“Look… O-Sensei had no wrists!”
This is quite an interesting photo taken in the early 1960s at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo which would put the Founder in his late 70s. O-Sensei’s body development was quite remarkable, and the Founder took pride in his physical conditioning.
I once remember Sadateru Arikawa Sensei saying, “The Founder had no wrists!” By that he meant that the thickness of his forearms extended right into his hands so that it appeared he had no wrists! This photo demonstrates what Arikawa Sensei was talking about.
For another take on the Founder’s powerful physique, here is a comment from Shizuo Imaizumi Sensei of the Shin Budo Kai:
One other time I saw O-Sensei’s naked figure. One day Saburo Sugiyama, a member of the the board of directors of the Aikikai, invited O-Sensei to try out a whirlpool bath at the clinic he owned in Nihonbashi. In those days, it was very rare for a person to have a whirlpool bath. As you know, they are very popular now. We took a taxi to the clinic from Hombu Dojo. When we arrived we were led up to the whirlpool room. I helped O-Sensei take off his clothes. He was dressed in nothing but a loincloth and entered the bath by himself. While I was waiting for him to return to the dressing room I watched him through the glass because I had to remain alert in my capacity as his assistant. It seemed to me that he was enjoying this new experience. When he came out, I began to prepare a bath towel for him to dry off. I was surprised at how thick his chest was. His breasts were hanging down like an old woman. Although he was in his eighties at that time, I could imagine that he had muscles of iron in his prime. If you doubt my story, you should look at the photograph of O-Sensei naked from the waist up on page 20 of Budo – Teachings of the Founder of Aikido by Morihei Ueshiba published in 1991 by Kodansha International, Tokyo.
The Morihei Ueshiba Founder’s Course is O-Sensei’s video legacy starting in 1935 and covering a span of 34 years until just before his passing in 1969. Besides the more than 30 films of the Founder, the course includes three rare audio interviews of O-Sensei with complete subtitles. These are wonderfully intimate conversations with the Founder that convey his bright personality, playfulness and sincerity. In addition, the course includes a series of video documentaries by Stanley Pranin on the life of the Founder and the spread of his art worldwide.