Shoji Nishio was one of the major post-war students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei. Born in 1927, he entered Aikikai Hombu Dojo in 1952, becoming one of the early students of the post-war era.
A multi-talented man, he was also a student of Karate (5th Dan Shindō jinen-ryū), Judo (6th Dan Kodokan Judo) and Iaido (7th Dan Nihon Zendoku Iaido) as well as other arts. This multi-faceted innovative approach is reflected in this excerpt from an interview with Nishio sensei from 1997 (this quote previously appeared in “Aikido and the Unknown“):
Q: Why has the substance (of Aikido technique) been lost?
A: Nobody listened to what O-Sensei was saying. They just tried to remember the outer form of the technique. Even though O-Sensei said “What use is it to just copy my technique? If you do a technique once it’s already finished.”. Because he spoke like a Kami-sama (God) they thought that nothing he said could be understood, and didn’t even try to pay attention when they were listening. Much later on when they’ve forgotten everything sometimes they’d remember “Ah, so that’s what that meant”. That’s why most people’s practice today is empty. They don’t look at other types of Budo. Right from the start, the value of a Budo is determined by comparisons with other Budo.For the most part, if you set up Kokyu-ho between two Aikido people it’s just useless. That will only be effective in the dojo. I guess that those people say things like “Even though you do Aikido you’re also doing Karate and sword. If you want to do Karate then go to Karate. If you want to do the sword then go to Kendo. If you’re doing Aikido you don’t need to do other things.”. Even in other Budo, everybody is working hard, you know. When we see that we should make an effort to surpass them with our Aiki. That is the mission of Aikido as a Budo. Unfortunately, the senior students who had that as a goal are gradually dying away, and the loss of substance just progresses.The re-education of the younger instructors is necessary for people in the present time who would have the goal of reconstructing (Aikido) as I have discussed. This is not something that can be done in a single morning and an evening. Because this is a path that takes 30 or 40 years, I grow increasingly concerned for the future.
What follows is the English translation of an interview with Shoji Nishio sensei that took place at the Warabi Aikidokai on February 9th, 1999.