“20 interviews meticulously edited from hundreds of hours of conversations conducted over a 30-year period with those closest to Morihei Ueshiba.”
Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) drew on his extensive martial arts experience as a young man, fusing this knowledge with his deeply-held religious beliefs, to create the modern self-defense art of Aikido.
During his long career, Ueshiba associated with some of prewar Japan’s most colorful characters, including famous jujutsu master Sokaku Takeda, the charismatic religious leader Onisaburo Deguchi, and numerous members of Japan’s military, political, and business elite. Here is the captivating story of the birth of aikido, based on the first-hand accounts of Ueshiba’s top students prior to World War II.
The 20 interviews contained in Aikido Pioneers – Prewar Era have been meticulously edited from hundreds of hours of conversations conducted over a 30-year period with those closest to the Founder. These early devotees of the art offer an insightful portrayal of the character of the Aikido Founder, and a detailed description of his teaching and activities, spanning nearly half a century. More than 100 photos, many published for the first time, add an important visual dimension to the testimonies of the interviewees. This massive 364-page tome is an essential volume for those desiring to discover the roots of Aikido, a true cultural treasure of Japan. It is now available for the first time in ebook format affordable priced at $8.99.
Historical Overview by Stanley Pranin – 20 interviews with the following Aikido Pioneers of the Prewar Era:
Noriaki (Yoichiro) Inoue – nephew of Morihei Ueshiba, and one of the most skilled of the Founder’s students who went on to create Shinei Taido following the war
Kenji Tomiki – began Daito-ryu aikijujutsu in 1925 under Morihei, later becoming Waseda University professor and Founder of Tomiki Aikido, the only form of the art to incorporate competition
Hisao Kamada – one of Morihei’s earliest students with an insider’s knowledge of the beginnings of aikido
Hajime Iwata – early disciple of Founder who taught Aiki Budo in Shanghai, China, and later rose to the rank of 9th dan
Minoru Mochizuki – judo champion sent to study with Morihei by Jigoro Kano of Kodokan Judo fame who later pioneered aikido in France and created Yoseikan Budo
Shigemi Yonekawa – one of the most skilled of the prewar uchideshi known for appearing with the Founder in the famous Noma Dojo photo series
Rinjiro Shirata – the pride of the Kobukan Dojo who, following World War II, taught aikido in the Tohoku region and was later awarded 9th dan
Gozo Shioda – dynamic early disciple of Morihei who took the lead in developing postwar aikido and established Yoshinkan Aikido
Yoshio Sugino – judo and Katori Shinto-ryu adept who enrolled at Kobukan Dojo, and later choreographed martial arts scenes for Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and Yojimbo
Kiyoshi Nakakura – adopted son of Morihei Ueshiba, and one of Japan’s top swordsmen of the twentieth century
Takako Kunigoshi – one of the few female Aiki Budo practitioners, and skilled artist who created technical drawings for Budo Renshu
Zenzaburo Akazawa – from a family of Omoto believers, began Aiki Budo at 12 years old and served Morihei and his family during the prewar era
Tenryu – the famous sumo wrestler who rebeled against the feudalistic prewar Sumo Association, and who studied under Morihei after finding himself powerless against the Founder
Bansen Tanaka – prewar student of Morihei from Osaka who created a large aikido organization after the war, and was awarded 9th dan
Shigenobu Okumura – a student at famous Kenkoku University in Manchuria, who became one of the backbones of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo after the war, and rose to the rank of 9th dan
Minoru Hirai – General Affairs Director of Kobukan Dojo who had a key role in selecting the name “aikido,” and who would later found Korindo Aikido
Koichi Tohei – one of Morihei’s most famous students, pioneer of aikido in Hawaii and the USA, who attained the rank of 10th dan, and later founded Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido
Kisaburo Osawa – devoted early student of Founder who served as Dojo-cho of the postwar Aikikai Hombu Dojo, and rose to the rank of 9th dan
Kanshu Sunadomari – from a family of devout Omoto believers, trained at Kobukan Dojo during the war, and later pioneered aikido in Kyushu, reached the rank of 9th dan, and established Manseikan Aikido
Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba – Morihei’s son, administrator and leading figure of postwar aikido, prolific author, and the art’s Second Doshu
About the Author
Stanley Pranin is a 5th degree aikido black belt, and Editor-in-Chief of Aikido Journal, formerly known as Aiki News. An avid historian of Aikido, Pranin has lived in Japan for more than 20 years conducting research into the art, especially the life and work of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. He is the author of The Encyclopedia of Aikido, and hundreds of articles written about every aspect of this Japanese martial art.
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