May
21

IV. “The Biography of Uyeshiba,” by Charles A. McCarty

Out of the turmoil of a culture in which expressions of violence had been institutionalized, formalized and even spiritualized, and from the frustrations of a tragic world war a Japanese man, Morhihei Uyeshiba, has brought to the world a message of pure and unconditional love. Paradoxically this message is couched in the terminology and activity of the very martial arts from which previously sprang much misery.

Born into the turbulent era of the Meiji Restoration, when modernization was thrust forcibly onto a nation long frozen in feudal lifestyles, Uyeshiba was exposed early to diverse spiritual influences. It was to be some years before these contacts were to result in the maturation of the spiritual form which Uyeshiba offered to the world community after the tragedy of the Pacific War. Long before he developed his spiritual mastery, however, he was acknowledged as one of Japan’s greatest martial artists, a master of weapons and unarmed combat. This background was to direct and mold the unique character of his personal spirituality.

For this reason an examination of the genesis of Aikido, Uyeshiba’s contribution to world harmony, must begin with the motives, events and accomplishments which caused him to undertake and master the study of bujutsu, or martial techniques. Only after fully exploring all the possibilities inherent in the traditional path of the warrior could Uyeshiba experience and recognize its shortcomings, and from that experience devise his budo, a martial art committed to the end of all conflict. Through this art of love he was to become known to hundreds of thousands around the world as O’Sensei, or Great Teacher.
Three factors seem to have been instrumental in leading Uyeshiba to tackle the lifetime tack of mastery in martial techniques; a quest for health, a desire for strength and the need for revenge.

Born a month premature in the year of 1883 in Tanabe, a small rural community in Japan, he weighed only about four pounds at birth. Morihei was a sickly child, so his father began taking him for ocean swims, runs along the beach and hikes in the mountains to increase his health and strength. Though he became stronger, he still appeared thin, and was quite small in stature.(37)

His father took part in local politics, and when Morihei was only twelve, thugs associated with political rivals beat his father seriously in front of the small child on several occasions. He swore someday to become strong enough to throw out all of his father’s opponents.(38)

To this end he began training from an early age by running daily in the mountains, By the age of 15 he was a powerful youth, weighing 150 pounds despite his 5’2” stature. The villagers nicknamed him “Tengu” after the bird-like creature of Shinto mythology, reputed to frequent the mountains and possess magical powers and a mastery of the sword.(39)

He came to realize that strength alone was not enough, so he began to seek the skills of martial arts. During the turmoil of the Meiji Restoration numerous samurai, no longer in the employ of the feudal Lords, took to giving exhibitions or teaching their previously secret arts as a source of income. The unarmed techniques of jujitsu were particularly popular, as the wearing of swords was now banned.
In 1898 Uyeshiba enrolled in the Kito Jujitsu sect, continuing his studies in Tokyo from 1901 while seeking a career as a merchant. He soon became seriously ill from heart beri-beri, however, and was forced to return home to convalesce. Again he painfully rebuilt his strength to even greater levels by running and lifting weights. While pursuing his studies in jujitsu he also undertook sword training in the Yagyu form. His reputation as a formidable opponent apparently helped to solve a local fishing and boundary dispute during these years, and he was as well known for the quickness of his temper as he was for his strength and skill.(40)

Despite this the youthful Morihei Uyeshiba had displayed an extraordinary interest in spiritual studies, in which he was encouraged and supported by his parents. When he was seven years old he studied Shingon Buddhism, and at the age of ten he began the study of Zen Buddhism under the tutelage of a local priest. During the instruction in Shingon, he was also introduced to the principles of Tantric Buddhism.(41)

As are almost all Japanese even today, Uyeshiba was instilled with the beliefs of the native Shinto religion of Japan. He immersed himself deeply in Shinto practices after the death of his father, establishing the practice of erecting a Shinto shrine wherever he went in order to worship the kami, or spirits of his ancestors.(42) He would sometimes kneel in white robes on a rock or mountaintop and recite prayers continuously, astounding friends who knew him primarily as a hardened martial artist.(43)

Uyeshiba entered the Army in 1903, prior to the Russo-Japanese War. In the tradition of strength and ascetic endurance, the young soldier was known to train himself by hitting his head repeatedly against a stone pillar. He was to distinguish himself both in training and combat by his strength and fearlessness. He acquired the nickname “Stonehead” when a training sergeant almost broke his own hand by striking him on the top of the head.(44) This was later modified to “Ironhead” when two drunk NCO’s struck him on the head and both broke their fingers. Accused in court martial of assault on the two NCO’s, Uyeshiba was acquitted when his original training sergeant testified that he did, indeed, possess a head hard enough to involuntarily inflict such injuries.(45)

After leaving military service in Manchuria, where it is likely that he had the chance to at least observe some of the Chinese martial arts, Uyeshiba returned to his hometown and undertook the study of Judo. Before long he again became seriously ill from an unknown disease, and was bedridden for half a year. After his recovery he embarked in 1910 to become a settler of rugged Hokkaido, the northernmost major island of Japan. He soon distinguished himself through his strength and leadership capabilities.(46)

While there he met Sokaku Takeda, a master swordsman and teacher of the Daito Jujitsu sect. Takeda was a man of violent spirit and had a reputation, apparently well-deserved, as a dangerous man. He once engaged in a quarrel with some workmen on a Tokyo street. When they attacked Takeda after one of their number was injured in a scuffle, he drew his sword and battled furiously with 300 workers. The police arrived just in time to save the exhausted Takeda, and found scattered around him the bodies of 12 of the workers, along with scores of others who had been seriously wounded.(47)

Takeda’s temperament seems scarcely to have improved during the years that passed before Uyeshiba became his student. Uyeshiba recognized in his technique much of value, so he endured all of the servitude and abuse that Takeda subjected him to.; building him a house and paying exorbitant sums for each technique as Takeda taught it.(48) Involvement with the morally ambivalent and almost mythic character of Takeda will be seen to fit the pattern of Uyeshiba’s development, for it was necessary for the potentially evil aspects of the martial arts to be confronted and acknowledged before they could be transcended.

The techniques Uyeshiba mastered during this period, allegedly dating from the 9th century, involve the spirit of aiki-in-yo-ho, or “the doctrine of harmony of spirit based on yin and yang”. Aiki is not unique to the martial art Uyeshiba later founded, but is uniquely stressed in Aikido. It has been described as “…an impassive state of mind without a blind side, slackness, evil intention or fear.” This principle, and many of the movements by which it was expressed physically in the techniques taught by Takeda, were incorporated by Uyeshiba into Aikido.(49)

Study with Takeda was cut short in 1918 by news that Uyeshiba’s father was seriously ill. While traveling to be with his father, he made a side visit to a spiritual leader named Onisaburo Deguchi to request prayers for recovery, but by the time he completed the trip he found that his father had already passed away. Much impressed with the spirituality and insight of Rev. Deguchi, Uyeshiba soon moved his family to a mountaintop retreat near Deguchi’s mission in Ayabe. He remained a close associate and bodyguard, if not a disciple of Rev. Deguchi until 1926. During these years he also immersed himself, as already mentioned, in Shinto practice, and spent a great deal of time in the last few years of this period studying the movements of the spear with a small group of students. A number of the unique movements of Aikido technique were developed during these months of intense study.(50)

In his role as companion and bodyguard to Deguchi, Uyeshiba accompanied the leader and some of his disciples on a secret mission to Mongolia in 1921. The secrecy was necessary due to a scandal involving Deguchi’s Omoto sect regarding alleged disrespect to the Emperor, and possibly also due to the hidden political motives of contacts which were to be made with other religious and military groups in Mongolia. Deguchi and the others hoped to establish a new Peaceful Kingdom in Mongolia along the guidelines of the principles of the Omoto sect. This plan, unfortunately, conflicted with the interests of the local Chinese warlord. When they failed to meet with some of the sympathetic military forces, the Deguchi party became fugitives, soon held under the threat of execution. The last-minute intervention of the Japanese consulate saved them as they stood before a machine-gun firing squad, and they returned safely to Japan in 1925.(51)

His attraction to the charismatic personality and vision of world peace of Rev. Deguchi introduced Uyeshiba to some of the principles and spiritual practices which were to serve him well as his own art developed. It may be assumed that the experiences with the Omoto sect also had the effect of causing the founder of Aikido to doubt the wisdom of approaching spiritual goals by political or military means. His adventuresome spirit and devotion to Deguchi contributed to his becoming enmeshed in the ill-fated scheme of a Mongolian republic, but fortunately his personal and spiritual strength helped him survive the experience.

During these arduous months Uyeshiba had displayed great courage, and begun to display a “sixth sense” which allowed the anticipation of an opponent’s intended movements. On one occasion the party was held up at the point of a Mauser pistol. Uyeshiba felt the passage of a “spiritual bullet” moments before the pistol was actually fired, allowing him to step to the man’s side and disarm him.(52)

By this time Uyeshiba had begun to teach his art as Aikijujutsu. Though it was considerably indebted to Takeda’s techniques, Uyeshiba had altered many details of form and regarded the art as his own. This led to some unpleasant moments when Takeda unexpectedly arrived in Ayabe. Deguchi advised Uyeshiba to do all he could to get rid of this man, who he sensed was evil. Ultimately Takeda agreed to allow Uyeshiba to teach his modified art, while he continued to teach the more traditional form of aiki-jujutsu.

Aikijujutsu continued to expand and develop during these years under the guidance of Uyeshiba. It was still a vigorous and rather dangerous art. Photographs reveal that Uyeshiba still possessed a tank-like physique, and during this period he apparently earned the Japanese nickname equivalent to “Crash” Uyeshiba. Training was severe and injuries were undoubtedly common, but events were taking place which were to guide the developing spirituality of his art.

That he might have a personal calling to the promulgation of love in the world seems to have been first realized by Uyeshiba in 1925, when he was visited at his mountaintop retreat by a naval officer who was an accomplished swordsman. They argued, and agreed to settle the dispute with a match. As the officer attacked repeatedly with his wooden sword, Uyeshiba simply dodged the strikes without returning them until the exhausted officer simply quit in frustration.

Uyeshiba then retired to a nearby garden to rest. While he stood wiping his brow he suddenly felt rooted to the ground and veiled in a golden mist. He experienced himself as an incarnation of the Maitreya bodhisattva, and realized that he had a mission of world peace through a budo, a martial art of love. He felt the illusions of the world falling away, and realized that he had been wrong in thinking that strength or technical skill in the martial arts represented the spirit of budo.

I understood: Budo is not felling the opponent by our force; nor is it a tool to lead the world into destruction with arms. True budo is to accept the spirit of the universe, keep the peace of the world, correctly produce, protect and cultivate all beings in Nature. I understood: The training of budo is to take God’s love, which correctly produces, protects and cultivates all things in Nature, and assimilate and utilize it in our own mind and body.(53)

It was to be years before Uyeshiba was to fully attain the promise of the revelations of this experience. He was still immensely strong and committed to the martial ways of his youth. Increasingly, however, he began to display a deep regard for his fellow men and a reluctance to use force as a tool. On one occasion in 1930 he accompanied a group of disciples to the dedication of a new training hall.

Afterwards he led a group of young men on a hike to an elevation some miles distant in order to appreciate the view. The path led through some tea fields where farmers worked. Uyeshiba moved so quickly that the students were soon left far behind, so they began to cut across the fields in order to catch up. The owners and field workers were enraged and began to rush at the young men with sticks and bamboo poles, intent on driving the destructive intruders from the fields. The students responded by preparing for an exciting contest, and stood with wooden training staves at the ready.

Suddenly Uyeshiba, who had been far ahead only moments before, appeared between the two groups of antagonists, kneeling with his head low. He addressed the farmers, apologizing for his lost “children” and explaining that they had fallen behind because he had gone too fast for them. This ceremonious apology stupefied the farmers and the group passed without incident. At the summit the young stalwarts, anticipating a reprimand, were put at ease by Uyeshiba’s laughter over the scene.(54)

Several years later, when Uyeshiba was 50 years of age an incident occurred convincing him that matches must be prohibited in his martial art. A tall and powerfully built swordsman appeared one day and challenged the master, who assented to a match. When the man rushed in to strike him with a skull-crushing blow Uyeshiba simply slid diagonally to his rear, allowing the wooden sword to miss him by inches. The attacker’s tremendous momentum carried him into a wooden partition, resulting in such a severely crushed shoulder that the man’s career as a martial artist was at an end. Uyeshiba reflected for days on this incident, coming to the conclusion that he should have captured the swordsman’s energy and thrown him safely to the mat, thus saving him from the self-inflicted injury.(55)

He had already come to the realization that strength and skill were not enough—now he found that avoidance of conflict also was insufficient. Rather than either defeating or evading an enemy it was necessary, in the spirit of love, to receive the attack and neutralize it in such a way that the attacker would also escape injury and learn from the peaceful resolution of the conflict. Uyeshiba’s sense of responsibility, ever expanding, now came to include the universe, ethics and actions not only of his own experience, but also of his opponents.

Uyeshiba was highly regarded by many political and military figures who supported him in the expansion of the art. He accepted as students only those who seemed sincere and whose reputation was vouched for by those he knew and respected. It was his intention that the principles of his developing martial art not be misused by his students.(56)

One great challenge, growing out of loyalty to his country and Emperor, remained. In the spirit of patriotism he contributed to Japan’s readiness for war by training members of the military in techniques of a potentially lethal nature. Whatever doubts about this he may have felt, they did not become overt and overwhelming until the course of the war was already set upon.

From this commitment to a national identity, Uyeshiba made his instruction available to military and government agencies all through the 1930’s and into 1941. At various times he taught his techniques to the Naval Academy, government spy schools and the military police. The young officers and soldiers he taught were fanatically devoted to the nationalistic principles of the Japanese government. In their zeal one group of young officers decided to test their new martial arts instructor. While walking the grounds one evening Uyeshiba found himself surrounded by shadowy figures. About thirty of the young men attacked him with wooden swords and bayonets. He threw them easily, until they were too amazed and exhausted to continue.(57)

At the outbreak of World War II Uyeshiba was reluctant to continue teaching Aikibudo (as the art was now known) to the military, but was ordered to do so. Meanwhile all his beloved young students gradually disappeared to take part in the war. Only another serious illness saved Uyeshiba from either teaching his art to the military of facing legal action for treason. As his disciples departed into the armed forces, many never to return, Uyeshiba recognized the immense folly of violence on global scale. It could be speculated that the lingering and serious illness which saved Uyeshiba from the task of teaching martial arts during the war may have been an unconscious mechanism of a body and mind no longer tolerant of such an activity.

He retired to a life and quiet and contemplation at a remote farming community in Iwama where he considered the direction his art should take. As his strength renewed he began teaching a few selected students in a way which emphasized the spiritual aspects of the martial arts, and engaged in farming both as a discipline and a source of precious food during the difficult late war and post-war years. Faced with orders to commence teaching combat arts, Uyeshiba succeeded in delaying his response until the sudden end of the war freed him from an obligation which had become onerous to him.

The seclusion which Uyeshiba found in Iwama afforded him the opportunity to reflect deeply on the future course of Aikido. He expanded his vision still further to include the entire world in his sphere of responsibility. It became clear to him that the traditional forms of bujutsu and budo either contributed to or at best did little to limit the spread of violence and war in the world. With this realization in mind, he set about modifying his budo so that it might serve as a source of and catalyst for world peace and understanding.

Potentially lethal techniques were modified or eliminated from the art; the elitist requirements for admission to discipleship were progressively relaxed; as already mentioned the classical concept of kobo-itchi, defensive initiative, was eliminated from the new art. As a result in Aikido it is theoretically impossible for two adepts to attack each other in anger. During training attacks are made in a spirit of love and received in the spirit of peaceful reconciliation.(58)

While at Iwama Uyeshiba built, as was his custom, a Shinto shrine at which he worshipped daily. One of his senior disciples had indicated that one motive for the establishment and maintenance of this shrine was to establish spiritual authority from which to teach the sprit of world harmony to future generations. The shrine, dedicated to the Susano-no-Mikoto, the Shinto Storm God, has recently been designated the “inner sanctuary” of the spirit of Aikido.(59)

During these months of contemplation and renewal, Uyeshiba immersed himself in spiritual practices which had become part of his life during the years of Buddhist and Shinto study and his involvement with Rev. Deguchi. Before training he would invariably sit in front of the shrine’s altar and prepare himself psychologically until his spirit was ready. Similarly at the end of practice he would again sit upright before the altar settling and controlling his mind. This observance was influenced by his earlier study of Chinkon kishin, a mystical discipline of meditation for the union of the divine and human spirit, taught by Rev. Deguchi; and by Buddhist meditation practices. Disciples recall that during the reading of Buddhist scriptures before class on special occasions, Uyeshiba would exhibit an extremely intense spiritual presence and unbelievably great energy.(60)

During the post-war years Uyeshiba, known now as O’Sensei to his few private students, continued his study and development at Iwama. The martial arts were formally banned until 1948 under the Occupation forces and there seemed even to be a possibility that Uyeshiba would be tried for his early part in training soldiers for the war effort. Though some of his former students were actually punished for their war activities, Uyeshiba escaped the attention of the Occupation authorities.

In 1948 his new spiritually oriented martial art was formally recognized, and Aikido in much its present form began to actively spread through Japan, and soon appeared in the United States and Europe. From this time Uyeshiba’s art, formerly limited to a select group of people chosen for sincerity, interest in the martial traditions, samurai lineage or the elevated social position necessary to secure high-level recommendations, came to be offered to the general public.(61)

As the years went by and Aikido spread throughout the world, Uyeshiba continued to personally teach daily classes until shortly before his death. Frequently he would interrupt a training session and begin to talk, sometimes for more than an hour. His lectures often confused those who were not familiar with him, for he often talked about a wide variety of topics in an archaic style without any apparent organization. He might talk about the workings of the universe through the interrelationships between the “Ichirei shikon sangen hachiriki” (one spirit, four souls, three sources, eight powers) of ancient Shinto. He sometimes talked about Aikido as the result of “Kototama” (word-soul) through the application of breath power in specific sounds. Even stories of his early life and incidents of martial prowess contained references to the theories he had developed about the body, mind and spirit. Those who heard him many times were able to see how apparently disconnected subjects came together naturally in the workings of his inner thoughts.(62)

Uyeshiba himself traveled abroad only once, on a trip to Hawaii in 1960 for the dedication of the Hawaiian Aikido organization’s new training hall. His three week visit included many demonstrations and lectures intended to spread interest in Aikido at its first overseas base.(63) This movement overseas began in 1953 and continues today. It its facilitated by the assignment of shihan, or senior Japanese instructors to oversee the teaching in a given country or region.

In order to experience first-hand the profound spirituality of O’Sensei and his art it was necessary to travel to Japan, living and training there. Few Americans had the opportunity to do so before Uyeshiba’s death in 1969. One of those who did, Terry Dobson, trained with the aging master for the last eight years Uyeshiba lived. He has said that during those eight years he never heard Uyeshiba speak a single word about the mechanics of correct technique: He demonstrated technique, and spoke about love. Whenever Uyeshiba talked during these final years, it was about love and nothing else.

He nevertheless stressed the importance of physical technique to the understanding of the spirit of Aikido. If he was unable to hear the sounds of his principal disciples (uchi-deishi) practicing vigorously, he would come out of his room and berate them. He always insisted on vigorous attacks from his partners, stressing that the role of the uke (attacker) was as important in Aikido as that of the nage (defender). In demonstrations and classes, only those who consistently attacked him with sincerity and speed would be chosen for the honor of serving as his uke.

O’Sensei had become a frail-appearing man in his old age, weighing hardly more than one hundred pounds. Terry Dobson, who stands over six feet tall and weighs several hundred pounds, recalled the experience of attacking the founder of Aikido when he spoke to a class recently. One moment he would be facing a smiling, diminutive man, and the next he would feel eyes boring into the back of his head as he began to fly through the air. Others have described the experience of attacking the master as that of stepping into a golden haze, in which Uyeshiba was no longer where he had been a moment before. The next awareness was that of being on the mat, not quite sure what technique, if any, had been performed. During these later years Uyeshiba, in fact, often did not even touch the man he was throwing.

In his 80’s he was always assisted by several disciples when he walked or climbed stairs. When he stepped on the mat, however, he would come alive, the fire of youthful energy showing on his face as he demonstrated or spoke. One film shows him downing and stacking three successive attackers, then posing, his foot on the pile of writhing bodies with an elfish grin on his face. On one occasion he lay in his room recuperating from an illness while visitors kept him company. He excused himself to go to the bathroom, and failed to return for some time. The worried visitors finally looked out and found him on the mat, instructing some children in kneeling defense techniques. Shortly before he collapsed in Iwama and was taken to a hospital in Tokyo he was doing sword and staff partner practices. Careful diet, a life of intense activity, abstinence from drinking and smoking and above all an attitude of love contributed to the health and spirit of the master of Aikido, even into his extreme old age.(64)

The memory of O’Sensei is maintained by his disciples and their students, who attempt to practice his physical art and his attitude of love. He is regarded as the kami-sama (literally “patron saint”) of the martial arts, and a simple Shinto-like ceremony of bows and claps begins each training session for most students. Kneeling in Japanese fashion before a simple tokonoma, the wall niche decorated with a portrait of the founder, the characters for ai-ki-do and perhaps a few flowers in a simple vase, they seek to call on his spirit to observe, inspire and protect their training; and to thank him afterwards for his attention and contribution. At Iwama there is a Shinto shrine rather than just a tokonoma, the same shrine established years ago by the founder. Every month on the 14th there are festivals celebrating the anniversary of his birth. Food is cooked and offered to the kami-sama, and then consumed with sake.(65)

Despite these religious observances, characteristic of the Japanese culture, Aikido is neither a religion nor is it incompatible with religions. Uyeshiba considered the principles of Aikido to be a source of enlightenment and completion to religions, rather than a substitute for them.(66)

By the introduction of a true and fully experienced love that creates a context of responsibility for all that exists in the universe, Uyeshiba intended Aikido to provide a physical and spiritual complement to the activities and expressions of religion, in the form of love actualized.

He was convinced that the path to world peace lay in the dissemination of Aikido throughout the world. This certainty and the particular form of his art evolved out of his experience of the traditional martial forms and his exposure to many aspects of religious training. Further details of these will be considered in the next chapter.

(37) Katzuhiko Ikeda, Stnaley A. Pranin and Katsuki Terasawa, trans., “The Origen (sic) of Aikido; O’Sensei’s Early Years”, Aiki News 1:7:5,8.
(38) Uyeshiba, Aikido, p. 147.
(39) Ikeda, “The Origen (sic) of Aikido”, pp. 5,8.
(40) Uyeshiba, Aikido, pp. 147,148.
(41) Kisshomaru Uyeshiba, “Day In and Day Out Training”, Aiki News, 1:7:3.
(42) Kisshomaru Uyeshiba, “The Immovable Stance”, Aiki News, 1:7:3
(43) Uyeshiba, Aikido, p. 151.
(44) Katzuhiko Ikeda, Stanley A. Pranin and Katsuaki Terasawa, trans., “O’Sensei Enters the Army”, Aiki News 1:8:5.
(45) Katzuhiko Ikeda, Stanley A. Pranin and Katsuaki Terasawa, trans., “War Experiences”, Aiki News 2:1:5.
(46) Uyeshiba, Aikido, p 150.
(47) Draeger, Bujutsu and Budo, p. 139.
(48) Katzuhiko Ikeda, Stanley A. Pranin and Katsuaki Terasawa, trans., “O’Sensei’s Teacher, Sokaku Takeda”, Aiki News 2:2:5,6.
(49) Draeger, Bujutsu and Budo, p. 138.
(50) Uyeshiba, Aikido, pp. 146,151,152.
(51) Ibid., pp, 152,153.
(52) Ibid., pp. 154.
(53) Ibid., p. 5.
(54) George Ohsawa, “O’Sensei Anecdotes”, Aiki News 27:9,10.
(55) Katzuhiko Ikeda, Stanley A. Pranin and Katsuaki Terasawa, trans., “Aikido Matches Prohibited”, Aiki News 1:2:3,4.
(56) Uyeshiba, Aikido, pp. 158,159,162.
(57) Morihei Uyeshiba and Kisshomaru Uyeshiba, “Interview With O’Sensei and Kisshomaru Uyeshiba”, Aiki News 19:7.
(58) Draeger, Bujutsu and Budo, p. 144.
(59) Katzuhiko Ikeda, Stanley A. Pranin and Katsuaki Terasawa, trans., “The Spirit of Great Harmony”, Aiki News 17:11.
(60) Uyeshiba, “Day In and Day Out Training”, pp. 9,10.
(61) Uyeshiba, Aikido, p. 164.
(62) Uyeshiba, “Day In and Day Out Training”, p. 10.
(63) Pat Catlett and Mel Flanagan, “The History of Aikido In Hawaii”, Federation News 6:1,2.
(64) Stanley A. Pranin, “O’Sensei’s Training Example”, Aiki News 27:8,9.
(65) Bill Witt, “Aiki News Interviews S.F. Sensei: Bill Witt Talks About Saito Sensei”, Aiki News 1:6:6.
(66) Uyeshiba, Aikido, p. 179.

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Comments

  1. O Sensei was enmeshed in and supported by the Japanese politico-military system. Many of his circle were later indicted for war crimes. His sons served and died for the emperor. In those years the most salient distinction O Sensei enjoyed was “getting off the line” to Iwama when American bombing of urban areas became normal. Takeda sensei was probably burned to death in an incendiary raid. That said, was he, in turn, a supporter of the military elite. Probably not. He was probably a supporter of his religion and devout religious practice as well as his martial art. But it wouldn’t have been polite to ask, in the day, and even now it seems difficult for Japan and Japanese to face up to what they did in the 1930s and ’40s.

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