Founder of Aikido (37): Manchukuo and the Noted Sumo Wrestler Tenryu by Kisshomaru Ueshiba

Tenryu (1903-1989)

From Aiki News #66 (February 1985)

The following is a chapter summary printed with the kind permission of Mr. Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Aikido Doshu based on the original Japanese text which was published in 1977.

Manchukuo was founded in 1932, and though I don’t wish to discuss the politics of it here, the Founder had both a direct and an indirect relationship with Manchukuo. He was an advisor to the Manchukuo Martial Art Society and to the Shinbuden Budo Training Center, as well as a martial arts advisor at Kenkoku University. The number of his acquaintances among the military, government and people of Manchukuo becomes quite large if we include everyone related to the spread of aikido there.

Manchuria and Mongolia were emotion-filled places for the Founder. He was called a “soldier kamisama (deity)” when he went there during the Russo-Japan War (1904-5) and, later, he survived the ill-fated expedition there with Master Onisaburo Deguchi of the Omoto Religion. Thus his feelings toward this area must have been quite different from most Japanese in Manchuria.

Demonstrations in Manchukuo

In April of 1942, a martial arts demonstration was held there to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the “Founding of the Nation.” The demonstration took place in the great dojo of the Shinbuden, and “Emperor” Puyi (“The Last Emperor”), the Prime Minister, and other military and government dignitaries as well as famous civilians attended as guests. Only the greatest Japanese experts and masters of the day were invited to demonstrate. Of course the Founder was among them. A high level of skill was exhibited, and the Founder attracted the interest of all. This was partly because not very many people had actually seen his art despite the Founder’s fame. Emperor Pu-yi is said to have been the first to stand to give his applause.

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