View Full Version : Okawa Shumei and Morihei Ueshiba: A Curious Madness

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Ian Drew
02-26-2014, 04:52 PM
From time to time on Aikiweb the subject off Morihei Ueshiba’s political views come up and depending on who you talk to he can be a sage above the concerns of mortal men or someone whose associates left a lot to be desired, a new book on Okawa Shumei covers off a lot of the key players.

Okawa Shumei was the only civilian charged with class A war crimes at the Tokyo trails in 1946 and escaped punishment through either losing his sanity or faking illness. The Grandson of the American psychiatrist who was assigned to evaluate Okawa’s mental state has written a book.

Titled ‘A Curious Madness’ by Eric Jaffe, the book very (very) briefly touches on Morihei Ueshiba teaching his martial art at the Okawa Juku which was later considered a spy school, but for those interested in a solid overview of the politics of the time, the key players in Japan’s expansionist policies and the circles Ueshiba was known in, this book is a good introduction.

Best Ian Drew

02-26-2014, 05:34 PM
Hello Ian, it is interesting that you bring this up, I am currently reading the new book "Journey to the Heart of Aikido" by Linda Holliday, it has this to say,

(Blue Snake Books Berkley California) quote from Pg 64-65

"in 1942 O-Sensei abruptly stepped back from his involvement with the military. He resigned all his official teaching positions in Tokyo and moved with is wife 100 miles north to the village of Iwama, where they owned some uncultivated land. There, as they cleared and farmed the land, producing food for their family and others, O-Sensei quitetly pursued his practice of martial arts and spiritual purification in the relative peace of the countryside. Privatley he expressed as intense frustration at the direction his country was taking. "There are getting to be more and more people in the military who are reckless and indiscriminate with their power. They have forgotten the importance of helping people, of relieving suffering..... Harmony, love and courtesy are essential to true budo, but the people who are in power these days are only interested in playing with weapons. They misrepresent budo as a tool for power struggles, violence and destruction, and they want to use me towards this end..... I have no intention of allowing myself to become their tool. I see no other way but to go into retreat." 18 - Mitsugi Saotome, Aikido and the harmony of nature"


Pg 65 "Even when the defeat of Japan was imminent, O-Sensei remained resolutely optimistic about the path of reconstruction ahead "Don't worry -- hereafter, the true Aikido will emerge." 20 - Stevens, Abundant Peace 49.

Ian Drew
02-26-2014, 05:50 PM
Ben thank you very much for the post, I have these books too and have enjoyed them immensely, and Morihei's message of harmony is, for me, the defining difference that Aikido brings to the martial arts.

The pre-war/post war techniques of Aikido maybe quite similair, possibly the message was quite different but I do find the history fasinating. Aikido Jinsei by Gozo Shioda is another book I'd recomend for the history buff.

Kind Regards Ian Drew