaven”) and Kamimusubi (representing “Yin” or “Earth”).

In other words, “Heaven-Earth-Man”, a.k.a. the “Sangen” (“Three Origins”) in “Sangenkai“. Yin and Yang opposing forces matched inside the body, inside oneself.

Further, these forces are bound together by “great love”. Here’s how that works out:

  1. Love is “Ai” = 愛 or “A”+”i”.
  2. “A”+”i” = 天 + 意, or the “intent of Heaven”

The technical reading here is that Yin and Yang are manifested as opposing forces through intent,  and this is the source of the “workings of the world” – this is how things move, how things work.

Now, before somebody says “well, what about the love part?” – there’s a multilayered meaning here that makes everything work out!

  1. According to Morihei Ueshiba’s teacher Onisaburo Deguchi there is selfish (“bad”) love and unselfish (“good”) love, and the love of the Kami is unselfish (“good”) love.
  2. Kami is written “K+a” and “M+i”. In other words, “Kami” is “Ai”, which is both “love” (the good kind!) and “heavenly intent”.

So we see that when Morihei Ueshiba said “Aiki is the study of intent” (合気は魂の学びである) and when he said “Aiki is love” (合気は愛なり) that he was referring to intertwined concepts in a phrase with multi-layered imagery.

That crossover between “intent” and “love” is actually key concept for Morihei Ueshiba, but that’s deep enough in that direction for the time being. Moving back on track…here’s a note about Heaven-Earth-Man in the Chinese arts before we move on to fire and water:

Ten-Chi-Jin, Heaven-Earth-Man

Heaven-Earth-Man – from “Illustrated Explanations of Chen Family Taijiquan”

From this fundamental triad, many other triads can be developed to explain internal arts and internal training. Heaven’s energy (yang qi) flows downward and is received by Earth. Earth’s energy (yin) flows upward. The two interact and co-mingle in living things.

Tom Bisio: “What is an Internal Art?

Now, let’s get to the “breath” part – if you remember, that was the second element represented by Su-, according to Seiseki Abe.

“Su is the beginning of universal breath, movement and power.

The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido“, by William Gleason

Breath” is “Iki” – which is commonly written 息, but that the Founder said was composed of the characters for “water” and “fire” (水火). According to Seiseki Abe what is being referred to in this Doka is the breathing in which fire and water are concentrated and mixed in the tanden (丹田).

火・水(カ・ミ)の動きによって中心ができる。中心ができるから万物の生「イキ」がある。これが水火の恵みという。 

It is through the movement of Fire and Water (“Ka” + “Mi”) that the center is created. It is because the center is created that the life (“Iki”) of all things exists. This is called the blessing of Water and Fire (“Iki”).

Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

Oral transmission to Bansen Tanaka

As seen above, “Fire and water” were often spoken about as “Kami” by the Founder (adding more layers to the multilayered encodings that the Founder delighted in using). “Kami” also means “God”, and of course the Founder often spoke of the Shinto gods as well, which illustrates the importance of background knowledge when attempting to put the speeches and writings of the Founder in context.

Fire and water, by the way, didn’t originate with Morihei Ueshiba, they came from China – and from India before that. In China they are an integral part of the internal martial arts (as they were integral to Aikido for Morihei Ueshiba):

On the most basic level, internal martial arts and internal exercises focus on engaging with the two fundamental forces in the body, water and fire, the archetypal expressions of Heaven (yang) Earth (yin) which move within human beings. These forces have a relationship with the kidneys (water) and the heart (fire).

Tom Bisio: “What is an Internal Art?

There is a more detailed discussion of this internal process in Tom Bisio’s article “Daoist Meditation Lesson Seven Theory: Three Treasures and the Circulation of Water and Fire“. Also, there is more about Morihei Ueshiba’s thoughts on the matter in “Morihei Ueshiba and the Way of the Cross“.

In any case, now we can see that the original Doka refers to the basic Chinese cosmology of the world – Heaven and Earth, Water and Fire, Heaven-Earth-Man, and we see from the context provided that this cosmology is presented in the context of internal training, martial internal training.

Yin and Yang manifested as opposing forces through intent within one’s own body.

For reference, here is a translation of the same Doka translated by John Stevens, that appeared in “The Essence of Aikido: Spiritual Teachings of Morihei Ueshiba”:

SU, Exalted Father

with a heart of love

as vast as the sky–

it is the source of all that

functions in this world.

Actually, the differences in translation here are not that large, but perhaps you can see that it is difficult to divine the meaning represented by the Doka from a stand alone reading.

Moving on to the second Doka…

Morihei Ueshiba Doka - Structure of the World

Doka and calligraphy by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

「世の仕組國

の御親の命

もて勝速日立

つ天の浮き橋」

Take the life given to you by the divine parents

of the nation and the structure of the world,

and swiftly

stand on the Floating Bridge of Heaven”

According to Seiseki Abe (the original of this calligraphy belonged to Abe Sensei as well), the “divine parents of the nation” are the three creator gods of the Kojiki that we saw in the first Doka – Amenominakanushi (representing “Man” – or oneself), Takamimusubi (representing “Yang” or “Heaven”) and Kamimusubi (representing “Yin” or “Earth”), the foundation of the “Aiki O-Kami” – the “Great Gods of Aiki” (along with the five generations of earthly deities / 地神五代 and the seven generations of heavenly deities / 神代七代).

Once again – the Heaven-Earth-Man model that we saw above.

This may be of interest to Aikido folks, since one of the definitions of Aikido given by the Founder in the first chapter of “Takemusu Aiki” is 「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.”

The mini-diagram of Heaven-Earth-Man that we see here was expressed by the Founder as the “Ame no Uki Hashi”, the “Floating Bridge of Heaven” (also mentioned above).

Here’s a fun fact – “Takemusu Aiki” is the largest and most reliable collection of the Founder’s lectures. The most common phrase in “Takemusu Aiki” is not “Takemusu Aiki”, not “Love”, not “Harmony”, not even “Aiki” – it’s “Ame no Uki Hashi”, which may tell you a bit about it’s importance as a model of Morihei Ueshiba’s method:

合気道はまず天の浮橋に立たなければならないと言われる。天の浮橋とは火と水の交流という。丁度十字の姿、火と水の調和のとれた世界である。つまり高御産巣日、神産巣日二神が、右に螺旋して舞い昇り、左に螺旋して舞い降り、この二つの流れの御振舞によって世界が出来たという。火と水でカミになり、このカミ(火と水)の根源は一元に帰るが、一元から霊魂の源、物質の根源が生まれる。

It is said that Aikido must first stand on the Floating Bridge of Heaven. It is said that the Floating Bridge of Heaven is the exchange of Fire and Water. Precisely in the form of a cross, it is the world of Fire and Water in harmony. In other words, it is said the this world is created through the two actions of the twin gods Takami-Musubi and Kami-Musubi winding up in a spiral on the right and winding down in a spiral on the left. Fire (“Ka”) and Water (“mi”) become “Kami”, the source of this “Kami” (Fire and Water) returns to the one, but the one becomes the source of the physical and the spiritual.

Even those who trained with the Founder directly had a hard time dissecting this. A direct student of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei once expressed it to me this way:

The Founder told us that we would be unable to practice martial arts if we did not stand on the Floating Bridge of Heaven. We were told that if we could not stand on the Floating Bridge of Heaven then our training would not bring forth Aikido technique, so it was essential that we do so at all costs.

However, we didn’t understand anything about where this Floating Bridge of Heaven was. Since we didn’t understand where it was there was no way that we could stand on it, so the reality was that we just put on a good face and kept on applying techniques to each other.

I’ll leave a detailed discussion of the Floating Bridge of Heaven alone for now, except to say that he was essentially talking about the basic model of Yin-Yang (in-Yo) matched opposing forces. You can find out more about the Floating Bridge of Heaven in these articles:

So…the Doka above is describing the basic structure of Yin-Yang forces at work, the classical Chinese structure that moves from the structure of the world to the structure of the nation to the structure of the individual (the “life”).

Then, it instructs you to “stand on the Floating Bridge of Heaven”, which as we saw above, the Founder stated as an absolute requirement for producing “Aiki”.

For the Founder, as in the classical Chinese model, the structure of the universe was linked and mirrored in the government and the individual.

Note that the Founder states above that this model is the source of both the physical and the spiritual..

In other words, the physical practice of Aiki is linked to, and inseparable from, both spiritual and cosmological Aiki.

For reference, here is the commonly published translation of the same Doka. This is the one that is part of a list edited by Seiseki Abe – but not translated by him:

“Build up the world”

This command he did grasp

Received from the honored mother of the nation

Thus stands Katsuhayabi

On the Floating Bridge of the Heavens

That there are some differences in translation ought to be immediately apparent. Note that this translation misses some of the references, making some of the implications quite different.

Moving on to the third Doka…

Morihei Ueshiba in Iwama next to one of his Doka

Stone monument at the Aiki Jinja in Iwama

The inscribed Doka is by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

calligraphy by Seiseki Abe

「美しき

この天地の御姿は

主の作りし

一家なりけり」

“So beautiful,

the form of this Heaven and Earth

created by Su-

to be a member of the one family”

As noted above, “Su-” is “breath”, composed of fire and water, which represents Amenominakanushi – whom the Founder identified as representing oneself.

In other words, the Founder is again talking about “Heaven-Earth-Man”, here as a method of internal training that creates a unification of opposing forces (Heaven and Earth, Yin and Yang) inside Man, inside oneself, and that this process is a path to creating better human beings – those who have the capability to form the world family.

So here we have a model for Morihei Ueshiba’s training in a nutshell – a technical method driven by internal training that crosses into personal development and refinement that drives a potential societal transformation. All of that makes sense in the light of the second Doka, which shows that all of the various systems are actually linked and inseparable.

For reference, here is a translation of the same Doka translated by John Stevens, that appeared in “The Essence of Aikido: Spiritual Teachings of Morihei Ueshiba”:

How beautiful,

this form of

heaven and earth—-

all created by the Lord,

we are members of one family. 

Once again, that there are some differences in translation ought to be immediately apparent. Note that “Su-” is translated here as “Lord” (if you recall, this was mentioned above). The translation is not incorrect because of that, but it does make determining the meaning of the Doka much more difficult.

Doka from the Aikido of Honolulu dojo

A version of the Iwama monument Doka

from the Aikido of Honolulu dojo

(originally the Hawaii Aiki Kwai dojo)

calligraphy by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

Moving on – here’s a photo of the Shomen at the Aikido of Honolulu dojo in Hawaii. Although now called Aikido of Honolulu, this is the original Hawaii Aiki Kwai dojo that was built in 1961. It was the first dojo in the United States to be built specifically for Aikido, and when the Founder came to dedicate the dojo it was the one and only time that he ever taught Aikido in the United States.

Shomen at the Aikido of Honolulu dojo

The Shomen at the Aikido of Honolulu dojo on Waialae Avenue

When O-Sensei came to Hawaii in 1961 he said:

“I have come to Hawaii in order to build a “silver bridge.” Until now, I have remained in Japan, building a “golden bridge” to unite Japan, but henceforward, I wish to build a bridge to bring the different countries of the world together through the harmony and love contained in Aikido. I think that Aiki, offspring of the martial arts, can unite the people of the world in harmony, in the true spirit of Budo, enveloping the world in unchanging love.”

There’s that bridge reference again – remember it, because it will come up again a little bit later.

Aikido of Honolulu calligraphy

Detail of the Aikido of Honolulu dojo scroll

As noted previously, the “Aiki O-Kami” (“Great Gods of Aiki”) in the center of this scroll are expressing the foundation formed by the three creator gods of the Kojiki – representing here the basic Yin-Yang model of paired opposing forces embodied in the Floating Bridge of Heaven mentioned above.

On the top left the kanji reads “Sarutahiko-O-Kami” – a monkey god (luckily, this is being written in the Year of the Monkey!), this god is particularly associated with Misogi, and was one of Morihei Ueshiba’s guardian deities.

The Founder often told Bansen Tanaka 「猿田彦大神の化身じゃ」 – “I am the incarnation of Sarutahiko-O-Kami”.

Further, in 1958 Morihei Ueshiba visited Tsubaki Grand Shrine and said:

“These are the basics of Aikido. Moves which unite the being with the great nature, all of them given by Sarutahiko-no-O-Kami.” He continued, “Aikido is misogi. Misogi of ourselves. Aikido is the way of misogi itself, the way to become Sarutahiko-no-O-Kami and stand on the Ame- no-Ukihashi (the bridge between heaven and earth). In other words, the skills of misogi are Aiki, the way of uniting heaven and earth, the way of world peace, the way of trying to perfect humanity, the way of the Kami, the way of the universe.

There’s that bridge again – which makes sense, since Sarutahiko-O-Kami is, classically – the guardian of the Floating Bridge of Heaven.

So….that’s a second reference to the Floating Bridge.

The kanji in the top right of the scroll reads “Ame-no-murakumo Kuki Samuhara Ryu-ō” ( 天の村雲九鬼さむはら竜王). This phrase, which Morihei Ueshiba stated contains “all the techniques of Aikido” contains quite a lot of information, but we’ll leave a detailed dissection for a later time.

In simple terms – the Founder stated that “Ame-no-murakumo Kuki Samuhara” represents the divine sword whose edges unite Heaven and Earth. In some places he would refer to this sword as 天地人合気の御剣 – “The Divine Sword of Heaven-Earth-Man Aiki”. Once again representing the basic Yin-Yang model of paired opposing forces embodied in the Floating Bridge of Heaven mentioned above.

The last “Ryu-ō” (“Dragon King”) section is important as well, pointing back to Sokaku Takeda, China and India – but we’ll leave that discussion for another time.

"Aiki" - calligraphy by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba“Aiki” – calligraphy by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

from the Aikido of Honolulu dojo (originally Hawaii Aiki Kwai)

If it sounds repetitive – it is. Morihei Ueshiba was so repetitive on the basic themes of his method that at times it seems hard to believe that we have had so much difficulty noticing the patterns….

So….three references to the Floating Bridge.

Last kanji – the set at the bottom left of the scroll reads “Takemusu Aiki”. Most people have heard of this one….

There’s a more detailed discussion of this phrase in “Aikido without Peace or Harmony” (and in some of the other articles), but here is the short version:

  1. “Aiki” was defined by Morihei Ueshiba as matched opposing forces (Yin-Yang forces) – 「合気というものは、初め円を描く。円を描くこと、つまり対象力。」 “In this thing called Aiki, first describe (draw) a circle. Drawing a circle is, in other words, opposing powers.“.
  2. “Takemusu” was defined by Morihei Ueshiba as the training of attractive force – 武産とは引力の錬磨であります。」 “Take Musu is the training of Attractive Force.
  3. According to Morihei Ueshiba, attractive force is generated when opposing forces are joined by Ki – 上にア下にオ声と対照で気を結び、そこに引力が発生するのである。」” Above the sound “A” and below the sound “O” – opposites connected with Ki, there Attractive Force (“Inryoku”) is created.. This is the “unification of opposites” that is so common in Chinese internal martial arts. An interesting note here is that the Founder actually used the phrase “unification of opposites” (陰陽合致) in the 1933 technical manual “Budo Renshu”. Takuma Hisa also used this phrase in “Kannagara no Budo – Daito-ryu Aiki Budo Hiden” (惟神の武道 : 大東流合気武道秘伝) in 1942, published after receiving Menkyo Kaiden in Daito-ryu from Sokaku Takeda.
  4. According to Kanemoto Sunadomari, Morihei Ueshiba’s biographer, “intent” makes “ki” work – giving us the same basic model that forms the Chinese internal harmonies – the basis of the Chinese internal martial arts: 心と意の合、意と気の合、気と力の合 – “Heart/mind leads intent, intent leads Ki, Ki leads strength/power”.

Kanemoto Sunadomari

“The connection of intent and the body is the beginning of Aiki.”

Kanemoto Sunadomari

So…more Yin and Yang (or perhaps, In and Yo, if we’re speaking Japanese) – the basic model represented by the Floating Bridge of Heaven. There is much, much more layered depth and meaning in the scroll, but one way of summarizing would be to say that it expresses Yin and Yang four ways. O-Sensei hammering the basic model of his method and training over and over – kind of a “cheat sheet” of the basic principles of the Silver Bridge that he brought to Hawaii.

Over the years I’ve made a habit of surveying people about this particular calligraphy whenever I stop by the Aikido of Honolulu dojo on Waialae Avenue.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I have found that very few people are able to even read the kanji of the scroll that they bow to at the beginning and end of each class. The scroll that they have bowed to (in some cases) for forty or fifty years.

It’s common for instructors from Aikikai Hombu Dojo to visit each year as well, from the junior instructors on their first trips abroad all the way up to Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu and Mitsuteru Ueshiba Waka-sensei (and Kisshomaru Ueshiba Doshu before them).

Of course, the Japanese instructors can generally read the kanji, but discussions with many of these instructors over the years have revealed that, in a reflection of the non-Japanese speakers mentioned above, the number who are able to discuss the meaning of the scroll in any depth is quite small.

I’ll end here with a few thoughts from Masatake Fujita Sensei concerning the importance of the Founder’s words:

I thought that if O-Sensei’s words were preserved than there might be somebody who would be able to follow after them.……..Even among those of high rank, those who don’t understand don’t understand. There are many people who are practicing Aikido today but have never even read a single book about O-Sensei.


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

The post Three Doka and the Aiki O-Kami appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

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Christopher Li http://www.aikidosangenkai.org <![CDATA[Aikido Shihan Hiroshi Tada – Speaking of The Founder]]> http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2256 2016-03-05T21:54:30Z 2016-03-05T21:33:43Z Hiroshi Tada Sensei in 2014 Aikikai 9th Dan Hiroshi Tada (多田宏) is one of the most influential instructors to come out of the post-war Tokyo Hombu dojo. Born in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan December 13th 1929, he began training at Aikikai Hombu Dojo on March 4th 1950. Tada Sensei has appeared on the Aikido Sangenkai blog, both … Continue reading Aikido Shihan Hiroshi Tada – Speaking of The Founder »

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Hiroshi Tada in 2014Hiroshi Tada Sensei in 2014

Aikikai 9th Dan Hiroshi Tada (多田宏) is one of the most influential instructors to come out of the post-war Tokyo Hombu dojo. Born in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan December 13th 1929, he began training at Aikikai Hombu Dojo on March 4th 1950.

Tada Sensei has appeared on the Aikido Sangenkai blog, both in “Aikido Shihan Hiroshi Tada: The Day I Entered Ueshiba Dojo“, and in the series of articles below:

“Aikido Shihan Hiroshi Tada: The Budo Body”
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

“Aikido Shihan Hiroshi Tada – the Yachimata Lecture”
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

This is the English translation of a short piece written by Tada Sensei that recounts some of his memories of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, it appeared in the Aikikai newspaper “Aikido Shimbun” in March 1998 (Heisei 10).

In October 1964 Tada Sensei was sent to Rome, Italy in order to help establish Aikido in Italy. He had been preceeded there by Professor Salvatore Mergè, who was mentioned by Tada Sensei in the article “Aikido Shihan Hiroshi Tada: The Budo Body, Part 6“.

The grave of Salvatore MergeThe grave of Salvatore Mergè

In 1942 Salvatore Mergè, a Japanese linguist and a member of the Italian diplomatic mission, became a student of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba – perhaps the first occidental to do so. After returning to Italy in 1946 he taught privately and then helped to establish the first Aikido classes in Italy, taught by the sculptor Haru Onoda in 1959.

Haru Onada in 1968Haru Onoda in 1968

Here is some of the story of how he met O-Sensei, re-told by Stephen Serpieri, one of his Japanese language students:

“He had heard much of the Master’s deeds and of this new martial art he created, Aikido, but had never had the opportunity to see any of its “embukai” (public demonstrations). Intrigued by the stories that were made ​​of this master and the reputation that had been created around him, he decided to go to his dojo and ask to be admitted as a student of Aikido. The house of Master Ueshiba and the attached dojo were far outside of Tokyo, and to get to the Italian embassy ​​where Professor Mergè worked took over an hour by train. One day, before going to work, he went to the home of the teacher, saying that he was a lover of Japanese tradition and would like to know O-Sensei. He was made ​​to wait in the atrium of the house for a time, but was eventually told to come back because the teacher was busy. He tried again at other times but the answer was always the same.  Finally, after several failed attempts, he was brought into the house to get an answer to his request for a meeting with Master Ueshiba. He was made ​​to sit in a room with an elderly gentleman who was reading a book and did not raise his head when he entered. After a short time the person reading stood up and, without a word, he left the room. … When the day came that he was able to speak to the teacher finally arrived he saw that he was the person that had refused to speak to him as he waited in the atrium. He was accepted as a student, which was quite extraordinary, as the Master had not wanted any new Aikido students during the period of the war, let alone a stranger! “

Marco Muccio, a close friend of one of Professor Mergè’s students, adds:

“The interesting thing is that the first Aikido training with Salvatore Mergè was held in Morihei Ueshiba’s home, with particularly exhausting exercises for the development of the Hara, and ukemi on pillows on the floor!”

Here’s a little more about Tada Sensei’s journey to Italy, from his essay “Founders of Aikikai d’Italia” (イタリア合気会を創った人々), published in the Aikikai’s “Aikido Tankyu” magazine:

One hears the words “the foreign expansion of Aikido”, but what I remember most are the bells and steam whistles that I heard at the pier in Yokohama and the farewell parties with O-Sensei at their center that surrounded my Sempai going abroad – Mochizuki, Tohei and Abe.

A postcard of the Tatsuta Maru - 1931A postcard of the Tatsuta Maru – 1931

Of course I can’t reach back that far, and those memories may have overlapped with memories of tapes of my father’s trip abroad on the Tatsuta Maru in the beginning of the Showa era, but in spite of that I had vague thoughts at the time that someday I too would be going abroad.

That became a reality in Showa 39 (1964).

At that time, those going abroad specifically to spread Aikido had to do three things:

  1. Go alone.
  2. Go with a one-way ticket.
  3. Go without money, receive no allowance from their family, do no other part time work.

Keeping faithful to to “Haisui no Jin” (Translator’s note: 背水の陣 – the “fighting with one’s back to the river” strategy made famous by General Han Xin in the Battle of Jingxing), with $250 in my breast pocket I left my home in Jiyugaoka just as the Tokyo Olympics were in their final stages. My tentative goal was Italy, and from there I would travel through South America and then return home. It was an incredibly uncertain plan, but those were my expectations at the time.

Motokage Kawamukai in 2011Motokage Kawamukai in 2011

The first person to make the existance of the thing known as Aikido in Italy was Tadashi Abe (阿部正), who was active in France. Next were the sculptor Haru Onoda (小野田はる) and Mr. Kawamukai (川向), who had traveled to Rome as a tourist.

When I arrived in Rome I was introduced to a club at the Administration of the State Monopoly Autonomy (“Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato”, the state monopoly on tobacco) which was run by Mr. Chierchini, and started training at that dojo. Six months later we had a demonstration at the National Police Academy, and then held a two month training session hosted by the Ministry of the Interior. This is how my Aikido life in Europe began.

The Italian Aikikai Hombu Dojo in RomeThe Italian Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Rome

Professor Mergè, who was a member of the Italian embassy during the war and entered Ueshiba Dojo, was in good health in Rome, and people who had heard him speak of Morihei Ueshiba Sensei at the school of Oriental languages at which he taught were quick to enroll. Through the introduction of one of these people, Mr. Serpieri, in later years we would be able to use one of the of the buildings designated as a national property as a dojo. It was surrounded in four directions by the ancient Roman aqueduct and castle wall, monuments, the military museum and the department of waterworks, and after nightfall it was a place where not a sound could be heard. This is now the Italian Aikikai Hombu dojo. I lived in one room at the bottom of the stairs there. The students called it “Sensei’s Grotto”.

Hiroshi Tada taking ukemi from Aikido Founder Morihei UeshibaHiroshi Tada taking ukemi from Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba
at the Ueshiba Dojo – 6th dan at the time

Aikido Shihan Hiroshi Tada – Speaking of The Founder

Sharp, warm, a spiritual master.

I became a student at Ueshiba Dojo on March 4th 1950 (Showa 25). I wrote about that day in “Aikido Tankyu issue 4“. When I first laid eyes on Morihei Ueshiba Sensei what made the strongest impression was that, towards a student like me, he took off his hat and introduced himself “I am Ueshiba” – that image and that voice, even now they remain deep in my memories.

At that time the morning and evening training at Ueshiba Dojo would have at most six or seven people, and the majority of those would be students from Waseda and Hitotsubashi universities, or members of the Nishikai and the Tempukai. Sensei would throw each one of them courteously and then everybody would practice. We students (門人 / “monjin”) would practice that technique with each other, and a little while after we started Sensei would say

“If you will permit me…”

Without thinking I would l look around, thinking that some important personage had come. However, the only people in the dojo were the baker Mr. Hata Kikuchi, who had started one day before I had, and us students. Sensei always used polite language like this during training.

That was likely because there were many royalty, army and navy generals, and people who represented Japan among Sensei’s students. However, that wasn’t the only reason – words are power. That politeness and the care that reached into every corner gave rise to a sense of refinement, and that was directly connected to the techniques of his Budo.

Hiroshi Tada at Ueshiba DojoThe young Hiroshi Tada during a demonstration at Aikikai Hombu Dojo

Sensei’s training was enveloped in a mysterious atmosphere. Even while moving to sharply suppress his opponents in an instant, he would somehow create a feeling of great warmth in the dojo. He would clearly adapt even to immature students like I was at the time, that kind of inspirational power was really incredible.

During one period I became aware of something mysterious. When I drew close to Sensei, my mind and body would feel as if they had somehow become transparent. When I was touched by Sensei that would become even clearer, it was as though the boundary between our bodies and minds had dissapeared. It was a powerful force that came from Sensei’s training in surpassing confrontation and we must have become caught up in it. That force was received in Ayabe in a direct heart to heart transmission (以心伝心) from Onisaburo Deguchi, who Sensei greatly respected, and I think that must have been further developed through Sensei’s own all-out efforts at training. When Sensei spoke of his own teachers, Sokaku Takeda Sensei and Onisaburo Deguchi Seishi, he spoke of them with real respect. Particularly when he spoke about Deguchi Seishi, he would call him “Seishi Sama”, using a double honorific title.

Morihei Ueshiba and Onisaburo DeguchiMorihei Ueshiba and Onisaburo Deguchi – around 1933

I was scolded severely by Sensei many times, but there were also times that I received undeserved praise. He often reprimanded me – “don’t manufacture”. By “manufacture” he meant when an Uke would take it upon themselves to take the appearance of being off balance even though they actually were not, releasing their grip or moving.

Hiroshi Tada taking ukemiHiroshi Tada taking ukemi for Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

Why were we told “don’t manufacture”? When one becomes used to the technique they perform it absent mindely, or they chase the technique intellectually instead going ahead straight forwardly with the feeling of a blank white sheet of paper. In other words “don’t manufacture” is the same as when we were scolded “you have an opening”.

One day I was training alone in the dojo when Sensei entered and spoke beside me.

“Tada-kun, you should become a professional. a body like yours is the best for Aiki.” – if I had heard those words from Sensei now how moved I would be. However, at the time I thought it was normal to enter a large company after leaving the university as my father and grandfather had and live a life of leisure, so I listened absent mindedly as if he were speaking of some far off place. When I thought about it later I realized that those words of encouragement had come from the warm feelings in Sensei’s heart for his students.

The last time that I laid eyes on Sensei was the day before I left for Europe in order to spread Aikido there, October 23rd of Showa year 39 (1964).

Sensei encouraged me “Oh really, that’s quite soon. Go and do your best.”

Aikido Shihan Hiroshi Tada in 2014Aikido Shihan Hiroshi Tada in 2014

When Sensei passed away in Showa year 44 (1969) I was in Europe. When we received the news at the dojo in Rome I was surrounded by a moment of wordless silence. In Italy there is a sympathy and kindness towards other people’s hearts. The picture of Sensei in the dojo was soon surrounded by flowers of mourning. The members of my group sat in front of it in silence for many hours.


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

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Christopher Li http://www.aikidosangenkai.org <![CDATA[Aikido and Me – Training with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba]]> http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2213 2016-02-07T15:36:41Z 2016-02-06T19:56:08Z Eiichi Kuroiwa (黒岩 暎一) teaching Aikido at the Rikuryo Aikikai (六稜合氣会) One of the articles that I have enjoyed reading the most was “Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories” (Part 1 | Part 2). Of course, the recollections of training with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in 1942 were fascinating, but much of what I appreciated about it was that it … Continue reading Aikido and Me – Training with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba »

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Eiichi Kuroiwa teaching Aikido

Eiichi Kuroiwa (黒岩 暎一) teaching Aikido at the Rikuryo Aikikai (六稜合氣会)

One of the articles that I have enjoyed reading the most was “Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories” (Part 1 | Part 2). Of course, the recollections of training with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in 1942 were fascinating, but much of what I appreciated about it was that it presented the perspective of an ordinary person encountering the Founder.

Here is another account along those lines – an account of training with the Founder, this time in the 1960’s, from an ordinary person. This is a brief collection of memories of his time with O-Sensei by Eiichi Kuroiwa, who trained with Morihei Ueshiba in Osaka for five years from 1963 to 1968. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!

Floating Bridge of Heaven“Floating Bridge of Heaven” (天の浮橋) calligraphy by Seiseki Abe

Aikido and Me – Training with the Founder

– by Eiichi Kuroiwa

My first encounter at Kitano High School and afterwards

(大阪府立北野高等学校 / Osaka Prefectural Kitano High School)

I’m certain that I remember being taught Aikido by (Seiseki) Abe Sensei when I was in my third year at Kitano High School.

Seiseki Abe with Morihei UeshibaSeiseki Abe, standing far left, with Morihei Ueshiba
Kumano Juku, 1954

I was told “It’s not strength, it’s Ki”, and I thought that was quite mysterious. The round ukemi, silent like a cat, and so different from the loud vigorous “bam” “bam” of Judo ukemi, was very interesting to me. The next thing that I knew I had been enchanted by Aikido. We trained enthusiastically, and when I look at pictures of that time there were some ten or twenty people training. There were also a number of women.

Kitano High School Aikido ClubKitano High School Gymnasium (Judo Dojo) around Showa 37 (1962)

  1. Seiseki Abe Sensei (阿部 醒石)
  2. Houun Abe Sensei (阿部 豊雲 / son of Seiseki Abe)
  3. Osamu Kuri (久利 修)
  4. Katsuhiko Tatsumi (辰巳 勝彦)
  5. Eiichi Kuroiwa (黒岩 暎一)
  6. Masakazu Asano (浅野 昌和)
  7. Masanori Nose (能勢 正則)
  8. Kiyomi Yagi (八木 汐美)
  9. Mieko Yoshimura (Nakamura) (吉村(中村) 美恵子)

My classmate Mr. Katsuhiko Tatsumi from this period continued Aikido after high school, and opened his own dojo while working as a physician.

Aikido Hakutaikan - Katsuhiko TatsumiAikido Hakutaikan (合氣道白太館) – Katsuhiko Tatsumi Kancho

I had been under the impression that it was the Aikido Club, but when I look at the roster of the club it seems that this was before the formal establishment of the Aikido Club. Even so, I believe that the activity was formally acknowledged by the school. The reason that I can say that is that I remember performing in the “first demonstration” as one of the individual club activities at the school’s culture festival.

Since Abe Sensei built a dojo in his house, after I started college in Osaka I often went to his dojo in Suita.

Amenotakemusujuku Aikido DojoAmenotakemusujuku Aikido Dojo (天之武産塾合気道道場) in Suita City

It was at this dojo in Suita City that I met Ueshiba Sensei. The presence of his appearance, the aura that he emitted, made a deep impact on me. Fortunately, at the time there were only beginners throughout the dojo, so I was able to receive instruction directly from Abe Sensei and Ueshiba Sensei. Once I became an adult I was chased by work and life, so I was not able to have much contact with Aikido. For exercise I wasn’t able to do more than some jogging when work allowed, but fortunately I was blessed with a healthy life.

After passing my sixtieth birthday I realized again the importance of one’s health. I thought about trying to do Aikido once more, but I had been apart from it for so many decades that I gave up that thought for a time. However, I thought it over and decided that I might just have enough time to start again, so I visited the Ofuna Aikido Kyokai / 大船合気道協会 (Shihan: Satoshi Takeda / 武田聡, 7th dan Aikikai) near my home (Kamakura-shi), and started again in August of 2008.

Satoshi Ikeda ShihanSatoshi Takeda (武田聡)

At that time Takeda Shihan said to me “I started Aikido after Ueshiba Kaiso passed away. There is hardly anyone left who received instruction from the Founder. Now that is an incredibly valuable experience. I’m envious.”, and I realized once again what an incredible experience I had been allowed.

Thanks to my training at Abe Sensei’s dojo in Suita City and with gratitude to O-Sensei, I received a shikishi (“colored paper” – a calligaphy paper). This precious shikishi has accumulated wrinkles and mold as it has passed through many long years, and I feel an unforgivable sense of wastefulness. Like the shikishi, if I were to keep the things that the Founder taught me to myself they would dissappear at some point in the future.

Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to collect as much of what O-Sensei taught to me as possible. Memories of the deep gratitude accorded to the Founder by Abe Sensei to the instructor who taught him so thoroughly left a strong impression on me.

However, since I was a beginner at the time I think that there may have been things that were beyond my understanding, or that I have recalled incorrectly. I would be grateful if those reading this could help me to correct those errors.

I have paid particular attention to presenting the personage of O-Sensei that I saw and heard with my own eyes and ears and to presenting the instruction given to the beginners at the dojo.

Kikon - by Morihei Ueshiba, 1967

Shikishi (calligraphy card) received from O-Sensei in Showa 42 (1967)
氣魂 / “Kikon” / “Spirit” in the center, meaning the “ki” of the yo (yang)
“soul”, the soul associated with the intellect in other words, “intent”.
武神 / “Bushin” / “God of War” bottom right.
合気道は魂の学びである。 – “Aikido is the study of intent.”
– Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

Things taught to me by O-Sensei

(the Founder, Morihei Ueshiba)

Morihei Ueshiba was born on December 14th 1883 in Tanabe City in Wakayama Prefecture. He passed away on April 26th 1969 (Showa 44). He was eighty-six years old at the time.

  • Period of Instruction: 1963 (Showa 38) – March 1968 (Showa 43), for five years prior to his passing.
  • Location: the Osaka dojo (Abe Shihan) – Ame-no-Takemusu Aiki Juku (天之武産合気塾), opened in Showa 38 (1963). The dojo name was given by O-Sensei. Also in the Osaka area were the dojo opened by Bansen Tanaka (Chairman of the Osaka Aikikai, passed away in 1988) in Showa 27 (1952) and the dojo opened by Michio Hikitsuchi in Showa 29 (1954) in Shingu City, Wakayama Prefecture.
  • The setting for O-Sensei’s visits:
    • He would visit and stay in Osaka and Wakayama in order to spread Aikido (I have heard that he would stay at Hikitsuchi Dojo for periods of a month at a time).
    • Omoto-kyo: he would stay when he went to visit at Kameoka and Ayabe in Kyoto.
    • Abe Shihan constructed a dojo adjacent to his home. Also, he constructed a new room in his home in to receive O-Sensei (it seems that he thought of Hikitsuchi Shihan and Abe Shihan in a special way. In later years both shihan received tenth dan certificates.).
  • During his stay: He would accompanied by an uchi-deshi. We would receive direct instruction.
    • He would always be accompanied by an attendant or an uchi-deshi.
    • He would stary for a period of about one week to ten days.

Aikido instruction in the dojo

During the period of his stay O-Sensei would give direct instruction in the dojo. If O-Sensei had another engagement then there would be instruction from the uchi-deshi.

The uchi-deshi were overwhelmingly strong, and their instruction was something severe. The Osaka dojo had just been constructed and there were only beginners, but thanks to the strict training from the uchi-deshi I think that everybody was able to improve.

The uchi-deshi who seemed so incredible to our eyes would be handled like a child by O-Sensei, and we were once again able to see O-Sensei’s amazing strength with our own eyes.

Lectures in the dojo

Many people would come to visit when they heard that O-Sensei was staying in Osaka (they would just show up on their own).

“I want to get a look at the famous O-Sensei”, “I want to hear stories of his training” – people came with for a variety of reasons. One could tell at a glance that the people gathering all around were not ordinary people. I would listen to them chatting to each other before O-Sensei’s lectures began – there were Yamabushi (ascetic mountain hermits) from Nachi (Wakayama), budo-ka of considerable strength, religious figures and more.

O-Sensei knew that those kinds of people would show usually show up on their own, so in the evenings after training he would give lectures to the people who had gathered.

Lecture Content: details of O-Sensei’s shugyo period, the world of the Kojiki, training, etc. However, it was extremely high level for the beginners and young people like myself, very difficult to understand.

O-tomo: I acted as an o-tomo (attendant) for O-Sensei on two occasions.

I accompanied him to the Omoto-kyo compound (Kameoka). Then I accompanied him from the Omoto-kyo compound (Kameoka) back to the dojo in Suita.

The person who was originally scheduled to go had a scheduling conflict, and I was suddenly asked to take their place. Along the way we had many conversations. I met many people and had many experiences.

  • The people weren’t ordinary in appearance, when I look back they were all people following a path.
  • When they saw O-Sensei they would press their hands together and bow to him without thinking.
  • O-Sensei was of advanced years, so climbing places like the stairs in the train stations was difficult. (I would push him up from behind)
  •  Just by acting as O-Sensei’s o-tomo I became stronger. When I trained after being an o-tomo I was told “You’re projecting a lot of Ki, you’re different than you usually are. What happened?”. (Abe Sensei taught me “The Ki emitted by O-Sensei is transferred. It happens to everybody.”)
  • One of my classmates, Masakazu Asano, also acted as an o-tomo, and reported that he had the same experience.
  • Unfortunately, after a week I would return to normal.

Training Trips: we travelled with introductions to Hombu Dojo, the Aiki Jinja and Kumamoto.

  • I was able to be taught by Kisshomaru Hombu Dojo-cho, Saito Shihan (Aiki Jinja Dojo) and Sunadomari Shihan (Kumamoto).
  • While on the training trips I realized that Abe Sensei’s “Go along with the flow of Ki (“Ki no nagare”)” was something special. Each dojo had it’s own particular characteristics, and I realized that everywhere was not uniform.
  • Saito Shihan commented “You’re soft, as one would expect, since you’re being taught by Abe Sensei”.

The O-Sensei that I saw and heard with my own eyes and ears

O-Sensei’s appearance, daily and during training:

  •  A 153 centimeter (5′ 1/4″) older man. However, one could see at a glance that he didn’t have the appearance or look of an ordinary person.
  • In any case, his piercing gaze was incredible, his aura was really incredible.
  • When going out with him as an o-tomo people passing by would turn and look back. (some people would press their hands together and bow to him)
  • He was a person for whom every day, the totality of his life, was conditioning (“tanren”).

The piercing gaze: everyday (yellow light), during training (white light). His everyday eyes and his eyes during training were different people’s eyes.

Dragon eyes (“ryugan” / 竜眼): a blue ring (his wife Hatsu also had the same dragon eyes)

Voice: It reverberated clearly. His Kiai was really incredible.

Dress: Haori, hakama, tabi, geta. He would always wear tabi during training. His belt was always fastened tightly. There was not a fingernail’s width between it and his body. (His attire was suitable for any time or for meeting any person.)

Stairs: It was difficult for him to climb the stairs himself at the train station (I would support him from behind and push on his hips. I was taught that this was Ki conditioning.) . He seemed like a different person than during training.

Shiatsu: He was happy when I gave him shiatsu on his back. It felt like pushing on an iron slab with my fingers. My fingers would bend back and forth. It wasn’t the back of a normal person. (I was taught that this was Ki conditioning.)

Bokken: He would always bring one. Perhaps it was handmade? Red oak (赤い樫)? (It was the color of a person while drinking alcohol.) His bokken would shine. He used it when he demonstrated or trained.

Jo: He would always bring one. He only used it for demonstrations or training about three times.

Spear: He didn’t bring one, but most of his lectures were about the spear.

Every morning: Cold water ablutions, and then chanting of Norito (祝詞 / Shinto prayers). After that, training, receiving guests, calligraphy.

Meals: Vegetarian. brown rice.

Training: Starting with Funa-kogi and Furi-tama. Oriented towards beginners. The uchi-deshi would take ukemi. Sometimes he would give demonstrations (bokken, jo, multiple attackers, Reppaku no Kiai)

Translator’s Note: “Reppaku no Kiai” (裂帛の気合), “ei”, the shout that cuts away barriers or impurities, and unites opposites.

8 millimeter film: When one saw him he moved slowly, as if he were dancing. The projected films seem as if they are time lapsed.

Hands: When he touched you it felt as if it were the hands of the Kami. It was a mysterious sensation.

O-Sensei’s Lectures

Many people (budo-ka and others) would hear rumors of O-Sensei’s stay and begin to gather. Although nobody had notified them, they would just show up on their own (they couldn’t be turned away). Mostly, he would speak to the people who had gathered after training had finished – “A lot of people are here, what would you like to do?” “They must want to listen to this old man again…”.

Also, during his stay he would talk to the young people – “I enjoy speaking to young people.”. He’d speak about his early life, his training, Omoto-kyo, the Kojiki, enlightenment, comments to society, etc.

Lectures that made an impression

O-Sensei really spoke about a lot of things. Unfortunately, I was a beginner and many things were beyond my understanding. Even so, I remember a few lectures that reflected the essence of Aikido.

Masakatsu Agatsu KatsuhayabiMasakatsu Agatsu Katsuhayabi (正勝吾勝勝速日)
Calligraphy by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

The Secret of Aikido: “The secret of Aiki is Masakatsu Agatsu Katsuhayabi” (合気の極意は、正勝吾勝勝速日なり)

  • Masakatsu (正勝): The person with the correct spirit will be victorious (正しい心の人が勝つ)
  • Agatsu (吾勝): If one can be victorious over themselves then they can also be victorious over others (自分に勝てれば他人にも勝てる)
  • Katsuhayabi (勝速日): Victory with the speed of light (speed, do not be lazy) (日の速さに勝つ (スピード、怠けない)

Aikido conditioning: Why do we do Aiki?

gan-sa-tan-rikiCalligraphy by Seiseki Abe – Gan-Sa-Tan-Riki
眼(がん)、作(さ)、胆(たん)、力(りき)

“Aiki is something for conditioning human beings. It is Gan Sa Tan Riki (眼作胆力)”

  • Riki (力): No matter how much one trains their physical strength there is a limit, they cannot fight oppose one who has trained their “Tanryoku” / 胆力 (“Ki”).
  • Sa (作): Even if one trains their physical strength, they will be thrown easily by one who trains their technique (“Sa” / 作 – “waza”). (However, technique must have contact with the opponent.)
  • Tan (胆): A person who trains their Ki, trains their strength, and masters technique (“Sa”) can throw independently from the opponent. “It’s water and fire (“Iki”)!” (水火(いき)じゃよ。)
  • Gan (眼): However, however much one trains their strength, masters technique, or trains their Ki, they will be thrown at a single glace by one who was trained their eyes (眼). “I immobilize an opponent with my eyes.”

Translator’s note: Tokimune Takeda’s personal notes of his training with his father Sokaku Takeda make several mentions of the importance of training the eyes.

“Aikido is something for training human beings.”

Training partners: “I don’t use human beings for partners, the universe is my partner. It’s not a battle, I train to become one with the universe.”

Kojiki: All of the secrets of Aikido appear in the Kojiki. The Kojiki points to many truths through things such as the names of the Kami. These are different from the names of the gods in the West.

The secret of Aikido: Masakatsu-Agatsu Katsu-Hayabi-Ame-no-Oshi-Ho-Mimi-no-mikoto. (正勝吾勝勝速日天之忍穂耳命) Translator’s note: The child of Susanoo and Amaterasu, who would become the ancestor of the Japanese imperial line.

Takemikazuchi-no-kamiTakemikazuchi-no-kami subduing the earthquake (the catfish)
Woodblock print from 1855

The application of Aikido technique: Takemikazuchi-no-kami (建御雷神)

“When one takes this hand it is as if it is covered in ice, then covered with the blade of a sword.” – Meaning that when Takemikazuchi-no-kami puts Ki into the hand, it is as if it is covered with ice, then it becomes like the blade of a sword.

“When one takes the opponent’s hand, grasp and break them (crush them) like taking a reed, then throw them away… “ – Meaning to put Ki into one’s hand when they grasp the hand of the opponent (Yonkyo), and then throw them away.

Translator’s note: Takemikazuchi, also known as “Kashima-no-kami” was a god of swords and thunder that was said to have participated in the first recorded Sumo match in the Kojiki. Interestingly, Sokaku Takeda cited this match as the origin of Daito-ryu Aiki:

Aiki is said to have originated in the ancient art of tegoi, which is mentioned in an ancient Japanese myth about two gods, Takemikazuchi no Kami and Takeminakata no Kami. Recorded in Japan’s oldest written document, the Kojiki, (Records of Ancient Matters, compiled around 712 AD), this story recounts how Takemikazuchi no Kami took the hands of Takeminakata no Kami and “as if he had taken hold of a reed, squeezed his hands and threw him.”

Tajikara-o no Mikoto (太力男命): Open the stone door of heaven (incredible power)

Everybody posseses great strength: Like Kajiba no Kuso Djikara (“Burning Inner Strength” / 火事場のクソ力) – latent power that emerges during a great dilemma. This isn’t normally available. To condition oneself so that it is normally available is Aikido.

Burning Inner Strength“Burning Inner Strength” – from the Manga “Kinnikuman” (キン肉マン)

In his youth nobody could best him in contests of strength. In the sea at the edge of the rice fields of his home town there was a foreign ship that came and caught a whale. That ship came to shore to get refresh their supply of water. They loaded barrels of water into sculling boats (伝馬船) and took them out to the ships anchored at sea. He would lift up the barrels easily and pass them up to the sailors, but they were surprised at the weight and had to use a crane to receive them.

He learned Budo from the Daito-ryu instructor Sokaku Takeda (he’d be told how much to pay for each technique, and used up quite a bit of money), and at the time that he had become an exceptional budo-ka he encountered Onisaburo Deguchi and entered Omoto-kyo. Then Onisaburo Deguchi drew out his true strength.

Morihei Ueshiba and Onisaburo DeguchiMorihei Ueshiba and Onisaburo Deguchi, around 1933

The two miracles of Omoto-kyo

Everyone was out in the garden, when Onisaburo Deguchi suddenly spoke to him:

“Ueshiba-san, Ueshiba-san, you can uproot that pine tree.”
“Ueshiba-san, Ueshiba-san, you can lift up that large stone.”

“At the moment that he spoke to me my body became bright red and incredible strength welled forth. Then I uprooted the pine tree and lifted the large stone.”

  • Onisaburo Deguchi was able to see the strength that he had been unaware of.
  • It’s not that he believed in Omoto-kyo, but because he felt an obligation he continued to attend their ceremonies even until that time.

“The strength of Aiki is an incredible power, like the gravity of the Earth. It exists naturally. Just lifting a bucket of water is difficult. The earth supports the water of the vast oceans. Where does that power come from? It is in the center of the Earth. What is in the center of the earth? There is nothing material there. Gravity is created from a place where there is nothing. Actually, it isn’t nothing, it’s something (“nothingness is substance” / 無即有). This power that is like gravity is the Ki of Aiki.”

Teaching Beginners

We beginners were taught Ikkyo, Nikyo, Sankyo, Yonkyo, Shiho-nage, Irimi-nage, Tenchi-nage, Kote-gaeshi, Ushiro-dori, Kokyu-nage and other basic forms. Additionally, the following instruction left a deep impression – immovable posture…hanmi with ma-ai, immovable like a boulder. Then respond to the partner’s movement.

How to Put in Ki

If one is conscious of the flow of Ki then it will flow. When Ki flows the arm becomes unbendable without putting in strength. The opponent will move in accordance with the flow of Ki from one’s fingertips.

  • Bend in the direction of the bend. Aikido does not bend the joint backwards.
  • There is no kicking.
  • Match without fighting.
  • Condition oneself daily. There is training and there is refining.
  • What would you do if you were thrown on concrete? (ukemi that makes a loud noise is no good)
  • Kana-shibari no Jutsu (金縛りの術) – spirit binding techniques.
  • This is a Budo of the spear (point) rather than the sword (line)
  • Don’t leave the other hand behind.
  • Harmonize with Heaven and Earth, practice with the intent of harmonizing with the Universe.
  • Funakogi (Ki training: e/ho and e/sa), Furitama (achieve Mushin)

A Close Friend Becomes an Uchi-Deshi

They came from the Shingu Dojo to Osaka on training trips. Since we were of similar ages we would train together. Then they became an uchi-deshi. About six months later they came to the Osaka Dojo as an o-tomo to O-Sensei, where we met again and trained together.

They had become incredibly strong.

“How much time do the uchi-deshi spend training?”

“Apart from the regular clases, we train with Doshu and the other uchi-deshi everyday. However, just for about 15 minutes at a time. It’s not a kind of training that one can do for longer than that.”

“What kind of training is only for 15 minutes?”

“It’s hard to put into words.”

“You’ve gotten incredibly strong, I was really surprised.”

“…I’m surprised to hear that. This is the first time since I’ve been an uchi-deshi that I trained with someone from outside. I had a vague feeling that I was different than I was before. I’m happy to hear that I’ve gotten stronger.”

Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei: I received instruction from him on a training trip to Aikikai Hombu Dojo. When my wrist was taken by Kisshomaru Waka Sensei I couldn’t move my body.

Bushin - Morihei Ueshiba“Bushin” (武神) – “God of War”
Calligraphy by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

O-Sensei and Calligraphy: He would write continuously from start to finish – “I want to communicate through the calligraphy.”

When I was promoted to san-dan I received the shikishi from him – “In thanks for your hard work when you attended me in Kameoka.”

Conclusion

During the time that I received instruction from O-Sensei I was a student majoring in electrical engineering. In a normal way of thinking Aikido and electrical engineering are unrelated and very far apart. Partially because of that my student friends of the time would often question me.

“You do Aikido enthusiastically, what’s the difference between Aikido and Judo?”

When I answered them in the following way they were able to understand:

“Judo is the world of Newtonian physics. In contrast, Aikido is the world of quantum mechanics. “

Judo

  • Founder: Jigoro Kano (嘉納治五郎)
  • Scientific
  • Philosophical
  • “Softness overcomes hardness”
  • Use the opponent’s strength
  • Train your strength
  • Make contact with the opponent and apply technique
  • Can be seen with the eyes
  • Can be understood with the mind
  • Newtonian physics

Aikido

  • Founder: Morihei Ueshiba (植芝盛平)
  • Mysterious
  • Religious
  • Harmonize with the opponent
  • Harmonize Ki
  • Draw forth Ki (that one already posseses)
  • Apply technique independently from the opponent (Ki)
  • Cannot be seen with the eyes
  • Cannot be understood with the mind
  • Quantum mechanics

Eiichi Kuroiwa - Aikido Lecture


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

The post Aikido and Me – Training with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

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Christopher Li http://www.aikidosangenkai.org <![CDATA[Interview with Hiroshi Sagawa and 10th Gen Shihan Tatsuo Kimura – Part 4]]> http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2178 2016-01-10T00:46:48Z 2016-01-10T00:46:48Z Yukiyoshi Sagawa and Kimura Tatsuo on the cover of Aiki News 117 – the Yukiyoshi Sagawa memorial issue I also applied techniques to Mr. Pranin when he was collecting materials for a memorial issue on Sagawa Shihan for Aiki News 117. His impression at the time was, “When I tested the small, stubborn 50-year-old Kimura … Continue reading Interview with Hiroshi Sagawa and 10th Gen Shihan Tatsuo Kimura – Part 4 »

The post Interview with Hiroshi Sagawa and 10th Gen Shihan Tatsuo Kimura – Part 4 appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

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Aiki News 117Yukiyoshi Sagawa and Kimura Tatsuo
on the cover of Aiki News 117 – the Yukiyoshi Sagawa memorial issue

I also applied techniques to Mr. Pranin when he was collecting materials for a memorial issue on Sagawa Shihan for Aiki News 117. His impression at the time was, “When I tested the small, stubborn 50-year-old Kimura Sensei, I was completely controlled by him. I attempted to grab Sensei’s arm many times while seated, but I couldn’t grab him strongly. My power of resistance was neutralized by the use of Sensei’s stance and internal energy. While I was being thrown backward repeatedly I couldn’t tell when the technique was beginning or ending. The energy released from his center was gushing out of his arms. Kimura Sensei clearly demonstrated to us the world of energy that exceeds the physical dimension. This energy did not affect the state of the body and I thought that it was possible to execute highly effective techniques that went beyond the bounds of simple techniques.”

However, then it seems that Mr. Pranin thought that this was merely some form of energy and, given my level at that time, he was not persuaded. On his third visit, he said for the first time that he was truly convinced of Sagawa Sensei’s Aiki.

– Tatsuo Kimura
  Discovering Aiki My 20 Years with Yukiyoshi Sagawa Sensei

Yukiyoshi Sagawa was one of the longest students of Daito-ryu Chuku-no-so Sokaku Takeda, who was also the teacher of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Not only was he was asked to become the Soke of Daito-ryu by the Takeda family (he eventually refused), but at one time, around 1956, an agreement was made for Sagawa to become an instructor at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo (this, also, he refused eventually).

Yukiyoshi Sagawa’s younger brother and favorite sibling, Hiroshi Sagawa (佐川廣), was born in Shimo-yubetsu Hokkaido in 1909 (Meiji Year 42) into a family in which both his father and his elder brother trained extensively with Sokaku Takeda.

Tatsuo Kimura (木村達雄) is one of three of Yukiyoshi Sagawa Sohan’s students to have completed the 10th Gen level of techniques (the techniques in Sagawa Dojo that Sagawa Sensei learned from Sokaku Takeda were organized into ten levels, or “Gen” / 元).

Born in Tokyo Japan in 1947, Kimura Sensei is a well known mathematician and professor at Tsukuba University. He published two books about Sagawa Sohan (宗範) that have been translated into English (the latter one only partially) – “Transparent Power (透明な力)” and “Discovering Aiki My 20 Years with Yukiyoshi Sagawa Sensei (合気修得への道―佐川幸義先生に就いた二十年)”. He also holds a third-dan in kendo and a fifth-dan in Aikido, which he studied under Seigo Yamaguchi (山口清吾).

This is the fourth and final section of the English translation of an interview conducted in Japanese by Kuni Azumi (安積 邦) with Hiroshi Sagawa and Tatsuo Kimura that previously appeared in the popular martial arts magazine Gekkan Hiden (月刊秘伝 / “Secret Teachings Monthly”) in 2001. You may wish to read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 before reading this section.

You may also be interested in another interview with Kimura Sensei that appeared on the Aikido Sangenkai blog previously – “Yukiyoshi Sagawa’s Aiki, a true portrait of Transparent Power – Interview with Tatsuo Kimura, Part 1 and Part 2.

Kimura Tatsuo and Hiroshi SagawaHiroshi Sagawa and Kimura Tatsuo
“I don’t do Daito-ryu” says Hiroshi Sensei. However, when he actually
shows us something he looks pretty good! Pictured here at the age of 91.

Interview with Hiroshi Sagawa and 10th Gen Shihan Tatsuo Kimura, Part 4

Just what was it that happened inside Sagawa Sohan’s body?

Azumi: What would you say?

Kimura: In the end, I think that this is the main point in the refinement of Aiki. Conditioning of the muscles is not the number one goal. I discussed this before, but in his later years Sagawa Sensei, from an ordinary point of view, was certainly physically weak. That’s because he was ninety-five years old. However, while what we would call physical strength had declined in accordance with his years, it is a fact that something had become considerably stronger. Of that alone, there can be no mistake.

Azumi: Something became incredibly strong….?

Kimura: In other words, the interior of his body had become incredibly strong. When a human being becomes ninety-five the exterior of their body doesn’t have much muscle. However, in the case of Sagawa Sensei, there were many times that left me with no choice but to think that something unthinkably huge was inside (his body). Just what was that?

Azumi: ??? What could it have been?

Kimura: When one thinks about it, there is not a single person who has continued to condition themselves to that age. Well, so far as I know.

Azumi: No, even so far as I know there isn’t. (embarrassed smile)

Kimura: When one usually talks about conditioning it is only so far as when one is young, even if one continues for a long time, it’s not so far as ninety-five, is it? (laughing)

Azumi: (laughing) Further, the content of the conditioning was also incredible.

Kimura: That’s why Sensei himself would say “It’s as if I’m using my own body to experiment with”. It seems that there were many phenomena that occurred of which nobody is aware. Even I, who had many chances to be by his side, sometimes felt awe at the potential of human beings.

Azumi: And then he trained until the end of the end….?

Kimura: He continued his conditioning until it was really just before he passed away (I think that one could say, until his dying breath). That practice continued until his last years, overlaid with his innovations. As his legs and hips weakened, he’d grab on to the lintel and try things like kicking, and try to think of methods to be used while seated…. Whatever happened, he never tried to give up his conditioning, and he would invent new methods and try them out as his body declined.

Azumi: Until he was almost one-hundred, over many decades, Sagawa Sohan would teach at his dojo without fail, and would never omit his daily conditioning. Those facts alone are amazing. One view of that that lifetime is “One man, spending their life on an magnificent experiment” – I would really like to know what that body was like. However, those who have previously walked that path are so rare that it is virtually impossible to see how the body and mind of someone who has been through that process has changed.

Kimura: Yes, that’s true, isn’t it? In the case of Sagawa Sensei, if we are talking about that I think there is certainly nobody else like that (laughing). Although his body was said to be declining, there was the phenomenon that occurred in which something was steadily increasing in strength. That’s all that I can think….

Azumi: Whether one believes it or not, if such a thing were true it would be really incredible.

Kimura: It’s the truth. I myself was really astonished. For that reason, even more, that is why I thought at length “Just what is Tanren (“conditioning”)!?!”. That said, it is an interesting discussion. Where was that person called Sagawa Sensei coming from in his thinking? In order to preserve one’s health “Perhaps you should do that this way…” – he would innovate in even the smallest of things.

Azumi: If we are speaking of Sagawa Sensei’s health methods, I would be very interested. What were they, specifically?

Vinegared EggsVinegared Eggs (酢卵)

Kimura: At one time it was vinegared eggs. I thought they tasted awful and didn’t do it, though. (laughing)

Azumi: Vinegared eggs?

Kimura: Yes. vinegared eggs. At time he’d do it on and off, but he stopped in his final years. (laughing)

Azumi: “Vinegared eggs aren’t useful for Aiki!” (laughing) Now that you mention it, there was a famous story of one time that Sagawa Sohan had a heart problem when he was ninety years old and went to the hospital for a re-examination, he did 150 pushups in front of the examining physician and scared the wits out of him. But when I tell my friends they never believe me. (embarrassed grin)

Yukiyoshi Sagawa at Sagawa Dojo

Kimura: Speaking of push-ups, in the past there was a time that I went to the dojo and Sagawa Sensei remarked “Yesterday there was a visitor and I couldn’t do them, so today I finally got caught up”. So, I asked him “How many did you do?” and he said “1300 times”.

Azumi: 1300 times! By the way, what year are we talking about?

Kimura: That was when Sensei was eighty-three years old.

Azumi: 1300 push-ups at the age of eighty-three! This is another one that nobody will believe. (embarrassed grin)

Sagawa Sohan’s “Frustration”, Sticky Aiki

Azumi: You’ve told me that Sagawa Sohan used his brother Hiroshi Sensei as a partner during his technical research, and you’ve said that Sagawa Sohan also used his wife as a partner during his research. Rather than being because she was the person closest to him, I have heard that this was because his purpose was to apply technique to female partners….If that is the case, then what was Sagawa Sohan’s goal?…I would really like to know.

Sagawa: Before talking about training partners, it’s Aiki.

Azumi: What do you mean?

Sagawa: Until that time my brother, no matter how much strength his partner used when grabbing his wrist, was able to use Aiki and raise his hands (and destabilize them). However, not allowing the partner grabbing his wrists to let go, in other words, making them stick to him, was not yet going well. Being sticky means doing it without grabbing the partners wrists. Leaving the hand grabbed by the partner as it is, and throwing. It’s simple to talk about, but this is extremely difficult. Normally they separate from you.

Azumi: I would think so.

Sagawa: For that reason, at the time my brother was bending all of his efforts into considering how to make it so that they could not let go. Well, he had that ferocious tenacity. Our father, who trained until he received his Kyoju Dairi (“Assistant Instructor” / 教授代理), said “It may be that this, at least, cannot be done by anybody other than Takeda Sensei”, but my brother said “No, Takeda Sensei was a human like me. If he could do it then there’s no way that I can’t!”.

Azumi: What a thing to say! Nobody other than Sagawa Sensei could say such a thing…

Sagawa: Thanks to that, we were told “Grab my wrists, grab”, he made us work with him until we were exhausted and fed up with it. (embarrassed grin) Just grabbing would have been okay, but each time we’d tumble over…that time was really exhausting. (laughing)

Azumi: That it was difficult has come across quite well. (laughing) But why did he choose a woman as a partner?

Sagawa: That, well that’s because women’s bodies are special.

Azumi: I see….?

Sagawa: What my brother said is that women’s bodies have a stickiness like mochi (“sticky rice cake” / 餅), and are convenient for training sticky Aiki.

Azumi: They’re convenient because they’re like mochi?

Sagawa: Because of their flexibility things like joint techniques are difficult to make effective. Further, with men their hands quickly let go, but women tend not to let go very much. For that reason, he carried that into his reasearch when considering how to best make it so that one’s partner cannot let go.

Azumi: Hmm…

Yukiyoshi Sagawa in Yubetsu, HokkaidoThe Sagawa family at their house in Yubetsu, Hokkaido
From right: wife Michiko, Sagawa Sohan, mother

Sagawa: So my brother used his wife (Sagawa Sohan’s wife Michiko) as a training partner. My sister, who was five years older than me (Editor: Tama-san, who passed away last year), was also used as a training partner.

One More Brother

Azumi: What time period are we discussing?

Sagawa: It was when I was in my late teens, so my brother would have been in his late twenties (Note: they were born seven years apart) to his early thirties. Because when I was around twenty years old there was already nobody who could be a partner for my brother.

Azumi: During that time Sagawa Sohan had returned from Tokyo to Hokkaido, and Hiroshi Sensei had graduated from Hokudai (Hokkaido University) and had gone to attend Waseda University.

Sagawa: I had another brother, but he was fourteen or fifteen years younger than my older brother so his didn’t have a close a relationship with him as I did.

Azumi: So Sagawa Sohan had one more younger brother?

Sagawa: He was named Masataka Sagawa (佐川正隆). He didn’t appear in Kimura-san’s book (“Transparent Power“), so you may not know of him. He is already eighty-three or eighty-four years old. Nowadays he’s moved to Yokohama, before that he was employed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (三菱重工).

Azumi: As Sokaku Sensei’s unknown son (Takemune / 武宗) was just like Takeda Sensei, was was he just like Sagawa Sohan?

Sagawa: His temperament and everything else were the complete opposite of my brother’s.

Azumi: Ah, is that so?

Bakuchi Uchi - Koji TsurutaActor and Singer Koji Tsuruta (鶴田浩二)
“Bakuchi Uchi” (“Gambling House” / 博奕打ち) – Toei Films, 1968

Sagawa: This youngest child loved company and got along well with me. I often took him to movies and had a soft spot for him. He was tall, and manly. Enough so that people often said that he resembled Koji Tsuruta. (laughing)

Azumi: Koji Tsuruta! With Sagawa Sohan and Hiroshi Sensei, the Sagawa brother’s are really handsome, aren’t they? No, really.

The Difficulty with Transmitting Aiki, the Impossibility of Spreading Aiki

Azumi: How do you think that Aiki can be transmitted and spread in the future?

Kimura: There is no way that Aiki can be spread. That is, even if one writes books or shows it on videos, it all must look like a lie, doesn’t it? After Sagawa Sensei passed away, a film production company approached me about putting out a video, so I said that they should first try receiving the techniques, and threw them softly a number of times. When I did that the person said “Even if we film this, nobody watching will believe it, will they? One has to actually have it done to them to understand…” – so they understood and left.

Azumi: They understood after having it done to them a number of times.

Kimura: That’s right, one must experience it. However, one cannot understand with just one or two times. One experiences it over and over, and then with great effort one understands at last – it is a matter of that kind of perspective. After all, there is a limit to what I can teach over the span of a lifetime. For that reason, if one tries to transmit this (Aiki) widely it would be impossible without the Kata or Kata training method of other Budo, in which they apply techniques on each other cooperatively. However, once one does that it disappears. In order to transmit the true thing there are some things that are impossible by just showing a model and saying “OK, now do it!”.

Azumi: Some things are impossible…?

Kimura: At the very least, the transmission of Aiki would be absolutely impossible. Because receiving direct instruction is an absolute requirement. So, inside of me I think that is impossible, that it can only be done with those that encounter it by fate, this is what I feel. Speaking honestly. (laughing)

Azumi: Really. You don’t see any hopeful signs when you are teaching?

Kimura: Especially now, because my work at the university is so busy. Ten years from now after I retire I might open a small dojo, though. And yet, even now I am letting people looking for the real thing experience it. Sagawa Sensei and Takeda Sensei were this way, so I am doing the same. It’s not good without being able to actually show the techniques (with just lip service). With Takeda Sensei, and with me, whoever the opponent is, when they come I do it right away (partner with them and throw them). That’s the way it is. That’s important. Sagawa Sensei often told me “Those guys who just talk, even though they can’t do that, are useless”. For that reason, in the same way I handle whoever comes with that same feeling. (laughing)

Azumi: But even if you say that you are doing the same as Sagawa Sensei, isn’t it actually difficult?

Kimura: There was a giant that I met in Germany, at first no matter what I did they were as steady as a rock, but after deepening my research for five years I got to a point at which I could always topple him. It seems to have shocked him, though…

Azumi: …..

Kimura: But if, by any chance, there is a person on whom my technique were ineffective then I suppose that I would have to innovate and research from that point again in order to progress. Human beings, when they are protected they stop progressing. That position is unacceptable.

Azumi: Sagawa Sensei also left some similar sayings, didn’t he?

Kimura: That’s right. Sagawa Sensei would never say that this is good enough, that he was satisfied with where he was. He would say things like “There is no such thing as perfection! When one thinks that their progress stops right there.” and “No matter how high a level one has reached, if one thinks that they have progressed enough then there is no value right from that point!”.

Azumi: Furthermore, he put that into practice, didn’t he…? There is much more that I would like to talk about, but unfortunately our time has run out. Thank you for taking so much time to speak with me today.

Yukiyoshi Sagawa - taninsudori


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

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Christopher Li http://www.aikidosangenkai.org <![CDATA[Interview with Hiroshi Sagawa and 10th Gen Shihan Tatsuo Kimura – Part 3]]> http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2101 2015-12-12T19:00:31Z 2015-12-12T19:00:31Z Tatsuo Kimura and Seigo Yamaguchi in Karuizawa, 1968 “That was how I entered the University of Tokyo and became a formal student of Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei beginning Aikido practice at Ikenoue located next to the Komaba-Todai-mae train station. During that time, I was often with Yamaguchi Sensei all day. He would many times say that … Continue reading Interview with Hiroshi Sagawa and 10th Gen Shihan Tatsuo Kimura – Part 3 »

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Tatsuo Kimura and Seigo Yamaguchi in Karuizawa, 1968Tatsuo Kimura and Seigo Yamaguchi in Karuizawa, 1968

“That was how I entered the University of Tokyo and became a formal student of Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei beginning Aikido practice at Ikenoue located next to the Komaba-Todai-mae train station. During that time, I was often with Yamaguchi Sensei all day. He would many times say that his dream was to find some method to deal with any power no matter how strong without using strength. He said he was searching to find this method. At some point, this became my own dream. However, it was like the blue bird in the story of M. Maeterlinck, but it seemed that this was not something that could be realized in this world. Later, I will mention that such a method that answered Yamaguchi Sensei’s dream does indeed exist in this world.”

– Tatsuo Kimura
  Discovering Aiki My 20 Years with Yukiyoshi Sagawa Sensei

Yukiyoshi Sagawa often traveled as an attendant to his teacher,  Daito-ryu Chuku-no-so Sokaku Takeda, who was also the teacher of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. At one time, around 1956, an agreement was made for Sagawa to become an instructor at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, but he took exception to some remarks about Sokaku Takeda made by Morihei Ueshiba in an interview with the Yomiuri Shimbun around that time and changed his mind.

Yukiyoshi Sagawa’s younger brother and favorite sibling, Hiroshi Sagawa (佐川廣), was born in Shimo-yubetsu Hokkaido in 1909 (Meiji Year 42) into a family in which both his father and his elder brother trained extensively with Sokaku Takeda.

Tatsuo Kimura (木村達雄) is one of three of Yukiyoshi Sagawa Sohan’s students to have completed the 10th Gen level of techniques (the techniques in Sagawa Dojo that Sagawa Sensei learned from Sokaku Takeda were organized into ten levels, or “Gen” / 元).

Born in Tokyo Japan in 1947, Kimura Sensei is a well known mathematician and professor at Tsukuba University. He published two books about Sagawa Sohan (宗範) that have been translated into English (the latter one only partially) – “Transparent Power (透明な力)” and “Discovering Aiki My 20 Years with Yukiyoshi Sagawa Sensei (合気修得への道―佐川幸義先生に就いた二十年)”. He also holds a third-dan in kendo and a fifth-dan in Aikido, which he studied under Seigo Yamaguchi (山口清吾).

This is part 3 of the English translation of an interview conducted in Japanese by Kuni Azumi (安積 邦) with Hiroshi Sagawa and Tatsuo Kimura that previously appeared in the popular martial arts magazine Gekkan Hiden (月刊秘伝 / “Secret Teachings Monthly”) in 2001. You may wish to read Part 1 and Part 2 before reading this section.

You may also be interested in another interview with Kimura Sensei that appeared on the Aikido Sangenkai blog previously – “Yukiyoshi Sagawa’s Aiki, a true portrait of Transparent Power – Interview with Tatsuo Kimura, Part 1 and Part 2.

Aiki News 140 and 141 - Tatsuo KimuraAiki News issues 140 and 141 – Tatsuo Kimura and Yukiyoshi Sagawa

Interview with Hiroshi Sagawa and 10th Gen Shihan Tatsuo Kimura, Part 3

The Unknown Side Benefits of Aiki

Azumi: Clearly and unmistakably, the one who experienced Sagawa Sohan’s Aiki the most times must be Kimura Sensei, who is sitting right here. However Kimura Sensei speaks about Aiki, I think that it is of great interest even to those who are not training in Aiki, is that so?

Kimura: Once one experiences Aiki it sparks an incredibly strong interest. One becomes unable to be thrown by techniques without Aiki. In Sagawa Dojo there was a very large person who Sensei left completely untouched for about five years. Through that time, no matter how much he struggled I was able to throw him. Then Sensei said that he wanted to forge him into a strong member of the dojo. Sagawa Sensei began to throw him, and within two weeks most of the people in the dojo became unable to apply techniques to him. (laughing)

Azumi: Do things like that…really happen?

Kimura: Therefore, the meaning of those people who have been thrown by Sagawa Sensei becoming unthrowable becomes extremely important. However, Sensei would select people, so it’s not as if everybody in the dojo was thrown.

Azumi: Does that mean that something would happen inside their bodies?

Yukiyoshi Sagawa - Aiki AgeYukiyoshi Sagawa Demonstrates Aiki-age

Kimura: Hmm…what could it be? (laughing) But I can say this. In other words, it is that when one experiences Aiki one feels that it is a truly great way of being handled. When that happens it is that everything else becomes uncomfortable – that conveys a feeling of being forced, and the body becomes unwilling to accept it. As I said before, normally it is difficult to imagine that the techniques of people who can throw you with one finger, like the sempai in the Sagawa Dojo, become ineffective. Just the same, no matter how good a person’s techniques are, they are manifestly different from Sagawa Sensei’s. One doesn’t understand at the beginning. As one’s abilities gradually increase, the difference becomes clear. In time, the body completely refuses to receive other’s techniques – “that’s not going to work”. However, saying that one cannot be thrown and saying that one can throw another person are two separate issues. Just because one’s body has become strong doesn’t mean that one can throw a strong person.

Azumi: Yes, I suppose so.

Kimura: Further, in the magnificence of Sagawa Sensei’s bujutsu, there is one more thing that is not well known.

Azumi: Oh? What’s that?

Kimura: The body becomes energetic and invigorated.

Azumi: It becomes energetic?

Kimura: Yes. The effects are similar to the those things recently being called “healing”. (Translator’s Note: there was a “healing boom” in Japan starting in the 1980’s that spurred many products and services aimed at enhancing general psychological well-being.)

Azumi. Ah. Yes.

Kimura: Actually, when one received Sagawa Sensei’s technique it felt really wonderful. Even now, I think that must have really been healing. When one was thrown it penetrated right through into your core. It felt as if something was being purified. Strength would well up and one would become incredibly energized. In fact, a number of times during training after being thrown by Sagawa Sensei my head would start to start to work oddly well, and on the way home I would be able to solve mathematical equations (Note: Kimura Sensei is a professor of mathematics at Tsukuba University. Additionally, he is the mathematics department head!). This happened to me many times. (laughing)

Azumi: It seems as if there is an injection of energy…

Kimura: Yes! It feels as if a fire has passed through the inside of your body. Aiki passes through the body. It’s not external, it enters into one’s body so one becomes extremely energized. It’s natural, so one feels good. There is absolutely nothing that feels forced! However severely one is thrown. It feels like a technique that happens while one is still thinking “What!?!” (and they are already thrown).

Azumi: Do you think that Sokaku’s Aiki had the same kind of “side benefits”?

Kimura: Whether or not Takeda Sensei got to that point or not…I can’t say. Of course, the throwing the opponent instantly with Aiki that forms the foundation must be absolutely the same.

Sagawa: With both Takeda Sensei and my brother, when Aiki was applied one’s strength would be removed.

Kimura: Sagawa Sensei said that Takeda Sensei would throw with a conventional technique after removing their power (with Aiki), but there was even further development (by Sagawa Sensei) from there. He made a great discovery concerning Aiki when he was seventy years old. By the way, I first met Sensei when he was seventy-six years old, from that time – that is, from the beginning, he was incredible. (laughing)

Azumi: (laughing)

Yukiyoshi Sagawa

True Throws – the Intensity of the Last Practice

Kimura: When I was thrown by Sagawa Sensei, I experienced truly being thrown for the first time. Until that time I did Aikido and it felt as if I was taking ukemi, but with Sagawa Sensei’s throws I couldn’t understand where I would be thrown – at first it was extremely frightening. There was no way to prepare oneself, since one would be thrown flying in an instant it was a real surprise. In any case, it was all that one could do just to avoid hitting one’s head. Even so, at the last practice, just before Sensei passed away, I hit my head three times.

Azumi: In the at least twenty years that he taught you, there wasn’t even a slight decline in Sagawa Sensei’s technique?

Kimura: A decline? Although each time I thought that a superior technique was inconceivable, it was continuously the case that each time I went there was something that was clearly superior to the previous time. Furthermore, I had been building strength over that period of twenty years. In spite of that, the power of his throws never changed.

Azumi: However, you hit your head even up until that last practice shortly before he passed away? Even though you are one of only three 10th Gen shihan?

Kimura: That’s how intense that last practice was. I think that Sagawa Sensei probably staked his life on it for us.

Hiden Ashi no Aiki - Yukiyoshi SagawaYukiyoshi Sagawa demonstrating Hiden Ashi no Aiki (秘伝足の合気)

What is the Aiki Body?

Sagawa: Kimura-san probably thinks the same way, but his body was like steel – although one tried to immobilize him he could not be immobilized. If one goes up to here with an untrained person it’s all over, but with someone like Kimura-san it really can’t be applied. There were times that I tried to immobilize my brother, but I couldn’t do it, you know. It felt as if I were pulling on steel, it didn’t feel as if I were immobilizing him at all.

Kimura: One time we paired up like Sumo wrestlers and Sagawa Sensei told me to come at him.

Azumi: Yes…

Kimura: At the moment that we met there was a shock.

Azumi: Ei? What was it like?

Kimura: “Hey, hey, what’s this!?!”. That Sensei’s body was completely different from ours came through in a very real and emphatic manner. It felt as if I had grabbed on to some strange object. (In severe training) the body is really like steel…it felt as if I were touching something of a completely different quality, something with an extremely high density.

Azumi: The quality was completely different? Dense?

Kimura: In other words, how can I put this – his body density was completely different. It was so dense that it seemed as if one became like paper and flipped away when touched. This was when he was well past ninety years old! Anyway, he had an amazing body…it’s difficult to express it in words.

Azumi: I think that there are many readers who are curious about Sagawa Sensei’s body. Relating to that, it must have been in Sagawa Sohan’s later years, but there was a time when he injured his tendons from too much conditioning and was unable to turn off the faucet of a sink….

Kimura: That’s true. Sensei told me that in the end “I couldn’t do anything, all that I could do was throw people“. (laughing)

Azumi: He couldn’t do anything but throw people….. (speechless)

Kimura: He couldn’t even pull the tab on the pop-top of a can of juice. But although he couldn’t open a pop-top, when one was caught by that finger they couldn’t move (smiling)….”What’s going on?”.

Azumi:……

Kimura: Even more mysteriously, in his very last years there were some times when Sensei’s walking was a little unsteady. He’d wobble around, and when others watched they would become a little bit worried. At that time he’d walk towards you with a gait that looked as if he was just about to topple over. After he sat in his wheel chair he’d say “Kimura! Come grab my legs!”. At first I held back, but sure enough (smiling) I was surprised to be thrown flying even further than usual. One more time, and this time I grabbed him strongly – and I was handled even more severely. ….Ahh, that really surprised me (embarrassed grin) – “What happened with Sensei’s legs? They were completely emaciated!”.

Yukiyoshi Sagawa - Ashi no Aiki, 1996Yukiyoshi Sagawa and Tatsuo Kimura – Ashi no Aiki, 1996

Azumi: Ahh (surprised). Since, to all appearances, a physical decline equivalent to his age can be observed, normally that would be inconceivable, wouldn’t it?

Kimura: So that means – they are the same legs, but the wobbling walk and the strength to throw a person flying are completely different things. One could say that the level of the principles behind their movements are different.

Kinji Sakuma Demonstrates ShikoKinji Sakuma (佐久間錦二) demonstrates the Shiko exercise
taught directly to him by Yukiyoshi Sagawa.
Sagawa Sohan would do these several thousand times each day.

Legendary Solo training

Azumi: From what I have heard, from the parade of anecdotes, he was overwhelming. However, behind the scenes of that severity, I have been told that there was special conditioning that Sagawa Sohan did alone and did not show to other people.

Sagawa: He was always doing those exercises! But it certainly seemed as if he didn’t want to be seen. And then he would note them in his diary each day.

Azumi: Was kind of things were written in his diary?

Sagawa: Things like the number of times that he had trained. What he did and how many times, how his suburi went, how much bojutsu he did, and things like that. He’d write that he did one thousand push-ups or today he did two thousand push-ups, and so forth.

Kimura: It (Sagawa Sensei’s conditioning) was usually in units of one-thousand. Actually, and it was only twice, I saw it myself.

Azumi: Is that right!?!

Kimura: I don’t know if I can talk about this…..(thinks for a moment).

Azumi: Please, please! (smiling)

Kimura: ….(embarrassed grin) It was a time right after I started when there were still very few students, only three or four. On the grounds of Sagawa Sensei’s home there was a spot basking in the sun that was just perfect. On that day I went a little earlier than usual to practice, and Sensei was doing some kind of exercise there by himself. That was the first time. The other time was when Sensei’s home was undergoing some construction. The gardeners were taking a long time to finish up, so he shook the numbness out of his limbs and started his own training right there. Later on Sensei said “I did my exercises right in front of them!”.

Azumi: What kind of conditioning did Sagawa Sensei do?

Kimura: …………. Actually, there were times that I heard (from Sensei) about his conditioning. But that was when the two of us were alone, and Sensei spoke of it unintentionally.

Azumi: What were the specifics?

Kimura: For example, “The bokken is really used like this…” – things like that.

Azumi: ………….

Kimura: However, his way of thinking was so completely different that I was surprised. Perhaps one could say that it was a completely separate thing from (the way of thinking of) conventional conditioning.

To be continued in Part 4, with a discussion what happened inside of Sagawa Sohan’s body…


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

 

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Christopher Li http://www.aikidosangenkai.org <![CDATA[The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray]]> http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/?p=2050 2015-12-11T21:09:34Z 2015-11-07T21:09:18Z Kisshomaru Ueshiba – Morihei Ueshiba – Koichi Tohei What does all of this mean? It means that the common view of the spread of aikido following the war taking place under the direct tutelage of the Founder is fundamentally in error. Tohei and the present Doshu (*Kisshomaru Ueshiba) deserve the lion’s share of the credit, … Continue reading The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray »

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Kisshomaru and Morihei Ueshiba with Koichi ToheiKisshomaru Ueshiba – Morihei Ueshiba – Koichi Tohei

What does all of this mean? It means that the common view of the spread of aikido following the war taking place under the direct tutelage of the Founder is fundamentally in error. Tohei and the present Doshu (*Kisshomaru Ueshiba) deserve the lion’s share of the credit, not the Founder. It means further that O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba was not seriously involved in the instruction or administration of aikido in the postwar years. He was already long retired and very focused on his personal training, spiritual development, travel and social activities.

—“Is O-Sensei Really the Father of Modern Aikido?”, by Stanley Pranin

The quote above comes from an article written by Stanley Pranin that was originally published in Aikido Journal #109 in 1996. Long time readers of Stanley Pranin are probably familiar with this line of thought, which has been supported by a cornucopia of material published in both Aikido Journal and the older Aiki News.

What follows is an essay by Mark Murray that was originally posted to the Rum Soaked Fist discussion forums, and appears here with his permission. It is a further summation of some of the important issues surrounding the now clear divergence between the Aikido of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei and the Aikido of his son, Ni-Dai Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba.

Mark Murray

Mark is an “IT Specialist by trade and a writer by choice” (check out the Mark Murray Books website, and the Mark Murray author page on Amazon), but when he’s not doing either of those things he is usually training in the martial arts, and that is the context in which most of us are probably familiar with him.

In 2006 he was one of the first Aikido people to post a detailed public review (which originally appeared on AikiWeb) of his meeting with Dan Harden, and this was an important step in the process that eventually brought Dan to teach publicly:

Work sent me to Boston for a few days. Before I left for Boston, I contacted Dan Harden and asked if he’d meet me. I said I’d like to start learning the internal stuff. Once in Boston, I met Dan at my hotel after work one day and we walked over to the Commons.

I ended up learning a lot of things. One is that Dan is a great guy. Working out with him for the short time I had was a pleasure. I went back and forth from, “Okay how did you do that” to laughing. Most of the time I forgot I was even standing in the Boston Commons.

Two is that I just couldn’t push him over. And let me tell — that was a very disconcerting feeling. I tried pushing with both hands on his chest, tried pulling him sideways using one of his arms, and then placing a hand on the side of his head and pushing. He just stood there relaxed. I don’t know how to explain some of what I felt there. Part of it was just like pushing and nothing was budging. Almost like putting your hand on a wall, leaning into it, pushing, and it’s just there not moving, but not nearly as hard or unyielding as a wall’s surface. And parts of it I could feel that I’d lost my own balance as I started to push. In those instances, I was pushing and Dan was moving his center in such a way that he knew where I was losing my balance or what foot held most of my weight.

It was an eye opening display of some of what he can do. I say some because I also got to feel a small portion of the power he can generate. Another example of this relaxed power was that he held out both hands and asked me to throw him in a judo type throw. I grabbed both arms and that was as far as I got. There were no openings. I never got to the tsukuri, or fit, because I couldn’t even get kuzushi. In fact, there was a kuzushi but it was on me. If you’ve ever seen some of these sayings, “keep weight underside”, “extend ki”, “keep one point”, well, I got to experience them first hand. Dan also showed me the “push out exercise” where I had hold of him but couldn’t step forward. Although I didn’t feel like I was overly weighted down, I still couldn’t take a step. My feet just felt rooted to the ground.

The no-inch punch was amazing. And yes, there was no distance but the force was definitely there. I wouldn’t say it felt exactly like a punch, which is more of a percussive feel. No, this was more like a ball of energy/power hitting me and shockwaves vibrating out from where it entered my body. Next thing I know, I’m picking myself up off the ground a few feet away.

All the while, Dan is explaining how all of it is done. He was open and willing to share information on what he was doing and how it was done. He showed me some exercises to do and I tried some of them. Try is a good word. It’ll take some time doing them, especially the hanmi. LOL. But in the short time I was there, I will say that they definitely helped.

The stuff Dan is doing is good stuff. I wish I’d been able to visit his dojo and meet everyone else, but I’m hoping that my next visit, I’ll be able to do that.

———————————–

Update (December 1, 2015): I’d like to comment on the relevance of including Mark’s review of his meeting with Dan Harden, since the context seems confusing to some people.

For those who have followed the process, much of the material in this article developed over the course of discussions (and arguments) on AikiWeb and other internet discussion forums. Many of those discussions (and arguments) were centered around Dan Harden’s theories, and his participation contributed greatly to the evolution of the conversation.

As Mark recounts his experience he states “If you’ve ever seen some of these sayings, ‘keep weight underside’, ‘extend ki’, ‘keep one point’, well, I got to experience them first hand.”. To me, this is a telling statement, and symptomatic of the two legacies that Mark goes on to describe in the main body of this article – a student of modern Aikido being astonished when encountering an actual manifestation of skills so often discussed, but so rarely displayed.

Is what Dan Harden doing relevant to Aikido? Well, part of that will depend upon how you’re defining Aikido, but here’s what a direct student of Morihei Ueshiba had to say upon meeting Dan, and some discussion of what that might mean.

Now, some people may think that the point of this article and the reference above is to say that none of Morihei Ueshiba’s students understood anything at all or were able to grasp any part of his transmission, but this is absolutely not the case. I have discussed this issue in previous articles, but I will state again here that every direct student of the Founder that I’ve met (and I’ve met quite a few) seems to have gotten something from the Founder – some a little, and some a lot. The caveat being they also had trouble explaining and transmitting whatever it was that they did get from their time with him – there is a more detailed discussion of this problem in the article “Morihei Ueshiba – Profiles of the Founder“.

— Chris Li

———————————–

And now…on to Mark Murray’s essay – “The Ueshiba Legacy”.

O-Sensei and KisshomaruFather and Son in front of Aikikai Hombu Dojo
Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba and Ni-Dai Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba

The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray

There are two Ueshiba Legacies. The legacy of Morihei Ueshiba and the legacy of Kisshomaru Ueshiba. The two are completely different. Their paths rarely cross, with only a smattering of commonalities.

A: The Words

From the translation on the Sangenkai website, “Aikido is the way of harmony, that is to say the living form of Ichirei Shikon Sangen Hachiriki, the form of the fabric of the universe, specifically the form of the High Plain of Heaven.” (1) Ueshiba would talk about this often. He explained Hachiriki as “The 8 powers are opposing forces: Movement – Stillness, Melting – Congealing, Pulling – Loosening, Combining – Splitting / 9-1, 8-2, 7-3, 6-4” (1). Note that the 8 powers are 4 pairs of opposites.

Morihei Ueshiba and foreign studentsAikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba and a group of foreign students
Left to right: Alan Ruddock, Henry Kono, Per Winter, Joanne Willard,
Joe Deisher, O-Sensei, Joanne Shimamoto (later married to Akira Tohei),
Kenneth Cottier, Edward Yamaguchi, Norman Miles and Terry Dobson

When Henry Kono asked O-Sensei “Why can we not do what you do, Sensei?” the answer was quite simply “Because you don’t understand In and Yo.” (2) Opposing forces. One of Ueshiba’s doka (“poems of the way”) was “Manifest yo (yang) in the right hand, change the left hand to in (yin) and guide the opponent.”.

More from what Ueshiba said: “Aikido is the Way and Principle of harmonizing Heaven, Earth and Man.” Ueshiba talked about Izanami and Izanagi. He talked about The Floating Bridge of Heaven. He talked about kami, which was often written as ka (火 / fire) and mi (水 / water). Whether during the famous pre-war era or during the post-war era, Morihei Ueshiba described his aikido by using a specific spiritual ideology.

Rinjiro Shirata 1935Rinjiro Shirata at the Kobukan Dojo in 1935

Rinjiro Shirata, another pre-war student, gives some more details about Ueshiba’s teaching style – “We never practiced techniques in any specific order. It was not a practice where we were taught. As I told you before, Ueshiba had his own training. Therefore, he practiced techniques as he wanted. That was his training. Ueshiba Sensei’s way of explaining techniques was first of all to give the names of kamisama (deities). After that, he explained the movement. He told us, ‘Aikido originally didn’t have any form’. The movements of the body in response to one’s state of mind became the techniques.”. (3)

Aikido Shugyo by Gozo ShiodaAikido Shugyo“, by Gozo Shioda

Shioda’s thoughts about Ueshiba: “As mentioned earlier, at the Ueshiba Dojo in the old days we didn’t explicitly have any pre-set forms. The only thing the students could do was copy the techniques that Sensei performed on their own. In terms of instruction, the only thing we were told was to ‘become one with heaven and earth’.”. (4)

Black Belt magazine, May 1966Black Belt magazine, May 1966

From an article in Black Belt magazine about training in post-war: “The first class is usually taken up mostly with discussions about God and nature – Uyeshiba doing the talking and the uchideshi listening. It is in this hour that the young uchideshi is exposed to Zen philosophy and the deeper meanings of aikido – its nonviolent and defensive perfection and understanding

If this all sounds rather remote and difficult to grasp for a Western reader, he may be interested to know that the young Japanese uchideshi often feels the same way. The 83-year-old Uyeshiba many times speaks about highly abstract topics, lapsing usually into ancient Japanese phraseology, so that his listeners often find it difficult to follow him.”. (5)

Morihei Ueshiba with Robert FragerMorihei Ueshiba with Robert Frager

Robert Frager also talks about his training and Ueshiba’s incomprehensible speeches – “I understood very little of his talks. Osensei used a great many esoteric Shinto terms, and he spoke with a strong regional accent. His teachings were pitched at a philosophical, mystical level, far above my beginner’s concerns about where I had to place my hands and feet. I puzzled over statements like, ‘When you practice Aikido, you stand on the floating bridge between heaven and earth,’ and ‘Put the Shinto Goddess ‘She-who-invites’ in your left foot and the God ‘He-who-approaches’ in your right foot.’.”. (6)

Training with the Master, by Walther Krenner and John StevensTraining with the Master, by Walther Krenner and John Stevens

Walther Krenner notes that Ueshiba would sometimes come in and talk for a long time. (7) Kisshomaru Ueshiba also talks about his father’s baffling spiritual experiences. (8) Yoji Tomosue also found it difficult to understand Ueshiba. (9) Tamura relates that the young students didn’t understand what Ueshiba was saying. (10) There is an interesting interview with Henry Kono in an Aikido Today magazine:

ATM: When you had conversations like these with O’sensei, what would you talk about?
HK: Well, I would usually ask him why the rest of us couldn’t do what he could. There were many other teachers, all doing aikido. But he was doing it differently – doing something differently. His movement was so clean!
ATM: How would O’sensei answer your questions about what he was doing?
HK: He would say that I didn’t understand yin and yang [in and yo]. So, now I’ve made it my life work to study yin and yang. That’s what O’sensei told me to do. (11)

Looking back to the pre-war era, one would think that Ueshiba would have been much easier to understand. However we have to remember that Ueshiba had about ten years before the Kobukan dojo opened to refine his spiritual ideology. Takako Kunigoshi states that there wasn’t anyone who could understand Ueshiba. (12) Shirata remembers Ueshiba giving the names of kamisama as explanations. (13) Mochizuki considered Ueshiba a “primitive genius who couldn’t explain anything.” (14) In fact, Mochizuki goes on to say that Ueshiba wouldn’t explain but would rather say it came from God. (15) (16)

The Gods Izanagi and Izanami on the Floating Bridge of Heaven The Gods Izanagi and Izanami on the Floating Bridge of Heaven

Ueshiba stated: “The left hand is Izanagi, the right is Izanami, in the center is Ame-no-minakanushi, this is yourself. This is standing on the Floating Bridge of Heaven and turning in a spiral. This is called Taka-ama-hara. Heaven and earth are one unit, water and fire are also one unit, all appears through Iki (breath). This is the endless appearance of the Kami. Aiki technique comes forth endlessly.” (17)

More from Ueshiba: “It is said that Aikido must first stand on the Floating Bridge of Heaven. It is said that the Floating Bridge of Heaven is the exchange of Fire and Water. Precisely in the form of a cross, it is the world of Fire and Water in harmony. In other words, it is said the this world is created through the two actions of the twin gods Takami-Musubi and Kami-Musubi winding up in a spiral on the right and winding down in a spiral on the left. Fire (“Ka”) and Water (“mi”) become “Kami”, the source of this “Kami” (Fire and Water) returns to the one, but the one becomes the source of the physical and the spiritual. “. (18)

No matter if we look at the pre-war period or the post-war one, we find that Ueshiba’s spiritual ideology hindered his students understanding of what to work on in training aiki. Hardly anyone ever really understood what Ueshiba meant by his explanations.

Regarding the worldwide version of aikido that was disseminated after Morihei Ueshiba’s death, from around 1970 on, how often has a student of aikido been frustrated to understand Izanami, Izanagi, kami, Hachiriki, or the Floating Bridge of Heaven from their instructor? How often has those terms actually come up? If they ever have (which is rare), how were they explained?

Kisshomaru Ueshiba was given control over the Tokyo dojo and he changed many things. One of those was the actual message of his father. As a brief explanation, this was after the war when Japan had lost and was in turmoil. Martial arts were mostly banned. The Tokyo dojo was in shambles. Kisshomaru picked up the pieces, put them back together, and from his experiences during the war, changed aikido’s message to something the world could embrace – which it did by millions of people.

The fact remains that the words and vision of aikido between Morihei Ueshiba and what was spread throughout the world, Modern Aikido for lack of a better term, are completely different.

(1) “Aikido and the Structure of the Universe
(2) “Aikido Memoirs” by Alan Ruddock
(3) Aiki News Issue 062
(4) “Aikido Shugyo” by Gozo Shioda
(5) Black Belt 1966 Vol 4 No 5
(6) Yoga Journal March 1982
(7) “Training with the Master” by John Stevens
(8) Aiki News Issue 031
(9) Aiki News Issue 031
(10) Aiki News Issue 066
(11) Aikido Today Magazine; #31 Dec.93/ Jan. 94.
(12) Aiki News 047
(13) Aiki News Issue 062
(14) Black Belt 1980 Vol 18 No 4
(15) Black Belt 1980 Vol 18 No 4
(16) Black Belt 1989 Vol 27 No 8
(17) “Aikido and the Floating Bridge of Heaven
(18) “Morihei Ueshiba and the Way of the Cross

Moriteru Ueshiba Paris 2004San-Dai Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba teaching 3,000 people in Paris – 2004

B: The Training

According to an Aikikai estimate, 1.2 million people are practicing aikido worldwide, but that probably doesn’t include non-Aikikai related schools. Still, at a minimum, millions of people are training aikido. If we focus on all those millions of aikido people taking “ukemi” for 40 to 50 years and that some of them spent quite a bit more time training with their teachers than pre-war or post-war students did with Ueshiba, then where are the people that rival Gozo Shioda or Kenji Tomiki’s abilities, let alone the skill level of Morihei Ueshiba? How many of the millions who have trained and learned the outward physical techniques of aikido for 40-50 years have replicated Ueshiba’s exploits?

Ueshiba and Deguchi, Budo SenyokaiUnder the Dai-Nippon Senyokai (大日本武道宣揚会) banner Morihei Ueshiba (left) with the Omoto-kyo’s Sumiko and Onisaburo Deguchi
in 1932. Aritoshi Murashige standing back right

What happens when we look at all the people who are studying misogi-no-gyo or Omoto kyo or Zen meditation? If we focus on those people, you still have no one who has achieved Ueshiba’s abilities. How many people who focused on the spiritual only and practiced misogi exercises have replicated Ueshiba’s abilities? We can turn to one of Ueshiba’s students for an answer. Around 1952, Seiseki Abe says this about talking to Ueshiba, “How did you ever learn such a wonderful budo”, and he answered, ‘Through misogi.’ Now I had been doing misogi since 1941 and when I heard that Aikido came from misogi, suddenly ‘snap’, the two came together.”. (1)

Seiseki Abe with Morihei UeshibaSeiseki Abe, standing far left, with Morihei Ueshiba
Kumano Juku, 1954

Seiseki Abe had been doing misogi for at least 10 years prior to training in aikido and wasn’t at all near Ueshiba’s skills or abilities, nor did he even see misogi and aikido as being similar. However, under Ueshiba’s tutelage, Seiseki Abe continued to grow as a martial artist. We can see from this that something that Ueshiba knew and had trained was the underlying basis for powering his misogi exercises. Other people who did not have that certain something did not grow to replicate Ueshiba’s abilities. Looking at Omoto kyo, how many people who don’t practice techniques have replicated Ueshiba’s abilities? How many Omoto kyo people who do practice techniques have replicated Ueshiba’s abilities? Yet, when we look at Ueshiba’s peers, we find that they did replicate exploits and abilities. Those peers did not practice Omoto kyo nor misogi. What they did practice was exercises for Daito ryu aiki. This aiki was the power behind Ueshiba’s misogi and not the other way around.

Now, if we look at the millions of aikido people practicing techniques day after day, year after year, decade after decade and not replicating Ueshiba’s abilities, isn’t it time to accept the truth that Morihei Ueshiba’s aikido and Modern Aikido are very different?

The focus on techniques was a modern change instilled into what became Modern Aikido for the world. Ueshiba never preached techniques. In fact, his art was formless. Students griped that they rarely saw a technique twice. When asked about techniques, Ueshiba’s reply showed the overwhelming nature of trying to learn them all. He said, “There are about 3,000 basic techniques, and each of them has 16 variations … so there are many thousands. Depending on the situation, you create new ones.” (2)

Rinjiro Shirata explained his memories of early training with Ueshiba: “We never practiced techniques in any specific order. It was not a practice where we were taught. As I told you before, Ueshiba had his own training. Therefore, he practiced techniques as he wanted. That was his training. Ueshiba Sensei’s way of explaining techniques was first of all to give the names of kamisama (deities). After that, he explained the movement. He told us, ‘Aikido originally didn’t have any form. The movements of the body in response to one’s state of mind became the techniques.’.” (3)

and

“Since Aikido is formless, we move according to how we feel.” (3)

and

“Ueshiba Sensei didn’t have techniques. He said: ‘There are no techniques. What you express each time is a technique.’.” (4)

Sunadomari and UeshibaKanshu Sunadomari with Morihei Ueshiba, around 1960

Kanshu Sunadomari remarked that if you stick to form, you only get the old style martial arts. He also talked about Ueshiba and training: “O-Sensei said, ‘Aiki is to teach the basis for the creation of budo in which techniques are born as one moves.’ So you have to understand the basis for the creation of techniques. The basis is kokyu power. There is nothing else. When you develop kokyu power, countless techniques emerge. You can’t create techniques only by doing the forms of the past.”. (5)

Shioda notes that in pre-war training, there were no pre-set forms. They had to mimic what Ueshiba did. (6) In turn, David Lynch states that Shioda developed a systemized curriculum to help new students learn better. (7) If we address the actual issue of techniques, it’s interesting to find what two main aikido instructors thought about them.

Kisshomaru Ueshiba: “It was around 1937 or 1938 that I began to practice Aikido seriously. I had already learned techniques by then. One can learn techniques in two or three years.”. (8)

Koichi Tohei: “… the physical techniques can be easily learned within a short time span, like other Martial Arts.”. (9)

Koichi Tohei: “When I visited Chicago a few months ago, four Ohioans came to study under me and I was surprised because they knew the techniques quite well. When I inquired who taught them, they said that they had learned it from my book. One person would read while the others practiced the techniques. They didn’t reveal any major faults in their movements.”. (10)

As merely a technicality, one could say that Ueshiba taught techniques. A major point of fact as shown by the various schools of aikido, Ueshiba had to have taught something or else they wouldn’t have a technique based curriculum. As a matter of actual truth, though? No, Ueshiba didn’t teach techniques. He viewed his art as formless and where his body moved, his training partner created the openings for techniques to happen. The students did the best that they could with what Ueshiba gave them. Since he wasn’t really teaching the secrets, the students mimicked the forms and trained techniques. It was the students who developed a curriculum by writing down techniques and sorting them into some type of syllabus.

In the pre-war era, there weren’t that many hours of being taught by Ueshiba but rather many hours of practice with peers and seniors. It was mentioned that pre-war students often did techniques with seniors. We can see on film how Ueshiba “taught”. Who actually learned techniques from Ueshiba in those films or did the students just mimic what they saw? Many of the students of Ueshiba complained that he wouldn’t show a technique twice. We also must consider Mochizuki complaining that Ueshiba completely pared down the Daito ryu techniques into a much small number. If techniques were Ueshiba’s focus, then why did he trim so much? Why didn’t he set some sort of curriculum? Why did he say his art was formless?

If we shift our focus to consider the post-war era when Ueshiba was in Iwama, who taught at Tokyo? When Ueshiba was traveling around, who taught at Iwama or Tokyo? How about the training schedule at Tokyo where Ueshiba only “taught” the morning class? Even then, many of the students complained he talked away most of the time. Who actually put together a jo and bokken syllabus in Iwama? Saito did.

Morihei Ueshiba Shinbuden 1942Morihei Ueshiba demonstrating at the Shinbuden Dojo
Manchurai, 1942

We can also look at another example to show that Ueshiba wasn’t focused on techniques at all but rather his vision of aikido. At a demonstration in Manchuria, Ohba, as uke, showed that Ueshiba had skills that went outside the spiritual vision. This was supposed to be a prearranged demonstration but Ohba changed his attacks. Ueshiba was called upon to handle some very realistic attacks. In fact, Shigenobu Okumura stated: “At that time I was a student and I saw this demonstration. The demonstration was as serious as any I have ever seen. I could tell that it was not a prearranged demonstration at all.” (11) Ueshiba was fumingly angry that Ohba had changed his attacks and he stayed that way until appeased by the words of Hideo Sonobe, who gave high praise. It would appear that Ueshiba’s chosen demonstration of how he viewed his art of aikido was ruined by Ohba’s very strong and unrehearsed attacks. Ueshiba had a prearranged vision of his aikido that included an emphasis on set attacks with which he allowed the kami to manifest the technique. The focus was not on techniques.

Gozo Shioda - Budo, 1938Gozo Shioda and Morihei Ueshiba
from the technical manual “Budo”, 1938

Shioda also said that Ueshiba told him, “In a real fight, Aikido is 70 percent atemi and 30 percent throwing.” (12) The specific factor here is “real fight”. We can guess that in a real encounter which isn’t preset, Ueshiba relied upon his Daito ryu training, which included atemi and aiki. Techniques were not the focus. We can see that Ueshiba definitely had the skills, but chose to only show or use certain aspects, or certain subsets, in his vision of aikido. Consider that when a student was picked as an uke by Ueshiba, if that student didn’t attack in a very specific way that Ueshiba wanted, then that student didn’t get picked as uke again. Ueshiba was very specific in demonstrating his vision of aikido. He viewed what he did as a spiritual ideology using his students as training partners rather than focusing on actually teaching his students the secret of aiki.

Yukiyoshi Sagawa, Takahashi and KimuraYukiyoshi Sagawa with Masaru Takahashi and Tatsuo Kimura

Speaking of aiki, if we look to Yukiyoshi Sagawa, we find that he states aiki is a body training method and it isn’t about techniques. In fact, Sagawa, Kodo Horikawa, Seigo Okamoto, and Ueshiba all said their art was formless. Not some set curriculum of techniques, but formless. Then we find that Tokimune Takeda (*Note: see “Solo Training for Kokyu-ryoku and Ki in Daito-ryu Aiki Budo“), Takuma Hisa, Kodo, Sagawa, and Ueshiba all had solo training exercises that did not get shown. Where is their focus on techniques? They did not have it.

Kodo HorikawaDaito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Kodokai founder Kodo Horikawa

The focus on techniques is in Modern Aikido. Now that the world has practiced Modern Aikido and its techniques since, let’s say, 1960, where have people progressed? Where are the peer level people of Gozo Shioda or Rinjiro Shirata? How about those who have made it to replicate Ueshiba’s abilities? Even some of the direct students have said that they haven’t reached Ueshiba’s level. What does that say for their students?

What has Modern Aikido been doing for 50 years? Techniques. Why is it that Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Koichi Tohei stated that techniques can be learned in a short amount of time? Doesn’t 50 years of focused study on techniques with no worldwide appearance of anyone like Shioda, Shirata, or Ueshiba state something very definitive? Doesn’t that state that there are two unique visions of aikido? Morihei Ueshiba’s and Modern Aikido’s.

(1) Aiki News Issue 045
(2) Aiki News Issue 018
(3) Aiki News Issue 062
(4) Aiki News Issue 063
(5) Aiki News Issue 065
(6) “Aikido Shugyo” by Gozo Shioda
(7) Aikido Journal 103
(8) Aiki News Issue 056
(9) From Westbrook and Ratti’s “Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere“.
(10) Black Belt 1965 Vol 3 No 11.
(11) Aiki News Issue 086
(12) “Aikido Shugyo” by Gozo Shioda

Conclusion

There are two very different legacies to aikido. Kisshomaru created a worldwide vision of aikido that was accepted by millions. The world adopted the peaceful vision and the created curriculum. Some took the spiritual message as the most important part over martial viability, some took the martial viability over the spiritual, and others blended the two.

Someone who wanted a peaceful, spiritual training environment could find it. Someone who wanted a more martial environment could find it. Make no mistake, even with all the hoopla about aiki bunny hopping, there are people who have made Modern Aikido very martially viable. Ellis Amdur has an eloquent blog regarding just one example. (1)

The world embraced Modern Aikido, gave it life, gave it purpose, and created a legacy. The only unfortunate thing to it all is that the world mistakenly traced that legacy back to Morihei Ueshiba.

Morihei Ueshiba’s legacy is based upon aiki. This was the aiki that was passed down to him from Sokaku Takeda. His words were actual training explanations for developing the way of that specific aiki. And beyond those words that most couldn’t understand, he also explained aiki in very simple, direct terms … to a select few. A very specific training paradigm to change the body. Morihei Ueshiba took that aiki training, changed his body, studied Daito ryu, dabbled in other martial arts, and infused his Omoto kyo with it. A very different legacy than Modern Aikido. Ueshiba’s aikido was martially valid and stood out as unique from koryu jujutsu, judo, and other martial systems. Ueshiba’s aikido also created a visionary spiritual idealogy based entirely upon aiki but couched in Omoto kyo terms.

The world is big enough for both legacies. Different visions for different people. Modern Aikido must take a step back and start acknowledging their actual Founders – People like Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Koichi Tohei, Morihiro Saito and others. Give them the credit that is rightly due by hanging their picture on the shomen. Morihei Ueshiba should be reserved for those seeking the legacy of aiki that was passed down from Sokaku Takeda.

(1) “The Use of Weapons in Aikidō Training

Appendix – Formlessness of the Arts

Aiki News Issue 018

“Ueshiba: There are about 3,000 basic techniques, and each of them has 16 variations … so there are many thousands. Depending on the situation, you create new ones.”

Aiki News Issue 062

“He told us, “Aikido originally didn’t have any form. The movements of the body in response to one’s state of mind became the techniques.” ” — Shirata

“Since Aikido is formless, we move according to how we feel.” — Shirata

Shirata Sensei: We never practiced techniques in any specific order. It was not a practice where we were taught. As I told you before, Ueshiba had his own training. Therefore, he practiced techniques as he wanted. That was his training. Ueshiba Sensei’s way of explaining techniques was first of all to give the names of kamisama (deities). After that, he explained the movement. He told us, “Aikido originally didn’t have any form. The movements of the body in response to one’s state of mind became the techniques.

Aiki News Issue 063

“Ueshiba Sensei didn’t have techniques. He said: “There are no techniques. What you express each time is a technique.” ” — Shirata

Aiki News Issue 065

“Sensei understood the word “takemusu” as the revelation of one of the kami. “Takemusu” is the basis for the creation of all things. Aikido represents the form which creates all things through the body. O-Sensei said, “Aiki is to teach the basis for the creation of budo in which techniques are born as one moves.” So you have to understand the basis for the creation of techniques. The basis is kokyu power. There is nothing else. When you develop kokyu power, countless techniques emerge. You can’t create techniques only by doing the forms of the past.” — Sunadomari

“If you teach form only, you end up only with an old-style martial art.” — Sunadomari

Aiki News Issue 074

Sagawa: Takeda Sensei’s teaching method was always practical. He never taught us kata (forms).

Aikido Journal 103 (Vol 22, no 2)

Interview with David Lynch
Shioda Sensei, like many other former students of O-Sensei, felt that O-Sensei’s teaching was unsystematic, and he therefore devised his own set of basic exercises that were intended to make the art easier for the average person to learn. These basic exercises (hiriki no yosei and shumatsu dosa, for instance) are not found in other dojos.

Aikido Shugyo by Gozo Shioda

Aikido Shugyo by Gozo Shioda

As mentioned earlier, at the Ueshiba Dojo in the old days we didn’t explicitly have any pre-set forms. The only thing the students could do was copy the techniques that Sensei performed on their own. In terms of instruction, the only thing we were told was to “become one with heaven and earth.”

International Aikido Federation (IAF) Chairman Peter Goldsbury

(originally posted on AikiWeb)

There are many subjective accounts of how Morihei Ueshiba trained and what he taught, but I do not think that these accounts allow us to state categorically that this or that was how Ueshiba taught or trained. Apart from Doshu, who I think is in a special category, the Hombu instructor with whom I have discussed these issues the most is Hiroshi Tada. Like Tohei, H Tada was a student of Tempu Nakamura, but he seems to have been very careful as to what he taught in the Hombu and what he taught in his own dojo and in Italy. In other words, he seems to have accepted the idea that only certain things were to be taught or practiced in the Hombu, but also that the other things were to be practiced elsewhere. He teaches weapons in Italy, but never in the Hombu, and when I mentioned some details of a certain jo kata that I practiced in Italy to another Hombu instructor, he was very curious and wondered where Tada had learned it. Like other older Hombu instructors, Tada sets great store by solo training exercises and these seem to consist mainly of kokyu exercises of increasing sophistication and complexity. But he has never taught anything like pushing hands etc and I suspect that the occasion for seeing the results of all this kokyu training would be in basic aikido waza, like shoumen-uchi 1-kyou. This issue for me is which bit of Tada’s training comes from Nakamura and which bit from Ueshiba — and whether he could make such a distinction. Add to this Ellis Amdur’s theory of Ueshiba’s use of his students as ‘crash-test dummies’ and you also have to entertain the possibility that he showed different things to different students — and he showed this by having them take ukemi. You also have to entertain the possibility that the skills that Ueshiba possessed which could be interpreted as IP skills could be acquired by Ueshiba’s students in various ways, but not necessarily from Ueshiba himself by a direct transmission.

and

I am not sure that acceptance is the right word here. Sufferance might be more appropriate. One of the yudansha who trains with the group I look after in the Netherlands attends the workshops of Dan Harden and Minoru Akuzawa when they come to Europe. His aikido comes from another source, of course, but on one occasion a senior Hombu instructor stopped and asked him, “Why are you so strong?” The question was not meant in a negative sense at all and he was not talking about physical strength. The instructor knew exactly what he was seeing and I believe the older generation of instructors in Japan also know this. But, as you say, this knowledge is clandestine and limited to individuals. These individuals are in the Aikikai, but are dwindling in number. Yamaguchi, Tada and Arikawa used to visit our dojo regularly and I once asked an instructor why Doshu (the present Doshu, not Kisshomaru) was never invited. This was a few years ago and the answer was quite blunt: “He’s too young and does not know enough.”

I think Doshu is an active exponent of a certain interpretation of iemoto, but the great danger here is that aikido is not a koryu and does not have kata in the sense understood in a koryu. There is a sense that the waza can be seen as vehicles for the expression of creativity and this, to my mind, is what Morihei Ueshiba meant by Takemusu Aiki. He always showed waza, as did Takeda Sokaku, but seems to have presented them slightly differently to different deshi. So creativity can be understood in many ways. Unlike the present generation of Japanese martial arts exponents, Morihei Ueshiba also read the Chinese classics and was familiar with all the texts that are the foundation of Chinese internal arts. Recently I came across a scholarly work on yin-yang and its place in Chinese thought and culture. Even a quick read was enough to show that this is a complex and multi-faceted concept. We all know the question that a student asked Morihei Ueshiba and his answer, citing the knowledge of yin and yang. Ueshiba did not give any further explanation and left it to the students to grasp what he meant. The point is that he was probably familiar with the whole breadth and depth of the concept, but his students did not share this familiarity.

Hidden in Plain Sight by Ellis Amdur

Hidden in Plain Sight“, by Ellis Amdur (pp. 181-182)

“Solo training seems to be a common link among Daito-ryu practitioners and the various methods of this training develop different types of internal strength. Such training can include: a) wringing / twisting / coiling of the body to develop the connective tissue; b) methods of breathing to generate “pressure”, which builds power from the inside out; c) mental imagery and focused attention that causes subtle micro-adjustments of the nervous system that, in essence, “rewire” the body, so that it functions at increasing levels of efficiency, without unnecessary conflicts between extensor and flexor muscles, for example. Different practitioners of Daito-ryu, including Ueshiba, probably used different exercises and also probably trained in these aspects in different proportions. In this way, their abilities would have developed in different spheres.”


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

 

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