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Old 02-13-2007, 02:12 AM   #5
Nicholas Eschenbruch
Dojo: TV Denzlingen
Location: Freiburg
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 323
Re: Aikikai Pioneers in Europe

I have been pondering the early history of Aikido in Europe, and the question you are asking now, for some time, because it concerns my own lineage of Aikido, and I have been picking up bits and pieces of information here and there -- nothing really to make a historically sound claim, but still, I have formed some hypotheses. I would like to discuss these, correct me if I am wrong. (I leave out titles because there are so many names.)

I am now inclined to the educated guess that there is an "official" Aikikai history in Europe, which focuses on the later generation uchideshi Shihan (Tamura, Asai, Chiba etc.), and their post-war type Aikido (for lack of better terminology). However, almost like ura and omote, there is also an unofficial history of Aikido, which has some organisational consequences until the present day, but is much less present. It figures teachers like Mochizuki, T. Abe, Murashige (who I believe was also considered for some time the top guy in Europe prior to his death in '64) Noro, and Nocquet, and, in many of these cases, seems to have had strong influences of Kodokan type Judo and pre-1950s Aikido. (Not sure Nakazono falls into this category though).

This history ultimately goes back to the "JuJutsu" dojo which Moshe Feldenkrais, the later world famous body work teacher, had in Paris in the 30s. To this he invited Mikinosuke Kawaishi, founder of Judo in France (an "early" judoka - I read somewhere he specialised in kata and atemi waza). André Nocquet studied with these teachers in the thirties. After the war, Mochizuki came over and then Tadashi Abe, who stayed for some years and in turn sent Nocquet to study with O-Sensei. The organisational framework of all this appears to have been judo.

My hypothesis is that these people possibly did not know (or care about) some of the distinctions we make today - Judo and Aikido were still much closer, and there had been syncretistic Jujutsu since the beginning of the century. I believe furthermore that their stuff was very tough, and did not involve much weapon work (though Murashige is mentioned as a TSKSR exponent).

One interesting result is that, when the later generation uchideshi Shihan arrived, there were already some people in France who had been training Aikido (in our present terminology maybe aikijutsu) for ten years or more under highly qualified teachers. A few are still active. There was even a former deshi of O-Sensei (Nocquet), who always considered himself empowered directly by O-Sensei himself to teach in France.

I believe the organisational problems with Judo federations which arose in some European countries also have their real origins here -- the early Aikido practitioners in Europe had no problem with Judo at all, they had often been practising it for years. The post-war Aikikai however was probably faced with the task of establishing Aikido in its own organisationa and technical framework -- with the result that most traditions stemming from the early period never got integrated or were ultimately marginalised. (Which may have been necessary and good for Aikido on the whole, I am not making judgements here).

My two cents -- I would be very interested to hear whether this account holds in your opinion, or maybe is too polarised/ simplified?


(Demetrio, I still have to read the great material you kindly sent, just found no time between training and work.)
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