“Interview with Koichi Tohei and Shinichi Tohei” translated by William Reed

“I studied Aikido from Morihei Ueshiba, here again doing everything first and questioning later. Ueshiba Sensei was a master of Ki, as well as the founder of Aikido. However he was also a devoted follower of the Omotokyo Religion, and this influenced the way he taught Aikido. Often it was impossible to make any sense of his esoteric explanations. I rigorously trained in all of the exercises he had us do, though many came from the Omotokyo Religion, and made no sense to us. For example, we were expected to recite the alphabet in a different order. Rather than saying the vowels of Japanese as ”AIUEO” we were made to repeat them over and over as ”AOUEI,” as if this new sequence had a deeper meaning. He would tell us that we should become one with the Ki of Heaven, but not how we were to do this. You could learn much more by watching him do Aikido than you could by listening to him explain it. The one essential thing I learned from Ueshiba Sensei was how to relax. He was always relaxed in the face of conflict, which is why his Aikido was so strong. He would do this himself, but he encouraged his young students to hold with as much strength as possible. In Aikido if you are not relaxed you cannot throw a person. It seemed a mystery to us that Ueshiba Sensei could always throw, could always get out of a hold.”

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