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Reminiscences Of Minoru Mochizuki

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by Stanley Pranin

Aiki News #72 (September 1986)

Dues At The Kobukan Dojo

The starting salary for a university graduate at that time was 35 Yen. The monthly fee at the Ueshiba dojo was 30 Yen. This was around 1933. The monthly fee at the Kodokan in those days was 3 Yen. There were only rich students at the dojo. Those who were poor could not come. Although Ueshiba Sensei, of course, wasn’t poorly off, he wasn’t leading a rich life either. He had to feed people like we uchideshi. The quantity of food we ate was far more than the normal amount. For example, we didn’t feel full unless we had three plates of curry rice. Yukawa had about five plates. Even when we ate something expensive like a bowl of eel and rice, we would have about two servings.

Hisa Takuma And The Asahi Newspaper

The Asahi Newspaper Company in Osaka sometimes published articles on the art because a Mr. Takuma Hisa was employed there. Mr. Hisa was a Sumo wrestler in the old days. He was responsible for the fact that the Asahi Newspaper wrote about O-Sensei. This resulted in his name being spread. This is also why a lot of high-ranking navy people began to study. But when Ueshiba Sensei began to talk about budo as love after the war, Mr. Hisa changed completely. What he had in mind was traditional bujutsu (martial arts). I suppose it was Mr. Hisa who played the biggest role in the spreading of aikido in the early stage. Young people today don’t even know the name of Takuma Hisa or what he did.

Kenji Tomiki

Another person who accompanied Ueshiba Sensei often and took ukemi for him was Kenji Tomiki. Tomiki Sensei was very big and had a 5th dan in Judo. The fact that Sensei threw around a large man like him increased his reputation. But young people today don’t know about Tomiki either. He was an instructor of the Waseda University Judo Club.

Tadashi Abe

There was a man named Tadashi Abe who passed away recently. I had the following encounter with him when I visited the Iwama dojo to greet O-Sensei after my return to Japan when the war ended. O-Sensei was pleased to know that I had come back safely and welcomed me warmly. I stayed there over night. That night an evil-looking man with a monk-like hairstyle came to the room where I was staying and asked permission to come in. When I gave him permission this man came in.

“My name is Tadashi Abe. Sensei, could I ask you a direct question?”. I told him to ask me anything. He asked if I was really studying aiki jujutsu seriously. At that time the art was not yet called aikido. When I replied I was, he said:

“Are you really? I have heard about you, Sensei, for a long time. I heard that you have had experience in actual fighting situations. I think it is strange that a person like you feels satisfied with an art like aiki jujutsu.” When I asked why he thought so he said that Ueshiba Sensei or Mr. Morhiro Saito would not be able to stand against him in a match even for three minutes because he would defeat them with one blow.

“You’re quite boastful, aren’t you?”, I replied. “You feel confident that you can defeat Ueshiba Sensei?”, I added. He said that he thought it would be easy for him to defeat Sensei and added:

“Although I have been observing Ueshiba Sensei for a long time, I don’t feel like practicing an art like aiki jujutsu. I feel confident that I can defeat him with one boxing punch. I hear that you emphasize actual fighting. Is that true?”

I replied as follows:

“I have been in many street-fights but I wouldn’t include them in the category of actual fighting. I have also drawn a sword and stormed the enemy camp.”

Then he asked me whether or not aikido was really useful for fighting. When I replied that aikido was very useful not only for fights but also in times of war, he said my answer didn’t convince him. So I suggested that he attack me and stood there telling him to come anyway he wanted. He asked me to adopt a ready stance. I told him:

“Don’t say unnecessary things. There is no way for someone to defeat his enemy if he tells him what to do. Attack me as you like!”

Abe still mumbled: “Sensei, can I really strike you? Strange… You have openings everywhere…” Then he took a stance and suddenly came straight in. I dodged the blow and kicked him with my leg. He groaned and fell. I applied a resuscitation technique and massaged him.

“How can a person like you who faints when he catches a little kick last in a fight?”

“Sensei, does aikido also have kicking techniques?”

“You fool! What do you mean by such a question? We use kicking techniques or anything else. I even used artillery. Martial arts, guns and artillery are all aikido. What do you think aikido is? Do you think it involves only the twisting of hands? It is a means of war… an act of war! aikido is a fight with real swords. We use the word ‘aiki’ because through it we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately. Look at Sumo. After the command is given (“Miatte! Miatte!), they stand up and go at each other in a flash. That’s the same as aiki. When a person suddenly faces his enemy in an mental state free from all ideas and thoughts and is instantly able to deal with him, we call that aiki. In the old days it was called ‘aiki no jutsu’. Therefore, artillery or anything else becomes aiki.” “Is that so… I think I understand.” “If you still don’t understand, come to me again.” After that he was afraid of me and bowed to me from far off. When I went to Europe he asked me to take him as well.

Teaching In Europe

I had some interesting experiences in Europe as well. Since we practice things like wrist twists some people wondered if this kind of training really comes in handy in actual fighting and came to ask me questions. I gave the following explanation:

“While practicing you can learn the proper way of moving your body and how to use power rationally and also through aiki you become able to respond immediately the moment your enemy silently approaches to attack. Therefore, you can deal with anyone.”

One of the students asked me: “Can I bring a gun then? If I use a gun, Sensei, what will you do?”

My reply was that I would then bring a rifle.

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