View Full Version : Daito-ryu Densho

Nathan Scott
22nd May 2001, 01:14
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Benkei the Monk
25th March 2007, 15:11
Dear fellows,

For my interest I'm reserching some information about old system of graduation in Koryu. I'd like to know something about the Hiden Ogi level in Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu. Which level is (basic? Advanced? one of the Highest?)? Is it present only in DRAJJ or in other koryu? Which part of the program is covered by this type of license?

Thank you very much for your help in my research :)

Nathan Scott
29th March 2007, 02:23
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12th August 2008, 03:18
In a currently active thread there is comments about ranks, titles and responsibilities. Is there a chart, web page or whatever puts in a hierarchical order the different titles and the skills they imply or the responsibilities they infer? I do understand these would be generalities. This might allow us rookies to communicate more clearly and correctly.

Nathan Scott
12th August 2008, 19:24
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12th August 2008, 19:43
Ask and ye shall receive, thanks Nathan.

Now looking at a Meik Skoss page http://www.koryu.com/library/mskoss9.html

(which I found after your answer)

about Shihans, Hanshis, Renshis and Kyoshis. Can we assume a Shihan has technical ability or are they grouped with the Hanshis et al?


Nathan Scott
12th August 2008, 20:11
[[Post deleted by user]

12th August 2008, 20:45
Thanks Nathan

Cliff Judge
30th May 2013, 22:38
Hi all,

I came across this interview, and thought I'd pass it on.

Interview with Kobayashi Kiyohiro, Manager of the Takumakai (http://www.guillaumeerard.com/daito-ryu-aiki-jujutsu/articles/interview-with-kobayashi-kiyohiro-sensei-manager-of-the-takumakai)

Here is one part I found interesting:

I found it interesting that Tokimune had been looking at the example of Ueshiba Sensei's teaching structure as a guide for what ended up being his DR Aikibudo Hiden Mokuroku format. I wonder about his comment regarding "bringing back the 118 kihon" though.


Well there are 118 techniques in the Hiden Mokuroku, right? So he would seem to be talking about that.

My personal belief on this subject is that in the 30s, Takeda was all over the place. I think some of the other stuff (apart from the passages you have posted) I have read about the Asahi Shimbun era was that Ueshiba and Takeda both were just getting up in front of class and doing fairly spontaneous techniques, and very few of the students on the mat could follow or connect anything to anything else.

Tokimune I see as a more down to earth fellow than his father, or Ueshiba, or probably any of the other prominent students of Sokaku, and this is basically him saying "why don't we just teach this material in a structured fashion, kata by kata?"

Nathan Scott
31st May 2013, 03:22
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Cliff Judge
31st May 2013, 15:55
Hi Cliff,

Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I realize that the Hiden Mokuroku states that it consists of 118 techniques, but here are the problems I run into to:

1) None of Sokaku's students claimed to have been taught the techniques through referencing the scrolls. Though some - or all - of the Hiden Mokuroku techniques may have been taught to the most senior of his students over time, Sokaku could not read, and even if he could, the descriptions of the techniques on the scrolls are pretty hard to follow even if you could read, and already knew the techniques.

2) Even if you did try to teach from the scrolls, it would be troublesome. If you actually count the number of techniques that are listed in the Hiden Mokuroku, there are only 53 techniques written out. Even if you assume the techniques to have an omote & ura version, the numbers still don't quite add up. Many have tried to do the math on how the number 118 could have been derived from the description on the scroll, and none that I have heard of have come up with anything believable.

3) Sagawa believed that the number 118 was an arbitrary number that "sounded good", based on the numerology found in Buddhism, rather than a literal number of techniques. Whether he was right or not, his statement proves that he was not taught a set of "118" techniques as a part of his basic instruction, and he was one of Sokaku's most long-term students.

4) Interviews state that Sokaku awarded the Hiden Mokuroku after 28-30 practices (2-3 hours long each). If he were to try to teach 118 techniques during that period, he would have to teach about 4 waza per keiko, or, 1 new waza every 30 minutes. A possible scenario, but not one that would likely produce much more than a superficial memory of the techniques at best. Of course, after Tokimune completely restructured his Hiden Mokuroku to have 118 techniques (ikkajo through gokajo), which he made the completion of the Hiden Mokuroku 5th Dan level, so I'm sure the time period under him changed from one month to something like 10-20 yrs.

All in all, it appears that Sokaku's award of the Hiden Mokuroku was strictly a level of initiation. If that's the case, the "118" techniques would have symbolized a graduation of a section of the curriculum, rather than perhaps a perfect understanding of every technique listed (and not listed).

The only reference to literally 118 techniques has always come from Tokimune Sensei, who formulated the Aikibudo structure all on his own. I agree that he was clearly trying to transmit the art in a more organized manner, but the reference in this interview to *resume* teaching the "118 basics" I find puzzling, since none of the instructors senior to Tokimune claim to have been taught in this way. It makes me wonder if the original structure of Daito-ryu, possibly organized by Sokaku and Saigo Tanomo (who is believed to have possibly written the original Daito-ryu scrolls) in the late 19th century could have been based on a structure quite different than what Sokaku ended up teaching after leaving Aizu? In other words, in the beginning there may have been a fairly logical technical structure that was more and more abandoned in Sokaku's later years.

In any event, I've never heard of anyone ever understanding how the number "118" was reached either way.

As far as Takumakai goes, if I understand correctly, the 118 "Shoden" waza were introduced to the Takumakai curriculum by Okabayashi Shogen, who learned them from Takeda Tokimune (Aikibudo). They state that the scroll techniques were already "dated" when Takeda Sokaku learned them, and that what Sokaku taught to Hisa was more advanced than what is on the scrolls. If that's true, then maybe Tokimune was trying to revive the family structure that existed prior to Sokaku learning the methods?


For what is it worth, the special number is actually 108 - that's the number of malas on a rosary. A lot of koryu systems count their number of kata as 108. So the number 118 has always been a head-scratcher to me...."118 + 10" is all I can really imagine. I've asked Dr. Hall about 118 and he corrected me that 108 was the magic number. So I think Sagawa was either wrong about 118 being a significant Buddhist number or he was intentionally misleading to the outsiders. :)

The received mythos of Daito ryu certainly supports the idea that Sokaku did not teach the Hiden Mokuroku to Sagawa, Horikawa, and other important Taisho / early Showa students. He gave them secret inner teachings and warned them against spreading them around too freely...this comes up again and again in interviews with everybody who is or was anybody in any of the branches of Daito ryu. (And what deification and clamor to access these secret inner teachings, particularly in the Aikido community, this has caused...). To the masses he gave a seemingly endless array of techniques, and charged a la carte!

Sokaku Takeda was certainly not a man of letters, and I think your idea that he was awarding a scroll called the Hiden Mokuroku to certify that a student had achieved a certain level (or perhaps that they had earned a certain level of trust or acceptance by the man) without much concern for what was actually written on them, has a lot of merit. At one point he gave a Yagyu Shinkage ryu scroll to Ueshiba....which is not something either of them trained in. Evidence is there that he thought the scrolls looked nice and had pretty writing, and the meaning of it was something that was between him and the recipient and none of anyone else's business.

But I don't think these issues are particularly important. The central question really seems to be: What IS Daito ryu actually? In particular, did Tokimune make up the 118 techniques of the Hiden Mokuroku, and the hundred or so techniques of the upper level scrolls? Were they things that Sokaku performed only once - spontaneously, to demonstrate a principle - that his son or another one of his students took pains (a silly endeavor, since he was charging per technique, right?) to preserve?

Or were these an original structure of Daito ryu that Sokaku mastered and then moved beyond? Sokaku could have learned them "from the scrolls" as you say, mastered them immediately, and then extracted principles from them, which he taught to selected students...perhaps the solo and paired exercises to build an "aiki body" that are the new hotness these days. Demonstrating these principles in large seminar format as Sokaku did would have certainly been spectacular.

But Tokimune, I don't think, had any desire to roam the country like his father did, maintaining shallow relationships with thousands of students. But still - did Tokimune teach what he was taught? Or did he develop the curriculum of mainline Daito ryu? Did he develop the curriculum by himself or with the assistance of Takuma and others, who maybe let him take the credit?

The point you make about Saigo Tanomo is really interesting - my reading of Ellis Amdur's notes on the subject are that Sokaku and Takeda didn't spend enough time with Tanomo to receive a lot of in-depth training - possibly not enough to be taught 118 techniques plus another hundred. And that Tanomo didn't seem to lead the type of life to allow him to be a master of jujutsu anyway. I don't know if I buy the second part, but the first part raises an interesting question: did Tokimune have any exposure to Tanomo?

For my part, I think if Tokimune developed the curriculum of mainline Daito ryu himself then he is the true genius of the big DR guys and he's been getting short shrift for a long time. They really are brilliant kata, particularly at the low levels. But I certainly find the idea that the curriculum may actually be very old really intriguing.

Nathan Scott
1st June 2013, 02:15
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Nathan Scott
1st June 2013, 02:51
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Cliff Judge
1st June 2013, 03:51
Saigo died in 1903, and Tokimune was born in 1916, so no.

Ha! That answers that. :laugh:

Thanks for taking the time to post that, Mr. Scott!