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Founder of Aikido (32): The Kobukan Hell-Dojo Period (2)

by Kisshomaru Ueshiba

Aiki News #61 (May 1984)

The following is a chapter summary published with the kind permission of Mr. Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Aikido Doshu.

Morihei Ueshiba in 1942

Mr. Zenzaburo Akazawa joined at the age of 14. The founder affectionately took him under his wing. Mr. Akazawa recalls:

At first, I was not allowed to practice, only to sit and watch. But eventually O-Sensei called me over and I started taking breakfalls. My initial reaction was, “aikido really hurts.” I massaged O-Sensei every day and he said, “Sabu, massaging my body is the secret to becoming the strongest one in the dojo.” At any rate, because of aikido I think I learned to apply “aiki” when dealing with others, to penetrate their feelings, and I am especially grateful for that.

Mr. Gozo Shioda was a small-built but a very energetic person:

At night, I used to play around in town with Mr. Shirata, my senior. We’d put our wooden clogs inside our jackets and sneak out the back barefooted so that O-Sensei would not notice. However, everything seemed to be an open book for his “divine power” and the next morning we would be scolded severely by him.

I think it was in 1941 when Admiral Takeshita brought the request for a demonstration in front of some Imperial family members. O-Sensei refused: ‘If I am to show my true art it would have to be a ‘fight with real swords,’ and by implication a real fight to the death. But that would be over in an instant. Anything less would be a lie and I do not wish to demonstrate an untruth. The sponsors insisted nonetheless and O-Sensei decided to accept. Mr. Yukawa and I went with him on the demonstration day. Sensei was terribly ill and groggy. We actually had to support him on our shoulders to get him to the hall but when demonstration time came he suddenly stood upright.

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