Remembering Takuma Hisa, by Stanley Pranin

Takuma Hisa executes Daito-ryu throw c. 1939

“Equally puzzling was the reaction of Morihei Ueshiba to
Sokaku’s sudden appearance at the Asahi office. “

It is a daunting task to attempt to define the role of Takuma Hisa within the context of the overlapping histories of aikido and Daito-ryu aikijujutsu. The dynamics of Hisa’s associations with Morihei Ueshiba and Sokaku Takeda, two giants of modern Japanese martial arts history, are little understood. This is because Hisa was caught in an awkward situation resulting from the sometimes bizarre relationship between Ueshiba and Takeda. Hence, a principal aim of this essay will be to clarify Hisa’s relationships with his two teachers and stimulate a reevaluation of his great contribution to the aiki arts.

Background and early career

Hisa was born November 3, 1895 in Sakihama village in Kochi Prefecture on the island of Shikoku. In 1915, he entered Kobe Business School (present-day Kobe University) where he majored in business. Hisa was the captain of his college sumo club and one year won the All-Kansai Student Sumo Championship.

Upon graduation, Hisa first joined a business firm that soon went bankrupt. In 1927, he entered the general affairs department of the Tokyo home office of the Asahi News with an introduction from a university senior named Mitsujiro Ishii who was also employed by the newspaper. Ishii (1889-1981) was first a journalist, then a department head with the Asahi News, and later rose to prominence in the field of politics and was one of the founders of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party.

Hisa as university sumo champion

The Asahi News had come under attack by lobbyists and right-wing activists due to an editorial mistake in March 1928 concerning the death of an imperial prince. Hisa assumed responsibility for the security operations of the General Affairs office by special order of bureau chief Ishii. This was surely due in no small part to Hisa’s background in sumo and love for the martial arts. Hisa performed the task of tightening security at the Tokyo office well and, in 1932, he was rewarded with a promotion and transferred to the Osaka office of the Asahi News.

Meeting Morihei Ueshiba

It was during this period in Osaka that Hisa first met Morihei Ueshiba through an introduction from Mitsujiro Ishii. Hisa’s association with this jujutsu master would have a defining effect on the development of both aikido and Daito-ryu aikijujutsu. Hisa describes the circumstances of his meeting Ueshiba in these words

“In the spring of 1933, the bureau chief of the Asahi News sales office, Mr. Mitsujiro Ishii, who is presently the Minister of Justice, introduced us to Morihei Ueshiba Sensei, vouching for him as an expert on a par with the founder of judo [a reference to Jigoro Kano]. He recommended to the person in charge of security that we learn aikijujutsu from Ueshiba Sensei. Mr. Ishii was a leading figure at the Asahi News and had tremendous influence, so while it was supposedly a “recommendation,” it was really more like a supreme command. Since those of us in the General Affairs section were responsible for security, we very much welcomed Ueshiba Sensei, and we began learning at the Asahi Budo Dojo.”

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