Monthly Archives: January 2013

Morihei Ueshiba, Bruce Frantzis and Bagua

Bruce Frantzis and Liu Hung Chieh, a master of Bagua, Tai Chi, Hsing-i and Taoist meditation
静中触动动犹静"Seek motion in stillness, seek stillness in motion."The Taiji Classic – "Song of the 13 Postures"動中静、静中動"Stillness in motion, motion in stillness."Seigo Yamaguchi Shihan, Aikido 9th Dan静中の動。合気道の基本は此処に存するといわれている。"Motion in stillness. It is said that here is the foundation of Aikido."Ni-Dai Aikido Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba静動一致"The unity of calm and action."(Official English translation – the Kanji read "stillness" and "motion")Ki-Society Founder Koichi Tohei
Bruce Frantzis spent some sixteen years training in China, Japan and India in Tai Chi, Bagua, Hsing-I, Qigong, Yoga and Taoist meditation. From 1967 to 1969 he also trained at Aikikai Hombu Dojo, and was able to attend classes taught by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.  He is the author of a number of books, primarily relating to Chinese Taoist meditational methods and Chinese internal martial arts.
In an article on the Energy Arts website he speaks a little bit about his experiences with O-Sensei, and about his theories about the sources behind O-Sensei’s unusual strength.
"I studied with O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, during my undergraduate days in Japan. My research has indicated that O-Sensei’s aikido was in a primary way directly influenced by bagua zhang. My first in-depth, extended experience with a top-level master of internal martial arts was with Ueshiba between 1967 and 1969."
It’s quite interesting that Frantzis unequivocally places Morihei Ueshiba in the same category as the Chinese internal martial arts instructors that he trained under. 
He’s not alone – in the diagram in this article Keisetsu Yoshimaru directly equates the Kokyu Ryoku (呼吸力 / "breath power") used in Daito-ryu with the explosive power expressed in the Chinese internal martial arts.
However, that very assertion by Yoshimaru (a Daito-ryu practitioner), which shows internal power coming directly to Daito-ryu from Sokaku Takeda without a detour through O-Sensei, shows the difficulty in arguing that the source for O-Sensei’s unusual power was direct instruction in a Chinese internal martial art. It becomes even more difficult when considering that there were a number of people in Daito-ryu, such as Kodo Horikawa and Yukiyoshi Sagawa, who had no real connection to O-Sensei but were able to duplicate his feats of martial prowess.
The common thread, of course, being Sokaku Takeda.(On a related note, you may be interested in this very interesting study by John Driscoll, originally published on AikiWeb, that shows the almost exact correlation between the techniques taught by Morihei Ueshiba and the techniques of the Daito-ryu Hiden Mokuroku.)
I’d go further to debunk the notion of Morihei Ueshiba as a direct student of the Chinese internal martial arts, but it’s already been done – Ellis Amdur covers this topic in some detail in "Hidden in Plain Sight". If you haven’t read it yet then I suggest you make it your next stop for more information about Chinese influences on Japanese martial arts and internal martial arts training in Japanese martial traditions.Stan Pranin also addressed this issue in a recent article on the Aikido Journal website, in which he shows that the argument made by Bruce Frantzis is not historically demonstrable based on what is now known about Morihei Ueshiba’s life. All of which I agree with.But there is a separate discussion here, the issue of a historical Chinese influence on Japanese martial arts in general, and on the arts that Morihei Ueshiba studied in particular, that is not addressed in Stan’s article.
In this respect the sub-title of Stan’s article (“Proponents of the theory of Aikido’s Chinese origin must provide proof.”) is somewhat misleading.

Tetsutaka Sugawara: Aikido and Taiji

From left to right: Lujian Xing, Moriteru Ueshiba, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Yucai Qiu (All China Sports Federation), Tetsutaka Sugawarafrom "Aikido and Chinese Martial Arts: Its Fundamental Relations" by Tetsutaka Sugawara and Lujian Xing
"Internal Strength" magazine was published by Mike Sigman in 1993 and 1994. Only six issues were ever published, and it is no longer generally available, but some of the articles have been archived on the "Internal Strength" website.
A friend of Mike’s, Mike Jones, later started "Internal Martial Arts" magazine using the same formatting as the old "Internal Strength" magazine.
Mike (Sigman) sent me this article about Tetsutaka Sugawara (菅原鉄孝) by Jason Chung from issue 6 of "Internal Martial Arts" and suggested that I post it here so that it would remain available to the general public. It was relevant to discussions that were going on in April 2000, and I hope that it you will find that it is still relevant to discussions ongoing today.
While I was living in Japan I met Tetsutaka Sugawara through one of my instructors, Hiroyuki Hasegawa (長谷川弘幸), who trained with him in Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū  (天真正伝香取神道流) , and I have always been impressed by the variety and depth of his research projects.
Here is a short biography from the Sugawara Budo website (also known as the Sugawara Martial Arts Institute / 菅原総合武道研究所):
Tetsutaka Sugawara was born in Hokkaido in 1941. In 1960, he began Aikido at the Hombu Dojo, Tokyo, under O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido. In 1961, he became uchideshi under O-Sensei at the Ibaraki Dojo.In 1964, he returned to Tokyo and entered Chuo University. In 1973, he established Minato Research and Publishing Co. (currently Sugawara Martial Arts Institute, Inc.) In 1975, he entered the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu receiving the ‘kyoshi’ instructor’s license in 1986.April 1992, introduced Aikido to Shanghai Institute of Physical Education, Beijing University of Medical Science. November 1992, received Kyoshi-license of Okinawan Goju-ryu Karatedo by Yasuichi Miyagi. June 1993, introduced Aikido to Wuhan Institute of Physical Education, Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medical Science in China. May 1995, received Aikido 7th Dan by Kisshomaru Ueshiba. Introduced Aikido to Chengdu Institute of Physical Education in China. Received the Lecturer’s License of Shanghai Institute of P.E. He is currently visiting 12 countries teaching Aikido and Katori Shinto Ryu.

Yukiyoshi Sagawa on Bujutsu and Ki-Ryoku, Part 2

Keisetsu Yoshimaru demonstrating Aiki-age
Keisetsu Yoshimaru (吉丸慶雪) trained under Yukiyoshi Sagawa from 1961 to 1976. Yukiyoshi Sagawa began training in Daito-ryu with his father, a student and Kyoju Dairi (licenced "Assistant Instructor" – the same license that Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba received) of Sokaku Takeda.  Sokaku Takeda actually lived with the Sagawa family for some time, and Sagawa started training with him around 1914, about a year before Morihei Ueshiba met Takeda at the Hisada Inn in Hokkaido and became his student. He was once considered to be the successor to Sokaku Takeda.Interestingly, there was once an agreement for Sagawa to become an instructor at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo around 1956, but he took exception to some remarks about Sokaku Takeda made by Morihei Ueshiba in an interview with the Yomiuri Shimbun around that time and changed his mind.After Yoshimaru left Sagawa Dojo he also trained under Kinbei Sato (佐藤金兵衛), who had trained in Daito-ryu under Kakuyoshi Yamamoto (山本角義), another direct student of Sokaku Takeda.Although Keisetsu Yoshimaru remains a somewhat controversial figure in Daito-ryu, he has published a number of interesting books with quotes from Yukiyoshi Sagawa, most of which have never been translated into English before.This is the second part of a two part translation of the "Bujutsu and Ki-Ryoku" chapter of "Aikido no Ogi" (合氣道の奥義 / "The Secrets of Aikido"), which consists mainly of quotes from Yukiyoshi Sagawa, many of which recount Sagawa’s memories of Sokaku Takeda. You may wish to start with part 1 before you read this section.You may also wish to read another two part translation from "Aikido no Ogi" which contains quotes from Yukiyoshi Sagawa relevant to building the "Aiki no Rentai" (合気之錬体 / "The Conditioned Body of Aiki"): Part 1  | Part 2