Inaugural address at the opening of Shodokan
I would like to say a few words to mark the opening of the Shodokan Aikido Dojo today.
Japan has a cultural heritage of which we can be very proud internationally. Over the years many great men gave their life’s blood to Japanese budo and their hard work is now bearing fruit. The techniques of budo have been influenced by many Oriental religious beliefs such as Confucianism, Buddhism and Shintoism. Therefore, from long ago budo was not simply about physical techniques but regarded rather as a spiritual ‘way’ or ‘path’.
There are a great many kinds of budo, a dazzling array from which to choose. Even considering just the old jujitsu schools there are 179 recorded, but as an old song says:
There are many different paths at the foot of the mountain but they all hope to reach the same wonderful summit.
Similarly, the many different paths of kendo, judo, aikido, karate, etc. all hope to reach the same wonderful summit. Furthermore the summit is reached step by step, learning one technique at a time. In short, the study of budo is through the practise of techniques.
Initially, aikido developed from Daitoryu Aikijujitsu which was handed down by the old Aizu clan. In particular, from the Edo period it was called Oshikiuchi and received the support of the Daimyo (feudal lord). It was revived by Sokaku Takeda (1860-1943) who learned Onoha Ittoryu Kenjitsu in his childhood. He studied Jikishinkageryu Kenjitsu for a long time and also Hozoinryu Sojutsu so he incorporated sword techniques into the jujitsu system.
In the early Edo period the study of atemi waza (striking techniques) and kansetsu waza (joint techniques) was highly recommended by all schools. This was because jujitsu became a method of self-defence; attacks came from people wearing ordinary clothes in times of peace rather than by armour clad enemies on battlefields. Empty handed jujitsu had absorbed the principles of sword techniques and on this point Daitoryu was particularly outstanding.
Morihei Ueshiba Sensei (1883-1969) started studying Tenjinshinyoryu, Kitoryu, Yagyuryu and other jujitsu styles. In 1915 aged 32, he became a student of Sokaku Takeda and displayed his natural talent. He was also a very pious man and is believed to have received enlightenment, often referred to as ‘shinjin aiki’. As a result he changed the name aikijujitsu and founded aikido.
In the early years of the Meiji period Jigoro Kano Sensei (1860-1938) proposed Kodokan Judo as a modern form of old jujitsu from an educational viewpoint suitable for the new era. Firstly, he took the techniques and fighting styles of the old jujitsu schools, classified them logically and organised them into a randori practice system. Secondly, he clarified the religious thoughts of Confucianism, Buddhism and Shintoism into ideas that could be understood by the modern educational titles of philosophy and ethics. By doing this he removed some of the confusion between the old jujitsu schools and was able to show the modern significance of peaceful budo.
If the techniques of old style jujitsu are classified they can be separated into many different categories but the Kodokan Judo randori practice system of grappling is composed of nage waza (throwing techniques) and katame waza (holding techniques). Other techniques are formed into kata practice.
Using the same method, the Shodokan Aikido randori system comprises atemi waza and kansetsu waza where there is some distance between the participants. Techniques that cannot be included in this randori system are important and are practised in kata. So I am confident that an important technical aspect of jujitsu history is being kept alive as a form of modern education.
The atemi waza and kansetsu waza do not require much physical strength so it is easy for men and women of all ages to continue practising throughout their lives. It is very useful for promoting health and the modern significance of rational practice can be seen ie. improving flexibility, agility and dexterity.
Needless to say I named this dojo Shodokan, after the present Showa period. Through a combination of a golden opportunity, favourable location and harmony amongst those involved, this dojo represents an important first step. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all of you for your support and guidance both openly and in private. I hope that you will continue to support and encourage us in the future.
Head of Shodokan
March 28th, 1976