Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
Location: New York
Join Date: May 2006
Re: Morihei's changing picture.
The re-writing of history is a common phenomenon that occurs universally and is not simply an anomaly that can be localized to the Japanese culture and more specifically, to Aikikai itself. To add to Fred's illustration of how another aspect of Aikido history was "re-brushed ," I would like to point out another big example. The following is from the unedited version of Shizuo Imaizumi's interview that was published in the Aikido Journal.
Imaizumi: This interview was offered by you. I would like you to put the following matters in your magazine. I really want to say this fact for a history of Aikido. An author is apt to disclose his real intention in his first published book. For example, if you write a book for the first time, you will write what you really want to disclose. Let me give an example from the first Aikido book, [u]Aikido[u] by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, published in August 1957 by Kowado, Tokyo. Kisshomaru Ueshiba wrote about Koichi Tohei Sensei vividly for his brother-in-law in page 83 of the section 6 of chapter II of Aikido, entitled "what is Aikido" as follows: Tohei, 8th dan, made a voyage for Hawaii from 1953 to 1954, and made an effort to spread Aikido. While he was staying in the USA he participated in an all-American Judo championship held at San Jose together with Mr. Kurisaki, the president of Hawaii Judo Kai. By the request of many people coming there, Tohei took five men all together as his opponents such as Americans and American-born Japanese who were selected among the participants around the United States. Tohei threw them all and this news spread around the world in those days. All of his opponents were over six feet in height and they all were unknown persons to him and thus he became a hero as a result of overmatching five men easily in Aikido techniques. The true value of Aikido went recognized to the general public. In 1955, Tohei went to Hawaii again. He returned to Japan in May 1956 and he became Shihan Bucho or chief instructor of the Hombu dojo...
Imaizumi: In November 1970, after Kisshomaro Ueshiba Sensei became the Second Doshu, he wrote Aikido Nyumon (Introduction to Aikido), published by Tokyo Shoten, Tokyo. When he received this book from the publisher, he gave us a copy with his autograph. In page 249 of Chapter 7 of Aikido Numon, entitled "history and the Present," Ueshiba Sensei wrote about Tohei Sensei just simply as follows: In the United States, Kochi Tohei, Shihan Bucho, took a first step in Hawaii in 1953. Since then, the population of Aikido there increased rapidly...."
By the way, Tohei Sensei had been still Shihan Bucho at that time and Ueshiba Sensei could not erase these sentences from his book. However, in the revised edition of this book later years, Seitsetsu Aikido Kyohan (Detailed Aikido Textbook), this portion has no longer existed.
Imaizumi: Take a look at Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei's latest book, Aikido Ichiro (My life in Aikido, publisihed in October 1995 by Shuppan Geijutsusha, Tokyo. This book is the kind of memoirs of the author through a history of Aikido. But this time, I can only find the name of Koichi Tohei Sensei in this book. For example, the name of Tohei Sensei appears several times: In page 79 (as a friend of Tadashi Abe Sensei in a quotation from an article written by a fiction writer named Mr. Kawahara), in page 194 (as one of uchideshi in the Kobukai), and in page 212 (as one of pioneers who went to the foreign countries to spread Aikido). Although there are several Hawaii stories of O'Sensei and the Second Doshu, nobody can find out from this book who took a first step in Hawaii to spread Aikido. Even in the Aikido nempu or a chronological list of a history of Aikido in Appendix (page 288-301), Tohei Sensei's achievement in the United States had been obliterated completely although I could find many matters of no consequence in comparison with Tohei Sensei's first step in Hawaii in 1953. It sounds to me, according to Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei's Aikido Ichiro, that a history of Aikido in the United States began almost spontaneously without anyone's effort. Mr. Pranin, what a difference there was among three books by the same authro, Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei.
Imaizumi: In conclusion, I have no position to criticize Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei becaaue I could become a Shidoin of the Hombu Dojo by his permission. But I no longer belong to either Aikikai nor Ki no Kenkyukai. Therefore, what I can do as the third party is only to show the historical facts by quoting from Ueshiba Sensei's three books. Summing up, Koichi Tohei Sensei was the first person from the Hombu Dojo to spread Aikido in the United States. He went to Hawaii in 1953 for the first time and he built up the foundation of Aikido for the United States people. he became Shihan Bucho or Chief Instructor of the Hobu Dojo after he returned from Hawaii in May 1956. History shows that it was true. These historical facts should not be obliterated from a history of Aikido even after Tohei Sensei had resigned from all jobs he took during his tenure in the Aikikai.
Imaizumi: Now is the age of the internet or international network of computers. People can look for answers to every question they have ever had. They can send messages and documents across the world in a flash. In other words, even if one author tries to hide the historical fact, the other perosons can expose it around the world easily. For example, John Stevens wrote Invincible Warrior, published by Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston. This book is a pictorial biography of O'Sensei. Take a look at the photograph taken at Hawaii in page 140. Then Mr. Stevens wrote: "(Above) Memorial photograph taken after the dedication ceremony for the Honolulu Aikido dojo on March 11, 1961. Koichi Tohei, the father of Aikido in the United States, sits to Morihei's left..." Seeing is believing. Tohei Sensei is sitting next to O'Sensei in this photograph taken in Hawaii on March 11, 1961. Mr. Stevens wrote Tohei Sensei as the father of Aikido in the United States. Therefore, many Aikidoists from around the world would be able to know the correct history of Aikido regarding this event in Hawaii without relying on Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei's latest books that he wrote in Japanese or English. Even if I don't mention about Tohei Sensei's achievements in this magazine, many people will recognize Tohei Sensei as the father of Aikido in the United States through the other publications or the internet. It they know that Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei had ignored this fact in his latest Aikido books, they will think it is strange that Ueshiba Sensei had intentionally omitted Tohei Sensei's achievements during his tenure in the Aikikai. A man who intentionally ignores a historical fact may be buried by that history. I believe that a man's true achievements will surface out of the bare facts. A history does not exist to decorate a man's own achievements.
The pattern of attempting to re-write the "official history" of Aikido by the Aikikai has been "outed" by many people. Maybe, just maybe, that organization will understand that simply laying out the facts is the best policy if they want to be respected in terms of honesty and integrity. Otherwise, they will continue to be their own worst enemies in this regards.