It had been a widely known but little discussed fact within the [Hombu] dojo [in Tokyo] that after Ueshiba had spent a long time in China…his entire technique changed…
– – – from Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body, Bruce Frantzis, p. 8
I studied with O’Sensei Morihei Ueshiba… during my undergraduate days in Japan…between 1967 and 1969….Ueshiba was far beyond [what I saw of Tokyo-based] aikijitsu‘s level of sophistication. His ability to enter; turn, attract, and then play with and lead an opponent’s chi and mind was phenomenal….
It is my opinion…that it is completely reasonable to assume Ueshiba studied ba gua while he was in China. The entering, turning, and leading of one’s opponent, as well as the undreds of subtle energy projections of aikido are fundamental ba gua techniques that existed long before Ueshiba’s birth….
With Ueshiba, you began to expect the paranormal. I still vividly remember that he could get behind you so quickly it was as if he had disappeared. The same is true of top ba gua people. You could have Ueshiba clearly in your sight, and suddenly he was gone. Then, with equal suddenness, he was back. Ueshiba would then fake a hit and then joint-lock and/or throw you to the ground. In contrast, ba gua people typically would actually hit you first and then throw you to the ground. This “now you see me, now you don’t” is one of the great martial strengths of ba gua adepts. Unlike a boxer or karate person, whose hand you can see coming at you, ba gua people have…a strange kind of speed that is so subtle you cannot perceive its origin or destination.
In watching films of the late master, one can see Ueshiba clearly demonstrating many of the chi principles of ba gua. But while these chi principles are referred to in the vaguest of terms in aikido… in ba gua the critical energy principles are articulated in great depth and are specified in a systematic way….
– – – from The Power of Internal Martial Arts, Bruce Frantzis, pp.118-119
I do not believe it honest to keep quite about the fact that [something akin to] aikido existed already in China, in certain practices in kung fu (I was able to observe, myself, that the kam na sao of the Hung gar style is a technique so close to aikido that there can be no possible doubt) and in okinawa-te (I have seen aikido in certain kata of the okinawate-goju-ryu).
– – – André Cognard Shihan (So-Shihan of Aikido Kobayashi Ryu and designated successor to Hirokazu Kobayashi Shihan), Le corps conscient, p. 15
O-Sensei went to Mongolia, to China on business and for religious matters. I understand he did some research on martial arts while there. The same thing occured with Chinese martial arts as when O-Sensei studied Japanese martial arts; his spirit became part of the martial art. So, for example, when O-Sensei did the Kashima sword style, it became the Aiki sword. His way of using ki and turning his hips were completely different.
– – – Morihiro Saito Shihan – Aiki News interview, June 1975, p. 6
SP: We understand that Ueshiba Sensei went to Manchuria every year.
Shigenobu Okamura: Yes, after Manchuria was established. He used to go there to get away from Japan….
SP: Did O-Sensei go as far as Peking?
Shigenobu Okamura: Yes, he went to Peking, too. He saw various Chinese martial arts. There are good martial arts in China. Ueshiba Sensei was impressed by them. Chinese came to our Kenkoku University and demonstrated various bujutsu. There is a wonderful bujutsu where you swing about a Chinese broad sword.
– – – Aikido Journal interview with Shigenobu Okamura Shihan, May 14, 1983
Ueshiba Morihei (Wang Shou-Kao, to use the Chinese name given to him by Onisaburo Deguchi), in the course of his visits to China and Manchuria – at the time a Japanese protectorate (Manchuko) – apparently met with several famous Chinese masters who initiated him into the mysteries of Taoist cosmology, and of Baguazhang. One of these masters was Gao Yi-Sheng (see Le Rituel du Dragon, Les sources et les racines des arts martiaux, editions Chariot d’or, by Georges Charles – xingyiquan expert and writer.)
In 1991, a mangaka (creator of Japanese cartoons) and martial arts practitioner, told me exactly the same thing. But at the time I made no attempt to learn more.
– – from Le corps aiki – La pratique interne de l’aikido, Philippe Grangé, p. 214