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Takeda Sōkaku (武田 惣角)

Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu - origin of Aikido?

takeda sokaku daito ryu aiki-jujutsu dublin

Sokaku Takeda (武田 惣角, Takeda Sōkaku)


Despite the differences in performance of techniques and philosophical approach, Daito Ryu Aiki-jujutsu and Aikido are inseparably connected with each other through historical events, and both have a huge debt to each other.


"How many of you training Aikido are aware that practically every technique you do has its roots in Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu? And how many of those who train Daito Ryu have the idea that the current popularity of their martial arts, while virtually all other forms of jujutsu "have gone extinct", has come from the huge success of Aikido? As for both, there is no doubt about it. In spite of deep technical and philosophical differences, Daito Ryu and Aikido combine strong historical ties with those of Sokaku Takeda and Morihei Ueshiba. Takeda and Ueshiba were peculiar "giants" who left an indelible mark on the entire history of the evolution of the Japanese jujutsu."
Stanley Pranin


 



In a series of articles in 1985 about Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu, Stanley Pranin highlighted some not well know known facts about the inter-relationship of these two masters of their craft.

Morihei Ueshiba is a widely recognized martial arts master, who left his successors a huge amount of jujutsu techniques accompanied by some spiritual ideology. Less known or accepted is the fact that Morihei Ueshiba as a young man was considered a talented student of Daito Ryu taught by Sokaku Takeda. Ueshiba was kyoju dairi (helper of the main teacher) at the Sokaku school of Daito Ryu for over ten years, and moreover, he was rewarded with many scrolls. Stanley claimed to have evidence in the form of interviews with the creator of Aikido that he never published, saying that Takeda prepared Ueshiba as his successor. These facts are not widely spoken about in the world of the Aikikai Aikido mainstream, because over the years, they have taken view to minimize Daito Ryu Aiki-jujutsu's significant contribution to the evolution of Aikido.

Kyoju Dairi (Daito Ryu) Ueshiba Morehei  Kyoju Dairi (Daito Ryu) Ueshiba Morehei


Whether a politically motivated character assasination, Sokaku Takeda has been depicted in the limited references within many Aikido publications as a dangerous personality with a suspicious and controlling nature.

In addition, he was described as a greedy person demanding exorbitant sums of money in exchange for teaching martial arts. He was also, according to some sources, a person who could not be consulted in any way, and whose only redeeming feature was the incredible knowledge of martial arts he possesed. 

As Stanley Pranin engineered opportunities to talk with veterans who were taught directly by Moriheia Ueshiba in pre-war times - such as Noriaki Inoue, Kenji Tomiki, Minoro Mochizuki, Rinjiro Shirata, Shigemi Yonekawa, Zenzaburo Akazawa, Hajime Iwata, Tukama Hisa and others - it became clear to him that the role of Daito Ryu Aiki-jujutsu was purposely downplayed, as was the incredibly long and leading relationship between Morihei Ueshiba and Sokaku Takeda that led to the birth of Aikido.

Stanley also interviewed Sokaku's son and successor, Tokimune Takeda, which provided an opportunity to learn a little about the environment in Shirataka, where Tokimune lived and studied with Morihei Ueshiba in 1915-1919. These and subsequent meetings with Tokimune allowed Stanley to piece together another side of the relationship between Sokaku Takeda and Morihei Ueshiba, than that portrayed in Aikido circles.

Later testimonies given by Daito Ryu's active masters like Yukiyoshi Sagawa, Hakaru Mori, Seigo Okamoto, Yusuke Inoue, and especially Katsuyuki Kondo, have further added to a revealing picture of the role of Daito Ryu in Aikido's heritage.

 

This infromation that Stanley obtained through this research, gives an insight into the complex relationship between Daito Ryu and Aikido which can be synopsised as follows:- 

  • Morihei Ueshiba was seriously involved in learning Daito Ryu with Sokaku Takeda Sensei in 1915-1919.
  • Morihei Ueshiba was sufficiently interested in the teachings of Daito Ryu that he invited Sokaku Takeda to his home in Shirataki to give private lessons in groups. 
  • Morihei Ueshiba was somewhat dependent on the funds sent to him from Tanabe by his father Yoroku to fund Takeda's tuition. It is virtually certain that Yoroku met with Sokaku Takeda, because his name (Shareiroku) appears in the account book of payments recorded by Takeda, along with the name of Zenzo Inoue. 
  • Morihei Ueshiba seems to have bequeated his home in Shirataki with all of his furnishings to Sokaku Takeda when he left Hokkaido in 1919 on receiving news of his father's imminent death in Tanabe. One of the opinions about the fact that Morihei Ueshiba never returned to Hokkaido, is that he wanted to seperate himself from Sokaku Takeda.  Nevertheless, there may have been other reasons that contributed to the decision not to return. One must remember that his father had just died and that he became enthralled with the charismatic personality of Onisaburo Deguchi from the Omoto religion on his journey home.
  • Direct learning of Daito Ryu by Moriheia Ueshiba under Sokaku Takeda continued when Sokaku left Shirataki and lived for almost half a year at Ueshiba's new home in the Omoto community of Ayabe in 1922. During this period, Sokaku Takeda taught the interested members of the Omoto religion, and before his departure he awarded Morihei Ueshiba the title of kyoju dairi (see above) . The unambiguous language included in the certificate contained a requirement to pay 3 yen toTakeda for each of student he enrolled (equivalent to about $300 these days) and almost certainly caused friction between Morihei Ueshiba and Sokaku Takeda, that led to the eventual parting of ways.
  • Sokaku Takeda and Onisaburo Deguchi did not seem to bond well during Takeda's long stay at Abaye. This situation certainly put Morihei Ueshiba in an awkward position because of his debts to both these men. Morihei Ueshiba ultimately remained loyal to Onisaburo, breaking his acquaintance with Sokaku Takeda.
  • Morihei Ueshiba openly taught Daito Ryu aiki-jujutsu for over ten years between 1922 and 1935, and maybe even a little longer. During this period, he also issued several hundred certificates ( hiden mokuroku ), identical or similar to those he obtained from Sokaku Takeda. 

ueshiba morihei ayabe 1922 daito ryu

Ueshiba Morihei Ayabe 1922  - Banner has "Daito Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu" enscribed behind him

 

Despite the politically cleansed and abreviated informaton that is commonly available on the birth of Aikido, it is worthwhile to investigate and research the roots of our art to discover the many pathways that exist to deepen understanding and creative momentum for the future.

Sokaku Takeda's activity from around 1900 until his death in 1943 is well documented. This is mainly due to the fact that his son managed to preserve several thousand pages of his eimeiroku (list of people accepted) and shareiroku. These amazing notes contain the names of thousands of Sokaku Takeda students from all over Japan. In addition to Morihei Ueshiba, on this list there are many celebrities known widely in the world of martial arts, military officers, police officers as well as politicians and people from the world of business. During an interview for Aiki News in 1987 by Stanley Pranin, Tokimune indicated that his father left little "openness"  for any speculation with good record keeping.  He insisted that all his students signed and seal when they enrolled. 


Further Reading & References

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