From Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu to Aikido: “The Noma Dojo photos capture a technical revolution!”

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“The control, positioning, perfect balance, attention to detail, and many other subtleties revealed in the Noma Dojo photos reflect a deep mastery of Daito-ryu.”

In 1936, an historic event took place that provides a clear snapshot of the techniques of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba at this stage of his career. The Founder, together with his devoted uchideshi Shigemi Yonekawa, were photographed performing hundreds of Aiki Budo techniques, running the gamut from basic to advanced. The Noma photos are full of complex joint-locks and pins and retain many of the characteristics of Daito-ryu aikijujutsu techniques. These images capture the Morihei Ueshiba during a transition phase on his path toward the development of modern aikido.

Those who have described Morihei’s study of Daito-ryu aikijujutsu as brief and superficial are left with the task of explaining how he could have such a profound knowledge of Daito-ryu techniques. The control, positioning, perfect balance, attention to detail, and many other subtleties revealed in the Noma Dojo photos reflect a deep mastery of Daito-ryu.

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There are over 1,000 surviving Noma Dojo photos comprising two separate collections that were united in the late 1980s. Aikido Journal will publish the entire series over time. This is a major project in which we would like to interview the entire aikido community. We will maintain an ongoing dialog on how to prepare, organize, and disseminate this collection to insure its survival intact for coming generations of aikido practitioners.

As we publish each photo, we would like to request that readers submit any technical or other comments they might have to provide context for the image and facilitate efforts to reconstruct this wonderful technical legacy!

Please submit your comments below!

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The Morihei Ueshiba Founder’s Course is O-Sensei’s video legacy starting in 1935 and covering a span of 34 years until just before his passing in 1969. Besides the more than 30 films of the Founder, the course includes three rare audio interviews of O-Sensei with complete subtitles. These are wonderfully intimate conversations with the Founder that convey his bright personality, playfulness and sincerity. In addition, the course includes a series of video documentaries by Stanley Pranin on the life of the Founder and the spread of his art worldwide.

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