Interview with Kenji Tomiki (2) by Stanley Pranin

“WThe spirit that is facing death needs to possess a
certain philosophy if it is not to lose its balance or composure.”

From Aiki News #44 (January 1982)

The following is the second and concluding part of an interview conducted with Professor Kenji Tomiki in January of 1974 at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan.

Aiki News: I have a much clearer background now, a much clearer understanding of why Kano Sensei formulated and modernized the jujutsu techniques and what his goals were. And I also understand your efforts to modernize the jujutsu forms to work from a greater distance, rather than grappling. Could you, in the time we have remaining, talk about what it was that brought Kano Sensei, Ueshiba Sensei and yourself together? What made you spend time with each other to talk about budo? Was it true that Kano Sensei sent some of the top judo people to study aikido with Ueshiba Sensei? What was it about his art that was important? What was the association like in that period of time?

Tomiki: Well, yes, it was in the fall of 1927 that Ueshiba Sensei left the Omoto-kyo Headquarters in Ayabe and came up to Tokyo. That was just at the time I was a graduate student at Waseda University, and I acted as his uke, or actually, he made sure I took the ukemi! (Laughter)

Anyway, it was Admiral Takeshita who brought Ueshiba Sensei and Kano Sensei together. This Mr. Takeshita later became a deshi of Ueshiba Sensei.

Commander Isamu Takeshita strolling with President Theodore Roosevelt in Washington, D.C. c. 1905

You may remember that American President Theodore Roosevelt had acted as a go-between in mediating an end to the Russo-Japanese War. He was at that time pro-Japan and he became aware of the existence of jujutsu here in Japan, and actually became very interested in spreading it in America. He invited Kano Sensei’s number one student, a man named Yoshiaki Yamashita to come to America and teach judo. The person who acted as contact man for all of this was Admiral Takeshita. Later this same Takeshita invited Ueshiba Sensei to come up to Tokyo.


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