Shoji Nishio: Dazzling action stills of a martial art genius

“Dazzling as the Founder’s technique was, Ueshiba offered
no real explanation of what he was doing.”

When Shoji Nishio joined the Aikikai, the founder Ueshiba O-Sensei was spending most of his time in Iwama in Ibaragi Prefecture. It was a full year and a half before Nishio saw the imposing figure of the founder in action for the first time. What particularly impressed Nishio about Ueshiba’s technique was his lightning fast handling of the sword. Dazzling as his technique was, Ueshiba offered no real explanation of what he was doing. For example, when Nishio inquired of his seniors about the use and importance of the sword in aikido, no satisfactory answer was forthcoming, so he decided to take matters in his own hands.

Nisho was convinced that aikido was the true martial path for him. At the same time, he found shortcomings in its practice methods, especially after watching Ueshiba’s incredible sword work and noting the lack of inclusion of sword techniques in the art’s curriculum. To remedy things, as he had done before, Nishio took up the study of iaido (Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu) with 10th dan Shigenori Sano in 1955, and then jodo (Shindo Muso-ryu) with the famous Takaji Shimizu (1896-1978). Each of these arts contributed to his knowledge of the use of weapons and, in turn, complemented his aikido training. Not everyone was pleased with Nishio’s forays into other arts as his aikido began to take on a unique flavor….

Martial arts common sense

Quotes from Shoji Nishio Sensei:

Aikido is a ‘budo’, a ‘martial way’, and therefore inextricably rooted in ‘jujutsu’ or ‘martial technique’. Yet when I look at the aikido world today, I see very little ‘budo-ness’ being expressed in technique, and I wonder if people haven’t begun to forget these important roots.

Budo must always reflect its surroundings. If it isn’t newer and stronger, it isn’t valid.

As the goal of my training I have always strived to realize even one of the Founder’s teachings. He taught, for example, about a certain universality inherent in aikido: With a sword this technique becomes a sword technique; with a jo it becomes a jo technique; it can become all things.

We don’t disrupt the opponent’s breathing because, in the aikido way, the opponent changes his breathing and we adjust our breathing accordingly.

I regard atemi as the soul of Japanese martial arts. Atemi temporarily neutralize the opponent’s fighting ability and allow him to correct his attitude and return to his previous condition.

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