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Founder of Aikido (33): The Budo Enhancement Association and Takeda Dojo

by Kisshomaru Ueshiba

Aiki News #62 (July 1984)

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

Morihei Ueshiba, standing 2nd from left
with members of the Budo Senyokai (1932)

When the dojo at Ushigome Wakamatsu-cho was completed, a firm foundation was established in Tokyo. (The name had been changed from aiki jujutsu to aiki bujutsu, and after the Kobukan started, it was again changed to aiki budo.) Now it started to be recognized alongside judo and kendo. Just at the time an active attempt was being made to expand their nationwide activities, a grand dojo was opened in Takeda-machi, Asako-gun, Hyogo Prefecture. This dojo was slightly different because it was set up as the headquarters of the Dai Nihon Budo Sen’yo Kai (Greater Japan Budo Enhancement Association). The founder had acted in his role of Sen’yo Kai Chairman at the request of Master Onisaburo Deguchi of the Omoto religion. Even so, the founder’s non-Omoto uchideshi soon predominated as instructors and the general public were admitted a little later. It began to appear to be a branch dojo of the Kobukan, a fact that caused friction between him and some people at Omoto.

Since he had moved to Tokyo his relationship with Omoto had become weaker, but the founder’s feelings and loyalty to Master Onisaburo never changed. Thus, when the Master came with his plans for the Sen’yo Kai, the founder immediately set aside his own interests and started to work to help realize Deguchi’s ideas. This he did despite apprehension among his Tokyo supporters.

The Dai Nihon Budo Sen’yo Kai was started on August 13th, 1932 with Master Onisaburo Deguchi as President and the founder as the Chairman. The prospectus read in part:

“Genuine Bu (martial pursuits) comes from God…and is the way of refuting false doctrines and bringing out truth in order to realize God’s plan here on the earth by conquering techniques of destruction… Genuine bu protects this nation of the gods and brings peace to the world and mankind.”

Why did Master Onisaburo establish the association at this particular time? Apparently, the so-called Manchurian Incident was seen to presage difficult situations for Omoto as an organization in a few years time. The Master seems to have foreseen the slide toward war and the domestic swing to the right and was preparing to demonstrate that Omoto was taking a patriotic stance in hopes of forestalling a possible “Second Omoto Incident.” It was all intended to make a certain impression on the powers that were. With 75 branch offices, the Sen’yo Kai gave the look of a truly organized effort but the Takeda Dojo soon usurped the main role and the association started to look subordinate to the Ushigome dojo.

Takeda-machi, site of the Takeda Dojo, is a town in a western Japan, north from Himeji City. The Hombu Dojo of the Budo Sen’yo Kai was located on the edge of Takeda-machi in the huge grounds of an old sake brewery which was reputed to have been haunted by the ghosts of rebels who had committed seppuku (ritual suicide) there. Because of this sanguinary history they had been able to purchase the estate at a low price. Live-in students of the Kobukan were sent to be instructors and an average of 50 or 60 people were always there.

There were two dojos: a large one of more than 330 square meters and another of about one hundred square meters which was later used as a boarding house for short-term seminars. Dojo life, like that of the Ueshiba Juku dojo in Ayabe, followed the founder’s community-centered policy of mutual support and self-sufficiency, and a “take-turns” system. All the members helped with the farming and other work between the morning, daytime and evening training sessions in accordance with the founder’s ideal of the “Oneness of Budo and Farming.” They fished and ate the brown rice diet which Dr. Kenzo Niki always recommended so highly. This unpolished rice is difficult to make properly and even the founder could not bear the half-cooked stuff that often came to the table. It was a community “without women” when it came to cooking and the meals sometimes got very crude. In order to get energized they would eat a bunch of raw garlic and the odor is said to have made some of them quit. Despite this life, most seemed to enjoy the unbridled enthusiasm and many members of the Kobukan volunteered to go to Takeda rather than stay in Tokyo. Living secluded from ordinary life fostered a spirit of modesty and sturdiness and they trained hard.

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