September 1964 Aikido Seminar at Andrews Gym in Hilo Hawaii
Second Row: Meyer Goo, left, seated next to Sadao Yoshioka
Front Row: Koichi Tohei, Yukiso Yamamoto, Gyokuei Matsuura, Yorio Wakatake
Aikido arrived in Hawaii with Koichi Tohei in 1953, its first expansion to the United States after the war. One of the students that Koichi Tohei attracted in his trips to the Hawaiian islands was the young Meyer Goo.
After a period of rapid growth, spearheaded by Tohei in frequent trips from Japan, Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei arrived in 1961 to dedicate the Honolulu Aiki Dojo, the first Dojo outside of Japan built specifically for Aikido.
Koichi Tohei had warned Meyer Goo (who was something of a fighter) not to try and take ukemi for the Founder. Meyer, wanting to feel the Founder’s power for himself, ignored the warning and stepped up anyway – that story of Meyer’s experience with O-Sensei will appear in a future article.
Still actively teaching today in his 90’s after hip replacement surgery, Meyer Goo sensei became a seminal figure in the establishment of Aikido in the United States.
He helped to establish Aikido in New York before the New York Aikikai ever existed, along with Virginia Mayhew, Eddie Hagihara and Ralph Glanstein. Ralph, who would later teach at the Windward Aikido Club, decided to follow Meyer back to Hawaii in 1963, ten days after he told him “Hey kiddo, you oughtta come to Hawaii. We got great teachers there. We got all the good ones.”.
Later on, Meyer’s remarks to Bernie Lau (the first Haole to train in Aikido in Hawaii) would start Bernie, and subsequently Stan Pranin, down the road to an investigation of Sokaku Takeda and Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu (from “Aikido: Seattle Aikijujutsu Pioneer Bernie Lau“):
So Lau began collecting old photos. This led him to an exchange of letters and ideas with the San Diego-based martial arts instructor Fred Lovret. During the mid-1960s, Meyer Goo had mentioned a turn-of-the-century Japanese martial art teacher named Sokaku Takeda, who was whispered to have been a teacher of Morihei Ueshiba. The Aikikai downplayed this story, but it was persistent. So when Lovret said, “Oh yes, that story is true,” and then gave Lau an address for Takeda’s son Tokimune, Lau immediately wrote Takeda a letter. And, via the sneaky policeman’s trick of including a $50 bill in the envelope, he even got a detailed, helpful, response.
His research also led him to Don Angier, an aikijujutsu instructor from Long Beach, California, and to aikido researcher and journalist Stan Pranin. In 1985, Pranin met with Tokimune Takeda in Hokkaido, and there became convinced that there was a connection between aikido and Daito-ryu aikijujutsu. A few years later, Pranin spent several days visiting Lau at his house. After looking at Lau’s pictures of Sokaku Takeda and other turn-of-the-century aikijujutsu practitioners, Pranin said, “Can I get copies of these?” As a result, many of Lau’s pictures have appeared in Aikido Journal over the years.
In November 2012 Meyer Goo attended the Kona, Hawaii “Internal training, Aiki and Empowering Aikido” with Dan Harden that was hosted by Aiki Kai O Kona.
Meyer Goo and Dan Harden in Kona, Hawaii – November 2012
Here’s what he said to Dan at that workshop – “Thank you, I never thought that I would feel Ueshiba Sensei’s power again. What you are doing is very important. Don’t stop. No matter what they say.”.
When told that some people believe that the material covered at the workshops is unrelated to Aikido, Meyer Goo’s answer was short and to the point – “Who are these people, did they train with Ueshiba Sensei?”.
In December 2013 Goo sensei attended a second of Dan’s workshops, and also taught a short mini-class at the Kona workshop. Two reviews from the December 2013 workshops appear below, one from the Honolulu workshop and one from the Kona workshop. Enjoy!