Roppo (2) – Takeda Sokaku Sensei at the kabuki

Once, at the beginning of the Taisho era, Takeda Sokaku, while staying for a short while in Tokyo, had an opportunity to go out to the theatre. Sokaku, having set up camp near the hanamichi was observing Kikugoro’s movements. He was [playing] Benkei, at the Ataka Barrier. Making to chase after Yoshitsune’s party after they exited,  Kikugoro was stepping along the hanamichi  near where Sokaku had set himself.

At that moment, Sokaku commented: “the performance is good, but the footwork is bad:  the roppo is really bad,”  in a voice loud enough that the actor could hear. Kikugoro, not having been able to see from the stage, afterwards sent an attendant out. “Just now, in this vicinity, someone was kind enough to comment?” he enquired. Sokaku having immediately informed him that he was the relevant gentleman, the attendant requested that he go with him, just as he was, to the dressing room. After which Sokaku, having met Kikugoro himself, precisely and infallibly indicated the shape and motivation of the movements.  That is: in response to Kikugoro’s questioning, he immediately gave him guidance in the movements of the arms and hands, the movements of the feet.

At that time, it is said, Kikugoro hadn’t before played Benkei. Nevertheless he was one of the leading actors of the time. After Sokaku’s guidance, overnight, [everyone] could see that his arm gestures and leg movements were being played in a manner that was completely unrecognizable. It is reported that – starting that very next day – Kikugoro used to receive lavish praise, from his patrons and customers, for the outstanding footwork of his wonderful roppo….

– – – reported by Kodo HORIKAWA Sensei  to  Seigo OKAMOTO Sensei
– – – Daito-ryu Aiki-Jujutsu pp.11-12

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