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Morihei Ueshiba, Founder Of Aikido (16)

by Kanemoto Sunadomari

Aiki News #87 (Winter/Spring 1991)


Onisaburo Deguchi and his intrepid band of followers, including aikido founder, Morihei Ueshiba, journey across the Mongolian Plains to Mount Suolun where their headquarters is located. Onisaburo takes on the role of General of the gathering forces and is asked to perform a miracle for all to witness.


On April 13, Xi Mo-quing, leader of 2000 mounted brigands, came alone to Gongye-fu (Jap. reading, Koyafu) in hopes of joining the volunteer army headed by Lu Zhan-kui (Ro Sen Kai). On the 15th, Zhang Hua-xuan, an aide of Zhang Zuo-lin (Cho-Sakurin), also arrived. He said that he had graduated from Waseda University in 1905, and he was fluent in Japanese.

On April 24, an aide of Zhang Hai-peng, commander of the 27th Division of Yaonan-fu (Tonan Province), arrived along with 22 people on horseback, and he brought weapons and ammunition in five separate wagons. A member of the staff of the Fengtian (Hoten) army also came with two wagons. Gradually, people who wanted to join the volunteer army gathered from all over. Consequently, Gongye-fu vibrated with life and energy and the soldiers were in high spirits.

On April 25, after his negotiations with Onisaburo, Lu Zhan-kui set out for Suolun (Sakuro) with dozens of his fellows. The next day, Onisaburo and a party of 200 persons led by He Quan-kao and escorted by Feng Hu-chen, left Gongye-fu in two wagons. The natives who came to see them off prostrated themselves on the ground and cried in farewell. As he made his way to Mount Suolun, how must Onisaburo have felt, having been made a general in the Mongolian relief army, taking command of an army for the first time in his life?

Spring had arrived in Mongolia, and willows were sprouting yellowish pink shoots. There was a village called Sangheerba 42 miles (68 km) away from Gongye-fu. They stopped there for lunch, and after reorganizing the army, arrived at Fenabujuyila at 5:30 p.m. that same day. The vast expanse of the Mongolian prairie spread before them, and there were many trees as well. Mountains could be seen across the prairie. Shrines of priests were scattered about, and when they were lit with the splendor of the setting sun, they looked like grand castles in comparison to the humble houses of the natives. Tens of thousands of priests lived in this town which they had created.

At eight o’clock on April 27, they left the town and went to stay at Herunuruho, 42 miles (68 km) away. There, three wagons loaded full of food joined them. This village also looked as if it were a large park fashioned by Nature, and the people of this village lived peacefully with dogs, goats, and a herd of cattle, all blessed by the glorious spring sun. The scene was as peaceful as the kind of painting which makes one wonder whether a place of such vastness could really exist.

At 5:30 a.m. on April 28, they left and after a while arrived at a place where Mount Suolun, covered with snow, could be seen in the distance. Feng Hu-chen, one of the guards, said, “Our destination, Mujuzi, is at the foot of the mountain. We will soon arrive, so don’t worry.” Their spirits rose even higher when they heard this, and they reached Mujuzi safely at 9:20 a.m. General Lu Zhan-kui, accompanied by his soldiers, welcomed Onisaburo and his party, and led them to the headquarters.

Headquarters was in a grand castle. A few years before, Russian soldiers had stayed there and used the castle as a lumber-tax collection office. The building was grand and beautiful. Heilongjiang Province, the Re-he river, and Outer Mongolia met at this point. The place was given the name Mount Suolun when it was occupied by the Russian Army. An area of one hundred miles surrounding the mountain was called the Suolun district. The Mongolian rebels had expelled the Russian soldiers from this district and had made it a base for their independence movement. In 1818, when after a political struggle the ex-Emperor of the Chin’g dynasty was re-enthroned, the district was laid waste by the fires of war. The leader of the mounted brigands in this district was Man Tuo-han, and he wielded great influence over his several thousand men. When Onisaburo and his group arrived, Man Tuo-han was out helping the Mongolian Army in Outer Mongolia.

Lu Zhan-kui wielded great influence there as well. Thus, when they arrived the people of Mujuzi welcomed them fervently because their hero, Lu Zhan-kui, served them loyally.

Lords and leaders of the mounted brigands from all of the districts of Outer Mongolia gathered one by one to join the volunteer army. The army for the liberation of Outer Mongolia (the Northwest Autonomous Army) was soon formed under the leadership of the Dalai Lama, Onisaburo Deguchi, as General, Matsumura the Panchen Lama, as Vice General, and Lu Zhan-kui as Commander in Chief.

Although Zhang Zuo-lin had been divested of his official authority in Mongolia and Manchuria by the Peking Government as a result of his defeat by Wu Pei-fu (Gohaifu) during the first Hochoku battle, he was still as powerful an influence as before, an influence which had developed over his long association with Fengtian. In the Dongsan-xing district, which had declared independence, he still held great power. He tried to include Mongolia in his sphere of influence by using Lu Zhan-kui, but seeing the Northwest Autonomous Army, as powerful as the rising sun, he grew suspicious. But since he had already promised, he repeatedly had to provide funds and weapons to the army. In May, spring was at its height even in Outer Mongolia, and so many flowers bloomed in the fields that they covered them like a mat of unworldly beauty. The village people came to Onisaburo every day and paid their respects to him with food offerings, such as eggs, chickens, etc.

On May 13, three months after Onisaburo and his group had departed from Japan, the Foye priest came to headquarters with three priests and several soldiers. They promised to cooperate with the Omoto priest. That same day, Hikozo Ryocho went to Upper Mujuzi to prepare for Onisaburo’s advance.

On May 14, Commander Lu Zhan-kui saw General Onisaburo off. A long procession of two wagons and a large loaded cart proceeded over the Mongol plan and across the violent Yaoer-he river. Mongolian horses are a little smaller than Japanese horses, but they are extremely resistant to both cold and heat, and showed high spirits in the presence of the river, crossing the deep, violent waters without a trace of fear. At 3:30 p.m., they arrived at a temporary camp in Upper Mujuzi.

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