Aikido Sangenkai Blog Honolulu, Hawaii - Oahu Thu, 25 Oct 2018 15:30:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Aikido Sangenkai Blog 32 32 Ai no Bujutsu – Aiki and the Bujutsu of Love Sat, 19 May 2018 15:26:00 +0000 Muko (Takeo) Nishikido Muko (Takeo) Nishikido (錦戸無光/武夫) was born in 1940 on Tinian in the Northern Mariana Islands near Saipan. After school in Kumamoto he moved to Osaka, where he began to train in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu in 1959 and later established a dojo in Tokyo. In 1973 he met Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Kodokai Founder Kodo Horikawa in Kitami City in Hokkaido through the introduction of a … Continue reading Ai no Bujutsu – Aiki and the Bujutsu of Love »

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Muko (Takeo) NishikidoMuko (Takeo) Nishikido

Muko (Takeo) Nishikido (錦戸無光/武夫) was born in 1940 on Tinian in the Northern Mariana Islands near Saipan. After school in Kumamoto he moved to Osaka, where he began to train in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu in 1959 and later established a dojo in Tokyo. In 1973 he met Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Kodokai Founder Kodo Horikawa in Kitami City in Hokkaido through the introduction of a friend. Upon feeling his Aiki for the first time he decided to discard his previous study of jujutsu and focus on Horikawa Sensei’s approach to Aiki.

Mr. and Mrs. HorikawaMuko Nishida with Mr. and Mrs. Horikawa in Hokkaido, 1973

After commuting to Kitami for two years, he decided to relocate with his family to Hokkaido in order to further his training and received severe individual instruction in addition to the regular training at Horikawa Sensei’s dojo.

He later established his own organization to spread the teachings of Kodo Horikawa called Hikarido (The Way of Light / 光道).

The following article contains excerpts from “The Height of Aiki” (合気の極み), written by Nishikido Sensei and published in Japanese in 2017 by BAB Japan publishing company (BABジャパン出版局), which also publishes the popular martial arts magazine Gekkan Hiden (月刊秘伝 / “Secret Teachings Monthly”).

Some of his emphasis on Ki, love and harmony in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu may appear to be at odds with common perceptions of Daito-ryu, but it may be helpful to consider his statements in the context of similar statements from other prominent figures in the Daito-ryu world.

  • Tokimune Takeda, the son of Morihei Ueshiba’s teacher Sokaku Takeda and the Soke of Daito-ryu Aiki Budo:

“The essential principles of Daito-ryu are Love and Harmony”

“The goal of spreading Daito-ryu is ‘Harmony and Love’, keeping this spirit is what preserves and realizes social justice. This was Sokaku Sensei’s dying wish”

“There is no first attack in Aiki-jujutsu. Endure as much as you should endure. Even when it becomes necessary, neutralize the opponent without causing injury through Aiki.”

  • Yukiyoshi Sagawa, one of Sokaku Takeda’s senior students and one-time successor as Soke of the art:

“Aiki Budo is the Way of Human Development”

“Aiki is the fitting together of Ki.
Through this harmonious reconciliation all things under heaven and earth in the universe move peacefully without disturbance. This harmonization is Aiki.”

  • Masao Hayashima (早島正雄), who trained with both Sokaku Takeda and Sokaku Takeda’s student Toshimi Matsuda (from the first page of his book – “Taoist Aiki-jutsu – the volume of Internal Power”):

“Aiki-jutsu is said to be the Budo of Harmony.”

  • Katsuyuki Kondo, Menkyo Kaiden in Daito-ryu Aiki-budo from Tokimune Takeda and successor to the mainline of Daito-ryu, in an interview with Aikido Journal‘s Stanley Pranin:

What are the main differences between Daito-ryu and aikido?

I don’t think there is any difference. In Daito-ryu, too, practice begins and ends with courtesy (rei). And its final goal is the spirit of love and harmony.

Muko Nishikido and Kodo HorikawaDaito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Kodokai Founder Kodo Horikawa
applying Aiki to Muko Nishikido

Ai no Bujutsu – Aiki and the Bujutsu of Love

– Muko (Takeo) Nishikido (translation by Christopher Li)

Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu is the bujutsu of “harmony” (和), as was stated by Kodo Horikawa, who established the Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Kodokai, in Showa year 25 (1950) in Kitami City, Hokkaido – “Neither cut nor be cut. Neither strike nor be struck. Neither kick nor be kicked.”. It is a bujutsu that handles the opponent without causing them harm.

In the case of the Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Hikari-do, the level of harmony is gradually enhanced as training progresses from the basic techniques in Shoden to Chuden and Okuden.

Harmony, that is, love.

Why is that? Because it prevents contention. When one uses “Aiki” even the very impulse to counter-attack ceases to arise.

Without harmony one cannot be led to love. The greater the harmony the deeper that love becomes. In Hikari-do we grasp this in our training through the techniques.

At first there is no real feeling when the techniques in Aiki-jujutsu are applied to you. That is because one cannot understand how or what is being done to you.

When Aiki was first applied to me I thought “What is this?”. The will to fight disappears. The desire to attack the opponent disappears.

Aiki completely strips away the feeling of the opponent to fight and their strength. That can be stripped away not only for just a single person, but even when there two, three, four, five or six people.

Thousand Armed KannonSeated Thousand-armed Kannon Bosatsu
Fujiidera temple, Osaka – 8th century

One works to create a body that that can manage situations like that in an instant. One works to create a body like the Thousand Armed Kannon (千手観音), so to speak.

When one says “thousand”, in the past this meant a number without limit. This means that no matter where one is grabbed on their body they become able to use Aiki.

Five person attack

In a manner of speaking, it means that more harmony can be achieved by two people rather than one, three people rather than two, four people, five people, six people. It is the world of harmony. For that reason, contention disappears.

I think that this is real love. One person, two people, three people, four people, five people, six people – love becomes deeper and deeper.

Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu is the bujutsu of love.

And then, as one draws closer to real training in the inner workings of Aiki, even the smallest portion of the ego becomes unable to enter. One enters into a selfless world without ego.

This is what I have grasped to this point.

Ego to egolessness chart

When expressing Aiki as a chart we get something like the diagram above.

On the right side is the world of power, the world physical strength. In terms of the spirit, it is the world of the ego. On the left side is the world of Ki, the world of Aiki. In terms of the spirit, it is the world of egolessness.

In the center is the zero point, in other words nothingness (“Mu” / 無). One who has become enlightened to nothingness comes to this point. “Ah, it’s nothingness” is one kind of enlightenment.

However, even if one becomes enlightened to a state of nothingness, one cannot do anything. Even a master potter will say “Nothing can be done from nothingness”. This is still the zero point. Just coming here one can still go to the right side of the world of strength, the world of the ego, or one can also go to the left side of the world of Ki, the world of Aiki.

The right side of the world of strength, the world of the ego, is comfortable. Strength and ego can be used immediately.

Conversely, the worlds of Ki and Aiki are severe. One cannot grasp the real thing if they compromise. If one thinks to grasp he real thing they must pass through this world of severity.

Even when one attains enlightenment through Zen training, they come to this point of nothingness, the zero point. But if you’re satisfied there then you’ll reach a dead end. There is a much deeper world. Wherever you go, however far you go, there is a world without limits.

The more that one uses Aiki the more that their Ki increases, their harmony increases, their spirit enters into the world without limits.

When those people who have inhabited the world of physical strength, the world of power, the world of the ego until this time train in Aiki-jujutsu they will draw closer to the zero point. That is, nothingness. The world of enlightenment. Return to the origin. From there begins the determination of whether one will either return to the world of physical strength, power, the world of the ego again, or depart for the world of Ki, the world of Aiki.

In Hikari-do there are many types of training done in order to return to the point of nothingness. That can be called the enlightenment of the physical body – once the body has gone that far then next one is able to enter the world of Ki, the world of Aiki.

Kodo Horikawa - Police DemonstrationDemonstration at Police Headquarters in November 1973
Seigo Okamoto – Kodo Horikawa – Muko Nishikido

Building the Ki Body

Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu first builds the “Ki Body” through training in the kihon (“basics”) and then enters into training in Aiki. When building the Ki Body physical strength (power) is not used. When the use of physical strength has ceased completely, there for the first time is the Ki Body.

There was a time during my third year of receiving instruction from Kodo Horikawa Sensei in Kitami, Hokkaido that I realized that my entire body was the Ki Body. “Ah, my entire body is the Ki Body”, I realized. When I truly stopped needing physical strength, that was my first glimpse of Ki.

In other words, I had made my way to the point of nothingness. However, I did not yet understand Aiki. If I had not been able to grasp Aiki it may be that I would have returned to the world of physical strength.

When one trains in Aiki they experience a liberation (moksha) from the physical body. In moksha there is a liberation of the physical body and a liberation of the spirit, Aiki is a liberation of the physical body. One understands – “Ah, this is the Ki Body!”. The body of physical strength becomes the Ki Body.

When compared with Horikawa Sensei’s sixty years of Aiki, my Aiki is still half of that at thirty years. Even if you just look at the shape of his body, Horikawa Sensei is twice as sharp as I am. I am still inexperienced.

That Horikawa Sensei – even past eighty years old he would say “Well, Sokaku Takeda Sensei was much greater. I’m just not there yet…”.

There are those kinds of steps in this world. It is the world of shugyo (“intense training”), so it can’t be helped. One has to build their body. Just one year, or two years of shugyo can’t hope to build the body and leap past sixty years of training.

Hoping to get even a little bit closer to Horikawa Sensei, I thought of my own method of training. I took a heavy wooden sword and swung it five or six thousand times every morning and night. I did that for five or six hours to seven or eight hours every day, and continued for about half a year.

Then, one day when I swung it ten-thousand times, the heavy wooden sword flew up away from me. I thought “Ah, it flew away!”.

So then I started swinging an iron bar several times heavier than the wooden sword. Likewise, I would swing it for a few hours in the morning and the evening about 2,500 times each, 5,000 times a day. And finally the iron bar became weightless and flew up out of my hands.

Normally I wouldn’t be able to swing it with my strength. Even with Ki I couldn’t swing it. I have swung an iron bar with Ki, but I couldn’t swing it more than a hundred times. My hands couldn’t hold it. Instead, I was better able to hold it when swinging with physical strength.

Then I thought “OK, I’ll swing it with Aiki!”. and I swung it with Aiki – two hundred, three hundred, five hundred, six hundred, one thousand, two thousand times I swung. That was the first time that I thought “Ahh, in the end one really has to train…”. If I hadn’t swung using Aiki I would probably have gone back to my original body of physical strength.

Kodo HorikawaDaito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Kodokai Founder Kodo Horikawa

Basic Techniques and the Ki Body

Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu does not require even the smallest bit of strength.

That said, it’s not “relaxation” (脱力). I am not saying that relaxation is bad, but when one relaxes the become unable to forge themselves.

In Hikari-do we train from the first steps of basic techniques to training to build a truly physically resilient physique. What I am teaching is training methods for the building of the Ki Body.

I grasped this training method after meeting Horikawa Sensei. If I teach it to someone for one year their body will suddenly change. It will naturally become a physically resilient Ki Body. We have that methodology. In other bujutsu they train by learning techniques, not Ki. For that reason, they are unable to develop the Ki Body.

In order to build the physical body, one would normally lift barbells, or other things, but if you can grasp Aiki then things like that can be done simply. Muscular strength is unnecessary. Conversely, if one uses even a little bit of physical strength then they will be unable to use Aiki.

One must get a firm grasp on the basic techniques. This is important.

If one cannot grasp the basic techniques properly then they will not achieve the Ki Body. They will become unable to attain the real thing. They will develop into a body that is simply composed of techniques.

As long as one grasps the basic techniques they will quickly progress to the next level.

One dayI asked Horikawa Sensei, “Sensei, how many years will it take to get to Aiki?”. When I did that he said, “If you grasp the basics firmly, then two or three years will be enough”.

That’s because if one grasps the basics then they will naturally form the Ki Body. There are not that many people who think to purposely grasp the basics. Those who grasp the basics firmly progress quickly.

But everybody, especially those who have come to learn bujutsu,  inevitably tries to throw the opponent or apply a technique and their feelings get drawn in that direction. When that happens those that could see become blind.

Among my students were some who said, “Nishikido can’t use Ki”. But there were also those that, when they finally came to training in the Hiden Ogi techniques, said “Ahh, so there is Ki, there is Aiki!”. Also, there were those who, even when shown “This is Ki. This is Aiki.”, would think “That’s just another technique”.

Training in Ki cannot progress well without a clear spirit of nothingness and concentration. That progress can be made is because that person’s spirit is in a state of clarity.

The state of nothingness is not “indifference” (無関心), it is to be able to see clearly that which is not visible. The “Ki” which was invisible to that point becomes visible. One comes to see it with their spirit. They come to see it clearly.

When one become capable of that one becomes capable of seeing Ki all of the time. To grasp this one time is simple, if one cannot grasp it then of course it is difficult. Those with idle thoughts have a difficult time grasping this.

Even if I teach “If you do this than you will see!”, there are those who are impatient and think “It’s not this, it’s not that”.

The basic techniques are the same, if you do that then you  will not be able to see it. It’s quick if you focus on what I am teaching, but people can’t seem to focus.

The Resilient Aiki Body

It is written “Aiki”, but it is read “Ki wo gassuru”. That is what Kodo Horikawa Sensei said. (*See the more detailed explanation towards the end of this article).

In order to use Aiki, the body must become the Ki Body. The entire body becomes the Ki Body, and is used through the unification of Ki.

To become the Ki Body means not to use physical strength. When one does correct basic training in Aiki they will naturally become the Ki Body.

If one does not use physical strength then their strength will degenerate. When physical strength degenerates the muscles also become weaker. It’s difficult to maintain physical strength. In order to triple one’s physical strength they must really participate in a large amount of physical training. But in order to develop the Ki Body it’s acceptable to throw away that physical strength. Normally, in order to achieve the Ki Body, a normal person would take twenty to thirty years at the earliest. When one uses this with unified Ki, the Ki fills the body. As one further unifies and uses this Ki they become more and more filled with Ki. That is even further unified and utilized.

This is Aiki training. This is Aiki conditioning. For that reason, there is no end to Aiki conditioning. And thus, it builds a resilient Ki Body.

When one becomes able to use Aiki the Ki Body becomes even further developed. Even when training in the basic techniques of Aiki the Ki Body becomes further developed.

There is no other bujutsu like this. From basic techniques to a training method that build the Aiki Ki Body.

Sokaku Takeda and Kodo HorikawaThe Aiki bodies of Sokaku Takeda and Kodo Horikawa

Once one becomes capable of using Aiki, then one becomes able to build the Aiki Body with Aiki. Not the Ki Body, creating the Aiki Body.

Horikawa Sensei’s techniques were incredible, but his body was also incredible. His body was filled full with Ki. Not a soft, fluffy Ki. He was filled full with a sharp, intense Ki.

Since Sensei was a school teacher, he had never done any kind of physical labor. I always wondered “How did he develop such an incredible body?”. He didn’t have the shape of a Ki Body, his body was in the form of an Aiki Body.

Sokaku Takeda and Takuma Hisa

Sokaku Takeda and Takuma Hisa
Receiving Menkyo Kaiden in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, 1939

Sokaku Takeda’s body was also firm and sharp. There are pictures of them together, but when compared to Sokaku Takeda’s body Takuma Hisa still looks something like a child.

I think that Takeda Sensei must have handled Takuma Hisa Sensei like a child. Horikawa Sensei’s body was incredible, but Takeda Sensei’s was far and above even that.

Development of the Tendons and Ligaments

All schools of bujutsu build a resilient body through severe training. It is through that that one can become capable of using techniques such that are called “divine techniques”.

Aiki as well was born at the end of the struggles of our ancestors devoting their entire body and souls to their training.

There are several hundred schools of bujutsu in Japan, but the name “Aiki-jujutsu” exists only in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu.

No matter how weak one’s body is, if they truly understand Aiki and train correctly then they will develop a resilient Aiki Body.

In Daito-ryu one first develops the Ki Body through training in basic techniques, and then begins to use Aiki. When using Ki the tendons and ligaments of the body don’t work very much. However, when one begins to use Aiki after developing the Ki Body the tendons and ligaments begin to work.

There was a time when Horikawa Sensei was admitted to the hospital after he cut his Achilles tendon two-thirds of the way through. At that time one of the doctors in the hospital said in wonder “This person’s Achilles tendon is three times as thick as a normal person’s!”.

Horikawa Sensei’s toes and fingers were also incredible.

Even normally when nothing was happening they were all stretched out wide. Just the same as I when I am stretch my finger and toes out wide to their tips.

The tendons in Horikawa Sensei’s Achilles tendon and his toes and fingers were the result of sixty years of Aiki conditioning. In other words, the tendons and ligaments throughout Horikawa Sensei’s entire body were strongly developed.

When the tendons and ligaments throughout one’s entire body are worked through Aiki training (conditioning) the tendons and ligaments start to develop and one can build the resilient Aiki Body.

Muscles, when one takes even a short break from muscular training, soon become weak. When one becomes of an advanced age their deterioration becomes visible. However, once tendons and ligaments are developed they do not deteriorate. Even when one reaches an advanced age that resilient body is preserved, and one can remain with a youthful appearance indefinitely.

Horikawa Sensei told me “Even if you’re sick in bed for a week or ten days, it’s no hindrance to using Aiki”. Even if you’re sick in bed for a week or ten days, the conditioned body does not deteriorate.

Gassuru Aiki

This happened one day in the third year of receiving instruction from Horikawa Sensei, the first year of receiving individual instruction in Kitami.

I asked Horikawa Sensei loudly “Sensei, Is Aiki kokyu-ho (a breathing method)?”. Horikawa Sensei was very hard of hearing.

Sensei said “What? Kokyu-ho? Hahaha…” – he just laughed and that was the end of it.

Then, after a few days had passed I was having tea at Sensei’s house after morning practice and an Aikido demonstration was being broadcast.

After the demonstration was over Sensei said this – “They call it Aikido, but they aren’t using the slightest bit of Aiki!”. As one would expect, at that time I asked “Sensei, what is Aiki?”.

When I did that Sensei stopped for a moment, took a deep breath, and said “Aiki is…”. I held my breath and watched Sensei’s face. And then this is what he said next.

Sensei told me “Aiki is written Aiki, but the meaning is Ki wo gassuru, it is read Ki wo gassuru.”.

“Sensei! Aiki is Ki wo gassuru?”, I said without thinking. Sensei said, nodding, “Yes, that’s right.”. I said “Thank you!” from the bottom of my heart.

Until that time I had read a number of books about Aikido, but most of them wrote about Aiki as something like “Ki wo awaseru”.

Translator’s Note: Horikawa Sensei appears to be distinguishing between “awaseru” (合わせる) and “gassuru” (合する). “Awaseru” is commonly used in modern Aikido in the meaning of “matching” or “harmonizing” with the opponent. “Gassuru” in this context is used in the sense of “unification” within the body, without relation to the opponent.

Morihei Ueshiba also used this reading of the kanji for “Ai”, both in his 1933 technical manual Aikijujutsu Densho and his 1954 technical manual Aikido Maki-no-Ichi, but slightly more explicitly, as when he used the term “Inyo-gacchi” (陰陽合致) – “the unification of Yin and Yang”.

He later (1963, from a speech at a demonstration at the Hibiya Kokkaido) stressed that this process occurs within one’s own body when he stated that “In Aikido Izanagi no Mikoto Izanami no Mikoto enter and move through this old man’s body”   (「合気道は、イザナギの尊 イザナミの尊が爺の体内に入り行っているのだ」) – Izanagi and Izanami standing in for Yin and Yang.

He also presented this in his use of the phrase “Ten-chi-jin Aiki”, the classical Chinese model that “unifies the forces” (“Aiki”) of “heaven and earth” (“Yin and Yang”) in man (‘jin”).

“Aikido is the way and the principle of harmonizing Heaven, Earth and Man
(Morihei Ueshiba – from “Takemusu Aiki”, edited by Hideo Takahashi).

This also lends some elucidation to one of the core principles of Daito-ryu – Aiki-inyo-ho, the “Aiki Yin-Yang Method”, or in this light, a “method for unifying the forces of Yin and Yang”, the classical Chinese union of opposites also cited by Morihei Ueshiba above.

One last point – Nishikido Sensei titled his book 合気の極み, “The Height of Aiki”. But the character used for “height”, 極み, is also the character used for “polarity” in Taiji – 太極 – “supreme polarity”, the union of the opposing forces of Yin and Yang. In the classical Chinese model, Wuji – “nothingness” (無極) becomes Taiji (太極), the manifestation of Yin and Yang. This process was also described by Morihei Ueshiba in terms of the Kototama.

For that reason, when I heard Horikawa Sensei’s explanation I thought “As i suspected, it’s different.”. When I understood that it was “Ki wo gassuru” it became clear to me.

At that time I had already understood the basics of Aiki. I had already realized the concept of the Ki Body. For that reason, I was able to understand “Ah, so that’s what it is!”.

If I hadn’t heard those words from Horikawa Sensei, It may be that I would not have been able to grasp Aiki. I was extremely thankful for that single sentence. Even now I can’t forget the joy that I felt at that time. “Sensei, arigatou gozaimasu!” – I thanked Sensei from the bottom of my heart.

And so, that was how I was able to grasp the principle of Aiki.

There was also another event. One day I was watching Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba’s demonstration at Horikawa Sensei’s home. I watched, thinking “Ah, incredible!”.

I was able to see clearly how Ueshiba Sensei was moving. “Ah, I can see how Ueshiba Sensei is moving!”, I felt.

Previously, I had not felt that way. I just thought “Ueshiba is incredible. Aikido is incredible.”.

But I was able to see it. I saw clearly what Ueshiba Sensei was doing and how he was doing it.

It must be that when one arrives at that level, things that they hadn’t been able to see before become visible, don’t they?

Kodo Horikawa - Aiki-ageHokkaido, 1974 – Aiki-age with Kodo Horikawa

Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, Hawaii

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Aikido, qué no sabemos y por qué no lo sabemos … [Spanish Version] Sun, 22 Apr 2018 15:32:31 +0000 “Takemusu Aiki” de Morihei Ueshiba, editado por Hideo Takahashi This is the Spanish translation of the article “Aikido and the Unknown“, provided courtesy of Juantxo Ruiz . Qué no sabemos y por qué no lo sabemos … Cuando Sam Chin visitó Hawaii el año pasado, nos dijo (estoy parafraseando) que no es tan malo no saberlo, siempre y cuando usted sepa que no lo sabe. Eso me llamó … Continue reading Aikido, qué no sabemos y por qué no lo sabemos … [Spanish Version] »

The post Aikido, qué no sabemos y por qué no lo sabemos … [Spanish Version] appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.


“Takemusu Aiki” de Morihei Ueshiba, editado por Hideo Takahashi

This is the Spanish translation of the article “Aikido and the Unknown“, provided courtesy of Juantxo Ruiz .

Qué no sabemos y por qué no lo sabemos …

Cuando Sam Chin visitó Hawaii el año pasado, nos dijo (estoy parafraseando) que no es tan malo no saberlo, siempre y cuando usted sepa que no lo sabe. Eso me llamó la atención: ¿no es esta la primera parte del problema?

Cuando comencé en Aikido, había muy poca información disponible en inglés. Lo que estaba disponible era, lo sabemos ahora, altamente desinfectado (nota de Juantxo: vamos, que esa información no era completa y llegaba solo cierta parte): he aquí un buen ejemplo en el sitio web de Aikido Journal, y en el de Meik Skoss en su sitio web Había muy pocos no japoneses que podían hablar japonés en ese momento, y mucho menos leer las fuentes originales, y la mayoría de los japoneses en el ojo público presentaban una representación más o menos uniforme de la historia y los detalles del Aikido.

Ahora, por supuesto, hay cientos de libros en inglés sobre el tema del Aikido, entonces, ¿cuál es el problema

Pues bien, el material en inglés, especialmente el de fuentes originales, es más un resumen que un análisis detallado del material: todavía no se ha realizado una verdadera traducción académica.

De hecho, los materiales originales producidos por el fundador del Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, son tan difíciles de leer que incluso la mayoría de los japoneses declinan leerlo en su propia lengua materna. Si lo leen, sin un fondo particular y experiencia, simplemente no hay decodificación. Peor aún, cuando lo leemos en inglés, no solo es a través de la lente del traductor y su comprensión, sino que está completamente fuera del contexto del mundo en el que vivió el Fundador, que es altamente especializado y complejo, y fuera de la contexto de ciertos otros campos especializados que son realmente esenciales para descubrir qué está pasando.

Dan Harden Sangenkai WorkshopDan Harden en el Taller Sangenkai 2015 en Hawaii

Lo sé, lo intenté, y no tuvo ningún sentido hasta años después a través de la lente de un mayor conocimiento en ciertas áreas, y por eso estaré eternamente agradecido a la generosidad de Dan Harden, que ha sido tan amable de compartir su entrenamiento con nosotros.

Eso no es para denigrar lo que se ha hecho hasta ahora en términos de traducciones al inglés, todo tiene que comenzar en alguna parte. John Stevens me dijo que consideraba que su traducción de “Takemusu Aiki”, que sigue siendo la colección más completa del fundador en sus propias palabras, es una especie de “Takemusu Aiki – Lite”, por lo que sería al menos semi -comprensible para una audiencia general.

Aún así, nos quedamos con una situación en la que la mayoría de los instructores y estudiantes de Aikido, ya sean hablantes nativos de japonés o no, no tienen idea de lo que el Fundador de su arte dijo o escribió de manera detallada.

Aha! Usted dice que su maestro es un alumno directo del Fundador, un uchi-deshi, y aprendió a los pies del maestro. Desafortunadamente, la mayoría de los uchi-deshi eran niños pequeños sin los antecedentes para comprender el contenido de las conferencias, o la paciencia para soportar el dolor de sentarse y escuchar al Fundador en las frías mañanas invernales, lo decían ellos mismos. Aquí hay algunos ejemplos: estos son de entrevistas en japonés que aún no se publicaron en inglés, pero Stan Pranin tiene varias citas similares en entrevistas en el sitio web de Aikido Journal:

Nishio and Ueshiba

Shoji Nishio

P: ¿Por qué se ha perdido la sustancia (de la técnica de Aikido)?

A: Nadie escuchó lo que O-Sensei estaba diciendo. Simplemente intentaron recordar la forma externa de la técnica. Aunque O-Sensei dijo “¿De qué sirve copiar mi técnica? Si haces una técnica una vez, ya está terminada “. Debido a que hablaba como un Kami-sama (Dios), pensaron que nada de lo que él decía podía ser entendido, y ni siquiera intentaron prestar atención cuando escuchaban. Mucho más tarde, cuando olvidaron todo, a veces recordarían “Ah, eso es lo que eso significaba”. Es por eso que la práctica de la mayoría de las personas hoy está vacía. No miran otros tipos de Budo. Desde el principio, el valor de un Budo se determina mediante comparaciones con otros Budo.

Yoshio Kuroiwa, koshi-nage

Yoshio Kuroiwa

P: He oído que las conferencias fueron bastante largas.

A: las odiaba (risas). Hablaba sobre los Kojikki y otras cosas, pero mis piernas se quedaban dormidas y no podía entender nada, solo me hacía llorar. Pensar en esto ahora realmente trae cosas de vuelta.

Yasuo Kobayashi

Yasuo Kobayashi

P: ¿Es cierto que no hubo discusión técnica?

R: En términos de cómo aplicar técnicas específicas, algunas personas dicen que O-Sensei dijo esto o aquello, pero en lo que a mí respecta, nunca escuché ninguna explicación.

Nobuyoshi Tamura

O-Sensei venía al dojo, mostraba algunas técnicas y luego se iba. Si tenia ganas, hablab un rato. Todos éramos jóvenes, por lo que en su mayoría solo queríamos seguir con la práctica. (sobre el contenido de las conferencias) Hablaba sobre los dioses: Izanagi, Izanami, etc. En Sakurazawa-shiki (Macrobiótica) tienen algunas ideas parecidas, así que pensé que estaba hablando de algo relacionado con In y Yo (yin y yang en japonés), pero eso es todo lo que yo entendía.

Nobuyuki Watanabe Sensei

Nobuyuki Watanabe

P: El Fundador solía hablar mucho sobre el Kojikki (“Un registro de asuntos antiguos”), ¿no?

A: Sí. Una vez, el Fundador trajo un diagrama del cuerpo humano y dio una explicación mientras sostenía una copia del Kojikki en una mano. Mientras señalaba los músculos y los huesos en el diagrama, dio una explicación muy detallada, diciendo cosas como “Esto es Naohi (espíritu correcto)”, y así sucesivamente. Sin embargo, en ese momento solo me preguntaba qué significaba todo eso. Fue solo una vez, así que no puedo recordar los detalles muy bien.

Yoshimitsu Yamada in his twenties

Yoshimitsu Yamada

P: ¿No hubo ninguna explicación de las técnicas?

A: No, no. Solo discursos difíciles sobre el Kojikki, y luego él te proyectaba y decía “¡Así!”. Sin embargo, a menudo dijo que el Aikido cambia todos los días.

Así que aquí está la primera parte del problema: la mayoría de las personas ni siquiera saben que no saben. Lo que eso significa es que la mayoría de la gente está haciendo alegremente lo que está haciendo sin tener idea de que hay, o debería haber, algo más; el entrenamiento en el que Morihei Ueshiba desarrollaba todos los días desde el día en que conoció a Sokaku Takeda en la posada Hisada en 1915 hasta que falleció en Tokio en 1969.

Ahora bien, ¿por qué no lo sabemos?

Creo que es posible defender firmemente que gran parte de los registros históricos fueron deliberadamente alterados u ocultados. El trabajo de Stan Pranin muestra mucho de eso.

También es posible prestar atención a un detalle que los estudiantes del Fundador omiten mucho: que lo que obtuvieron lo consiguieron al sentir, al ser proyectados directamente por el Fundador. Una corroboración de esto es que aquellos estudiantes que obtuvieron un poco o mucho de algo del Fundador tuvieron problemas para transmitir esas cosas a sus alumnos. Es fácil ver cómo esto lleva a un colapso en la transmisión, una degradación constante de habilidades donde los estudiantes del Fundador nunca igualan el nivel del Fundador, los estudiantes de los estudiantes nunca alcanzan el nivel de sus maestros y etc.

Peor que cualquiera de esas cosas es que muchos de nosotros nos hemos sentido cómodos sin saber realmente ni entender de lo que el Fundador estaba hablando. Pídale a la mayoría de los instructores de Aikido una explicación clara de los términos y objetivos expresados en “Takemusu Aiki” y obtendrá … muy poco. Es increíble, para mí, que un instructor en un arte se sienta cómodo al no entender claramente el discurso del Fundador de su arte.

Por último, por ahora, “¿por qué no nos importa?” – esta es otra cosa que me resulta increíble, pero supongo que es típica de las personas en general y no es un problema específico del Aikido. En general, las personas están contentas de hacer lo que hacen y lo que han estado haciendo, y cuanto más tiempo llevan haciéndolo, menos cuestionan.

Me sorprende cómo pocas personas, por ejemplo, cuestionan el sistema de clasificación “tradicional” en Aikido, aunque la “tradición” solo comenzó en la década de 1940 y realmente comenzó a ajustarse al intento del gobierno japonés de regular las artes marciales bajo el Dai-Nippon Butokukai.

Debería ser responsabilidad de todos y cada uno de nosotros en Aikido ser activos en el descubrimiento de lo que no sabemos, y cómo podemos aprender esas cosas, y preocuparnos por el proceso.

Además, creo que nos corresponde a cada uno de nosotros tener una comprensión clara de lo que el Fundador pensó sobre su arte, cuáles fueron sus objetivos técnicos, filosóficos y espirituales y poder expresar esas cosas de una manera clara y convincente.

De lo contrario, ¿cómo puedes decir que estás entrenando el arte de Morihei Ueshiba?

Morihei Ueshiba meditates on top of Haleakala, Maui, 1961Morihei Ueshiba medita sobre Haleakala, Maui, 1961

Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

The post Aikido, qué no sabemos y por qué no lo sabemos … [Spanish Version] appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

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A Letter from Kenji Tomiki to Isamu Takeshita Mon, 19 Mar 2018 02:40:31 +0000 Morihei Ueshiba and Isamu Takeshita on the train Isamu Takeshita (竹下勇) was an Admiral in the Imperial Japanese Imperial and a diplomat who helped negotiate the end of the Japanese war with Russia. A patron of the Japanese martial arts, he introduced President Teddy Roosevelt to his Judo instructor Yoshiaki Yamashita. A student and patron of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, he was instrumental in convincing … Continue reading A Letter from Kenji Tomiki to Isamu Takeshita »

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Morihei Ueshiba and Isamu Takeshita on the trainMorihei Ueshiba and Isamu Takeshita on the train

Isamu Takeshita (竹下勇) was an Admiral in the Imperial Japanese Imperial and a diplomat who helped negotiate the end of the Japanese war with Russia.

A patron of the Japanese martial arts, he introduced President Teddy Roosevelt to his Judo instructor Yoshiaki Yamashita. A student and patron of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, he was instrumental in convincing Ueshiba to move to Tokyo and also introduced him to the inner circles of Japan’s military elite.

Admiral Takeshita also gave what was most likely the earliest demonstrations of Sokaku Takeda and Morihei Ueshiba’s art in North America.

Admiral Isamu Takeshita in Hollywood with child actress Jane Withers, 1935Admiral Isamu Takeshita in Hollywood with child actress Jane Withers, 1935

During the summer of 1935, Admiral Takeshita made his fifth visit to North America. Stops included New Orleans, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Seattle. His purpose was to tell US audiences that the international press misinterpreted Japan’s role in China. The Japanese objective, he said, was not to spread the Japan’s Co-Prosperity Sphere but to stop international Communism. “No Japanese warship has ever crossed the Pacific except on a mission of peace,” he said during a radio broadcast in San Francisco. “No Japanese soldier has ever come to these shores except on a similar mission.”

While in the United States, Takeshita demonstrated aikibudo to judoka and reporters. “I spend at least two or three hours a day with my pupils,” he said. “Ju-jitsu or kendo is an art as far as a foreigner is concerned, but it is also in character-building… Character is the most important thing from beginning to end.”

According to Takeshita, there were 3,500 holds in his style. Rather than using force to overcome an opponent, the idea was to throw him almost without touching him. The way this was done was by using the opponent’s own energy against him. While Takeshita believed that aikibudo was a dangerous art for a young man, he thought it an excellent method for older men and women. He concluded by saying that it provided excellent training for politicians, as without it he would have become exhausted from all the handshaking Americans expected!

In Washington DC in September 1935, US newspapermen asked Takeshita about his “jiu-jitsu”. “Flexing the muscles of his arms and grinning,” said the New York World Sun Dispatch afterward:

The admiral offered to illustrate what he called a more effective manner of combat known in Japan as aikibudo.

One man, allowing curiosity to overcome caution, volunteered. Like a flash the admiral had the newspaper reporter on the floor, too surprised to do more than gasp.

‘I was very gentle with you,’ Admiral Takeshita said. ‘You see, I could very easily have killed you instantly.’

On his way back to Japan in October 1935, Takeshita also demonstrated aikibudo to Japanese American newspapermen in Seattle. His partner in the demonstration was Yasuyuki Kumagai, 5-dan, the head instructor of the Seattle judo club known as the Seattle Dojo. “The admiral smiled and told Kumagai to get set,” the Great Northern Daily News reported afterwards.

Both men took the judo pose, and with a sudden movement that was faster than most of the witnesses could catch, Takeshita thrust out an open hand, fingers rigid and pointing to Kumagai’s mid-section.

That was all, but Kumagai, who knows a little of vulnerable spots on the human body, was startled as well as convinced.

‘One inch more and I would have been unconscious or be writhing on the ground in pain,’ said the husky judoist. And most of the bystanders believed him.

Aikido Comes to America: September 1935
Journal of Combative Sport November 1999
By Joseph R. Svinth

Ueshiba Morihei and Kenji TomikiThe young Kenji Tomiki with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

Kenji Tomiki (富木謙治) began training under Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu in 1926 after being encouraged to meet Morihei Ueshiba by Hidetaro Kubota (who later changed his name to Nishimura), a fellow Judo student at Waseda University.

The first known book published by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba (“Moritaka Ueshiba” at the time of publishing) was the 1933 training manual published in English under the name “Budo Training in Aikido“. This manual was initially given to his students as a kind of a teaching license (the full manual is available for free download from “Aikijujutsu Densho – AKA Budo Renshu, by Moritaka Ueshiba“). It is filled with illustrations depicting techniques taught at the Kobukan Dojo which were drawn by Takako Kunigoshi, a student at the Kobukan who began training shortly before her graduation from Japan Women’s Fine Arts University. The text portions of this work were largely compiled and edited by Kenji Tomiki.

In 1938 he became Morihei Ueshiba’s representative at Kenkoku University in Japanese occupied Manchuria (replacing Rinjiro Shirata, who had originally been chosen, but was conscripted into the military in 1937), and would become Aikido’s first 8th Dan in 1940.

You may also be interested in these two previous articles about Kenji Tomiki:

In the current article, created with original materials in Japanese provided through the assistance of Josh Gold and Aikido Journal, is a letter from Kenji Tomiki to Admiral Isamu Takeshita from 1928 (there is a simpler version of this article, without some of the annotations, is also available on Aikido Journal). At this point in time Tomiki had only trained for a short time with Morihei Ueshiba before entering military service, and the letter is written close to the end of that service. He details some of his thoughts and impressions of Morihei Ueshiba’s jujutsu, and the thoughts that it raised concerning Kodokan Judo.

This letter is actually mentioned by Isamu Takeshita in his diary:

September 21, 1928

Received a letter about the Aiki-Jujutsu of Mr. Tomiki, in Hirosaki [Aomori]. Comparing this with Kodokan-Judo interested me. [Note: Tomiki enlisted in the army in Hirosaki since the beginning of January, 1928]

– from “Summary of Isamu Takeshita’s Diary”
translation by Fumiaki Shishida


Kenji Tomiki and Hideo OhbaKenji Tomiki defending against a front kick from Hideo Ohba in 1961

A letter from Kenji Tomiki to Isamu Takeshita

September 19th, Showa year 3 (1928)
To Mr. Isamu Takeshita, 3-5 Kuruma-cho, Shiba-ku, Tokyo-to

Sent by Kenji Tomiki, 31-5 Kachi, Hirosaki
Accounting Department Management Cadet

Heishin (“peaceful/ordinary news”, an honorific greeting)

Dear sir,

Since then I have not been able to send greetings for some time. I know that you and your wife have passed that time without difficulties, and I myself am still serving robustly in my employment by the army. The unusual heat wave that has been continuing in this area through the summer has gradually given way to autumn breezes and we can feel the chill in the mornings and evenings.

We will be dispatched to this year’s special war games that were moved up for the state ceremony to be held in the beginning of next month nearby Morioka, and fortunately we have been granted the honor of participating. I am attached to the headquarters for the 31st Regiment, 6th Battalion, and will be departing twenty-one days from tomorrow. We will start with combined arms training near Aomori and brigade and regiment level opposition, then directly after that proceed with provisional division opponents and finish with the Shinkyo large scale maneuvers (Note: possibly in preparation for the Japanese invasion of Manchuria).

Morioka Special War GamesPhotograph commemorating the completion of the
Showa year 3 (1928) Morioka Special War Games

Only a month after the war games are completed I will be separating from life in the military. After my military discharge, It seems that I will be returning to Tokyo to become a burden upon everybody once more.

The other day I received a letter from Ueshiba Sensei. He has returned to Ayabe for a short time and will be returning to Tokyo in September. I was certainly happy to know that all of you are researching as usual, and that the number of enthusiastic practitioners grows with each passing day.

Looking back to last spring when I first received instruction from Ueshiba Sensei, and the short period until my enlistment a few months after that, those were truly days that held great significance to me.

In addition to an extraordinary revolution in my outlook on Judo, which I had researched for more than ten years since my elementary school days, the instruction and insight that I received into many of the questions and dissatisfactions with Judo that I had felt until that time clarified my thoughts on the current situation of Kodokan Judo.

Of course the number of days that I have been able to learn jujutsu from my instructor were limited, and even now I am still far from being able to plumb the depths of the deeper techniques. However, and this is based on the research of a short time, here are some of the things that I have been taught up until this time, or that have been wandering through my thoughts, with the knowledge that I have much more to be taught in the future.

Firstly, I have thought a great deal up to this point concerning what is called the Judo philosophy. I was unable to understand Judo’s place in the midst of the greater meaning of budo, but now I have come to believe that this is clearly so, that is, it is not that I was completely denying Kano Sensei’s philosophy of Judo, but that there are some questions concerning the presuppositions.

Is the single path of Judo included in the greater meaning of budo? If that is so, then then there is no particular need for argumentation for the viewpoint of Judo. Perhaps it is not that traditional Kendo, Judo and other bujutsu formed as individual entities with individual viewpoints.

This is what I was taught. What is called budo is a single integrated path, and this path is now expressed in an unbroken form as Kenjutsu, Sojutsu…the Bugei Juhappan (Note: the 18 traditional types of martial arts used by samurai in Tokugawa Japan, based upon earlier Chinese traditions)In past times all bujutsu was, in the end, the manifestation of a unique path of war. Therefore, both Kenjutsu and Jujutsu return in the end to a single path, and it is not necessary to divide Kendo from Judo in order to explain them. Actions of advance and retreat, body posture, breathing – they all must match with each other. However, the Judo and Kendo of the present day are virtually all in the process of becoming increasingly different from each other. Judo is not the same as something in which one holds a weapon, but both of those arts must adhere to the same basic principles. I gave myself up to the clarity of this truth through Sensei’s jujutsu.

In the ideal budo, as one progresses along the path their technical side progresses in parallel. This varies from what occurs in sports. In comparison to sports, in which records are maintained for the few years of one’s youth in the sport, in budo there comes a gradual increase in skill that accompanies mental conditioning continuing to old age. If we are looking towards this as an ideal, then there are a plethora of questions that arise concerning current Kodokan Judo. If we instead consider the case of Kendo, there are many practitioners who have the spirit to keep striving vibrantly past their 60’s, a better match with the ideals of budo.

These weaknesses have all been resolved by Sensei’s jujutsu.

It can be thought that Kodokan-ryu only hopes for growth within an extremely limited area. Therefore, with the drawbacks caused by the introduction of things such as modern boxing and Tode-jutsu (Karate) it can be felt that it has reached a practical dead-end in modern times.

If that is so, then from where do those weaknesses emerge? In the end, I think that it returns to the fact that the current Kodokan-ryu has grown based upon games for physical education rather then self-defense techniques. In that lies a great deal of the fault.

This can be understood through research into the origins of jujutsu and the sources behind the establishment of Kano Sensei’s Kodokan Judo. In the past the general jujutsu which has divided into many different schools was all for the purpose of shinken-shobu (Note: 真剣勝負 – a match with a live blade. In other words, a fight that determines life and death). Then, from those ryu-ha various schools that focused on throwing techniques such as Kito-ryu (起倒流) and Yoshin-ryu (楊心流), or those which specialized in striking (atemi) and holds such as Tenjin Shinyo-ryu (天神真楊流) and Yoshin-ryu (楊心流) differentiated themselves. However, the long and short of it is that defense against attacks was the primary focus, so that joint techniques were the most common. Consequently, Kano Sensei removed the joint techniques from those schools, avoided striking (atemi), chose the least dangerous strategies and established a Kodokan Judo that was appropriate for modern times. Then a variety of competitive methods were established from the most interesting principles and finally we have what is thriving today. On the other hand, it ended up as being completely a sport. Ueshiba Sensei would often say “Are things like Kodokan Judo useful? That’s not real bujutsu.”, and actually the reality is just that. Looked at from the viewpoint of self defense it’s completely powerless. And then, looked at from the viewpoint of true bujutsu it’s at the point of heresy. However, if one looks at it from the point of view of a sport then I think that it functions very well. I believe that here are the current reasons for modern Judo.

So in the end the problem must become “Which reason for Judo’s existance is most common in modern times, as self-defense or as a sport?”. Putting this problem aside for the moment, I would like to talk just a little about clarifying another side of the problem, the start and end of the controversy that engendered the Kodokan method of competition.

Sankaku-jime applied at the 1920 Kosen Taikai.Kosen Judo – at the heart of the controversy over groundwork in Judo
Sankaku-jime applied at the 1920 Kosen Taikai

In former years there were rival Judo matches between Senior Dai-ichi High School and Senior Dai-ni High School. As a result, although Dai-ichi High School had a leading third dan and a number of black belts, Dai-ni High School, who never had more than one or two black belts, would place higher in the competitions. What it came back to is that Dai-ni High School trained thoroughly in ground techniques, so Dai-ichi High School had no space in which to attack them. Kano Sensei was extremely critical of this:

“The foundation of Judo is shinken shobu. In times past ground techniques were used after the first opponent was fully overwhelmed in order to completely control a second opponent. In comparison to those times Dai-ni High School responds to an attack with ground techniques from the very beginning. This is not a proper thing to do for shinken shobu, extremely cowardly..”

A great controversy grew surrounding this.

We didn’t like ground techniques and we felt that the behavior of Dai-ni High School was underhanded. However, in terms of theory we knew that they were absolutely correct. That is, modern Kodokan Judo is sports. Therefore, as long as something does not violate the rules of the decided upon method of competition the goal is to win. Things such as shinken shobu were outside of the equation in this case. Accordingly, I believe that the use of Dai-ichi High School’s weakness in ground techniques to get the win is only reasonable. This problem of ground techniques versus standing techniques is a continuing problem, even today.

However, just delaying to a draw by responding unconsciously with ground techniques lacks an aggressive mindset – there is a great deal there that contradicts the warrior’s “battle to the death without surrender” attitude. And further, the fact is that one can practice throwing techniques for three or four years without developing real skill. In comparison, combining ground techniques with physical strength one can achieve significant results in only six months or a year, so they are very effective when going into competitive matches. What is prized in paired sports is victory in competitive matches rather than shinken shobu, so if the same mental and physical conditioning, sacrifice and effort is necessary to achieve that then I believe that it is best for us to take the route towards ground techniques rather than throwing techniques.

In the midst of those valued words from Kano Sensei that I mentioned before, modern Judo is gradually developing as a sport. Furthermore, I know that there is a dilemma in its gradual separation from shinken shobu (life or death attitude/intent.)

Translator’s Note: Jigoro Kano himself apparently had misgivings about Judo as a sport, expressed here to Gunji Koizumi in 1936:

I have been asked by people of various sections as to the wisdom and possibility of Judo being introduced with other games and sports at the Olympic Games. My view on the matter, at present, is rather passive. If it be the desire of other member countries I have no objection. But I do not feel inclined to take any initiative. For one thing, Judo, in reality, is not a mere sport or game. I regard it as a principle of life, art and science. In fact it is a means for personal cultural attainment. Only one of the forms of Judo training, so-called Randori or free practice, can be classed as a form of sport. Certainly, to some extent, the same may be said of boxing and fencing, but today they are practised and conducted as sports. Then, the Olympic Games are so strongly flavoured with Nationalism that it is possible to be influenced by it and to develop ‘Contest Judo,’ a retrograde form as Ju Jutsu was before Kodokwan Judo was founded.

Fulfilling His Duty as a Member: Jigoro Kano and the Japanese Bid for the 1940 Olympics
By Joseph R. Svinth

The benefits that come from Kodokan Judo are usually explained by the following four points:

  1. Methods of physical education. (“taiiku-ho” / 体育法)
  2. Methods of cultivating the spirit. (“shushin-ho” / 修心法)
  3. Methods of consoling the spirit. (“ishin-ho” / 慰心法)
  4. Methods of self defense. (“goshin-ho” / 護身法)

Shusaku Kiryu, University of TsukubaShusaku Kiryu, University of Tsukuba Judo Team

The purpose of this study is to clarify the background and intent of Kano Jigoro when he introduced the concept of ishinho (method to console the spirit) as one of the objectives of judo. Kano initially described the purposes of judo as taiiku (physical education), shobu (martial arts), and shushin (to master one’s spirit). Later, Kano add ishinho as an additional objective, but the reason he did so is unknown. Upon examining Kano’s writings and the aspects of judo popularized during this period, I was able to clarify the following:

  1. After 1883, judo penetrated schools as an extracurricular activity. Later, many judo clubs were established and they began holding inter-school matches.
  2. Kano showed that people who trained in the discipline of judo reaped the benefits of judo- taiiku, shobu, and shushin.
  3. In 1911 , judo became a standard subject in Japanese high schools. Later, Kano announced the inclusion of ishinho as an objective of judo, and added additional, factors (including the pleasure of exercise; the enjoyment of watching randori, competitions, and kata; and kata as an art form) to judo.
  4. Kano generated a new concept of ishinho against the background of his knowledge of dissatisfaction with normal gymnastics, the various benefits of judo, and the merit of athletic sports. With increasing inter-school matches, ishinho disappeared from Kano’s works, and students became involved in many scandals. Instead of ihsinho, Kano appealed to all people to improve this situation, whether they practiced judo or not.

The Introduction of the Concept of “Ishinho” to Judo
and the Thoughts of Kano Jigoro
– Shusaku Kiryu, University of Tsukuba

When I attempt to compare Ueshiba Sensei’s jujutsu to these points the following thoughts arise:

  1. There is certainly a danger of harm when elementary and junior high school students train normally for competition. If the instructor exercises appropriate caution then it can be suitable even for those who might be considered unsuitable for Kodokan-ryu such as the elderly and women. Therefore, I believe that on that point, or as concerns Judo as exercise, that it is by no means inferior.
  2. As a budo with a goal towards cultivating the spirit its goals are the some, so in the end it returns to a problem of the instructor, but I believe it to be far superior in terms of its great emphasis on spirituality.
  3. As for “Methods of Consoling the Spirit”, it is said that Kodokan-ryu appeals to feelings for the fine arts, but conversely, these things can also be seen in this jujutsu. As an example of a refined and elegant kata in Kodokan-ryu there is “Itsutsu no Kata” (五つの型), which expresses the feelings of the rushing of the waves, but in this jujutsu this is expressed, not in kata, but in the course of normal practice. Further, it is the same for “Ju no Kata” (柔の型), there are many points in this jujutsu that are extremely similar. However, in “Ju no Kata” the Kokyu is completely missing, making it end up spineless. It is the same for the movement postures – it is thought that when those are mastered by the women in Kodokan-ryu that they are able to able to attain a beautiful posture. However, the kamae of the legs and hips in this jujutsu and the movement of the body matches precisely to Noh dance, so I think that on this point it is actually ideal.
  4. Needless to say, as method of self-defense there is a remarkable difference. Firstly, as a conditioning method (鍛練法), and I was taught an enormous amount about this point. As a conditioning method there are two different methods. That is, one method favors randori over kata, and one method favors kata over randori. In addition to Kodokan Judo, modern Kendo also makes use of the former method, and this point can be thought to reveal a weakness of current-day bujutsu. In the end, this can be thought to be a consequence of the development of bujutsu that focuses on competition.

The harm of a focus on randori is that one tends towards the few techniques that one is skilled at and strays from the path, degenerating into simple physical strength. Although that is fine in terms of physical education, in order to grasp the true spirit of bujutsu I believe that clearly maturing the meaning of that bujutsu through kata before entering into randori is the way to eliminate mistakes. In this jujutsu the focus is on kata, but what seems to be a rather roundabout way to understand the meaning of that bujutsu is conversely a shortcut, and can be thought to eliminate mistakes. However, what I think is even more superior here is that although it is called kata it is not the same as the fixed fifteen throwing kata or the joint locking kata limited to so many techniques of Kodokan-ryu. They are flexible and freely adaptable to whatever situation arises – they are kata that are themselves randori.

When actually observing Kodokan-ryu and others and researching into their historical origins I was able to clearly ascertain the points of superiority of this jujutsu. Thus, the desire to understand the value of this jujutsu from the wider perspective of Nihon Bujutsu has been continuously on my mind.

As I said before, I have trained in Judo for many years, but in the end I never took it a single step past the point of view as a sport, and accordingly I researched it as a superior method of physical exercise, but when I emerged from my academic studies limits on my time, stamina, and location made me think that Judo was something that I would have to distance myself from. However, through an unexpected chance I was able to observe Sensei’s technique, and found a place for the Judo that I had thought to abandon and came to believe that here was something that I could continue to practice and improve forever as another form of exercise and a training interest. I enlisted just as I graduated last spring and leaving my classroom and my home behind then had the time to devote myself to Sensei’s instruction.

I would like to return to Tokyo after my military discharge and find some employment there, but I am also hoping to be able to spend a long time on research into everybody’s instruction in jujutsu, if it pleases you.

Chinkon KishinChinkon Kishin Training at the Omoto compound in Ayabe, 1921

Finally, there is the issue of Sensei’s faith, I felt some uncertainty just as I visited Sensei in Ayabe last summer. My uncle and Mr. Kubota are examples, but there was not much support for my trip to Ayabe. However, I believe that Omoto-kyo and bujutsu are completely separate. While I was staying in Ayabe I always heard talk of faith from Sensei and other people, and perhaps due to my sceptical nature and the many subjects that I could not fully comprehend I was unable to understand this Omoto-kyo that is filled with miracles that surpass modern science. However, I have great admiration for Sensei’s faith and Sensei’s humble attitude towards the Gods. and I have thus deeply considered many points concerning Sensei’s techniques and his faith. It is not necessarily limited to Omoto-kyo, but it may be that it is with faith that bujutsu first reaches that level, that I may be been taught at a visceral level that bujutsu shugyo is something that in the end returns to faith.

Day by day the weather is becoming colder, I am praying for all of your health. Finally, thank you for taking the time to consider my ramblings.

September 19th


Kenji Tomiki to the honorable Mr. Isamu Takeshita

Postscript: Please give my best regards to Mr. Shimoji and Mr. Yamamoto.

  1. This letter was transcribed by Professor of Intellectual History of the Japanese Martial Arts at Waseda University and Aikido Shihan of the Japan Aikido Association Fumiaki Shishida, from a copy received from Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Hombu-cho Katsuyuki Kondo. Kenji Tomiki’s handwriting was deciphered with the assistance of Mr. Seiichi Saito, who studied under Kenji Tomiki during his time at Kenkoku University in Manchuria, but there were a few places that were unclear and I hope for clarification at a later date. There may have been mistakes and imperfections in the copy, but it goes without saying that the wording of the text is the responsibility of the editor. With deep gratitude towards Kondo Sensei and Saito Sensei, Shishida Fumiaki – January 18th 1991.
  2. The original materials in Japanese were provided with the assistance of Josh Gold and Aikido Journal.

Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, Hawaii

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Happy New Year of the Dog 2018 from the Aikido Sangenkai Mon, 01 Jan 2018 17:22:26 +0000 Happy New Year of the Dog 2018 from the Aikido Sangenkai! Thank you all for your help and support over the last year. 2017 was a great year of training, and we’re looking forward to even more great training with you all in the coming year! The past year has seen the number of articles on the Aikido Sangenkai blog pass the 150 mark, with more articles translated … Continue reading Happy New Year of the Dog 2018 from the Aikido Sangenkai »

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Happy New Year of the Dog 2018Happy New Year of the Dog 2018
from the Aikido Sangenkai!

Thank you all for your help and support over the last year. 2017 was a great year of training, and we’re looking forward to even more great training with you all in the coming year!

The past year has seen the number of articles on the Aikido Sangenkai blog pass the 150 mark, with more articles translated into more than fifteen languages. For the coming year, our Sangenkai workshop for February 2018 has registered attendees from Japan, Korea, the mainland USA, Sweden and our local and neighbor island Sangenkai members as well as a large group of New Zealand and Australia Sangenkai members coming for a special intensive workshop in addition to the regular workshop, making the Aikido Sangenkai the only Aikido group in Hawaii to hold regular workshops with an international attendance.


In three thousand worlds
The plum blossoms
Open all at once –
The stone door will
Open a second time.

Doka by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba
Journey to the Heart of Aikido:
The Teachings of Motomichi Anno Sensei

by Linda Holiday and Motomichi Anno

As you can see on our New Year’s card above, Morihei Ueshiba often described Aikido as the “second opening of the stone door”. But what about the first opening, and why was it related to Aikido? For the answers to that one – check out this post about last year’s New Year’s card.

On this year’s nengajo we have the first sun of the year (初日の出) rising over Mt. Fuji. The tradition of viewing the first rising sun of the year is also linked to the story of the stone door and the reappearance of Ama-terasu Omikami in the world.

Which leads us to our thought for the coming year – a frequently cited quote from the Founder (actually a paraphrase of a Chinese proverb which has its roots in India – which demonstrates the pervasive nature of the idea across nations and cultures), from Aikido Tankyu #29:


There are many paths to the peak of Mt. Fuji, but they all end at a single destination. That is, the path to love. Everyone has different methods of training, but they all arrive at the same destination. The martial arts of Japan are in no way the paths towards war, struggle or conflict. They are the paths which all people can take with joy as brothers and sisters.

 — Hau’oli Makahiki Hou
 — Happy New Year
 — 明けましておめでとうございます
…and much Aloha!

Izumo Taishakyo Mission of HawaiiNew Year’s Day at the Izumo Taishakyo Mission of Hawaii

Articles from the past year:

The Phantom Manual: Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu
Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei
Aikido und die schwebende Himmelsbrücke [German Version]
Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Morihiro Saito Sensei, Part 3
Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Morihiro Saito Sensei, Part 2
Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Morihiro Saito Sensei, Part 1
El grado importa – Cinturones Negros en Aikido [Spanish Version]
Ueshiba-ha Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu [Spanish Version]
El Legado de Ueshiba – Parte 1, por Mark Murray [Spanish Version]
Cuatro Generaciones de la Familia Ueshiba [Spanish Version]
Ueshiba-ha Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu
Kiichi Hogen und das Geheimnis des Aikido [German Version]
The Ueshiba Legacy – Part 2, by Mark Murray
Aikido Shihan Sadao Takaoka – Meeting O-Sensei
Aikido Shihan Seiseki Abe – Meeting Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei
Interview with Aikido Shihan Yasuo Kobayashi – Part 2

Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

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The Phantom Manual: Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu Mon, 18 Dec 2017 21:03:32 +0000 Women’s self-defense demonstration in the Nikkan Jijishashin (日刊時事写真) Fujiko Suzuki (鈴木富治子), founder of Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu (大和流護身術), left Sokaku Takeda and Morihei Ueshiba student Admiral Isamu Takeshita on the right. Fujiko Suzuki’s “Phantom Manual” is available through the efforts of Scott Burke, who lives in Fukuoka, but often comes to Hawaii to join the Sangenkai workshops with Dan Harden. Many thanks to Scott, and appreciation for his continuing series … Continue reading The Phantom Manual: Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu »

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Daiwa Goshinjutsu - Isamu Takeshita

Women’s self-defense demonstration in the Nikkan Jijishashin (日刊時事写真)
Fujiko Suzuki (鈴木富治子), founder of Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu (大和流護身術), left
Sokaku Takeda and Morihei Ueshiba student Admiral Isamu Takeshita on the right.

Fujiko Suzuki’s “Phantom Manual” is available through the efforts of Scott Burke, who lives in Fukuoka, but often comes to Hawaii to join the Sangenkai workshops with Dan Harden. Many thanks to Scott, and appreciation for his continuing series of “Aikileaks”, which has previously included

All 243 pages of this beautifully remastered manual are available for download at the bottom of this essay from Scott Burke, which explains what the “Phantom Manual” is and how it is related to Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba and Aikido. Enjoy!

Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu - 1937Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu – 1937, by Fujiko Suzuki

The Phantom Manual: Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu

by Scott Burke

(And before anyone says it, no, this is not related to any other Daiwa Ryu, Yamato Ryu, or the 1952 Yamato Ryu “Secret Teachings of Self Defense”. “Secret Teachings of Self Defense” does contain numerous drawings copied from Kunigoshi’s Aikijujutsu Densho, so it can be considered a kind of a bootleg. There are also a number of techniques traced from photographs of a 1935 Nakazawa Ryu Goshinjutsu manual as well, I may put together a side by side later. This is a different animal altogether.)

Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu, Page 183

This Yamato Ryu is very much a product of Ueshiba’s students. His name is even written in the back indicating some level of oversight over the book, possibly as editor. Unless I’m losing my sight there is no mention of Aiki in this book. There is no mention of Heaven, earth, man or anything obvious pointing towards internal training methods. This is a straightforward collection of self-defense techniques for women in early Showa era Japan. As a historical document, it begs questions about who-knew-who in the mid 1930’s, as there are some interesting names attached to this work.

Takako Kunigoshi and Shigemi YonekawaTakako Kunigoshi and Shigemi Yonekawa in 1935

Firstly, the illustrations are by Takako Kunigoshi, one of Ueshiba O-Sensei’s Kobukan era students and the illustrator of the famed Budo Renshu aka Aikijujutsu Densho. There are over two hundred illustrations depicting self-defense techniques. These techniques are often shown with the figures in regular Showa era (1930’s) daily wear, with only a few done with the participants wearing something like dogi. The manual’s authorship is credited to Fujiko Suzuki, a third dan Judo and shodan kendo practitioner. Her signature and a stamp with the characters Yamato Ryu Soke, are on the book. Aside from an article in a 1937 housewife helper’s magazine (below) and the 1937 Jijishashin press clipping (above) there is nothing more definitive that I can find on Fujiko Suzuki so far.

Shufu no Tomo - Yamato Ryu 1Shufu no Tomo - Yamato Ryu 2Shufu no Tomo - Yamato Ryu 3Fujiko Suzuki – “The Secrets of Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu” (大和流護身術の極意)
“How to Beat Off and Defeat Hoodlums” (暴漢撃退法)
Shufu-no-Tomo (主婦乃友) magazine, May 1937

There are some hints that can be gleaned by looking over interviews with Kunigoshi, namely one conducted by Stan Pranin entitled “The Dainty Lady Who Lit Up Morihei Ueshiba’s Kobukan Dojo”:

I started in January of 1933, the year that I graduated from school. I was then able to continue up to a little before the air raids began over Tokyo. At one time I had been asked to teach self-defense to female employees of a company located next to the famous Kaminari Mon (Thunder Gate) of the Asakusa Temple in Tokyo’s old town district. (Kunigoshi goes on to discuss teaching the grand daughter of Lafcadio Hearn and her concerns over the air raids over Tokyo. The earliest air raid was the famous Doolittle raid in April 1942. It seems more likely that Kunigoshi was referring to the large-scale air campaign beginning in 1944.)

Editor: I imagine there weren’t very many women among the deshi in those days.

There were only two of us! The other woman was two or three years younger than myself. I received New Year’s greeting cards from her up until a few years ago. Even now it seems that her nephew is going to the dojo. But as you said, in those days not many women went to train. Ever so, Ueshiba Sensei never made us feel different by changing things “because you are a woman”.

Later on in the article is this:

I started early in 1933 and it was after about a year that we did the book so I suppose it would have been around 1934. These pictures were really difficult to do! I had to do them all twice, you know. Even so I always felt there were some problems left. The second book was never printed after all but… At any rate, this particular version has the first drawings.

In a later exchange about weapons practice Kunigoshi revealed the following:

Just about the time that the war started my alma mater was on summer vacation and I spent something like three days teaching something more akin to self-defense than to Aikido. If we could have taken those 50 people who were to learn and divide then into three groups for three teachers it would have been fine but as it was after the first day one of the instructors’ voices gave out and we ended up having to do the course with only two instructors. I had to take care of 30 of them.

The take away from this, Kunigoshi was actively teaching women’s self-defense classes, there was a second female deshi, and most interestingly, there was a second book, seemingly never published. The first of these take aways is the easiest to accept, Kunigoshi teaching women’s self-defense classes is a given. Next, an unnamed second female deshi. Well, maybe this was Fujiko Suzuki, and maybe not. Access to Kobukan membership records could clear this up quickly, but on that we’ll just have to wait and see what emerges. And lastly, a second book? Is it Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu? Again, maybe. It’s possible that when Kunigoshi was referring to the second book she was actually referring to Aikido Maki no Ichi, a cleaned up and condensed version of Budo Renshu with some slight variations on technique endings.

Aikido Maki-no-Ichi Page 52Aikido Maki-no-Ichi Page 52

Or, she could have been thinking of this book, which actually did see print in 1937, although in obviously smaller circulation than Budo Renshu three years previous. The interview with Stan was several decades after the fact and Kunigoshi could simply have misremembered, I know I would be hard pressed to tell you all the details of the copyright clearance report I did for the MGM film library in 1996, though at the time it held all of my attention. At this point, I really don’t know which theory is correct. Please feel free to provide leads if you have them.

There are handwritten introductions to the manual from different figures, which give weight to the notion that this book is closely related to Ueshiba and his 1930’s cohorts. Restoring this portion of the manual has been tricky, because it is all handwritten and of a style a bit above my ability to read. In some areas the original mimeograph must have accidentally “double stamped” it leaving the initial text especially blurry. I ran the images through Photoshop removing as much grit as I could while retaining the structure of the text. The signatures and titles are larger and easier to read, and besides some lingering grit the calligraphy for the poetry came through clearly.

Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu - Page 3Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu – Page 3

The first written portion is a set of poems written with a thick brush and is signed by Munetaka Abe. The Munetaka connection become clear, once again with the help of a Stanley Pranin article titled “Morihei Ueshiba and Gozo Shioda”:

Mr. Munetaka Abe, Gozo (Shioda)’s middle school headmaster, was struck by the outstanding mental attitude of a young woman, Miss Takako Kunigoshi, who cleaned a nearby shrine every morning. When asked about her exemplary bearing, she gave credit to her aikijutsu teacher and suggested the schoolmaster observe a training session. Thoroughly impressed by what he saw at the nearby Ueshiba Dojo, Mr. Abe urged Gozo’s father to enroll his son there.
…Shioda immediately decided to join the dojo. Since two guarantors were required to enter, his father and Mr. Abe provided introductions.

Shioda’s entry to Ueshiba’s dojo is placed at 1932. According to records available online Mr. Munetaka, was principal at the Tokyo Prefecture Number 6 Middle School from 1922 to 1936. The Yamato Ryu manual was published in 1937. Mr. Munetaka obviously stayed in contact with Kunigoshi, so much so that he contributed calligraphy to the project.

Yasuhiro Konishi in "Karate Nyumon" - 1958Yasuhiro Konishi in “Karate Nyumon” – 1958

The next entry is a short forward written by Yasuhiro Konishi, who according to Wikipedia was “one of the first karateka to teach karate on mainland Japan. He was instrumental in developing modern karate, as well as a driving force in the art’s acceptance in Japan. He is credited with developing the style known as Shindō jinen-ryū (神道自然流).”

Additionally, Konishi was an early student (1920’s) of Morihei Ueshiba. In at least two of Konishi’s books (please forgive me, I have the books but they are currently somewhere in “the Pile”, and I cannot recall the titles but you have my word that this is the case) he refers to Ueshiba as the head of the Aioi Ryu, a name which Ueshiba only used for a brief period in the 1920’s. Admiral Takeshita also trained with the Aioi group, and Takeshita is mentioned by Kunigoshi in her interviews with Stan Pranin. Additionally, one of the few pictures available of Fujiko SUzuki is of her being instructed by Admiral Takeshita. I’ll speculate on Takeshita and his influence later.

(Note:*There are some tantalizing tidbits in the internal power department concerning Konishi from the Japan Karate Do Ryobu Kai:

At the same time, it is said that Yasuhiro learned from Ueshiba that the art had two kinds of spirit, one expressed externally and one expressed only in mind.

In addition to this little bit of information, Konishi’s 1957 Karate manual touches on Tenchijin theory and how heaven and earth are expressed through the body.

Yasuhiro Konishi in Karate Nyumon - 1958Yasuhiro Konishi in “Karate Nyumon” – 1958

Some more information about Konishi and Ueshiba from Fighting

In about 1935, Konishi Sensei developed another kata – Seiryu. During this period, Konishi Sensei, Ueshiba Sensei, Mabuni Sensei, and Ohtsuka Sensei were training together almost daily. At this time, the Japanese government was largely controlled by top officers of the Imperial Army. Konishi Sensei was asked by the commanding general of the Japanese Army to develop women’s self-defense techniques. His first step in fulfilling the Army’s request was to ask Mabuni Sensei to help him develop standardized training methods, to help the students remember the techniques.

Together, they developed a karate kata that incorporated the essence of both their styles. As they worked to finalize the kata, they shared it with Ueshiba Sensei, who approved some sections, but advised certain changes. Ueshiba Sensei strongly felt that the kata should be modified based on the gender of the practitioner, because of the need to protect very different sensitive areas. Also a woman’s training was normally executed from a natural (higher) stance. Another factor which greatly influenced the kata was the female position in Japanese society. At the time, a woman’s life was defined by cultural customs, though both sexes wore kimono and used geta. All these factors were considered in the process of developing the kata.

So beginning in 1935, plans were afoot to develop a women’s self-defense system, at the behest of a high-ranking military official.

Continuing from the Japan Karate Do Ryobu Kai:

Yasuhiro’s incessant eagerness to acquire the secret of various kinds of martial arts brought him the chance to meet Seiko Fujita, the 14th generation of master of “Koga Ninjutsu” and made him to obtain the license from “Nanban Kito-Ryu”.

Seiko Fujita is the third author featured in the foreword of the Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu manual. 14th Headmaster or Soke of Kōga-ryū Ninjutsu. aka “The Last Ninja”.

Fujita Seiko - 1936Hard training – Seiko Fujita pierced with 258 tatami needles
from “Ninjutsu Hiroku” (忍術秘録) – 1936

And here we have a ninja master, and an instructor of the Imperial Army’s Nakano School writing a foreword to this women’s self defense manual. Ninjutsu is an area where I am out of my depth, so I’ll gladly bend an ear and see what people in that area have to say.

Ueshiba Moritaka 1937Ueshiba Moritaka, March 1937
Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu – Page 242

Taken together, all of this data points to the idea of a long lost training manual greatly influenced by the teachings of Ueshiba Moritaka, his signature placed down inside the book on an auspicious day, March 1937. One Japanese rare book dealer called this the “phantom book of Morihei Ueshiba”.

Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu – Page 206

It is also possible that this is the sum total of multiple actors working together to create a women’s self-defense manual under the aegis of Yamato Ryu. Or it could be the sole product of a lost talent, Fujiko Suzuki, Soke of the Yamato Ryu. This “phantom book” has been sitting on my desk for a little too long, but now that the picture restoration is completed I’ve decided it is best to release it along with my limited findings in the hope that individuals with more information can shed some light on this previously unknown work. I’ve chased this one for years now. I hope you enjoy giving it a look as much as I did pursuing it.

Yours in the Internal Power/Aiki pursuit,


Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

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Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei Fri, 03 Nov 2017 18:21:51 +0000 Kisshomaru Ueshiba with his father Morihei Ueshiba at Ueshiba Juku in Ayabe around 1925 Kisshomaru Ueshiba was born on June 27, 1921 at the Omoto-kyo compound in Ayabe, where his father Morihei Ueshiba opened his first dojo, the Ueshiba Juku. In 1927 he and his family moved to Tokyo, where his father would open the Kobukan Dojo – which would eventually become Aikikai Hombu Dojo. … Continue reading Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei »

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Morihei Ueshiba 1925Kisshomaru Ueshiba with his father Morihei Ueshiba
at Ueshiba Juku in Ayabe around 1925

Kisshomaru Ueshiba was born on June 27, 1921 at the Omoto-kyo compound in Ayabe, where his father Morihei Ueshiba opened his first dojo, the Ueshiba Juku.

In 1927 he and his family moved to Tokyo, where his father would open the Kobukan Dojo – which would eventually become Aikikai Hombu Dojo.

In 1942 Morihei Ueshiba told his son to “Defend the dojo with your life!”, and retired to the countryside in Iwama.

After the passing of Morihei Ueshiba on April 26 1969 he became (after some disputes involving his brother-in-law Koichi Tohei) the second Doshu of the Aikikai organization. Until his death on January 4th 1999, Kisshomaru Ueshiba would be the primary presence and director of the post-war Aikikai organization.

Kisshomaru Ueshiba has appeared in a number of previous articles:

The current article is the English translation of an interview that originally appeared in “Answers from Budoka” (“Budoka no Kotae” / 武道家の答え), published by BAB Japan in 2006.

In this interview Kisshomaru Ueshiba Doshu discusses his effort to change and adapt his father Morihei’s art for a modern world.

Aikikai Aikido Shimbun - January 1999Aikikai Hombu Dojo Aikido Shimbun – January 1999

“To the spirit of the past Doshu”
by San-Dai Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba

“The techniques and way of Aikido that the founder O-Sensei left us, was not always easily understood by everyone. Doshu, my father, changed these so they would be easily understood, and he gave all of his life to spread this. For that reason he left behind many books that he had written. I grew up watching Doshu return from keiko to study and write for long hours and even with my child’s eyes I could see the importance of this work”

The fruits of those efforts have spread Kisshomaru Ueshiba’s version of the art across the world, but have left his son, San-Dai Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba, with challenges of his own.

Peter Goldsbury, 7th Dan Aikikai and chairman of the International Aikido Federation (IAF) from 1998 to 2016, made some interesting comments on the current state of this situation on Aikiweb, in a discussion on the course of Aikido going forward into the future (extracted from two separate comments):

I had a private conversation with H Isoyama a few months ago. Isoyama began training in Iwama at the age of 12 and grew up under Saito’s tutelage. Kisshomaru was also there and the Hombu was actually in Iwama at the time. He noted that a recurring problem in Iwama and in Tokyo was “what to do about the old man,” up on the floating bridge with his deities, whereas Kisshomaru was concerned with trying to fashion aikido into an art that could actually survive in postwar Japan and that meant making some important compromises.

I think you can see Doshu’s dilemma (*the current Doshu, Moriteru Ueshiba). He has to continue to teach the ‘essence’ of the art, but without knowing very much about what his grandfather actually did. He is a few years younger than I am and all he knows has been filtered via Kisshomaru and those deshi of Kisshomaru’s generation. Doshu’s son Mitsuteru will have an even bigger problem.

Apart from a few exceptions like Tomiki and Tohei, Kisshomaru allowed the old deshi like Tada, Yamaguchi, Arikawa to get on and teach what they had learned from Morihei Ueshiba directly, in so far as they understood this. The variety was allowed to flourish, but with the passage of time there has been an inevitable dumbing down and an increasingly frantic insistence that what the Hombu is doing is the only means of aikido salvation. I think if the Aikikai could make the eight basic waza into sacraments, they would leap at the chance.

Kisshomaru Ueshiba 1963, taken at Kilauea Art Studio in HiloKisshomaru Ueshiba in 1963
taken at Kilauea Art Studio in Hilo, Hawaii

Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei

From “Stopping the Spear” to a “Great Strategy”

Q: First I would like to ask you, what are the current goals for your Budo training?

A: As to the current goals of my Budo training, I am not thinking at all of things such as becoming strong through Budo, or striking and throwing an opponent. I am thinking of it as a method of lifetime training through the Way of Budo. It is improving the human spirit and pursuing a leap of the psyche – training with like minded people and extending the influence of those people into society, not only in Japan, but also overseas to build a worthwhile and peaceful society. It is because the way to society is through this path that the International Aikido Federation (IAF) was formed – and happily, Aikido has recently experienced widespread growth overseas.

Q: What is the current condition of Aikido overseas?

A: Of the Japanese Budo that are popular overseas, the present state of affairs is that Aikido follows after Judo and Karate. For example, if I speak of the case of France, which has not hesitated to accept the influences of Japanese culture, there are about 378,000 people doing Judo followed by about 78,000 people doing Karate. Aikido is said to have about 40,000 people, and I have heard that is followed by Kendo with a few hundred people. So there’s that much of a gap between them. Since becoming the world’s Judo and raising their flag at the Olympics the societal awareness of Judo has become much greater. Karate is not only Japan, Chinese and Korean Karate have also become much larger.

Karate is a fierce Budo that focuses on striking and kicking, and is popular with young people. I think that it is excellent for training the minds and bodies of young people. However, I think that there are some things in Aikido that are a little different. That is, from the past Aikido has forged techniques through typical methods of Budo conditioning, and that there are no shiai (試合 / “contests”). Because when one competes one becomes caught up with thoughts of winning or fear of failure. In the midst of the movements of Aikido’s techniques, in natural movement, we pursue the unification of body and mind (心身統一 / “shin-shin toitsu”) – it is where we fulfill that to the greatest degree that we refine our humanity.

Kisshomaru Ueshiba in HawaiiKisshomaru Ueshiba in Hawaii

Q: Do have some special method of training?

A; The thought of a special method of training has never crossed my mind. I believe that the most important factor in the value of modern Budo is that anybody can practice it comfortably in any location. That is an absolute requirement, because it will then become a positive force for society. Nowadays, one cannot go up into the mountains to train like a warrior from the Sengoku Period or feudal times and then do something like declare “I have become strong” and make your appearance as a master… I suppose that there will be some people who will approve of that, but it doesn’t match the flow of today’s society. There should be a Budo that is cultivated from the midst of present times. If it is not a Budo that can live in modern times then there is no societal value.

Q: It is said that Aikido is a Budo that pursues spiritual values, in what form does it appear overseas?

A: As regards overseas, there are those who have an interest in Zen or eastern culture such as Chado (tea ceremony). It is a particular characteristic of Aikido that there are many intellectuals who have an interest in it.

Previously I brought up the case of France, where there are 378.000 people practicing Judo, but in contrast to Judo and Karate it is a particular characteristic of Aikido that the number of children practicing is very small. So when one is older, even elderly people can practice.

In Aikido my father used the training methods of many of the Kobudo (“ancient martial arts”) – these, driven by spiritual philosophical principles for today’s world, are Aikido.

When I went to New York in Showa year 38 (1963) a professor from New York University said “Even someone my age can do Aikido. I practice Zen, but Aikido can be interpreted as moving Zen, can’t it?”. Then I said “There are those people who say that Aikido is moving Zen”. After I said that there – before I knew it the mass media and others such as Buddhist priests started telling me that Aikido was moving Zen.

Q: What are the essential points at which Aikido differs from other Budo?

A: There are nine groups registered with the Budokan as Japanese Budo. Including the Budokan there are ten groups that make up the Budokyogikai (武道協議会). Judo, Kendo, Karate, Shorinji, Naginata, Sumo, Kyudo, Jukenjutsu and then Aikido, but Aikido is the only one of these that does not have a competitive form. I would be happy if you could be aware of the fact that it is in this area that Aikido has a different perspective than other of the standard Budo.

Q: Does that mean that Aikido is not a type of Kobudo?

A: Depending upon the person there are those who say that Aikido may enter the category of Kobudo, There is certainly no mistaking that the fact that Aikido originated from Kobudo, and in Aikido my father used the training methods of many of the Kobudo – these, driven by spiritual philosophical principles for today’s world, are Aikido. For that reason I always say that Aikido is a question of the spirit. Please think of it in this way.

Kisshomaru Ueshiba's WeddingKisshomaru Ueshiba’s wedding in Iwama
Morihei Ueshiba seated between the newlyweds

Morihei Ueshiba was a Budoka who established a Way of the Spirit

Q: Who are the Budoka that you most respect?

A: As one training in Aikido I respect my father (Morihei Ueshiba). Although there are many others that I would bow my head to…

Q: Can I take that to mean that this is because Morihei Sensei had his eyes on the same goals as you do?

A: There are those who say that my father was strong. That may also have been part of it. But that kind of thing is no reason for respect. It is only because he established a new Way of the Spirit called Aikido that he is worthy of respect. My father was a man of the old school, so it may be that there are some things about me that he was not satisfied with. However, things were left to me because I was his child, so I did my best to develop this Way into a modern Way.

There are no incredible “secret teachings”

Q: Saying that, if I were to ask you what the secret teachings (極意 / “gokui”) of Budo are you might call that something like nonsense?

A: I’m glad that you said that. Around the beginning of Showa (1926-1989) , when a person asked my father “Sensei, what are the secret teachings? Please show us the secret teachings.” he replied “Isn’t everybody doing the secrets? I show the secrets from the beginning. There’s no this is secret, that is secret, there’s nothing incredible. That’s why if you look at the scrolls you won’t understand anything. There’s no this is secret, that is secret, that’s just magic tricks. It’s nonsense to even discuss it.”. I believe this as well.

The secret teachings of the past would just come naturally through practicing wholeheartedly. It was a matter of the spirit, one would just suddenly say “Ah, I see!”. Among Kobudo people there are really those who talk about ridiculous things like this is secret or that is secret, but from my point of view that’s not acceptable.

My father said “Isn’t everybody doing the secrets? I show the secrets from the beginning.”

The strength of Japanese culture

Q: What motivated you to pursue Budo?

A: In the past my father said “I am not planning for you to succeed me in Budo”. However, after the war there wasn’t any particular work available. At that time I spoke to some people who had come back home after studying abroad. With the end of the war the local Japanese students felt as if they were suffering from things like dementia or castration, and were dealing with it by running away secretly from place to place. I truly felt miserable as I listened to them.

I thought “Japan fought against the rest of the world, that’s how much strength the Japanese people possess. What can I do?”. So then I asked my father if there wasn’t something, if there wasn’t something from the traditions of Japan.

As I was pondering that, I found that there was something. Aikido. I thought that in Aikido – the end of my father’s religious training – was a really wonderful expression of the Japanese and Asian people’s culture. Then I worked to move  Mac Arthur’s command division and the Ministry of Education, and the Kobukai that had existed up until that time was re-recognized in February of Showa year 23 (1948) as the national organization of the Aikikai Foundation. My father at the Ibaraki Dojo said “I am focused on my Budo training, so you do it! You can more or less handle things.”, so I went ahead and started things in Tokyo.

O-Sensei and KisshomaruMorihei Ueshiba and Kisshomaru Ueshiba
in front of Aikikai Hombu Dojo

Up until that time at the Ibaraki Dojo one could not become a student without an introduction, so there were many distinguished personages, these certainly weren’t regular people. It was through the cooperation of such people that the Aikikai was able to spread nationally. To speak of that, the Tokyo dojo until that time was a wooden structure that leaked when it rained. Moreover, there had been a number of fires, which we extinguished each time with buckets of water.

Also, there were many war refugees in the dojo. It took until around Showa year 30 (1955) to move all of those people out.

When the older students gathered to train we started to say “Let’s set our sights overseas”, and we turned our eyes to enthusiastic young people to transmit the virtues of Aikido. So it was that the with the expansion overseas we followed Judo and Karate in their development.

Furthermore, around Showa year 30 (1955) I left my company in order to give my undivided attention to Aikido and create a student based organization – I sent shihan to around 150 schools to develop the organization. There we go back to what we discussed at the beginning, My feelings that grew after the war when I first thought to devote myself to Aikido. However far the Japanese people may fall, they possess something that is peculiar to the Japanese people. Everybody knows that Einstein is a famous scientist. His exceptional brilliance was the foundation of what is called his insight. To express things differently, as in the example of a spinning top, the pursuit of that “perfectly clear state of mind”  (澄み切りの境地 / “sumi-kiri no kyouchi”) is the goal of Aikido.

I think that the prosperity of Japan is the result of drawing on the wisdom of the people in each of their fields. However, the prosperity of today’s Japan is not enough, I think that spiritually there is also an aspect of that prosperity that is very negative. I believe and desire with all my heart that the Aikido that I have explained to you can be something that can, at the very least, compensate for some of those negative aspects.

Q: Thank you for taking to time out of your busy schedule to cooperate with us.

Kisshomaru Ueshiba at Aikikai Hombu Dojo in 1967Kisshomaru Ueshiba at the old Aikikai Hombu Dojo

Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

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Aikido und die schwebende Himmelsbrücke [German Version] Mon, 02 Oct 2017 18:06:37 +0000 Die Götter Izanagi und Izanami auf der schwebenden Himmelsbrücke, aus der Reihe “Eine illustrierte Geschichte Japans” von Utagawa Hiroshige, ca. 1847-1852 Honolulu Academy of Arts *This is a German translation of the article  “Aikido and the Floating Bridge of Heaven“, provided courtesy of Ian Eisterer. Izanagi und Izanami auf der Brücke, die Himmel und Erde verbindet Die “schwebende Himmelsbrücke“ (“Ame no Uki Hashi”) ist ein wichtiger … Continue reading Aikido und die schwebende Himmelsbrücke [German Version] »

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The Gods Izanagi and Izanami on the Floating Bridge of Heaven

Die Götter Izanagi und Izanami
auf der schwebenden Himmelsbrücke,

aus der Reihe “Eine illustrierte Geschichte Japans”
von Utagawa Hiroshige, ca. 1847-1852

Honolulu Academy of Arts

*This is a German translation of the article  “Aikido and the Floating Bridge of Heaven“, provided courtesy of Ian Eisterer.

Izanagi und Izanami auf der Brücke, die Himmel und Erde verbindet

Die “schwebende Himmelsbrücke“ (“Ame no Uki Hashi”) ist ein wichtiger Bestandteil des japanischen Schöpfungsmythos.

Laut dem Kojiki (“Bericht alter Angelegenheiten”), riefen die ersten Götter zwei himmlische Wesen ins Dasein – das männliche Prinzip Izanagi (“Der Mann der einlädt”/ 伊邪那岐) und das weibliche Prinzip Izanami (“die Frau die einlädt”/ 伊邪那美命). Diese zwei Wesen wurden damit beauftragt, die ersten Landmassen zu erschaffen. Sie nahmen einen mit Juwelen besetzten Speer und standen auf der schwebenden Himmelbrücke über dem Wasser und rührten damit im Meer bis ein Wirbel entstand. Vom Speer fallende Salzwassertropfen verwandelten sich in die ersten Inseln, worauf Izanagi und Izanami von der Brücke an Land gingen.

Es gibt noch viel mehr darüber zu sagen (das Kojiki ist eine großartige Geschichte, eine der ersten Soap Operas der Welt), aber kehren wir zur Bedeutung für das Aikido zurück.

Hier bezieht sich der Gründer des Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, auf die schwebende Himmelsbrücke, Ame no Uki Hashi:


Es wird gesagt, Aikido sei das „Stehen auf der schwebenden Himmelsbrücke”.

Dies ist einer jener poetischen Sätze des Gründers, den die Leute lieben – und kurz danach wieder vergessen, ohne sich zu fragen, ob O-Sensei implizit (oder gar explizit) auf eines der wichtigsten Prinzipien seiner Kunst hingewiesen haben könnte (Aikido; vielleicht schon mal davon gehört?).

Ist es überhaupt wichtig? Vielleicht nicht – die Prinzipien zu verstehen, macht einen nicht notwendigerweise besser, wenn es darum geht, eine gewisse Aktivität auszuüben, egal ob Ballett oder Fussball. Andererseits kann ein Verständnis der Prinzipien dabei behilflich sein, herauszufinden, welche Aspekte des eigenen Trainings man noch verbessern kann. Es eröffnet oft auch völlig neue Perspektiven.

Wenn Du ein Aikidoka bist, ist es für mich auch selbstverständlich, dass Du daran interessiert sein solltest, was der Gründer zu sagen hatte. Ich denke sogar, dass alle Aikidoka eigentlich eine Verantwortung haben, seine Aussprüche zumindest zu verstehen versuchen und ihnen so gut es geht auf den Grund zu gehen.

Wenn Du kein Aikidoka bist – nun ja, ich setze mich mit vielen Sachen auseinander, die nicht von Aikidoka geschrieben wurden, die aber sehr interessante Dinge machen, die mich interessieren und über die ich mehr wissen will, selbst wenn ich nicht immer verstehe, worüber sie reden, da es mir hilft zu verstehen, wo meine Grenzen liegen. Du kannst mir glauben, wenn jemand wie Chen Xiaowang Informationen ausgibt, werde ich zumindest vorbeischauen.

Zurück zu Morihei Ueshiba – hier spricht er noch direkter an, warum ihm das so wichtig ist:


Was den Weg (Do) anbelangt, muss man zuerst auf der schwebenden Himmelsbrücke stehen. Wenn man nicht auf der schwebenden Himmelsbrücke steht, wird Aiki nicht hervorkommen.

Das klingt ziemlich endgültig – keine schwebende Himmelsbrücke, kein Aiki. Und natürlich weiters – kein Aiki, kein Aikido.

Was also ist “Aiki”? Im Blogeintrag, “Aikido without peace or harmony“, haben wir versucht, eine brauchbare Übersetzung der Begriffe “Aiki” und “Take Musu Aiki” zu finden, und was wir schlussendlich als gut befunden haben ist:

“Gegensätzliche Kräfte mit Ki vereinen und die anziehenden Kräfte trainieren, die dadurch entstehen.”

Sehen wir mal, wie sich das mit der schwebenden Himmelsbrücke verträgt.

Aus dem obigen Zitat wissen wir, dass Morihei Ueshiba die schwebende Himmelsbrücke für eine Bedingung hält, ohne die Aiki nicht hergestellt warden kann. Das wird noch klarer wenn der Gründer folgendes sagt:


Die schwebende Himmelsbrücke ist der Ursprung der Grundlage für das himmlische Take Musu Aiki.

Jetzt sollte es langsam klarer warden (hoffe ich) – auf der schwebenden Himmelsbrücke zu stehen, ist eine notwendige Bedingung für Aikido, da es die Grundlage für Take Musu Aiki ist (“Gegensätzliche Kräfte mit Ki vereinen und die anziehenden Kräfte trainieren, die dadurch entstehen.” siehe oben). Sehen wir uns an, wie die Brücke gebaut wird:


Es wird gesagt, Aikido sei das “Stehen auf der schwebenden Himmelsbrücke”. Die schwebende Himmelsbrücke ist sich drehendes, verbundenes Feuer und Wasser. Feuer bewegt Wasser, Wasser wird durch Feuer bewegt. Feuer und Wasser sind eins. Sie drehen sich in einer Spirale. Sie sind durch Ki verflochten. Das ist etwas, das durch den Atem (“iki”) hervorgebracht wird. Dieser Atem (“iki”) ist Aiki.

Wir kommen der Sache näher – “Feuer” und “Wasser” stehen für gegensätzliche “In” und “Yo” Kräfte. In “Aikido without peace or harmony” haben wir gesehen, wie wichtig die gegensätzlichen Kräfte sind, die durch Ki verbunden oder verflochten werden. O-Sensei sagt, dass “Take Musu” das trainieren von “Inryoku” (“anziehender Kraft”) sei, welches dann entsteht, wenn gegensätzliche Kräft durch Ki verbunden werden.

Nun sehen wir, dass die schwebende Himmelsbrücke, da sie ja durch verbundene gegensätzliche Kräfte entsteht, in der Tat als Grundlage des “Take Musu Aiki” betrachtet werden kann.

In diesem Zitat aus “Aikido without peace or harmony” geht es ebenfalls um die Verbindung von gegensätzlichen Kräften:


Oben der Klang des “A” und unten der Klang des “O” – Gegensätze, verbunden mit Ki, wo anziehende Kraft (“Inryoku”) entsteht.

Sehen wir uns die Laute genauer an, und wie sie von Morihei Ueshiba als Erinnerungsstütze verwendet wurden.

Die “schwebende Himmelsbrücke” (天の浮橋) ist “AME-NO-U-UKI-HASHI” und enthält alle Grundvokale“ A I U E O” (vielleicht hast Du diese Laute schon mal bei Misogi-Uebungen gehört). Die Laute sind eine Gedächtnisstütze um zu verstehen, wie die schwebende Himmelsbrücke Himmel und Erde verbindet:

A: 天(ア) 高天原    TA・KA・A・MA・HA・RA
“Die hohe Ebene des Himmels” ist selbst eine Gedächtnisstütze, die wir ein andermal unter die Lupe nehmen werden.

I: 火(イ)

U: 結(ウ) 産       MU・SU
Das “Tai-Kyoku” bzw. das “grosse Ultimative” verbindet Feuer und Wasser, Himmel und Erde. Auch die Verbindung, das “Musu” in “Takemusu”

E: 水(エ)

O: 地(オ) 淤能碁呂島 O・NO・KO・RO
“Erde”, eigentlich “die Insel Onokoro”, die ursprüngliche Insel Japans, von jenen Göttern gestaltet, die auf der schwebenden Himmelsbrücke standen.

Hier ist es – eine saubere Beschreibung der schwebenden Brücke. Zufälligerweise (oder vielleicht nicht so zufällig) ist es auch eine gute Beschreibung der chinesischen Trainingsmethode Himmel-Erde-Mensch, die wir in “Aikido without peace or harmony“ beschrieben haben.

Ten-Chi-Jin, Heaven-Earth-Man

aus den illustrierten Erläuterungen des
Taijiquan der Chen Familie

Wenn man beide vergleicht, kann man sehen dass die schwebende Himmelsbrücke und Himmel-Erde-Mensch die selbe Übungsmethode beschreiben.

Die oben genannte Folge von Lauten beschreibt das Konzept der körperlichen Methode der schwebenden Himmelsbrücke (auch als “Himmel-Erde-Mensch” bekannt). Diese Laute wurden von Morihei Ueshiba oft anders angeordnet um unterschiedliche Ideen darzustellen. Beispielsweise wurden die Laute in einer anderen Reihenfolge angeordnet, um den Fortschritt des spirituellen Trainings und seiner Entwicklung auszudrücken. Eventuell werde ich darauf in einem anderen Beitrag eingehen, aber ich möchte es jetzt erwähnen, um Verwirrung zu vermeiden.

Es macht nichts, wenn man nicht selber auf das draufkommt – nicht jeder hat begriffen, was vor sich ging in den Momenten in denen Ueshiba Silbenlaute vor sich hin sang um sie als Gedächtnisstützen zu verwenden und seinen Erklärungen noch eine zusätzliche Bedeutungsebene zu verleihen – hier ist ein Zitat von Koichi Tohei:

Ich habe Aikido von Morihei Ueshiba gelernt, indem ich zuerst geübt und erst danach Fragen gestellt habe. Ueshiba Sensei war ein Meister des Ki, sowie der Gründer des Aikido. Er war aber auch ein überzeugter Anhänger der Omotokyo Religion, und dies hatte eine grossen Einfluss auf seine Art, Aikido zu unterrichten. Es war oft unmöglich seine esoterischen Erklärungen zu verstehen. Ich habe die Übungen die er uns gab gründlich trainiert, auch wenn viele dieser Übungen aus der Omotokyo Religion kamen und uns als sinnlos erschienen. Beispielsweise wurde von uns erwartet, das Alphabet in einer anderen Reihenfolge zu rezitieren. Anstelle der üblichen Reihenfolge der Japanischen Vokale “AIUEO” mussten wir sie endlos als “AOUEI” aufsagen, als ob diese neue Reihenfolge eine tiefere Bedeutung hätte.

Wir sehen dass diese gegensätzlichen Kräfte, durch Ki vereint, einander in durchgehenden Spiralen verstärken. Wir sehen auch, dass Ueshiba über “iki” spricht, was auch sehr wichtig ist, wir aber hier nicht besprechen können. Kannst Du dich an diese Spiralen aus “Morihei Ueshiba, Budo and Kamae“ erinnern?

Chen Silk Reeling, front view

Chen Silk Reeling, back view

aus “Illustrated Explanations of Chen Family Taijiquan”

Hier oben wird im Chen Tai Chi der selbe Prozess beschrieben den Morihei Ueshiba beschreibt, wenn er von der schwebenden Himmelsbrücke spricht: die positiven und negative Spiralen, die sich durch den Körper winden (Fluss und gegen-Fluss von Shun und Ni.

Und noch ein Zitat von Morihei Ueshiba:


Die linke Hand ist Izanagi, die rechte ist Izanami, in der Mitte ist Ame-no-minakanushi, das bist Du selbst. Das ist auf der schwebenden Himmelsbrücke Stehen und sich in einer Spirale drehen. Das wird Taka-ama-hara genannt. Himmel und Erde bilden eine Einheit, Wasser und Feuer sind auch eine Einheit, alles erscheint durch Iki (Atem). Dies ist das endlose Erscheinen der Kami. Aiki-Techniken entstehen ohne Ende.

Izanagai und Izanami, die zwei Götter, welche auf der schwebenden Himmelsbrücke standen und die Welt erschufen, stehen für In und Yo, so wie in diesem sehr ähnlichen Doka von Morihei Ueshiba:


Offenbare Yo (Yang) in der rechten Hand, verwandle die linke Hand in In (Yin) und führe den Gegner.

Ame-no-minakanushi war die erste Gottheit, die im Himmel erschien – mit anderen Worten, der “Chef” der in der Mitte steht.

Ueshiba sagt, dass Du selbst der “Chef” bist – so wie in 我即宇宙・宇宙即我 ”Ich bin das Universum, das Universum ist ich.” Das ist ein sehr einfacher, aber sehr wichtiger Punkt. Es ist ein weiteres jener poetischen Zitate, das Leute lieben, ohne jemals daran gedacht zu haben, dass es eine der wichtigsten technischen Anweisungen ist, die er gegeben hat.

Der “Chef” steht auf der schwebenden Himmelsbrücke, vereint die gegensätzlichen Kräfte von In und Yo und bewegt sich in einer Spirale. Interessanterweise werden die Bewegung der beiden Götter Izanagi und Izanami als sie sich vereinten und paarten oft als Spirale dargestellt. Außerdem wurde eine Spirale bzw. ein Wirbel erschaffen, als Izanagi mit dem Juwelenbesetzten Speer im Meer rührte, um Land zu erschaffen.

Dieser Zustand, sagt O-Sensei, auf der schwebenden Himmelsbrücke stehen und die gegensätzlichen In-Yo Käfte vereinen und sich in Spiralen bewegen, ist Taka-ama-hara – der Himmel. Wie in “Aikido and the Structure of the Universe“ bereits erwähnt, ist dies ein Zustand, der sich laut O-Sensei in Dir befindet. Mit anderen Worten, Aiki ist ein Zustand der in Deinem eigenen Körper und Geist erschaffen wird.

Dies ist etwas völlig anderes als eine Situation, in der Aiki als sich-an-eine-äussere-Gegebenheit (Partner, Gegner) Anpassen definiert wird. Es bestärkt auch die Erkenntnis, die wir oben gewonnen haben – Du selbst bist der “Chef”.

Um zusammenzufassen: die schwebende Himmelsbrücke, auch als Himmel-Erde-Mensch (“Tenchijin”) bekannt, besteht darin, einen Zustand in sich selbst zu erzeugen, in dem man in der Lage ist, gegensätzliche Kräfte zu verbinden und diese Verbindung als Spiralen und Schrauben durch den Körper auszudrücken.

Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

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Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Morihiro Saito Sensei, Part 3 Fri, 01 Sep 2017 20:40:26 +0000 Morihiro Saito and Morihei Ueshiba in Iwama “Traditional Aikido – volume 2” While he was working for the former Japan National Railways, Morihiro Saito Sensei lived in the Iwama Dojo compound, taking care of O Sensei and the Aiki Shrine and teaching in the Iwama Dojo. Sensei was devoted to O Sensei and for this I respect him. I often met Saito Sensei when I … Continue reading Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Morihiro Saito Sensei, Part 3 »

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Morihiro Saito and Morihei Ueshiba in IwamaMorihiro Saito and Morihei Ueshiba in Iwama
“Traditional Aikido – volume 2”

While he was working for the former Japan National Railways, Morihiro Saito Sensei lived in the Iwama Dojo compound, taking care of O Sensei and the Aiki Shrine and teaching in the Iwama Dojo. Sensei was devoted to O Sensei and for this I respect him. I often met Saito Sensei when I accompanied O Sensei to Iwama and during preparations for the Aiki festival. O Sensei was always there, so I don’t have any memories of taking any of Saito Sensei’s classes.

O Sensei was more than 75, so his techniques and movements had fully matured. Kisshomaru Sensei wasn’t around, and the techniques and movements changed. In one direction, Saito Sensei absorbed completely the movements and techniques that O Sensei had taught when he was healthy and strong. Since O Sensei lived in Iwama which had the Aiki Shrine as well, I think in that context it is proper to speak of “preserving the traditional Aikido of Iwama.” The Iwama Dojo was located in a large garden-like compound which was needed to practice ken and jo. O Sensei would teach ken and jo however he felt inclined, and then the next day would do something completely different. It was owing to the genius of Saito Sensei that an easy to understand system of teaching jo and ken was established. My dojo’s Igarashi Sensei cooperated with Saito Sensei’s publication of his book on jo and ken. When I was shown the first edition of the book, I noticed there was no photograph of O Sensei. I said something about this to Saito Sensei and he replied that he had no good photographs of O Sensei. Good photographic equipment wasn’t so readily available in those days. In the second edition appears photographs of O Sensei which I gave to Saito Sensei.

With this kind of connection, Aikido Kobayashi Dojos have incorporated regular ken and jo practice. Saito Sensei highly praised us for this. Today, in overseas seminars, everyone has their own jo and ken; this is Saito Sensei’s legacy.
Yasuo Kobayashi talking about Morihiro Saito in “Aikido, My Way

Morihiro Saito Sensei was born on March 31st, 1928 and passed away on May 13th, 2002. For more than twenty years during that time he trained directly under Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, one of his closest and longest serving students.

Morihiro Saito acted as the guardian of the Aiki Shrine until his passing in 2002. He is famous for his dedication to preserving the exact form of Morihei Ueshiba’s techniques as he was taught them during his training under him in Iwama.

This is the third  section of the English translation of a three part interview that originally appeared in “Answers from Budoka” (“Budoka no Kotae” / 武道家の答え), published by BAB Japan in 2006. You may wish to read Part 1 and Part 2 before reading this section.

Morihiro Saito - "Traditional Aikido - volume 2"Morihiro Saito – “Traditional Aikido – volume 2”

Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Morihiro Saito Sensei, Part 3

Q: Was it possible that he had some goal in mind?

A: No, that’s not it. He was angry. Because even though he would tell them to practice precisely and sharply they would only do flowing training. It annoyed them when the Founder said that and scolded them, so they would call and say “Saito-san, tell him that something came up and call him (the Founder) home”. When O-Sensei was there they’d say “That annoying old man is here”. So the Founder’s feelings finally snapped and he stopped teaching there.

Q: Something like “Respect from a safe distance” (敬して遠ざける)?

A: That’s right. For that reason, when he returned here he would stamp his feet and yell. Things like “Unacceptable!” (なっとらん!).

Kisshomaru Ueshiba at Aikikai Hombu DojoNi-Dai Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba at Aikikai Hombu Dojo

The establishment of Hombu style

Q: How did things get that way?

A: I believe that it was caused by the sudden emergence of Aikido into the world after the end of the war. Because those demonstrations showed it in a really beautiful manner. For that reason people flocked to Aikido, and since they showed those people flowing movement everybody was happy. So because of that people said that Aikido is an enjoyable Budo, it’s beautiful, it’s smooth and attractive.

So Hombu Dojo, for that reason, had a temporary golden age. During that time people who were second or third dan scattered across the world. They said that they wanted to make a name for themselves. That is the Hombu Style that foreigners talk about. I followed another path of static training without doing that, so people around the world call that Iwama Style. They became international terms. A division that came about inside the same Aikido.

“Iwama Style” is first known overseas

Q: Is Iwama Style something special?

A: Some people don’t like it, you know, those from Tokyo. Or even from the country areas. So there are a lot of enemies. Even though when one speaks of Iwama Style one is speaking of the Founder’s style…

Q: Was it the same overseas?

A: However, I was rescued by the discovery of that book by the Founder. That book…that researcher into the history of Aiki from America, he found it in the countryside. That book proved that what I am doing is correct.

Morihiro Saito teaching from the 1938 technical manual "Budo"Morihiro Saito teaching from the 1938 technical manual “Budo

Q: You must have been happy?

A: I was ecstatic! That’s why i carry that copy, and wherever I go I show it to people and say “There you are! Look at this, this is how I am teaching you”. When you compare the training, in the end it slaps them in the face. Aikido began from this Founder, and when you explain this clearly everybody is happy. There was someone from Switzerland who came the other day, tomorrow someone from Canada, they’re throwing away the techniques that they’ve been learning for fifteen years and starting over again from the beginning. I really have to give them credit.

Q: It’s significant that they even had the strength to make that realization, isn’t it? How about the Japanese instructors?

A: As you might expect, one issue is that without financial strength, making the changeover is difficult. Other than that, there are doctors, people running companies, and people who have their own jobs who are realizing that this is different from the Aikido that they have done previously and are devoting themselves to making a changeover. For that reason, I take precisely what I was taught by the Founder, make it easy to understand, and have them study it.

Q: Will you publish a book about that some day?

A: I’m thinking about it.

Q: Who is this? (pointing to the Founder’s book)

A: The Founder used that name at times. He’d use the name Tsunemori (常盛) or Moritaka (守高), but the name that appears in his family register is Morihei (盛平).

Q: Is this the original?

A: No, it’s a copy.

Q: I see, the reproduction is very good. Is there an original copy someplace else?

A: This name here is the name of the person to whom it was given. This was not made public in Tokyo. Perhaps the Ueshiba family has it.

This book is proof that I have been practicing honestly, Ha-ha-ha, it really helped me out. From that time I carry it with me whenever I go out in the world, Because from here this has changed again. I can explain the changes.

Morihiro Saito - "Traditional Aikido - volume 3"Morihiro Saito – “Traditional Aikido – volume 3”

Tales of experiences with Aikido (武勇伝)

“Train sincerely in the basics – the power found in them is kokyu-ryoku, Ki is there, Ki is extended, this will be the result.”

Q: By the way, this is a lower level question, but this book is targeted at a general readership who will be happy even with a casual discussion, so may I ask you some of those types of questions?

A: Even now we use these training methods, so in the end I think that I would like people to enjoy what they are reading.

Q: Yes, that’s right, isn’t it? For example, if you will excuse me, if you have some stories of a time that you were caught up in a fight related to Aikido, or a “tale of heroism” (武勇伝), or a story of a spiritual experience, then I would like to ask you about them.

Stanley Pranin and Morihiro SaitoAikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin translating for Morihiro Saito

A: I don’t know what you mean by spiritual, but Aikido training has conditioning in breath power (“kokyu-ryoku”), this is an extremely logical method of expressing power.

One night at Chichibu Station there was a fireworks display. About twenty people missed their chance to ride the last train and were in the station’s waiting room.

At that time someone who looked like a yakuza grabbed a young man wearing a business suit by the lapels and started pushing him around. So I said “Hey you, stop that!”, but he wouldn’t stop! Then when I grabbed the arm of the person who looked like a yakuza he let go of the other person and started grappling with me. So I took a step back, put my hand slightly under his chin and went to throw him. When I swept him with my right leg he flew straight backwards and hit his head on the concrete – he lost consciousness. The railway police came right away, so I passed him over to them.

That kind of kokyu-ryoku is what people talk about when they say things like “extend Ki”, but in the end Ki isn’t something special. Train sincerely in the basics – the power found in them is kokyu-ryoku, Ki is there, Ki is extended, this will be the result. When entering through theory without doing the actual techniques one cannot really realize this.

Q: If that is done, when a person surpasses a certain level will they be able to flip an opponent’s body over lightly just by touching them?

A: That’s if one is following the principles strictly, and if the situation at the time allows for it.

People who can match that skillfully with whatever technique is being used are skillful at Aikido. The person who takes the angle rationally is a strong person.

Morihiro Saito and Morihei Ueshiba - 1954Morihiro Saito and Morihei Ueshiba – 1954

Q: When the opponent is an older person, or someone who’s body is stiff, no matter how skillful one is their way of falling will be unnatural – don’t they ever get injured?

A: There are often people who take pride in injuring others during Aikido training, but if one does it carefully they can become skillful without causing injury. The Founder almost never injured anybody! He taught us like beginners until our ukemi gradually became skillful and then skillfully led us into the bigger throws. When people like children fell he would put his hand under their head as he threw – it was really tender behavior.

As to other stories… Aikido begins with hanmi. If one steps forward, if one steps backward, if one opens or moves forward. I had in experience related to this.

At one time I was employed by the Japan National Railway. The tracks have inbound lines, center lines and outbound lines. On that day, I went out for a task at an engine that had stopped on the center line. At that time the steam engine was puffing steam, and since it was the middle of winter I couldn’t see anything at all. I was standing just at the point of the inbound line. Then, and I don’t really understand this myself, I suddenly jumped out of the way and landed in left-hanmi. You see, I had moved my body out of the way of the train. In that instant, an express train from Aomori passed by on the inbound line.

Q: Wow!

A: The crewmen knew that I was out there, so they thought that I had already been run over. But I was just standing there calmly, so both the crewmen and the people standing on the platform were astonished. I still don’t understand how or why I jumped out of the way or how I sensed that the train was coming. Once the express train passed my knees started knocking. How many years ago was that…it was in my twenties. There are times when human being’s knees actually knock, aren’t there? I was the one who was most surprised.

Q: That was a at a time when you had not yet mastered Aikido, right?

A: But that jumping tai-sabaki matches Aikido methods. I really don’t understand. What did I sense, it was just a short instant of time – conversely, if I had sensed that something was coming I think that might have become unable to move! It must be because I didn’t understand what was happening that I was able to move out of the way.

Q: Did you gain a deeper understanding of the principles of Aikido from that time?

A: Well, it’s something that could have happened to anybody…

Q: Or it may be that it was one of those spiritual experiences that we spoke about previously, don’t you think?

A: I think so. If I had put that tai-sabaki into practice after I became skillful then it wouldn’t have been anything. There was one time that I happened to get caught up in an odd situation.

Q: When was that?

A: Well, about thirty years ago, I think. One day I was drinking with a friend, and we were walking down the street bar hopping when there was a fellow making noise about how his motorcycle wouldn’t start. So, we thought we’d take a look at it, but when we touched the motorcycle all of a sudden we were surrounded. They were from some Kumi (Note: a yakuza group) from some construction site in Asakusa, it seemed that they had been in a fight with some local young people, beat them up and were chasing after them. The motorcycle belonged to their group, and they thought that I had come to get even with them. Hey! Hey! They came at us. Well, we had to protect ourselves (Note: “You have to sweep off the falling sparks” – in other words, protect yourself from possible dangers).

Q: How many of them were there?

A: Coming directly at us there were two people, but we were pretty drunk. I don’t remember a thing, but it seems that I threw them quite a distance while hardly touching them at all. When you are throwing, there are ways to throw so that they can take ukemi, or so that they can’t take ukemi. Because the others were just regular people who had started a fight….

With regards to sempai who force a throw even in training, it would be rude not to take ukemi so one forces themselves to take the ukemi, and then they get injured. I think that those people who injure others have no room in their hearts. Those people who have room in their hearts have feelings of consideration in the midst of their severity and will not cause injuries. People who cause injuries are practicing in an overbearing manner, and in that manner there is a contradiction with the principles, so I think that I would like them to study that area more. I’m not very good at speaking, so I can’t express it well…

Morihiro Saito reading "Budo"Morihiro Saito reading “Budo

The basic training of Aikido is static training

Q: Well, this has been really interesting. By the way, when I watch skillful people training together in Aikido they get thrown quite a distance. Or is it that they are purposefully trying to show something?

A: Do you see training like that? Well, people who train while taking that big ukemi are all weak.

When training in the real basics we don’t allow them to take big ukemi. I throw without allowing them to take big ukemi and then after they fall we hold them down. Some throw partway through. Then the person throwing is already done with their task, and the person being thrown is released there. But in the basics one holds them down until the very end, one does not release their Ki until the very end. It’s there that there is a difference in the degree of conditioning. Here (the Founder’s book, mentioned previously) it is too, in this technique everybody takes the big ukemi but even in this throw he is holding them down. This is basic in Aikido.

Q: Thank you for such a valuable discussion. I hope that many Budo shugyosha will find it a helpful reference.

Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI


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Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Morihiro Saito Sensei, Part 2 Fri, 04 Aug 2017 20:05:22 +0000 Morihiro Saito – Traditional Aikido Volume 4 When O-Sensei was not in Iwama, I was in charge of the teaching. I do not know who taught in Hombu dojo when O-Sensei was not there for obvious reasons, I was in Iwama. I rarely went to Hombu dojo. During 1960-61 O-Sensei was very vital. He then sometimes went to Tokyo to teach Aikido, though not many … Continue reading Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Morihiro Saito Sensei, Part 2 »

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Morihiro Saito - Traditional Aikido Volume 4Morihiro Saito – Traditional Aikido Volume 4

When O-Sensei was not in Iwama, I was in charge of the teaching. I do not know who taught in Hombu dojo when O-Sensei was not there for obvious reasons, I was in Iwama. I rarely went to Hombu dojo. During 1960-61 O-Sensei was very vital. He then sometimes went to Tokyo to teach Aikido, though not many days would pass before students of the Hombu Dojo called me asking me to take O-Sensei home! O-Sensei was giving them a hard time, scolding them for not practising the correct way. In Iwama O-Sensei used to do his own practise in the mornings and then I was the only student to take part. In return for his special teaching I worked in O-Sensei’s farm.

Interview with Morihiro Saito Sensei by Mats Alexandersson

Morihiro Saito Sensei was born on March 31, 1928 in a farming village near the Iwama dojo where he would spend more than twenty years training directly with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Due to his 24-hour on and 24-hour off working shift with the Japanese National Railroad he was able to spend long periods of time alone with Morihei Ueshiba as his student and training partner – particularly as the Founder formulated his post-war system of weapons training. Early morning classes were devoted to prayer at the Aiki Shrine followed by weapons practice, the study of Aiki-Ken and Aiki-Jo and their relationship to empty-handed techniques.

Morihiro Saito acted as the guardian of the Aiki Shrine until his passing in 2002. He is famous for his dedication to preserving the exact form of Morihei Ueshiba’s techniques as he was taught them during his training under him in Iwama.

This is the second  section of the English translation of a three part interview that originally appeared in “Answers from Budoka” (“Budoka no Kotae” / 武道家の答え), published by BAB Japan in 2006. You may wish to read Part 1 before reading this section.

Morihiro Saito and Morihei Ueshiba - Tanren Uchi in 1955Morihiro Saito and Morihei Ueshiba
Tanren Uchi (“forge cutting”) in Iwama, 1955

Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Morihiro Saito Sensei, Part 2

Q: Is that everyday?

A: Yes. Mondays and holidays are off, but there are no days off for the uchi-deshi. They have training in the morning, for the first half of the day. In the evening, together with the sumi-komi (live-in) students, about thirty of forty students gather together.

Q: The dojo must get full, doesn’t it?

A: Right now there are ten people with just the sumi-komi students alone. They take their meals here, and they just reimburse us for the actual costs. But when they cook together a lot of problems come up! They come from different countries, there are people who don’t eat meat, or people who don’t eat fish.

Q: Especially with religious considerations, foreigners who are looking into things like Zen often don’t eat meat or fish, right?

A: That’s why I make it a condition of entrance that they not bring religion or politics with them. There are places in foreign countries that fight wars over religious differences, but here we function with absolutely no relation to that. The Kami-sama are enshrined in the dojo, but those Kami-sama have a connection to Budo that is not religious. They have been worshipped by warriors since ancient times, so there is no religious atmosphere. Everybody faces the front without reluctance, bows and claps their hands before starting practice.

Q: What about you? Is there some religion like Soto Zen Buddhism that has been passed down to you from your ancestors?

Morihei Ueshiba's grave in Kozanji Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba’s grave in Kozanji

A: I was born into Shingon Buddhism, but there was no cemetery at that temple. A Soto Zen Buddhist temple nearby made a nice cemetery, so after I moved there I became a Soto Zen Buddhist. The Founder is now buried in a Shingon Buddhist temple in Tanabe, Wakayama called Kozanji (高山寺). One of his last wishes was “make me a grave here”, but for some reason Ni-Dai (Kisshomaru Ueshiba) had a grave in Wakayama Prefecture. That’s why people can’t take a day trip to visit the grave. It’s really pretty tough to get all the way to Wakayama.

In my case, since this was the Founder’s dojo, I believed that it is my responsibility to transmit what I was taught by the Founder. At one time a lot of things were said, but opinions have changed, and the number of requests to come here have greatly increased.

We first built a foundation of static training (個体稽古). Then the method built in stages into flowing techniques and then throwing without touching.

Q: Both here and Hombu Dojo must each have their own good points, this is is a wonderful place, isn’t it?

A: Any path is the same, but in those days the method of teaching was differentiated depending upon the dojo.

Q: Differentiated in what way?

A: Rather than saying that it was differentiated, it may be that the teaching became differentiated. In the end, in a place where one teaches for four days, or a place where one teaches for one week, or a place where one teaches 365 days a year the method of teaching changes.

Q: How was the teaching done here?

A: As you might expect, we first built a foundation of static training (個体稽古). Then the method built in stages into flowing techniques and then throwing without touching. Flowing techniques were from third-dan, so in the beginning we were only allowed to do static training, but now flowing training is the primary focus in Tokyo.

When one uses strength in Tokyo they get scolded. That’s the difference. We were taught to hold on strongly, to hold firmly in grabbing techniques.

Further, the Founder always emphasized strongly in his teaching that the sword, the staff and empty hand techniques are one thing. We are doing it that way, but in Tokyo the sword and the staff are not taught at all.

Q: Not at all?

A: They don’t teach it at all. For that reason, the fact of the matter is that high ranking students in Tokyo go to Iaido to learn the sword, or Muso-ryu (Shinto Muso-ryu Jodo) to learn the staff. The Founder did not teach either the sword or the staff in Tokyo. Here he taught everything from the basics on up…. We’re in the middle of student camps right now, students from Osaka Prefecture University were here and tonight students from Tokushima University will be coming. We’ll continue with the camps until the beginning of April.

Meiji University GasshukuAikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba with students from Meiji University in Iwama
Yasuo Kobayashi – front, second from right

Q: How many people come from each university?

A: If too many come then we can’t accommodate them, so we limit it to about twenty people. Ibaraki University, Japan University, MIyagi University of Education, Tohoku University, Iwate University, Hirosaki University, the other day the students from Osaka Prefecture University went home, tonight Tokushima University comes, and when they’re finished Kanagawa University and Aichi University will come and then we’ll finally be done.

Three or four nights, or at the most five nights. We have all of the necessities for preparing meals, so the students go shopping and cook their own food.

Q: And they are normally each taught by the shihan in their area?

A: Yes, that’s right.

Q: Are those shihan very junior to you?

A: Yes, there aren’t very many people senior to me.

Q: It must be very exciting for them to come here, isn’t it?

A: Of course, since this was the dojo where the Founder performed his shugyo. But was that Tanabe? Some place inconvenient. Ha-ha-ha, in the morning they train outside swinging the sword and the staff. In the evening they train with the regular students. So there are more than sixty people and nobody can move! Ha-ha-ha-ha.

Q: Is that so?

A: Previously we had thirty-six mats (Note: tatami mats, about three feet by six feet each), but when the students began to come, the Founder in his later years said to expand that and we expanded the mat space. This is sixy mats, and I’m feeling that it would be good to have at least a hundred. But there are methods of training, no matter how tight the space is.

“The basic principle of Aikido is just to attack.”

Q: Is exchanging techniques with the ordinary students helpful to you?

A: For that reason, they go home happy.

Q: How does that work? In terms of level.

A: Depending upon the school it can be very different. Also, the teachers who bring students here are very broad minded! Because there are also many shihan who tell their students not to come here. Many of those are in Hombu in Tokyo – “Don’t go to Iwama!”, they say. A shihan at one of the universities is also an instructor at Hombu, but he says “Don’t go to Iwama!” and doesn’t allow his students to come here. Because we do static training here. When they learn and then go home it’s difficult to train with them.

Q: Subtle differences emerge?

A: Yes, they do. It’s a little embarrassing to talk about, but all paths tend to split in multiple directions…

Q: Looking at things in the long term, are there clear differences and destinations depending upon whether one does static practice or soft practice?

A: A clear result emerges! Oh yes, during combined training, it can be clearly seen there. It’s not even worth arguing about.

Shomenuchi - Budo 1938Morihei Ueshiba initiates with an attack
Budo – Moritaka Ueshiba’s 1938 Technical Manual

The Budo in which one attacks first

Q: By the way, many people say “in the Budo called Aikido there are no attacking techniques.”?

A: No, that’s ridiculous, the basic principle of Aikido is just to attack. Rather than talking about striking, by “attack” we mean that the basic principle is to strike the opponent and draw them out. It’s not a crushing blow, one enters in flash and when the opponent moves to counter they must extend their hand. To trap that hand is a basic principle.

Q: That makes sense, doesn’t it?

A: There are many places that don’t know this and practice by just waiting for the other person to come strike. The basic principle is different. Shomenuchi, you know, all starts with with an attack from my side. Like the example in this book, one strikes and moves forward, then grabs their chest.

Q: I see, One strikes from their side and then makes them receive the attack…this is a precondition.

A: Also right here in the Founder’s book it says “Move forward from your side and attack”. Recently people from that other school all said there are no attacks in Aikido, but that is mistaken. The basic principle is to attack… It is said “There is no defense that surpasses an attack” (攻撃に勝る防御なし) – at least in the case of shomenuchi, that is an attack.

Q: Is what you’re calling an attack different than what you’d see in the case of combat sports?

A: It’s different. It’s a matter of drawing out the opponent’s Ki, or absorbing their feelings, or matching with them, or connecting with them, and then controlling them.

Self Defense Forces Demonstration 1955Demonstration for the Jieitai (“Self Defense Forces)
Morihiro Saito and Morihei Ueshiba, 1955

Aikido is bodywork like swordwork
(and swordwork like bodywork)

Q: When you do that, is it also possible to explain that in the context of the so-called combat arts?

A: Yes, when one really moves in accordance to the principles, the movement of one against many is connected to the handling of the sword, and connected to the movements of the staff. For that reason, in Aikido one must also train in sword and staff that is specifically for Aikido. Whichever one you omit, your Aikido will not be complete.

It may be annoying for me to repeat this, but that group in Tokyo, perhaps because they have too much pride, don’t come here to learn. They learn the sword through Iaido and the staff through Muso-ryu. In Iaido it’s like the sword is put against the waist. In Aikido we do it while twisting the hips. It’s the opposite! In Iai one thrusts the hips forward and then draws them back in a flash, but in the sword of Aikido we twist the hips and pull.

Iaido is a wonderful Budo, but in the case of Aikido the meaning and the goals are different, so they are incompatible. Further, in the end the method of using the staff in Aikido and Muso-ryu is different. Because in Aikido the unified principles of bodywork like swordwork and swordwork like bodywork are one.

Q: Here everything is like that?

A: That’s how we are doing it. This may be the only place in the world. However, the Founder taught everything from these kinds of basics here, he didn’t teach them in Tokyo.

Continued in Part 3…

Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

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Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Morihiro Saito Sensei, Part 1 Sat, 22 Jul 2017 21:25:49 +0000 Morihiro Saito (left) with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba and his wife Hatsu Iwama – 1955, San-dai Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba (4 years old) seated middle 「バカモノ! まだ技をかけてないのに勝手に転びやがって!ここは本部ではない!開祖の合気道は、相手の協力なんかなくても倒れるように出来ているんだ!勝手に転ぶのではなく、倒されないように最後まで抵抗して掴め!開祖の合気道は武道なんだ!」 “Idiot! Falling down by yourself even though the technique hasn’t been applied yet! This isn’t Hombu! The Founder’s Aikido is made so that you can throw without the cooperation of the opponent! Don’t just fall down on your own, hold … Continue reading Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Morihiro Saito Sensei, Part 1 »

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Morihiro Saito in Iwama, 1955

Morihiro Saito (left) with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba and his wife Hatsu
Iwama – 1955, San-dai Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba (4 years old) seated middle

「バカモノ! まだ技をかけてないのに勝手に転びやがって!ここは本部ではない!開祖の合気道は、相手の協力なんかなくても倒れるように出来ているんだ!勝手に転ぶのではなく、倒されないように最後まで抵抗して掴め!開祖の合気道は武道なんだ!」

“Idiot! Falling down by yourself even though the technique hasn’t been applied yet! This isn’t Hombu! The Founder’s Aikido is made so that you can throw without the cooperation of the opponent! Don’t just fall down on your own, hold on and resist being thrown until the end! The Founder’s Aikido is Budo!”

One person’s experience upon meeting Morihiro Saito.

Morihiro Saito was born in Ibaraki Prefecture in 1928. Hearing tales of an “old man doing strange techniques up on the mountain near Iwama”, he became a student of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in 1946, at the age of eighteen and would train under him for the next twenty-three years.

His work schedule at the Japan National Railway allowed him long shifts working followed by long shifts off, allowing him to spend extensive periods training and acting as a training partner for Morihei Ueshiba as he refined his weapons curriculum. He eventually received a plot of land on Morihei Ueshiba’s property and where he built his house and lived with his wife and children. He and his wife cared for the Ueshiba’s through the last years of their lives.

Morihiro Saito acted as the guardian of the Aiki Shrine until his passing in 2002. He is famous for his dedication to preserving the exact form of Morihei Ueshiba’s techniques as he was taught them during his training under him in Iwama.

Budoka no Kotae - BAB Japan, 2006Budoka no Kotae – BAB Japan, 2006

This is the first section of the English translation of a three part interview that originally appeared in “Answers from Budoka” (“Budoka no Kotae” / 武道家の答え), published by BAB Japan in 2006.

Morihiro Saito and Morihei Ueshiba - 1955Morihiro Saito with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba
in front of the Aiki Shrine, 1955

Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Morihiro Saito Sensei, Part 1

Aikido is formed after the war by Morihei Ueshiba

Q: In this book we are asking those training in budo for their cooperation in giving us their opinions on their budo training, but it may take a number of months before we are ready for publication.

A: Oh, is that right? It must be quite a lot of work, how many sections will there be?

Q: We will divide it into four main sections. Aikido, Judo, Karate-do and Kendo. There will also be a little related to Shorinji Kempo and kobudo.

A: Kobudo, that’s good. Kobudo is wonderful. Because it was since kobudo existed that Aikido was first born.

Q: And it’s likely that those arts like Judo or Kendo that are called gendai budo today would not have been born without kobudo either.

A: Yes, that’s right. Previously, the foreigner from Aiki News – it was Stanley Pranin who, when searching for the roots of Aikido, gathered together authorities from many of the arts that the Founder practiced, such as Daito-ryu , Kashima Shinto-ryu and Yagyu Shingan-ryu for a Friendship Demonstration.

First Aikido Friendship DemonstrationAikido Instructors at the 1st Aikido Friendship Demonstration in 1985
Left to right: Yasuo Kobayashi, Yoshio Kuroiwa, Kanshu Sunadomari,
Morihiro Saito, Shoji Nishio, Mitsugi Saotome

Q: Was that at the Budokan?

A: No, that was at the Yomiuri Hall in Yurakucho. It’s a small place. It wasn’t anything that was on a scale to hold at the Budokan.

Q: I see. It would be a much bigger event at the Budokan, wouldn’t it?

A: Yes, although in Aikido we hold something there once a year in May.

Q: During that time in the Yomiuri Hall was that person (Mr. Stanley Pranin) able to gather information relating to the roots of Aikido?

A: How about that… He is an Aikido historian – that is to say, he is investigating deeply into the history of Aikido.

Q: Is that right? When was there a book about the roots of Aikido that he published?

A: He published several times that year.

Q: Such as the Aiki News magazine?

A: That’s right. Concerning the Founder, in the Founder’s last years he went to Tokyo permanently, but of course after the war he was in Iwama continuously. Because after the war Budo was suppressed.

Q: For a period of time, right?

A: Yes. But in Showa year 23 (1948), when the Aikikai was reconfirmed under the law, an undersecretary named Tamura came here and secretly asked that at least a seed of Budo would be served from destruction. That really put the Founder in high spirits. The Founder was really serious about the training that started from that time. During the war he was ordered by the military to teach “Itto Issatsu” (“一刀一殺” / “One Cut One Kill”), and he went to the Army and Naval academies and the Toyama Military Academy, so it seemed that he wasn’t able to instruct in the way that he desired.

Q: Ahh, was there a period like that?

A: Yes, there was. He also instructed at the Nakano Spy School.

Q: Is that right? So for Morihei Sensei the defeat in the war was rather a kind of an opportunity?

A: That’s right. He could finally turn towards his original goals, and here in Iwama he was able to put aside the time for the establishment of Aikido. Because he was also, as you know, a student of religion. From Showa year 13 (1938) he became exceedingly vigorous in his activities. Here is a copy of a book from that time, haven’t you seen it before? (holding out a book)

Gozo Shioda, Budo - 1938Yoshinkan Aikido Founder Gozo Shioda in “Budo”, 1938
See “Budo – Moritaka Ueshiba’s 1938 Technical Manual

Q: No, this is…?

A: Is that so? They don’t publicize things like this very much in Tokyo, do they? Mr. Pranin from Aiki News discovered this in the countryside and gave me a copy, it was created in Showa year 13 (1938) or thereabouts.

Q: So this is a book published in 1938? This is an important book, isn’t it?

Rules for Training 1938Morihei Ueshiba’s “Rules for Training”
from the technical manual “Budo” – 1938

  1. This bujutsu decides life and death in a single strike, so students must carefully follow the instructor’s teaching and not compete to see who is the strongest.
  2. This bujutsu is the way that teaches how one can deal with several enemies. Students must train themselves to be alert not just to the front, but to all sides and the back.
  3. Training should always be conducted in a pleasant and joyful atmosphere.
  4. The instructor teaches only one small aspect of the art. Its versatile applications must be discovered by each student through incessant practice and training.
  5. In daily practice first begin by changing your body (“tai no henko”) and then progress to more intensive practice. Never force anything unnaturally or unreasonably. If this rule is followed, then even elderly people will not hurt themselves and they can train in a pleasant and joyful atmosphere.
  6. The purpose of this bujutsu is to train mind and body and to produce sincere, earnest people. Since all the techniques are to be transmitted person-to-person, do not randomly reveal them to others, for this might lead to their being used by hoodlums.

*Translator’s Note: these rules were published after the war in Kisshomaru Ueshiba’s books, but with the word “Aikido” inserted in place of “this bujutsu”.

A: Here he writes some guidelines for training, such as “Training should always be conducted in a pleasant and joyful atmosphere.”. In any case, this was written during the war.

Q: By the way, of the people who trained directly with Morihei Sensei, there are very few left today, isn’t that true?

“Because it is my task to receive the actual techniques of the Founder and then pass them on directly and simply just as they are.” – Morihiro Saito

A: Even so, there many still remaining. Around 1952 or 1953 he started taking trips to the outside – he’d go to Kansai for a week, or travel around for about a month. Sometimes he’d also go to stay in Tokyo like this. So there were many people who were able to take the Founder’s hand directly and receive instruction.

However, in my case it was a matter of time. There was land, but there was no rice being distributed. So if we didn’t grow it ourselves we wouldn’t be able to eat! So when I was able to be there physically I would help with the farming from morning to night, and after I married my wife also helped with the farming full time. We also did all the other regular household chores. Many other people came, but there were a lot of things going on, and they didn’t last very long. In the end, I was the only one left.

Calligraphy for "Ki" by Morihei Ueshiba

Calligraphy for “Ki” by Morihei Ueshiba (signed “Tsunemori”)

What is “Ki”?

Q: Recently the word “Ki” has become widespread in a variety of forms, hasn’t it?

A: Yes, that’s right.

Q: Just what exactly is that “Ki”? Depending upon who’s speaking Ki means a great variety of things – what they call “aura” in Western terminology, or others explain it in Eastern philosophical terms such as “prajna” in Yoga. But is this something that can be seen with the eyes?

A: Well, O-Sensei was also particularly strict about what “Ki” was…. The Founder tended towards religious speech, and the students would study how to express the Founder’s speeches in modern terminology. They each express themselves from their own particular positions. I’m not very good at that kind of thing… Just actual techniques. Because it is my task to receive the actual techniques of the Founder and then pass them on directly and simply just as they are.

Q: Is that so?

A: The way that people do Aikido now changes quite a bit depending upon the instructor. There are people doing the complete opposite of what other people are doing.

Q: For example, in what way?

A: In our Aikikai organization, and outside of it, there are many students of the Founder. There are those who have formed separate organizations – for example Gozo Shioda-san of the Yoshinkan, or Koichi Tohei-san of the Ki Society, each of those were founded by people who came here to study after the war. Shioda-san came here surprisingly often. Tohei-san made that thing called “Ki” his foundation to spread Aikido.

Q: Tohei Sensei seems to be doing Aikido in a separate form, with “Ki” as the foundation.

A: Yes, that’s right. The core of it is in lectures, but he has created a separate Ryu and is working hard at it. He’s an Aikido 10th Dan, and people wanting to learn Aikido join the “Ki Society”, but since most of it is lectures the training is neglected. The Budo world is quite a difficult place!

Q: I see. Is the training here very strict?

A: Because technique is something that you can understand if you see it. People understand before they train, so they are happy, and they get the feeling that it is extremely logical.

Q: Even now do you take their hands and teach them directly?

A: Yes, all of them. The Founder also took the hands of the regular students here and taught them continuously until he passed away. Especially me, since I was assisting with the farming, in the morning he would teach me sword and staff privately.

Q: There are many foreigners also training here, what about them?

A: They are shugyosha.

Q: Is that right? Where do they live?

A: Here, or in apartments nearby.

Q: That’s long term, isn’t it.

A: There are those who are here for an extended period. That woman is here for the third time, she has been here since June last year. Americans, Germans, Australians – during the busy times there are people here from as many as ten countries. Well…right now we have about six countries.

Q: When they come, as they don’t understand Japanese over there, do they learn a bit before they come?

A: There are people like that, and then there are people who don’t understand any at all…I can’t speak any other languages.

Q: When that’s the case, we’re talking about a heart to heart transmission (以心伝心) between people aspiring to the same Budo?

A: One way or another, with a lot of gestures…however, it is very difficult with the French. They must not use much English. Normally, if they speak English than they can somehow communicate between each other, but somehow we have a difficult time when the French come. Also the Italians. But the young people who come from Scandinavia use English so we’re able to get by.

Q: Now Aikido has mostly moved overseas, so most of the people who come must be those who have seen and heard of Aikido over there and then come to the home of Aikido to master it?

A: This year it is nineteen years (at the time of the interview, 1988) since the Founder passed away, but I haven’t traveled anywhere so I have only taught those foreigners who have come here. It began with those who were introduced to Aikido after the Founder passed away. Most of the Europeans would enter Hombu Dojo and wouldn’t come here very often, but while that was happening people began to come, bit by bit.

When the Founder was alive here, one could not become a student without an introduction. That was true even for the local people. For that reason, the people here were a very select group. From there one person became two, two people became four, and then we couldn’t cut off the flow. However, we couldn’t accommodate them all…well, it’s good that people are coming.

Q: How many people are here now?

A: During training…? The evening classes have about thirty or forty people.

Continued in Part 2…

Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

The post Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Morihiro Saito Sensei, Part 1 appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

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