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.