“The rumor is that Sokaku fled to Hokkaido to escape the authorities after being implicated in a killing. This story and others were repeated, it seems, in an attempt to discredit Sokaku, thereby making Morihei Ueshiba’s parting-of-the-ways with his teacher seem more justifiable.”
From Aikido Journal #104 (1995)
Sokaku Takeda is well-known as the principal martial arts instructor of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido. As I have pointed out on several occasions, the revival of interest in Takeda’s art, Daito-ryu aikijujutsu, is largely due to the popularization of aikido in Japan and abroad after World War II. It seems inevitable that with hundreds of thousands of people having now studied aikido, there would be a certain interest in the “roots” of the art. In the first two articles of this series we have tried to place Daito-ryu in historical context and trace Sokaku’s formative years. Now we will turn our attention to his unparalleled teaching career that spanned more than fifty years and touched the lives of some 30,000 students.
Apart from an abundance of anecdotal evidence concerning Sokaku gleaned from his son and students, our main aids in tracing his activities are the enrollment registers (eimeiroku) and payments received ledgers (shareiroku) that he meticulously kept over some forty-five years. Since these documents comprise over 2,000 pages, our research thus far has been limited to a preliminary study of the eimeiroku.
Nonetheless, by charting a chronology of Sokaku’s movements from 1898 through 1943, for example, quite a clear picture of his teaching activities emerges. We find that he spent most of teaching career in northern Japan, and more than half of this time he was in Hokkaido. What follows is a summary of his activities during this period.
Spring 1898 through fall of 1910: Tohoku region with lengthy periods of stay in Miyagi, Iwate, and Yamagata prefectures. Shorter sojourns to Fukushima and Akita during this time are also recorded. There is mention of a brief trip to Hokkaido in July of 1904 as well….