An interesting take on early Aikido, from a Judo perspective

gpseymour

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The Inspiration of O-Sensei’s Jujutsu: A Letter by Kenji Tomiki – Aikido Journal

Aikido Journal recently posted a letter written by Kenji Tomiki back in the 1930's. At this time, he had trained about a decade in Judo, and a few months with Ueshiba in Jujutsu (as it was referred to at the time, apparently).

An interesting take - he sees Ueshiba's Jujutsu as far more applicable to self-defense than the Kodokan Judo he studied. He makes a good case for it in places, and I wonder how many people - having practiced both today - would have the same reaction.
 

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Judo has leg skill such as cut, hook, spring, lift, twist, bite, sweep, scoop, break, block, ... that you don't see in Aikido. IMO, without the leg skill, a throwing art is not completed.

To allow your opponent to have a free arm is bad enough. To allow your opponent to have 2 free legs can be worse.

When you lift one of your opponent's legs off the ground, it will be difficult for him to get away.

leg_lift.jpg


When you let your opponent to have 2 free legs. you are not doing yourself any favor.

aikido.gif
 
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gpseymour

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Judo has leg skill such as cut, hook, spring, lift, twist, bite, sweep, scoop, break, block, ... that you don't see in Aikido. IMO, without the leg skill, a throwing art is not completed.

To allow your opponent to have a free arm is bad enough. To allow your opponent to have 2 free legs can be worse.

When you lift one of your opponent's legs off the ground, it will be difficult for him to get away.

leg_lift.jpg


When you let your opponent to have 2 free legs. you are not doing yourself any favor.

aikido.gif
How does that relate to the letter by Tomiki?
 
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gpseymour

gpseymour

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May be nothing. Just point out the major difference between Judo and Aikido. You can look at Aikido from Judo point of view, or the other way around, the difference is still the difference.
What is your take on the difference Tomiki points to?
 

O'Malley

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An interesting take - he sees Ueshiba's Jujutsu as far more applicable to self-defense than the Kodokan Judo he studied. He makes a good case for it in places, and I wonder how many people - having practiced both today - would have the same reaction.

I have no experience in Judo but what the Aikikai is doing today is really different from the jujutsu Tomiki is talking about in this letter...

Another really interesting bit is the following one where he explains how (proto-)BJJ got shut down:

In former years there were rival Judo matches between Senior Dai-ichi High School and Senior Dai-ni High School. As a result, although Dai-ichi High School had a leading third dan and a number of black belts, Dai-ni High School, who never had more than one or two black belts, would place higher in the competitions. What it came back to is that Dai-ni High School trained thoroughly in ground techniques, so Dai-ichi High School had no space in which to attack them. Kano Sensei was extremely critical of this:

“The foundation of Judo is shinken shobu. In times past ground techniques were used after the first opponent was fully overwhelmed in order to completely control a second opponent. In comparison to those times Dai-ni High School responds to an attack with ground techniques from the very beginning. This is not a proper thing to do for shinken shobu, extremely cowardly.”

A great controversy grew surrounding this.

We didn’t like ground techniques and we felt that the behavior of Dai-ni High School was underhanded. However, in terms of theory we knew that they were absolutely correct. That is, modern Kodokan Judo is a sport. Therefore, as long as something does not violate the rules of the decided upon method of competition, the goal is to win. Things such as shinken shobu were outside of the equation in this case. Accordingly, I believe that the use of Dai-ichi High School’s weakness in ground techniques to get the win is only reasonable. This problem of ground techniques versus standing techniques is a continuing problem, even today.

However, just delaying to a draw by responding unconsciously with ground techniques lacks an aggressive mindset – there is a great deal there that contradicts the warrior’s “battle to the death without surrender” attitude. And further, the fact is that one can practice throwing techniques for three or four years without developing real skill. In comparison, combining ground techniques with physical strength one can achieve significant results in only six months or a year, so they are very effective when going into competitive matches. What is prized in paired sports is victory in competitive matches rather than shinken shobu, so if the same mental and physical conditioning, sacrifice and effort is necessary to achieve that then I believe that it is best for us to take the route towards ground techniques rather than throwing techniques.

In the midst of those valued words from Kano Sensei that I mentioned before, modern Judo is gradually developing as a sport. Furthermore, I know that there is a dilemma in its gradual separation from shinken shobu (life-or-death attitude/intent.)
 
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I have no experience in Judo but what the Aikikai is doing today is really different from the jujutsu Tomiki is talking about in this letter...

Another really interesting bit is the following one where he explains how (proto-)BJJ got shut down:
Those were two bits I homed in on, as well. He makes good points about how rules affect what’s useful, and how culture affects what’s acceptable.
 

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the begining of the letter adheres to the standard Japanese practice of small chat about the weather and current events that indicate good manners.

the end of the letter he addresses Ueshiba's religion.
this to me would almost be a requirement to separate himself from Omoto given the time period and to whom the letter was written.

from wiki:
"Asano Wasaburō, a teacher at Naval War College (海軍大学校 Kaigun Daigakkō), attracted various intellectuals and high-ranking military officials to the movement in 1916. By 1920 the group had their own newspaper, the Taishō nichinichi shinbun, and started to expand overseas. A great amount of its popularity derived from a method of inducing spirit possession called chinkon kishin, which was most widely practiced from 1919 to 1921. Following a police crackdown, Onisaburō banned chinkon kishin in 1923.
The first "Omoto incident" (Ōmoto jiken), in 1921, was a government intervention. This was followed in 1935 by the "Second Ōmoto Incident", which left its headquarters destroyed and its leaders in captivity. The promotion of kokutai and the Imperial Way resulted in the sect being condemned for worshipping figures other than Amaterasu, which detracted from the figure of the emperor"


Omoto was very much like a personality cult with Onisaburo as the cult leader. it would seem obvious to me since the entire nation was gearing up for WWII with nationalistic pride and a devotion to the emperor that this religion would be in a direct conflict of interest with the government and the military that Tomiki belonged to.

i also found it interesting that he used the term Tode-Jutsu. this is old Okinawan which directly implies Chinese origins. the acknowledgement of karate in the letter seemed to be a negative one.

Given the time frame the entire letter has an under tone of the military nationalism.
"there is a great deal there that contradicts the warrior’s “battle to the death without surrender” attitude."
it reads to me as a subtle nudge to the Admiral to have second thoughts about using karate and judo to promote the military agenda and move towards Aikido as the preferred method. there may even be a hint of self promotion in the letter in hopes that Tomiki would be appointed as the new Director of education for Judo/ Aikido.

all that aside i can understand and agree with Tomiki's evaluation even though i am not a Judo practitioner.
 
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the begining of the letter adheres to the standard Japanese practice of small chat about the weather and current events that indicate good manners.

the end of the letter he addresses Ueshiba's religion.
this to me would almost be a requirement to separate himself from Omoto given the time period and to whom the letter was written.

from wiki:
"Asano Wasaburō, a teacher at Naval War College (海軍大学校 Kaigun Daigakkō), attracted various intellectuals and high-ranking military officials to the movement in 1916. By 1920 the group had their own newspaper, the Taishō nichinichi shinbun, and started to expand overseas. A great amount of its popularity derived from a method of inducing spirit possession called chinkon kishin, which was most widely practiced from 1919 to 1921. Following a police crackdown, Onisaburō banned chinkon kishin in 1923.
The first "Omoto incident" (Ōmoto jiken), in 1921, was a government intervention. This was followed in 1935 by the "Second Ōmoto Incident", which left its headquarters destroyed and its leaders in captivity. The promotion of kokutai and the Imperial Way resulted in the sect being condemned for worshipping figures other than Amaterasu, which detracted from the figure of the emperor"


Omoto was very much like a personality cult with Onisaburo as the cult leader. it would seem obvious to me since the entire nation was gearing up for WWII with nationalistic pride and a devotion to the emperor that this religion would be in a direct conflict of interest with the government and the military that Tomiki belonged to.

i also found it interesting that he used the term Tode-Jutsu. this is old Okinawan which directly implies Chinese origins. the acknowledgement of karate in the letter seemed to be a negative one.

Given the time frame the entire letter has an under tone of the military nationalism.
"there is a great deal there that contradicts the warrior’s “battle to the death without surrender” attitude."
it reads to me as a subtle nudge to the Admiral to have second thoughts about using karate and judo to promote the military agenda and move towards Aikido as the preferred method. there may even be a hint of self promotion in the letter in hopes that Tomiki would be appointed as the new Director of education for Judo/ Aikido.

all that aside i can understand and agree with Tomiki's evaluation even though i am not a Judo practitioner.
Interesting. As is so often the case, it's helpful to know a bit of the culture and what was going on in that culture at the time. Thanks for filling that in!
 

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Interesting. As is so often the case, it's helpful to know a bit of the culture and what was going on in that culture at the time. Thanks for filling that in!

I just picked this old thread up and that letter was very interesting indeed

I picked up on was his mentioning of sport etc and the way I read it he was against what sport was doing to judo. Yet he founded a sport style of Aikido, and he competed in the first judo tournament in front of the Emperor so it leads me to think that he was trying to play both sides of the fence so to speak.

The type of Aikido that Ueshiba was teaching at the time of that letter (if indeed he was teaching Aikido and not Daito ryu or his version of said Aiki-budo could possibly fit with Tomiki's motives and playing on the Admirals views and militaristic leanings (ok we not going to get into the lineage claims)but Daito ryu was (and is) viewed as traditional (Koryu) and as has been mentioned Japan was turning ever more militaristic, I don't know gearing up for WWII necessarily but they certainly were gearing up for the Manchuria campaign. If he was trying to promote himself (in typical roundabout Japanese way) to be appointed as the head of some school or to get the Admiral to get him "in" to teach at the military schools is a fair point as he was due to leave the military (as he points out) I think he actually spent the War in Manchuria and did teach the military there but maybe he was angling for a return to the homeland.
Ueshiba did teach the military (I am sure there is a photo of him posing at one of the Military academies, it might have been the naval one) and I was told that the book Budo that Tomiki refers to was actually given to Military students. Ueshiba did even give a demo for the imperial family (the Uke were Yukawa and none other than Shioda Gozo)

I personally think that Tomiki was trying to get to the Admiral, as he knew the Admiral had massive influence. Tomiki to me was very gifted but ambitious and the reading of that letter to me only confirms that thought. He was in my view showing his ambitions which later would cause a schism in the Aikido world and from Ueshiba and the Aikikai.

Oomoto hmmmm yes that is controversial to say the least and it did seriously affect the course Aikido took post War in Ueshiba's teachings and in his thoughts especially the pacifism side post war, which in a way is contrary to his teachings and who he taught pre war etc. You may already know that Ueshiba landed in the jail and was sentenced to death at one point as he did accompany Onisaburo as his bodygaurd to Mongolia and they basically got in the Sh*T and they got let go and to me the Admiral I personally think would have had a hand in that somewhere. There is still an Oomoto ceremony performed every year at the Aiki shrine and I have seen an interview where they say the family is still Oomoto but they never say that openly.

A very interesting letter indeed
 

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