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Editorial, On Akazawa Sensei and Pre-War Aikido

Aiki News #48 (May 1982)

In this issue of AIKI NEWS we offer readers yet another interview with one of the pre-war students of Aikido, Mr. Zenzaburo Akazawa. Akazawa Sensei was fortunate enough to have had contact with O-Sensei at any extremely early age (when only about 10 years old) and, as a teenager after graduation from middle school, began his training in earnest at the old Ushigome Dojo (the forerunner of Hombu Dojo in Tokyo). Once again in the case of Akazawa Sensei, we see further evidence of the all-important link with the Omoto Religion (his father was a believer) whose active support through the Japan Budo Enhancement Association Budo Senyokai was paramount in the initial development and spread of the art. He also gives his views on the spiritual level of O-Sensei at that time which should prove of much interest to readers.

Akazawa Sensei not only freely offered his recollections and views of the early days of Aikido during the interview, but recently has been of great assistance together with Yonekawa Sensei in providing AIKI NEWS with introductions and advice in the furtherance of our research efforts.

It is exciting for us to share with you the recollections of these pioneers of the art whose efforts have been essential to the emergence of the art of Aikido as we know it. Gradually, we are succeeding in being able to reconstruct the general mood of that era and, at the same time, collecting a treasure trove of anecdotes providing insight into the activities and attitudes of the Founder during the pre-war period. To summarize, the early figures we have contacted and interviewed thus far include: Kenji Tomiki, Shigemi Yonekawa, Takuma Hisa, Bansho Ashihara, Zenzaburo Akazawa, Takako Kunigoshi, Hisao Kamata, Yoichiro (Hoken) Inoue (Note: several of these interviews have yet to be published).

One of the fascinating features of this type of historical research is that each person consulted invariably points the way to further sources of information and raises new questions to be pondered and explored. Some day AIKI NEWS will attempt to record, systemize and draw conclusions based on this growing mountain of information in the form of a book. For now, however, we must content ourselves with the arduous, sometimes tedious, yet frequently rewarding task of gathering and preserving data as the pieces of the puzzle slowly fall into place.