Category Archives: Aikido History

…late in 1942…

“….On August 7, after consultations with the appropriate judges, [Judge Takano] released [Onasiburo, Sumiko and Isao] on bail, and they appeared in the outside world for the first time in six years and eight months….

“My cousin Yasuaki Deguchi…writes in ‘Founder of a New Religion’….’To the followers who came to see him, he would say with emphasis, “There will be no divine help in this war,” “This war is a war between devils, so do not get involved”….’

“….even now he did not hold back from his outspoken remarks. ‘On the day I left prison, Japan’s defeat in the war began,’ he said.

“On August 7, 1942, the day Onisaburo was released, American forces landed on Guadalcanal, and the first naval battle of the Solomon Islands began….

“He would say, ‘They did all this to Omoto and don’t even come to apologize. So Japan will be attacked by the foreign enemy and will be beaten.’….’God dislikes killing. Omoto will not cooperate in the war.’

“….Telling soldiers leaving for service overseas, ‘Fire your guns into the air,’ he would give them advice according to their respective destinations….To troops leaving for the front, Onisaburo issued special amulets on which were written the words, ‘Victory to the Enemy’….

– – – – from The Great Onisaburo Deguchi,  Kyotaro Deguchi,  tr. Charles Rowe, publ. Aiki News, pp. 285-9

Omoto-kyo version, Tokyo version, Iwama version…

August15CROPCOLORIZETIGHTER– – – by Kimbal Anderson Sensei

…I think we had O’Sensei’s  Omoto-kyo version and his Tokyo version and his Iwama version and we don’t understand that:  but his Omoto-kyo version was actually about penetrating the universe.  And people in Tokyo,  recovering from being utterly bombed  out by American B-29’s… well,  it’s tricky to get them interested, because they’re trying to eat. And the guys in Iwama are out in the country, going “I’m so glad we’re out here!” and most of them are high school kids…  But Omoto-kyo folks would have been ready to start setting the whole world aright, and to start raising people up…   They would have remembered what Deguchi said: “everything happens first to Omoto-kyo, then to Japan, and finally to the whole world…”   And they would have understood the aikido that O’Sensei was showing them to be a part of this…

calligraphy by Onisaburo Deguchi: “August 15th DAY” – being the date of Japan’s surrender, the character for “DAY” being drawn in the archaic style that also means “GOD”,  and,  with a variant center:  “SU” – that is: AME-NO-MINAKA-NUSHI – that is: a new beginning.SUcrop

 

…1942-1948 – Ubuya…

“It may be that, at the time, we [this young people’s class in Iwama] were the only existing Aikido class in Japan – perhaps even in the world.”
– – – Kazuaki Tanahashi,   Aikiweb interview

“In 1946 when I was admitted into Aikido, the site of the Iwama Dojo with an area of more than 20,000 tsubo was just a forest of Japanese oak trees, dotted with the Aiki Shrine,  Dojo,  and a farm. The location of the Dojo almost eluded detection. The local neighbors had not the foggiest idea of what was going on inside the Dojo and would not dare approach it.”
– – – Morihiro Saito Shihan,  Traditional Aikido,  vol.5,  p.20

“For seven years, Ueshiba O’Sensei hid away in the mountains, and said not a word: he was silent. But by his silence he was teaching, making something very great, by saying nothing.”
– – – André Nocquet Shihan, Maître Morihei Ueshiba: présence et message  p.97

 

…Iran, 3,000 BC…

trianglecirclesquareiranian

– – – SOJOBO – – –

…Nenpi-Kannon-riki…

Up till now,  aiki – as budo – has been a thing of one kata after another, BUT  now that it has fundamentally forgotten all of that,  it has become a matter of where you put your spirit.  If you don’t have,  in your own heart, a heart of love, then there is no way you can produce these magnificent waza that are about protecting the whole of creation:   in just the same way, we know, as our traditional Japanese kamae seigan, is very, very much a kamae of love. The inner truth of being without forms,  is that Japanese budo does not force the opponent into a series of moves:  it does not force him to be aite…  And the  [standard mental attitude and fundamental tactic of]  not resisting is so very much a gesture of the spirit – an act, as it were, in the spiritual world – that it has a [spiritual] name:  nenpi-Kannon-riki.  It is the innermost hidden secret [ – the gokui – ] of bu that there are no forms.  Bu arises  spontaneously from our deepest impulses, and it is fundamentally, and from the very outset, a matter of ki controlling everything.

These things were  all  revealed to me in my training by

SARUTAHIKO-NO-O-KAMI.

and then on December 16th, 1942, in the time between 2 o’clock and 3 o’clock in the morning, all the kami of Japan were good enough to show their presence and congratulate me on the advent of  [true]  Aiki.  [Which with] training in Yamato-damashii, and the swordsmanship of Sho-Chiku-Bai, and with the double-edged sword that unifies Heaven and Earth, using the movement of the heart, washes away the world’s impurities.  And in that regard, the very first thing [that had to happen,] was that the Great Pacific War had to be ended.  It’s a hard thing to talk about, but I had been blessed with the opportunity to make a great new beginning, and so I had retired – [after which I found] divine providence manifesting itself  from every possible direction – and  I  built in Iwama a 36 tatami Aiki-Jinja.  And soon after that, when the atom bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which made me all the more resolute, His Majesty, with an Imperial Proclamation, ended the war. From that time, when you look at Japan, you see that everyone has been bound together with bonds of aiki and mutual concern.

O’Sensei,  probably audio-recorded by by Masatake Fujita, transcribed by Sadateru Arikawa Shihan,  published in Aiki-Shinzui,  p.129-130

A Shinden Isshin-ryu master talks about aiki in 1911 or 1912….

These days, most people understand that the word “aiki” has been used many different ways, in many different traditions, and has been for centuries 1). But here is a Shinden Isshin- ryu master, in 1911 or 1912, talking about aiki in – at times – strikingly familiar terms: the “wonderful aiki-no-jutsu”, “acquired only by long and patient study” that allows one to “place another under one’s influence,” “see in the dark, bring walking men to a full stop, or break the sword brandished to slay [one].”.

The passages below are extracted from a talk given at his dojo, to help E. J. Harrison write his wonderful book on the esoteric aspects of bujutsu, as the reporter learned and observed them between 1903 and 1913. This is a fascinating look into the world of bujutsu as it was during O’Sensei’s formative years….

read more:

…earlier in 1942…

“…by 1942, [the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai] became literally a part of government organization and it was managed under the direct and joint supervision of ministry of education, ministry of health, ministry of navy, ministry of army and ministry of interior. The headquarters of DNBK located in Heian Shrine was moved to the ministry of health. As a result of this governmental authority, DNBK controlled All Student Soldier Physical Education Promotion Association, Kodokan, Nippon Kobudo Association, All Japan Kendo Federation…

read more:

…dojo eaves with black Mitsudomoe!!!…

snoweaveswith-mitsudomoe4

December 14, 1940… Shufutsu-no-makimono…

Nidai Doshu writes, in A Life in Aikido, “There is a scroll I treasure recording a shufutsu conducted by O’Sensei, with Koun Nakanishi 1)  leading the ceremony and Yuiun Akiyama assisting, on December 14th, 1940.  Shufutsu is one of the most important Shinto ceremonies, in which those participating conduct misogi… in order to enter into communication with guardian deities.

“This shufutsu lists the forty-three guardian deities of Aikido:  Sarutakiko Omikami; Kunitsu Ryuo; Kuzuryu Daigongen; Tachikara no Mikoto; Ameno-murakumo-kuki-samuhara-ryuo-no-omikami and others; various names of Ryuo; Daigongen; Daitengu; and Daibosatsu….they are connected with the chronology of O’Sensei’s training and  development…  This ceremony commemorated those moments when  his human mind rose above its limits to touch something greater and  more enlightened.”  2)

We know from O’Sensei’s accounts that the shufutsu involved an hour of late night misogi, started around two in the morning…  which rather suggests that late night misogi was part of O’Sensei’s regular routine: along with late night training.

The ceremony marked a new beginning for O’Sensei, but it was also a  response to a personal crisis.  At a time when he was at the height of his powers, when sword moves and empty-handed moves felt to him as if he was channeling the divine, he was nevertheless aware that not only was the promise of the Omoto-kyo years – of his Omoto-kyo years – largely unfulfilled,  but far, far worse: the entire nation – including his many friends and sponsors in leadership positions – was being dragged into war on all fronts by the most bellicose factions of the Army. O’Sensei undoubtedly could see that his long-time Navy sponsors, and the civilian government which he advised 3) were time and again being out- manoeuvred in the complex politics arising from the constitutional independence of Army and Navy.

So in performing the shufutsu, O’Sensei was requesting divine advice, and support going forward.  He got both. The Dragon King

AME-NO-MURAKUMO-KUKI-SAMUHARA-RYU-O

– installed in O’Sensei’s hara by a Shingon priest before he went off to fight in the Russo-Japanese War – and whom he regarded as an avatar of

SUSANOO-NO-MIKOTO

– affirmed to him the Omoto-kyo world-view, and instructed him to get back to work, purifying the world and setting everything aright.

Then going forward from that time, the head of the Earthly kami

SARUTAHIKO-NO-O-KAMI

– whose avatar, the Tengu king

SOJOBO

trains on Mount Kumara ascetic warriors going back to Minamoto no Yoshitsune – the reputed founder of Daito-Ryu – started coming to help O’Sensei in his daily training – especially, one might imagine, his late-night training, including his misogi practice.

And in the course of all this, O’Sensei tells us, he had one – or more (no singular/plural in Japanese) – enlightenment experience(s).

And he continued adding to the land he had purchased in the auspiciously named and located Iwama.

All of this, O’Sensei narrates in one of the talks he gave to the Byakko-kai in the late 1950’s, collected and published as Takemusu Aiki  4).  It is difficult language to translate, in part because Japanese makes no distinction between perfect and plu-perfect tense – so that the listener – and the translator – often has to deduce the chronology of events from context, phraseology and intonation.

But we can assume that – in his late night misogi practice – he marked the anniversary of the shufutsu of December 1940:  particularly as the first anniversary would have been right after Pearl Harbor (following on from the resignation of the Prime Minister O’Sensei was working for), and the second anniversary would have been shortly after his sudden – as Nidai Doshu recalls it – relocation to Iwama.  Indeed, Shufutsu – to the very same forty-three kami – is still part of the annual ireisai for O’Sensei held at the Aiki Jinja he built in Iwama. 5)

It is in this context that we should understand the account of his evolving training practice,  and of events after the move to Iwama, which O’Sensei presented to an Aiki-no-Tsudoi audience in the late 1950’s:

“Up till now,  aiki –  as budo – has been a thing of one kata after another, BUT  now that it has fundamentally forgotten all of that,  it has become a matter of where you put your spirit.  If you don’t have,  in your own heart, a heart of love, then there is no way you can produce these  magnificent waza that are about protecting the whole of creation:   in just the same way, we know, as our traditional Japanese kamae seigan, is very, very much a kamae of love. The inner truth of being without forms,  is that Japanese budo does not force the opponent into a series of moves:  it does not force him to be aite…  And the  [standard mental attitude and fundamental tactic of]  not resisting is so very much a gesture of the spirit – an act, as it were, in the spiritual world – that it has a [spiritual] name:  nenpi-Kannon-riki.  It is the innermost hidden secret [ – the gokui – ] of bu that there are no forms.  Bu arises  spontaneously from our deepest impulses, and it is fundamentally, and from the very outset, a matter of ki controlling everything.

“These things were  all  revealed to me in my training by

SARUTAHIKO-NO-O-KAMI.

and then on December 16th, 1942, in the time between 2 o’clock and 3 o’clock in the morning, all the kami of Japan were good enough to show their presence and congratulate me on the advent of  [true]  Aiki.  [Which with] training in Yamato-damashii, and the swordsmanship of Sho-Chiku-Bai, and with the double-edged sword that unifies Heaven and Earth, using the movement of the heart, washes away the world’s impurities.  And in that regard, the very first thing [that had to happen,] was that the Great Pacific War had to be ended.  It’s a hard thing to talk about, but I had been blessed with the opportunity to make a great new beginning, and so I had retired – [after which I found] divine providence manifesting itself  from every possible direction – and  I  built in Iwama a 36 tatami Aiki-Jinja.  And soon after that, when the atom bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which made me all the more resolute, His Majesty, with an Imperial Proclamation, ended the war. From that time, when you look at Japan, you see that everyone has been bound together with bonds of aiki and mutual concern.”  6)

The forty-three guardian deities were, of course, solemnly enshrined in the Aiki Jinja. And shortly after the end of the war, O’Sensei had the late night visions of training with a phantom swordsman that he talks about in that same talk to the Byakko-kai.

And he concludes:
“I understood that that was the deep meaning of religion. And I knew that the deep meaning of budo was one with religion.  And I cried tears of religious ecstasy. My heart was bursting with pious gratitude towards all things and all beings in the universe down to the very humblest of creatures – all of them manifestations of the working of the Unique Origin of the universe. And I began to sob.

“At that moment I stopped training in aiki. There was left only the sword method of Sho-Chiku-Bai  – which I had acquired at that time.

“This aiki is the misogi of the universe. The duty of the Way of the human-being.

“It gives rise to the great heart manifested by the Emperor Meiji who said: ‘consider as friends the peoples of the seas of all four directions’.” 7)

1) An important kotodama scholar, and friend of O’Sensei’s.  The concept of ‘takemusu aiki‘ derives from Koun Nakanishi’s thinking.
2) p. 268
3)  The second administration of Prime-minister Fujimaro Konoe. Born into the ancient and prestigious Fujiwara clan, Prince Fujimaro Konoe studied Marxist economics at Kyoto Imperial University, and in 1925 was instrumental in passing the bill for Universal Male Suffrage in Japan. Twice prime-minister, he was consistently out-manoeuvred by the
army – which was an independent branch of government under the Meiji constitution.  Shortly after failing to achieve peace with China, he was replaced by Hideki Tojo. Two months later, the navy – also an  independent branch of government – bombed Pearl Harbor, and Japan was at war “higashi ni, nishi ni“: to the East and to the West. Fujimaro is also remembered for refashioning wartime Japan as a one-party state – but this, too, can be seen as an – unsuccessful – attempt to curb the political power of the Army.
4) Partially translated in A Life In Aikido, pp. 40-43,  and by Peter Goldsbury here . A  complete French translation is in Takemusu Aiki vol. III,  pp.83-92.
5)  “On April 29th at 11 a.m. the “Aiki Shrine Festival” and the “Founder / Kisshomaru II Doshu Memorial Service”, were held at the Aiki Shrine in Kasama city (former Iwama town),Ibaraki Prefecture. Around one thousand four hundred people gathered for this event.
“The Aiki Shrine Festival began with Shufutsu (purification rite), follow by a festival Norito (festival chant). The Ueshiba family and various circles representatives offered Tamagushihouten (reverentially offering to God branch of sacred tree) in honor of the Founder / Kisshomaru II Doshu Memorial Service.
“After the festival chant dedicated for the ancestral spirits of the Founder / Kisshomaru II Doshu Memorial Service, the Ueshiba family, visitors related to Kisshomaru II Doshu and visitors representatives, offered Tamagushihoutei (reverentially offering to people branch of sacred tree). At the end, all participants recited the Amatsu Norito  (heavenly festival chant).”
– – – from the website of the Aikikai’s Ibaraki Branch Dojo,
retrieved January 23, 2016
6)  Aiki Shinzui, pp.129-130
7)  French edition of Takemusu Aiki vol. III,  pp.91-92