Interview with Tokimune Takeda, Part 2 by Stanley Pranin

The following text is a compilation of several interviews conducted with Tokimune Takeda between 1985 and 1987 in Abashiri, Hokkaido and Tokyo. The third son and successor of Sokaku Takeda, Tokimune Takeda began training in the martial arts under his father in 1925. He completed the Hokkaido Police Officer Training Course in 1946, and in 1947, a police course in stick handling techniques. While a member of the police force, Tokimune received several awards for outstanding service in arresting criminals. He joined the Yamada Fishery Co., Ltd., in December 1951 and worked there until his retirement in 1976. Tokimune established the Daitokan dojo in Abashiri, Hokkaido in 1953, and organized the Daito-ryu techniques, incorporating into them elements of Ono-ha Itto-ryu to create his own Daito-ryu aikibudo. He received the Cultural Social Education Award from Abashiri City on November 3, 1987. Read the first part of the interview here. Read the third part of the interview here.

Would you tell us something about the seminars Sokaku conducted after he began his teaching career?

Tokimune Takeda Sensei

He would teach for periods of ten days at a time, that is, one course lasted for ten days. It was not possible to spread the art systematically because, unfortunately, Sokaku spent his time traveling to teach and never established any branch dojos. Sokaku Takeda was not that type of person; at that time he was only interested in teaching. Students had to sign their names in the enrollment book each time they participated in a course. He never allowed Daito-ryu to be taught to people who were not his students.

There is a famous story about Sokaku’s encounter early in his teaching career with a foreigner named Charles Parry who taught English in Japan during the Meiji period. I believe this man’s name appears in one of the enrollment books.

That’s right. At that time, Sokaku was teaching at the Second Army Division in Sendai. Mr. Parry came to teach English at the Sendai Second High School. A foreigner who came to Japan with Mr. Parry also studied with Sokaku Takeda. My father knew words like “shoulder.” He also could say “pin” for osae. So he knew a little bit of English!

When did Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, meet Sokaku for the first time?

In 1915. I understand they met each other at the Hisada Inn in the town of Engaru in northern Hokkaido. It seems that Mr. Ueshiba came to Hokkaido to cultivate the land when he was in his thirties. He gathered together the second and third children of families—not the eldest sons—and they settled in Hokkaido. He was still young so I imagine it must have been quite difficult for him.

Mr. Ueshiba studied Daito-ryu with my father from 1915 through 1919, about five years. He trained extensively and was enthusiastic. He was Sokaku’s favorite student. However, I was the one who was scolded most frequently by Sokaku. After me, it was Morihei Ueshiba whom he scolded most often. Since I was Sokaku’s son I wasn’t so bothered when he scolded me, but I imagine that Mr. Ueshiba must have been greatly affected since he wasn’t a member of the family.

[Looking at accounting ledgers] Mr. Ueshiba really practiced quite a lot. This was the first time, here the second, and this the third. Here are the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh times… Here is the eighth seminar where Mr. Ueshiba participated as Sokaku’s assistant. All together, he had seventy days practice as a student. Here is yet another entry, the ninth time.

This is quite different from earlier accounts of the connection between Morihei Ueshiba and Sokaku Takeda, isn’t it?

Yes. Mr. Ueshiba also accompanied Sokaku a great deal. Traveling with Sokaku was more significant than just studying with him during the regular practice sessions. And what’s more, Mr. Ueshiba also taught as Sokaku’s assistant.

So Ueshiba Sensei appears as Sokaku Sensei’s assistant starting from this eighth seminar…

That’s right. He started accompanying him from that time. Since Sokaku went to various places to instruct the police, judges, and that sort of person, Mr. Ueshiba probably thought that the art was wonderful and that he wouldn’t have to continue farming if he mastered it. He was very devoted to Daito-ryu and also quite talkative. When Sokaku was teaching a group of judges and public prosecutors in Hakodate, Mr. Ueshiba happened to be his companion and assisted in teaching them. He was in his thirties then, and he was able to teach judges at this young age. Usually, it was quite difficult to rise to that position in those days. An instructor wasn’t employed by the police unless he was descended from a samurai family. It was quite formal. So, it was a great thing to teach judges while so young. Morihei Ueshiba was a splendid person even at such a young age.

Did Ueshiba Sensei become a certified instructor in Daito-ryu at that time?

Actually, it was much later. He went back to Honshu [the largest of Japan’s four major islands] before receiving it. It is recorded right here that he received his certification in Ayabe. If I remember correctly, my mother and I went to Ayabe, near Kyoto, when I was six years old. We stayed in Mr. Ueshiba’s home, which was known as the Ueshiba Juku, for a long time. I would watch the training even though I was small. At that time there were forty students.

Oh, here it is… This is the record of our stay there. We were there for about five or six months. Here, it says that the students of the Ueshiba Juku received instruction in Daito-ryu jujutsu under Sokaku Takeda Sensei. Many of the students were Omoto believers.

Here, for example, is Masaharu Taniguchi of Seicho no Ie. Vice Admiral Seikyo Asano also studied Daito-ryu. These sorts of people also learned the art. Look at this, here is the name “Morihei Ueshiba.” It is clearly written that the training ran from April 28 to September 15, 1922, quite a long time. Mr. Ueshiba was also teaching as an assistant then. Sokaku didn’t like the Omoto religion very much so it seems he [sarcastically] referred to the house as Morihei Ueshiba’s “villa.”

Mr. Ueshiba studied Daito-ryu with my father from 1915 through 1919, about five years. He trained extensively and was enthusiastic. He was Sokaku’s favorite student. However, I was the one who was scolded most frequently by Sokaku. After me, it was Morihei Ueshiba whom he scolded most often. Since I was Sokaku’s son I wasn’t so bothered when he scolded me, but I imagine that Mr. Ueshiba must have been greatly affected since he wasn’t a member of the family.

So Sokaku taught daily from April 28 to September 15?

That’s right. He taught together with Ueshiba. This is Morihei Ueshiba Sensei’s kyoju dairi (assistant instructor) certificate. It is in his own handwriting and says:

  • When accepting students for instruction in Daito-ryu aikijujutsu be careful to choose persons of good conduct.
  • When instructing students, have them write their address, name, age, location of their dojo, and the terms of their instruction in an enrollment book and have them stamp it with their seal by way of authentification.
  • When instructing students, an initial payment of three yen should be made to Takeda Dai-Sensei as an enrollment fee.
    September 15, 1922

In the instruction of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, it is necessary to ensure that students are of good conduct. Have the students write their names, addresses, age, the name of the dojo, the number of days studied and have them affix their seals. Charge them three Yen each as a registration fee and pay it to Takeda Sensei.

This is recorded on September 15, 1922. Everyone wrote the same words when receiving their assistant instructor’s certificate. It is the same as setting up what we call today a branch dojo. It is the same as setting up what we call today a branch dojo. Sokaku awarded certificates in the Taisho period (1912-1925) too. Oh yes, I do have someone’s certificate dated about 1915. I don’t have Mr. Ueshiba’s certificate though. Anyway, he practiced a great deal. Mr. Ueshiba practiced a great deal, more than anyone else.

Here is a document from 1907 and here is one for the Sendai police dated 1903. I also have documents older than this. They are all police documents. The police practiced jujutsu  and they don’t use the word “aiki.” We however, use the term to mean self-defense for people in general. We employ the term “aiki” because it comprises self-defense techniques. In defending ourselves, we don’t initiate the attack. For example, techniques where you throw your opponent who is standing while you are seated only exist in Daito-ryu. This is what Sokaku had been saying from before. You remain seated but throw your opponent only when you are attacked. This is what we call “aiki.” Therefore, the term “Aikido” employed by people in general refers to techniques used only when you are attacked. In Daito-ryu, when we use a technique for self-defense, we call it “aiki”.

Did Sokaku go to Ayabe on Ueshiba Sensei’s invitation?

Actually, there were a number of people from the navy training in Mr. Ueshiba’s dojo. All of the navy members had experience in sumo wrestling and were quite strong. Since Ueshiba would have had difficulty in handling such individuals he asked Sokaku Takeda Sensei to come. These men were huge, while Mr. Ueshiba was smaller than me. I would imagine that he wasn’t able to pin them because he wasn’t using precise techniques. After all, it would be difficult using only aiki.

Could you tell us something about the relationship between your father and Morihei Ueshiba after Sokaku’s stay in Ayabe in 1922?

Since Ueshiba Sensei was one of Sokaku Takeda’s best pupils and studied under him for a long time, I always used to visit him first whenever I went Tokyo, although I haven’t been there since his death. I guess Sokaku Takeda loved Morihei Ueshiba best of all his students. Sokaku was terribly worried when Ueshiba was arrested in Osaka. He asked Yukiyoshi Sagawa and me to go see how he was managing. At that time, Ueshiba was under house arrest in Tanabe. When Sokaku heard that Ueshiba was all right, he was relieved. He was always concerned about Morihei. Sokaku trusted him a great deal, and would call out his name whenever he had a problem. Ueshiba was a diligent student.

Sokaku is known to have taught thousands of police officers. Would you talk about this aspect of his teaching career?

Sokaku Takeda taught for a very long time and instructed about thirty thousand individuals. His main students were police and he was truly exceptional because among them were many judo and kendo experts. Sokaku was a strict person and his manner of teaching the sword was strict. Everyone was powerless against him. So, although Sokaku allowed his partner to wear a face protector when demonstrating the sword, he never did so himself.

When he was visited by journalists he never showed them any techniques. He was very strict about the art because it was applied to police tactics. The police were the strongest in judo, kendo and everything else, because they were concerned with these sorts of things as part of their jobs.

In a given police department there is usually a maximum of about one hundred personnel. Once a month they hold a briefing-type meeting, which brings together many police officers from the smaller substations. It was on such occasions that Sokaku was invited to teach. He directly taught a huge number of people.

I remember one incident in Urawa, Saitama Prefecture when Sokaku Takeda was teaching there. One day, Mr. Shuzo Shibuya asked Sokaku to go with him to a restaurant. My father asked me to go in his place since he had a cold and wanted to stay in bed. So, I went along without any idea of what was going to happen. There I met a police instructor, who asked me when Sokaku Takeda Sensei had received his hanshi certificate. When I replied he didn’t have one, the man then asked when he was awarded the kyoshi rating. I said that he didn’t have a kyoshi certificate either. Then he asked about a renshi rank. Again I answered in the negative. When he finally asked whether or not he had a dan rank and I answered that he did not, he became angry. “Where do you think this is? In Urawa we have a master kendo instructor, Takano Hanshi!”

Martial arts were flourishing in Urawa, and a man without a hanshi or kyoshi rating was teaching there. What’s more, Sokaku Takeda didn’t even have a kyu rank!

Mr. Shibuya looked so threatening that I found myself shrinking. If you think of it, it was natural for him to become so angry. Sokaku was teaching the sword in the area where Takano Sensei lived and was instructing the police. Then Mr. Shibuya asked me what sort of things we practiced in Daito-ryu and proceeded to choke me. I immediately strangled him with one hand. That finished things! He apologized on his knees. Afterwards, he changed his attitude completely and said he would talk to the Chief of Police the next day.

Since Ueshiba Sensei was one of Sokaku Takeda’s best pupils and studied under him for a long time, I always used to visit him first whenever I went Tokyo, although I haven’t been there since his death. I guess Sokaku Takeda loved Morihei Ueshiba best of all his students. Sokaku was terribly worried when Ueshiba was arrested in Osaka. He asked Yukiyoshi Sagawa and me to go see how he was managing. At that time, Ueshiba was under house arrest in Tanabe. When Sokaku heard that Ueshiba was all right, he was relieved. He was always concerned about Morihei. Sokaku trusted him a great deal, and would call out his name whenever he had a problem. Ueshiba was a diligent student.

Sokaku taught the Urawa police when he was nearly eighty years old. The budo experts were taken aback too. Sokaku pulled out one of the policemen and pinned his right hand with his left hand. The man could no longer move. Sokaku made the man bow to the people present and said, “Okay, now greet these gentlemen!” Sokaku was able to get all of these judo and kendo experts to bow down with one hand. Finally he said to the people, “Now, do you understand?”

It seems that the man he selected first was a sixth dan instructor of judo at the police school. Sokaku used to say, “When you go out to teach, you should pull out the strongest man. When you apply your techniques to the strongest person everyone will be convinced and will want to study with you.” But how can you know who is the strongest among two hundred people? He just looked around and selected the right individuals one after the other. That’s aiki!

There must be many stories concerning Sokaku’s experiences teaching police.

Yes, at one particular police seminar, Sokaku did something very puzzling. He pointed out several individuals among the many attending policemen and told them to leave. Then, he taught the others. After the course was over, the police chief asked why he had required those particular three or four officers to leave before the practice began. Sokaku looked at him quietly and then said, “You don’t know? One of them is a heavy drinker and has been causing you problems, hasn’t he? How can I teach a person like that? One of the others is a woman chaser, isn’t he? That’s why I didn’t teach him. Then the other one has been disobeying you and you have been having a hard time handling him, haven’t you? I can’t teach people like that!”

Sokaku was meeting all of these people for the first time, so the police chief was quite surprised. People followed Sokaku because he could do such things. One of the most important skills for a judge is to be able to judge people and Sokaku was able to do that. It is impossible to imitate him. I began to understand the importance of judging a person’s character when I became a detective. We read people’s characters by their faces. Of course, we also pay attention to their actions, but an ability to read faces is essential. Although I have read books on the subject it is not an easy one to master. There is no way I am able to order a person to leave at the first meeting.

There was another surprising incident involving the police. Once when my father went to Osaka he told me to “put some people in order through aiki.” I didn’t know what he meant by that and asked one of the people in the dojo. He told me how surprised he was when Sokaku identified the ranks of those he met for the first time and had them sit according to their positions from the highest to the lowest. The man thought that this was something no ordinary person could do and started studying with Sokaku in earnest.

These anecdotes are fascinating and give us a real glimpse of Sokaku’s character.

There was another story that happened at an inn in Sendai. A woman, who was about forty, was staying there and I was talking to her with other guests present. She claimed to be the daughter of a samurai and said she was accomplished in naginata and the tea ceremony, and such things. We were impressed and listened to her intently.

Suddenly, my father, who was upstairs, ran down to us, making a terrible ruckus. Sokaku, who had difficulty hearing, noticed us from the second floor and came running. This incident surprised even me. How could he hear us when he was hard of hearing? We weren’t talking at all loudly and he was upstairs.

He sat down right between the woman and me, pointed at her and said, “This woman is insane! You mustn’t be with her. Come with me!” He stood up and went back up to the second floor. How could I stand up and follow him? We had been talking seriously. Normally, Sokaku would make no sound when he walked but this time, he scrambled down the stairs and made a lot of noise. I was really in trouble!

I apologized to the woman and explained that my father was nearly eighty years old and often did strange things. However, the woman and other guests were angry and wouldn’t listen to me. I thought that the situation had gotten quite out of hand and apologized to her sincerely. Then I went upstairs. The moment I touched the door, I heard my father shout in a thunderous voice, “Don’t you understand that you mustn’t associate with that insane woman!” He was truly angry and said, “I can read the minds of normal people. But insane people’s thoughts occur arbitrarily and I can’t read their minds. Why are you spending time with a woman like that?”

I didn’t know what to do. Even if I told him that the woman wasn’t insane, he wouldn’t listen and would call me a fool, insisting that she was insane. Then about two days later the owner of the inn told me that the woman’s husband had come to fetch her. I met him and told him what had happened. He looked at me silently, then asked how old my father was. When I replied that he was eighty years old, he asked if my father had really called his wife insane. I confirmed this and asked his pardon.

“Let me tell you a story,” was his reply and he started to talk. He said that his wife had gone insane after she had borne a child. On this occasion he was looking for her because she had disappeared. In the spring and fall she would go to an inn or to a friend’s house to stay. The husband had found out that his wife made a phone call from this particular inn and had come to get her. The fact that she was insane was kept a secret from both their parents and their child. It was a secret shared only by this man and his wife. That’s why he asked me so many times if my father had said she was insane. He wanted to know what my father had done. My father was able to see through to the truth.

There is another similar story. One day we were staying with a person called Yoshizo Hasegawa in Osaka. He lived in a two-story house and worked as a commercial agent. At that time people used to call their employees bonsan and that’s how the owner introduced one sixty year-old man to us. I was talking to this fellow about various things. Then Sokaku suddenly ran down the stairs. He usually made no noise but once again he made quite a racket. He looked at the man.

Then he said, “This man is a Buddhist priest. Why is he here?” Although the owner explained that the man was merely an employee he had recently hired, Sokaku surveyed the man quietly and said, “Oh, yes. I can see by your face that you have gotten into trouble because of a woman. You must have lost your head over a woman. Otherwise you could have kept your position as a high-ranking Buddhist priest. You were a priest from a good family.”

The bonsan didn’t say a word. Sokaku then went back upstairs after having said his piece. He didn’t order me to follow him this time. The bonsan asked me if my father was a fortune-teller. “No, he practices martial arts. He’s very old. Please forgive him,” I answered.

“I have never been so surprised in all of my life!” the man exclaimed. “I was supposed to become the head of a temple, although I cannot mention its name because it is embarrassing. However, I ended up like this because of a woman. How did he know?”

About two days later the man quit his job and left the house saying that he was terrified. Sokaku should have kept his observation to himself, but he spoke out. I later heard that the man was a priest of high status. I could never imitate what Sokaku did. He was truly great in this sense. He understood a person the moment he saw him. He could see the past, present, and even the future.

It seems that Sokaku had amazing powers of perception.

Yes. I’ll tell you another story. Since Sokaku Takeda was a man of budo he was very suspicious. He never ate anything offered by students other than his own. He would eat something if you ate it first in his presence and then offered it to him, but otherwise he was very cautious. I suppose this kind of behavior was to be expected of a man such as he was. He was totally alert at all times.

His cautiousness once caused me a great deal of trouble. As you know there was a famous sword teacher named Sasaburo Takano. My father and I and Shuzo Shibuya once visited this sensei. Mr. Shibuya’s niece was married to Shigeyoshi Takano, an adopted son of Takano Sensei, so Shibuya came with us. Takano Sensei was quite a strange person. He had spears and naginata on display on the beams in the entrance of his house. In the back room there was a thick tiger’s skin. Takano Sensei was a very gentle person and spoke quietly, while Sokaku Takeda always spoke in a loud voice as if he were quarreling. Wherever he went he would speak loudly. He used to tell me that he spoke loudly so that people would understand him. Since he was a samurai he had retained the habit of talking at his voice’s highest pitch—like a traditional warrior—when introducing himself!

In any event, we were talking with Takano Sensei and were served so me sweets. I ate mine but my father didn’t. So Takano Sensei wrapped them up and looked up in order to hand them to Sokaku who was sitting in front of him—but found no one there. By the time Takano Sensei had wrapped up the remaining two sweets Sokaku had disappeared. I was there with him, and can say that he disappeared as if by magic.

Since I liked kenjutsu I had been watching every movement of Takano Sensei, who was a sword master. It was during this time that Sokaku disappeared. My father was sitting next to me, opposite Takano Sensei. When Takano Sensei asked me where Sokaku had gone, I replied that I thought he had gone to the back part of the house to greet his wife. So Takano Sensei went to the back room to find him, but didn’t return for a while. When he came back he had a strange expression on his face and said, “Well, I couldn’t find him there either. Where in the world has Takeda Sensei gone?” Since we couldn’t look for him forever, I decided to go home. On our way out of the room Takano Sensei motioned for me to precede him, since I was the son of his senior, Sokaku. We left the room and were in the entrance when we saw Sokaku outside. Takano Sensei said, “There he is! And in such a place!”

Then Sokaku opened the front door from outside and came in. One moment he had been in the room with us, but now he was suddenly standing in the entrance. We paid our respects to Takano Sensei and went home. Once we got there, my father scolded me severely. He said, “Who do you think Takano is?” In fact, I knew he was a teacher of a higher normal school. The qualifications for a teacher of a normal school in those days were the same as for the principal of a junior high school today. He was also an excellent swordsman. Sokaku scolded me for having walked in front of Takano Sensei. He said to me, “What would you do if Takano grabbed you from behind?”

I couldn’t believe such a thing was possible. Takano Sensei was a school teacher, as well as a kenjutsu master, and I was a young man of about twenty. However, when I said it was impossible for Takano Sensei to do such a thing my father scolded me again. “People have been killed after saying that such things are impossible! Shame on you for allowing Takano to follow you! It is natural for a man of budo to follow others. Walking in front of someone is the same as being killed. Don’t you understand that? Then go back to Hokkaido!”

It seems that in the old days situations such as he was describing actually happened. For example, one would come to a corner and suddenly be attacked by men wielding spears. But I was living in the Showa period [1926-1989]. I never thought of these possibilities. Being a man of budo is quite difficult. One of my father’s cousins once told me that there was a secret technique in the family. “The family has a kabenuke (wall-passing) technique. Don’t forget that,” he said.

Although I didn’t believe that sort of technique actually existed, when Sokaku suddenly disappeared like that I changed my mind. My father never told me where he had gone. Takano Sensei was the most surprised. My father vanished from the room where Takano Sensei usually did his reading. We never knew how he got outside. He didn’t open the door of the room. It was a western-style door that had been closed from the beginning. We don’t know how he exited the room.

We have learned a great deal about Sokaku Sensei thanks to the articles you have published in your newsletter.

It is important to know how and why Sokaku Takeda became what he was. A small man—less than five feet tall—would not have been able to teach the police just because he could use a sword. He had supporters. This is what I am researching now.

These supporters included navy and army officials whose names were all recorded in the enrollment books. There were also people who supported him even earlier, including an admiral whose biography was recently published. If you look at this book, you will find the names of the same officers that are in the enrollment books and can find out what kind of people supported Sokaku.

At the time of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 or 1905, the men of the Second Army Division of Sendai where Sokaku was teaching shipped out and so he went to Hokkaido at the request of one of the courts in the Hakodate region. This proved quite an experience for him too.

About two days later the man quit his job and left the house saying that he was terrified. Sokaku should have kept his observation to himself, but he spoke out. I later heard that the man was a priest of high status. I could never imitate what Sokaku did. He was truly great in this sense. He understood a person the moment he saw him. He could see the past, present, and even the future.

This was not the first time that Sokaku had been to Hokkaido. He had traveled there with Tsugumichi Saigo [1843-1902] who was known as the “father of the Second Army Division.” Saigo introduced Sokaku to the generals as a student of Tanomo Saigo, the Aizu counselor, and gave him a great deal of support.

When Tsugumichi became head of the Hokkaido development project and went to Hokkaido, he had Sokaku accompany him as his guard. Tsugumichi was a younger brother of Takamori Saigo. Tanomo Saigo, the Aizu counselor who was later known as Chikanori Hoshina, and Takamori Saigo were also related and corresponded with each other. After the Aizu War, when Tanomo was in some financial difficulty, he even received money from Takamori. It was said to have been hundreds of thousands of yen, which in the currency of the day was an extremely large amount. Through this connection with Tsugumichi, Sokaku had first gone to Sendai to teach the art to the Second Army Division. It was not something an ordinary person could have done without a recommendation.

So there were many distinguished people who supported Sokaku. All those navy and army officials who studied with Sokaku signed and sealed their names in his enrollment books. Gombei Yamamoto—twice prime minister of Japan—was one of these officials. He was from Kagoshima, which was also Isamu Takeshita’s native prefecture. This was the reason Takeshita introduced Morihei Ueshiba to Gombei Yamamoto.

Would you please tell us a little more about the relationship between Sokaku and Admiral Isamu Takeshita?

I can’t really say very much since I never actually met Admiral Takeshita. But I have read an article he wrote titled “The Heroic Deeds of Sokaku Takeda.” In it, he records some of Sokaku’s various encounters with gamblers. I think the article was based on things Sokaku himself talked about, but it wasn’t very long. Mr. Ueshiba talked about Isamu Takeshita having written such an article, but I didn’t realize the writer was an admiral since only his name, Isamu Takeshita, was mentioned.

When did Admiral Takeshita become a student of Sokaku?

He was more a supporter than a student. Sokaku did teach him techniques though, in the mid-1920s.

Does his name appear in Sokaku Sensei’s enrollment books?

Yes, it does. “Admiral Isamu Takeshita” is written there. Everyone wrote their names in the enrollment books. Government ministers in those days were of such high standing that they would not have bothered to put their seals in the enrollment books. However, they did write what was called a kakihan or written seal in the books, which was quite amazing. I think it was at the navy headquarters in Tokyo that Sokaku taught these ranking officers. Vice Admiral Seikyo Asano was also present.

By the way, Isamu Takeshita and two others demonstrated their art as Daito-ryu aikijujutsu, not as aikido, at the first Classical Martial Ar ts Demonstration [held in 1935]. Thirty-eight different martial art schools participated in this demonstration. In the spring of 1940, the Kobukai foundation was established and Admiral Takeshita was inaugurated as its first chairman. Although aikido people now call their art aikido, in those days it was referred to as Daito-ryu aikijujutsu. Admiral Takeshita also became the third director of the Japan Sumo Association in 1939.

You have mentioned that Sokaku Takeda was a friend of Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo. Could you tell us more about their association?

Yes, they met many times. Mr. Kano and Sokaku were close friends, since they were both martial artists of similar age. They met each other often in Tokyo. Mr. Kano created judo based on the Kito-ryu and Tenshin Shinyo-ryu jujutsu schools. Sokaku had also practiced classical martial arts. Kano created his system as a method of physical education. The difference between Daito-ryu and judo is that we do not have one-on-one matches in Daito-ryu.

There was also a man named Shohachiro Noguchi who was the chairman of a group called the Imperial Shobukai and the friendship among these three was famous. Noguchi also studied with Sokaku. Also, the reason Kano sent Kenji Tomiki and Minoru Mochizuki to Ueshiba was because Ueshiba was Sokaku’s student.

A man called Shiro Saigo was also one of Kano’s students. Sokaku met Kano through his acquaintance with Saigo. Shiro Saigo was the adopted son of Tanomo Saigo. Shiro Saigo also played a leading role in making the Kodokan well-known. He was a natural son of Tanomo Saigo, born out of wedlock. Therefore, although Shiro was Tanomo’s real son, he later adopted him to make it official.

I understand army General Makoto Miura was also associated with Sokaku Sensei?

Yes, his name appears in Sokaku’s records beginning in the late 1890s. He was an expert swordsman and studied under a man named Hidetaro Shimoe. Shimoe taught jukendo at the Second Army Division of Sendai when my father was teaching there. Shimoe was the first person to receive the hanshi grade, the top rank among sword masters. He was also a sword master. This was why Sokaku Takeda knew him well.

There is a famous story about Shimoe and Sokaku. Shimoe was blind. When Sokaku had a match with him, Shimoe asked Sokaku to be generous and allow him to touch Sokaku’s sword first. The moment he touched Sokaku’s sword, Shimoe moved in to thrust. Since Shimoe was a spear master, he thrust immediately. He would not strike, he would just thrust, even when using a sword, in the same way he would with a spear, with one hand. Since Sokaku knew what Shimoe would do, he let him touch his sword and then raised his sword upward. In this way he could avoid the thrust.

Mr. Kano and Sokaku were close friends, since they were both martial artists of similar age. They met each other often in Tokyo. Mr. Kano created judo based on the Kito-ryu and Tenshin Shinyo-ryu jujutsu schools. Sokaku had also practiced classical martial arts. Kano created his system as a method of physical education. The difference between Daito-ryu and judo is that we do not have one-on-one matches in Daito-ryu.

This record in the enrollment book [indicating the entry] is proof that Makoto Miura studied in Sendai. Without these books, we would not have known that now. Sokaku left no openings in anything in that sense. He set things up so that no false statement would ever be possible. In the old days, the power of army officers was enormous, but he had them all seal their entries. In that sense, he provides no openings even though he is dead!

Read the first part of the interview here. Read the third part of the interview here.

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