Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) drew on his extensive martial arts experience as a young man, fusing this knowledge with his deeply-held religious beliefs, to create the modern self-defense art of Aikido.
During his long career, Ueshiba associated with some of prewar Japan’s most colorful characters, including famous jujutsu master Sokaku Takeda, the charismatic religious leader Onisaburo Deguchi, and numerous members of Japan’s military, political, and business elite. Here is the captivating story of the birth of aikido, based on the first-hand accounts of Ueshiba’s top students prior to World War II.
The interviews contained in Aikido Pioneers – Prewar Era have been meticulously edited from hundreds of hours of conversations conducted over a 30-year period with those closest to the Founder. These early devotees of the art offer an insightful portrayal of the character of the Aikido Founder, and a detailed description of his teaching and activities, spanning nearly half a century. More than 100 photos, many published for the first time, add an important visual dimension to the testimonies of the interviewees. This is an essential volume for those desiring to discover the roots of Aikido, a true cultural treasure of Japan.
Historical Overview by Stanley Pranin - 20 interviews with the following Aikido Pioneers of the Prewar Era:
Noriaki (Yoichiro) Inoue - nephew of Morihei Ueshiba, and one of the most skilled of the Founder’s students who went on to create Shinei Taido following the war
- began Daito-ryu aikijujutsu in 1925 under Morihei, later becoming Waseda University professor and Founder of Tomiki Aikido, the only form of the art to incorporate competition
Hisao Kamada - one of Morihei’s earliest students with an insider’s knowledge of the beginnings of aikido
Hajime Iwata - early disciple of Founder who taught Aiki Budo in Shanghai, China, and later rose to the rank of 9th dan
Minoru Mochizuki -
judo champion sent to study with Morihei by Jigoro Kano of Kodokan Judo fame who later pioneered aikido in France and created Yoseikan Budo
- one of the most skilled of the prewar uchideshi known for appearing with the Founder in the famous Noma Dojo photo series
Rinjiro Shirata -
the pride of the Kobukan Dojo who, following World War II, taught aikido in the Tohoku region and was later awarded 9th dan
- dynamic early disciple of Morihei who took the lead in developing postwar aikido and established Yoshinkan Aikido
- judo and Katori Shinto-ryu adept who enrolled at Kobukan Dojo, and later choreographed martial arts scenes for Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and Yojimbo
- adopted son of Morihei Ueshiba, and one of Japan’s top swordsmen of the twentieth century
- one of the few female Aiki Budo practitioners, and skilled artist who created technical drawings for Budo Renshu
- from a family of Omoto believers, began Aiki Budo at 12 years old and served Morihei and his family during the prewar era
- the famous sumo wrestler who rebeled against the feudalistic prewar Sumo Association, and who studied under Morihei after finding himself powerless against the Founder
- prewar student of Morihei from Osaka who created a large aikido organization after the war, and was awarded 9th dan
Shigenobu Okumura -
a student at famous Kenkoku University in Manchuria, who became one of the backbones of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo after the war, and rose to the rank of 9th dan
- General Affairs Director of Kobukan Dojo who had a key role in selecting the name “aikido,” and who would later found Korindo Aikido
Koichi Tohei - one of Morihei’s most famous students, pioneer of aikido in Hawaii and the USA, who attained the rank of 10th dan, and later founded Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido