Feb
08

FREE VIDEO thru Saturday — “Meet Morihei Ueshiba’s Family!”




“Introduction to Morihei Ueshiba’s Family and Successors!”

In this screencast, Stanley Pranin presents a chart containing an abbreviated genealogical tree of the Ueshiba Family and discusses Morihei Ueshiba’s family background, aikido-related relatives, and the line of succession in aikido.

Duration: 6:29 minutes
Access: free through Saturday, February 11th

Transcript of screencast

Hi, I’m Stanley Pranin, and welcome to another episode of “Focus on History.” Today I’d like to present to you some important information on Morihei Ueshiba’s family background. I will briefly discuss the following topics:

- Morihei’s parents and sisters, especially, the importance of the marriage of the oldest sister, Tame, to Zenzo Inoue, and their son, Yoichiro.

- The marriage of Morihei’s daughter, Matsuko, to a famous kendoka, who was designated as Morihei’s successor

- Kisshomaru’s selection as Morihei’s actual successor, and the Ueshiba family line of succession including the present Doshu, Moriteru Ueshiba, and his son and future Doshu, Mitsuteru Ueshiba.

Morihei Ueshiba flanked by his sister, Chiyo, on the left, and Kiku, on the right

A couple of conventions I use in this chart are as follows:: the yellow background denotes the paternal line of the Ueshiba family; the gray background indicates family members who are directly related to the development of aikido, and the purple line shows the line of succession of aikido’s leaders, known as “Doshu.”

Ok, let’s get started. First of all, Morihei’s parents were his father, Yoroku, and mother, Yuki. Yoroku was a prominent resident of Tanabe, moderately wealthy, and a long-serving town council member. The couple had a total of 5 children, 4 daughters–Tame, Hisano, Chiyo and Kiku–and one son, Morihei. Morihei was the fourth born…

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to view Stanley Pranin’s screencast on the “Ueshiba Family Tree”

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Feb
06

“A Biography of Rinjiro Shirata – Part 1,” by Kozo Kaku

Rinjiro Shirata (1912-1993)

A Talent known as the “Kobukan Prodigy”

A Contest Between Different Styles

“Fold them in two,” is a good way to put it. This certainly describes Rinjiro Shirata’s attitude. He was tough on opponents who challenged him, to the point of being uncaring. It was hard not to feel sympathy for the challenger.

Of course, he had good reason for his demeanor.

Construction of the Kobukan Dojo was completed in April 1931 on the site where the present Aikikai Honbu Dojo now stands. The dojo held 80 tatami mats and was headed by a great master of the period, Morihei Ueshiba. At the time, he was teaching a martial art called things like “Ueshiba-ryu Jujutsu” or “Aiki Budo.” Important people such as business leaders and high-ranking military officers were drawn by his fame and lined up to be his students.

At the same time, Morihei attracted young men from all over the country who came to the Kobukan in an effort to meet him. But Morihei wasn’t trying to spread his personal budo across the world. Instead, his efforts were directed toward further progress and the refinement of his personal technique. He didn’t say it was a nuisance; he just did not have much interest in having many students, especially uchideshi, or throwing his doors wide open. It could be said that, for this reason, he never admitted an aspiring student who asked to join without a proper introduction from a sponsor, and this reinforced a mystique that covered the private confines of the Kobukan like a veil.


Rinjiro Shirata resources on the Aikido Journal Members Site:

Video: Rinjiro Shirata — “1978 Yamagata TV Documentary — Part 1″ (member video)
Video: Rinjiro Shirata — “A Catalog of Prewar Aiki Budo Techniques — Part 1″ (member video)
Video: Rinjiro Shirata — “A Catalog of Prewar Aiki Budo Techniques — Part 2″ (member video)
Interview with Rinjiro Shirata (1)
Rinjiro Shirata 白田林二郎
Video: Rinjiro Shirata, 9th dan, at the 1986 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration (member video)


Happily, Rinjiro Shirata, who aspired to be an aikidoka, was blessed with a sponsor and, with the teacher’s approval, became an uchideshi in 1932. A year later, he had distinguished himself among the uchideshi.

“Hey Shirata, see who’s out front!”

Whenever there was a menacing visitor, the senior uchideshi always had Rinjiro take care of it. Indeed, he had a good physique. His height was 5’ 7”, his weight, 165 pounds, and he was 20 years old. He was a son of the Yamagata “Mountain Forest King” and it showed in his countenance. His fair skin, eyes, nose and mouth projected the clear image of Momotaro, the Peach Boy, straight out of a fairy tale.

“I’ll take care of it.”
[Read more...]

Feb
05

“Aikido Pioneers – Prewar Era” – The book that will change your view of Aikido’s origins!

DOWNLOAD PDF FILE (SEE BELOW).

It is our pleasure to announce the availability of one of the most important books on Aikido history ever published, Aikido Pioneers-Prewar Era by Stanley Pranin. This new title weighs in at a hefty 364 pages and contains in-depth interviews with twenty of the most important early students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. These early disciples of the art witnessed and participated in the process that culminated in the birth of modern Aikido. Their testimonies constitute an invaluable source of information for those seeking an understanding of the roots of aikido.
[Read more...]

Feb
04

FREE DOWNLOAD: Daito-ryu Special Issue… Aiki News Number 79, 1988

“Sokaku Takeda, Tokimune Takeda, Katsuyuki Kondo,
Morihei Ueshiba, Gozo Shioda, and more!

Aiki News Number 79, 1988

Contents


     ● Editorial – Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu: The Present State of Affairs by Stanley Pranin
     ● Katsuyuki Kondo Interview , by Stanley Pranin
     ● Kiyoshi Nakakura Interview (2), by Stanley Pranin
     ● Response to John Stevens (2), by Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Daitokan
     ● Japanese for Aikidoka
     ● Essay on Jigoro Kano of Judo, by Minoru Mochizuki
     ● Morihei Ueshiba Biography (8), by Kanemoto Sunadomari
     ● Sokaku Takeda Biography (6), by Tokimune Takeda
     ● An Aikido Life (2), by Gozo Shioda
     ● Essay on “Gorin no Sho”, by Toshio Watanabe
     ● Heard in the Dojo
     ● Letters to the Editor

Access: free through Monday, February 6

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and download the PDF file of Aiki News Number 79

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Feb
04

“The Power of Bu,” by Nev Sagiba

The very first amoeba to emerge from this earth’s primordial soup was eaten by the next and it still rankles in the spirit of the Universe, giving rise to principles of defence and protectivity, law, jurisprudence and survival skills.

And after that, the whole of evolution was one of predation and defence in which “Cain” was continually trying to kill “Abel,” sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

Akin to the grain of sand in the oyster, from this imbalance and the attrition that follows in the seeking of restitution, many things are learnt.

It has not ended. The perfect balance may well arrive at the end of a concatenation of immense cycles of time when all things shall return to the fullness of void, the original minestrone.

From total simplicity, emerges infinite complexity to which it ultimately returns. Let’s think outside of the myopic box of suburban decay for a moment and project our minds into the infinity of the vast soup of Universes comprising the infinite Omniverse.

If you head starts to hurt, it’s only because you don’t do this often.
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Feb
03

“If Morihei was complicit in wartime activities, should this affect our acceptance of his aikido philosophy?” by Stanley Pranin

“Would knowledge of an extensive involvement on his part
affect your current view of his philosophy of aikido?”

Morihei Ueshiba in 1942

That Morihei was heavily involved in Japan’s wartime efforts is an historically verifiable fact. He associated with many of the elites of the prewar era, including numerous military and political persons of influence. He also taught combat skills to young men being prepared for battle at several leading military institutions for lengthy periods. You may wish to refer to my essay “Kobukan Dojo Era — Part 2″ for an introduction to Morihei’s activities in this regard. Peter Goldsbury and Ellis Amdur have also contributed excellent research into the subject of Morihei Ueshiba’s participation in war-related activities.

Equally certain is the fact that Morihei’s was profoundly affected by the disastrous consequences of Japan’s defeat in World War II. He turned his focus inward even as the war was in full progress with his retirement to Iwama in 1942 to enter a period of deep reflection. This phase of Morihei’s life has a great deal to do with significant changes in the Founder’s thinking, and the evolution of the philosophy underpinning modern aikido.

The writings of Japanese authors–especially Morihei’s son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba–and those who have based themselves on their published works, have treaded very lightly in treating the subject of Morihei’s wartime involvement. While calling attention to Morihei’s abundant associations with Japan’s power elite, there is no hint of his being complicit in any way in any of the irreproachable actions committed during this tumultuous period. As if to counterbalance his involvement in such activities, there is only a brief reference to Morihei’s participation in an unsuccessful, secret peace initiative instigated by Prince Fumimaro Konoe, who had been Japan’s Prime Minister twice during the period of 1937-1941.

Morihei is said to have traveled to the continent–meaning China–together with Tsutomu Yukawa, one of his students, at some unspecified time shortly after Japan invaded Pearl Harbor in December 1941. The purpose of this trip was to enter secret peace negotiations with Chinese authorities. Unfortunately, the brief description of Morihei’s trip, though tantalizing, is very vague. Konoe had already resigned in October 1941 and his political clout was greatly diminished due to his inability to rein in the Japanese military.

Morihei is known to have made a trip to Manchukuo-the Japanese puppet government of Manchuria–in the summer of 1942, accompanied by Tsutomu Yukawa. Whether this is the occasion referred to is uncertain, but Konoe’s influence is, at that point, questionable. Without additional research, it is difficult to make any conclusive statement about Morihei’s supposed part in this peace tentative.

With this brief introduction as a backdrop, I would be very interested in getting the reaction of the aikido community concerning Morihei’s military-related activities in the prewar period. Would knowledge of an extensive involvement on his part affect your current view of his philosophy of aikido? I know we have some very smart, articulate people in our readership, and I would love to hear your opinions on this sensitive issue.

Feb
02

Rinjiro Shirata: Free never-before-seen video of 9th dan Aikido Great!

“One of Morihei Ueshiba’s Most Skilled Prewar Uchideshi!”

This video is part one of a 80-minute tv documentary spotlighting Rinjiro Shirata, 9th dan, that was aired in 1978 in Yamagata Preference. This is an especially important historical document as it includes a rare interview with Shirata Sensei, historical photographs, plenty of aikido action, etc. This long-buried documentary contains essential information to give today’s aikidoka an intimate glimpse of the Shirata Sensei, one of the aikido’s greatest figures.

Born on March 29, 1912 in Yamagata Prefecture to a family of Omoto believers, Rinjiro Shirata was accepted into the Kobukan Dojo of aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba as an uchideshi in 1932. Known for his modest character and great physical strength, he quickly became one of the star pupils of the “Hell Dojo,” as the founder’s early school was called. Shirata later spent a short period teaching aiki budo in Osaka before being drafted into the Japanese Imperial Army. He spent the war years stationed in Burma until his repatriation.

Shirata’s training was interrupted for several years due to the war, but he began actively teaching again in Aomori in 1959. In 1962, he received the 8th dan rank from the founder. At this time, his teaching activities were concentrated in his native Yamagata. Shirata was awarded 9th dan in 1972 by Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba and is one of only a handful of people ever to have achieved this rank. Shirata was also active in the International Aikido Federation following its establishment in 1976. He occupied several high posts and served on the technical council. He traveled to Honolulu in 1978 in connection with the IAF and to Chicago in 1984 at the invitation of Akira Tohei Sensei. On both occasions, foreign practitioners responded enthusiastically to his skillful, yet gentle approach to teaching.

Devoted to the spread of aikido and one of the staunchest supporters of the Ueshiba family, Shirata was a regular participant over the years in major Aikikai-sponsored events such as the All-Japan Aikido Demonstration, the Iwama Taisai, and the Kagami Biraki New Year Celebration at the Tokyo Hombu Dojo.

Duration: 28:37 minutes
Access: free through Monday, February 6

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and view Part 1 of the 1978 Rinjiro Shirata TV documentary

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Feb
01

Video: Koichi Tohei teaches Ki Society Seminar in Osaka, 1983 — Part 3

“Find Out What Koichi Tohei Taught Direct from the Source!”

Koichi Tohei Sensei’s contributions to postwar aikido are huge. Since his departure from the Aikikai in 1974, newer generations of aikidoka are only vaguely aware of his activities and teaching methodologies. Through videos such as these, we are able to bridge the time gap and introduce our readers to source materials so as to improve their understanding of aikido’s roots.

This video clip is taken from a rare seminar conducted personally by Koichi Tohei Sensei in Osaka in 1983. He is in excellent physical condition and demonstrates and explains scores of techniques to seminar participants. This is the Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido content taught by Tohei Sensei that retains many of its aikido roots. His explanations are invaluable in order to clarify the Ki principles that underpin his aikido approach.

Tohei developed his own independent national and international network including those dojos and individuals who remained loyal to him after his split from the Aikikai. His headquarters dojo is located not far from the Aikikai site in Shinjuku. The instruction given in Tohei-affiliated dojos includes various exercises for Ki development and a limited number of aikido techniques. The headquarters dojo also offers courses in Kiatsu or Ki pressure techniques.

Duration: 17:57 minutes
Access: free through Saturday, February 4

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login to view Part 3 of the 1983 Osaka seminar taught by Koichi Tohei Sensei

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