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01-21-2011, 12:20 PM
Morihei Ueshiba, O'Sensei to most, was responsible for developing several generations of quality students who in turn, became well respected instructors and representatives of the Founder's teachings. Certain number of these went on to form stand alone organizations that, while giving due and full credit to the influence and inspiration derived from the Founder, developed original characteristics that were magnificent and genuine in their own right. After all, the Founder himself was a product of various influences, martial and cultural in origin, that may have been a precursor of how his direct students themselves ultimately grew and developed. In retrospect, what could be more natural, logical and to be expected, as similar scenarios play out throughout the history of the human species.

In any generational transfer, the resultant product never imitates the original exactly or completely, and occasionally is attended by paradigm shifts that result in changes in history, tradition and the human penchant for innovation.

And so it would seem that the "legacy" of the Founder replicates the undeniable reality of inevitable change, and the new birth of fundamental understanding, systemic re-creation, and the resultant transmission of new truths and ideas.

At this juncture, I would like to implore those special few who posses proven familiarity and who have achieved levels of understanding of those special giants of Aiki and Aikido, that place them in unique positions of being able to explain, demonstrate and communicate the essence of these pioneers and their own respective legacies to the rest of us. All in all, it is my viewpoint that the essence and value of the Founder's initial creation is but the beginning of what will probably become a multi generational research project on Aiki.

So, let us begin by casting an intense and discriminating light on the actual progeny of the Founder, who were in the unique position of being his direct students, in order to appreciate as accurately as possible what the Founder's intent, purpose and discoveries were really like. Perhaps we can understand more intimately what drove the Founder to undertake the tasks he did, which influences and associations meant more to him for certain subjects, and to understand more openly what he meant by preparing his Aikido for the world at large. If not this purpose, then what were his true vision and dreams leading him to discover and to achieve.

No, I don't for a second believe that this unique and fabulously talented group of individuals had all the answers to questions we currently have, and will continue to have in the future. Nonetheless, they are the most logical and appropriate starting points for us to respect and to utilize. Even as we study the geological history of the Earth one deposited layer at a time, so may we glean more of the Founder's true identity one direct student at a time.

Lest there be any confusion on this point, this legion of direct students may not be found only in the Aikikai family as currently or historically constituted. As Stanley Pranin has aptly discovered and pointed out, there are vast amounts of material about those giants who either left the Aikikai, or who were never even included at any time in history. Their legitimacy is directly tied to their personal connection to the Founder during their lifetimes, and are as legitimate and vital as any other verifiable source of provenance and authenticity.

The true and complete legacy of this gift of Aikido from the Founder is yet to be fully discovered, revealed, examined and appropriately transcribed and transmitted. This work will require generations of honest and painstaking work by talented, committed persons of the highest integrity, training and motives.

Yes, what has been discovered to date is immense and amazing. Why stop now? The aforementioned Stanley Pranin will never get the proper credit he so richly deserves for initiating the process of discovering this phenomenon we call O Sensei. Using a decidedly non Japanese approach, he has helped to keep accessible and empirically valid, the open door to discovering O Sensei for ourselves, and for future generations.

It is time, I do believe, for the Aikido leaders of today to seriously consider the forging of responsible associations of courageous intent and non compromising legitimacy. These attempts must remain free from arbitrary claims of historical entitlement and the patently false assumption of hierarchical legitimacy by birth or by proclamation. It must be our firm resolution to then carry on the ongoing search for the real and complete O Sensei and his legacy. Perhaps in this way, we can inspire and encourage successive generations to do the same when their time comes due.Francis Takahashi was born in 1943, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Francis began his Aikido journey in 1953, simultaneously with the introduction of Aikido to Hawaii by Koichi Tohei, a representative sent from Aikikai Foundation in Tokyo, Japan. This event was sponsored by the Hawaii Nishi System of Health Engineering, with Noriyasu Kagesa as president. Mr. Kagesa was Francis’s grandfather, and was a life long supporter of Mr. Tohei, and of Aikido. In 1961, the Founder visited Hawaii to help commemorate the opening of the new dojo in Honolulu. This was the first, and only time Francis had the opportunity to train with the Founder. In 1963, Francis was inducted into the U.S. Army, and was stationed for two years in Chicago, Illinois. He was the second instructor for the fledgling Chicago Aikido Club, succeeding his childhood friend, Chester Sasaki, who had graduated from the University of Illinois, and was entering the Air Force. Francis is currently ranked 7th dan Aikikai, and enjoys a direct affiliation with Aikikai Foundation for the recommending and granting of dan ranks via his organization, Aikikai Associates West Coast. Francis is the current dojo-cho of Aikido Academy in Alhambra, California.

Demetrio Cereijo
01-21-2011, 01:41 PM
Where is the I like button?

George S. Ledyard
01-21-2011, 08:11 PM
It is time, I do believe, for the Aikido leaders of today to seriously consider the forging of responsible associations of courageous intent and non compromising legitimacy. These attempts must remain free from arbitrary claims of historical entitlement and the patently false assumption of hierarchical legitimacy by birth or by proclamation. It must be our firm resolution to then carry on the ongoing search for the real and complete O Sensei and his legacy. Perhaps in this way, we can inspire and encourage successive generations to do the same when their time comes due.

It is in our own self interest to do so... The older generation is passing away as we speak. We lose another direct connection to the Founder or one of his long time students every year now. Many of these pioneers set up large organizations to promote the spread of Aikido, and in the best circumstances, create a systematic transmission of what that teacher understood of the Founder and his art.

The first generation of Japanese teachers who had actually trained under O-Sensei were invested with a mystique that none of us will ever be accorded. Those of us who have relied for our authority and positions of importance on our connections with these various teachers will be sadly surprised when they are totally marginalized after the passing of these authority figures.

Anyone who has not stepped up and developed himself or herself as a world class instructor in their own right, will find no one really cares that they trained with so and so Sensei back in 60's and 70's. This is not a competitive endeavor but rather one of supporting each other and sharing. Every ushi deshi admitted that he only got a portion of what the Founder knew. So each of us really only got a portion. The best way for us to develop and Aikido that on some level replicates the Aikido created by the Founder is to combine our efforts and share what we know. By putting all these pieces together, we might actually come up with something that the Founder wouldn't complain that "no one is doing my Aikido".

And the support and respect we previously got by standing in close proximity to some teacher who had trained with the Founder would be there, first and foremost because we gave it to each other. I think the worst thing we could do would be to attempt to take old thinking and outdated organizational structures in to the future. We need to make ourselves as good as we possibly can as practitioners, develop our ability to teach what we understand, and we need to work with each other to support each other and to share the fruits of our efforts collectively. Then I think Aikido could well live up to it's promise of being a truly amazing art.

My experience at the Aikido Bridge Seminar in San Diego is an example of what I mean. I got to hang with and share with some fabulous senior teachers, train with folks from a number of backgrounds and organizations, and came away with a number of relationships that I fully expect to last the rest of my life. And everyone was so welcoming and happy that I was there. That's the beginning of the process I think.

Thanks for the article Francis. I think we are on the same page on this endeavor.

01-22-2011, 02:41 AM
Thank you, Francis Sensei, for your steadfast passion to this ideal. As George Sensei has pointed out, time is running out for those in generational proximity to O'Sensei to speak out. Many have left this plane of existence without passing on all that they knew and experienced. Many still with us think that it is the younger ones' responsibility to somehow absorb these things on their own. Many others who are clouded with politics or ego will simply not be moved.

As one who wants to know, I can't possibly find out by myself. The teachers must put themselves "out there", or at least get their thoughts organized and recorded in some tangible and durable fashion. Aikidoka of today don't have to do everything as the Founder did (although one could do worse), but should at least have access to enough accurate and objective information to fashion their own choices. This can be done, if undertaken for the greater good. I hope it happens, as time moves on in spite of the need, and sources are inexorably dwindling.

Thanks again for your unwavering voice.

01-22-2011, 06:28 AM
Thank you. It's a pleasure to read the inclusive and open and positive approach you always embrace, Takahashi Sensei.

01-23-2011, 01:27 AM
It is definitely logical to grant the original pioneer instructors from Japan due credit for their magnificent work over the decades. Short of granting them a “mystique”, I feel that it is more appropriate to grant them deep respect and genuine gratitude for their efforts, having little to compare them with at the time. It is no secret that we have been witnesses as well to their human frailties along with their proven strengths over time, recognizing them to be just as human as we are in every way imaginable and observed.

Since then, the Aikido movement in the United States, and throughout the world, has witnessed immense growth and increased stature as an authentic martial art, accepted as a positive choice of study for many, and recognized widely as a cultural phenomenon with unique emphasis on harmonious interaction and social responsibility.

Inevitably, we have been witnessing the loss of most of these pioneers to illness, incapacity and death. I do not believe that regret, feelings of inadequacy, or even profound sadness over the passing of these early mentors is appropriate or helpful. Rather, let us rejoice in the fact that we did have them to guide us, and to gratefully acknowledge that they were instrumental in grooming excellent replacements for the future of Aikido’s growth and stability in the ongoing teaching of correct Aiki principles and techniques.

There is no argument that those fortunate enough to have trained under one or more direct disciples of the Founder undoubtedly received a rare, unique and even priceless education for their persistence. Yet I cannot accept any notion that this very fact places these fortunate students in any preeminent position of implied authority, expertise or entitlement for special status. The range of teaching styles and actual teaching abilities of these direct students is so wide and varied as to discount any necessary favorable advantage over those who did not have that privilege. It is my viewpoint that culture, social development and human capacity for wisdom and knowledge is cumulative in nature, kind of like fine wine that improves with age and accumulated experience.

At the San Diego Bridge, the AI Seminar in New Jersey, and other venues of bridge building attempts to expose previously isolated groups of Aikido practitioners is indeed the way to go for preserving the varied legacies of the original uchi deshi of the Founder, as well as the legacies of their respective progeny and the instructors we are now cultivating through our dojos. The upcoming Bridge in Orlando, Florida in March promises to be awesome!

This bodes well indeed for the future of Aikido, not as it originally was, but as it was envisioned to become in the eyes of the Founder and his son, the late Doshu. We have merely scratched the proverbial surface of the true nature of Aiki, its potential, and the opportunities for present and future giants to make their mark and enhance the magic of Aikido and its relevance to humanity.

Yes, I do believe that we are on the same paragraph at least, George, if not necessarily on the same page. I thoroughly enjoyed our brief time together in San Diego, and look forward to even more stimulating exchanges in the future.

Thank you too, Clark, for the important points you make, although they appear to be tantalizingly beyond reach and of our control at the present time. We simply must humbly accept the inevitability of loss and change.

But lo, let us remember to include the promise of renewal, rebirth and regeneration of the traditional concepts via the fresh minds, energetic creativity and passionate sense of purpose from our current and future crop of students of Aikido.

O'Sensei's legacy, along with the legacies of his direct students both from within and beyond Aikikai, should serve as the foundation for future legacies to be formed from our current and future pool of geniuses and innovators. I have every confidence that this has been already happening, is happening and will continue to happen, primarily because the benefits from studying Aiki Principles are too evident and enticing to ignore.

And Niall, call me Francis.

01-23-2011, 06:14 AM
We simply must humbly accept the inevitability of loss and change.
This is true, of course. What I cannot accept is that we can have no effect on how fast and how severe these changes will be. But everybody must try to pull in the same direction...

Mary Eastland
01-23-2011, 02:28 PM
Dear Francis:
I read this over twice and and am so sorry to say I don't understand. It could be because Ron and I are so isolated in our independent training. Being from Kokikai and now independant I feel I miss a bit of the inner workings of the Aikido world. Can you help me indersatnd what you are talking about?
thank you,

graham christian
01-23-2011, 04:52 PM
Hi Francis. Like Mary I am not sure exactly what you're saying as I too am not part of a big organization but as such may have or may not have a helpful different perspective on the envisioned scene.

I would say that many times a person of some extraordinary quality comes along and it is this that attracts a multitude of interest and thus people. The point here is that the person concerned is not usually interested in organizational matters but is interested in communicating or teaching what they have discovered.

Organization is formed after the event usually by others who see how to make a buck or 'keep it pure' or add infinitum.

For me the purpose of organization is simply to make it possible to deliver for those many who are interested.

However, how many stick to or even understand what he said and can demonstrate what he said for that is what attracts people to that art. That is the basic of it all.

He was a deeply spiritual man through which he came to his 'enlightenment' which then caused such a stir and change in the field of martial arts. Yet how many freak out at the mere mention of spiritual? Yet they try to say it's all down to his physical training.

So the answer to the problem, if indeed there is one lies with each person getting to know what he continuously said and to learn how that equals Aikido rather than say he didn't mean it that way for that is what attracted people in the first place.

Anyway, that's my two cents.

Regards, G.

Mary Eastland
01-23-2011, 06:21 PM
Hi Francis:
Ron and I just read it out loud together. I understand better now.
Thank you,

George S. Ledyard
01-23-2011, 09:26 PM
There is no argument that those fortunate enough to have trained under one or more direct disciples of the Founder undoubtedly received a rare, unique and even priceless education for their persistence. Yet I cannot accept any notion that this very fact places these fortunate students in any preeminent position of implied authority, expertise or entitlement for special status. The range of teaching styles and actual teaching abilities of these direct students is so wide and varied as to discount any necessary favorable advantage over those who did not have that privilege. It is my viewpoint that culture, social development and human capacity for wisdom and knowledge is cumulative in nature, kind of like fine wine that improves with age and accumulated experience.

I think we are talking about the nature of leadership here. The first generation of teachers was largely imposed, in the sense that they were either sent over from Japan or were the very first Americans to start training and were therefore the only choices. They were truly pioneers. But now, the situation is completely different.

The ASU alone has 25 or so Rokudans right now , and Saotome Sensei is still quite active. By the time he retires or passes on and Ikeda Sensei takes up the senior leadership position, there will likely be a few more. I think the other najor organizations are pretty much in the same boat, perhaps with a few 7th Dans now.

I don't think a one of us has any preeminent position of implied authority, expertise or entitlement for special status, not a single one. Right now, any status or authority we might have has been conferred by our teacher. When he is gone, no one will care.

There is a huge community of Aikido people who are out there who have trained for 35 - 50 years. I absolutely do not think that any hereditary entitlement for future leadership exists. There will be folks who end up as leaders but this time it won't be imposed.

Next time around folks will be picking their leaders. They will have a very wide set of choices, not with the political constraints that existed back in the sixties and seventies. So the folks that end up as leaders next time around will be the folks that rose to the occasion and provided leadership. I am talking about the kind of leadership that "attracts" because the leader walks his talk. It will be a leadership that concerns itself with the welfare of the folks being led, because if it doesn't people will simply leave. There will be lots of choices.

Respect, which is essential for people to feel about their leadership, is earned, not conferred or inherited. I remember a person I worked with once haranguing her assistants, "You WILL respect me." All I could think was, by the time it gets to the point at which you have to even say that, it's too late.

I do think that it is the time now to start, for those who have aspirations in this direction. I do not think it is appropriate or necessary to wait until those who have gone before get out of the way to start. We have had training over the years from a number of world class teachers. If there isn't to be a huge hole left by their passing, we need to start acting like world class teachers ourselves. People who may have had the habit of hiding their light because they were in the shadow of some big kahuna need to start letting themselves shine now.

People naturally want leadership... if you do not provide good leadership, they will follow bad leaders. I look at the senior teachers, Japanese and American, who will be passed or retired within a short time. Ask yourselves who amongst them has a student or students who looks as "big" as they are? Who looks to have the stature, the skill, the charisma? In many cases you will see folks who look like they might eventually develop that, but the passing of the responsibility for the transmission is imminent. People need to step up now and become the leaders that will be needed in the future.

In a corporate setting, a manager is reviewed partly on his ability to develop talent. In the military, leadership is developed and trained, it doesn't just happen. Aikido is a bit different. Rank has been a big factor in determining who the leaders are. Their preparation for being leaders might have been based soley on their abilities to drop an opponent on the mat at will. Some folks figured it out and some folks clearly did not. But we sure as hell never had a good leadership development program. So without that, the next generation of leaders will be the folks who figure it out for themselves. That needs to be happening right now and not later when it's too late.

No, the next time around it will be the Aikido community that confers authority in the leaders who step up and provide the kind of leadership that speaks to people. No one will invest in someone just because they trained Japan, or had a Shihan teacher. Francis is a leader not because of his background, in fact many folks aren't that familiar with his background, but because of who he is. He consistently moves through life trying to leave every interaction he has with another person with that person feeling enhance somehow because of it. This is a man who wakes up every day and "fights the good fight". It's going to be people like this that folks will gravitate towards when the old order of imposed structures disintegrates.

It's going to be interesting to watch this process over the next ten years. The other thing to remember is that the folks mostly likely to step in on the short run aren't young either, so we should be looking out and making sure we are developing the next generation of folks by mentoring them and providing good leadership examples.

01-23-2011, 09:53 PM
Hello Mary and Ron.

Congratulations on successfully running your own independent dojo, and for having faith in the Aiki Principles, applying them in the manner of your own choosing. I can imagine how happy and content your lucky students must be.

Aikido's amazing history in the United States has run for over 58 years, and I suspect that volumes could be and should be recorded to adequately and fairly give a full accounting. This work is way beyond my knowledge or talent, and would indeed require a collaboration of the many who have been studying and cataloging this information over the years.

My fortune and identity has continually been defined by my unbroken association with Aikikai Foundation and its leadership, beginning with Koichi Tohei, up to the current Doshu, Moriteru Ueshiba. If you have specific questions about those years, perhaps I can attempt to respond.

I am at somewhat of a loss as to where to begin, to identify any particular questions or clarifications you are seeking answers for, and am not sure that this is the forum for such discussions.

One purpose for my commenting about "Legacy and the Founder", and those of his most prominent direct students, is to encourage viewpoints and stories from those who knew them, learned directly from them and were entrusted with the transmission of such lessons.

I feel that it is vitally important to not only give due credit to these pioneers, but to glean and preserve the essence of what they themselves learned, digested and used to create their own interpretations of the original teachings.

As we inevitably lose these individuals over time, we must do what we can to ask questions, record answers and to accumulate such invaluable knowledge in a manner made available to any who wish to study them.

The sheer size of the data involved requires a group effort to sift through, catalogue and to preserve for succeeding generations. As both George and Clark have pointed out, we need to begin yesterday, to identify and encourage those who have been reticent to date to contribute to this worthy project.

I am sorry for not answering your request adequately, and I look forward to more specific questions that allow me to return bite size responses that do address specific points.

01-23-2011, 10:17 PM
Greetings Graham,

It is so kind of you to express interest in matters concerning the history of Aikido's progress in the United States. In turn, I hope to learn more of the impact of Aikido's introduction to the continent, and to enjoy the stories from folks such as yourself, Henry Ellis, Peter Goldsbury, Neil Matthews, amongst others who I do not know of yet.

The appearance that distance can indeed dilute reality, while enhancing the romance of fantasy and illusion, must not be taken casually. I have found that many people are inclined to believe to be true, whatever they desire to be true, or are afraid may be true. It takes a rare individual indeed to break through this state of incompetence and non accountability to actually do the due diligence required to appropriately and fully examine the facts, test them empirically, and understand them through first hand experience. This does not describe the average Aikido player in the least.

It is acceptable to me that the vast majority of folks who practice Aikido do so for the simplest of reasons, wanting little more than a safe and reputable place to train. They would have no real interest in the proven pedigree of their instructors, and would show little affection for the Doshu or for the Founder. It is enough that the few that demonstrate a keen curiosity and interest in the quality of their Aikido understanding, proficiency and commitment, are allowed to do so without the burden of competing political or philosophical interference and obstruction.

KISS SIB is an American slogan for business, meaning Keep It Simple Stupid and Show It Big. Aikido to me is simple. It is the accomplishment of it that is difficult. So, I like to keep things simple.

In any reference to the Founder, however, I do have a request. Before uttering any cavalier or simplistic description of the Founder's real identity, his mission, his vision or his impact on the Budo world, the utterer should be sure of facts, references and be respectful of the impression it can have on those who do have such knowledge, and would appreciate greater care and compassion when speaking.

Thank you again for posting,

01-24-2011, 03:05 AM
Yes agreed.

A legacy is a transmission or gift from an ancestor or predecessor.

In FMA I was taught the the system was complete bu not finished because it could continue to grow based on people continuing to study and the "add what is uniquely theirs".

The choice often is how we honor that gift and in what direction we evolve.

Like any family, "we" all win or "we" all lose.

From experience, you walk your talk.

Compliments and appreciation.

graham christian
01-24-2011, 03:12 AM
Hi Francis. Thank you for your generous reply to my comments. I am abit surprised by your last paragraph though as I thought with relation to the founder I had kept it simple and yet shown him as a very special rare individual. So I feel I may have a blind spot here as to what you mean. This granted is a view by someone who never personally trained with him.
No doubt I'm missing something here.


graham christian
01-24-2011, 03:28 AM
Hi Francis once again. After writing the above response I think I see what I'm missing. The whole point of this column. Indeed from that perspective I have no real input to add and someone like Ellis Sensei would be more to the point as far as british history is concerned as well as those who personally trained with the likes of Noro Sensei and others who came over here in the early days.
Apologies for my misunderstanding. I will look foreward to reading others experiences.

01-24-2011, 04:04 AM
Hello Graham,

Thank you for your gracious and most generous reply to my post. I certainly did not mean any disrespect to you or to anyone else with my previous "last paragraph", which in retrospect, comes off as a bit harsh. Please accept my apology here.

I too look forward to the input from those who knew first hand of Noro Sensei, both Abe Sensei's, Asai Sensei, Chiba Sensei, Tada Sensei, Tamura Sensei, etc. What a rich heritage to be proud of, and to share with the rest of the Aikido world.

Sorry Niall, for the misspelling of your name. I have been told that the sweetest sound to a person's ear is the (correct) sound of their own name being heard.

Warmest regards to all!

in oneness,


graham christian
01-24-2011, 05:17 AM
Hello again Francis. Just read your reply and thank you very much for the communication, However, although I accept your apology I feel it is not needed for you were quite straight and upfront with me and it was me who had the misunderstanding.
More than that, in your first reply it was of such quality that it reached through to me and made me think, to reconsider my views so for that I am thankful. In fact it made me realize quite a few things including knowing your place,(regarding the topic you did put me in my place) which was needed so I can only thank you for that. I also realized that commenting on a persons charachter who you only know of second hand and third hand is actually not necessary even if all you have to say about the person is good. Finally the fact that your communication was so free of negativity and yet direct (if that's the right word) that I couldn't help but admire it and feel it and take the responsibility to fully understand it. You may be surprised at such an effect but nonetheless I felt I needed to say it. Thank you.
As a possible contribution to this topic I did have an idea I would like to share with you before I sign off and go to work.
It occured to me that a person could write a series of books about the people to which you refer from this perspective: 'Memories of.'
These books would have peoples accounts of their experiences and memories of those people and times. For example if one book was called 'Memories of O'Sensei in America' then a writer could go and meet people in America who had the good fortune to so do and get a record of their experiences. It would have to be a writer I would imagine, someone familiar with doing what is required.
Also right here in this column maybe you could gather videos of people giving their personal experiences as I know I was fascinated by two such videos I found on youtube.
Anyway, just a couple of ideas that may or may not be relevent to your purpose but given as a gift.

Diana Frese
01-25-2011, 10:32 AM
I hope it's okay to call you Francis. I think I met you years ago, but
I've been mostly out of practice for many years for many of the usual reasons, job change, (non aikido related) injuries, marriage and other family responsibilities.... posted way too much on what some may call excuses and others might view with understanding having stopped training at least for a while, themselves.

Well, there's my intro. I occasionally have posted some memories of training years ago, in the past couple of months or so, starting with the Thanksgiving thread. But for you, I've been meaning to someday send you respect for being the teacher of Father Joseph Miller who was a fan of effective waza, and didn't like me teaching with beach balls. I'm sure there are many who use this effectively, but to go on with my story, I had to listen to him because he was, I think, first kyu and I was only shodan in a small YMCA dojo. As a matter of fact, I should have listened whoever he was, but in this case it was easy. He was your direct student and said he was going to Boston to pay his respects to one of your teachers. I don't even remember if he mentioned any others, but that was great we were going to Boston, and Yamada Sensei always hinted to people to visit Kanai Sensei's dojo. Kanai Sensei was kind of quiet (except when he felt a person needed advice, but that's another possible thread, but yes he usually spoke quietly) i think Yamada Sensei meant that even though Kanai Sensei seemed kind of quiet, not to forget to visit Boston, or something like that, I don't remember his exact words.

Kanai Sensei, in my impression from seminars and training camps, emphasized hanmi. He was not tall, but I later noticed that many of his senior students were tall. From personal experience of being relatively tall, I said, maybe it's because it's a way for people like me to figure out how not to get our feet tangled up.

I feel kind of shy mentioning these small stories in a history-oriented thread, but I hope this post and any others I have made or will make may help others realize just another instance of how valuable training in Aikido can be to individual people as well, Father Joe in the few alternating weeks he spent with our dojo while on loan to a local affiliate of the company in California, was a great help both at the Y classes and for taking a couple of us with him to Boston.

I went to Boston about once a month or to Western Massachusetts seminars for about a year, after being brought with another friend from the YMCA dojo that visit I mentioned. I had a friend from summer camp who invited me to visit in Marblehead, and I stayed there most times,and another friend near central square (the new dojo had moved to Porter Square I think it was called) I stayed with once or twice.

Some things in life just work out, but we have to take the opportunity.

Anyway, respectfully submitted, and I hope to be able to make some small contribution that will lead to some beautiful recollections from others. I know I enjoy reading posts from those who contribute their memories.

In closing, thanks for your generosity and inspiration to us all.

01-25-2011, 11:42 AM
Hello Diane,

Thank you for posting, and by all means, call me Francis. It is after all my name, and the one that I respond to most of the time. Your side trip down memory lane is much appreciated and welcome.

You list quite an eclectic row of primary instructors on your brief bio, and I can't help wondering which one stands out as being the most influential and important to you. No need to answer as it is privileged information. Just curious.

You reveal that your history of doing Aikido correctly was beset by physical challenges. Kanai Sensei could very well have been the poster child of magnificent Aikido despite the awesome challenges he had to contend with during the time I knew him. No doubt, he used them to fuel his burning desire for daily improvement of his art and craft.

Since this post revolves around the legacy of the Founder as it relates to his direct students, it is indeed appropriate to include Kanai Sensei, who intimates called "Hambei", to this discussion of how his direct students fared after leaving the Founder in Japan. It is my wish that more stories will be shared by those with similar experiences of training with these direct disciples of the Founder of Aikido.

In his own quiet, yet dynamic and almost nihilistic manner, Kanai Sensei did his utmost to internalize his lessons from O Sensei, and attempted to fulfill his "Giri" and "On" to the Founder, and correctly transmit the essence of his teachings to the rest of us. It is my belief that I did actually catch glimpses of what the Founder was like through the often agonized demonstrations by and rare conversations with Kanai Sensei. I treasure those moments dearly.

Thank you for sharing your memories, and this opportunity to remind us of the gift of Kanai Sensei's living tribute to the Founder.

Diana Frese
01-30-2011, 07:17 AM
Thank you so much, Francis. I am still studying your column and the responses of the others, and I will answer your question the best way I can a bit later, but for now, I will pick the word pioneers and open up a small window into the past. Yamada sensei traveling by bus all over the Eastern Seaboard. He may have flown sometimes, but he rode the bus a lot, as a standee sometimes.

About Kanai Sensei, I read and re read the beautiful tributes his students wrote and there is other historical information around, regarding his early days in Cambridge. Similar to my memories that Yamada Sensei took buses a lot, I read that Kanai Sensei ate a lot of potatoes (rather than other, more expensive things)

These are small details, but I think they show so much about the character of these people. Others, who came over later from Japan also faced hardships of their own....

But for now, I'd like to mention Mary Heiney (not sure of the spelling) one of the pioneer Americans, whom I met in Sacramento at a seminar years ago. She studied with Hikitsuchi Sensei and Arikawa Sensei many years ago and is still teaching as you know. One of my former students has taken classes with her and recommends her warmly. Shindai Dojo in Orlando has written beautiful reports of her seminars.

I'll be back to read and maybe share a few more memories, but for now I've given two resources Mary, and the New England Aikikai articles for the further investigation of readers who share your feelings.

Thanks again for your kind words

George S. Ledyard
01-30-2011, 05:09 PM
Reminiscences of the pioneers...

Saotome Sensei was invited over to the US by a group in Florida. They had the money and set up everything so he could get his Green Card... He showed up, after having served in a senior leadership role at Hombu Dojo only to find that the guy with the money had absconded with the funds. So he found an eclectic mix of martial artists, hippies, ex-bikers, groupies, etc.

Supporting Sensei was a group effort. No one had any money to speak of and what they had they put into the dojo and their training. Someone fed Sensei breakfast, someone else fed him lunch. I am pretty sure that initially he didn't even have his own place to stay.

When Sensei had first announced that he would be leaving Hombu Dojo for the States, Osawa Sensei first tried to talk him out of leaving, and then negotiated that Sensei be given Hombu's blessing and the South East as his "territory". Due to political maneuverings, this deal fell through and was withdrawn. Sensei chose to come over anyway.

So initially, Sensei was cut off from any support from Japan. In those days it was still the "One organization per country rule" so anyone who went with Sensei was unable to get his rank recognized in Japan.

The existing organization here wasn't enthusiastic about the appearance of an uchi deshi whom had stayed in Japan when most of the others had gone overseas to teach. I guess they felt it was threatening.

Anyway, a variety of things happened that were designed to hinder his ability to attract students. I guess it's not appropriate on the internet to get into these things. I only mention it to illustrate just how hard it was to come over here and get started. Not only was there no money but, in Sensei's case, there were forces acting against him, which only made it harder. Those of us from the old days remember having an "us against the world" that made the training we ere getting from Sensei even more special. We had to chose Sensei or getting our ranks registered and we chose Sensei. I know he still has a soft spot for the folks who chose to stand with him back when the going was tough. Later, after the rapprochement with Headquarters, lots of folks came out of the woodwork and said they'd like to affiliate... I know for many of us the feeling was, where were you when it cost you something to be part of our organization?

Sensei moved from Florida up to DC in 1975. Five Yudansha moved from various parts of the country to help him open that dojo. Raso Hultgren, Glenn and Sara Bluestone, Carl Larkin, and Megan Reisel. Linda Holiday Sensei and Dave Hurley came and trained a bit. Of that original core of yudansha, all shodans at the time, Raso is Chief Instructor of a hugely successful dojo in Missoula, Linda Holiday has had a dojo in Santa Cruz for decades. John Messores,Sensei's first student when he came to the US came up for a while... he is now Chief Instructor of a dojo in St Pete, FL. Sara Bluestone is still at the DC dojo. Dave Hurley is a professor and still teaches classes at Kimberly Richardson Sensei's dojo in Seattle. The rest have gone on to other things...

They found this great space on Butternut St which was a residence that had been owned by an electrical contractor and he had added a warehouse space attached to the residence that was big enough to drive two panel trucks into. The residence had been turned into offices and the dojo only rented the warehouse space and the basement. I started when the dojo was only six months old. There were about eight of us in that first group of students who were the serious white belts. Everyone trained six or seven days a week. The space hadn't even been finished, half the space was still old cable reel racks, old reels, leftover cable and wire. We had half the space matted...

Well, mat was a bit of an exaggeration... everyone was still broke. So what little money could be had was put into making a two by four & plywood frame, and the mat cover. Foam was really expensive so the students went out and scrounged old rugs at garage sales, recycled cardboard boxes at the super market, anything that might cushion that floor a bit. Bit by bit we managed to put the place together and I am sure that Sensei himself put every dime he made traveling and teaching seminars into that dojo.

Training with Sensei was easily the best thing I had ever done. I was beat up, exhausted, frustrated by how hard it was for me and how easy it seemed for the yudansha (remember, they were shodans). But I loved every second of it, every nano second. I thought that if I could only be as good as those black belts I would have arrived.

Then I noticed that Sensei would whip a class on us and I wouldn't have a clue from start to finish,what he had done. Then I'd overhear the yudansha saying "What the hell was that? I have no idea what he just did" Sensei would then proceed to tell us, "yes, this class I do for Shihan at Hombu dojo." We were getting classes from him that he had done back in Japan in which no one in the class was under 6th Dan. You had to have a high tolerance for feeling lost but it was vastly exciting.

Initially, we just trained our brains out. There was no testing, there were no requirements. There was no ASU. We were simply a group of folks centered around this unbelievable teacher training every moment we got. I was the very first Shodan test ever done in DC. I had never seen a test before. Since there were no requirements written down any where, Sensei simply called out stuff and you had to do something that hopefully looked something like what he wanted. The eight of us actually thought we were there for our 1st Kyu Tests. But in typical Saotome Sensei fashion, he threw us a curve ball. When we finished, Sensei said "Ah, good tests. Take ten minute break and come back for another test." He sparng the Shodan test on us by surprise... There's one one thing I remember about that test. Sensei called for three people with shinai.

I had no idea what was happening when they surrounded me. The only thing I had ever seen that looked anything like this was the films of O-Sensei doing an irimi to get outside the circle of attackers. So when Sensei said start, that's what I did. A picture perfect irimi to the side of the guy behind me, a true work of art irimi. He then proceeded to hit me over the head with his shinai on his second try. I suddenly realized that I hadn't quite understood the program and the rest of my randori was me running wildly about the dojo, trying to hide behind the posts, etc. with three ukes beating the hell out of me while Sensei laughed his ass off. Afterwords, he told us,"Hah, hah, hah... you all died".

I realized that Sensei had specifically thrown the whole thing in precisely because there was no way we'd succeed. He wanted to make sure that none of the new Shodans had any unrealistic notions of how good were actually were. Every once in a while he'll still look at me and start laughing, remembering that first test. I have learned to take some consolation in having provided my teacher with so much amusement.

What's interesting about those early days is that most of the folks I know from back then, look at those days as a sort of magical time, easily the best time of our training lives. Sensei was on a mission to pass on what he had learned from O-Sensei. Not a night passed when we didn't sit with Sensei by the side of the mat after class over a few beers and listen to him talk about his time with the Founder. He clearly felt that he had an obligation to repay what he had been give by O-Sensei by passing his art along to another generation. And we felt the same way about the gift we had received in being able to train with this amazing man. You were always conscious that this man was an irreplaceable resource. He could be gone tomorrow and what he knew would be gone with him.

This wasn't a hobby for us. It wasn't just something you did when it was convenient or in your "spare" time. You trained every day, when you weren't at the dojo , you were thinking about it, you owned every book written about the art, you'd seen every clip of O-Sensei that Stan Pranin had made available. We all had jobs designed to support our training and a couple of us were married. So it wasn't like Sensei had trained in Japan 8 hours a day, seven days a week. But we did two or more hours every day but Sunday and some of us would go in the and do solo work.

I think it's hard now to see how different things are now. You never experience that excitement of being there at the very beginning again , unless you start your own place. It would be impossible to duplicate the training we got from Saotome Sensei in those days. I travel across the country and pay a thousand dollars to get three days with Sensei, along with 80 or more other folks. We had him every day with ten or so in the class. That will never come again and it was the best. Can't even come close to expressing how "the best" it was.

Stephen Fasen
01-30-2011, 07:16 PM
Can't even come close to expressing how "the best" it was.

Perhaps not. Maybe words are inadequate. Perhaps the complexity of the Japanese concept of Kokoro and Giri is an illuminating analogy which in a way shows the ineffectiveness of our own words to explain the full weight of what fills our hearts in respect to this art of ours. I have not met many however, who try as diligently as you. I do know that you attempt to express that feeling, the magnitude of the experience, for all you train with every time you step on the floor. Your articulation is a gift to us all, even if we occasionally get to pay for it. You inspire, as Sensei does. You carry his growing legacy as very few can and then some. I will publicly declare without any reservation that the future of aikido in the hands of men like you and Francis is well guarded. You are a champions of the way, and your way grows constantly.
Thank you for the glimpse into a personal history.

01-30-2011, 08:37 PM
Hello again Diana,

There can be no doubt that pioneers of any worthwhile endeavor were indeed willing to endure and persevere through many a hardship and challenge to their noble attempts to introduce and establish beachheads for new ideas and movements.

I do remember Hambei recounting his Van Gogh like “potato eater” days, swearing to never eat another potato after becoming able to eat other foods. His was a true fondness as well for ice cream, and for the preparing of Japanese dishes from his memory of home.

Thank you for reminding us of the American pioneers as well, for their amazing stories of the “early days”, as they contributed significantly to Aikido’s growth in America. Although not necessarily direct students of the Founder (except for Messrs Terry Dobson, Robert Nadeau, Isao Takahashi and perhaps others), names like Alan Groh, Bruce Klickstein, Bill Witt, Frank Doran, Jon Mori, Mike Mamura, Robert “Red” Sakamoto, Clyde Takeguchi, Virginia Mayhew, Rod Kobayashi, come readily to mind. I apologize for forgetting other worthy names and individuals that escape me, and ask for help from the greater Aiki Web family in honoring those as well.

Mary Heiny indeed deserves special mention, not only as a premier female Aikido presence, but specifically for her unique longevity, perseverance, talent and teaching skills that endear her to many.

Along with the next wave of groundbreaking “imports” like Dang Thang Tri, Dang Thang Phong, Mark Murashige, Mitsugi Saotome, and Hiroshi Ikeda, we may want to go back into history a bit to include certain Hawaiian pioneers like Shiniichi Suzuki, Yukiso Yamamoto, Sadao Yoshioka, the late Robert H. Aoyagi, again amongst others I fail to name.

Volumes can and should be written to preserve the priceless memory of all of our American Aikido pioneers, linking their unique legacies to an expanded one for the Founder, for whom a special commemoration this year in Honolulu marks the 50th year anniversary of his historic visit back in 1961.

The Founder would be justly proud of these priceless testimonials to his overall legacy.

01-31-2011, 10:45 AM
George, your admirable sense of loyalty and respect for truth is both admirable and welcome in this age of seeming cynicism and poor social etiquette.

Thank you for your impassioned and educating response resulting in illuminating the contributions of a major influence and standard of Ueshiba Aikido, Mitsugi Saotome Shihan. Having a cadre of 25 6th dans, and captained by a preeminent 7th dan, the ASU has certainly done its share in raising the quality of Aikido in the United States and beyond.

As is usually the case, there will always be material facts and events that are not revealed in respect to principles of appropriateness, privacy, relevance, and timing of disclosure. Even as more firsthand accounts surface detailing the significant contributions of the other major influences on American Aikido, both Japanese in origin as well as our own home grown products, a much clearer vision of what has transpired in the building of our Aikido legacy here will emerge. We can only wait with bated breath for such future revelations shared by those in the know, and who have the courage and generosity to share.

Thank you again, George, for helping to establish a sort of template or blueprint, as it were, of accurately, humbly and respectfully revealing an appropriate and workable basis for choosing our leaders, and supporting them in every way possible. Legacies are established by being both correctly and properly acknowledged, and clearly recorded in a way for anyone with an interest to study and to appreciate.

01-31-2011, 10:55 AM
Hello Fasen Sensei,

Thank you for posting, and for your kind words of support and friendship. Congratulations on your recent promotion to 5th dan, which is so richly deserved and timely.

Your unstinting support for so many years of the ASU leadership, including Messers Saotome, Ikeda, Hooker, Ledyard, Choate, Hofmeister, Messores et all, is a valuable lesson and example for all of us to respect and emulate whenever possible.

Thanks again for sharing.

01-31-2011, 11:58 AM
We have an obligation to carry aikido from generation to generation. Each generation is different and each require different motivation and different dissemination tactics. If we were talking business, everyone would be nodding their heads in agreement; heck, we even name the generation so we can complain about what aspects they bring to the table.

In today's aikido I am more compelled to train under someone whom I respect as a capable martial artist, rather than someoine who throws out names; yeah, I once saw that guy too. In the early days, there was a filter that could limit who trained. Many of the older students can almost recall everyone in their dojo who trained in earlier days; now, I can't even recall the names of the people who came and went last month. The was a value to name association because of quality control and confirmation, not to mention that shidan or uchi deshi or whoever had the only goods. Today, there is a greater selection of competent aikido people who satisfy the needs of those who train. Why train under a shihan if you do not aspire to be a shihan? Just train under the local guy... The filter of quality control has diminished as the number of practioners grew.

Today (or probably starting 10-20 years ago), we have more non-shihans in training than ever before... Trouble is we're now running out of existing shihan.

Takahashi Sensei touches upon an important point, many of the shihan were great martial artists, but they were also human. But they stepped forward. I think we are emerging from a generation of aikido people who did not step forward; we have a bunch of non-shihan senior instructors. We need new shihan to lead the curriculum and develop new (and better methods) of instruction, disseminated in a teaching method that may be consumed by its students. "Martial Arts" are dying; the military style of education is fading. The time and dedication to the art is waining. We are in need of revising the curriculum to teach more in less time and deliver the information within a new teaching paradigm.

01-31-2011, 12:22 PM
reminded me the song "the living years" sang by Mike & the Mechanics.

"Every generation
Blames the one before
And all of their frustrations
Come beating on your door

01-31-2011, 02:53 PM
On one hand, I think Phi couldn't be more right. Generation wars have existed for a long time. Whether your parents were too strict in the 40's, too lenient in the 60's, too excessive in the 80's or too protective in the 90's, we all are guilty of playing the blame game on the generation before us for our woes. Personally, I think it all comes down to the hippies :).

On the other hand, you are beginning to see emerging leaders in aikido who are younger; they are evolving the curriculum, and they are learning how to deal with the new challenges facing aikido. How old was Tohei Sensei when he went to Hawaii? Saotome Sensei when he came to America? Yamada, Shioda, Tomiki, Kuriowa? These leaders where not in their demise when they shared their aikido with others. I do not see a pre-requisite that says you need grey hair to be a leader in aikido.

Blame who you will, but I believe the younger generations do not like the older instructional styles and they are not interested in prioritizing their life around aikido. Now, this may not be a bad thing; I think aikido could benefit from some contraction. However, the days of pushups over broken glass while sempai sit on your back are over...for most of us.

01-31-2011, 05:49 PM
Greetings Mr. Reading

I very much appreciate your valuable input on this thread, and want to thank you for your contributions on other threads that I truly enjoy reading.

There are several profound issues confronting the smooth and harmonious transition and transmission of the authentic, authoritative and legitimate Aikido understanding of the Founder’s original model by succeeding generations. I will attempt to address a couple of these.

The acceptable, correct and verifiable transmission of the Founder’s true message, overall vision and the martial validity of his system of Budo was initially entrusted, by default, to those direct students who kept the faith of their lessons, and attempted their very best to accomplish this herculean task. Such individuals were both from within the Aikikai system, as well as from without. Some began in the Aikikai system, but were compelled to leave and pursue their own directions. Further, the Ueshiba identity, via the Iemoto System of natural inheritance, was not unlike that of the Pope of Rome who, when speaking “Ex Cathedra”, was deemed to be infallible on church doctrine, implying that any true and final interpretation of the Founder’s Aikido was to be unquestioned if from the Doshu position.

Much research, discussion, and the prolonged first hand experiences with the actual conduct of these otherwise amazing individuals has caused the above notions to be seriously questioned, and almost universally discarded as being applicable or true. This is not to say that they were or are without merit or deserving of our respect and gratitude. It simply means, to my mind, that the Aikido of the Founder, as he repeatedly expressed it to be, is a continous “work in progress’ for succeeding generations to make necessary changes to concomitant with the new epiphanies, discoveries and understandings that naturally accrue for such novel ideas and workable systems. To err is human. To admit to humanity is enlightenment. To persevere mightily is genius.

As to any obligation any one should have to carry the Aikido tradition and essence to succeeding generations, I believe to be way beyond the abilities of the average student. Rather, it falls to those talented and driven few to make the conscious and voluntary effort to internalize lessons and research acquired, and to engineer the necessary breakthroughs for the current and succeeding generations of dedicated students of the Founder’s Aikido. The Founder himself implored us to do so, not in homage to his invention, but in honor of the real momentum of the truth of his findings, that we must improve ourselves, our art, our craft and our growth on a daily basis. This is his Aikido envisioned.

Shihan designations are at best arbitrary, confusing, inaccurate and not representative in the least of proven authority, skills, status or accomplishment. There really is no “gold standard” to compare any individual to, as no attempt was made to create or maintain one by Aikikai Foundation. To say that political, economic and personal considerations were the norm is unfortunately more accurate than we might want to believe. This is not to say that those who have been accorded such designations are not worthy of respect or appreciation. Most of them certainly are. This means only that other considerations and factors play as equal if not more an impact on treating our instructors with appropriate accord and support.

It is also my opinion that there are in fact hundreds of proven teachers throughout the Aikido family who are deserving of the designation of “Shihan”, and that the real proof of who is or is not, should rest in the real support they enjoy, the quality of the teachings they have to offer, and the quality of students they are able to produce over time. No need to wait for them to be anointed. They are already here, and only require our recognition and daily support.

Let’s get started yesterday!

And thanks Phi for the background music!

Demetrio Cereijo
02-01-2011, 02:28 PM
Hi George,

Great post as usual. I have a question, if you dont' mind.

Why was Saotome Sensei asked to move to USA? English language skills? Disponibility to travel? Who told the original group Saotome Sensei was the teacher they were looking for?

Thanks in advance.

George S. Ledyard
02-01-2011, 11:28 PM
Hi George,

Great post as usual. I have a question, if you dont' mind.

Why was Saotome Sensei asked to move to USA? English language skills? Disponibility to travel? Who told the original group Saotome Sensei was the teacher they were looking for?

Thanks in advance.

There was a group of folks in Florida and their Chief Instructor had met Sensei in Japan. He went home and proposed they bring Sensei to the States. That's the basic story, there are details I don't know as I didn't start until two years later when he moved to DC.

I don't know what it was that made this little group in FL have the chutzpah to invite someone of Sensei's caliber to be their Chief Instructor. It certainly was something Sensei very much wished to do. Saotome Sensei is very much the artistic, creative, individualist... he is definitely not an organization man. He could never have been happy staying in Japan... the US was the perfect place for him. As an uchi deshi I think he followed what was expected. But once O-Sensei died, I think he felt free to pursue his own path.

Osawa Sensei and Kisshomaru, the Nidai Doshu, tried on a couple of occasions to talk him into returning the Hombu but I think that would have been disastrous for him personally and of course we are all glad he didn't. I never heard him entertain the idea of returning for a second. He fully committed to be here and to us as his students. That's something I never doubted.

Demetrio Cereijo
02-02-2011, 02:36 AM
Thanks again George,

There was a group of folks in Florida and their Chief Instructor had met Sensei in Japan. He went home and proposed they bring Sensei to the States. That's the basic story, there are details I don't know as I didn't start until two years later when he moved to DC.

Here is an extract of an interview with Peter Shapiro Sensei published some time ago in aikidojournal -the european one, not related to Pranin afaik-, maybe you find it interesting.

…Je suis arrivé en 1967. J'ai connu O Sensei pendant les dernières années de sa vie. En 1970, je suis devenu disciple de Hikitsuchi Sensei à Shingu. Entre 1969 et 1972,j'ai fait partie d'un petit groupe qui a étudié avec Saotome Sensei à Tokyo. Parce qu'à l'époque, à Tokyo, il était le seul qui était disposé à parler un tant soi peu de ses expériences avec O Sensei. Après sa mort, pendant deux ou trois ans, par respect pour son fils, il était mal vu de parler d'O Sensei. Dans le groupe des professeurs à Tokyo, à ma connaissance, Saotome Sensei était le seul à vouloir s'exprimer. Nous avons donc formé un petit groupe pour en parler, et nous entraîner aussi. Et c'est parce que nous avons fait ce groupe composé seulement d'étrangers que Saotome a décidé d'aller aux Etats-Unis. Il a pensé que les gens y seraient plus ouverts à son enseignement.

If you need a translation, I could give it a try.

02-02-2011, 04:54 AM
I arrived in 1967. I knew O Sensei in the last years of his life. In 1970 I became a deshi of Hikitsuchi Sensei at Shingu. Between 1969 and 1972 I belonged to a small group studying with Saotome Sensei in Tokyo. Because at that time he was the only one prepared to talk at all about his experiences with O Sensei. For two or three years after O Sensei's death it was considered inappropriate, out of respect for his son, to speak about him at all. To my knowledge Saotome Sensei was the only of the group of teachers in Tokyo who didn't mind talking about him. So we made a small group to talk about him and to train as well. This group was made up exclusively of foreigners and that's why Saotome Sensei decided to go to the USA. He thought people there would be more open to his teaching.
Peter Shapiro

That's it roughly.

Diana Frese
02-02-2011, 06:41 PM
I come back to this thread whenever I can (weather is a bit weird around here now, and I guess this is an example of the rigors and the beauty of nature) and will continue to study it for the history and the inspiration. I mentioned hardships faced by those who came over later, and hoped that others would mention them, and they have. We also have descriptions from George Ledyard and Peter Shapiro of their own interests and training.

Peter Shapiro knew that "gaijin deshi" were interested in learning about O Sensei and Shinto, etc. Hikitsuchi Sensei was a Shinto priest as many on Aiki Web know, and many "gaijin deshi" went to Shingu to study with him. At Hombu, Saotome Sensei very generously offered to teach those who were interested, along with the classes on sword and bokken. Please keep in mind that he did not know English, Peter Shapiro, the senpai of the group, knew Japanese. I think of the people who knew the most Japanese, the French were the most fluent. Many of them studied with Yamaguchi Sensei. Gleason Sensei, teaching in Massachusetts was a direct student of Yamaguchi Sensei.

Not meaning to make too long of a post, but just to mention a few people and topics, as I think I remember Saotome Sensei wrote in one of his books, or an article in the small magazine the Florida group printed in the early years in Sarasota. Bill MacIntyre while in Japan for a few weeks asked Saotome Sensei to send one of his nidans. Noone expected Saotome Sensei to go to America, he had said he intended to stay in Japan. However, he often spoke of the environment -- he wanted to meet Ralph Nader! -- and I think at some point he had an intuition that he had a message about Aikido and Nature that would be understood by people over here. His first book was called Aikido and the Harmony of Nature.

I guess I should close this post with a quote from Japanese, it's one of O Sensei's doka so I will defer to those who have translated it better than I could. I don't really speak Japanese, I just remember a few phrases. Here it is

Kono Amatsuchi no Misugata wa
I ka nerikeri

This is my hope for the Aikido community as well. Anyone who read my bio as Francis has will understand.

Oh well, here's my attempt: So beautiful, the August Shape of Heaven and Earth is One Family

(Translations of ancient texts often translate the syllable Mi as
"august" , the adjective. Shape can also be translated as form, if I remember correctly. )

George S. Ledyard
02-02-2011, 11:44 PM
His first book was called Aikido and the Harmony of Nature.

Hi Diana,
You mentioned the book... that reminded me of when I started Aikido. The book was due out "in the Spring"... when Spring came no book... we'd ask Sensei again and get the same answer, "in the Spring". That book was due out "in the Spring" for ten years. Finally, it was published in France by Sedrirep where it was a huge success. The first English version was an import. only later did it get republished here by Shambala. Anyway, I still remember how we looked forward to when the book would come out, only to find it would be another year.

02-03-2011, 01:31 AM
Finally, it was published in France by Sedrirep where it was a huge success. The first English version was an import. only later did it get republished here by Shambala.
Good info, George Sensei. Actual spelling is "Sedirep". First English edition produced in 1986. I get intel that Sedirep may have reissued this book in 2009, but I can't confirm it. So much info wandering around out there is erroneous. :o Sedirep 1986 editions do appear for sale from time to time in the usual places.

Diana Frese
02-03-2011, 07:57 AM
Hi George and Clark,

I hope I can help out a little bit here. Clark mentioned in one of the threads that a demo by the late Ed Baker Sensei inspired him to begin Aikido. Baker Sensei was interested in Saotome Sensei's manuscript while it was in process at the original publishing company. Ed showed it to his professor of sociology or anthropology, Dr. David Jones, whom you may know, he does Aikido probably as a result of being Ed's academic teacher, and of reading the manuscript. Dr. Jones thought that the book should have more of the Japanese background for Western readers and either wrote to Saotome Sensei or visited him or both. The rest is history. I think you will find Dr. Jones in the book as writing the introduction.

Many people helped with the revision, some adding Saotome Sensei's articles from the Sarasota-published small magazine.
Paul Kang greatly facilitated this process. Paul was from the dojo Terry Dobson founded with Ken Nisson, and I feel greatly contributed to Saotome Sensei's ability to communicate with those who did not know Japanese, or didn't know enough to deal with the topics in detail.

Saotome Sensei's wife, "Patty" Patricia Saotome I guess formally, is a beautiful writer in her own right, and I'm sure she should take much credit for the appearance of the book in its ultimate form. She was one of his first students in the U.S. and the secretary of the dojo at the time he came over.

The original publisher? The revisions were essential, and it was fortunate Ed passed the book to his professor to read. But by the time the revisions were completed the original publisher had financial problems and it turned out to be best for another publisher to take over. I think Christian Tissier was the contact for this.

Sorry to ramble so much, but it seems to be an important question. Sometimes delays are absolutely necessary in order to properly produce something without leaving out important elements.

Diana Frese
02-03-2011, 10:20 AM
I hope Saotome Sensei's students will continue to post in this column's replies but in the interest of drawing in some of the others that Francis has mentioned I will mention a few.

First the Hawaiians, of which Francis is one and could tell us much more of the names he has mentioned. The first president of the United States Aikido Federation was a Hawaiian, if I remember correctly. Yamada Sensei mentioned he himself likes to sing, and while he mentioned Sinatra in an editorial, I also remember him singing a few songs which I later found out were from the famous Don Ho, I think the name was.

I just feel I should mention a few more names to get more people posting who might be wondering if they have something to add.
Francis mentioned the early students who left. I know there are
Yoshinkan students here in the US and on Aiki Web, but many of us have been curious about Tomiki Sensei, especially those who have studied judo in the past or are studying at present. One of the British students of the Tomiki branch might be willing to add thoughts and impressions....

My question, Francis is this, what format do you think these memories should take? Should we mention more names, contribute more actual stories of training. I notice you take active part in your column's replies and it is a great help. I want to make sure I pick up on your cues.

thanks for your help so far I look forward to your guidance on what my further contribution to these topics could be.

02-03-2011, 11:12 AM
Gosh, Diana, I feel like that proverbial and fortunate fly on the wall, taking in the precious and priceless historical details contributed to date by Clark, Demetrio, George, Niall and of course, yourself. More, much more please!

The easy conversational flow of the contributing stories and perspectives received to date appear most appropriate and illuminating as a foundational narrative for the Aiki Web readership to enjoy. Perhaps, however, the formal gathering of key individuals, including the likes of Patty Saotome, Dennis Hooker etc., could actually produce a more organized and focused template for true historical reconstruction. Names like Peter Goldsbury, Stan Pranin, Clark Bateman amongst others come readily to mind in addressing such a project.

Of course, this would necessitate the identification and cooperation of those individuals with both first hand contact and detailed knowledge of the various greats of Aikido history in America. This could very well take several years or more, but who’s counting when it is clearly imperative to get it all down, and to get it all right.

Lest we err grievously, let us encourage similar projects from our brethren in Aiki residing in nations other than Japan and the United States. England and France especially, undoubtedly have treasure troves of historical relevance to uncover and to share with the rest of the interested Aikido world.

Thank you again, Diana, for being a catalyst and inspiration for us to ponder and to act upon with all due haste. This would be another example of building “bridges” for the Aikido faithful everywhere to cross together and share the Founder’s legacy, one awesome steward of Ueshiba Aiki at a time!

Peter Goldsbury
02-04-2011, 03:25 AM
Francis mentioned my name in the post above, but I think I should make it clear that my direct experience of aikido in the USA consists of two amazing years spent training in the New England Aikikai (at the old dojo in Central Sq.) when I was at Harvard. I arrived in the US in September 1973 and returned to the UK in the autumn of 1975. The USAF had not yet been created and K Chiba had just returned to Japan from the UK.

In some sense, I am reminded of Wittgenstein's famous dictum:

'Those things of which we cannot speak we pass over in silence',

but would change 'cannot' to 'do not'.

The names of K Tohei and M Saotome were simply not uttered. Y Yamada and A Tohei occasionally visited from New York and Chicago, respectively. One of these occasions was the papal visit made by Doshu in 1974 (he was actually going to Hawaii to meet K Tohei, but we rank and file had only the dimmest of ideas why). K Osawa made a visit in 1975, I believe, and I think he was accompanied by M Fujita and N Suganuma.

I had a distant American relative and her husband was a 'Boston brahmin', whose family had always gone to Harvard. He encouraged me to see the other side of America--the Mid-West and California, but he couldn't help sounding like an Englishman advising me to see Africa and experience how the 'other races' lived.

Anyway, I was training very intensively in the Cambridge dojo and so (1) I had no exposure at all to US aikido 'politics' and (2) the furthest I ever got to California was Vancouver, after a rail trip across Canada.

Best wishes,


02-04-2011, 06:55 AM
Thank you all for the wonderful postings. Being a student of aikido and its history I find these things of interest. From all I've heard and read the above rememberances seem spot on. Of course a persons unique window always come into play but the pertinent stuff (IMHO) seems to fit with the first hand accounts that were relayed to me. In Virginia we are very fortunate to have a very good working relationship amongst the various schools of thought (Aikikai, Iwama, Ki Society). We have friendship seminars and attend each others organizational gatherings without any other thought but to 'just train'. I would say we have made it our business not to continue any carry over of past issues that separate aikido in practice.
That said being aware of the past issues shouldn't cause us reluctance to give serious thought to the how & why's but more importantly to continue to move aikido forward.
Being from NYC I've been exposed to the aikido of Yamada Sensei, Imaizumi Sensei, and the good people at Bond St. Upon moving to Northern Virginia I've trained primarily with instructors of Hawaiian decent. Reading the accounts of Ralph Glanstein
http://www.aikidohawaii.org/dojo_windward.html and Tom 'Doc' Walker http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=166&highlight=walker as well as Roy Suenaka and Imaizumi Sensei bio's gave me such a broader perspective on the culture of aikido in the US.
Maybe some of you have memories of Mr. Glanstein, Mr. Walker, and Virginia Mayhew. I'd love to hear them.
Thanks again to you all.

02-04-2011, 09:14 AM
Peter is being modest and humble in light of his proven potential and unsurpassed execution of insightful writing based on exhaustive and scholarly research into the history of the Founder. The many fans of his priceless Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation series unconditionally attest to his value to the Aikido traditions, and to the Founder’s true legacy.

Yes, his two years in Boston appear paltry in comparison to others’ longevity here in America, but not so. The real impact of his insightful review of the giants he has known, without being indiscreet or revealing of private confidences, would be immeasurable. First hand accounts and memories of figures such as the late and current Doshus, Senseis Tada, Fujita, Ichihashi, Tamura, Chiba, Yamada, Kanai and more would incalculably enhance our appreciation for and understanding of these representatives of the Founder’s art and vision.

I mentioned Peter’s name, along with those of Stan Pranin and Clark Bateman, as probable candidates to review the contributions, not only of the American legends, but of those in the Continent and Japan as well. If he would be willing, along with others aptly talented, what a magnificent gift and tribute it would be for us to treasure indefinitely.

So, thank you, Peter Goldsbury, for your past contributions and magnificent story telling. If you would, please continue to favor us with your kind and gracious ability for telling it like it really was.

02-04-2011, 09:16 AM
Thank you, Asim, for your endorsement of this ongoing tribute to the legacy of the Founder of Aikido. Bringing our attention once more to the need to properly observe and conserve the contributions of Aikido greats anywhere, but especially here in America is both welcome and timely.

Thank you as well for those marvelous links to accounts of Senseis Ralph Glanstein and Tom “Doc” Walker, which I am certain are interesting tips of a much larger iceberg of historically important figures in American Aikido.

I hope that your example will prompt even more of the “silent masses” to come forward in time with their own contributions, perhaps in threads of their own.

Diana Frese
02-09-2011, 10:58 AM
I a m very happy that more and more people have entered this thread. One thing that I have been thinking about and might be able to make a small contribution to, is the question of the role of the man who we were told was to be called Second Doshu, the first being Kaiso Morihei Ueshiba. I'm not sure if it was mentioned otherwise in some of the threads and I hope Francis will clarify this for us. I remember Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei being referred to as Nidai Doshu in Japanese and in some threads, maybe even this one!

People sometimes question the iemoto system and I wonder if it is appropriate for me to bring this up in this thread of comments. Some of those questions that people have in other threads deal with martial effectiveness. It's too bad I couldn't make it to more of the 6:30 a.m. classes but from what I did see Second Doshu Kisshomaru Sensei's aikido was the perfect and correct form, the standard, if you will. These were the techniques, but the other instructors had their own ways, and yet they were all there teaching class on the weekly schedule. I feel that Second Doshu was like that, he respected his father's students and they respected him. In addition I heard it said years ago "Doshu fed us"
this was when he was still alive and called simply Doshu.

Evidently in the old days when the economic situation was dire, he got a regular job to help feed his father's students and they never forgot that.

As a person, he seemed kindly and what you might call "unassuming" if you saw him in the hallway his smile had a quiet radiance. I don't have the writing skills of many on Aiki Web but I just had to make the attempt.

When I was teaching at the local YMCA and had a few students I recommended they come to NYC to see him. I mentioned he was very thin but oboy could he throw people. They came they saw they said I was right. They were wide-eyed. I leave it to others to decide for themselves whether the iemoto system is purely administrative. I'm sure Third Doshu Moriteru Sensei in addition to writing books (which I look forward to reading) and promoting Aikido both in Japan and internationally, in his teaching passes on valuable Aikido knowledge and technique just as his father and grandfather did. Though there is great teaching outside of Aikikai too, the iemoto system is an important way to insure Aikido continues on into the future. It has meant immense dedication among those who have accepted the mantle, so to speak. And among the other students, notably Osawa Sensei, Kobayashi Yasuo Sensei if I remember correctly, and Sugano Sensei many have passed on the treasure of Aikido to their children as a legacy for the future.

02-10-2011, 10:58 AM
Thank you, Diana, for your tenacity and persistence in honoring the memories and contributions of the direct students of the Founder, and of the late Nidai Doshu especially.

I was introduced to Kisshomaru Ueshiba as being “Nidai Doshu”, after years of being called “Waka Sensei”, an accepted title while O Sensei was alive. Since then, both Moriteru and Mitsuteru have, and continue to be addressed in this fashion. Later on, the “Nidai” was dropped, and he was referred to simply as “Doshu”. Moriteru was also referred to alternately as “Sandai Mei” and as the “Gen” Doshu (New Doshu), especially during the 12 months following the death of his father.

I am afraid that the volumes that exist in the minds and memories of countless students of the Founder’s direct students, and of their own respective students, are far too vast to be contained in a thread or two on online repositories such as Aiki Web, Aikido Journal, Aikido Online etc.. Rather, as more folks come forward with their contributions, Jun Akiyama may be persuaded to add yet another category to house those invaluable accounts of Aikido’s pioneers.

It is the arena for those far advanced in scholarship and knowledge of Japanese customs to discuss the “iemoto” system, and its relevance or appropriateness to Japanese cultural standards for succession of leadership. For me, it simply meant that an Ueshiba male would always be accepted as the head of the Founder’s organization, as long as he was capable and willing to do so. This had little or nothing to do with perceived abilities, skills or other criteria. I took it to be simple Chujitsu, Giri and On playing their part in history.

Yet, I do recall Hambei (Mitsunari Kanai Sensei) and Yas san (Yasuo Kobayashi Sensei) telling stories of the kindnesses received from both the late Doshu and his wife in the early days of little food, and lots of training.

Opinions vary as to how well the late Doshu, or any other direct student of the Founder for that matter, was able to replicate or exactly duplicate the Founder’s genius, both on and off the mat. To me it was always a non issue. Doshu was simply a true gentleman, dedicating himself, his health and his personal obligations to his father, and to maintain the spread of the messages of Aiki and Aikido throughout Japan, and to the world at large. I never heard him utter a disparaging word about any other human being, and was always painstakingly humble in describing his own efforts and their effects on the growth and maintenance of his father’s beloved art.

This is how I remember Doshu.

George S. Ledyard
02-10-2011, 12:12 PM
Aikido is a vehicle that can take you into deep areas of personal transformation. The Doshu's job is to maintain that vehicle. The Nidai Doshu wasn't just given a "finished product" to represent. He was tasked with deciding how the impossibly complex teachings of his father and his technical virtuosity could best be passed on to the public.

I think the Nidai Doshu, for this is how I was introduced to him, was the embodiment of what Aikido practice can represent. He was a total gentleman. He showed us an open, beautiful, gentle and yet powerful Aikido that to me, is the total expression of what Aikido Kihon Waza should be. Everyone else was free to go off into whatever realms of personal investigation they wished to take their Aikido. But K Ueshiba was the center around which all of this rotated.

Back in the eighties, 1987 I believe, I had the good fortune to travel to Tokyo to train for a week, I was the first of Saotome Sensei's seniors to go back. Sensei armed me with several letters of introduction to the Doshu, Osawa Sensei, Yamaguchi Sensei and Kuroiwa Sensei. This was still before the big "rapprochement" between the ASU and Hombu. Despite that, these teachers fell all over themselves to be hospitable to me.

Kuroiwa Sensei was kind enough to set up a meeting with the Doshu. I had tea with him, he was kind enough to sign a copy of one of his books I had brought for the occasion. Afterward, I went to his class. I was honored to have him call me up for ukemi any number of times. This was a very big deal because normally, he only used the uchi deshi. It was quite unusual for him to throw around someone no one had ever seen before. Anyway, I can't describe how it felt to be taking ukemi for the Doshu as I thought how things had come full circle, He had been one of my Sensei's teachers and now here I was, taking ukemi from the man for whom my own teacher had taken so much ukemi over the years.

Osawa Sensei was unbelievable to me. I was partnered with my friend, Janet Johnson, who lived in Tokyo and spoke Japanese. She had been training at Hombu for several years. Every time I turned around in class, Osawa was there, showing us something, correcting us, challenging us to do it better. At the end of class, Janet said that we had just had more attention in that class than she'd had in the whole three years she had trained at Hombu put together.

Unfortunately, Yamaguchi Sensei turned out to be in France when I was at Hombu. I never did get a chance to train with him. I recently bought a DVD from Aikido Journal of Yamaguchi Sensei teaching a seminar in France and I suddenly realized it was that seminar that cause me to miss him in Japan.

I don't harbor any illusions about why these teachers gave me so much during my stay. It wasn't to do with anything special about me, it was them sending a message to Saotome Sensei through me. Knowing how thins were with Saotome Sensei and the ASU, I found many of the foreign students inclined towards being political. But it was the senior Shihan and the Doshu that made me realize that the important thing was not politics but personal relationship. These teachers still considered Saotome Sensei as one of their own, That made me one of their own by extension. The politics didn't enter into it... at least not when it came to how they treated me.

I was actually relieved when I had made my appearances in the classes of these senior teachers to whom I had been given formal introduction. I was certainly "representing" and was scared to death I'd do something that would embarrass Saotome Sensei. These seniors were certainly looking at me to get an idea of what "their boy" had been doing all those years after he "left home". By the end of my week at Hombu, I was free to train with teachers who didn't know me and I didn't have to feel like I had to measure up for. The last classes I took were with Watanabe Sensei, a teacher I had never heard mentioned by Saotome Sensei. However when Watanabe Sensei found out I was Saotome Sensei's student. he started laughing with that huge belly laugh he's git. "Hah, hah, hah, Saotome Sensei... hah, hah, hah..." He then proceeded to use me for uke the entire class and a good portion of the next one as well. It was the most pure fun I had on my visit. At one point he did one of those huge step out kotegaeshis on me and threw me across the whole dojo. I was one of two Westerners in the class and far and away the largest person i the room, by magnitudes. I still remember as I flew across the whole mat, maybe a good ten or fifteen feet in the air or more, I heard the small Japanese students in line going "oooooooh!!!" as I flew by. I'm not sure they had ever seen some my size take that much air before.

So, Saotome Sensei was gone but certainly not forgotten at Hombu at the time. Now the older generation is gone or retired and many of the teachers are the sons of the men who had trained my teacher. Sensei chose to stay in the States, marry, and become a citizen. Now, not many are still at Hombu who remember him. It is recognition of what he gave up in order to come here and teach us that makes me feel all the more committed to trying to understand Sensei's Aikido. He could have stayed and been a big deal at Headquarters. Instead, he came over here and he got us... I think it is incumbent on us to justify that decision by becoming the best possible transmitters to the next generation of the incredible gift we got from Sensei. If he hadn't chosen to come here, I would never have met him, would probably have never done Aikido, and my life would be totally different.

Dale Matthews
02-21-2011, 06:47 PM
I've not posted here before but better late than never I suppose. I was at the airport when Saotome Sensei arrived in Tampa back in May, 1975.

Several instructors from around the country who trained with Yamada Sensei visited Hombu dojo. Bill McIntyre was among them. As I recall the story they had the opportunity to train with the Hombu shihan and liked Saotome Sensei's classes the most, but more importantly Sensei would go to the coffee shop after class with students and speak with them about Aikido.

They asked Sensei if he would please send a student to teach in Florida and Sensei replied none of his students would leave him. Three days later he said he would come. Rather like a little mission church asking for a priest and getting a Cardinal.

It took some time to arrange for Sensei's green card but finally, with the intervention of the local congressman, arrangements were finalized.

At first we practiced in McIntyre's dojo. Sensei had been promised a house and a monthly stipend. Eventually those agreements were unable to be kept. One night at the dojo Sensei said he could no longer teach in that dojo.

Those of us who determined to go with Sensei removed our name tags from the wall.

John Messores at the time worked as the grounds keeper and caretaker for a local parochial church and school. He arranged for us to be able to use their gymnasium for classes. Training never stopped!

I'll have to continue later I must leave for an appointment.

Thanks for bringing up the great memories George. Oh, by the way, I am still studying and teaching. LOL!


Dale Matthews
02-21-2011, 08:19 PM
One more memory. When George returned from that trip to Japan he showed up for a training camp in D.C. with his arm in a cast. In keeping with our philosophy one must be in harmony with one's environment, and, one's environment includes one's body no matter what shape it's in, George had a Sandan test. He did an excellent job and in all these years it is still the only time I've seen a dan test performed literally with one arm tied behind one's back!

Janet Rosen
02-21-2011, 09:07 PM
I have nothing of substance to add to this thread; just want to offer a heartfelt thank you to all who are sharing remembrances.

jamie yugawa
03-03-2011, 02:07 PM
Along with the next wave of groundbreaking “imports” like Dang Thang Tri, Dang Thang Phong, Mark Murashige, Mitsugi Saotome, and Hiroshi Ikeda, we may want to go back into history a bit to include certain Hawaiian pioneers like Shiniichi Suzuki, Yukiso Yamamoto, Sadao Yoshioka, the late Robert H. Aoyagi, again amongst others I fail to name.

Thank You Sensei for this wonderful post. Since reflecting on Aikido Celebration 2011 and meeting the wonderful people and feeling the positive energy, I agree about your preserving Aikido historical content for all generations. I will do my part in helping to preserve and bring forth Aikido history for Hawaii. Thank You again.

03-03-2011, 05:32 PM
Hi Francis once again. After writing the above response I think I see what I'm missing. The whole point of this column. Indeed from that perspective I have no real input to add and someone like Ellis Sensei would be more to the point as far as british history is concerned as well as those who personally trained with the likes of Noro Sensei and others who came over here in the early days.
Apologies for my misunderstanding. I will look foreward to reading others experiences.
Dear Graham,
My good friend Henry Ellis was indeed an early pioneer of U.K Aikido [along with a few others] .The history of U.K. Aikido is complex with much diversity of leaders and of different groups.
There are now at present 5 Aikikai recognised groups and a myriad of other groups . There are also Tomiki /Ki/ Yoshinkan groups as well.
My own pedigree /lineage started with the Renown Aikido Society. I subsequently joined the Aikikai of Gt Britain /B.A.F, the U.K.A. and I am currently a member of the British Birankai.With the possible exception of the Renown all these groups have been under the technical supervision of Chiba Sensei at some point. Chiba Sensei is our Technical Director. Chiba Sensei in the 70s was along with Saito Sensei a primary figure in relation to Weapons /Batto Ho work in the U.K.
As such I am fortunate to have a fairly good picture of the U.K. aikido scene.If any person has a specific question about the lineage of Aikido in the U.K. I may well be able to comment here.
May I also state I support Mr Ellis in his task of ensuring a correct history of U.K. aikido .
Cheers, Joe.

04-04-2012, 02:19 PM
Thanks God for having so many direct students of O'Sensei around us. Aikido its certainly flourishing because all the hard work that all those high ranking shihans are putting in.

graham christian
04-05-2012, 05:19 PM
Dear Graham,
My good friend Henry Ellis was indeed an early pioneer of U.K Aikido [along with a few others] .The history of U.K. Aikido is complex with much diversity of leaders and of different groups.
There are now at present 5 Aikikai recognised groups and a myriad of other groups . There are also Tomiki /Ki/ Yoshinkan groups as well.
My own pedigree /lineage started with the Renown Aikido Society. I subsequently joined the Aikikai of Gt Britain /B.A.F, the U.K.A. and I am currently a member of the British Birankai.With the possible exception of the Renown all these groups have been under the technical supervision of Chiba Sensei at some point. Chiba Sensei is our Technical Director. Chiba Sensei in the 70s was along with Saito Sensei a primary figure in relation to Weapons /Batto Ho work in the U.K.
As such I am fortunate to have a fairly good picture of the U.K. aikido scene.If any person has a specific question about the lineage of Aikido in the U.K. I may well be able to comment here.
May I also state I support Mr Ellis in his task of ensuring a correct history of U.K. aikido .
Cheers, Joe.

Very nice. Didn't realize you had such a depth of historical knowledge and experience on the scene over here from then.

I bet Sensei Williams has a good story to tell too. I hope to be able to get my old teacher to write or have written his experiences too.

There's much to be found and written about in the sense of British History for only snippets have been told albeit the stuctural progress has been well documented. As I started in 1980 and at that time there were plenty of Aikido places around then it shows there must have been many from around those early days and all with a story to tell.

The Yoshinkan nearby where I was training had been going for a number of years on an old airforce base so the teacher there must have had a lot of experience too. One I used to visit in Edgeware unfortunately is no longer with us but I'm sure many 'old timers' still are up and down the country and even abroad.

In fact if there are any budding reporter/writer types out there who would like to go on a mission of collecting stories from these folks it would make a good book. A la Stanley Pranin style, only focussing on the British side of things. Mmm, that would be interesting. Ha ha, you would probably have a whole chapter to yourself.

Peace.G. .

09-27-2012, 03:34 AM
Wow. Takahashi Sensei, you write really well. You have captured the essence of Aikido that my father always taught. You must have had some of the same teachers! Jeff Glanstein