Kobayashi Kiyohiro 8th Dan Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu – Interview 3/3

Kobayashi Kiyohiro 8th Dan Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu – Interview 3/3


Daito-ryu seems to be getting more and more popular these days, doesn’t it? Daito-ryu? I guess it is. Perhaps it’s because Ueshiba Sensei trained in Daito-ryu that a lot of people want to know what it is. Daito-ryu became popular thanks to the “taninzudori” demonstrations at the Nihon Budokan. The defense techniques against 6 attackers, where you break their their balance upon contact, and they all fall down. Have you ever seen those before? G.E.: Yes I did… From that point on, Daito-ryu gained attention and became famous. Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu was accepted into the Kobudo Kyoukai thanks to the help of Hisa sensei, who had connections everywhere. He was at a newspaper company, and even served as a board member. So Daito-ryu became part of the Kobudo Kyokai. The Kobudo Kyokai usually allows only one organization for each school. There are many schools like yoshin-ryu, jujutsu, karate, eichi-ryu, etc. Having two or three per school would be too confusing and complicated. Daito-ryu is the only one that has two representative organizations, which alternate each year. When Hisa Sensei recieved his Menkyo Kaiden [from Takeda Sokaku], he asked for his son [Takeda] Tokimune’s group to be included in the Kobudo Kyokai as well. When was Daito-ryu included in the Kobudo Kyokai? I wonder, was I participating at the demonstration? It took place during a demonstration in Osaka. I don’t remember, it was around 1965. I entered in 1961, so I think it was around 1965. As you said, the Daito-ryu curriculum is extremely long, it must be very hard to teach. When Tokimune Sensei’s dojo was in the Daitokan, there was a pannel that said “118 Secret Basic Techniques of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu”. By basics, I thought it meant that after, there would teach applications, but none came. When I teach, I know that people who just started can’t follow the moves, thus, I break down the movements using the “kaisho”, “gyosho”, and “sosho” metaphor. I start explaining still movements or ones with less motion. Instead of full movements, I teach the grip and atemi techniques more thoroughly. When you meet your opponent, and the opponent initiates a strike, you must return the strike. You return a strike with a technique. Waiting to be hit is foolish. Beginners obviously can’t do that, so they must learn how to stop the strike. When you become advanced, you can start sensing the opponent’s strike beforehand and initiate your technique ahead of time. This is the cursive style “sosho”, and I consider it to be advanced techniques. The most important element during training is “kuzushi”. There are two types of kuzushi. Atemi kuzushi and Aiki kuzushi. Beginners would do atemi kuzushi. We say “atemi kuzushi” but in fact we don’t fully strike. It’s more a way to create surprise and reaction. You strike, baam!, and then you do your technique. This is what Tokimune sensei taught. So when you get a strike, baam, you return. I learned it as “tegoya”. And then, next, I teach Aiki where you hit and tip toe. Aiki age, where you can’t kick or jab on katate or ryote dori. You learn that. Aiki is used in many different situations, like for disrupting balance. Therefore, it’s called Aiki kuzushi. In the basics, there are actually three. Depending on the levels, there are different applicable techniques. It differs among teachers too. Depending on whether a teacher is teaching the basics or semi-cursive script. Guillaume, when you get a hit, like baam! You get a hit, you want to move your right foot but you can’t, so you take out your left foot, don’t you? You control and suppress by reading the situation. When you’re being pushed, you don’t just stand still, do you? You definitely move. Why would you wait to be hit, right? You would definitely move. So what you do is decided as you keep on moving. Your steps go in a certain direction while you are assessing the situations. Disrupting balance is for advanced people. Only something people with a lot of experience and training can do that. In terms of learning the techniques, I teach how to move and disrupt balance slowly at first, and gradually adjust to faster techniques. Could you explain how Dan grades are awarded in the Takumakai? It is I who established Takumakai’s current Dan certification system. In Tokimune Sensei’s place, they gave kyu grades one at a time, and later dan grades based on Idori, Hanza handachi and Tachiai. Personally, I teach Idori’s Kotegaeshi and Tachiai’s Kotegasehi at same time. If we want students to do “Karamenage” we should include it too. That’s easier for the students to remember. I rearranged that part for Dan grades. For Nidan I ask Nikajo. For Sandan, Sankajo. For Yondan, you must be able to do Yonkajo. This is my style of examination. I created the Keiko Techo training manual, I don’t know if you know this but it somehow is being commonly used now. I don’t know what Mr Kondo’s examination standards are. If you come from somewhere else, you are forced to do break-fall ukemi. Of course, we don’t do that. What do you think the future of the Takumakai will be? Well, it would have been good if the Takumakai had grown. But they didn’t have good enough leadership. More precisely, they didn’t train a good successor. The current general manager has not yet appointed a successor. So, everyone is lost. The students are also lost in terms of which sensei they should follow. That’s why people like Araki sensei are leaving the organization. On my side, I am taking actions, as you know. Since the Takumakai belongs to Nippon Budokan, I am guessing that the person Mori sensei appoints will become the successor. The rest of the people will probably leave. Ueshiba Sensei was independent. Many Sensei like Tohei sensei, Saito sensei, Okumura sensei or Sunadomari sensei also became independent. Well, even if many people leave and become independent, if the organization is large and has a thick trunk, it will not collapse like this. [The Aikikai] is a big organization, a big foundation. They don’t shake so easily. The Takumakai, however, has demographic shape like this, which is similar to the current demographic of Japan, thinner at the bottom. Unless we work on expanding the base, there is little potential in development What I’m trying to say is that an important thing is not the act of making it bigger, but rather the act of making it broader. And making sure that this organization protects the foundations we are built upon and pass them down. That would be the best. There is a need to find a disciple who is passionate and serious, and to make him the successor. I guess it is my responsibility. I do not know who it will be, yet, but I will do my best to support whoever it becomes. It’s like in Koryu, where only one or two people are ever taught everything up to Menkyo Kaiden. Well, yes. It happens for Kaiden. Well normally one or two people get Menkyo Kaiden. The heir would inherit the charge down from generation to generation. So if you hand out to two, the branches split like this. Father to son. I think many have received kaiden. Well I don’t know to what extent though. So the many I said may actually be a small number. I would wonder about the validity if anyone says they received one. But if others say only Hisa sensei has Menkyo Kaiden, then I would have to believe that this is the truth. Because there is evidence. The license. Others just say it, and they don’t show the menkyo kaiden certificate. So it might say kaiden, but it probably does not say menkyo [license]. I think the “license” is limited to one per generation. Well that doesn’t really matter, but I do think that Sokaku made some mistakes as well. His way of teaching was one-to-one training and he went nationwide. Teaching this to you, and that to someone esle, so there were no cross connections. On the other hand, Ueshiba sensei created an organization. He established the headquarter, trained disciples, and dispatched them all over the country to teach. “You are from Saga prefecture , so you go to Saga and teach.” Just like that. You teach, and the rest, I will have a support ready for a backing up. That kind of organization was firmly made as a pyramid. Ueshiba sensei made one in Sendai, in Aizu, in Osaka… That’s why the Takumakai in Osaka became fairly large. Others were not like this. Tokimune sensei attempted to establish an organization by teaching around in many places, but he was not as successful. Have you ever heard about the Daito-ryu Kansai headquarters? G.E.: No I haven’t. Maybe you haven’t seen the board on which it’s written. Well, Chiba Sensei is the one. G.E.: Ah! Not only for Shikoku! There were two dojos: Chiba Sensei’s in Ikeda and Makita Sensei’s on Minami Island They merged into one headquarter. Mr Kondo became the head of the Tokyo Hombu. This time, they named it Tokyo Sou Honbu to show that they were in a higher position. Well he was the one who named it that way anyway. That is how the organization was made. It seems that when Ueshiba Morihei received the Kyoju Dairi, it was the highest level that Takeda could award. Well, I heard that too, although I’m not sure whether Kyoju Dairi was the highest position. There are 33 people who received the certificate. They had all been trained privately, so we won’t know everything exactly. Daito-ryu is supposedly an iemoto system, so it explains why Takeda Tokimune did not receive the menkyo kaiden. Oh yeah yeah, well, I shouldn’t be saying this, but that was iemoto, so from my perspective, iemoto is like a family tree. Because you can trace back your ancestry all the way. However, in the menkyo kaiden system, the name can be different. If I gave one to you, that would create a Budo lineage. Before it was Takeda sensei’s family tree. It is best if the Soke is part of the family tree, but there are times when it’s not possible. Within Budo there are times when the names are changed. It happens because Budo has to be passed down. Family tree/lineage is inherited by blood relationships. Tokimune sensei looked up all the way through his ancestry. I’m not sure how far he went. He said that he omitted three generations to avoid branching of Takeda-ryu or some other ryu-ha and avoid having different names of Daito-ryu techniques created. If you do a little research, you can find out about it fairly easily. He went all the way to Shinra Saburo. All the way back to Heian era. I don’t think they would have been doing [Daito-ryu] in the Heian era, but maybe Budo like Sumo existed though. Daito-ryu is supposed to go all the way back to Shinra Saburo. True or not, it’s pretty linear and well defined, but what about the next generation? It’s falling apart. Chiba Sensei and Mr Kondo would be the successors. The next one in line after Soke [Tokimune] was his eldest daughter’s husband. He was appointed as his successor. I have never practiced together with that person. But I did know the eldest daughter. We were together at the university. She went to women’s college. She went to Nihon Joshidai in Tokyo or Showa Joshidai. And the guarantor at the time was Ueshiba Morihei sensei. Takeda sensei used to say that he visited her when he went to Tokyo. Even after the war, after his children grew up, he went saying that he’s going to go greet them. Also, there is the great-grandchild of Sokaku’s older brother who is now living where Sokaku was born. A place called Aizu Sakashita. That person is the one who is taking the name of Soke. So I don’t know which one is the real Soke. There are two, according to the iemoto system. G.E.: He has a group in Hokkaido… Yes, Mr [Takeda] Munemitsu… Him and I practiced together at the Daitokan Honbu dojo. He was very good technically, especially because he was younger than me. With two people claiming to be Soke, who is legitimate then? Yes, I think that Kondo sensei shouldn’t have done that. It’s better to pass on to the disciple who followed through for the longest time. Kondo sensei was in a geographic situation where he could handle the interactions with Tokyo’s Kobudo Taikai, so they gave him the Kyoju Dairi title. Because it meant that he was recognized as the heir, he took all the documents with him. But it turned out to be wrong and he was confronted and was told to return the documents, he returned it to the current Soke person which is Takeda sensei. Both Hisa and Tonedate are supposed to have received Menkyo Kaiden from Sokaku… You see that it was possible that two people received kaiden. What is the effect of the controversial nature of Tokimune Sensei’s succession on Daito-ryu? It is such a waste to leave this matter untouched, so I feel a strong obligation to preserve them. It’s a Kobudo after all. No one can make this into a job, so when the techniques get lost, the whole culture will die out. It should be preserved a part of Japanese culture. And to achieve that, we must work hard. I have to push myself even though my legs hurt. It did get slightly better after my artificial bone implant surgery. So I can wok for a little longer for the time being. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do Budo. Although I can’t do Idori, after a little while, I will recover and be able to do ukemi. All in all, isn’t it the cultural aspect that is the most important? Culture of martial arts, culture of tea, handicrafts and metal carvings, and other various cultural aspects of Japan still exist. I think those must be protected as tradition and culture. So we have an obligation to preserve them, whether there are two or three Daito-ryu. That is that we should pass down each of those that are rooted in specific areas. It has become somewhat difficult to unify it as one now anyway.

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