Morihei Ueshiba and Minoru Mochizuki, by Stanley Pranin

Morihei Ueshiba and Minoru Mochizuki, c. 1951

Morihei Ueshiba and Minoru Mochizuki, c. 1951

“It was none other than Kyuzo Mifune Sensei who
was peering at the drenched boy incredulously.”

The budo career of Minoru Mochizuki has been unique in many respects. He began judo training as a child and is still active today at the age of 81 [now 93]. As a young man he had close relationships with some of the towering figures of budo of the day including Jigoro Kano, Kyuzo Mifune and Morihei Ueshiba. In addition, Mochizuki is a man of high intellect whose thinking has been greatly influenced by Kano and Ueshiba as well as numerous writers and philosophers. Let us touch upon the highlights of this exceptional martial artist’s career in this fourth article on aikido history.

Early Career in judo

Minoru Mochizuki was born in 1907 and embarked upon his budo career at the tender age of 5 when he began his practice of judo. As a boy his training also included kendo and a kobudo called Gyokushin-ryu Jujutsu, his eclectic approach to budo already being apparent. In 1926 at age 19, he enrolled at the Kododan and within the brief span of less than two years was promoted to sandan, an outstanding achievement for that time.

Mochizuki relates an amusing story of how he came to the attention of the famous Kyuzo Mifune Sensei while attending “kangeiko” (winter training). It seems that that he was living in Tsurumi at that time and in order to attend the early morning keiko had to set out at 12 midnight. One morning outside the Kodokan, failing to find the bucket he was accustomed to using to wipe off the sweat worked up during the vigorous all-night walk, he jumped into a well breaking the ice which had formed on the surface. When young Mochizuki started to emerge from the well, an unknown hand began pulling him out. It was none other than Mifune Sensei who was peering at the drenched boy incredulously. “What are you doing splashing yourself with cold water? You fool, you’ll ruin your health that way.” Mifune ordered him to stay at his house that evening. He continued to stay on at Mifune’s house thereafter as an uchideshi and learned first-hand the importance of being at the side of one’s master on a 24-hour basis.

Singled Out by Jigoro Kano

Young Judoka, c. 1930

Even though a young man in his prime and full of competitive spirit, Mochizuki also felt a need to engage in spiritual training. A “Classical Martial Arts Research Group” had been established at the Kodokan by Kano and Mochizuki joined. As a result of his involvement in the study of several classical traditions including Katori Shinto-ryu and his unusual ability, Mochizuki was singled out by judo Founder Jigoro Kano. “You have the makings of a leader… In the future you will be a top teacher here at the Kodokan,” were the words of encouragement of the famous Kano. Mochizuki was to report to Kano on a monthly basis on his training progress. This led to a series of meetings where the philosophically-oriented creator of judo attempted to stimulate the mind of young Mochizuki who, at that time, could only think of winning tournaments. Nonetheless, Kano’s observations concerning the true purpose of judo and the pitfalls of sports would later greatly contribute to the theoretical basis of Mochizuki’s own Yoseikan Budo.

Kano, at the invitation of Admiral Isamu Takeshita (the subject of an earlier last article), witnessed a demonstration of the jujutsu form of Morihei Ueshiba in Mejiro in October 1930). Highly impressed, the judo leader arranged for two of his top judo students, one of them being Minoru Mochizuki, to study under Ueshiba.

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