Tag Archives: hawaii

Finding Aiki – and Aikido – in Hawaii

 1964 Aikido Hilo

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.

 Dan and Meyer

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!

Continue reading »

Flow Like a River: Takashi Nonaka and the Hilo Ki-Aikido Club

Tohei and Nonaka

 Takashi Nonaka, Yasu Iwasa, Koichi Tohei, Kazuo Takaki, Kiyoshi Nagata
1955 – Hilo, Hawaii at the teahouse in Liliokulani Park

(Photo courtesy of Dr. Mitsuo Adachi Sensei – orginal photo by Bernie Lau)

The oldest of eight children (three boys and four girls), Takashi Nonaka was born on the Big Island of Hawaii on May 8, 1925, he was the oldest of eight children.

His father, Satoru Nonaka, was bon in Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan. Since his parents and grandparents spoke only Japanese he learned to speak the language fluently, and was the translator for Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei during the Founder’s seven day visit to Hilo. At that time he was a second degree black belt, and the head instructor of the Hilo Aiki Dojo. At the time of this writing he is an 8th dan in the Hawaii Ki Federation and still instructs at the Hilo Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido dojo. Founded in 1955 it is one of the oldest dojo outside of Japan.

Furyu the Budo Journal 4Furyu: The Budo Journal, issue number 4

The magazine”Furyu: The Budo Journal” was established on Oahu in 1994 by local Budo instructor Wayne Muramoto. In addition to modern seitei iaido and classical Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu iaido he also teaches Bitchu-den Takeuchi Ryu in Honolulu.

The following article on local Hawaii Aikido instructor Takashi Nonaka first appeared in issue number four of “Furyu: The Budo Journal” and is reprinted here with the permission of Wayne Muromoto.  You may also be interested in “Aikido’s Harry Eto: The Wisdom of ‘Slow and Steady’“, which appeared in Furyu magazine issue number 1. Continue reading »

Aikido’s Harry Eto: The Wisdom of ‘Slow and Steady’

Harry EtoHarry Eto Sensei

Harry Eto, promoted to eighth degree black belt in 1998 at the age of 92, was one of Koichi Tohei’s first students in Hawaii. Here is a section of the article that appeared in the local Honolulu Advertiser newspaper when he passed away in 2001:

Harry Setsuo Eto, a barefoot Kaua’i plantation boy who literally helped build Honolulu and at middle age became a world-renowned martial arts teacher, will be remembered by family, friends, co-workers and students today at 6 p.m. Honpa Hongwanji services in Honolulu.

Harry Eto discovered martial arts at age 47 and became a world-renowned sensei.
Eto, born Aug. 9, 1906, to immigrant parents who found Hawai’i plantation life even harder than the life they left behind in Kumamoto prefecture, Japan, died June 26 in Kuakini Hospital after suffering a series of strokes. He was 94.

His life was a lesson, and Harry Eto was student and sensei alike.

“Physically I am nothing,” the 5-foot-3, 120-pound aikido teacher said in 1995. “I don’t have any strength.”

But he routinely swept the mats of the dojo at Central YMCA and across the United States with men twice his weight. His advice was: “If your opponent wants to hit you, say, ‘Thank you, please hit my head,’ then step out of the way and help him down.”

Furyu Magazine Issue 1Furyu: The Budo Journal, Issue Number 1

The late martial arts magazine “Furyu: The Budo Journal”  was established in Honolulu Hawaii in 1994 by local Budo instructor Wayne Muramoto. In addition to modern seitei iaido and classical Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu iaido he is also an instructor Bitchu-den Takeuchi Ryu.

The following article on local Hawaii Aikido instructor Harry Eto first appeared in issue number one of “Furyu: The Budo Journal” and is reprinted here with the permission of Wayne Muromoto. You may also be interested in “Flow Like a River: Takashi Nonaka and the Hilo Ki-Aikido Club“, which appeared in Furyu magazine issue 4. Continue reading »

OSensei’s Otomo on his 1961 visit to Hawai’i

Aikido Celebration 2011 Hawaii

Cover from the commemorative brochure for Aikido Celebration 2011 in Hawaii

Koichi Tohei and Nobuyoshi Tamura with Morihei Ueshiba in Hawaii

To quote the brochure whose cover appears above:

“Aikido Celebration 2011 is an organization dedicated to the public commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the first and only visit made to Hawai’i by the founder of Aikido, OSensei Morihei Ueshiba. It is also an opportunity to recognize the efforts of the people in Hawai’i and elsewhere who made that 1961 visit possible, and to perpetuate the practice of Aikido in Hawai’i for future generations.”

The cover of this commemorative brochure was modeled on the poster created for the event by local phtographer and Aikido student Ric Noyle – Ric also created an early mock-up that never saw the light of day.

The main event of the actual celebration was a seminar in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, at McKinley High School – the same place where Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba OSensei gave a public demonstration in 1961.

Some 500 people from around the world attended the seminar, which featured instruction by Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu, Mitsuteru Ueshiba Waka Sensei, Yoshimitsu Yamada sensei from the New York Aikikai, Seijuro Masuda sensei from Aikikai Hombu Dojo, and a number of local instructors and instructors with local ties.

Nobuyoshi Tamura had already accepted an invitation to instruct at the Aikido Celebration 2011 seminar, but passed away in July 2010, seven months before the seminar actually took place in Honolulu.

In 1961 Morihei Ueshiba OSensei visited Hawaii in order to dedicate the newly completed Honolulu Aiki Dojo, the first Dojo outside of Japan built specifically for the practice of Aikido.

Included here is the text of a short article that I wrote for the brochure about the two students of Morihei Ueshiba who accompanied him from Japan in 1961 on that journey – Koichi Tohei and Nobuyoshi Tamura. The photograph of Morihei Ueshiba with Koichi Tohei and Nobuyoshi Tamura at Honolulu International Airport that appears at the start of the article also appeared in the brochure. The other photographs have been added for this article.

Koichi Tohei had been coming to Hawaii since 1953 – there is a small room in the Honolulu Aiki Dojo that was originally planned so that Tohei would have a place to stay when he came to visit Honolulu from Japan.

Nobuyoshi Tamura was one of the young instructors at Aikikai Hombu Dojo, and this was his first trip to Hawaii.

You may also be interested in reading these two articles in which Koichi Tohei recounts some of his experiences in coming to Hawaii, “Morihei Ueshiba: Untranslatable Words” (Nobuyoshi Tamura also appears in this account of the Founder’s visit to Hawaii) and “Koichi Tohei: Aikido Comes to Hawaii“.

There is also a two-part interview with Nobuyoshi Tamura (part 1 and part 2) if you are interested in learning more about Tamura’s history in Aikido.

Lastly, Ni-Dai Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba speaks about his first trip to Hawaii, in 1963, in “Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Mangos and Johnny Walker Black: Ni-Dai Doshu Comes to Hawaii“.  Continue reading »

Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Mangos and Johnny Walker Black

Chris Li with Moriteru Ueshiba

Chris Li, translating for Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu
Aikido Celebration 2011 Banquet at the Manoa Grand Ballroom
Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii in Honolulu

Ni-Dai Doshu Comes to Hawaii

2011 marked the 50th anniversary of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei’s visit to Hawaii in 1961 to dedicate the opening of the Honolulu Aiki Dojo (for an interesting story from this time see “Morihei Ueshiba: Untranslatable Words“). Many of the local Aikido dojo cooperated in the effort to hold a commemorative seminar and event.

Moriteru Ueshiba (San-Dai Doshu and grandson of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba) and his son Mitsuteru Ueshiba (Waka-Sensei) came to Honolulu to help celebrate this event, along with almost 500 Aikido students from around the world.  Continue reading »