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Old 02-21-2010, 08:44 PM   #21
Scott Harrington
Location: Wilmington, De
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 86
Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 17

Below is an excerpt of a translation of some of the Daitokan Newsletters (translator unknown) regarding the life of Takeda Sokaku (from his early life thru training to later teaching). These have been mined quite well by the great research Stanley Pranin, however some of the original flavor has been removed, edited, or shortened.

There seems to be a trend to say that he resented his father for excessive punishment. Quite possibly so, I do not read minds nor was there.) Yet here is an account passed on through Tokimune , Sokaku praising his father for his prowess on the battlefield.

The battlefields of the Aizu war lack the ‘lethality' we see today in long range death (without death from above by jet, bombers, and ‘civilian-friendly' cruise missiles. Gunpowder from muskets and cannon caused immense smoke, flashes from muzzles created dazzling displays (which fascinated young Sokaku and do children today at reenactments), and more important death was almost always a close personal thing. Getting anyone to fight in any combat is a tough thing (see Grossman's "On Killing" [much of what I agree with and some I don't -- there is a fear of killing and more importantly there is a fear of exposing yourself to the chance of being killed.] Sokichi operated in this environment very well as a leader and also seems to have operated well in the post phase as a teacher of sumo and literary skills. Sokaku seems to be the child not destined for reading and writing but shop class. In his case, martial arts was the driving force.

Courage of Sokichi Takeda

Both the western and Eastern artillery parties had great military achievements. However, the Satsuma and Choshu troops of the western army whose strength depended on its mobile power used, "Edo Sumo Oozeki" (special artillery unit). Especially noted was the power of the Choshu artillery party which enabled the Choshu clan to destroy the large shogunate army earlier when the Choshu were being suppressed. It was against these impressive artillery of the western army that the 30 members of the Aizu Sumo Wrestlers Party with Sokichi Takeda as its head participated in historic battles at Hamaguri-gomon, Toba, Fushimi and Shirakawaguchi.

The Aizu artillery proved its superiority over its counterpart of the western army in these battles. The head of the Aizu Sumo Wrestlers Party. Sokichi Takeda (Aizu Ozeki) mercilessly whipped those who showed a cowardly attitude while shooting and encouraged and also terrified the artillery soldiers. When the two forces engaged each other in close-quarter combat he rushed into the enemy brandishing a specially-made spear and cut them down. His incredible bravery was also known to the enemy and he was nicknamed "Demon Sokichi". As a result of his outstanding service he was promoted to "yoriaiseki" (chief magistrate) on June 12. He further received a letter of appreciation from the Aizu clan lord on behalf of the sumo wrestlers party for their bravery in carrying the valuable artillery into the castle. This letter authenticating the achievements of Sokichi Takeda during that period was preserved for many years.

When a principle retainer, Tanomo Saigo, secretly escaped from the castle in order to contact the army outside of the castle, Sokichi accompanied him. He went to Sendai to try to recruit fellow sumo wrestlers there and in Yamagata Prefecture when he learned of the fall of Aizu castle and remained in Sendai.

From this account, we see he does not disparage his father's bravery or skill. There is repeated mention in the newsletter of Sokaku Takeda learning sumo, kenjutsu, bojutsu (what has been lost there?) and spear from Sokichi, plus seeing (with much reluctance as he was most well aware of the passing of the era of the sword) his son had further training in Jiki Shinkage ryu through his connections.

He does not mention his father teaching him Aiki. This he clearly recounts through Tokimune as having learned this from Tanomo Saigo (Chikanori Hoshina). The trouble with facts is sometimes you have to believe them. He could be wrong with a name or date or even a person or two, but he clearly stated to two different people (on record) that his instruction came from Tanomo Saigo.


I am much intrigued by the Peter Goldsbury's writings (FASCINATED and devouring each one -- more! more!) and Ellis Amdur's books and comments (whom I love disagreeing with but he writes so damn well).

One of the things I mention when discussing history is those in the past were 1) just like us, loving, laughing, crying and living and 2) were radically different in belief systems and how and why they did things. Not wrong always (sometimes), just different.

Goldsbury makes much of the difference of the Japanese mindset and Amdur much of how they had the same foibles and faults as today. I tend to listen, trying to determine what is right, what is wrong, what was lie and what may be a truth.

Oh, and I guess I'm a "birther" in believing Takeda Sokaku did not invent aiki, however he certainly mastered it.

Scott Harrington

co-author of "Aiki Toolbox: Exploring the Magic of Aikido"
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