Daito-ryu Aiki-budo (1) – Practical Budo by Hisa Takuma

This article was published in the November 1942 issue of Shin Budo magazine, a martial arts publication which appeared briefly in Japan during the war years. The author, Hisa Takuma, a Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu menkyo kaiden1 and Aikido 8th dan2 discusses the warlike nature of the budo and talks about his two teachers: Ueshiba Morihei and Takeda Sokaku. It should be noted here that Shin Budo magazine was actively engaged in pro-military propaganda, and this article contains passages that are representative of the editorial line of the magazine. In particular, references to the Emperor as a divine being and the mystique of Japan as an ordained nation reflect the national psychological climate of the time and stand in sharp contrast to the mentality prevailing today. For this very reason, it is crucial to bring this article to the attention of the public since it provides a rare glimpse of the historical context in which Aikido was created. Stanley Pranin published the first English version of this article in issue 85 of Aiki News. Having recently found a hard copy of the magazine in one of Tokyo’s old book stores, I looked into the original text in Japanese for additional details and I am able to provide this version enhanced with notes, as well as the original pictures.

Cover of the November 1942 issue of Shin Budo

Daito-ryu Aiki-budo

by Hisa Takuma, menkyo kaiden, shihan

Practical Judo

Previously the Budo Shinko Iinkai3 has been giving some consideration as to what constitutes a martial art, and what are some of the fundamental strategies to promote the martial arts, while the Dai Nihon Butokukai4 has from its establishment continued a heated argument on which martial arts events it should support. But the issue of how some martial arts were categorized as such, and others as sports is still an important, serious, and interesting one. Since the new Butokukai5 emphasizes that: “martial arts must have practical use for combat”, I assume that their selection criteria are based on whether an art is practical or not.

Setting other issues aside, I would like to discuss Judo’s validity as a martial art from the point of view of practicality.

Ancient Jujutsu can trace its origins back to the age of the kami6 and time immemorial as a unique Japanese martial art. These martial arts were developed to provide grappling techniques for the samurai especially during the turbulent ages7 when they were anxious to learn such techniques. If modern Judo had kept to this original idea, there would now be no argument over whether or not Judo should be considered to be a practical martial art. It is regrettable that, due to the influence of physical education with its emphasis on physical strength, contemporary Judo has changed so dramatically from the Jujutsu of those days.

I do recognize and respect Professor Kano8 who merged together individual traditional schools of practical Jujutsu9 which were about to become extinct and preserved and popularized Jujutsu as a physical, moral and educational martial art and thus achieved the present prosperity of Judo. However, I do not think that Judo as it is now can be recognized as a practical martial art unless it revives the original practical elements which are again needed in the present age10. I hope that the leaders of the Kodokan11 and Butokukai recognize this argument and that they pay serious attention to and study the practical elements of Judo which have disappeared, such as wrist locks and strikes with the fist at vital points, in order to transform Judo into a practical martial art in both fact and name.

Fortunately, some enthusiasts still practice the individual schools of traditional Jujutsu such as Takeuchi-ryu, Shibukawa-ryu, Sekiguchi-ryu, Tenjin Shin’yo-ryu, Kito-ryu, etc., in which backhands12 strikes with the fist to vital points13, aiki, etc. are still learned. If these techniques are practiced, studied, and adopted in Judo, the present Judo will become a “hard-soft” aiki14 capable of killing with a single blow.

I will now explain a few things about the combative Judo called Daito-ryu Aiki-budo15, which I have been studying.

History Of Daito-ryu Aiki-budo

Daito-ryu Aiki-budo has come down to us from time immemorial. The first written record of it can be found in the era of Emperor Seiwa16, and it has descended through the Genji family17 over the generations and was formalized into a school by Minamoto no Yoshimitsu 18. In other words, Yoshimitsu studied and researched the techniques handed down in his family in more detail. He dissected corpses brought back from wars in order to explore human anatomy and mastered a decisive counter-technique as well as discovering lethal atemi. Yoshimitsu then mastered a technique for killing with a single blow. Through such great efforts, he mastered the essence of aiki and discovered the secret techniques of Aiki-budo. Therefore, Yoshimitsu is the person who is credited with being the founder of the original school of Daito-ryu.

Since Daito-ryu was formalized, it has continued to be transmitted through the Takeda family, through sons, Yoshikiyo, Nobuyoshi, Nobumitsu, Kunitsugu, and Takuminokami. When a descendant of the Takeda family took the position of official instructor of the Aizu clan19, Daito-ryu came to be considered the secret technique of that clan and was transmitted to Takeda Sokaku20, the present headmaster of the school. From the time of its transmission within the Aizu clan, who considered its techniques to be secret, until today Daito-ryu has never been known to outsiders. Fortunately or unfortunately, Daito-ryu has kept its original combative techniques without being influenced by outside elements, while other schools of martial arts such as Kendo, Judo, etc., whose ancestors developed rapidly during the Warring States period, were changing, becoming extinct, or degenerating into sports events or games.

My Teacher, Takeda Sokaku Sensei

Takeda Sokaku was born in Aizuwakamatsu-cho, Fukushima Prefecture. From boyhood he learned Kendo, and at the age of 18, he received a menkyo kaiden in Nito-ryu21, and later received licenses in Ono-ha Itto-ryu22, and Jikishinkage-ryu23. He traveled and visited many provinces to engage in martial arts training. Later on he learned Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu24, which had descended through the Takeda family from his grandfather Takeda Soemon. After receiving a license25 he endeavored to teach and spread Daito-ryu all over Japan. He taught over thirty thousand students26. He is now retired and lives in Hokkaido, farming as well as teaching serious students such as military officers, police officers, and others. He is the headmaster 27 of Daito-ryu Aiki-budo28.

My Teacher, Ueshiba Moritaka Sensei

Ueshiba Moritaka29 was born in Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture. From his youth he was physically strong and enjoyed training in military arts. As he grew up, he visited several regions and studied under teachers of various schools and practiced Kenjutsu, Jujutsu, and Bojutsu, and then mastered the secret technique of Aioi-ryu Jujutsu30 which had descended through his family from generation to generation. He then learned Daito-ryu31 from Sokaku Takeda, became his disciple for many years, and received a menkyo kaiden32 and the position of shihan dairi33 for Takeda Sensei.

(1) The defender presses the power of his arms on the arms of the attackers from left to right, and immediately withdraws, but the arms of the defender, which are kneaded by this true martial art do not shake, they are like blocks of ice, or the blades of a sword (tegatana). Tori: Hisa Takuma (center). Uke, from left to right: Takezaki 5th dan, Akune 5th dan34, Moriwaki 3rd dan, Yoshimura Shihan35.36

Since then he has studied hard to absorb the essence of various schools of martial arts and mastered lightning-fast empty-handed arts37 against weapons, military arms and modern firearms to create his own unique school. He is the foremost figure in the modern world of traditional Japanese martial arts. He was invited to Tokyo to teach a variety of people of high position, military and naval officers, civil servants, police officers, and so on. Recently, he has built a large practice hall called the Kobukan Dojo in Wakamatsu-cho, Ushigome Ward, where he teaches these distinguished citizens real martial techniques. He has combined conventional martial techniques with the ancient Japanese mystical religion of Shintoism38 to establish his own new school of martial arts of the kami for the benefit and glory of the Emperor. In his school he takes seriously the need for his martial art to be developed to protect the blessed Emperor’s land, to defeat enemies, and to demonstrate the Emperor’s power39.

Diligent Training In Martial Arts

We have been learning Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, the essence of Japanese martial arts, from  Ueshiba Moritaka Sensei since the spring of 1935 and have been training hard day and night. In four years the celebration of the 2,600th anniversary of the reign of the Imperial line under Emperor Jimmu was to be held and also the world sporting event of the Olympic Games would be held in Japan40.

Therefore we strongly hoped to take advantage of this occasion to perfect a true martial art to remind those who tend to forget the essence of Japanese martial arts to recognize true Japanese martial arts. Also we hoped to have physical education professionals coming from all over the world for this ceremony recognize this fighting art which is without equal in the world. Moreover, we hoped to demonstrate the true value of Shintoist martial arts. Since the renovation of the Kashihara Shrine was to begin on November 11, 1936 and thus concurrently, the solemn festival of the transfer of the shrine, we felt that the glorious 2,600th year was just around the corner and we decided to put all other thoughts out of our minds and devote ourselves to the perfection of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu. We prayed for the help of the kami as we endeavored to perfect our art by worshiping the divine spirit of Emperor Jimmu and the martial arts kami at the Kashihara Shrine immediately after its transfer.

From that time we not only devoted ourselves to training under Ueshiba Sensei regardless of the severity of the weather, but we also invited Ueshiba Sensei’s teacher, Sokaku Takeda Dai-Sensei41, the headmaster of the art, all the way from Hokkaido to teach us the secret arts of Daito-ryu which were forbidden to be taught to outsiders42.

However, in July 1937, the China Incident43, a battle on an unprecedented scale, occurred. The Olympic Games which had been scheduled to be held in Japan were canceled. Since this incident gave us the opportunity to display our martial art spirit in real life, we strongly felt the urgent necessity of martial arts training. A fellow student, Yoshimura Yoshiteru, who had been devoting himself tirelessly to his training was the first one to be honored by being called into service. He fought in one place after another in battles which took place deep in China. With the secret techniques of Daito-ryu he was undefeatable and found the techniques to be very effective in a real setting44.

In that same year the government started the reconstruction of Kashihara Jingu Shrine and the expansion of the Imperial Mausoleum on Mt. Unebi. Since my company, the Asahi Newspaper, was supporting the construction of the Jingu Gaien Kashihara Dojo which was to be built in Nara in connection with the relocation of the shrine, my comrades and I decided to concentrate to our utmost on perfecting our martial art. Perhaps our passion touched the kami and the Asahi Newspaper assigned me to the blessed construction work of the Shrine. I imagined the ancient days when Emperor Jimmu had founded Kashihara no Miya Shrine on the foot of Mt. Unebi in Yamato-no-kuni45 where he was enthroned after his six-year inspection expedition throughout eastern Japan gathering all of the nation under one roof46. We believed that it was then time for us to demonstrate the Japanese spirit of Shintoism as well as the spirit of service so as to contribute our might to the completion of the project. By reviving this spirit of service, the traditional Yamato spirit in all people, we also believed we should perform voluntary cooperative labor and selfless service to the kami by uniting our spirit and joining together47.

With the very same pure Yamato spirit of our ancestors who devoted themselves for the same purpose on this sacred land, forgetting about themselves and family, we planned and organized a volunteer party with the help of various sources and named the party the Kenkoku Hoshitai48. We held our inaugural meeting on June 8 of the same year. For the next two years members of the party worked assiduously cutting trees, clearing land, moving earth, etc., on the vast 41 acres of wasteland. People from all over Japan were interested in this activity and the number of people who gathered to help increased to as many as 1,210,000. As a result of this pure endeavor the large area was gradually reclaimed and construction work was achieved more efficiently than we had expected. For these two long years I not only kindly instructed volunteers as a leader of the party, but also plowed the fields myself every day, training my Japanese spirit of volunteerism. At the same time, I concentrated my spirit on the perfection of our martial art. Fortunately, with the protection of the kami, my divine aiki power progressed day by day during this time of service and I was able to receive a densho49 from Ueshiba Sensei50 and subsequently the menkyo kaiden of all the secret techniques of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu from Sokaku Takeda Sensei.

Since then, I have continued to study and train in Daito-ryu. Since this art is deadly, the license is given only under the following conditions:

  1. An individual must be old enough to be able to appreciate and demonstrate a noble personality and behavior.
  2. An individual must never teach anyone else until he has been certified.
  3. An individual must never abuse the techniques, and only use them when it is unavoidable in order to serve the country or in self-defense.

Because of these strict conditions, we practiced only among ourselves for study purposes. Permission was never given to teach outsiders.

However, since the China Affair resulted in unstable social conditions, the need to train youth waiting to serve in the army and navy became increasingly urgent. With my teacher’s permission, I decided to publish a book introducing the teachings of Daito-ryu called Kannagara no Budo51 in 1940, which coincided with the glorious anniversary of the 2,600th year of the reign of Emperor Jimmu. I gave the book not only to martial arts people but also to government officials. Since the book produced more favorable reactions and encouragement than I expected, not only from navy and army officers but from everywhere, I taught Daito-ryu to some interested persons as I continued my own studies. Then, in the spring of 1941, at the suggestion of the Chief of the Osaka Police I published a book called Urawaza Hiden52 presenting as police techniques selected techniques most suited for police officers. This publication was distributed to the police officers for reference and I personally began to teach the techniques described in it to police officers in Osaka.

Since the outbreak of World War II, for the sake of women living in the dangerous situation of war where it is always dark at night because of the enforced nighttime air raid blackouts, I chose suitable self-defense techniques from among those of Daito-ryu and published them as Joshi Budo53 and distributed the book to those who specialize in teaching women. At the request of this magazine, I have again been asked to introduce such self-defense techniques for women and I will comply54.

(2) Once the attackers’ power has been neutralized, the defender’s tegatana reach the point of Aiki. He projects right and left in an instant by extending with his tegatana and ashigatana.

Martial arts should first be learned and practiced directly under the strict discipline of a master; in this way its essence can be mastered beyond words or knowledge. It is difficult to impart martial arts techniques in written or spoken words, and it is extremely difficult to understand such techniques only through an introduction in print. I will be glad, however, if my publications remind people that even today such a practical and effective martial art for our daily life exists. I hope that my books can be stepping stones to encourage the public to study Daito-ryu. For further reference, enthusiastic learners may refer to my books in the following list.

Profile Of Hisa Takuma

Born 1895 in Shikoku. In 1915 entered the Kobe Business School and in 1927 joined the staff of the Asahi Newspaper. Promoted in 1934 to Director of General Affairs of the Osaka Asahi Newspaper company. Invited Morihei Ueshiba to teach at the newspaper office dojo in Osaka in the early 30s and studied under Sokaku Takeda from 1936-1939. He received the menkyo kaiden scroll in May 1939. In 1970 his students formed the Takumakai, dedicated to teachings. He died on October 31, 1979.

  1. The menkyo kaiden (免許皆伝) is the highest certificate of proficiency awarded in many traditional Japanese martial art systems. Hisa Takuma is the only person to have received this title directly from Takeda Sokaku.
  2. The 8th dan Aikido was awarded to Hisa by Ueshiba Morihei on May 23rd, 1956.
  3. The Budo Shinko Iinkai (武道振興委員会, lit. “Committee for the Promotion of Budo”) was an organization created as an advisory body by the Japanese government in December 1939. It was one of the most vocal advocates for the militarization of martial arts.
  4. The Dai Nippon Butokukai (大日本武徳会, lit. “Greater Japan Martial Virtue Society”) was an organization established in Japan in 1895 to encourage the promotion, teaching and respect of the martial arts. From 1942, the organization was nationalized and served as an organ of government propaganda until November 9, 1946, when it was forcibly dissolved by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. A new organization bearing the same name was created in 1953 and still exists today, but it bears no official relations to the former.
  5. Hisa is of course not referring to the organization that we know today, but instead, he probably makes reference to the nationalization and restructuring of the organization the year of the publication of his article. This event is particularly important since it constitutes a break from the mainly educative purposes of martial arts that had been held until there. For more information on this complex topic, I encourage the reader to consult Denis Gainty’s book: “Martial Arts and the Body Politic in Meiji Japan“. Hisa was close to such organisations and it is for instance through him that Daito-ryu became recognized as a koryu by the Nihon Kobudo Kyokai (日本古武道協会).
  6. Kami (神, lit. deities).
  7. Hisa refers to the period of the warring states (戦国時代, Sengoku-jidai), stretching from the middle of the 15th century to the end of the 16th century.
  8. Kano Jigoro (嘉納治五郎, 1860 – 1938), the founder of Kodokan Judo.
  9. The main sources of Judo’s technical repertoire are Kito-ryu (起倒流) and Tenjin Shinyo-ryu (天神真楊流), which are two traditional schools of Jujutsu that date back to the early and late Edo period (1603–1867), respectively.
  10. I believe that Hisa is being literal here. To give some context, Japan officially entered the war with the United States the year before the publication of this article, on December 8, 1941.
  11. Koeki Zaidanhojin Kodokan (公益財団法人 講道館, lit. “Hall for the Study of the Way”) is the organisation founded in 1882 by Kano Jigoro.
  12. Gyaku-te (逆手, lit. “reverse hand”).
  13. Atemi (當身) generally designates strikes to the body, though the particular locations, effects, and purpose whithin the technique may vary.
  14. Goju aiki (剛柔合気).
  15. It is the term Daito-ryu Aiki-budo (大東流合気武道, lit. “Aiki-budo School of the Great Orient”) and not  Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu (大東流合気柔術) which is used here , showing that the use of the term was less strict at the time than it is today (see note #24). Indeed, Ueshiba Morihei himself used those terms interchangeably, and sometimes within the same communication.
  16. Seiwa-tenno (清和天皇, 850 – 878).
  17. Seiwa Genji (清和 源氏), a line of the Minamoto clan descending from Emperor Seiwa.
  18. Minamoto no Yoshimitsu (源 義光, 1045 – 1127), also known as Shinra Saburo (新羅 三郎), is often credited as the originator of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, but like for a number of Daito-ryu’s historical claims, the evidence available to back them up is scarce.
  19. Aizu-han (會津藩, lit. Aizu domain) dominated the current western part of Fukushima, Niigata and Tochigi prefectures during the Edo period.
  20. Takeda Sokaku (武田惣角, 1859 – 1943). For those interested in the origin of Takeda Sokaku’s techniques, Ellis Amdur has made the most extensive argument available in the English language in his book: “Hidden in Plain Sight: Tracing the Roots of Ueshiba Morihei’s Power“.
  21. Nito-ryu (二刀流), is a Kenjutsu style that specializes in the handling of two swords. The use of the term menkyo kaiden by Hisa suggests that Takeda received a formal title from an actual school, as opposed to learning techniques or principles in an informal manner, but as far as I know, there is no evidence that such a licence exists. This is relevant nonetheless since the curriculum of some Daito-ryu schools, including Hisa’s own Takumakai, contains a section called Daito-ryu Aiki Nito-ryu (大東流合気二刀流).
  22. Ono-ha Itto-ryu (小野派一刀流, lit. “single sword school”) is a Kenjutsu school that greatly influenced modern Kendo, and which constitutes a component of some Daito-ryu schools’s curriculum (see note #24).
  23. Hisa probably refers to Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage-ryu (鹿島神傳直心影流).
  24. Hisa uses the term Aiki-jujutsu here, most likely to refer to the empty-handed part of Sokaku’s subsequent curriculum. According to the version of Kondo Katsuyuki’s branch of Daito-ryu (please refer to the DVD Katsuyuki Kondo Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu published by Quest Co., Ltd for full version), Takeda Tokimune, the son of Sokaku, replaced the name Aiki-jujutsu by the term Aiki-budo when he founded the Daito-kan Dojo (大東館道場) in 1954. He seems to have used the term Aiki-budo in the aim of teaching more openly, but also to coin the ensemble formed by the empty-handed techniques of Aiki-jujutsu and the Kenjutsu from Ono-ha Itto-ryu. However, we see here that term Aiki-budo was also used before to that, often quite interchangeably with that of Aiki-jujtusu.
  25. Hisa writes menkyo kaiden (免許皆傳), see note #1.
  26. Based on the record that we have from the eimeiroku and shareiroku, this number is probably quite accurate.
  27. Hisa uses the term soke (宗家), which is a little unusual when speaking about Sokaku. Kondo Sensei actually argues that the title did not exist in the Daito-ryu tradition until Tokimune took over in 1954. However, I have seen some transmission scrolls that bear seals that suggest that Sokaku might have used that title, but on most transmission documents, Sokaku is indeed usually referred to as somucho (総務長, lit. “General Manager”).
  28. To follow up on the previous note, it should also be noted that the menkyo kaiden that Hisa received from Sokaku was in Aiki-jujutsu, and not Aiki-budo. According to the acquaintances of Hisa that I talked to, Hisa did not undergo much weapons training, if at all, from Takeda, which makes his use of the term Aiki-budo in the rest of the article difficult to understand in nowadays context and therefore warranted clarification.
  29. Ueshiba Moritaka (植芝守高) is an alternative name used by Ueshiba Morihei (植芝盛平).
  30. Depending on the source, Aioi-ryu Jujutsu (相生流柔術) is either a family art that Morihei would have learned from his father, or one of the ways in which Morihei called his art at a given time. There is also a martial art called Aioi-ryu founded in 1987 by Sasaki Takehisa but the similarity of the names is likely only coincidental.
  31. The original text does not specify whether this was Aiki-jujutsu or Aiki-budo.
  32. In reality, Ueshiba received the kyoju dairi (教授代理, lit. “representative instructor”), a level lower than the menkyo kaiden. Therefore, Ueshiba Morihei was never officially allowed to teach Sokaku’s techniques completely independently, which is probably one of the reasons for their falling out. It is interesting that Hisa would assume that Ueshiba did receive kaiden since it suggests that Ueshiba either told him that he did, or more likely, that he was running his affairs in the way a menkyo kaiden holder would (i.e. free from Takeda’s supervision).
  33. Hisa’s text suggests that the shihan dairi (師範代理, deputy teacher) was a formal title given by Takeda, which is unusual since it is a relatively recent title compared to the traditional system, and I could not find references to it in the parts of the shareiroku and eimeroku registers that we have at our disposal.
  34. Akune Masayoshi (阿久 根政義) was one of the students of the Asahi newspaper and he received the kyoju dairi from Takeda Sokaku in 1937.
  35. Yoshimura Yoshiteru (吉村 義照) was one of the students of the Asahi newspaper, he received from Takeda Sokaku the kyoju dairi in 1936 and according to some sources, the shihan dairi in 1939. He was a former policeman and also held the rank of 4th dan in Judo. Yoshimura is extensively featured in Hisa’s technical manual called the Soden.
  36. The choice of photos to illustrate this article on the subject of practical budo is rather strange since Hisa is reported to have said several times that the techniques against several attackers (taninzudori, 多人数捕) were not real budo techniques.

    The taninzudori are not high level techniques, they are not martial techniques, they are just staged for the demonstrations. It amazes people who do not know what the real martial arts are and makes them think that the Daito-ryu is splendid. These techniques are a form of propaganda.

    Hisa’s words as quoted by Amatsu Yutaka (天津 裕) – Aiki News #129, p. 28-31

  37. Hisa is mentioning specifically taijutsu (体術, lit. “body techniques”). Indeed, Ueshiba Morihei’s weapons work developed later, and bear little resemblance to Ono-ha Itto-ryu. For more information, please watch the discussion I had with weapons experts Alex Bennett, Baptiste Tavernier, and Jordy Delage about Ueshiba Morihei’s weapons.
  38. In fact, Ueshiba was a member of Omoto-kyo (大本教), a religious movement founded in Japan in 1892 based on Shinto.
  39. It is unclear whether Ueshiba would have said things exactly in this way, but considering that he knew Hisa well, and that Ueshiba was himself featured in the same magazine a few months earlier, it could not have been completely at odds with his perspective, nor with that of most people of the time, for that matter. For more information on Ueshiba Morihei’s stance on politics later on, I recommend the reading or the interview that he gave in 1956 to the Yomiuri newspaper.
  40. The Tokyo Olympics planned for 1940 coincided with the 2,600th anniversary of the establishment, according to legend, of the Japanese Empire by Emperor Jinmu (神武天皇) in 660 BC. The combination of these two celebrations was aimed at strengthening nationalism and the position of the emperor, as well as mobilizing the Japanese population to support the national causes. From the outset, the Tokyo Olympics carried a double function: boosting the modernization and internationalization of Japan, and promoting tradition and national pride. Even though according to the International Olympic Committee, the choice of Berlin and Tokyo as the locations for the 1936 and 1940 Olympic Games entailed no political consideration, it de facto allowed Nazi Germany and expansionist Japan to use these games as propaganda tools for their authoritarian and militaristic regimes. Interestingly, the Japanese government never did so since in May 1938, it decided to cancel the Tokyo Olympics in order to redirect the resources towards colonial expansion in China.
  41. The kanji used for Dai Sensei (大先生) is the same as the one used nowadays to refer to Ueshiba Morihei as O Sensei, though it is pronounced differently (note that 翁先生 is also used at times for the latter).
  42. This part is very interesting because Hisa relates the arrival of Takeda Sokaku in Osaka in a very different way compared to any of his later texts and interviews. The version he gave elsewhere is that Sokaku came unexpectedly and uninvited, causing Ueshiba’s hasty departure, without even meeting his teacher. Here, Hisa suggests that he actually invited Takeda to Osaka, which actually seems a lot more plausible within an institution such as the Asahi newspaper. It would also help explain Ueshiba’s sudden departure without greeting Sokaku, as he may not have been made aware of that invitation and might have taken offense at the sudden change. Until then, people have argued that Ueshiba fled to escape his financial obligations to Takeda, but Ellis Amdur recently wrote a piece questioning the extent of those debts.
  43. Hisa refers to the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, a battle between the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China and the Imperial Japanese Army. It is generally considered to be the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945).
  44. See note #35. Hisa will make further use of Yoshimura’s experience later in this series of articles to demonstrate arrest techniques for police officers and self-defense techniques for women (to be published soon).
  45. Yamato-no-kuni (大和図) designates the ancient kingdom that eventually became Japan, which includes all the lands subject to imperial authority, e.g. the territories that it indexed.
  46. Obscure passage describing activities surrounding this ancient event which served Hisa as an inspiration.
  47. Here we find the Japanese notion of harmony (和, wa) which is a component of the term Yamato (大和, which can translate as “Great Harmony”), and which implies unification under the Japanese regime, by force when necessary. I briefly touched upon this topic in a discussion with Josh Gold.
  48. The Kenkoku Hoshitai (建国奉仕隊, lit. “National Construction Volunteer Party”).
  49. A densho (傳書) is a transmission scroll.
  50. This passage is one of the rare testimonies suggesting that Ueshiba Morihei gave certificates to his students in Osaka. Unfortunately, none of these documents have survived so it is difficult to know what they were. Judging by the dates, it is likely to have been the Aiki-jujutsu Densho (合気柔術伝書) published in 1933 (also known as Budo Renshu 武道練習), which contains drawings by Kunigoshi Takako. Ueshiba Morihei used to distribute it to some of his students after they reached a certain level.
  51. Kannagara no Budo (惟神の武道, lit. “The Martial Art of the Kami”).
  52. Urawaza Hiden (裏技秘博, lit. “The Secrets of Reverse Techniques”).
  53. Joshi Budo (女子武道, lit. “Martial Techniques for Women”).
  54. In the subsequent issues of Shin Budo, Hisa will indeed describe some of the techniques for police officers and for women.

Guillaume Erard

Guillaume Erard is a permanent resident of Japan. He trains at the Aikikai Headquarters in Tokyo, where he received the 5th Dan from Aikido Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba. Guillaume regularly gives Aikido seminars throughout Europe as well as lectures on its history. He studied with some of the world's leading Aikido instructors, including several direct students of O Sensei, and has produced a number of well regarded video interviews with them. Guillaume also holds the title of Kyoshi in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu and serves as Deputy Secretary for International Affairs of the Shikoku Headquarters. He is passionate about science and education, and holds a PhD in Molecular Biology.


  • Fascinating stuff. I’m looking forward to seeing more.

    I would also like to see a good discussion of the technical differences between Daito-Ryu and Aikido.

    • First you’d need to get two Aikidoka to agree on what Aikido techniques should be like! 😀 More seriously, you would also need people with substantial ranks in both Daito-ryu and Aikido. Yes, I do mean rank, i.e. people who have spent extensive amounts of time working their way through the specific articulation of the curriculum of both schools. I often see people expressing views on technical grounds, but those are very often made by people watching a couple of Youtube video and analysed through the prism of the expertise in another martial art, and relatively shallow experience of Daito-ryu itself. There are some qualified people around though, and it would indeed be nice to hear them.

  • Nice, always doing a great work.

    One question Mr. Erard, do you know something about daito ryu arriving to okinawa during the 2nd world war?.