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Old 02-13-2007, 07:05 AM   #8
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
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Re: Aikikai Pioneers in Europe

Nicholas Eschenbruch wrote:
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). AndrENocquet 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.)
Mr Eschenbruch,

Thank you for a very interesting post.

I think that you are completely right about the close association of judo and aiki(bu)do in the early history of aikido in Europe, but wonder who would write the Aikikai 'official' history. I doubt very much whether it would be the Aikikai, who in my opinion did not really have a clue about the situation in Europe.

For example, Mochizuki Sensei went to Europe in 1952, when O Sensei was still holed up in Iwama and when practice was only just beginning at the Hombu Dojo. So, his commission as Aikikai representative was not the commission of a fully-functioning organization that was fully aware of the situation in Europe. Mochizuki and Murashige were giants of the prewar Kobukan and I do not think that someone like Kisshomaru Ueshiba could have issued any instructions as to how they were to discharge this 'commission'.

Mochizuki, Murashige, Tadashi Abe, Nakazono, Noro and others all had 'commissions' to 'represent' the Aikikai in European countries. Simillarly, the notorious James Mitose had a 'commission' signed by O Sensei to 'represent' the Aikikai in the US. The Japanese here is much vaguer than the English and Mitose's 'commission' was arranged by Koichi Tohei, who did not really understand who Mitose was. I do not really think that O Sensei had much of a clue about either the 'commission' or who he was giving it to and I suspect that the same is true of Nocquet.

Here is an example of such a 'commission' in Japan. A certain shihan in Japan showed me a letter signed by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, allegedly giving him the exclusive power to teach aikido in a certain prefecture as the Aikikai's representative. Except that the latter stated no such thing. The letter elegantly requested the shihan to spread aikido in the said prefecture on behalf of the Aikikai. Nothing was stated about a 'commision' or about the shihan being the Aikikai's 'representative'. The Japanese terms here are usually daihyou or dairi, but they need not have an 'exclusive' sense.

Tohei has been airbrushed out of Aikikai history in the US, but this is harder to do with the early pioneers in Europe. As I stated in the IAF article, Tamura Shihan established his organizations in Europe under the general tutelage of judo organizations and this was obviously the right thing to do at the time, given the early history. The problems with this approach came later, as the postwar Aikikai became a fully functioning organization, with no links to judo. The split which occurred in 1978-1980 occurred because aikido organizations in various countries wanted to escape from the domination of these organizations by judouka, who also practised aikido. The Aikikai could not resist these legitimate claims, but the shihan who was most closely involved in this dispute was Tamura Shihan, not the older shihans.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
Kokusai Dojo,
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