Tag Archives: tohei

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 »

Koichi Tohei: Aikido Comes to Hawaii

Koichi Tohei Sankyo in Hawaii

Koichi Tohei demonstrates Sankyo in Hawaii

“Sensei, you are so small!”

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.  Continue reading »

Morihei Ueshiba: Untranslatable Words

Katsuzo Nishi

Katsuzo Nishi – Founder of the Nishi Health System

From his mouth to our ears – how things get garbled and go astray.

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.  Continue reading »