“Chronology of Sokaku Takeda,” by Stanley Pranin


Year Event
Sokaku Takeda born on October 10, 1859 at the Takeda Mansion in Oike, Aizu Bange-cho, in present-day Fukushima Prefecture. Father, Sokichi Takeda (1819-1906), mother Tomi (unknown dates), daughter of Dengoro Kurokochi.
1867 As a boy of eight, witnesses battles of the Aizu War taking place all around him.
on December 14.
1868 [Mass suicide of family of Saigo Tanomo, chief councillor (karo) of Aizu Han during Aizu War.]
on December 14.
c1869 Studies Hozoin Takada-ha Sojutsu from his father-in-law, Dengoro Kurokochi.
c1870 Studies Onoha Itto-ryu sword began as a boy at the Yokikan dojo of Toma Shibuya in Aizu Bange-cho.
c1871 Competes and wins in sumo matches in regional tournaments without his father’s permission.
1872 Expelled from temple school due to misbehavior.
Becomes a live-in student (uchideshi) at the Jiki Shinkage-ryu dojo of famous swordsman Kenkichi Sakakibara (1830-1894) in Tokyo. Curriculum includes sword, staff, spear, small bow, kusarigama, naginata, and other weapons.

c1874 Participates in Gekkenkai fencing tournaments popular at the time.
1875 Returning home from Sakakibara dojo for visit, narrowly escapes gang battle on bridge in Inawashiro in Fukushima Prefecture. Cuts several attackers and saves himself by jumping into the river.
1876 Death of older brother, Sokatsu on September 2. On return home, encounters three outlaws waiting in ambush and kills one with his sword and seriously injures other two.
Father Sokichi decides Sokaku is to enter priesthood succeeding his late brother. Enters Tsutsukowake Shrine precinct in eastern Shirakawa County in Fukushima Prefecture under the tutelage of Chikanori Hoshina (Tanomo Saigo).
Abandons priestly duties to join Takamori Saigo’s anti-government forces in Kyushu.
Kenkichi Sakakibara provides Sokaku letter of recommendation to Shunzo Momonoi (1826-1886), Headmaster of the Kyoshin Meichi-ryu sword school of Sakai City, Osaka. (November)
1877 Secretly departs from Osaka to join Takamori Saigo’s army, but later abandons plan.
Set out on journey to Kyushu for self-training (September). Joins a troupe of acrobats in Nagasaki Prefecture.
1878 In Kumamoto Prefecture, observes Okinawa-te (karate) arts, and defeats karate expert.
Tours Kyushu and Okinawan islands.
Possible journey to Hawaii (undocumented).
1879 Returns to Kyushu from Okinawa. Engages in sword training while traveling around Kyushu.
Encunters religious ascetics and practices esoteric Buddhism.
1880 Engages in spear training at Sakai dojo in Kumamoto. Loses two front teeth in match with two opponents using real spears.
1882 Engages in fight with gang of construction workers in Fukushima Prefecture during which he kills several attackers. Jailed for one month before being acquitted after verdict ruling deaths self-defense.
1887 Accompanies Tsugumichi Saigo, younger brother of Takamori Saigo, to Hokkaido.
c1888 Marries Kon and union produces two children.
c1890 Visits of unknown duration to Nikko Toshogu and Ryozen shrines to study under Chikanori Hoshina.
1891-1897 Possible periods of training under his father Sokichi that included Daito-ryu techniques (speculative).
1898 Conducts Daito-ryu seminar in Miyagi Prefecture in May, earliest record from Sokaku’s enrollment books (eimeiroku)
1899 Conducts a series of seminars in Miyagi Prefecture.
1900 Conducts seminars in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures.
1901 Conducts seminars in Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures.
1902 Conducts seminars in Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures.
1903 Conducts seminars in Iwate Prefecture.
1904 Conducts seminars in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures.
1905 Conducts seminars in Miyagi, Fukushima and Yamagata Prefectures.
1906 Conducts seminars in Yamagata Prefecture.
1907 Conducts seminars in Yamagata Prefecture.
1908 Conducts seminars in Yamagata Prefecture.
1909 Conducts seminars in Yamagata, Miyagi, and Akita Prefecture.
1910 Conducts seminars in Akita and Fukushima Prefecture, and Hokkaido.
Accompanies Akita prefectural police chief Takarabe Sanehide to Hokkaido.
1911-1912 Conducts seminars in Hokkaido.
1913 Conducts seminars in Hokkaido.
Marriage to Sue (1890-1930) about this time. Union produces seven children, including Tokimune Takeda, Sokaku’s successor.
1914 Conducts seminars in Hokkaido.
1915 Meets Morihei Ueshiba in February at Hisada Inn in Engaru on introduction of Kotaro Yoshida (1883-1966).
Conducts back-to-back seminars in Engaru with Morihei Ueshiba participating (February to March).
1916 Conducts seminars in which Morihei Ueshiba participates, possibly in Shirataki (February to March).
Establishes residence in Shirataki around this time.
1917 Conducts seminars in Hokkaido, probably in which Morihei Ueshiba participates.
1918 Conducts seminars in Hokkaido, probably in which Morihei Ueshiba participates.
1919 Morihei Ueshiba departs Shirataki leaving house and possessions to Sokaku Takeda (December).
1920 Conducts seminars in Hokkaido.
1921 Conducts seminars in Hokkaido and Fukushima Prefecture.
1922 Conducts seminars in Fukushima Prefecture (February-March).
Visits Ueshiba home in Ayabe, near Kyoto, where he teaches in “Ueshiba Juku” (April 28 to September 15).
Awards Kyoju Dairi teaching certification and Shinkage-ryu sword transmission scroll to Morihei Ueshiba (September).
1923-1928 Conducts seminars in Hokkaido.
1929 Admiral Isamu Takeshita studies under Sokaku Takeda, presumably with Morihei Ueshiba present (unconfirmed testimony of Tokimune Takeda).
1930 Conducts seminars in Hokkaido.
Interviewed by Tokyo Asahi News journalist Yoichi Ozaka in July. Article appeared in print on August 17, 1930.
Second wife, Sue, perishes in fire in Shirataki.
1931 Conducts seminar in Morihei Ueshiba’s Tokyo dojo just prior to its official opening (April).
Conducts seminars in Hokkaido and Yamagata Prefecture.
1932 Conducts seminars in Hokkaido.
1933 Conducts seminars in Hokkaido and Yamagata Prefecture.
1934 Conducts seminars in Hokkaido and Iwate Prefecture.
1935 Conducts seminars in Fukushima, Yamagata, Iwate Prefectures, and Hokkaido.
1936 Conducts seminars in Miyagi and Saitama Prefectures, Tokyo and Osaka.
Takes over instruction of Osaka Asahi News dojo from Morihei Ueshiba.
1937 Conducts seminars in Osaka and Hokkaido.
Awards Kyoju Dairi teaching certification to Takuma Hisa.
1938 Conducts seminars in Osaka.
1939 Conducts seminars in Osaka and Hokkaido.
Awards Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu Menkyo Kaiden certification to Takuma Hisa and Masao Tonedate of Asahi News dojo (March).
1940-42 Conducts seminars in Hokkaido.
1943 Conducts seminars in Aomori Prefecture.
Dies of stroke while teaching in Aomori on April 25.

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  1. Stan,

    I’ve read rumors of some video of Takeda sensei being in existence. Do you know anything about that?

    • I heard a rumor to this effect back in the 1990s but was never able to find any evidence of such a film. It would certainly be a find if it did indeed exist!

  2. Great chronology of an “Old School” warrior…and a glimpse at the type of men who were what legends are made from. When I travel to Japan and get into the back country and observe how heavily forested and mountainous the landscape is the tenacity of those old warriors traveling thru that country is quite impressive.

  3. Very interesting article, but i cannot see the link with the idea of making Osensei his successor.

    • There was a point in time in Hokkaido when discussions took place between Takeda and Morihei about the latter becoming his successor. I have evidence to this effect and will publish it in the not too distant future.

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