Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu

Zenyu Nagao

Deputy Professor of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu

Daito-ryu, a school of jujutsu, was practiced by upper-class samurais and other samurais of the Aizu Domain as their self-defense martial art by the name of "Oshikiuchi" in the Edo Period. This jujutsu was never allowed to be taken out of the domain during the Edo Period. Master Sokaku Takeda Minamoto Masayoshi, who was a boy of a samurai family earning a living by farming in the area, began practicing kenjutsu and other martial arts in his very young days and was already a skillful swordsman by the middle of the Meiji Period (1868 - 1912). By order of the former karo (chief retainer) of the Aizu Domain, he started to commit himself to the study and practice of aiki jujutsu. To this aiki jujutsu, he added martial art techniques and principles he mastered through his samurai errantry across the country and created his aiki jujutsu, which is currently called Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu.

It is said that, Master Sokaku started his activity as a jujutsu martial artist seriously around Meiji 31 (1898), and taught over 30 thousand disciples for the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa Periods. Those he trained included soldiers and sailors such as major generals, lieutenant generals, rear admirals, and vice admirals, police chiefs, and judges of courts. Among his disciples were Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido, Ryuho Okuyama, Hakko-ryu Jujutsu Soke, and Yoichiro Inoue, Doshu of Nihon Shin-eitaido. Especially among those specialized in Daito-ryu, there were such talented disciples as Yoshiemon Takahashi, Hosaku Matsuda, Kotaro Yoshida, Yukiyoshi Sagawa, Kikutaro Mae, Kodo Horikawa, Soke Tokimune Takeda, Keisuke Sato, Heizaburo Nakatsu, Masayoshi Akutsu, and Kakuyoshi Yamamoto Ittosai, Daito-ryu Soshu. In these days, many schools and offshoots of Daito-ryu have been developed across the country and worldwide. A unique point of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu is that there is "ki no aiki," a technique of aiki, which is not seen in other Japanese jujutsu.

It is also said that Master Sokaku Takeda performed austere discipline including mediation in a waterfall basin when he traveled across the country for his samurai errantry during the period from Meiji to Taisho Period. In this period, he was said to have persons such as a sangaku-shugenja, mountain worshipper, as his teachers, and to be initiated into secret martial art techniques of onmyodo such as jojutsu (short spear techniques). Daito-ryu Aikijutsu is a high-level martial art which is integration of traditional martial arts with further profound kenjutsu secrets being incorporated into them. It is said that Master Sokaku Takeda became famous after newspapers reported him as a person who used mysterious techniques in the first year of the Showa Period (1926).

In these days, it is not known that there are those who use full-blown aiki techniques, which people see as mystery. However, there are many grand masters who use techniques of kokyunage, which do not use strong physical force and are generally referred to as "aiki."