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Stuart Turner
02-28-2017, 10:04 AM
In looking at aikido's history, a number of sources - most of them seeming going back to either John Stevens or Kisshomaru Ueshiba - relate the following story about O-sensei:

In 1925, Ueshiba fought a challenge match in Ayabe with a young navel officer and kendo master. The naval officer was armed with a bokken, while O-sensei was unarmed. After soundly defeating his opponent by evading the strikes of the bokken, Ueshiba then walked into his garden and had a spiritual awakening, in which he, "felt the universe suddenly quake, and a golden spirit sprang up from the ground, veiled my body, and changed it into a golden one. At the same time my body became light. I was able to understand the song of the birds, and was clearly aware of the mind of God, the creator of the universe. At that moment I was enlightened: the source of Budo is the spirit of loving protection for all beings..."

An important moment in the development of aikido, by all accounts. However, I have searched and searched, and nowhere is the name of this naval officer and kendo master apparently recorded. I've found one book (Winfried Wagner's AiKiDo: The Trinity of Conflict Transformation) which names him as Admiral Takeshita, but Takeshita's relationship with Ueshiba is well-documented by Stanley Pranin and others, and no-one else seems to have mentioned him in this context - it therefore seems an unlikely conjecture.

I know there are many people on this forum whose research skills far outshine mine, so I'm opening the question to the floor - does anyone have concrete evidence for the identity of this mysterious kendoka?

Ellis Amdur
02-28-2017, 10:48 AM
Stuart - his name has never, to my knowledge, been mentioned. It surely was not Takeshita who a) would have been an "old" naval officer and b) was a disciple - which would make the story far less edifying.

Ellis Amdur

In looking at aikido's history, a number of sources - most of them seeming going back to either John Stevens or Kisshomaru Ueshiba - relate the following story about O-sensei:

In 1925, Ueshiba fought a challenge match in Ayabe with a young navel officer and kendo master. The naval officer was armed with a bokken, while O-sensei was unarmed. After soundly defeating his opponent by evading the strikes of the bokken, Ueshiba then walked into his garden and had a spiritual awakening, in which he, "felt the universe suddenly quake, and a golden spirit sprang up from the ground, veiled my body, and changed it into a golden one. At the same time my body became light. I was able to understand the song of the birds, and was clearly aware of the mind of God, the creator of the universe. At that moment I was enlightened: the source of Budo is the spirit of loving protection for all beings..."

An important moment in the development of aikido, by all accounts. However, I have searched and searched, and nowhere is the name of this naval officer and kendo master apparently recorded. I've found one book (Winfried Wagner's AiKiDo: The Trinity of Conflict Transformation) which names him as Admiral Takeshita, but Takeshita's relationship with Ueshiba is well-documented by Stanley Pranin and others, and no-one else seems to have mentioned him in this context - it therefore seems an unlikely conjecture.

I know there are many people on this forum whose research skills far outshine mine, so I'm opening the question to the floor - does anyone have concrete evidence for the identity of this mysterious kendoka?

Demetrio Cereijo
02-28-2017, 10:59 AM
From an old interview with Tamura Nobuyoshi I feel the "challenger" was Jun'ichi Haga. But that's not evidence.

Ellis Amdur
02-28-2017, 12:16 PM
Haha was born in 1908. He started kendo at the age of 18 (1926), one year after the 'enlightenment incident.' Per Stan Pranin, he had some kind of a 'match' with Ueshiba in 1933.

What one should understand is that in the 1920's, Ueshiba was at the hub of martial arts in Tokyo, particularly revolving around the military, Omoto (which was a militant church, not a pacifist movement, which hundreds, if not thousands studying Daito-ryu, kendo and other arts). Ueshiba probably had lots of encounters like this one - it is just that, for some reason, things lined up for him.

(A friend of mine recently told me that he was doing his taiji set, an ordinary day like any other, and at the end of the form, he had an experience much like a dose of DMT, a pervasive 'psychedelic' experience - btw, DMT is located in the pineal body and seems to be released in periods of stress, or particular meditative states . . . (also, from bufo avarius, but that's another story). At any rate, it's very possible that the 'stars lined up' on an ordinary day for Ueshiba - the identify of the young naval officer wasn't really important.

Demetrio Cereijo
02-28-2017, 12:34 PM
Haha was born in 1908. He started kendo at the age of 18 (1926), one year after the 'enlightenment incident.' Per Stan Pranin, he had some kind of a 'match' with Ueshiba in 1933.
My feeling is that the spiritual awakening in Ayabe and Haga's challenge (as described by Tamura) were two different unrelated events which, somehow, became one in the hagiographic process.

Stuart Turner
03-01-2017, 10:03 AM
Many thanks to you both. I guess the poor chap's identity will just have to be one of those things lost in the mists of history. Much obliged for the information, nevertheless.

Dazzler
03-01-2017, 10:06 AM
Many thanks to you both. I guess the poor chap's identity will just have to be one of those things lost in the mists of history. Much obliged for the information, nevertheless.

Wasn't it Ensign Pulver-ized?:eek:

PeterR
03-01-2017, 10:49 AM
Wasn't it Ensign Pulver-ized?:eek:

I always wondered with this story - what was meant by defeated. Was it a game of tag, did Ueshiba just avoid the blows. How intense were the attacks. Were those kendo typical (i.e. straight cuts). What exactly is meant by a young master.

observer
03-01-2017, 01:04 PM
I always wondered with this story - what was meant by defeated.
Here is the answer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jW8t5jZyEk) to your question.

Demetrio Cereijo
03-01-2017, 01:56 PM
Here is the answer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jW8t5jZyEk) to your question.
Looks staged.

PeterR
03-01-2017, 02:49 PM
Looks staged.

Of course it was - anyway I always understood Ueshiba was unarmed.

I also understand how difficult it is to avoid a bokken that can change direction.

Demetrio Cereijo
03-01-2017, 03:12 PM
Of course it was -
And I was trying to be funny...

I always understood Ueshiba was unarmed.
That's the official version.

... a bokken that can change direction.
Do they build these???

Trying to be funny again...

PeterR
03-01-2017, 03:43 PM
And I was trying to be funny...

That's the official version.

Do they build these???

Trying to be funny again...

:D