History of Daito Ryu and Takumakai

History of Daito Ryu and Takumakai

The Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu | Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu History | Origins of Daito Ryu | Takeda Sokaku | The Techniques of Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu | Daito Ryu and Aikido | History of Daito Ryu and Takumakai | Conversations with Daito Ryu Masters | Kondo Katsuyuki | Takeda Tokimune

Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu is one of the Ko Budo. The detail of its development in the Edo period(1603 ` 1868) and before is not clear. There are no books or no records about Daito-ryu. Perhaps there were some manuscripts written, but they were lost in the 1868 war. Or perhaps the practitioners purposely kept their techniques secret by not writing anything down. The truth is not known.

A.Outline of Daito-ryu history: Japan was unified for the first time in the 3rd or 4th century. This was probably an association of tribes, ruled by one emperar. In 645, Nakano-ooeno-ouji, the son of the current emperor, revolted, and killed the family of the king of the biggest tribe. With his succession to power, Japan came under one rule. Up till 1192, Asuka period , Nara period, and Heian period was controlled by emperors.

In the beginning, the emperors were very strong, but year by year the aristocracy took more and more control and the emperors came under their control. At the same time, it was becoming more and more difficult to maintain public peace. People began to take actions for their own personal self-defense. In the 9th or 10th century, professional groups of self-defense began to appear. These groups were known as Samurai.

As time moved on, the Samurai gained more and more power. There were two main Samurai families, the Heishi, and the Genji. According to oral tradition, in 11th century, the top leader of the Genji clan was Minamoto no Yoriyoshi, and one of his sons, Minamoto no Yoshiie. In particular, they became very powerful in the east part of Japan after Zen Ku Nen no Eki War(1051-1062), and Go San Nen no Eki War(1083-1087).

Minamoto no Yoriyoshi had another son. His name was Yosihimitsu. His full name was Shinra Saburo Minamoto no Yoshimitsu. According to oral tradition Yoshimitsu started Daito-ryu in the 11th century. He dissected the dead bodies of soldiers to understand human bone structure. He also learned his understanding of jujutsu from nature. He noticed that a spider making its web could catch its prey that was bigger than the spider itself. This gave him the idea that the small could defeat the large. After that he studied this principle hard for many years. At last, he found the secret that makes all techniques work. This was Aiki. From that time, his martial art was passed from generation to generation for 1000 years as Daito-ryu.

Yoshimitsu settled down in Kai in Yamanashi prefecture and took on the family name Takeda. After that Takeda family governed the Kai region till it was ruined in 1582. However, the developing martial system was passed on the survivors of Takeda family. Kogusoku, (which is grappling while wearing a minimal amount of armor, leggings and gauntlets, and a short sword,) was made up in this period.

After that Daito-ryu was passed on to Aizu clan by Takeda Kunitsugu of the Takeda family. At that time there were a lot of independent clan in Japan. Aizu was one of them. Daito-ryu became a secret budo of the Aizu clan. Only high class samurai were permitted to learn it. Oshikiuchi (, which was used in the inner threshold of the castle,) was created in this period.

In 1867-68, there was a civil war between the Tokugawa Bakufu ( made up of warrior class ) and the Emperor of Japan. The Aizu state stood by the Tokugawa Bakufu. Unfortunately the Tokugawa was defeated, as well as its supporters. In the disorder after the ruin of the Aizu state, Takeda Sokaku (1860`1943) learned his Daito-ryu.

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Most of the above can be considered oral traditon, as there are no confirmed written records. What we know for certain is that Takeda Sokaku appeared and taught Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu to select people from 1898 to 1943. His home was Hokkaido, but he never settled down at one dojo for a long time. He always walked around Japan and taught Daito-ryu. He hardly ever taught any one person for more than a few years. The students had to learn by themselves. Takeda Sokaku didn’t actually teach, but just showed. Sokaku taught different techniques to different persons, depending on what he thought they needed. So today there are a lot of Daito-ryu associations which have many different kinds of Daito-ryu, and every association has techniques, unique to themselves.

When Takeda Sokaku taught Daito-ryu to someone, he had the students write their names on the Eimeiroku ( the signature ). Now we know who ,when, and how long he taught Daito-ryu. One of the most famous students who signed the Eimeiroku is Umeshiba Morihei. From this we know for sure how long he learned Daito-ryu by looking at the Eimeiroku. Ueshiba Morihei was short and not a powerful man. Consequently Sokaku taught him mainly Aiki techniques. These techniques developed to present day Aikodo.

Hisa Takuma, who received his Menkyo Kaiden rank from Sokaku, studied many kinds of techniques. Due to his position of the Asahi newspaper, he was able to take pictures of these techniques. These pictures became the Souden. And Hisa Takuma’s group became known as Takumakai.
Today the major groups maintaining the tradition of Daito-ryu as taught by Sokaku Takeda are Takumakai, Tokyo Hombu, Kodokai, and Sagawa-dojo.

B.Takeda Sokaku (1860-1943)
Takeda Sokaku,who reorganized Daito-ryu and is recognized as its founder, was born in Aizu Bangemachi in Fukushima Prefecture, on October 10, 1860, the second son of Takeda Sokichi. From childhood he learned kenjutsu, bojutsu, sumo and other martial arts like other children of Samurai at that time. A sumo ring still remains at the house where he was born.

In the 1868 war the Aizu clan was defeated by the supporters of the emperor. It completely disappeared. The caste system was abolished, as were the samurai. This is known as the Meiji restoration. But Takeda Sokaku practiced kenjutsu, Ono-ha Ittoryu even often this time. He continued to practice in the samurai spirit as in the past. So he is often called ‘the last samurai’. He studied Ono-ha Itto-ryu kenjutsu under Shibuya Toma who was also from Aizu, and then began traveling the country studying martial arts. In 1873 he became a live-in student of Sakakibara Kenkichi, an accomplished swordsman from the end of the Edo period, and studied Jikishinkage-ryu kenjutsu.

After the sudden death of his older brother Takeda Sokatsu, in September of 1875, Takeda Sokaku was left with the responsibility of carrying on the family tradition of shin shoku, religious work. Accompanied by his father, he visited the chief priest, Hoshina Chikanori of Tsuzukowake Shrine in the Higashi Shirakawa District of Fukushima Prefecture, and began an apprenticeship to become a Shinto priest. Sokaku, however, had an aversion to reading and writing, and was illiterate. At that time Sokaku decided to purse the life of an martial artist in stead of carrying on the family tradition at the shrine. Some people say that it is here that Sokaku began training in the aiki-jujutsu under Hoshina Chikanori. Sokaku, whose heart was completely immersed in kenjutsu, failed to fully understand his teacher’s hope and left the priesthood training the following year.

Sokaku left Tsuzukowake Shrine, and traveled all over Japan in pursuit of martial enlightenment. In the Meiji period the people didn’t have to practice Kenjutsu as the martial era was over. Kenjutsu became less popular as the Meiji period progressed. However, Takeda Sokaku was still practicing kenjutsu. In 1898, Sokaku visited the Ryosen Shrine, where after twenty years he reencountered Hoshina Chikanori again, by that time the head priest of the Shrine. Hoshina admonished Sokaku that he was the sole retainer of these secret techniques as passed down through the Aizu clan. At that time Hoshina wrote in Takeda Sokaku’s personal register, Eimei Roku. He made a short poem to Sokaku; “Even if one tries to strike flowing water, it will leave no mark that can be seen.” This is generally thought to mean: The age of the sword is over. From now on, you must open Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu to public and pass it on to future generations. Perhaps this was Hoshina’s perception of the times and vision for the future.

There is a big question about who really taught Daito-ryu to Sokaku. Some people say that Soemon, who was Sokaku’s grandfather, taught Daito-ryu to Hoshina Chikanori ( Saigo Tanomo ), who was the chief councilor in Aizu, and he taught Daito-ryu to Sokaku. Some people say that Sokichi, who was Sokaku’s father, taught Daito-ryu to Sokaku.

Anyway, with the knowledge and skills of Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu and Ono-ha Itto-ryu Kenjutsu, Takeda Sokaku traveled all over Japan on foot, teaching, until April 25, 1943, when he passed away in Aomori Prefecture at the age of 89. In Sokaku’s 70 years of martial travels, he was never defeated, and left behind stories of his endeavors throughout the country.

Takeda Sokaku kept an attendance register called the Eimei Roku. In it there are the names and signatures of all the people he taught, including well known individuals from the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa periods: administrators, judges, police chiefs and Ministers. This register stands as evidence of Sokaku’s exceptional martial influence.

C.Hisa Takuma(1895-1980)
Hisa Takuma was born in Sakihama village, Aki district, Kochi Prefecture, on November 3,1897. In 1916, he entered Kobe Kosho University, now Kobe University, to study business and commerce. While at University he helped to establish the student sumo club, in which he played an active role as captain. He was later awarded an honorary student sumo 8th dan ranking in 1965. After graduating from Kobe University, he worked at a store called Suzuki store which eventually went bankrupt leaving him jobless. Soon after that, he joined the Asahi Newspaper Company on the invitation of one of its executives, Ishii Mitsujiro, one of Hisa’s former seniors for Kobe University.

In the 1930’s there were some instances of terrorist attacks on the Asahi Newspaper Co. So they had to find a way to defend their newspaper. In 1934, Hisa, who at the time held a position of importance as Chief of General Affairs at Osaka Asahi Newspaper Co., received an introduction to Ueshiba Morihei through Ishii Mitsujiro, who consequently invited Ueshiba to teach in Osaka. Hisa studied Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu until he left the Asahi Newspaper. During that time, Ueshiba’s style did not have a formal name, but because he was teaching at the Asahi Newspaper Co., he called it Asahi-ryu Jujutsu. The techniques were, nevertheless, from the Daito-ryu curriculum.

One day in 1936 an old man came to the Asahi Newspaper building and introduced himself to Hisa. He was reported to have said, “I am Ueshiba’s teacher, but I haven’t taught him enough; so study under me.” After this, Ueshiba took his pupils and left Osaka without meeting the old man. This old man was Takeda Sokaku. From then on Hisa received personal instruction from Sokaku as he continued training in Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu. On March 26, 1939, Sokaku awarded Hisa with a Menkyo Kaiden (Certificate of Full Proficiency) for his outstanding ability, and told him to pass on Daito-ryu to coming generations.

Takeda Sokaku taught Hisa a lot of techniques, but he taught each technique only once. If Hisa asked a question about the techniques, Sokaku became angry. Later, Hisa came up with a good idea. After practice, he took Sokaku to the bath. While he washed Sokaku’s back, the others took photos of the techniques they just practiced. At last Hisa was able to compile a book of techniques he learned from Sokaku and Ueshiba which he divided Ten, Chi, and Jin. He preserved these as Soden waza, a general list of techniques. He also orchestrated the creation of such works as Kannagara no Budo, Joshi Goshinjutsu (Self defense for Women) and Ohgi Hiden (The Secrets of Grappling Techniques), as well as a film on Ueshiba entitled Ueshiba no Shidofukei (Ueshiba’s Instructional Techniques) which was directed by Hisa.

After leaving the Osaka Asahi Newspaper Co. in 1943, Hisa worked as a public welfare director for Kobe Steel. Later he returned to his home town to become head of the fisherman’s cooperative. He finally worked as secretary general of the National Policy Research Society. At the retirement party given in recognition of his services, he received encouragement from Ishii Mitsujiro, who said ” Pass on Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu to future generations, as only you can do it.” After receiving financial support from the Kansai business community the established the Kansai Aikido Club on October 10, 1959. However, while teaching during the fall of 1961 he suffered s stroke and collapsed. The prospects for his recovery were unencouranging, but with incredible determination and strong will, Hisa overcame his sickness and resumed teaching. Even after he lost his wife in February of 1965 he continued, living at the dojo and instructing with a devotion that produced many outstanding students. In the end, persuaded by his family to look after his health, Hisa closed the Kansai Aikodo Club in 1968 and moved to Tokyo.

In accordance with the general will of his most devout students, the Takumakai was formed, and Mori Hakaru was appointed as acting director by Hisa. Having entrusted the responsibilities of the Takumakai to Mori Hakaru, Hisa passed away in Kobe at the age of 84, on October 31, 1980. His students are actively striving to carry on the vision and wishes of Hisa Takuma’s martial legacy.

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