Interview with Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Moriteru Ueshiba by Stanley Pranin

The Aikikai Hombu is the world’s largest Aikido organization. As the process of internationalization of Aikido continues, organizational structures must expand and adjust to meet increase demands. In this interview, Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Hombu Chief Instructor Moriteru Ueshiba answer questions about the policies and operation of the Aikikai Organization. Originally published in Aiki News #80, April 1989

[The following is a combined version of separate interviews held recently with Kisshomaru Ueshiba Aikido Doshu and Moriteru Ueshiba, Chief Instructor of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo.]

There are frequent inquiries about this subject abroad and therefore I would like to ask you the following question. When an independent dojo in a foreign country wishes to become affiliated with the Hombu Dojo organization, what conditions and procedures are required?

Doshu: It is a matter to be handled by the office, so I’m not directly involved. Please talk to my son, the chief instructor. It seems that there are many such cases. There are some groups which have become independent whose instructors have trained at the Hombu Dojo and which wish to receive ranking from here at a later time. Since Aikido is a path of harmony, we would like them to get along with each other. If everyone were to declare himself the head of a different style, the Aikido world would consist of a number of isolated, rival schools and could not be united. The act of attempting to win recognition only for oneself is against the spirit of harmony and can only be criticized. If the Aikido world becomes united, society’s view of Aikido will become higher. It is important for us to cooperate with each other and make an effort to take a bold leap. This is democracy, isn’t it? A dictatorial approach is unsuitable. I think we should all unite under the banner of Morihei Ueshiba.

Moriteru Ueshiba: First of all, a representative of such a group is required to submit documents providing a brief description of itself including its size and the number of members in the organization to the Hombu. Then, we discuss the matter in a meeting and make a decision. For such cases, our office should be contacted. The use of English is acceptable.

Last year, a group headed by Mitsugi Saotome Sensei in the U.S. called “Aikido Schools of Ueshiba” was admitted to the Hombu Dojo organization. Many have commented that it was a fine decision on the part of Hombu Dojo to allow them back in. Was the group headed by Rod Kobayashi in Los Angeles (Seidokan Aikido previously affiliated with the Ki Society) also readmitted? Are ranks being given to them through Hombu Dojo as well?

Doshu: Although we haven’t gone that far we have contact with him. We should continue on friendly terms with them in the future.

Once a group becomes a member of the Hombu Dojo organization, their method of instruction and techniques will change. In that case, how does Hombu Dojo inform them of the instructional method to be adopted? There are instructional books in Japan, is there anything in English?

Moriteru Ueshiba: Yes. There is an English instructional book based on the books written by Doshu and there are revised editions of it as well. The contents of this book are based on the examination guidelines prepared by Aikikai Hombu. However, they cannot be immediately used abroad. Therefore, they are for reference.

How can a group wishing to become affiliated with Hombu Dojo obtain the necessary guidelines for joining? Can they ask for such information directly without going through the International Aikido Federation?

Moriteru Ueshiba: There are groups recognized by the International Aikido Federation in each country. If one wishes to join the International Federation, he has to first join the organization which is also a member of the International Federation in each country. In the past, there were groups (such as the group of Saotome Sensei) which withdrew from the Aikikai organization and then wished to rejoin. Thus, there are many cases to be considered and I think the circumstances will differ according to each situation.

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