“Morihei Ueshiba and Gozo Shioda,” by Stanley Pranin

When it comes to showing aikido to the general public in a way both attractive and easy to understand, Gozo Shioda stands alone. He combines a lucid analysis of aikido theory with crisp technique and a liberal dash of humor. The observer of a Shioda aikido demonstration is almost invariably caught up in the mood of the experience and is ready to join an aikido dojo without the least bit of coaxing. Moreover, Shioda never fails to acknowledge his teacher Morihei Ueshiba and the fact that aikido evolved from the techniques of Daito-ryu aikijujutsu. In part seven of this series, Aikido Journal’s own editor-in-chief, Stanley Pranin, relates some of the highlights of Shioda’s fascinating career.

Gozo Shioda (1915-1994)

The second son of a well-known pediatrician, Seiichi Shioda, Gozo was born in Tokyo on September 9, 1915. A small, sickly child, Shioda credits his very survival to the medical skills of his physician-father. Young Gozo enjoyed a privileged upbringing, but at the same time was subject to the directives of his strong-willed father.

His fateful meeting with Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, came about in a rather unusual way. Mr. Munetaka Abe, Gozo’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.

On May 23, 1932, the seventeen-year-old Gozo appeared at the Ueshiba dojo to witness a demonstration. Having a strong background in both kendo and judo, the confident young Shioda was skeptical of the clean, controlled techniques he saw performed. Sensing the lad’s attitude, Ueshiba invited him to attack and, in the blink of an eye, Shioda found himself flat on his back, rubbing his head, after an unsuccessful attempt to kick.

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