Aikido Sangenkai Blog Honolulu, Hawaii - Oahu Sun, 22 Apr 2018 01:58:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Aikido Sangenkai Blog 32 32 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 »

The post Happy New Year of the Dog 2018 from the Aikido Sangenkai appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

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. Aikido 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. Aikido 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 aikido 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.

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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El grado importa – Cinturones Negros en Aikido [Spanish Version] Tue, 06 Jun 2017 20:37:04 +0000 Yoshimitsu Yamada en Kauai Hawaii, 1966 *This is the Spanish translation of the article “Something’s Rank – Black Belts in Aikido“, provided courtesy of Juantxo Ruiz. ¿De qué modo pensaba Jigoro Kano? El otro día estaba leyendo una entrevista con Yoshimitsu Yamada en el sitio web de Aikido Sansuikai. Este pasaje llamó mi atención: Bueno, el sistema de clasificación en aikido es otro dolor de cabeza. Yo personalmente … Continue reading El grado importa – Cinturones Negros en Aikido [Spanish Version] »

The post El grado importa – Cinturones Negros en Aikido [Spanish Version] appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

Yoshimitsu Yamada Kauai

Yoshimitsu Yamada en Kauai Hawaii, 1966

*This is the Spanish translation of the article “Something’s Rank – Black Belts in Aikido“, provided courtesy of Juantxo Ruiz.

¿De qué modo pensaba Jigoro Kano?

El otro día estaba leyendo una entrevista con Yoshimitsu Yamada en el sitio web de Aikido Sansuikai. Este pasaje llamó mi atención:

Bueno, el sistema de clasificación en aikido es otro dolor de cabeza. Yo personalmente no estoy de acuerdo con este sistema. Un certificado de enseñanza está bien, un cinturón negro está bien. Pero después de eso, no hay números, ni shodan, ni nidan, etc. La gente sabe quién es bueno y quién es malo. El sistema de clasificación dan crea una mente competitiva, porque la gente juzga a los demás – “oh, él es sexto dan, pero no es bueno, este tipo es mucho mejor …

Yamada ha hecho declaraciones similares antes, lo sé, pero siempre es interesante cuando la persona responsable de distribuir grados a un gran número de personas en varios países declara públicamente que él mismo se opone al sistema de clasificación.

Donn Draeger on the James Bond set

Donn Draeger – coordinador de artes marciales en el set
de La película de James Bond You Only Live Twice (1967)
– el primer no-japonés para entrar Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū

La Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū (天 真正 伝 香 取 神道 流) es la más antigua tradición marcial organizada en Japón, datando de 1447.

Usted se puede preguntar porque la Katori Shintō-ryū es relevante para la entrevista de Yoshimitsu Yamada, y aquí está: no tenía grados.

Durante más de 400 años, no había grados ni un sistema de clasificación, ni cinturones negros, en las artes marciales japonesas tradicionales.
De alguna manera, estas artes sobrevivieron, e incluso prosperaron.

Todo eso terminó cuando el fundador del Judo Jigoro Kano adoptó el sistema de clasificación Dan en el Judo y promovió a Shiro Saigo y a Tsunejiro Tomita a Shodan en 1883. Este sistema de clasificación alcanzaría una gran popularidad en la era prebélica, llegando a ser adoptado por prácticamente todos las Modernas (y muchas de las no tan modernas) artes marciales japonesas.

Antes de eso, durante más de 400 años, no había ni grados ni cinturones negros en el Budo japonés.

Hasta la introducción del sistema de clasificación moderno en 1883 (y casi 60 años más tarde en el Aikido) la gente que conseguía un certificado de “Menkyo” demostraba su cualificación entre las miembros del Ryu.

Morihei Ueshiba participó en tal sistema bajo Sokaku Takeda en Daito-ryu.

Sokaku Takeda's Eimeiroku

Eimeiroku de Sokaku Takeda

Sokaku Takeda mantuvo un “Eimeiroku” (英 名録), en el que se registró el estudio de cada estudiante, junto con un registro de las licencias concedidas a ese estudiante.

Por ejemplo, en la foto, la página de la derecha muestra la concesión de la licencia Kyoju Dairi (instructor asistente) a Morihei Ueshiba en 1922. La página de la izquierda es de 1931 y registra que Sokaku Takeda enseñó a Morihei Ueshiba las 84 técnicas Goshin’yo No Te durante 20 días en la casa de Ueshiba en Ushigome (ahora Wakamatsu-cho).

Goshin’yo no Te (護身 用 の 手) fue el rollo (o diploma) de nivel más alto otorgado en el momento en que Morihei Ueshiba estaba entrenando bajo Sokaku Takeda.

La mayoría de los estudiantes de pre-guerra de Morihei Ueshiba (Minoru Mochizuki, Rinjiro Shirata, Kenji Tomiki, por ejemplo, entre otros) también recibieron alguna versión de estos pergaminos.

Entonces el Dai Nippon Butoku Kai (大日本武徳会) entro en juego.

El Dai Nippon Butoku Kai fue organizado bajo la autoridad del Ministerio japonés de Educación, y fue el encargado de estandarizar y de regular las artes marciales japonesas tradicionales. Fue, por ejemplo, el responsable de la adopción de “Aikido” como el nombre para el arte de Morihei Ueshiba.

Junto con el cambio de nombre llegó el sistema estandarizado de clasificación kyu-dan, establecido por Jigoro Kano, ya en uso en muchas otras artes marciales en Japón. Tanto el cambio de nombre como el sistema de clasificación Kyu-Dan fueron implementados por Morihei Ueshiba a instancias del Dai Nippon Butoku Kai a principios de los años cuarenta.


  1. Esto significa que muchos de los maestros de Aikido que instruyen hoy en día son en realidad más viejos que el llamado sistema de clasificación “tradicional” como se usa en Aikido.
  2. También significa que el sistema de clasificación “tradicional” de Kyu-Dan realmente no tiene conexión con el Budo japonés tradicional, ósea, que es una convención moderna.

Por su parte, el propio Ueshiba parece haber tenido una actitud bastante descarada hacia el sistema de clasificación moderno.

Por ejemplo, aquí está la opinión de Yamada sobre lo que O-Sensei pensaba acerca de estas cosas:

Además, no creo que O-Sensei estuviera de acuerdo con ese sistema de clasificación. Para él el número no importaba. Una vez, cuando le estaba dando un masaje, me dijo: “Señor Yamada, ¿qué grado tienes?” Le respondí: “Soy shodan”, y él respondió: “Pues hoy te voy a dar el sandan.” [Risas] Nadie creía eso. Conocía su personalidad y no lo tomé en serio. Simplemente respondí “Muchas gracias.” Eso es lo que pasó.

Yamada no es el único que cuenta este tipo de anécdota; he oído las mismas o similares anécdotas de varias personas.

Yasuo Kobayashi Sensei / 小林保雄先生

Yasuo Kobayashi (derecha) en el viejo Dojo de Aikikai Hombu

Otro estudiante de posguerra de la década de 1950, Yasuo Kobayashi, relató algunos incidentes similares ocurridos alrededor de 1958:

Alrededor de este tiempo hubo los siguientes incidentes. La gente venía del campo de repente exigiendo una licencia de 10 º dan. Esto se debía a que en los viejos tiempos, cuando O-Sensei enseñaba en las áreas locales, se fijaría en alguien que, por un momento, parecía entender, y decía: “Oh, este tipo lo tiene. Le daré un 10º dan. “” Parecía que decía fácilmente cosas como, “¡Eres genial! Hagámosle 9º dan, “”; Hubo gente que se lo tomo en serio, aunque pueden haber sido solamente un 3ro o 4to dan. Esa era una cara de O-Sensei. “Cuando yo era más joven, O-Sensei me dijo, también, muchas veces, que yo era un 9º o 10º dan. Los otros uchideshi también fueron “promovidos” al 9º o 10º dan muchas veces.

Mitsugi Saotome, otro contemporáneo de Yamada y Kobayashi, me relató una historia similar, en la que fue espontáneamente “ascendido” a octavo dan por O-Sensei después de haber tenido un momento particular de discernimiento (él no fue promovido a Octavo dan hasta mucho más tarde, mucho tiempo después de que O-Sensei hubiera fallecido).

Shusaku Honinbo's Certificate

Certificado de Shusaku Honinbo (本因坊秀策) en Go, circa 1840

Cuando Jigoro Kano instituyó el sistema de grdos Kyu-Dan, lo que hizo en realidad fue adoptar un sistema que había estado en uso en el juego del Go japonés desde 1600, cuando fue introducido por  Dosaku Honinbo (本因坊道策).

Jigoro Kano era formador de comercio, y realmente era director de educación primaria por el Ministerio de Educación (文部省) durante varios años. También estaba profundamente comprometido con la modernización del sistema educativo de Japón, que estaba en medio de una transición del sistema tradicional de Educación en los Templos (Terakoya Kyoiku / 寺 子 屋 教育) al moderno sistema de educación Gakusei (学制) basado en métodos educativos occidentales que se instituyó a partir de 1872.


Educación del Templo en el Período Edo

Morihei Ueshiba, en una muestra de lo que sucedía en el período Edo, fue enviado para ser educado en un templo budista Shingon a la edad de 7 años.

Entonces … ¿por qué Jigoro Kano no mantuvo el sistema tradicional de Menkyo?

  1. Dependiendo del Ryu particular, el sistema de Menkyo consiste en un sistema que puede constar de dos a ocho certificados, con años (a veces muchos años) entre las certificaciones. Esto es muy adecuado para los adultos, que tienen largos períodos de atención y se comprometen a un período de formación medido en años, pero no tanto para los niños.
  2. Bajo los sistemas tradicionales de Menkyo no hay un sistema de reconocimiento visible a los logros personales en el arte; la “medalla de oro” del sistema de los cinturones de colores que ha sido adoptado en la clasificación moderna.

Una vez más, bien adaptado para los adultos, que están (o deberían estar) más interesados en aprender un arte que en dar publicidad a sus proezas con un testigo alrededor de su cintura, pero no tanto para los niños.

Especialmente no tanto para los niños en un sistema educativo moderno, que se basa en una estructura de grados, filas y medallas de oro.

Y eso fue realmente el enfoque y la meta de Jigoro Kano: introducir el Judo en el Sistema educativo moderno como forma complementaria de la educación física.

Incluso el “cinturón negro”, introducido tres años después del sistema Kyu-Dan, pudo haber sido adoptado por Kano de un sistema escolar en el que los estudiantes avanzados de natación se diferenciaban de los estudiantes principiantes mediante cintas negras usadas alrededor de su cintura.

Moshe Feldenkrais and Mikonosuke Kawaishi

Moshe Feldenkrais demuestra Judo
con Mikonosuke Kawaishi en París, 1938

El sistema de cinturones infantiles de colores (por ejemplo, blanco → amarillo → verde → azul → marrón → negro) no fue inventado en Japón en absoluto; fue introducido en Europa en 1935 por Mikonosuke Kawaishi, que era fundamental en la propagación del Judo allí y luego más tarde regresó a Japón. El esquema de color hizo más fácil que los estudiantes reutilizaran sus cinturones volviéndolos a teñir.

Una vez más, fue un sistema que se introdujo para… niños, y funcionó bien… para niños.

Nota: Demetrio Cereijo señala que los cinturones de color pueden haber sido introducidos en el Budokwai de Londres por Gunji Koizumi alrededor de 1927 y más tarde popularizados por Kawaishi)

Para adultos y como adultos, creo que la mayoría de nosotros tenemos alguna experiencia con los aspectos negativos del sistema de clasificación. Algunos de nosotros tenemos mucha experiencia con esos aspectos negativos.

La pregunta entonces se convierte en – ¿qué conseguimos nosotros, como adultos, de tal sistema, y vale la pena el precio que pagamos?

Si vuestras respuestas son similares a las mías, entonces la pregunta podría ser: ¿por qué simplemente no nos deshacemos de este sistema, como sugirió Yamada?

Por supuesto, la mayoría de las organizaciones alientan la existencia de un sistema de clasificación.

En términos de organización tiene sentido – Aikido ya no es un arte de una sola fuente, está disponible prácticamente en cualquier lugar, y si no te gusta un grupo, entonces puede unirse a otro con relativamente poco trauma.

En estos días realmente una organización, un dojo o un instructor sólo tienen un punto de control sobre sus estudiantes, y este es el grado.

Controlar quién obtiene grado y cuándo es el único mecanismo de control sobre los estudiantes fuera de la voluntad de los propios estudiantes.

Algún día puede ser que la gente se de cuenta de que todo este mecanismo es imaginario; Sólo funciona cuando los que están en el sistema “compran” las promesas hechas por el propio sistema.

También tienen sentido, en términos de organización, los aspectos económicos. La mayoría de las grandes organizaciones (e incluso muchas pequeñas) sobreviven en gran parte de las tarifas sobre pruebas y promociones ofrecidas a sus miembros, que pueden llegar a significar mucho dinero para algunas promociones.

Cuando Jigoro Kano introdujo el moderno sistema Kyu-Dan también abrió la puerta a una corriente de ingresos potencialmente difícil de ignorar tanto por las escuelas de artes marciales como para las organizaciones de artes marciales (federaciones, asociaciones,etc).

Lo que nos lleva de nuevo a la primera pregunta: ¿qué obtenemos de ese sistema, y vale la pena el precio que pagamos?

Hablando a nivel personal: he tomado dos veces la decisión de salir del sistema de clasificación, y dos veces terminé entrando de nuevo, así que realmente no tengo ninguna buena respuesta.

Las dos veces que terminé volviendo a entrar fue de nuevo por la misma razón: el triste hecho de que la cuestión es que la mayoría de la gente en el Aikido convencional te tratan de manera diferente de acuerdo a tu grado. Esto a pesar del hecho de que la mayoría de la gente también dice que el grado realmente no importa.

Debido al hecho de que tengo un grado en particular la gente me suele pedir mi opinión sobre el Aikido… pero se ignora el chico de pie junto a mí con un tercer kyu.

No importa que el tercer kyu me pueda patear el trasero durante todo el día, porque, ¿qué podría aprender alguien de un cinturón blanco?

Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

The post El grado importa – Cinturones Negros en Aikido [Spanish Version] appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

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Ueshiba-ha Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu [Spanish Version] Thu, 01 Jun 2017 00:51:32 +0000 Morihei Ueshiba en Ayabe, 1922 frente a un cartel que indica “Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu” This is the Spanish translation of the article in English “Ueshiba-ha Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu” , provided courtesy of Héctor Muñoz Garcia. En 1922 Sokaku Takeda se trasladó a las instalaciones de Omoto en Ayabe a vivir con Morihei Ueshiba y proporcionarle entrenamiento y formación intensiva durante cinco meses. Ueshiba conoció a Takeda por … Continue reading Ueshiba-ha Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu [Spanish Version] »

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Morihei Ueshiba in Ayabe, 1922Morihei Ueshiba en Ayabe, 1922
frente a un cartel que indica “Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu”

This is the Spanish translation of the article in English “Ueshiba-ha Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu” , provided courtesy of Héctor Muñoz Garcia.

En 1922 Sokaku Takeda se trasladó a las instalaciones de Omoto en Ayabe a vivir con Morihei Ueshiba y proporcionarle entrenamiento y formación intensiva durante cinco meses. Ueshiba conoció a Takeda por primera vez en 1915 en el Hisada Inn (una posada) en Engaru, Hokkaido, y entrenó de forma intensiva con él durante unos años antes de trasladarse a Ayabe. Tokimune, el hijo de Sokaku Takeda, comentó una vez:

Entrenó de forma extensa y entusiasta. Era el alumno favorito de Sokaku.

En 1922, al finalizar su estancia en Ayabe, Sokaku Takeda le concedió a Morihei Ueshiba la certificación Kyoju Dairi (instructor asistente) en Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, pasando a ser instructor certificado en este arte marcial.

Morihei Ueshiba - Kyoju DairiCertificado Kyoju Dairi Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu expedido a Morihei Ueshiba

Esta relación entre maestro y discípulo entre Sokaku Takeda y Morihei Ueshiba se prolongaría durante veinte años:

Permíteme comenzar afirmando categóricamente que la mayor influencia técnica en el desarrollo del aikido es el Daito-Ryu jujutsu. Este arte marcial, que se dice es la continuación de la tradición marcial del Clan Aizu, y que se remonta varios siglos en el pasado, se propagó por Japón durante la era Meiji, Taisho, y el principio del periodo Showa por el célebre artista marcial Sokaku Takeda. Conocido a partes iguales por su proezas y su carácter severo, Takeda había utilizado sus habilidades en situaciones de vida o muerte en más de una ocasión. Takeda tenía cincuenta y cuatro años cuando conoció a Morihei Ueshiba por primera vez en el Hisada Inn en Engaru, Hokkaido, a finales de febrero de 1915. Este encuentro marcó el comienzo de una tormentosa y duradera, a la par que productiva asociación entre los dos, que duró durante más de veinte años.

Aikido Journal Editor Stan Pranin – “Morihei Ueshiba and Sokaku Takeda

Pero, ¿qué pasó después?

Kisshomaru Ueshiba y el Aikido de la postguerra

El 27 de octubre de 1985 en Sendai, asistí a una ponencia sobre la historia del aikido impartida por el Segundo Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba. Durante esta charla Kisshomaru Sensei hizo la siguiente aseveración: “El Fundador sólo estudió Daito-ryu durante tres semanas, más o menos.” ¡Me quedé con la boca abierta de incredulidad cuando escuché decir, a la persona más versada en la historia del aikido, hacer una afirmación que era evidentemente falsa!
Aikido Journal Editor Stan Pranin – “Beware the big lie!

La foto de Morihei Ueshiba al comienzo de este artículo fue tomada en 1922 después de recibir su certificación Kyoju Dairi de Sokaku Takeda, momento que da comienzo a su carrera como instructor de artes marciales, y como instructor en Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu bajo la autoridad de Sokaku Takeda.

Sin embargo, hay una versión distinta en el mundo del Aikido moderno, una que es apoyada por la Aikikai, en donde el Aikido es la creación única y original de Morihei Ueshiba. Esta narrativa estipula que el Aikido es algo que él creó después de estudiar numerosas artes marciales, y que representó un cambio radical con respecto a sus prácticas pre-guerra, representando un dimensión espiritual nueva y original.
Pero, ¿estamos seguros de que fue así?

Pero, ¿estamos seguros de que fue así?

Para empezar, esta versión no se sostiene con las afirmaciones de Kisshomaru Ueshiba, que aseguró que la revelación clave, la de “el gran espíritu de la mutua protección” (万有愛護の大精神) — sucedió 1925. En lugar de ocurrir después de la guerra, esto sucedió hacia el comienzo de su carrera como instructor de Daito-ryu.

Morihei Ueshiba 1925Kisshomaru Ueshiba con su padre Ueshiba Juku en Ayabe, 1925

Volviendo al Daito-ryu en sí mismo, vemos que las raíces filosóficas de Morihei Ueshiba…ya existían.

Masao Hayashima

Masao Hayashima — alumno directo de Sokaku Takeda
“Aiki-jutsu es llamado el Budo de la Armonía”.

Además de Masao Hayashima (arriba), también tenemos a un contemporáneo de Ueshiba y compañero de Sokaku Takeda, Yukiyoshi Sagawa afirmar que “El Aiki Budo es el Camino del Desarrollo Humano”.

También tenemos a Tokimune Takeda, hijo de Sokaku Takeda, hablar sobre las enseñanzas de su padre:

“Los principios fundamentales de Daito-ryu son Amor y Armonía”

“El objetivo de enseñar Daito-ruy es “Armonía y Amor”, manteniendo este espíritu nos permite preservar y realizar justicia social. Este fue el último deseo de Sokaku Sensei.”

Pero estos conceptos tienen su origen en las tradiciones marciales japonesas, lejos de ser únicas de Morihei Ueshiba o del Daito-ryu.

  • 「武ハ弋止ノ義何ゾ好テ以テ殺戮センヤ」 “Bu es el abandono de la violencia. Uno no debe encontrar placer en la batalla.”, Katayama-ryu Densho – 1647
  • 「我モ勝ズ人モ勝ズ相得テ共ニ治ル」 “No somos capaces de alcanzar la victoria ambos, uno mismo y el otro. Entonces los dos deberán alcanzar mutuamente un estado de paz.”, Katayama-ryu Densho – 1647
  • 「兵法は平法なり」  “Los métodos de la guerra son los métodos de la paz.”, Iizasa Ienao of Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu  –  1387–1488

Estos argumentos fueron expresados por el Profesor Karl Friday, historiador japonés y estudiante de las tradiciones marciales de Japón (recibió formación completa en Kashima Shin-ryu) en este extracto de una entrevista en 2009:

La evolución de la sabiduría en las artes marciales japonesas (ryūha bugei) está íntimamente ligada a la historia de la guerra. Los sistemas y colegios de artes marciales fueron desarrollados con el objetivo de servir como herramientas para transmitir las habilidades necesarias en el campo de batalla, como respuesta a la intensa demanda de hombres hábiles en la lucha generada a comienzos de la Era Sengoku. Los guerreros que deseaban sobrevivir y prosperar en los campos de batalla durante el medievo comenzaron a buscar conocimientos y entrenamiento en soldados veteranos, que empezaron a codificar su conocimiento y a sistematizar sus enseñanzas. Así el bugei ryūha surgió de forma más o menos directa debido a las exigencias de las guerras medievales. Durante la Pax Tokugawa que empezó en 1600 y trajo más de 200 años de paz, se produjeron cambios fundamentales en la práctica de artes marciales. La instrucción se profesionalizó y, en algunos casos, se comercializó; los periodos de entrenamiento se prolongaron, el currículo se formalizó; y se elaboró el sistema de niveles para los estudiantes. Sin embargo, los motivos y los objetivos fundamentales de la práctica bugei fueron remodelados de forma significativa. Los samurai, que ya no van a pasar tiempo en el campo de batalla, buscaron y encontraron una forma más racional y relevante de estudiar artes marciales, enfocándose no sólo en las capacidades en combate, como tenían sus ancestros, sino también en el cultivo del ser.

Esta es básicamente la historia que he resumido en mi libro “Legacies of the Sword Book” (legado del libro de la espada). Comienza por la asunción lógica de que ryūha bugei (sabiduría de las artes marciales) se origina como un instrumento para el entrenamiento militar, y evoluciona desde ahí hacia el budō, un medio para el auto-desarrollo y la auto-realización. Pero hay algunos problemas en esta imagen que se manifiestan si lo comparas con investigaciones recientes sobre las guerras medievales.

En primer lugar, queda claro que ryūha bugei sólo puede ser considerado una pequeña parte del entrenamiento militar del siglo XVI. Había como máximo unos pocos ryūha durante el siglo XVI, pero los ejércitos de aquella época movilizaban decenas de miles de hombres. Para que incluso una pequeña fracción de guerreros Sengoku pudiesen haber aprendido artes marciales a través de una o varias ryūha, cada una de las mismas debía haber entrenado al menos varios cientos de alumnos por año. Por tanto, Ryūha bugei debían haber sido entonces una actividad especializada, realizada por solo un porcentaje diminuto de guerreros Sengoku.

Un problema aún mayor, sin embargo, es la aplicación de esas habilidades que los bugeisha se concentraron en desarrollar durante las guerras medievales del siglo XVI. Las estrategias y tácticas estaban evolucionando. Donde en el siglo XV se dependía de guerreros individuales y pequeños grupos tácticos, en el XVI se concentra en maniobras militares de grandes grupos. Esto significa que los ryūha bugei se estaban enfocando en el desarrollo de habilidades individuales de combate, floreciendo en proporción inversa al valor de dichas habilidades de los guerreros en el campo de batalla.

Recientes estudios sobre las últimas guerras medievales, demuestran que la espada nunca se convirtió en un armamento clave en el campo de batalla en Japón, sino que era considerada un arma suplementaria, análoga a las armas de mano que llevan soldados modernos. Mientras que las espadas se llevaban en el campo de batalla, se usaban con más frecuencia en peleas callejeras, robos, asesinatos y otros disturbios callejeros no relacionados con la guerra. Herramientas de proyectil — flechas, piedras y más adelante balas — dominaron las batallas durante el periodo medieval.

Por otra parte, casi todas las ryūha que datan del periodo Sengoku o antes, aseguran que el uso de la espada juega un rol principal en el entrenamiento desde el comienzo. Tsukahara Bokuden, Kamiizumi Ise-no-kami, Iizasa Chōisai, Itō Ittōsai, Yagyū Muneyoshi, Miyamoto Musashi y otros fundadores de escuelas de artes marciales son conocidos por sus proezas en el manejo de la espada.

Al principio, me pregunté si el lugar que tiene el estudio de la espada en las artes marciales medievales representaba una prueba contradictoria frente al nuevo consenso sobre el las últimas guerras medievales. Después de todo, si los bugei ryūha empezaron como sistemas para entrenar guerreros para el campo de batalla, e hicieron del arte de la espada el eje central de su estudio, ¿no sugeriría esto que la espada era más importante en las guerras medievales que lo que estos nuevos estudios nos quieren hacer creer?

Después de batallar sobre esta cuestión por un tiempo, surgió la idea de que el problema puede residir en la primera premisa del argumento. Todas estas cuestiones que me inquietaban (¿por qué los bugei ryūha surgen en un momento en que la estrategia militar estaba eclipsando rápidamente a las habilidades marciales individuales como elemento decisivo en el campo de batalla, y clave para una carrera militar exitosa? ¿Por qué había tan pocos ryūha durante la era Sengoku, y por qué proliferaron tan rápido durante el comienzo del periodo Tokugawa, después de que los años de guerra hubiesen acabado? ¿Y por qué el manejo de la espada era tan prominente incluso en los primeros bugei ryūha?) eran más fáciles de responder si dejabas a un lado la premisa de que los bugei ryūha se originaron como instrumentos para formar en las técnicas necesarias en el campo de batalla. Y la verdad sobre este asunto es que hay muy poca base para esa vieja premisa, más allá del hecho de que la guerra era endémica en Japón cuando las primeras escuelas de artes marciales surgieron. La sabiduría recibida se basa, en otras palabras, en un error hoc ergo (porque un evento suceda después de otro no significa que el primero cause el segundo).

Parece entonces que esos ryūha bugei y sus enseñanzas tenían un objetivo más abstracto desde el comienzo, comunicando ideales más profundos de desarrollo personal y cultural. Esto significa que los ryūha bugei fueron una abstracción de la ciencia militar, no una mera aplicación de la misma. Fomentaron rasgos de la personalidad y agudeza táctica que hacía que aquellos que la practicaban fuesen mejores guerreros, pero sus objetivos e ideales eran más parecidos a los de la educación liberal que a la formación profesional. En otras palabras, el bugeisha, incluso durante la era de Sengoku, tenía más en común con los competidores de puntería de los Juegos Olímpicos, entrenando con armas especializadas para desarrollar niveles esotéricos de habilidad bajo condiciones particulares, que con los fusileros. También tenían tanto — quizás más — en común con la era Tokugawa y los artistas marciales modernos que con los guerreros ordinarios de su propia época.

Básicamente, estoy argumentando que no hubo un cambio fundamental de propósito en la educación de las artes marciales entre finales del siglo XVI y mediados del siglo XVII. El budō de la era de Tokugawa representó no una metamorfosis del arte marcial tardío medieval, sino la maduración del mismo. Ryūha bugei en sí constituía un nuevo fenómeno -uno derivado, no una mejora lineal, de un entrenamiento militar anterior y más prosaico.

(Para el argumento completo, vea mi obra “Off the Warpath”, en Alex Bennett’s Budo Perspectives [Auckland, Nueva Zelanda: Kendo World Publications, 2005], 249-68).

Lejos de ser nuevo y original, o único de Morihei Ueshiba y el Aikido moderno, vemos que el concepto de una tradición marcial para el desarrollo espiritual y personal es algo muy antiguo y endémico para muchas artes marciales.

¿Eso importa?

Ciertamente, Morihei Ueshiba era una persona espiritual, y creía que practicaba y enseñaba un arte que permitía el desarrollo personal y espiritual.

Que los conceptos que él expresó no eran ni únicos ni originales no quita importancia a ese mensaje.

En mi opinión, es hora de abandonar la presunción de excepcionalismo espiritual y la singularidad que a menudo existe en el Aikido moderno, ya que a largo plazo es destructivo para el arte en su conjunto.

Morihei Ueshiba y Daito-ryu

Entonces, ¿qué hay de la implicación de Morihei Ueshiba en Daito-ryu y Sokaku Takead?

La descripción que se hace en la web de Aikikai dice:

Aikido es un Arte Marcial moderno creado por el fundador, Morihei Ueshiba.

Un descripción más detallada contiene la misma narrativa:

Aikido es un Arte Marcial japonés creado durante los años 20 por Morihei Ueshiba (1883~1969), un experto que alcanzó el más alto nivel de maestría en las Artes Marciales clásicas japonesas.

Ninguna de las dos hace mención a Sokaku Takeda o Daito-ryu, aunque Takeda es mencionado una vez (sólo una) en el cronograma de la vida de Morihei Ueshiba:

El Fundador conoce a Sr. Sokaku Takeda, el creador de Daito-ryu Jujutsu, en el Hisada Ryokan en Engaru, y solicita ser instruido.

Y eso es todo…

De forma similar, en los libros de Kisshomaru Ueshiba “The Spirit of Aikido” y “The Art of Aikido” no hay ni una sola mención al Daito-ryu. Ninguno de los libros es un trabajo histórico, pero tampoco mencionan que el Daito-ryu fue el único arte marcial en el que Morihei Ueshiba tenía certificación como instructor (además del suyo propio).

En el trabajo más reciente, “Best Aikido“, escrito por Kisshomaru Ueshiba y Moriteru Ueshiba, hay una breve mención a Daito-ryu como uno de los muchos artes marciales que Morihei Ueshiba estudió, pero ninguna mención relativa a la profundidad del estudio de dichas artes — dicho capítulo no reconoce el hecho de que, con excepción del Daito-ryu, todas esas artes marciales fueron estudiadas en periodos muy breves de tiempo.

AikiWeb: O-sensei también habría estudiado un montón de otras artes koryu aparte de Daito-ryu
Stan Pranin: Yo diría que eso no es cierto.

Si lo miras históricamente, fue a Tokio en 1901 y pasó allí un año. Durante esta estancia en Tokio, cuando estaba entrenando para convertirse en un comerciante, hizo un poco de jujutsu Tenjin Shinyo-ryu. Probablemente era un dojo “machi”, es decir un pequeño dojo en el área de Asakusa de Tokio. Él iría allí por la noche, fueron cerca de tres o cuatro meses en total antes de enfermar de beriberi, dejar Tokio y volver a Tanabe. Lo estaba haciendo mientras trabajaba muy duro durante el día y fue un período muy breve de sólo unos pocos meses. Sería difícil imaginar que eso tuviera una fuerte influencia técnica.

Por la misma razón cuando estaba en el ejército, también comenzó a estudiar Yagyu-ryu jujutsu. Hay algunas preguntas sobre cuál era el nombre real del arte marcial. O-sensei se refirió a él como Yagyu-ryu jujutsu, mientras que [Kisshomaru Ueshiba] Doshu hizo algunas averiguaciones y dijo que era Goto-ha Yagyu Shingan-ryu o similar.

Él estaba en el ejército en ese momento y también fue enviado a Manchuria durante un tiempo. Era difícil para mí imaginar que iba regularmente mientras estaba en el ejército, así que no sé si su entrenamiento fue en los fines de semana o qué. Al parecer, estaba entusiasmado con su formación, pero no se daban las circunstancias para permitir un estudio en profundida.

Sin embargo, siguió estudiando un poco de Yagyu-ryu después de salir del ejército, pero estaba en Tanabe, ¡estaba a un par de cientos de millas de distancia y tenía que ir en ferry! Tal vez subió tres, cuatro o media docena de veces, pero no era el tipo de un estudio intensivo con alguien durante años.

Sin embargo, él tenía un makimono (rollo de papel oficial donde se firma el certificado oficial) también — sin embargo, no lleva ningún sello. Uno sólo puede especular lo que eso significa. A veces lo que sucede es que a una persona se le dice que prepare un makimono o que alguien lo prepare y, por cualquier circunstancia o razón, el maestro nunca está disponible para firmarlo. Por lo tanto, el rollo no puede considerarse oficial.

Por lo tanto, parece que estudió esta forma de Yagyu-ryu más que el jujutsu de Tenjin Shinyo-ryu, pero probablemente hizo un año o dos como mucho.

El otro arte que él estudió, pero otra vez no en mucha profundidad, habría sido judo. La primera descripción del maestro que fue enviado del Kodokan a Tanabe por el padre de O-sensei para enseñar a Morihei y varios parientes y amigos dio la impresión de que este maestro de judo era un experto. Resulta que tenía 17 años. Conocí a su esposa en la década de 1980 y me lo dijo directamente. Podría haber sido un shodan, máximo. Además, O-sensei estaba involucrado con otras cosas en esta fase de transición de su vida tratando de averiguar lo que iba a hacer con su carrera. Una de las razones, según Doshu, de que esta persona del judo fuese traída era ayudarlo a centrarse y canalizar sus energías. Pero O-sensei terminó yendo a Hokkaido.

Por lo tanto, tienes este período muy breve en Tenjin Shinyo Ryu, un poco de entrenamiento en Yagyu Ryu jujutsu mientras que está en el ejército, un poco de judo, y luego Daito-ryu. Eso es todo. La impresión de que estudió muchas artes distintas de Daito-ryu y las dominó es completamente falsa.

Aikiweb Interview with Stan Pranin – Agosto, 2000

Ahora, volvamos a la foto de 1922 en la parte superior de este artículo. En esa foto Morihei Ueshiba está sentado delante de un cartel que lee “Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu”.

Por desgracia, el Aikikai retocó la foto un poco en varias ocasiones y en varias publicaciones — muy probablemente con el fin de apoyar la narración pública que se promueve después de la guerra.

Aikido Shimbun, Number 2 - 1959Aikido Shimbun, número 2 – mayo de 1959
scan original de Stan Pranin

El segundo número del boletín de la Fundación Aikikai, el “Aikido Shimbun” (foto superior) mostraba una copia de la foto de Ayabe, de 1922, con el letrero “Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu” cuidadosamente editado. Además, no hay ninguna mención, en absoluto, de Daito-ryu, o el contexto de la foto, en el texto del artículo.

Aikido Nyumon - 1975“Aikido Nymon”, de Kisshomaru Ueshiba – 1975
scan original de Stan Pranin

En esta imagen, a partir de un libro publicado por Ni-Dai Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba en 1975, los caracteres de “Daito-ryu” han sido editados, dejando sólo las palabras “Aiki-jujutsu”.

Aikido Shintei“Aikido Shintei” de Kisshomaru Ueshiba – 1986

En esta foto, de una publicación de 1986 llamada “Aikido Shintei”, los caracteres de “Daito-ryu” también son editados, de forma chapuzera, dejando intacta parte del carácter “ryu”.

Daito-ryu Summer Training 1931Invitación para clases de verano con Morihei Ueshiba
en Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu y Aiki-budo, 1931

Morihei Ueshiba y Daito-ryu – Continuidad

En 1933 Morihei Ueshiba publicó un manual de instrucciones técnicas de Daito-ryu, Aikijujutsu Densho. Que fue titulado “Aikijujutsu”, y fue distribuido a los estudiantes que reciben certificados en Daito-ryu como una especie de documento de transmisión. Más adelante — volvió a publicar el mismo manual, con las mismas técnicas y explicaciones (pero sin usar el lenguaje imperial de antes de la guerra) en 1954 como Aikido Maki-no-ichi. Morihei Ueshiba usó este manual como libro de texto cuando enseñó en los años 50.

En 1938, Morihei Ueshiba publicó el manual técnico “Budo”. Este libro, re-descubierto por el editor del diario Aikido Stan Pranin, contiene técnicas que Morihiro Saito afirmó eran idénticas a las técnicas enseñadas por Morihei Ueshiba en la casa de Morihei Ueshiba en Iwama, donde vivió desde 1942 hasta cerca del momento de su muerte.

Un día, en julio de 1981, estaba llevando a cabo una entrevista con Zenzaburo Akazawa, un uchi deshi de pre-guerra de Morihei Ueshiba del periodo Dojo Kobukan. El Sr. Akazawa procedió a mostrarme un manual técnico publicado en 1938 titulado Budo que nunca había visto antes. Contenía fotos de unas cincuenta técnicas demostradas por el propio fundador. Mientras volvía lentamente las páginas del manual, me sorprendió ver en las fotos que la ejecución de varias técnicas básicas como ikkyo, iriminage y shihonage eran virtualmente idénticas a lo que había aprendido en Iwama bajo Saito Sensei. Aquí estaba el propio fundador demostrando lo que yo había considerado hasta entonces como técnicas “estilo Iwama”. El señor Akazawa, que vive a pocas manzanas del Dojo de Iwama, me prestó amablemente el libro y me apresuré a mostrarlo a Saito Sensei.

Siempre recordaré la escena cuando llamé a la puerta de Sensei para compartir con él mi nuevo descubrimiento. Para mi sorpresa, nunca había visto ni oído mencionar el libro antes. Se puso las gafas de lectura y hojeó el manual con los ojos examinando las secuencias técnicas con atención. Entonces me sentí obligado a disculparme por haber dudado de su afirmación de que estaba haciendo todo lo posible para preservar fielmente las técnicas del fundador. Saito Sensei se echó a reír y, obviamente con un gran placer, gritó: “¡Ves, Pranin, te lo dije!” Desde ese momento hasta el final de su vida, Saito Sensei siempre tenía a su lado su copia de Budo en el Dojo de Iwama y en sus viajes lo utilizaba como prueba para demostrar que una técnica particular se originó en las enseñanzas del fundador.

Aikido Journal editor Stan Pranin – “Remembering Morihiro Saito Sensei

En 1940, Takuma Hisa — una de las únicas personas que han recibido Menkyo Kaiden (“certificado de transmisión completa”, mostrando que uno ha dominado la totalidad de un sistema marcial) en Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu directamente de Sokaku Takeda, publicó “Kannagara no Budo, Daito-ryu Aiki Budo Hiden”. Este manual sobre Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu es casi una copia exacta, tanto en explicación técnica como en las técnicas ilustradas, del manual “Aikijujutsu Densho” publicado por Morihei Ueshiba en 1933 … el manual que se utilizó como libro de texto para loa estudiantes post-guerra en la década de 1950 como “Aikido Maki-no-Ichi”.

Sokaku Takeda in Osaka 1936Sokaku Takeda en el Asahi Shimbun Dojo en Osaka  – 1936

Takuma Hisa también es importante ya que fue una de las pocas personas que tuvo la oportunidad de comparar directamente a Sokaku Takeda y Morihei Ueshiba en profundidad durante un período prolongado de tiempo:

La formación que Hisa recibió de Takeda le dio la oportunidad de comparar las técnicas que había enseñado durante los tres años anteriores (1933–1936) Ueshiba con las enseñadas por Takeda. Su conclusión fue que eran lo mismo, lo que significa que Ueshiba no había modificado significativamente ni evolucionado lo que Takeda había enseñado. En años posteriores, Hisa era inflexible acerca de las técnicas de Ueshiba y Takeda siendo idénticas. Lo expresó claramente en una mesa redonda: “Cuando Tomiki llegó a Osaka para enseñar aiki-bujutsu al pueblo Asahi, las técnicas que tanto Ueshiba y Takeda enseñaban eran las mismas. Definitivamente lo mismo. El Maestro Ueshiba debería decir que le fue enseñado por el maestro Takeda. Debería decir que era Daitoryu. Pero nunca dijo eso. El Sr. Tomiki (quien también viajó desde Tokio a Osaka para enseñar el sistema de Ueshiba en el dojo Asahi) sabe esto, ¿no? Pero Ueshiba nunca lo dijo. Y Tomiki respondió: “Definitivamente no. ‘Yo [Ueshiba] lo establecí todo … [sonriendo misteriosamente]’. Sin embargo, los viejos artistas marciales a menudo lo hacen de esa manera. “[Shishida (Ed.), 1982, p.1]

“The Process of Forming Aikido and Japanese Imperial Navy Admiral Isamu Takeshita: Through the analysis of Takeshita’s diary from 1925 to 1931”
 – Fumiaki Shishida (Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan)

Tanto Sokaku Takeda como Morihei Ueshiba mantuvieron un registro de sus estudiantes. Cuando alguien se convierte en un estudiante su nombre sería ingresado en el libro y el estudiante adjunta su sello. El Sr. Kimura habla un poco sobre el registro, que firmó en 1942 en “Mr. Kimura’s Aikido Memories, Part 1”.

Mamoru Okada también recuerda la firma de este registro — en este caso firmó el registro en 1949, después de la guerra.

Hiroshi Isoyama también declara que firmó este registro — de nuevo en 1949, después de la guerra. Además, su testimonio confirma que el registro estaba titulado “Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu”:

Y el título en mi papel de registro es “Registro Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu”. Esto es lo que firmé. En la parte superior del registro de estudiantes, también hay los nombres de personas como el Almirante Takeshita Isamu.

Interview with Isoyama Hiroshi Shihan, the master of the Iwama Dojo

Es decir — Morihei Ueshiba estaba inscribiendo a gente como estudiantes de Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu en una fecha tan tardía como 1949.

Aquí hay algunas fotos de un rollo de Hiden Mokuroku (gracias a Scott Burke por las fotos) — el “catálogo de enseñanzas secretas” que compone el primer rollo en el currículo de Daito-ryu. Este rollo fue publicado por Morihei (entonces usando el nombre de Moritaka) Ueshiba en 1925:

Aiki-jujutsu Hiden Mokuroku, 1925“Aiki-jujutsu Hiden Mokuroku”, 1925

El sello de Aiki-jujutsu en la esquina superior derecha es similar (pero ligeramente diferente en forma) al sello que aparece en el manual técnico 1919 de Morihei Ueshiba Aikijujutsu Densho — AKA Budo Renshu.

Aquí otra sección del mismo rollo de 1925:

Aiki-jujutsu umbrella techniques 1925

Aiki-jujutsu técnicas con paraguas 1925

Esta sección del rollo habla sobre técnicas con un paraguas y está sellado como “Aiki-jujutsu”.

Hiden Mokuroku 118 Techniques

Hiden Mokuroku 118 Techniques

Una continuación del rollo — a la izquierda indica que este rollo contiene 118 técnicas. Las 118 técnicas básicas del primer rollo de Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu.

Hiden Mokuroku signature page

Página de firma – Hiden Mokuroku 

Esta es la página de la firma del rollo de 1925. Firmado por el estudiante de Sokaku Takeda Masayoshi Minamoto (武田惣角源正義), Moritaka Ueshiba Seigan Minamoto (源晴眼).

Claramente un rollo Daito-ryu, y claramente emitido bajo la autoridad de su maestro, Sokaku Takeda. Lo mismo ocurre en este rollo, también publicado bajo la autoridad de Sokaku Takeda:

Minoru Mochizuki - Hiden MokurokuHiden Mokuroku expide a Minoru Mochizuki en 1932
“Ueshiba Moritaka, estudiante de Takeda Sokaku”

Y aquí otro rollo más:

Aikido Hiden Mokuroku 1960Aikido Hiden Mokuroku

La calidad de la imagen no es tan buena, pero hay algunas cosas interesantes que podemos observar:

  1. El pergamino ahora lee “Aikido” en lugar de “Aiki-jujutsu”.
  2. La estructura del pergamino es idéntica a la del Daito-ryu.
  3. El título del pergamino es “Hiden Mokuroku”, el mismo que el rollo Daito-ryu.

Aikido Hiden Mokuroku 1960 detailAikido Hiden Mokuroku – detalle

Aquí hay una sección del rollo en mayor detalle. Al igual que el rollo Daito-ryu, este pergamino contiene una sección sobre técnicas de paraguas. Este también contiene una sección sobre las técnicas de Bo (palo).

En el lado izquierdo se especifica que este rollo contiene 118 técnicas, igual que el rollo Daito-ryu de 1925.

Aikido Hiden Mokuroku 1960 signature page

Página de firma – Aikido Hiden Mokuroku

Aquí está la sección de la firma del pergamino. El nombre de Sokaku Takeda ya no aparece en el rollo, sino que está firmado por Aikido Doshu Tsunemori Ueshiba (un nombre que Morihei Ueshiba usó con frecuencia después de la guerra).

La fecha que aparece en el rollo dice March Showa year 35 – 1960.

Entonces, en resumen:

  • 1922 – Morihei Ueshiba es certificado como instructor en Daito-ryu, tiene poca experiencia en otras artes marciales en ese entonces.
  • 1922-1936 – Morihei Ueshiba es documentado como enseñando Daito-ryu bajo la autoridad de Sokaku Takeda.
  • 1933 – Morihei escribe Aikijujutsu Densho, un manual de instrucciones de Daito-ryu.
  • 1936 –  Takuma Hisa compara lo que estaba haciendo con Sokaku Takeda y encuentra que ambos están haciendo Daito-ryu. Sokaku Takeda se hace cargo del Asahi Shimbun dojo y Morihei Ueshiba se va por su cuenta.
  • 1940 – Takuma Hisa publica el Aikijujutsu Densho de Morihei Ueshiba como un manual de Daito-ryu.
  • 1949 –  Morihei sigue inscribiendo estudiantes como estudiantes de Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu después de la guerra.
  • 1954 – Morihei Ueshiba publica Aikido Maki-no-Ichi, que duplica las explicaciones técnicas y las ilustraciones técnicas de Aikijujutsu Densho. Enseña a los estudiantes de posguerra de este manual.
  • 1957 – Lee Price dice que hay 2.664 técnicas en Aikido de Morihei Ueshiba para el programa de televisión estadounidense “Rendezvous with Adventure” (esto puede haber sido un error de traducción del habitual número de 2.884 técnicas citadas por los Takumakai) en lugar del reducido número de técnicas en el Aikikai de posguerra. Morihei Ueshiba afirma que el arte fue fundado por Minamoto Yoshimitsu en 1120, que fue transmitido a través de la familia Takeda, y que se representa a su legítimo heredero — no al fundador. Cuando se le preguntó cuándo comenzó el Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba dice “hace unos 50 años”. Recordemos que esto es 1957, por lo que haría hace 50 años sobre el tiempo que conoció a Sokaku Takeda, mucho antes de la guerra.
  • Morihei Ueshiba enseña las mismas técnicas en Iwama después de la guerra en los años 50 y los años 60 como fueron documentados en el manual técnico 1938 Budo.
  • Morihei Ueshiba emite certificados Daito-ryu, con el nombre cambiado a Aikido pero con todos los otros detalles conservados, tan tarde como 1960 — y mucho más tarde, en rollos que son privados.

Estoy seguro que ves por donde voy:

  1. Antes de la guerra Morihei Ueshiba era instructor de Daito-ryu bajo Sokaku Takeda, enseñó Daito-ryu durante muchos años y emitió licencias en Daito-ryu.
  2. Lo que Morihei Ueshiba enseñaba y distribuía después de la guerra en las décadas de 1950 y 1960 era esencialmente el mismo material que estaba enseñando y distribuyendo antes de la guerra: Daito-ryu, hasta los certificados y el nombre en el libro de inscripción.
  3. No hubo cambio de fase en la técnica básica, o invención radical de la nueva técnica marcial.
  4. Que había una continuidad básica en la línea de su formación y enseñanza como estudiante y maestro de Daito-ryu desde 1922 hasta su muerte en 1969.

Comparando la continuidad del legado técnico de Morihei Ueshiba visualmente

Como dijo Masatake Fujita, que pasó casi todos los días con Morihei Ueshiba durante los últimos dos años de su vida:

P: ¿En cuanto a la técnica, notó un cambio en el Fundador mientras lo observaba?

R: No, no hubo ningún cambio. Eso es probablemente cierto incluso antes de la guerra, porque incluso cuando ves la cinta de vídeo de Showa año 12 (1937), el año en que nací, eso es verdad (* Nota del traductor: en realidad es la demostración Asahi News de 1935). Sin embargo, hubo algunas técnicas de ese período que se han olvidado hoy. Estoy enseñando ese tipo de técnicas ahora, pero por supuesto es difícil.

Interview with Aikido Shihan Masatake Fujita, Part 2

“No, realmente no hubo ningún cambio”.

En otras palabras, el legado de Morihei Ueshiba era, en realidad, lo que algunas personas podrían llamar “Ueshiba-ha Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu”, propia rama de Morihei Ueshiba del árbol del arte marcial de Sokaku Takeda.

Para más información sobre lo que pasó con los legados divergentes de Morihei Ueshiba y su hijo Kisshomaru, revise el ensayo de Mark Murray “The Ueshiba Legacy” — Parte 1 y Parte 2. También podría estar interesado en Aikido Journal Editor El ensayo de Stanley Pranin “Es O -Sensei realmente el padre del Aikido moderno?” (Inglés: “Is O-Sensei Really the Father of Modern Aikido?“).

Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

The post Ueshiba-ha Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu [Spanish Version] appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

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