The other day I had a wonderful surprise waiting for me when I read a comment from Marius concerning the Noma Dojo photo I had posted earlier the same day. Here is what he wrote:
The wonderful collection of Noma Dojo photos was published in several books of Professor John Stevens. All in all, there can be found about 550 photos out of nearly 1200, so it’s only half. But there is another problem. In many cases, the photos are not sequential. The reason for this is because the photos from the original scrapbooks for some reason were removed in random order, so pictures had to be rearranged for publication. What I did was to scan all available photos and rearrange them again. It took me whole week to do so!:) It’s really a hard task since many photos depict never before seen techniques, and many segments are missing, and because I only have half of the collection. So it was a real headache. But in the end I ended up with many beautiful sequences.
As you can see, some segments are missing, but it’s obvious that the initial attack was ushiro eridori. So, we will eagerly wait till Aikido Journal makes this wonderful collection available for us. I value Stan’s work highly. Without him, what would we really know about aikido history? Also, I would like to see Takuma Hisa’s Soden someday.
I, for one, can appreciate the massive effort Marius has made to reconstruct as many technical sequences as possible from the limited selection of photos he had available. This type of work is something akin to piecing together fragments of an old manuscript to reconstruct the ancient text, and then translating it into a modern language.
But do you also notice what he has achieved? Look at the first link. I believe Marius has correctly concluded that the technique starts with an ushiro eridori grab. The sequence presented shows the remaining part of the technique, beginning with Morihei turning and executing a double atemi to uke, and then ducking under to control him from the rear. Notice, too, the leg pin to finish off the technique. This is pure Daito-ryu jujutsu! Who could have thought of such a technique? Was it Sokaku Takeda, or did Morihei Ueshiba figure this out for himself based on the Daito-ryu principles he learned.
I am really grateful to Marius for having shared his research with the Aikido Journal readership. I now know that there are at least two “nuts” who are willing to spend untold hours doing this sort of tedious work. I’ll bet there are quite a few more aikidoka who would be willing to get involved given the chance. Then there surely would be a much larger audience who would be interested in the final product: a reconstruction of the prewar Aiki Budo techniques of O-Sensei!
Remember, we’re not limited only to the Noma Dojo photos as source materials. We also have the Takeshita notes (c1928-1930), Budo Renshu (1934), the Soden of the Takumakai (c1933-1939), and the Budo technical manual (1938) that can be consulted. They all need to be cataloged and analyzed.
The way it could be done would be to open a new Aikido Journal forum for research teams to be able to work together on small sections of a project, and then combining together the fruits of their labor for the benefit of the entire aikido community. I don’t see this happening any other way. To my knowledge, there is no other entity or organization with the resources or interest in undertaking such a project. Aikido Journal can’t do it alone. It will take many participants from the aikido world.
People usually don’t move out of a desire to be charitable. They move because they see the possibility of personal benefit. In this case, the “personal benefit” would be the availability of the rich technical, historical, and spiritual legacy which is Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei’s git to us all. It is a vision that can and has dramatically transformed countless lives. It’s all there, but we are obliged to dive in and study this vast amount of material to mine the nuggets of knowledge that await us.