Aikido Journal Home » Interviews » Interview with Hakaru Mori (1) Aiki News Japan

Interview with Hakaru Mori (1)

by Stanley Pranin

Aiki News #81 (July 1989)

The following article was prepared with the kind assistance of Brian Workman of the USA.

Hakaru Mori Sensei

Takuma Hisa began his Aiki training under Morihei Ueshiba in the early 1930’s and later received the Menkyo Kaiden from the famous Sokaku Takeda. Hisa became the Chief Instructor of a major branch of Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu established in 1975 known as the “Takumakai”. Aiki News interviewed the present head of this organization, Hakaru Mori, one of Hisa’s top students, who reminisces about his master, the Takumakai and various historical matters. The following text is the first of a two-part interview.

Aiki News: Would you tell us about your teacher Takuma Hisa Sensei?

Mori Sensei: I became a lawyer in 1956 and several years later in 1962, a student of Hisa Sensei and studied seriously until around 1970 or 71 when Sensei left for Tokyo. About 1959, Hisa Sensei resigned his position as head of the Kansai office of an organization which collected political contributions for the Liberal-Democratic Party called the “Kokusaku Kenkyukai” (National Policy Research Association) and was about to begin a second career. Mitsujiro Ishii who was a Minister of Justice and Japan Amateur Sports Association president (since past away) said the following in front of a group of wealthy financiers from the Kansai area who gathered for the retirement party of Hisa Sensei. “You have studied a wonderful art called Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu and what’s more you have received the menkyo kaiden (certificate of advanced proficiency). Why don’t you spread the art?” Thus, Mr. Ishii became the promoter and they established the Kansai Aikido Club in October 1959. The records of that time have all been preserved. It seems that Hisa Sensei felt closer to the name of Aikido rather than Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu so he used to call his art by that name.

Hisa Sensei had a bad leg at the time. When he competed in Sumo matches in his youth, he threw out his knee joint and as he became older, his muscles became weaker and he couldn’t stand up or sit down comfortably. However, he was comparatively strong when walking and would walk fairly fast though with a limp. He was a single-handicap golfer before he became ill. Hisa Sensei suffered a stroke and a half of his body was supposed to remain paralyzed. However, although the doctors told him not to move his body, he massaged his paralyzed hands and legs in his hospital bed and did various exercises which enabled him to leave his bed. Then he began to practice walking. Each day he tried to increase his performance by two. For example, if he walked two or three steps today, tomorrow he would walk five or six steps. If he walked ten meters today, tomorrow he would walk 20 meters. In this way he increased the distance little by little and finally he was able to climb Mt. Rokko everyday. He recovered to the extent that he won a golf tournament among former members of the Asahi Newspaper organization. In this way, since he had a bad leg when he taught us, he couldn’t execute any fast movements. He taught us by breaking down the techniques into individual movements. He would move his legs slowly.

We understand that Morihei Ueshiba Sensei went to Osaka before the War to teach. Was this around 1933 or 34?

Since Hisa Sensei received the menkyo kaiden from Sokaku Takeda Sensei in 1939, it must have been around 1932 or 33. Sokaku Takeda Sensei came in 1936 and so Hisa Sensei studied longer under Ueshiba Sensei. At that time, unlike today where there are many left-wing activities, the right-wing was active. They would come to the newspaper company and pour sand in the printing presses and did all kinds of things to prevent them from publishing. Therefore, it was a time when guards had to be trained in order to deal with the situation. This was the reason Mr. Mitsujiro Ishii found out about Mr. Ueshiba and brought him to Osaka as an outstanding martial arts expert. Hisa Sensei was at the time manager of the general affairs section [of the Asahi Newspaper] and guardsmen in Osaka were the main students in the dojo. There are many photos preserved from that period. In the photo albums called the Soden [A series of eleven training manuals with photos of the Daito-ryu techniques taught at that time. The first six cover techniques taught by Morihei Ueshiba, seven through nine contain techniques taught by Sokaku Takeda, and books ten and eleven include police and self-defense techniques] which were left by Hisa Sensei, half of the photos are of techniques he learned from Mr. Ueshiba. Therefore, I think that Hisa Sensei learned basic movements from Ueshiba Sensei.

We understand that Hisa Sensei in later years received the 8th dan from Morihei Ueshiba.

Yes, his certificate has been preserved. I think I have it. I believe he received it after he began to teach at the Kansai Aikido Club. Hisa Sensei used to tell us he received the certificate when he met Ueshiba Sensei.

When Sokaku Takeda turned up, Hisa Sensei informed Ueshiba Sensei of his arrival thinking the latter would be pleased. However, it seems that Ueshiba Sensei suddenly disappeared. Ueshiba Sensei was going to live with his students in a newly rented house. He was happy about it saying he would be able to sow the seeds of the art in Osaka. He disappeared just at the time he was going to do that. Hisa Sensei would always tell us about the two of them with a forced smile.

Would you please tell us about this incident in more detail?

Sokaku Takeda Sensei showed up at the Asahi Newspaper office and said, “I understand that a man named Ueshiba is teaching here.” To put it more accurately, Sokaku Takeda turned up by himself without being invited or brought by anyone. Apparently Sokaku Sensei then said, “It seems that you are learning from Ueshiba, but I haven’t taught him all the techniques. You should learn from me.” I am sure he was not as brief as that, but anyway, Hisa Sensei never even heard the name of Sokaku Takeda from Ueshiba Sensei and was very surprised and doubted Sokaku’s ability in the beginning. However, he understood that Sokaku was authentic when he saw his techniques.

Hisa Sensei then went to Ueshiba Sensei and informed him of the arrival of the man named Sokaku Takeda. Apparently the color of Ueshiba Sensei’s face changed. His only comment was, “Is that so?” He didn’t look happy nor did it seem like he was going to greet Sokaku. Then he disappeared suddenly. For a couple of days until he left, Hisa Sensei seems to have studied parallelly from both of them. But Ueshiba Sensei left. Hisa Sensei used to say referring to that incident, “He left! He ran away!” Then he always gave us a forced smile. It seemed to us that he hesitated to talk about it and was trying to laugh it off. He didn’t laugh about it because he found it funny or because he was ridiculing Ueshiba Sensei. He laughed because he found the whole episode very mysterious and strange.

We understand that Morihei Sensei gave no rank or certificate to anyone at the Asahi Newspaper dojo.

Since no documents have survived, this may be the case.

Morihei Sensei apparently gave out Daito-ryu certificates until at least 1939. I have seen the certificate which Minoru Mochizuki Sensei received from Morihei Sensei in 1932. There the name “Sokaku Takeda Dai Sensei” appears. Besides that certificate, there is a scroll preserved by the Ueshiba family which is dated 1937. This took place after Sokaku Takeda appeared at the Asahi Newspaper office in Osaka. Was the art called Asahi-ryu at that time?

Ueshiba Sensei apparently used to say that the art had no name in those days. He also said that the art should be called Asahi-ryu since it was practiced at the Asahi Newspaper office and that another Chinese character, but the same sound and meaning, should be used for “Asahi”. The covers of several volumes of the Soden were written in gold-embossed letters.

Does Morihei Ueshiba Sensei also appear in the photo albums of the Soden which have been preserved?

No, he doesn’t. There is only one photo where he appears which I have. The photo was taken at the New Year’s celebration and was used for the cover of a demonstration pamphlet. The people appearing in the photos doing techniques are all students. The photo in which Ueshiba Sensei appears is not in Hisa Sensei’s album, but is a commemorative photo.

There was a mansion owned by Mr. Murayama who was the proprietor of a company near the Sonezaki Police Office (the most expensive property in Osaka) and which was used as a dojo. Then in later years, a new dojo was built a short distance from there. I think the New Year’s photo was taken in the Sonezaki Dojo. There are no school names like Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu or Aikido appearing in the photo.

Hisa Sensei lost his wife during the Sonezaki Dojo period. They practiced at the dojo in the early morning and Hisa Sensei had his wife prepare rice porridge with sweet potato which they would eat after training. She wasn’t doing well after giving birth. She became anemic and finally died. Hisa Sensei’s third daughter believed that her mother was killed by the martial arts of her father and didn’t want to have anything to do with them. Hisa Sensei was that dedicated to his training. It was at that time that Sokaku Takeda appeared and so I think that Ueshiba Sensei and the Asahi students were very surprised.

Were the hundreds of technical photos in which the students appear executing techniques taken at the Osaka Asahi Newspaper office after training sessions?

I understand that Hisa Sensei would take Ueshiba Sensei or Sokaku Sensei for a bath after practice and wash their backs. During that time, his students would perform the techniques they learned that day and take photos. Today it is not very difficult to take photos, but in those days it wasn’t easy and it was only possible because of the Asahi Newspaper Company. There are more than 1,500 photos all together.

I wonder if any of those people appearing in the technical photos of the Soden are still living now?

I understand that no one appearing is the Soden photos is still alive. Also, those who studied directly under Sokaku Takeda Sensei and who were connected to the Asahi Newspaper Company are all dead. There was a man named Heizaburo Nakatsu who practiced with Hisa Sensei in those days. According to Tokimune Takeda Sensei, he was the most skilled technically among those who practiced at the dojo and was even better than Hisa Sensei. Mr. Kan’ichi Makita of Komatsu Island studied from Mr. Nakatsu.

What happened to the menkyo kaiden certificate and scroll which Hisa Sensei received from Sokaku Sensei?

As far as I know, they were destroyed during the War. There are some people who say that they were stolen from the dojo. The scroll was like other scrolls in that it was written in question and answer form. The upper section would read for example, “Strike with the right hand”, and the lower section described the manner for dealing with that attack. When I asked Hisa Sensei where the certificate and scroll were, he replied that he had taken the Soden to his home village, but kept the scrolls and other documents in his rented house in Higashi Osaka which was destroyed during the War. I called Hisa Sensei’s home village of Sakihama in Kochi Prefecture after his death and asked about the scrolls, Everyone who knew about those days had already passed away and so I don’t think they can be found even if you look for them. But there are photos of the certificate and scroll. The only original documents we have are the eimeiroku (enrollment books) which contain a summary of the kaiden and the Soden.

How did you come to establish the Takumakai?

Since Hisa Sensei had gotten on in years, his children were worried about him and moved him to Ogikubo in Tokyo. Because of this, it became very inconvenient for many students in the Kansai area to practice. We decided to get together at least once a year and invited Hisa Sensei from Tokyo. We conducted an event similar to the present demonstration at the Asahi Newspaper dojo. As we repeated this several times, students of Mr. Heizaburo Nakatsu in Tokushima began to participate as well as those who practiced in the Kansai Aikido Club like myself. The Takumakai was established as a system to transmit techniques and thus a name was chosen and an organization formed. We took the name “Takuma” from Takuma Hisa and also from the idiom “Sessa Takuma” (indefatigable assiduity) for the association. Hisa Sensei was in the beginning somewhat against the idea of creating an organization. But one or two years later, he began to hope it would grow and become a foundation. It was then that he became enthusiastic.

I was given the title of “director” (somucho) by Hisa Sensei and a large certificate. Hisa Sensei told me that since Sokaku Takeda Sensei had the same title as me, I should perform my job with a sense of responsibility. Since I didn’t work very hard while Sensei was alive, I feel guilty about it.

Is the Takumakai an independent organization? Also, what is your relationship with the organization of Tokimune Takeda Sensei in Hokkaido?

We also receive instruction from Tokimune Takeda Sensei and do not consider our group as anything special among Daito-ryu practitioners. It is an organization of students who joined together around Hisa Sensei at that time and so its purpose is to practice the techniques of that period and, at the same time, make an effort to transmit the techniques of Daito-ryu to later generations. Therefore, there has been no change since the death of Hisa Sensei in this regard. Our existence is like that of Tozama Daimyo [an “outside” feudal lord] and we are not part of the organization of the headmaster. There are many students of Tokimune Takeda Sensei among us and our organization is distinct in this respect. In other words, our group wasn’t established in order to oppose Tokimune Takeda Sensei. Although it was originally established independent of Tokimune Sensei, we could become united in the future. Therefore, we have to think of a form which makes such a union possible and we always keep this in mind. However, right now our group is a different organization from the Hokkaido group.

Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu Takumakai – The Takumakai is a Daito-ryu organization established in April of 1970 by students and friends of martial artist Takuma Hisa, a recipient of the menkyo kaiden from Sokaku Takeda, the propagator of Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu. Takuma Hisa was born in 1895 in Shikoku, Kochi Prefecture. In 1915 he entered Kobe Business School (present Kobe University) and became active as the captain of the Sumo wrestling club. In 1919 after graduation, he started working in Kobe and in 1927 he entered the Tokyo head office of the Asahi Newspaper with the introduction of Mitsujiro Ishii who was his senior in the Kobe Business School. In 1934, he was assigned director of general affairs of the Osaka Asahi Newspaper Company. With the introduction of Ishii, and also as part of his work, Hisa invited Morihei Ueshiba to the Osaka Asahi Newspaper office to teach and also received strict training from Sokaku Takeda. He received the menkyo kaiden of Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu from Sokaku Takeda in May 1939 and contributed to the preservation and dissemination of the art in the following years. He passed away on October 31, 1979.