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Thread: Aiki ken / jo origin

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    Default Aiki ken / jo origin

    Hello everyone,

    I was wondering if anyone had any definitive information regarding the origins/influence of O-Sensei's Ken and Jo skills ? Essentially I'm looking to establish the roots of Ken and Jo within Aikido for a paper I'm writing, I'm already doing my own research but I welcome further input.

    Kind regards

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    The June 2005 issue of Hiden has an article on Aikiken (mostly on the Daito Ryu end, but includes info on Ueshiba.
    There are claims that Takeda trained in Ono-Ha Itto Ryu and Hozoin-Ryu, as well as at least two other koryu.
    Andrew Smallacombe

    Aikido Kenshinkai

    JKA Tokorozawa

    Now trotting over a bridge near you!

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    O´sensei signed keppan in Kashima Shinto Ryu, but apparantly only observed classes. And according to those that know more than me, the first of Saito´s kumitachi (or was it awase?) are strikingly similar to the first basic kata in KSR.
    This is not a new subject so a search here and on AikidoJournal.com should probably be able to answer many questions..
    /Peter Gröndahl

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    Default on the Jo Kumitachi

    I've seen a book of Yagyu Shingan-ryu, which has a complete compendium of kata. The short staff looks starlingly like the aiki-jo paired forms. The book is by Shimazu.

    Best

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    I don't have any "documented" evidence handy, but I was told by my sensei (Seiki Ryu Kenjutsu/Jodo -- an Aiki-related art) that O-sensei had studied Kashima Shinto Ryu and "Yagyu Ryu" (he didn't specify Shinkage, Shingan, or both), and used those and his other koryu and gendai Budo experience as a foundation for his Aikiken & Aikijo.

    He also told me that most of the early students of O-sensei had prior martial arts experience, and that their input was seen early on, as well.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    Ueshiba studied Goto-ha Yagyu Shingan-ryu. Check Aikido Journal for a lot of material on this. As I don't do the aiki-jo or aiki-ken, it's not something I'd care to research, but if anyone wants to figure out the origins of the Aiki-jo, I think that is where you will find it. The solo form has elements of typical Shinto "harai" rituals - (the upward and downward spirals).

    Best

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    Don't arrest me on this, but I believe to have heard that the jo techniques of O-Sensei are derived from spear techniques, rather than being part of a jodo school.

    Takeda sensei was very skilled with the spear, and O-sensei also did both yari (spear) and juken (bajonet). From what I've seen, aiki jo looks more like this than anything else, having many spear-like tsuki techniques, for instance.

    A few of the techniques used in kumi jo looks quite like the spear techniques (so jutsu) of Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu, interestingly enough.

    But then again, O-senseis approach to this was, as Mr. Amdur pointed out, more than mere technique, using the jo as a tool while doing his shinto purification rituals.

    Good luck on your paper :-)

    Yours friendly,

    K. Sandven


    Blog: My Life In Budo

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    Quote Originally Posted by kongoshin
    Don't arrest me on this, but I believe to have heard that the jo techniques of O-Sensei are derived from spear techniques, rather than being part of a jodo school.

    ...A few of the techniques used in kumi jo looks quite like the spear techniques (so jutsu) of Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu, interestingly enough.
    The similarity to TSKSR could come from the influence of Kashima Shinto Ryu. (Weren't the Kashima and Katori ryu related?)

    Yes, there is a bit of sojutsu and jukendo embedded in Aikijo, in my experience. Not only in the kumijo, but you'll even see it in Sanjuichi-no-jo if you look for it.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    You can see O Sensei performing what are now jo techniques with the spear and bayonet in early photos of Budo.
    Andrew Smallacombe

    Aikido Kenshinkai

    JKA Tokorozawa

    Now trotting over a bridge near you!

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    But TSKSR and Kashima Shinto-ryu are not that similar.

    The aiki-ken kata are rough copies of some of the omote kenjutsu of KShintoryu - with different ma-ai, cutting style, use of muscles, impact, points of attack, etc.

    The solo jo form bears little resemblance to the jo kumi-tachi, which looks startlingly like the forms in Shimazu's book, which shows forms of Goto-ha Yagyu Shingan-ryu, a school that Ueshiba studied.

    I don't know how to get the book, by the way. Saw it on a friend's bookshelf.

    Best

  11. #11
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    Interview with Stan Pranin

    Q.O-sensei also reportedly studied a lot of other koryu arts outside of Daito-ryu.
    SP: I would say that that's not true.
    If you look at it historically, he went up to Tokyo in 1901 and spent about a year there. During this stay in Tokyo when he was training to become a merchant, he did a little bit of Tenjin Shinryo-ryu jujutsu. It was probably a "machi" dojo, in other words a small dojo in the Asakusa area of Tokyo. He would go there at night, but it was probably about three or four months total since he got very ill with beriberi and had to leave Tokyo and return to Tanabe. He was doing it while working very hard during the day and it was a very brief period of only a few months. It would be difficult to imagine that that had a strong, technical influence.
    By the same token when he was in the army, he also began studying Yagyu-ryu jujutsu. There are some questions about what the actual name of the art was. O-sensei referred to it as Yagyu-ryu jujutsu, while [Kisshomaru Ueshiba] Doshu did some research and said it was Goto-ha Yagyu Shingan-ryu or similar name.
    He was in the army at the time and also was sent to Manchuria for a part of the time. It was hard for me to imagine him going regularly while being in the army, so I don't know if his training was on the weekends or what. He apparently was enthusiastic about his training but there just weren't the circumstances to allow a detailed study.
    He did, however, continue to study a little bit of Yagyu-ryu after he got out of the army, but he was in Tanabe which was a couple of hundred miles away and he had to go up by ferry! Again, maybe he went up three, four, or a half a dozen times, but it wasn't the sort of thing of an intensive study with someone year after year.
    Now, he did have a makimono (scroll) as well -- however, it bears no seal. One can only speculate what that meant. Sometimes what happens is that a person would be told to prepare a makimono or have someone prepare it and, for whatever circumstance or reason, the teacher never gets around to signing it. Therefore, the scroll cannot be considered official.
    So, it would appear that he did study this Yagyu-ryu form more than the Tenjin Shinryo-ryu jujutsu, but probably at the most he did a year or two.
    The other art that he studied, but again not in very much depth, would have been judo.
    The first description of the teacher who was sent down from the Kodokan to Tanabe by O-sensei's father to teach Morihei and various relatives and friends gave the impression that this judo teacher was somewhat of an expert. It turns out he was 17 years old. I met his wife back in the 1980s and she told me this directly. He could have been a shodan, maximum. Also, O-sensei was involved with other things in this transition phase of his life trying to figure out what he was going to be doing as a career. One of the reasons, according to Doshu, that this judo person was brought in was to help him focus and channel his energies. But O-sensei ended up going to Hokkaido.

    So, you have this very brief stint in Tenjin Shinryo Ryu, some training in Yagyu Ryu jujutsu while in the army, a smattering of judo, (with a 17 yr old teacher) and then (20+ yrs in) Daito-ryu. That's it. The impression that he studied many different arts other than Daito-ryu and mastered them is completely false.
    AW: So all of this talk about him being a sword master or a yari (spear) master are unfounded?
    SP: Well, take the yari for example. He received some juken (bayonet) training in the army, but so did I! I'm sure he did a lot more than I did, but in that context you're not doing a martial arts type of training. The yari was probably an extension of that bayonet training and whatever else he learned along the way. We know he did a lot of self-training during his Ayabe years at the Omoto. There are anecdotal evidence that he would use a yari in his practice, but there is no record of him having formal training.
    Of course, he saw lots of martial arts. He would for many years perform at demonstrations. Later on in 1937, he actually formally joined a Japanese ryuha, the Kashima Shinto-ryu. In fact, he gave his keppan, his blood oath, along with that of Akazawa Zenzaburo. He apparently did not train but made arrangements with the headmaster of that art to have teachers come to the dojo. These teachers would visit the Kodokan and then O-sensei's Kobukan dojo. This went on for a year, year and a half with Ueshiba observing the training very carefully. Akazawa, Kisshomaru, and maybe a few other younger deshi would practice this art. The proof of the pudding is if you look at Saito Sensei's first kumitachi and the second one, they're virtually identical to those forms in the Kashima school. The discovery of the keppan and my interviewing the headmaster of that form told me the whole story.
    AW: So it wasn't like he received a menkyo kaiden?
    SP: No, he received nothing. But, he did formally enroll in the dojo and apparently did observe the training very well. Obviously, a lot of what he got from that was the raw forms that he used during the Iwama years in training to develop and express himself through the weapons.


    *************************
    I figured Stan did the best research, so we might as well read what he found.

    Cheers
    Dan
    Last edited by Dan Harden; 3rd January 2006 at 19:50.

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    I think my Aiki jo came from a tree, and last time I looked, that's where my Aiki ken came from too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rupert
    I think my Aiki jo came from a tree, and last time I looked, that's where my Aiki ken came from too.
    another quality post

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew S
    The June 2005 issue of Hiden has an article on Aikiken (mostly on the Daito Ryu end, but includes info on Ueshiba.
    There are claims that Takeda trained in Ono-Ha Itto Ryu and Hozoin-Ryu, as well as at least two other koryu.
    If you can read Japanese, then this is a MUST READ. The writer Takahashi Ken (a well known martial arts historian and a student of Sagawa-ha Daito-ryu) tries to recreate and discuss what the sword art of Takeda Sokaku was.

    In doing this, he uses many pictures from Takeda Sokaku's student and basically as his teacher Sagawa Yukiyoshi was a rare person who had first hand lessons about the sword art from Takeda Sokaku himself, also explanation and stories from Sagawa about Sokaku's sword art and his own experience with Sagawa Yukiyoshi. But as Ueshiba has left the most pictures, he extensivly uses Ueshiba's pictures (from books like "Budo" ), and pictures from several student's of Ueshiba. The names are quite impressive. Hisa Takuma, Shioda Gozo, Tomiki Kenji,and of course Saito Morihiro.

    Takahashi concludes that all of them have inherited several original points which was the characteristick of Sokaku's sword art (through Ueshiba). He names this sword art from Sokaku as "Daito-ryu Aiki Kenjutusu".

    He further guess why Ueshiba has chosen Kashima Shinto-ryu as the basis of Aiki Ken, and concludes that several techniques in the Shoden of Kashima Shinto-ryu are very optimal to enhance several characteristic of "Daito-ryu Aiki Kenjutsu". A real must read.

    Several points of this article were very interesting.
    1) apperantly BEFORE Kashima shinto ryu, Ueshiba got instructions quite a lot about sword DIRECTLY from Takeda. But to prove that would be maybe very difficult today.

    2) the prewar deshi of Ueshiba got apparenly some instructions about the sword directly from Ueshiba ,and this sword art reflects the art of Takeda Sokaku.

    3)one original characteristic of Takeda Sokaku, according to Takahashi was to place the left foot forward.Then he would step with his right foot to the right side of the opponent. In other word the opponent will find out that Sokaku would dissappear from his eyes and Sokaku would stay suddenly on his left side in the right angle ,90degrees. Takahashi postulates that this footwork could be the origin of "Irimi" and "tenkan" in Aikido.

    4) Takahashi lists several points as the original characters of Takeda Sokaku.
    1.To place the left foot forward (as I have written above). This is against normal and authentic teachings in most sword arts.
    2. Sometimes, to gripp the sword with the left hand above and the right hand under (several students of Ueshiba mentioned that Ueshiba was an extraordinaire sword master, but that his manupulation of the sword was amateuristic in that he sometimse gripped the sword in the reverse thus in the "wrong" way,and also that the footsteps was "wrong").
    3)that Sokaku sometimes manupulated the sword with only one hand and suddenly would change the sword to the other hand during a sword fight and will thrust the opponent (Sagawa said to Takahashi that Sokaku did this with unbelievable speed and accuracy).
    There other points but the above listed are also sometimes what is mentioned as the original character of Ueshiba's Sword. In other words, it is clear that Ueshiba inherited a lot of Sokaku's sword art.

    A true must read.

    Tomoo Yawata
    Yoshinkan/Aunkai

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    Excelllent post Tom, and thanks for the info.

    Best,
    Ron

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