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View Full Version : Essay: Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu Succession and Legitimate Heritage (Tommaso Leonetti)



Nathan Scott
7th October 2011, 04:44
In the interest of continuing the documentation of this incident, the following essay written by Tommaso Leonetti in 2000, a (now) former student of an Italian branch of the former Seishinkai organization, is being posted here for reference. This essay was re-posted recently on Aikido Journal at:

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=703


An Essay on Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu Succession and Legitimate Heritage

by Tommaso Leonetti

This lengthy article was first published in 2000 and is an invaluable document to track the timeline of events before and after the passing of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu Soke Tokimune Takeda. It criticizes the actions of Menkyo Kaiden Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei and Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin in the wake of the death of Tokimune. Stanley Pranin provided a rebuttal to this article that can be found in the Aikido Journal forums [see below]. Later in July 2008, the author Mr. Leonetti, wrote a letter of apology to Katsuyuki Kondo prompted by the discovery of subsequent evidence that support the claims of Kondo Sensei’s position as the technical successor of the Soke, even though not part of the Takeda bloodline. We place this article in our archives for historical purposes. Thanks go to Phil Davison of New Zealand for converting this long article to a format suitable for archiving. [Stan Pranin]

The idea of writing an essay on the - much debated - issue of what really happened in the last years of Takeda Tokimune Sensei came very early in my practice of this ancient art (1). I’ve always been a person interested in the roots and the legitimacy of what I studied, and I soon came in contact with the debate between the Senseis teaching in Abashiri (2) and Kondo Katsuyuki Sensei (2). Despite my personal ideas, based on the very high quality of the teachings I’ve been receiving, I’ve collected a lot of material about the years from 1988 to 1995, regarding the various claims on “mainline” Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu and the renown Takeda Tokimune’s will and succession issues. In Part One of this essay I wrote an objective timeline of what happened on these years, with “objective” meaning “accepted by both parties”, therefore nothing of it is derived from my personal opinion, and I did not include accounts I found dubious or that are still matter of discussion. The purpose of this timeline is to provide a clear and informed ground for debating, without “blind-talking” as I saw – and see every day – in various Aiki-related forums on the Net, both from the Abashiri and Tokyo groups’ members. The sequence of the events is written in a narrative fashion, although you can consult the complete timeline for reference at the end of the narration. In Part Two, I’ll discuss the issues regarding Kondo Katsuyuki’s menkyo kaiden which, though heavily based on facts, contain my personal opinion and therefore should be read having this in mind.

1 – In this essay I won’t discuss whether Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu can be considered a genuine koryu or Takeda Sokaku’s martial genius developed it or not. However it’s my opinion that in both cases the roots of Daito-ryu are, actually, ancient.

2 – A small town in the northern edge of Hokkaido, mostly known for its prison.

3 – In using the word “Sensei” I’m referring to the general use in Japan, that’s without a value judgment, but only a title given to whoever teaches and exercises certain professions (Doctors, teachers, artisans etc.).

Part One

We’ll begin the narration starting from 1988 that is a marking point in the school’s administration. In fact, since the beginning of this year and until his death, Takeda Tokimune Dai Sensei didn’t directly teach anymore, but only supervised the lessons, sitting in the kamiza (4) position when present, and demanding Shigemitsu Kato Sensei (nominated Kangicho, second-in-line of the school, in 1980) the honor of conducting the lessons on his behalf.

4 – North wall of the dojo, position on which usually stands the Soke or the founder/reviver of the art, or a Shinto altar, either physically or represented either by a photo or a picture.
In the first days of January, Kondo Katsuyuki Sensei and Mr. Stanley Pranin – who met Kondo the year before, when he came in Hokkaido for an interview to the Headmaster – visited the Soke’s house in Abashiri, where Takeda Tokimune showed them the mokuroku (5) of the school and a copy of the menkyo kaiden (6) awarded to Horikawa Kodo Sensei (7). As stated by Kondo S. himself, all the documents were meticulously photographed with Pranin’s camera.

5 – The scrolls that contain all the techniques of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu.

6 – The “Full transmission” of the art, a certificate that states the receiver learnt all the techniques.

7 – The menkyo kaiden was actually awarded by Takeda Sokaku Dai Sensei, who, unfortunately, died before signing the scroll, prepared from Horikawa Sensei, since Sokaku, as it’s renown, was analphabet.

During the next two years (1989-1990), Takeda Tokimune’s health was deteriorating quickly, and all the administrative and teaching matters were left to Shigemitsu Kato Sensei, as in the last several years.

Finally, in April, 1991, the Soke himself called a meeting for his elder students (sixty-six of them were present) and his most close friends. During this meeting Takeda Tokimune Dai Sensei revealed his will (8) about the future of the art: both his daughters Oshima Kyoko and Yokoyama Nobuko were to be his successors. It should be noted that, although the Soke didn’t have any son, both his daughters gave him a grandson. The only one interested in learning the art (as appears clearly in the last demonstration of Takeda Tokimune, where the boy is sitting on his grandfather’s side) was Kyoko’s son, Oshima (later Takeda) Hitoshi, but was his aunt Yokoyama Nobuko (the younger sister) who was the most close to the Daito-ryu School. However, all the students promised to abide to the Soke’s intentions, in front of him and his friends, amongst whom was a even a personal acquaintance of the Emperor.

8 – By the English word “will” it is intended here the declaration of intentions of the Soke, not a legal document, written or formally spoken.

The 7th of July, Takeda Munemitsu (9), one of Tokimune’s younger brothers, declared he had a written will from his brother that designated him as his successor in the School. It should be noted that Munemitsu never learnt the art thoroughly, since he only had some lessons from his brother and merely watched his father Sokaku’s techniques. Actually Takeda Munemitsu had the Soke sign a tattered “postcard” on which he himself had previously written a fake will, designating him the official heir. As it is obvious, such a “document” had no legal value, but this event clearly manifested to all the students, friends and relatives of the Soke that his mental status was precarious, because of his illness.

9 – There is another relative with the name Takeda Munemitsu, who also has laid claims to the succession, but he’s a great-grandson of Takeda Sokaku.

On September, 6th, Mrs. Yokoyama Nobuko, Tokimune’s younger sister, was officially recognized as the future Headmaster of the School. The next day, September 7th, Takeda Tokimune Sensei was officially admitted to be under serious medical treatments, and transferred to the hospital.

On the 4th of December of the same year, Mrs. Nobuko Yokoyama was officially declared as legal tutor and representative of her father, Takeda Tokimune Sensei. Shortly after, she excommunicated from the family and from the school her uncle Takeda Munemitsu for the fraud he committed against his brother.

Some days later, Mrs. Yokoyama Nobuko, supported by Kondo Katsuyuki Sensei (10) told Matsuo Sano Sensei and Shigemitsu Kato Sensei (who had already offered his position of Kangicho to both sisters, since they were arguing on various succession issues, trying to settle their quarrels) that, since the Soke was not present, they shouldn’t teach in the Daitokan (11). As Yokoyama Nobuko was one of the appointed successor (as in the promise made in April), and the future Headmaster, they abided to her request, signing, with all the students (except for seven people) the famous “Forms of Resignation” from the Hombu dojo, and not from the School as someone still says. They continued their training in a nearby dojo (at the Abashiri Port), always under the direction of Kato Sensei, as it had been in the last eleven years. From this point on, the relationship between Kondo Katsuyuki S. and the other elder students is completely broken.

10 – It is an acknowledged fact that Kondo S. and Mrs. Nobuko Yokoyama were, and are, close friends.

11 – The Daitokan is on the backside of Takeda Tokimune’s house.

Early in 1992, in an interview to Mr. Stanley Pranin, Kondo Katsuyuki S. clearly declared his loyalty to the head family (a.k.a. the two daughters of the Soke, Oshima Kyoko and Nobuko Yokoyama, who even was legal representative of the Soke), and that he’d abide to their decisions, as it was the promise the elder students (12) made in front of the Soke on April of the year before. The voices he reports, that call him “Evil Kondo” derived from the rumor that he wanted to become Headmaster of the school himself, using his friendship relation with Mrs. Yokoyama Nobuko. It seems that, at this time, the Soke, in one moment of lucidity, asked his daughter (and representative) Nobuko to register the Takeda mon and the name of the School to the Patent Office, but since they were afraid of rendering public the Soke’s illness and other private matters, she didn’t comply. There was a three-day meeting between the two successors, from where came the decision to not register the mon and the words “Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu” as trademarks. Furthermore, they stipulated a pact that admitted (13) a legal action from a sister if the other wanted to break this decision. Since the family and legitimate heirs didn’t register the trademarks, Kondo Katsuyuki S. decided on his own and registered to himself the mon and the name of the School, officially for “preserving” them, even though he directly acted against Tokimune’s daughters decision.

12 – It is unclear if Kondo S. was present to that meeting, as it might be deduced from his words, since the sixty-six students present were lately called the “seishin”, the students of the “pure heart”.

13 – In Japan, recurring to court and trials is considered very dishonorable and dequalifing, and most problems are solved with social, political or familiar pressures. Lawyers are considered one of the lowest classes, and there are only twelve-thousands of them in the whole country.

Takeda Tokimune Dai Sensei died on 2nd of December, 1993, leaving no formally spoken nor written will, in a punctual legal sense (14). A few days later, the appointed successor Mrs. Yokoyama Nobuko, not tolerating the many political issues raised from this heritage, abdicated from her position of Headmaster, leaving as the only heir (for these matters) Mrs. Oshima Kyoko, the elder sister, who soon asked the students led by Shigemitsu Kato Sensei and Matsuo Sano Sensei (15) to come back training in the Daitokan, proposal that they immediately followed.

14 – Except for the meeting in front of him, held in April, 1991.

15 – That is, all the former students of the Soke, except from Kondo Katsuyuki Sensei and other seven students.

Early in 1994, the elder students of Takeda Tokimune – the same “pure hearts” present in April, 1991 – called a meeting, open to all the other students, that was held on two separate sessions. Kondo Katsuyuki Sensei was invited to both the meetings, but always refused. During these encounters, the students signed a document on which they confirmed the promise made in front of their Sensei in April 1991, and a few other points regarding the preservation of the techniques. That was the formal foundation of the Nihon Daito Ryu Aikibudo Seishin Kai association.

But in July of the same year, Mr. Oshima Masanobu, Tokimune elder daughter’s (16) husband, decided to change his name in Takeda, as legitimated by Japanese law and tradition for preserving ancient and noble family names and, as Takeda Masanobu, unilaterally declared himself Soke of the Takedaden Daito Ryu Aikibudo (17), sending a letter to all the Daito-ryu organizations (18). At this point there was the real fracture between the different organizations (19), as some of them accepted his claim, like the recently founded Seishin Kai, and some refused, like the Takumakai or Kondo Katsuyuki Sensei.

16 – At this point, as I stated earlier, Mrs. Oshima Kyoko is the actual heir

17 – This was the name of the association of which Takeda Tokimune was Soke, that is considered, even today, as the largest Daito-ryu organization.

18 – There are a number of Daito-ryu organizations including Takumakai, Kodokai, Roppokai, the dojo led by Sagawa Sensei, and other minor organizations and private family dojos.

19 – Please note that the organizations do not comprise all the students. Usually the students are invited to become members only after years of study. Examples are the cited Takumakai, and the Seishin Kai, whose members were the teachers at the Hombu dojo, that had (and has) many students not members, since it was property of the Takeda family.

Mr. Takeda Masanobu, subsequently, also proposed an appeal to Kondo Sensei registration as a trademark of the Takeda mon and the words “Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu”, comprised of variations. In September, 1994, Kondo Katsuyuki Sensei called his own meeting, without the approval of either Takeda Kyoko or Masanobu, at which he invited only the leaders of the Daito-ryu organizations that not recognized Mr. Masanobu as the new Soke. During this meeting he was either elected or acclaimed as the new Headmaster of the school. This is recognized as the birth of his association, the Daito Ryu Shimbukan. A month later, in October, strong of the new position, Kondo Katsuyuki Sensei asked the Seishin Kai members to leave the Daitokan. They refused, not recognizing his status and titles (20), neither the meeting he held in September.

20 – Kondo Katsuyuki Sensei was elected with titles like Hombucho and Somucho, used by Takeda Sokaku.

However, in December the fire inspectors of Abashiri required the Daitokan to be closed for security problems, since the building was old and not repaired as the modern standards. The Daitokan reopened again a month later, in 1995, and with alternate fortunes (21) , remained open until the year 2000. In the meanwhile, the students, led by members of the Seishin Kai Association (that was Matsuo Sano Sensei and Shigemitsu Kato Sensei, who had always directed alone the lessons since 1988) trained in the dojo near the port (22).

21 – During the years from 1994 and 2000, the Daitokan was subsequently opened and closed as the fire inspectors saw fit, totaling only thirty-four months of activity over seventy-two.

22 – The one built in 1991, as stated earlier.

Subsequently, a few months later, in 1995, Kondo Katsuyuki declared his dojo, located in Tokyo, as the new Hombu (23), and had his association, Daito Ryu Shimbukan, recognized from two Japanese kobudo associations (24).

23 – Actually, since then, there have been two Hombu dojos of mainline Daito Ryu, both not recognizing the other: the Daitokan (followed by the other dojo near the port) in Abashiri, and Kondo’s Shimbukan in Tokyo. The art remains still bisected by these two dojos and the organizations and Senseis behind them.

24 – The Nihon Kobudo Kyokai and the Nihon Kobudo Shinkokai.

In 1998 the Japanese Court rejected Takeda Masanobu’s appeal, confirming Kondo Katsuyuki Sensei the copyright on the Takeda mon and the words “Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu” and variations thereof, virtually preventing the use of the title Soke by Takeda Masanobu. There’s another trial going on at the moment, even though, at present, I don’t know exactly the matter that involves.

The next year Takeda Munemitsu, the one excommunicated from the school in 1991, died. The situation at the moment sees Takeda Hitoshi and his son (25) train in the art at Abashiri with the Seishin Kai and Daito Ryu Aikibudo senior students, while Kondo Katsuyuki, whose dojo is very small in comparison to the last two, in Japan, is very popular in the United States of America, since Mr. Pranin of Aiki News, recognize him as the new Headmaster. He already declared he won’t recognize Takeda Kyoko and Masanobu’s descendants as Soke or Headmaster, even if they’ve Takeda blood in their veins.

25 – Respectively son and grandson of Takeda Kyoko and Masanobu and grandson and great-grandson of the late Soke.

Nathan Scott
7th October 2011, 04:53
Following is the second section of Leonetti's essay:


Complete Timeline of events

1988
Since the beginning of this year and until his death, Takeda Tokimune Dai Sensei didn’t teach anymore to anyone, but only supervised the lessons, sitting in the kamiza position when present, and demandating Shigemitsu Kato Sensei (nominated Kangicho, second-in-line of the school, in 1980) the honor of conducting the lessons on his behalf.

January
Early this month, Kondo Katsuyuki Sensei and Mr. Stanley Pranin visited the Soke’s house in Abashiri, where Takeda Tokimune showed them the mokuroku of the school and a copy of the menkyo kaiden awarded to Horikawa Kodo Sensei . As stated by Kondo S. himself, all the documents were photographed with Pranin’s camera.

1989-1990

1991

April
The sixty-six (66) most senior students and many other close friends of Takeda T. Sensei (including members from the Emperor’s court) went to a meeting in front of the Soke. During this meeting Takeda Tokimune Dai Sensei revealed his will about the future of the art: both his daughters Oshima Kyoko and Yokoyama Nobuko were to be his successors. All the students promised to abide to the Soke’s intentions, in front of the Soke’s acquaintances and friends.

July
Takeda Munemitsu , one of Tokimune’s younger brothers, had the Soke sign a “postcard” on which he designated him the official heir. As it is obvious, such a “document” had no legal value, since it was taken by fraud. This event clearly manifested to all the precarious mental status of Tokimune Sensei, derived from his illness.

September
On September, 6th, Mrs. Yokoyama Nobuko, Tokimune’s younger sister, was officially recognized the future Headmaster of the School. The next day, September 7th, Takeda Tokimune Sensei was officially admitted to be under serious medical treatments, and transferred to the hospital.

December
On the 4th of this month, Mrs. Nobuko Yokoyama was officially declared as legal tutor and representative of her father, Takeda Tokimune Sensei. Shortly after, she excommunicated from the family and from the school Takeda Munemitsu for the fraud he committed against his brother. Some days later, Mrs. Nobuko Yokoyama, supported by Kondo Katsuyuki Sensei told Matsuo Sano Sensei and Shigemitsu Kato Sensei (who offered his position of Kangicho to both sisters, since they were arguing on various succession issues) that, since the Soke was not present, they shouldn’t teach in the Daitokan . Since Nobuko Yokoyama was the appointed successor (as in the promise made in April), they abided to her request, signing, with all the students (except for seven people) the famous “Forms of Resignation” from the Hombu dojo, and not from the school as someone still says. They continued their training in a nearby dojo (at the Abashiri Port), always under the direction of Kato Sensei, as it had been in the last eleven years.

1992
Early in this year, in an interview to Mr. Stanley Pranin, Kondo Katsuyuki S. clearly declared his loyalty to the head family (a.k.a. the two daughters Oshima Kyoko and his friend Nobuko Yokoyama, who even was legal tutor of the Soke.), and that he will abide to their decisions. The voices he reports, that call him “Evil Kondo” derived from the rumor that he wanted to become Headmaster of the school himself.

The family renounced applying for the trademarks, but Kondo registered them at the Patent Office.

1993

December
Takeda Tokimune Dai Sensei died on 2nd of December, 1993. A few days later, the appointed successor and legal representative of the Soke (since 1991), Mrs. Yokoyama Nobuko abdicated from her position, leaving as the only heir Mrs. Oshima Kyoko, the elder sister, who asked the students led by Shigemitsu Kato Sensei and Matsuo Sano Sensei to come back training in the Daitokan, proposal that they immediately follow.

1994
Early in the year, the elder students of Takeda Tokimune called a meeting, open to all the other students, that was held on two separate sessions. Kondo Katsuyuki Sensei was invited to both the meetings, but refused. During these encounters, the students signed a document on which they confirmed the promise made in front of their Sensei in April 1991, and a few other points regarding the preservation of the techniques. That was the formal foundation of the Nihon Daito Ryu Aikibudo Seishin Kai Association.

July
Mr. Oshima Masanobu, Tokimune daughter’s husband, decided to change his name in Takeda, as legitimated by Japanese law and tradition for preserving ancient and noble family names and, as Takeda Masanobu, unilaterally declared himself Soke of the Takedaden Daito Ryu Aikibudo, sending a letter to all the Daito-ryu organizations. At this point there was the real fracture between the different organizations, as some of them accepted his claim, like the recently founded Seishin Kai, and some refused, like the Takumakai or Kondo Katsuyuki Sensei.

Mr. Takeda Masanobu, subsequently, also proposed an appeal to Kondo Sensei registration as a trademark of the Takeda mon and the words “Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu”, comprised of variations.

September
Kondo Katsuyuki Sensei called a meeting, without the approval of either Takeda Kyoko or Masanobu, at which he invited only the leaders of the Daito-ryu organizations that not recognized Mr. Masanobu as the new Soke. During this meeting he was either elected or acclaimed as the new Headmaster of the school. This is recognized as the birth of his association, the Daito Ryu Shimbukan.

October
Strong of the new position, Kondo Katsuyuki Sensei asked the Seishin Kai members to leave the Daitokan. They refused, not recognizing his status and titles.

December
The fire inspectors of Abashiri required the Daitokan to be closed for security problems, since the building was old and not repaired as the modern standards. The Daitokan reopened again a month later, in 1995, and with alternate fortunes , remained open until the end of 1999. In the meanwhile, the students, led by members of the Seishin Kai Association trained in the dojo near the port .

1995
Kondo Katsuyuki declared his dojo, located in Tokyo, as the new Hombu , and had his association, Daito Ryu Shimbukan, recognized from two Japanese kobudo associations .

1996-1997

1998
The Japanese Court refuses Takeda Masanobu’s appeal, confirming Kondo Katsuyuki Sensei the copyright on the Takeda mon and the words “Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu” and variations thereof. There’s another trial going on at the moment, even though, at present, I don’t know exactly the matter that involves.

1999
Takeda Munemitsu, the one excommunicated from the school in 1991, died.

2000
The Daitokan is again closed, this time probably for good, by the fire inspectors.

Part Two

We will discuss here the issues regarding Kondo Katsuyuki’s menkyo kaiden. Kondo Sensei says that Takeda Tokimune Dai Sensei showed him and Mr. Pranin the mokurokus since he was going to award him the menkyo kaiden. Actually, Kondo Sensei tells that in May of the very same year (1988) he was awarded the highest ranking in Daito-ryu from the Soke. There are many problems regarding this statement. At first, Kondo’s menkyo kaiden came officially out somewhere between 1991 and 1992; in second place, it was not registered in the eimeroku (26) of the School, and it’s uttermost strange, since Takeda Tokimune was almost as strict in recording everything regarding the activity of the school as his father Sokaku… and since every lesson and ranking award was registered, it seems extremely strange that something as big as a menkyo kaiden would be just forgotten. In fact, in a society like the Japanese one, and in a traditional school, where just for the completion of the Ikkajo (27) series the students would take a great party with lots of photographies, there is no photo of Kondo Sensei in such an occasion celebrating the menkyo kaiden. In addition to all these matters, there are first-hand accounts saying that Kondo Katsuyuki was roughly at the end of the Hiden Mokuroku in 1991, and, though he surely was a senior student, he only came at the Daitokan for week-end seminars or, seldom, ten-days intensive course, while other students, like Shimpachi Suzuki, Shigemitsu Kato, Matsuo Sano and others had been direct students of the Soke for over forty years, of which nine/ten as uchi-deshi, live-in students. There’s another strange mark in Kondo’s biography: he says he never practiced Aikido, but in the Aikikai registers (28) in Tokyo, he is recorded to have studied Aikido for at least six years, and for at least other four as a teacher of this modern art. Actually, he never practiced Daito-ryu on a regular basis until 1969 (29).

26 – The School register of students, lessons, and catalogues of techniques awarded.

27 – The first thirty techniques of the first catalogue, the hiden mokuroku.

28 – These are public documents available for consultation, under a previous request.

29 – Though he had already frequented at least one seminar, since there’s a picture of him and Takeda S. on an earlier date.
As you can see, there are more than a few matters of discussion about Kondo Sensei, and I’ll report now his version of these events, followed by my personal opinion about them.

Kondo Katsuyuki Sensei’s version of the events.

Kondo says that, when he went to the Soke house in January, 1988, with Mr. Pranin, Takeda Tokimune told him he was going to award him the menkyo kaiden. So he showed them an original kaiden scroll that was photographed by Mr. Pranin’s camera. Then Kondo had the menkyo kaiden made, which was awarded him in May of the same year. However, he was personally asked by the Soke to not render public for some time the kaiden, since it could be destabilizing for political issues. The document itself was prepared by Tokimune’s wife, who upon the completion of the document, fell ill and was immediately taken to the hospital, which is the reason, for Kondo, of the absence of the registration on the eimeroku. In those sad moments Takeda Tokimune Sensei supposedly forgot these formalities. Then, when in 1991 time was mature, Kondo revealed to his fellow students that he attained the menkyo kaiden over three years ago.

What I personally think is a more plausible scenario.

When in January 1988 Mr. Pranin photographed the original kaiden, Kondo had an example, that he didn’t have before, of how such a document would look like, and had one prepared as he himself says. I personally think that Takeda Sensei did not award him a kaiden for the following reasons:

I. Takeda Tokimune Sensei was very much punctual in registering all the lessons given, even if only seminars attained casually, and all kind of techniques knowledge “awards”, even the most basic ones, in the eimeroku. Why should it have been different for a menkyo kaiden given Kondo? The Soke, even if his wife was badly ill, would have never possibly forgotten registering something as big as a “full transmission” scroll. The eimeroku was not open to the public, and was held by the Soke himself, who never registered any kaiden, therefore there wasn’t privacy or security problems. When in 1993 the Oshima (later Takeda) family received the School’s registers, someone had added in a different ink and calligraphy beside the lines, a registration of the menkyo kaiden, that was added between 1991 and 1992, when the document itself appeared, or Kondo Katsuyuki S. “revealed it to the public” and, of course, was not present before.

II. There are no photographs of any party celebrating the kaiden neither of Takeda Tokimune and Kondo Katsuyuki together with the kaiden scroll, a thing that is really unthinkable, if you think that lots of photos were taken even when a student attained the most basic catalogues of techniques.

III. Although Kondo Sensei was surely a senior student of Tokimune, he practiced Daito-ryu a lot less than the other students. Kondo Katsuyuki lived in Tokyo, not in Abashiri, that is located in the Hokkaido island, and in the eimeroku he appears since 1969, but only during some weekends and ten-day intensive courses, mostly directed by Shimpachi Suzuki, while the other elder students (let us remember Shimpachi Suzuki and Shigemitsu Kato) studied for over forty years almost every day directly with the Soke, and even living inside the dojo for nine or ten years, as it is registered in the School’s registers. It seems strange in the least that Kondo Katsuyuki S. attained a menkyo kaiden when there were elder students who practiced and learnt a whole lot more.

IV. As said in the previous point, Kondo could not possibly know even a fraction of th techniques that his sempai knew, and I have direct confirmation of this from people who was there in Abashiri in 1990 till 1991, and directly trained with Kondo S.. Those people say he was not more advanced than the hiden mokuroku (30).

Set aside these points, it remains the fact that Kondo S. actually possesses a scroll named menkyo kaiden, complete with the Takeda’s seal, which only the Soke had. How could it possibly be? Since 1988 until 1991 the seal was in the possession of Shigemitsu Kato Sensei, who, as Kangicho, needed it to sign the mokurokus awarded and other documents. In 1991, Yokoyama Nobuko, as legal representative of the Soke (31), requested the seal, and he abided to her request. A short time later, the sealed – and until then secret – menkyo kaiden of Kondo S. appeared, and was added between the lines, as stated before, in the eimeroku, at the time in the hands of Yokoyama Nobuko, who was, and is, a very close friend of Kondo Katsuyuki. But how could possibly know Kondo how a menkyo kaiden was to be written? Do you remember Mr. Pranin’s (32) photographs…?

Tommaso Leonetti, Italy.

30 – The first catalogue, comprised of 118 techniques.

31 – As you can read in the provided timeline.

32 – Actually, Stanley Pranin is the only person present at least in January of 1988, but he is also the producer of Kondo’s books and videos, and I consider him a partial testimony, because of the strong economical relationship between the two. In fact, Mr. Pranin committed a really serious mistake on Japanese tradition and succession, adding Kondo Katsuyuki S. directly under Takeda Tokimune in the Daito-ryu lineage chart.

Nathan Scott
7th October 2011, 05:15
Following is Stan Pranin's response to the essay, re-posted on aikido journal at:

http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/...hp?p=2643#2643


Dear Mr. Leonetti, I must say I never imagined anyone would write such a detailed message on these controversial topics concerning Daito-ryu aikijujutsu. You, Sir, are a very intelligent person and write exceedingly well for someone I assume is not a native speaker of English. You have chosen to comment on multiple issues of ranking, succession, training, etc. dealing with Daito-ryu on a minute level. I don't have the time to respond to each and every point you raise but I will take the liberty of quoting from various parts of your posts followed by my comments. I hope this format will not be too confusing.

“Before I start let me say that I feel that the ONLY correct and possible solution is the one suggested by Mr. Kondo in Mr. Pranin’s book: “Interview to Daito-ryu Masters”, pp. 171 and 174."

Just so we are all together, here is the relevant quote by Kondo Sensei from p.171 of my book: "At the meeting of the dojo heads held last September [1991], the future headmaster was announced. Mrs. Nobuko Yokoyama, Tokimune's second daughter, who lives with him was selected. This decision was not made at the meeting of the dojo heads, but rather was announced on that occasion by the Takeda family...."

You will note that at this time Tokimune is already hospitalized and has been declared "mentally incompetent" by judgements handed down by the Abashiri Branch of the Kushiro Family court (September 6, 1991 and later on December 4, 1991). Tokimune Sensei no longer had the legal capacity of making decisions and his mental state was rapidly deteriorating.
You will also not that it says the "head family," not the "headmaster." In other words, the decision was made by Tokimune's daughters, Mrs. Yokoyama and Mrs. Oshima, not the late headmaster. This point is important because you state that Tokimune chose his successor himself. He did not and was unable to do so due to his illness.

"I feel that Stanley’s statement, the "official successor" of Tokimune Takeda is Mr. Kondo, is a hasty one and rather frail, if we are to follow Mr. Kondo’s own words."

You are misquoting me here. The "official" refers to the website of Kondo Sensei and the "successor" refers to Kondo Sensei as the technical and administrative successor of Tokimune Sensei based on his certifications and gradings. You make it sound as though I and Kondo Sensei are referring to him as the new Soke. This is false! Kondo Sensei cannot be Soke.

"Some claim this School [Daito-ryu] to be close to 1,000 years old; some say rather less. However, I understand that everyone accepts it to be a Koryu (classic Japanese Bujutsu)."

Well, "everyone else" may accept Daito-ryu as a koryu, but I for one do not. I think for reasons I have tried to make clear in my writings that I believe that the art started with Sokaku Takeda. But I will agree that that is a subjective opinion.

I have no dispute with your comments on the matter of succession in general in Japan and Europe.

"Thus NO ONE may legitimately claim the positions of: a) Soke, b) Headmaster, c) School Director, d) Honbucho, e) related or similar roles, without being related to the Soke in direct blood succession line."

I really don't understand your point here. Don't you mention later in your post that Kato Shigemitsu Sensei was the Kancho of the Daitokan for a period of time. My dictionary gives "director" as one of the definitions of this term. Is Kato Sensei in the Soke's "direct blood succession line?"

"As far as Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu is concerned today, Takeda Tokimune, before dying DID appoint his successor. Thus voiding all disputes that today unexpectedly and unjustifiably arise."

Tokimune Takeda decidedly did NOT appoint a successor and that is at the crux of the problem. What documentation can you produce showing that he appointed a successor?

"Takeda Tokimune prepared a written will in hospital to the effect of what Mr. Kondo states below. However I have never seen the document myself, though it has been produced in court evidence by the eldest daughter. One party [Kondo Sensei, yes?], naturally enough, claims it is void of value as the Soke would not have been mentally fit to prepare a written will in Hospital, though no such statement has ever been presented by any doctor. So I accept that the matter is controversial only in the aspect of the Soke’s written will, as I have not seen it personally."

You're right you have not seen the will personally because it does not exist! A will is a legal document. You say no statement regarding Tokimune's mental incompetency has ever been presented by a doctor. You are right. The judgment came from the Abashiri court as mentioned above.

The whole matter of the "hospital episode" is as follows. Tokimune's younger brother, Munemitsu, visited the late Headmaster at the hospital earlier in 1991 and had him write that he, Munemitsu, was being declared the new headmaster. The whole claim was ludicrous as the "declaration" was published and consisted of a single sentence on a postcard with an erasure and no date, seal, or anything else. I possess a copy of the newsletter which includes the photo of the postcard certification.

"Written or verbal (in front of testimonies=witnesses) that this will may be, the Soke very clearly stated in it that he appointed Mrs. Nobuko Yokoyama (his 2nd daughter) as next Headmaster of the School and ruled that together with her sister, Mrs. Kyoko Oshima (the Soke eldest daughter), they should both together preserve and transmit the technical wealth of the School. (Please refer to your interesting, though partial, book: “Interview to Daito-ryu Masters”, below). Takeda Tokimune successively also ruled that his daughter's son should receive full and thorough instruction by the most senior of his students to be educated to become the next Soke of the School (again refer to the interview below)."

Here you seem to be implying that this elusive will may be verbal. Again, what evidence can you provide to back up these statements?

"...The Abashiri group and Mr. Kondo included. The fact that BOTH parties agree on this point [of the existence of a will and its contents] is very important, as, once this issue is factually accepted by both sides of the dispute...."

No, it is not accepted that a will exists. Mrs. Yokoyama, Kondo Sensei, I and a few hundred others would like to see this will!

"For the issue not to be factually accepted by both parties, Mr. Kondo and the School’s honbu - it must mean that either Mr. Kondo made a false statement to you at the time of the interview, or you reported it falsely in your collection of interviews."

Or a third possibility is that your information is false.

"Page 174, [your] interview with Mr. Kondo: ‘The Daito-ryu headmaster will be responsible for preserving the techniques perfected by both Sokaku and Tokimune, and BOTH (please notice Tokimune’s will: BOTH) of his children Nobuko Yokoyama AND Kyoko Oshima AND their children should succeed Sokaku Sensei, who was the inheritor of the Takeda family tradition of Daito-ryu. So we have no further comment on this matter and we do not consider it to be a particular problem’”.

Still no will, my friend! Tokimune did not appoint either of his daughters as Soke. Maybe he intended to, maybe he would have, maybe he should have, but he DID NOT!

"Thus at the death of the Soke, both Mrs. Yokoyama AND Mrs. Oshima (the 2nd AND 1st daughter) inherited the position of representative and technical directors of the Honbu (Mrs. Yokoyama also inherited the position of Headmaster) awaiting for one of their children to succeed them. EVERYONE ABIDED BY THIS DECISION"

Mrs. Yokoyama was the interim headmaster (as decided between her and her sister) at the time of Tokimune's death. She resigned her position shortly after Tokimune's death. Then a short time later, Mrs. Oshima's husband declared himself the new headmaster.

"At this point, both Mr. Kondo and all the other senior students in Abashiri recognised her as the next Soke publicly (as we have seen), even though she had no real technical knowledge of the Art. Everyone was respecting the Soke’;s will. Everyone also agreed that the son of this woman should become the next Soke, including Mr. Kondo. It baffles me why this should change today."

Kondo Sensei has never recognized Mrs. Oshima or her husband as the Soke. No will, either!

"However, I should mention a small affair that happened just before the Soke died. Takeda Tokimune’s younger brother, Mr. Takeda Munemitsu, unilaterally announced and declared that he was the next Soke.

Takeda Tokimune lost very little time, and excommunicated him in 1991 (Hamon in Japanese) thus definitively and immediately ruling him out due to this evidently presumptuous statement."

This is partially true. See my comments above. However, it was the daughters of Tokimune and senior students including Kondo Sensei who disavowed Munemitsu's act. Tokimune was not mentally competent at this stage otherwise he wouldn't even have signed such a document in the first place.

"Takeda Tokimune Soke, before dying, had asked all the Dojo Directors to respect BOTH of his daughters as technical directors of the School. Again in your interview to Mr. Kondo this is confirmed (p 174). Takeda Tokimune clearly wanted one of their male children to take on the School’s leadership."

Tokimune was not mentally competent for the last several years of his life. He may have made such a statement earlier. I do not know, but certainly not toward the end of his life. This is not mentioned or confirmed anywhere on p. 174 or any other page! Gee whiz, I'm the author, trust me!

"In case of abdication, in fact, it is correct that the nearest direct blood relative should succeed, and no stranger would have any title to insert himself in the succession line. The presence of the discussed and controversial will is thus totally irrelevant and superfluous, from every point of view: the Soke expressed clearly his decision, and if this had not been thus, succession rules and traditions would have settled the matter anyway."

I really don't understand. Now, the non-existent will on which your argument is based is "totally irrelevant and superfluous."

"I do not understand the importance that some attach to it. It appears to be rather instrumental to dispute its existence! However may it be, the FACT is that Mrs. Yokoyama Nobuko abdicated her position, publicly.

Thus automatically the next in line, Mrs. Oshima Kyoko, legitimately entered the succession line and by all rights she is today the ONLY one that may lay claims to the position of Headmaster of Daito-ryu.

Soon after Mrs. Oshima had become Headmaster, her husband changed his name from Oshima to Takeda Masanobu. This was done with Mrs. Kyoko Oshima’s approval, but without Takeda Tokimune’s avail, as he was already dead. I should also add that, in Japan (and less so, but also in Europe), this is effectively possible. In fact it is even customary in great genealogies that someone might be adopted or marry into the family and then change his name to that the one of his wife\father, in order to continue the name of the clan\dinasty...

The problem, ONLY in my opinion, is that at this point Mr. Takeda Masanobu, husband of Kyoko Oshima - the headmaster, not only changed his name to Takeda (which IS legitimate) but also chose to take upon himself the title of Soke of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu (which I feel is NOT legitimate).

I feel that THIS was not correct for at least 2 reasons:

a) he has no Takeda blood and thus cannot enter the succession line, (if not by Takeda Tokimune’s adoption which never happened),

b) Takeda Tokimune had died and hence could not approve or disapprove the use of his name."

Here I'm in the position of agreeing with you. The crux of the issue is that Tokimune died without naming anyone as a successor. I believe that either Mrs. Yokoyama or Mrs. Oshima could lay claim to be the successor. But Mrs. Yokoyama declined the position. This leaves Mrs. Oshima. However, she and her husband, who had little involvement in Daito-ryu affairs over the years, acted unilaterally and thus her husband's claim has not been widely recognized. The senior students were not consulted. You are stressing the importance of tradition in the "rules" of succession. This unilateral act was not done by the rules!

"Before I go further, ONLY in my opinion and out of fairness, I should also say that, if it is true that Mr. Takeda Masanobu made a haste and unilateral claim, then it is also true that Mr. Kondo abused of the title\position of representative\headmaster."

Kondo Sensei did definitely have the position of "soke dairi" (representative of the headmaster) during the last several years of Tokimune's life. This was done by Tokimune himself and is indisputable. The certification has been published. Kondo Sensei has never claimed to be the headmaster.

"In fact, I understand that soon after Mr. Takeda Masanobu’s unilateral declaration also Mr. Kondo begun to repeatedly present himself as Honbucho Somucho or director of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu. Mr Kondo also begun to make no effort to avoid being indicated as “representative" or even "Headmaster" in numerous public occasions, as also on his web page."

You are not being truthful here and your choice of words makes you a mind reader. Here is the phrasing on Kondo Sensei's website: "Thank you for visiting! The Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu Web Site is your best source for information on Daito-ryu, direct from Kondo Katsuyuki, Head of the Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu Headquarters Dojo, and Director of the Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu organization."

Also, here is how he is described elsewhere on the site: "...a meeting among the heads of the various branch dojos was convened in September of 1994. Kondo Katsuyuki, appointed soke dairi and menkyo kaiden by former headmaster, Takeda Tokimune, was chosen to oversee the Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu Hombu as Hombucho and Somucho, with responsibility to carry on and preserve the main-line tradition as it has been passed down from Takeda Sokaku and Takeda Tokimune."

No mention of him being "representative" now (he was while Tokimune was still alive) is made and Kondo Sensei is the "head" of his dojo. "Head of a dojo" does not equal "headmaster" in English! Also, below this latter quote photos of Kondo Sensei's menkyo kaiden and soke dairi bearing Tokimune's seal are produced.

"Furthermore, ONLY in my opinion, there is another mistake. This one was made by the Abashiri senior group that shortly after followed suit, and present themselves as directors of the Honbu in their web pages."

Agreed.

"...b) Mr. Kondo Katsuyuki should not allow his webmaster (Mrs. Diane Skoss is his web master) to present him as "Representative" or "Headmaster" of Daito-ryu in her web page (www.Koryu.com)."

This is highly misleading. If you look at the site in question, the designation "representative/headmaster" is a field in a database as Diane is listing up the names and responsible parties of many classical martial styles. She makes no affirmative statement that Kondo Sensei is the "headmaster" of Daito-ryu and this iis merely a coverall classification. Look again at the site!

"And he should not claim to be the Honbucho or Director of Daito-ryu."

How would you have him refer to himself?

"Diane is a careful and authoritative scholar in my opinion.

When she was working with you at "Aikinews" magazine she always expressed fair and balanced opinions on the pages of your Aikinews magazine. I esteem your friends work, but I feel that maybe this time she might have strayed a little from her usually cautious and balanced position. The matter has surprised me, as I knew her for her very moderate opinions and strongly conservative approach to koryu in general.

Probably, until Mr. Kondo Katsuyuki made his unilateral statements alone no one took heed of them. But when his authoritative webmaster (Diane Skoss) publicly presented him as representative or headmaster, the matter might have appeared under a different aspect. I might assume that Mr. Kondo made these same statements (or allowed Diane to make them) to counter Takeda Masanobu's original claim.... "

You have misrepresented what she has done as I have pointed out above. On what do you base your last assumption?

Nathan Scott
7th October 2011, 05:17
Following is the second part of Stan Pranin's response to the essay, re-posted on aikido journal at:

http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/...hp?p=2643#2643


“The Soke is only Mrs. Oshima Kyoko or her son when he will come of age (he is now 7 years old)....”

Mrs. Oshima's son is an adult. I think they have only one boy.

"The next issue is that you mention that the Abashiri group would have written a letter indicating their will to abandon the School. This is simply not correct. I would like to gather more information about this letter you mention, as the only letter ever written by them was to disapprove the behaviour of Mrs. Yokoyama personally and to take distances from her personally, and NOT from the School."

I never claimed that the Abashiri group wrote a "letter indicating their will to abandon the school." You continuously misquote me. I said they "resigned" from the school. The vehicle for their resignations was a dojo form called "Notification of Withdrawal/Resignation." It is a form stating the one is withdrawing from the dojo and has a check box for the reason. Mssrs. Kato, Arisawa, Sano and various others checked the "other" box as the reason for their withdrawal. If it sounds like I'm reading from the documents it's because I am. They bear the signatures of the principals of your group. You, Sir, have again been misinformed! They quit the Daitokan dojo while Tokimune was still alive and hospitalized.

"Why would such individuals resign their position in the School, if they then endowed to protect it?”

I don't have a clue!

"Please note that Mr. Kondo until 1994, 2 years after the Soke’s death, had always diligently and faithfully accepted the rule of the headmaster."

To whom are you referring? The headmaster position was left vacant at Tokimune's death and there were two pretenders, Takeda Munemitsu and Mr. Oshima. Kondo Sensei recognized neither.

"At the end of this unauthorised meeting Mr. Kondo proclaimed that he was or had been elected, as the new Headmaster."

False statement. He was confirmed by a group of senior students and dojo heads as the Honbu Dojo-cho and Somucho, not headmaster.

"Besides the totally unorthodox manner to name a representative (a vote has NEVER been the custom in the Japanese tradition, thus exposing the fragility of the action) one cannot avoid considering that at the time other students were senior to Mr. Kondo as it appears in the School's registers held by the family..."

Caro amico! The other students may have been senior in years but only Kondo Sensei had the menkyo kaiden, kyoju dairi, and a 7th dan. The most senior members you refer to received 5th dan from Tokimune Sensei. Are you questioning the late Soke's evaluation of his students' abilities?

"Thus I sincerely do not understand why Mr. Kondo should be specially regarded and take upon himself the role of Headmaster!"

He hasn't taken on this role! I repeat again! What do you keep making this assertion?

"Having known Stanley Pranin’s objectivity in all other occasions, I am surprised of your stance that is not protective of the legitimate line of succession. But this, evidently, is only my opinion, and may well be a mistaken one."

Agreed!

"As far as the Kyoju Dairi certificates is concerned, there were quite a number of them issued by the late Soke. Mr. Suzuki Shimpachi (who was also Mr. Kondo’s teacher) for one received such titles well before Mr. Kondo. These are the real teaching license."

False. Tokimune issued only two kyoju dairi (teacher's certification). One to Suzuki Shinpachi and the other to Katsuyuki Kondo. Name any others.

"My opinion is that, after all, some of these senior students LIVED in the dojo for over a decade, and were direct students of the Soke for almost 40 years...”

Who besides Suzuki Shimpachi lived in the Daitokan dojo?

"At that time I gave much lesser importance to documents and licenses as the big issue had not yet exploded into the present issue and no one even suggested that the home and Honbu of the Daito School should not be Abashiri. Not even Mr. Kondo himself!"

Not so fast here! You are shifting from referring to the Daitokan Hombu Dojo as being in Abashiri and then saying that the headquarters should be in Abashiri. Well, since the Daitokan closed down in 1994, why does the Hombu Dojo necessarily have to be in Abashiri?

"One further reason for training at the Honbu, the fourth, I gathered it only after receiving tuition [training?] there. The documented evidence I was exposed to (School registers) indicates that Mr. Kondo begun his studies in Daito-ryu rather later than what he suggests in his web pages. The first record of his studies that I found in the Daito-ryu official registers is dated 1969. Before then there is no documental evidence of his tuition in Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu that I am aware of. And the Soke was VERY VERY punctual in registering everything in the slightest details."

Kondo Sensei began his studies of Daito-ryu in Tokyo under Hosono Tsunejiro Sensei at age 12 about 1957. Also, I have in my possession a photograph of Kondo Sensei sitting next to Tokimune Sensei in a group photo taken on the occasion of the 11th Daito-ryu demonstration in 1966 in Abashiri. As you know, only the most senior students would flank the Soke in a photo. Also, how could the Seishin group have Tokimune's Sensei's official registers? How could you have consulted these when the historical documents were handed over to the Oshima family in Saitama Prefecture?

"The only documental evidence I have gained before that period is that in 1957 he was an Aikido student (he was registered at the Aikikai in Tokyo) and later an Aikido teacher in 1964 until 1969."

I spoke with Kondo Sensei today and he told me he has never studied aikido and never registered at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. What is the source of your misinformation?

"Also, this indication (our School’s original registers), appear to confront quite well with Mr. Kondo’s Aikido past as a master of this modern art."

Ancora?

"Mr. Kato Shigemitsu held the role of Kancho (or Kangicho), while the Soke was alive. The role of Kancho (director of the House) indicates that the bearer of the title is the second in line in the School (at least this is so in the Daito School)."

How so?

"In fact Mr. Kato Shigemitsu at the time of the Soke’s death had been for 11 consecutive years Director of the Daitokan (the Soke's own dojo) and had been teaching there in the presence of the Soke himself...."

Kato Sensei resigned from Tokimune's Sensei's dojo two years before his death.

"As Stanley certainly is aware, there were a number of other students who were senior to Mr. Kondo (who was certainly a senior student himself), and although this was no definitive indication of technical ability in absence of other considerations I took it as yet another element for my decision."

If the menkyo kaiden, kyoju dairi, and 7th dan are not indications of technical ability, what pray tell is?

"As far as other titles and or documents (Menkyo Kaiden) are concerned I prefer not to enter into details as I only possess second hand information...."

Agreed.

".... I also wish to state clearly that the rumours about Mr. Kondo’s documentation being false that led him to be tried in a court for fraud and falsification were to my knowledge unverifiable. In fact as far as I am aware, Mr. Kondo had his documentation declared to possess a legitimate seal of Takeda Tokimune Soke by a Japanese court."

Yes, Kondo Sensei was sued by Mrs. Oshima's husband. Mr. Oshima lost the case, the court vindicated Kondo Sensei and sanctioned Mr. Oshima. In a separate proceeding Kondo Sensei was awarded a copyright for use of the words "Daito-ryu aikijujutsu" and variations thereof. Technically speaking, Mr. Oshima is in violation of Japanese copyright law.

Well, I have run out of steam and time and will retire now. Sir, I really admire your intellect and powers of concentration. Once you are armed with the correct facts, no one will be able to debate you!

Also, thanks to all of you readers who have stuck it out this far!

Good night!

Stanley Pranin

Nathan Scott
7th October 2011, 05:19
See the following link for a full retraction and letter of apology from the author:

http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=40892