Tuesday, May 11, 2010

7 wonders of Daito Ryu AikiJujutsu

As a scholar on aiki martial arts and history, I thought this article was an interesting one. It originally appeared in Japanese.  The original pages.  link 1  link 2

Sokaku Takeda
Seven Wonders of Daito-ryu Aikijujutu

Now, I have been keep making useless rants so I will get back to my initial intention and write something serious.

Now, our renowned Daito-ryu aikijujitu has seven unresolved enigma. So let me name this "Seven Wonders of Daitoryu. It is even better than Seven Wonders of the World!!

Wonder 1 - Who is the real founder?

Wonder 2 - How Aiki was created?

Wonder 3 - What was the entire system like?

Wonder 4 - Why the content of Transmision book do not match the actual transmission/demonstration?

Wonder 5 - Where has the vast instruction fees has disappeared to?

Wonder 6 - How good was Soukaku, really?

Wonder 7 - Who was the real successor?

Wonder 1 - Who is the real founder?

As everyone know, any Daitoryu related writing would grandly state that "Daitoryu was founded by Shinra Saburou Minamoto Yoshimitu, Transimitted by Takeda Family of Kai to Aizu Han (Clan), preserved as secret palace arts (Oshikiuchi) by high ranking samurai, and revealed to the world by Takeda Sokaku". However, as a definite historical fact, evidence of Oshikiuchi being practiced in Aizu feudal province is nonexistence. As far as historical investigation goes, To deny something which has existed is difficult but, in reverse, to state the existence of something which didn't exist can be done infinitely. There are even some people who fabricate entire Transmission Scroll. Aren't these people really desparate for credibility, are they? I can't understand this kind of thinking.

Firstly, the issue of whether Daitoryu had existed before Takeda Sokaku, at this present point, the possibility of existence is close to zero. Styles which had been practiced in Aizu Feudal Province at the time of Bakumatu (The End of Shogunate) has been made public by detailed research of Mr Ken Takahash and name of Daitoryu or Oshikiuchi is nowhere to be seen. But it is probable that style which became the basis of Daitoryu has existed. Shihan Kinbei Satou of Daiwodo, while he was alive, has proposed hypothesis that Asayama Ichiden ryu became the basis of Daitoryu, and certainly, gyaku-waza have parts which is similar, so this hypothesis has some validity.

Those Takeda Sokaku studied under, if one list in order of learning, are Soukichi Takeda the father (Staff, Sumo), Souemon Takeda, the grandfather (Jujitu), Dengoro Kurokouch (experts in various styles), Touma Shibutani (Onoha Itto Ryu), Kenkichi Sakakibara (Jiki Shinkage ryu), Shyunzou Momoi (Kagami Shinmeich Ryu), Gonemon Sakai (Honshin Kyouchi ryu Kensou Jutu ), and Tanomo Saigou (Rename himself to Chikatoku Hoshina after restoration, Mizoguchi ha Itto ryu, others unknown). Now, the jujitu taught by grandfather is not known. After quite while, when Sokaku started to live in Hokkaido, Rinzou Itabashi, a old fried from the same province came to visit, saw Soukaku's aiki techniques and said, "It's different from Yawara you have been doing previously", Sokaku is said to have replied "this I learned from Hoshina-san (Chikatoku Hoshina)". Presumably, "Yawara you have been doing" my refer to the Jujitu taught by his grandfather. And, it may be possible that he has learned some sort of jujitu from Dengoro Kurokouchi. If that is the case, to think it simply, it follows that these jujitu style ought to be regarded as separate from current Daitoryu and "Techniques/Skills taught by Hoshina" is what is regarded as Daitoryu. Unfortunately, it is actually far more subtle matter.

First, the time previously mentioned person of Rinzou Itabashi visited was 1915 and at this year people like Koutarou Yoshida or Morihei Ueshiba entered the gate of the school. And in previous year, Munenori Kougi Sakawa (at the time 12 years old) entered the gate, and to judge from the techniques of these people, it seems that Sokaku has stopped teaching the techniques in accordance with the Transmission Scroll. If techniques seen by Mr Sakabashi are such, It cannot be the case that said "Technique taught by Hoshina" = Daitoryu. If techniques written in Transmission Scroll is not the one taught by Chikatoku Hoshina, Daitoryu cannot be discussed with chikatoku Hoshina alone.

On the side note, Munenori Sakawa proposed rather more appropriate theory by saying "I think, in actuarity, Takeda Sensei made it (Daitoryu). If you see the photograph of Tanomo Saigou, one can't possible think he done aiki. Those who trained and those who didn't show difference even in the way they sit. May be learned few kata but still I think Takeda Sensei invented it. Something this difficult cannot possibly be transmitted from the past." . The reason why this theory is the most appropriate, to explain it in order, firstly, it seems that Daitoryu had not been established as a style at the time of Soukaku. Now to explain what does it meant to be established as a style, as far as Japan is concerned, at first, this means that kata containing the tactics and strategy of battlefield skills had to be complied as teaching method. On the other hand, in case of Sokaku, he only taught the sequence of techniques. Kata in Koryu start from Reihou (sequence of paying respect), approach each other from a far, apply a technique as they enter maai (distance), and end with Zanshin so initial Reihou to final Zanshi complise the complete kata set. In fact, in kata, the movement before the application of technique is more important because with this one train the feeling of maai and/or metuke (eyeing) and such, but the content Soukaku taught lack this part for some reason. (At least, Daitoryu not having Reihou or Shitugyou {Translator, or Shitukou} is definite due to the testimony of Munenori Sakawa). Current mode of demonstration kata are created later.

Plus, jujitu which has been transmitted to Meiji Era though Edo period, always transmit teaching of Ogusoku (or Kogaisoku, Translator). This is reminant of Armoured grappling but Daitoryu completely lack the idea of Ogusoku. Even those style which was created during Meiji Era, such as Shin Kage ryu Jujitu still kept kata containing the transmission of battlefield skills and is quite obvious that it has succeded the Ogusoku teaching of Tenshin Shinyou ryu. However, not only Daitoryu completely lack this, it even has technique such as Shinou Nage which goes against the technical logic of Ogusoku. Now, you are not going to tell me that Shomenuchi (Frontal chop) presuppose frontal katana strike and atemi (strike) to side rib means strike between the crevice of amour so it is Ogusoku, are you? The basis of Ogusoku and Armoured grappling is Wakizashi (short sword/Long knife) combat. (This is common sence of Kobudou). To add side note, "Te toki", a technique to free the hand which has been gripped come from the Ogusoku concept (as originally it was technique to free the gripped Wakizashi hand/wrist then cut). But in technique of Ryote tori (Both hand being gripped) in Daitoryu is completely different concept and it somehow more natural to consider it as to transferring the skill of central breakthrough when you have sword. (I will explain this further in latter part).

To add one more, at the time Sokaku was teaching, technique had no name. Sokaku was illiterate so he had great difficulty reading and writing and all the Transmission Scroll was done by an amanuensis. Then what did this person(s) who wrote it for Sokaku copied from? If Soukaku received Daitoryu from Kintoku Hoshina, then as a matter of course, writing mode and content of the Transmission Book had to be based on the Transmission book given by Kintoku Hoshina but it is difficult to think this way. Rather it is more natural to think that it was oral dictation of Sokaku. To say further, it is said that Sokaku wrote Daitoryu in kanji then made it to be read as "Yamato-ryu" but at about 1915, following the advice of Kotaro Yoshida, he made it to be read as Daitoryu, and this is another evidece of not being established as a style.

Another matter which is mysterious in Daitoryu's Transmission scroll is its line of lineage. Line of lineage listed at the end of the Transmission scroll shows, Emperor Seiwa - Prince Sadasumi - Minamot Tunemoto - Mitunaka - Yorinobu - Yoriyoshi - Yoshimitu (Shinra Saburou) - Takeda Yoshikiyo - Nobuyoshi - (10 generations) Nobumitu - Nobuyoshi - Kunitugu - (10th generation decendants) - Takeda Souuemon - Takeda Sokaku but then where the number 36th line of succession claimed by previous Soke Tokimune come from? For example, in "Encycropedia of Bugei ryu" , from Takeda Nobumitu to Nobutuna, seven generations are abbreviated, and from Takeda Nobushige, three generations are abbreviated, from there, the name Takeda Nobutora - Ohigashi (read as Daitou) Hisanosuke are added to reach Kunitugu, from Kunitugu to Gonzaemon, then abbreviation of 12 generation to connect to Takeda Souumemon. If you add all of this, it is actually 36th generations so it's all makes sence, does it? Hey hey, wait a minute. If that is the case, it doesn't match the previously listed line of lineage in the transmission scroll. Plus, the name Ohigashi Hisanosuke appeared after Showa era (1925-1989) and the validity as to whether this person really existed is greatly suspect. It is quite obvious that line of lineage in the transmission scroll has been borrowed by Soukaku from his own family line of lineage, i.e. from Seiwa Genji through Takeda clan of Kai to his generation. The reason for the absence of Saigou Tanomo's or Hoshina Kintoku's names seem to be this.

In turn, theory was proposed that Daitoryu was actually transmitted from Sokaku's grandfather Souuemon, then adding Oshikiuchi which was taught by Hoshina Kintoku, Soukaku newly changed Daitoryu Jujitu to Daitoryu Aiki Jiujitu. But this theory is not right either. Because if this is true, why the lineage list left by Sokaku lack any writing of his grandfather? For the record, I was allowed to check the lineage list, all preserved in the house of current Soke, Takeda Masanobu Shihan, but in start, it say monjin (inside gate student) of Onoha Itto ryu Shibuya Touma, Takeda Sokaku and there is nothing written about anything before that. As far as it can be seen from this, it only show that Sokaku received Transmission Licence (Menkyo) of Onoha Itto ryu from Shibuya Touma, another licence from Hoshina Kintoku. Then, it turn out that only lincence (menkyo) Soukaku obtained is from two of Shibuya Touma and Hoshina Kintoku. In such case, this will completely contradict the previously listed lineage line in the transmission scroll.

Then, what did Sokaku learned from Hoshina Kintoku? The note left by previous Soke Tokimune contains writing of Kumitachi (Translator, Kumi-Cross Tachi-Sword, don't know what that mean) but this is definitely taught by Hoshina Kintoku. And it may be possible that he learnt jujutu technique which became the basis of inspiration for Daitoryu. On the other hand, techniques such as Shihou Nage or Yonkajyou cannot be seen in other styles. Then big question is how these thing came about. For this, I will write in other article. Anyway, it is quite safe to consider the actual founder to be Takeda Sokaku.

Wonder 2. How Aiki was born?

In other article, I have written that Aiki is Kenjutu concept which was applied to Taijutu. But this conclusion comes from analysing aiki itself afterward. So the question is how Sokaku created Aiki as a technique. How did he manage to transfer the concept of sword work into art of unarmed combat?

The key to this secret is in the structure of aiki, especially in the most basic aiki-age-ryote tori in zaho. I have explained that this technique is to attack neck while both of your hand being restrained. In this technique in fact the same principle as the principle of Sankakuku (or Tenshin seiden) in sword style such as Mutoryu are at work. Sankakuku (Triangle) point to you eyes, your opponent's throat and your tanden which form triangle lines. In Mutoryu, you must draw the line from tanden to throat by your sword. That is when you take stance of seigan, the bottom of sword is at the height of tanden, the tip of the sword is at the height of throat and you charge at your enemy by lining your eyes, tanden and the tip of the sword together. So if you switch the body of sword to opponent arm (i.e. the direction of attack), the tip of sword as the opponent throat, then technique get transformed to aikiage. In zaho, restrained hand is at the height of tanden, so you collapse the structure from tanden through arm to the throat, and metuke (eyeing) is basically at opponent's throat. That is basically same as thrusting the tip of the sword into the throat from the bottom, and the principle of stance is exactly same as Sankakuku of Muto-ryu. So the question is where did Sokaku learned the concept of Sankakuku? If Sankakuku was in Mutouryu, then it is probably safe to assume that the same concept existed in Ittoryu. For that matter, even in Hokushin Ittoryu, there is concept which correspond with Sankaku. In this style, in seigan stance, by placing the bottom of sword in front of tanden, it emphasise placing one's mind to tanden. In such case, one could speculate that Sokaku might have learned this from Shibuya Toma. Moreover, the basic stance of forward stance are probably obtained from Ittoryu as well.

At that period, Onoha ittoryu was spread around entire country and shinai (bamboo sword) had started to become large part of training. Even in Sokaku's sword exploit, there are many challenge match using shinai. So if Sokaku obtained Sankakuku and forward stance from Shibuya Toma in Youkikan dojo, within dojo, they probably maintained style much closer to older one.

On the other hand, teaching of Sankakuku does not exist in Onoha ittoryu of tugaru line. Seigan in Tugaru line of Onoha ittoryu, elbow is stretched forward without locked out and have deep hip stance and the tip of the sword are height of the eyes and the bottom of the sword is at the height of Suigetu. So it is very aggressive Seigan. So which of this seigan comes first? I personally was greatly troubled by this. And I haven't reached conclusion on this matter. But previously mentioned teaching of Sankakuku has common thread with Nenryu's teaching of Taichuken, plus if you slide the sword forward in the line of sword, it will naturally become seigan of Tugaru line of Onoha Ittoryu so I'm supposing that there was some form of transmission relating to Sankakku in the past.

So if the basic principle of aikiage is based on Sankakuku of Mutouryu, where that special body movement when you apply Aiki come from. To say the conclusion first, I think it come from staff training of Choku shinkage ryu. The reason for this is that the way one move body in aikiage is exactly same as the way you swing the staff, plus to apply aiki to anyone accurately require strength of hip and the purpose of staff training was to train not arm but to train hip and back. (If so, it is easy to see why Sakawa Souhan has swing iron bar every day). The staff exercise of Choku shinkage ryu was invented by Sakakibara Kenkichi and everyone who entered the school are forced to do this practice. At the time of Sakakibara Kenkichi's dojo, the core of training was staff exercise and jigeiko and the current training routine such as Houtei or Tou no Kata was not being practiced then. Sokaku was uchideshi (inside student) of Sakakibara Kenkichi for two years so he no doubt has practice staff every day. Even at old age, Sokaku had the strength of hip to lift big man, and this strength probably come from staff exercise.

Wonder 3. What was the entire content of Daitoryu system like?

Densho left by Sokaku are, Hiden Mokuroku, Aiki no Jutu, Hi Ogi, Kaishyaku Souden, Kaiden. But it is not like all of these densho was there from the beginning. When Sokaku first permitted Kyoju Dairi, there were only Hiden Mokuroku and Hiden Ogi. From there different densho has been added in time and eventually reach the current collection. As I stated previously, this is one of evidence that Daitoryu wasn't completely established as one whole system.

At current point, it is know that only Ueshiba Morihei Okina received Aiki-no-Jutsu. Only Hisa Takuma Shihan and Toneyakata Masao Shihan received Kaiden. If you take this at face value, since only these two has received kaiden, these two must know the entire content of Daitoryu system. (but this is also subtle matter. Hisa Shihan received Kaiden and Hiden Ogi without receiving Hiden Mokuroku). The reason that only Morihei Okina received Aiki no Jutsu is unknown but you could think it as sign that Morihei Okina was considered as really important prospective member. So would it be reading too much if I suppose that Hisa Shihan who had studied under Morihei Okina was taught something which wasn't even give to Morihei Okina, i.e. Kaiden techniques (or more like creating entire new technical collections). When Morihei Okina claimed his own style, it is said that Sokaku has gone berserk so this might explain why.

But anyway, more important fact is that, currently there is no one who has studied entire transmission of Daitoryu. Both Hisa Shinan and Toneyakata shinan who received Kaiden has not awarded Kaiden to anyone. Techniques are written in densho so if you learned all technique in Kaiden does it mean you have received Kaiden as in the sense that you have learned the entire content of the system? But this is not necessarily the case. Those 88 kajyo technique in Kaiden is the highest among densho but in actual transmission (Jituden) are these technique the highest or is there any other technique higher than these technique in actual transmission? Therefore, at current state, the content of Daitoryu's entire system are lost. It is possible to recover it partially from Densho but it is impossible to eliminate the personal interpretation of interpreter in such case so cannot be regarded as true authentic transmission.

At current point, all Daitoryu styles do not reveal the entire teaching curriculum. Actually, even among shihans, there are more people who do not know the entire content of their own system than people who do. Because the entire content of the system is lost, there are number of cases where all sort of personal interpretation and distortion get added to the system. (Opps)

Wonder 4. Why the contents of transmission writing (densho) do not match the actual transmission?

This is another difficult question. It is related to wonder three. Currently, there is no school which teach technique exactly according to actual densho given by Sokaku. This is another aspect of Daitory which is decisively different from other Kobudou. Strictly speaking, Okami Kaneyoshi sensei practice techniques in Soden 11 series exactly the same. But other than that, there are no one who practice technique according to the content of Hiden Mokuroku or Hiden Ogi.

To begin with, Soden 11 series is said to be compilation Morihei Ueshiba Okina's Akatukiryu jujutu and Sokaku's Daitoryu's technique being immediately photographed after the lesson. But there is a theory that majority of technique are in fact from Sokaku. As of myself, when I first time visited Okami Sensei, I was allowed to look into Soden 11 series and it included many rather complex and mysterious technique and these technique tend to concentrate in earlier part than later part, so it can be inferred that majority of technique come from Sokaku. Anyway, Soden 11 series is the only exact record of Sokaku's technique so it is reasonably to assume that Daitoryu's techniques was changing all the time and Sokaku's perspective has shifted through time. Therefore, it is likely that teaching was done according to densho in earlier period but later, the arts moved away slowly from the entire idea of kata/form and, on the other hand, perfection of technique through Aiki has been added. Sakawa Sohan testified that when he was learning, "Takeda sensei never taught through kata" so exact teaching was different from densho and the main teaching core was in aiki technique. Kaisyaku Soden was created after Showa. But because the technique and entire focus of arts has shifted while at the same time passing of Densho was according to the manner of previous writing, so this seems to have cause the difference between the content of densho and actual transmission in practice.

Moreover, if one read Hiden Mokuroku, contents of technique are usually not as different as other koryu jujitu. Plus, in Mokuroku, it is written not as Aiki Jujutu but as Daitoryu Jujitu so one could interpret this as the sign that Sokaku taught Aiki and Jujitu separately. In fact, Sato kanji Shihan who entered the school in Meiji 35 was told by Sokaku "I won't teach you Aiki but I will teach you Jujutu". What Sokaku really mean by that. Did he really consider jujutsu and aiki separate entity? I do not think so. It is rather difficult to think that fundamental principle differ from Sho Den to O den. Rather it is more reasonable to see it as technical change through period. That is Sokaku introduced limit to the teaching content of Shoden only AFTER he perfected and established Aiki as seprate skill.

Furthermore, technique commonly known as ikkajyo or nikajyo is not in densho. So this type of categorising technique probably was introduced relatively in later period. According to Yamamoto Ittosai sensei, Sokaku was calling the technique equivelant to ikkajyo as Itoretu, nikajyo as nitoretu. Anyway, since these things do not appear in Densho, it seems to be categorization invented for convenience. Currently, each shiden and shihan do not have the same categorization of ikkajyo and nikajyo. Some of it seems to even have influence from aikido or hakko ryu. To make the matter more interesting, the number of technique under this categorisation has gone up after the death of Sokaku and so I find it rather comical to think that you are at higher level of daitoryu if you know the technique with higher number. The reason such funny situation arise is primary because no one really know entire system of Daitoryu. (Opps, I shouldn't have said that.)

Wonder 5. Where that massive lesson fees has disappeared to?

This is really unsolvable. There are 20 plus people to receive Kyoju dairi. To receive Kyoju Dairi, initially you needed up to Hiden Ogi, then later you needed Hi Ogi as well. The lesson fee for Hi Ogi was several hundred yen. In current term, it is about several million yen (about several 10 thousand dollar). He futher demanded each student Kyoju dairi teach 3 yen (about 300 dollar) membership fee. So Sokaku must have received amount of money where he can play around for all he want. Moreover, for those two who received Kaiden, Sokaku took six thousand yen (600 thousand dollar) each for lesson fees. To begin with, why did Sokaku needed to take that kind of massive amount of money in the first place.

As of money, he asked massive amount of donation from Horikawa Suemichi Shihan. According to the story, Sokaku said "I'm going to built my own bronze statute so I need the building cost. If you do, I will give you Menkyo Kaiden" so Horikawa apparently paid it. So far, there is no story of Sokaku's bronze statue being built and the promises of Horikawa receiving Menkno Kaiden has just went nowhere. So what did Sokaku use money for which he collected by doing all these things? Some people joked that he spend it on drinking and whoring but at that period, it is impossible to spend several 10 million yen of money into such activities. In that case, did he invest money somewhere. In such case, there is possibility of massive secret treasure of Sokaku hidden somewhere in Japan.

Wonder 6. What is the real skill level of Sokaku?

How good Takeda Sokaku really was as budoka?. The art Sokaku was best at was sword so there are many story related to his sword exploit. One of it is Nihonmatu, incident. In earlier part of Meiji Era at the place called Nihonmatu in Fukushima Province, he fought against 30 builders with sword. He was injured but he managed to cut 8 to 9 people and escaped. So as far as sword goes, if he really managed to pull off something like that, he must have been rather exceptional swordman. Other than that, he competed in many challenge match and he seems to have near flawless record. When he fought against Shimoe Shyutaro know as japan's number one master of thrust (tsuki), sokaku quickly manage to hit grobe. After that the match was said to go into stalemate. So even in Shinai match (bamboo sword match, i.e. kendo), he was one of the best in Japan.

Then, how good was he in jujutu, i.e. unarmed combat. Unfortunately, record of Sokaku having challenge match with other budoka in unarmed combat is very little. As far as known, one story of him winning against Okinawan karateka in Kyushu and another one at frail age of 80 where he fought against middle aged judo shihan who Sokaku threw away flying. Within Lineage list, there are name of Judo and jujitsu shihan so Sokaku may have fought against these judoka and defeated them before them entering Daitoryu. But compare to his sword exploit, there are very little. Even about the match with karateka, authencity of the story is quite suspect and even if the story is true, we don't know the skill level of this karateka so you can't judge Sokaku's skill in unarmed combat from this. Plus, Sokaku was active from Meiji to early Showa period and at that time, Karate wasn't that common so it is unlikely to think that Sokaku prepared himself for striking tactic of karate. At that time, general strategy of unarmed fight involved throwing after grappling or punching after grappling so that is the situtation jujutu technique were aiming at.

Moreover, there is a theory of Sokaku travelling Okinawa according to "Sokaku ryurou" by Imano so in that case, it is not far off to assume some connection to karate. But if such is the case, there should be some influence of karate if not in the attack technique but at least in defence against karate type strategy such as frontal kick. But, after his supposed trip to Okinawa, Daitoryu's presumed defence strategy only added ushiro ryote tori, Kata tori and yokomenuchi to toguchi of koryu. So even though there are change/addition to technique, there is no indication of karate influence. (As of yokomenuchi, it is quite obvious that it took inspiration from sword work. This can be seen from how the response to yokomenuchi works.) That is why I said match with karateka in Kyushu is rather dubious.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that Sokaku was exceptional swordman but his skill in unarmed combat is unknow.

Just to add to this, the previously mentioned book, "Sokaku ryurou", it state that some judoka choked Sokaku, but in the said book there are too much unrealistic martial arts myth/bravado stories so this story too is dubious.

Wonder 7. Who was the true successor?

The Last wonder. Who was the person Sokaku wished to be the successor?

Before discussing anything, there is issue about whether Sokaku really was thinking about passing his arts to be properly passed on as style (ryuha). Was he thinking in term of sole successor which is not uncommon in Koryu Budo. Personally, I don't think Sokaku was thinking in that term. This is because Daitory never really been established as style and sort of developed and perfected by Sokaku way up to his later part of his life.

As previously stated, Sokaku produced 20 plus Kyoju Dairi, two Kaiden and he gave Yamamoto Ittosai sensei (Kyouju Dairi) the title "Soushu" and a sword and a Purple Emblem. It seems that just like his technique has changed, he didn't really maintain consistent idea about successor.

Probably, Sokaku's idea was not sole-successor-system but more like licencing system. That is those who received Kyouju dairy are responsible for instructing those follow aiki path and he probably didn't have intention to pass on his arts to only one person.

So the debate about who is the true sucessor or who got the true transmission is rather pointless. As long as one can trace his or her learning to Sokaku, everyone is true sucessor whose aiki expression differ with their personal interpretation. That is my view.

Here it's end. I stressed that it's my *personal* opinion. I'm not claiming I'm 100% right da most correct man in the whole universe. Just think it as someone raising interesting topics for the future discussion.

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