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 […]
Harry 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 […]
Cover from the commemorative brochure for Aikido Celebration 2011 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".
Koichi Tohei demonstrates Sankyo in Hawaii
In "Morihei Ueshiba: Untranslatable Words" we explored one of Koichi Tohei’s experiences during the 1961 visit to Hawaii by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. For those that are interested, Koa Kimura’s photo journal of O-Sensei’s visit to Hawaii is available on the Aikido Hawaii website.Koichi Tohei originally visited Hawaii in 1953, at the invitation of the Hawaii branch of the Nishi Health System.
Between 1953 and the opening of the Honolulu Aiki Dojo in 1961 Aikido experienced an explosive growth in the Hawaiian islands – the Hawaii Aikido groups were even able to raise funds to send to Japan for the repair of the Aikikai hombu dojo, which had been damaged in the bombing of Tokyo during WWII.
Katsuzo Nishi – Founder of the Nishi Health System
In 1927 Katsuzo Nishi created a system of health exercises called the Nishi Health System (Nishi Shiki).
His theories are characterized by the idea that the human bone structure and positioning of the internal organs are basically the same as those evolved for the mammalian species that ambulate on four legs, but human beings have adopted an upright two-legged life style that places unnatural structural strains on the human bone structure. This results in problems like obstruction of the flow of food through the intestines (constipation) due to the unnatural (vertical) positioning of the organs. As methods to compensate for these structural defects, Nishi conceived and encouraged the use of treatment through exercises such as the goldfish movement spinal column exercise and the lateral vibration exercise known as the “Haifuku Undo”.
It so happens that Nishi was himself a student of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, and the Nishikai (the organization formed around the Nishi Health System) was instrumental in inviting Koichi Tohei to Hawaii in 1953.In 1961 the students of Hawaii dedicated the opening of the "Honolulu Aiki Dojo", the first Aikido dojo constructed outside of Japan. Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei came from Japan, his one and only trip to the United States, to dedicate the opening of the dojo.