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An Aikido Life (15)

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by Gozo Shioda

Aiki News #86 (Fall 1990)

Goza Shioda settles into his new life in Pontianak, Borneo and surrounds himself with animals and luxuries. His local reputation riseseven higher when he starts teaching aikido to members of the Special Police Force.

The Shioda Zoo

I naturally love animals so much that I bought nine monkeys in Macassar and Surabaya and brought them to Pontianak. After I came to Borneo, I kept three young orangutans. In addition, my family included nine dogs, about 40 ducks and domestic fowls, eight geese, a Bornean deer that weighed about 150 pounds, and two long-armed apes. Because I had so many animals my business colleagues in Pontianak called my house the Shioda Zoo. In particular, one young orangutan named Saburo, was my most favorite friend. He used to accompany me wherever I went, to bed, to work, and even to the movies. Whenever he came to my bed, he used to clean his feet with a dust cloth and crawl in under the mosquito net, securing it behind him to prevent mosquitoes from getting in, and then he would lie down beside me. When I would comb my hair and get ready to go out he would also eagerly comb his hair in front of the mirror, imitating me. I had two sets of clothes made for him, a morning dress for outings, and a set of everyday wear. Whenever we went out, he used to ask me to dress him in his morning suit by bringing it to me. He was a really cute ape. The primary mode of transportation there was bicycle. When he saw me ride my bicycle, he used to bring my bag to me and ride along in front of me. When I watched a movie if I laughed at a funny scene, he used to express his pleasure too with his whole body, flapping his hands and feet. Sometimes I felt as if he was a human child.

This was the nature of my everyday life. To add some variety to my monotonous existence, I ordered many different kinds of goods, such as shoes made from alligator skins, an alligator bag with a clasp of pure gold, and a gold lighter with a dragon with inlaid diamond eyes engraved on it. Anyway, it was quite absurd. I had 40 suits, 21 pairs of shoes, 15 wristwatches, etc. I think it was both the first and last time that I ever experienced such glorious days. At that time I was 28 years old and was energetic, in high spirits, enjoying a full life in both mind and body.

Mr. Shigeeda used to come to my house almost every day and we would have a pleasant chat. One day he said, “You are splendid in aikido. Would you be willing to teach it to the Naval Tokkei?” The Naval Tokkei was the equivalent of the Army’s Military Police in function, and the nickname was an abbreviation of Tokubetsu Keisatsutai (Special Police Force), its formal Japanese name. The force was responsible for maintenance of public peace and law and order in the districts under its supervision. Primarily, the regular duty of the Tokkei seemed to be to supervise Japanese commercial firms, but since the Civil Administration’s police could not supervise the members of the Navy, the Tokkei did so. Therefore, it was a very influential organization. I was introduced to Lieutenant Yamamoto, a leader of the Tokkei by Mr. Shigeeda, and it was immediately decided that I would teach aikido to the Tokkei. There were eight members of the Tokkei, and they all had been carefully selected. Therefore, it was natural that they were all powerful and strong-willed, typical military men. At first they did not want to believe in aikido techniques. So I asked them, “Who is the strongest?” They replied, “Mr. T is a 3rd dan in judo, and 3rd dan in sumo; he is the strongest in the Tokkei.” Then I said to him, “Please attack me any way you like.” He stared at me angrily. It was only natural for him to be angry. A brave man with a 3rd dan in judo and sumo like him might feel that he had been insulted when such a thing was said to him by such an uncommonly small man as myself. I remember my state of mind at that time. It was as calm and serene as reflecting water, and peaceful. At least I did not feel unsettled. I think it was the self-confidence I gained from my experience with actual fighting in Shanghai that made be feel that way, although I was not aware of it. As soon as he stepped towards me aggressively, he jumped and tried to attack my hips. I immediately dodged and attacked him with a slight atemi to his hips. He staggered to the ground and unexpectedly admitted his defeat to me.

Teaching Aikido

Since that event, I taught them aikido every day, and I spent more time teaching aikido than working for my company. However, I think the fact that I was teaching aikido was contributing greatly to my company, and also in a broader sense both materially and immaterially to my country. The reason is this. At that time, the trading companies that fell under the Navy’s jurisdiction were assigned to contribute to the victory of Japan, without taking their own interests into account. The profit of the nation took absolute precedence over the companies. In this way, I am sure that my instructing aikido was very useful to the company as well as to Japan. I am convinced that no one could have done just as I did, no matter how able a businessman he was. I was devoting my youthful enthusiasm to my country and also to my company through aikido, and I was very proud of that. I made it a rule to train the students of the Tokkei in the morning, and both Mr. Shigeeda and Mr. Masaki starting at 4 p.m.

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