Historical photos: Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei performing the misogi jo, c. 1965 by Stanley Pranin

“A nuboko adorned with jewels was used by Izanami and Izanagi
while standing on the Ame no Ukihashi to ‘stir’ the sea!”

This series of photos shows Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei performing misogi jo movements inside the old Aikikai Hombu Dojo, c. 1965. If you look closely, you will see that he is actually using two separate weapons. One is the familiar jo — a stick a little over four feet long — and the other a pointed weapon of similar length called the “nuboko.” Mention of this nuboko, literally the “swamp spear,” will be new to many aikidoka. Its name comes right out of the Kojiki, the so-called “Record of Ancient Matters,” that contains the mythological creation stories of Japan.

Izanami and Izanagi, charged with creating the first land, stood on the “Ame no Ukihashi” (the floating bridge of heaven). This bridge connects heaven and earth. O-Sensei used this term often in his speech. It represents the sacred place where one performs purification practices, and absorbs the energy of heaven. Aikido itself is misogi and a means to achieve enlightenment.

A nuboko adorned with jewels was used by Izanami and Izanagi while standing on the Ame no Ukihashi to “stir” the sea, and the drops of salt water that fell from its tip formed the first land mass of the Japanese islands. So goes the legend.

Briefly then, this type of misogi practice performed by O-Sensei reflects his Shinto beliefs, the lens through which the Founder viewed the world, and his mission in creating and spreading aikido.


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