Recommended reading: “Interview with Seiseki Abe” by Stanley Pranin

The interview below with Seiseki Abe Sensei of Osaka, has been selected from the extensive archives of the Online Aikido Journal. We believe that an informed readership with knowledge of the history, techniques and philosophy of aikido is essential to the growth of the art and its adherence to the principles espoused by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

I first met Ueshiba Sensei at the Osaka Dojo of Bansen Tanaka Sensei. At that time I had no idea that it was the opening ceremony for the dojo. I was just passing by when I suddenly noticed a sign that read Morihei Ueshiba. I guess that it was some kind of (mysterious) guidance from O-Sensei; anyway, I went right in. That’s when I realized that the dojo had been open only the day before, and that the display, at the misogi-kai, was given by the same Ueshiba Sensei. When I mentioned it, I was immediately taken upstairs. There I asked Ueshiba Sensei, “How did you ever learn such a wonderful budo?” He answered, “Through misogi” Now, I had been doing misogi since 1941 and when I heard that Aikido came from misogi, suddenly, “snap” the two came together. Then and there, I made up my mind that I had to dedicate myself to learning Aikido and stick with O-Sensei to the bitter end.

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  1. Goodness! …and all i was hoping to do was hone my fighting skills because of a nasty neighborhood situation when i wandered into Bruce Klickstein’s dojo on College Ave in Oakland…

  2. Tom Collings says:

    In my brief contact with Seiseki Abe Sensei his teaching was wonderful and calligraphy awesome. It is human nature to embellish our recollection of our teacher’s abilities as the years go by but historical accuracy is important and sometimes truth is even more impressive than fiction.

    I recall very distinctly Chiba Sensei sharing the incident of striking O’Sensei on the head at that demo, he was quite emotional as it was clearly a very traumatic event in his life:

    O’Sensei was actually injured quite seriously, the description sounded like a severe concussion. Chiba was so shaken by the incident he resigned himself to end his life by committing seppuku for having injured and “disgraced” his teacher. O’Sensei, hearing of Chiba’s intentions summoned him to the hospital – he congratulated him on a very impressive sword strike, and ordering him to forget his planned seppuku.

    O’Sensei’s reaction to the incident is so instructive – no anger, no embarrassment, only compassion. In O’Sensei’s aikido mistakes happen, injuries happen – but there is no no place blaming. Turning the founder into someone “superhuman” or some kind of god I think is not helpful,it only further separates him from us. He is far more inspirational as a fallible man, with a selfless commitment to truth.

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