Morihei Ueshiba’s “Budo” Complete Collection
This set includes (1) Morihiro Saito’s 43-minute video recreating all of the 50 techniques of “Budo” in high resolution, (2) Saito Sensei’s illustrated textbook titled “Budo: Commentary on Morihei Ueshiba’s 1938 Training Manual” in PDF format, and (3) a PDF facsimilie copy of the original Japanese book. Price: $24.95
Aikido Journal has created a definitive set of 3 downloadable source materials that thoroughly document Morihei Ueshiba’s 1938 Training Manual titled “Budo.” This set includes (1) Morihiro Saito’s 43-minute video recreating all of the 50 techniques of “Budo” in high resolution, (2) Saito Sensei’s illustrated textbook titled “Budo: Commentary on Morihei Ueshiba’s 1938 Training Manual” in PDF format, and (3) a PDF facsimilie copy of the original Japanese book.
Contents of Budo
Budo measures 18 x 26.7 cm and contains 50 pages divided into two parts. The first section consists of a one-page composition titled “Dobun” (Essay of the Way), followed by 26 doka (songs or poems), a two-page table of contents, and an eight-page essay titled “The Essence of Techniques.” The second part presents 50 techniques demonstrated by Morihei Ueshiba in 119, 5.3 cm square photographs. The technical material covered includes preparatory exercises, basic techniques, knife (tantodori) and sword-taking techniques (tachidori), sword vs. sword forms (ken tai ken), mock-bayonet (juken) techniques, and finishing exercises (shumatsu dosa). Budo is the only work on aikido -— Ueshiba’s art was actually called aiki budo at this stage — in which the Founder personally appears demonstrating techniques. Ueshiba’s training partners in the book are his son Kisshomaru, Gozo Shioda—who would later create Yoshinkan Aikido—and a third man named Okubo about whom little is known.
The circumstances surrounding the publication of Budo were alluded to briefly in a 1987 interview I conducted with Kisshomaru Ueshiba, the son of the Founder. He remarks, “Budo was published as a textbook when my father was teaching Prince Kaya. For that reason, a staff officer came to take pictures. My father didn’t give this book as a license, but presented it to those intellectuals who practiced very hard at the dojo and to those by whom he was helped in his daily life.” (see Aiki News 79, p. 35, January 1988) The specifics of the association between the Founder and Prince Kaya are not known.
From a technical standpoint, Budo offers numerous insights into the prewar martial art of Morihei Ueshiba. It provides a capsule view of those techniques that Ueshiba considered the basics and the way they were executed in the mid-1930s. The technical descriptions offered are succinct and highly instructive. As Budo was published in 1938, the techniques covered represent a transition phase between the Daito-ryu aikijujutsu Ueshiba learned from Sokaku Takeda and modern aikido. Several basic techniques covered in the manual — for example, ikkyo, iriminage, and shihonage — already bear a close similarity to those taught by the Founder in the postwar period in Iwama. It was during these years — roughly 1945-1955 — that Ueshiba reached a level of mastery such that he could spontaneously execute techniques in any situation. This he called “Takemusu Aiki,” the Aiki that spawns infinite techniques.
Surprising to some will be the large number of techniques included in Budo that are performed with weapons. Fully one-third of the book features techniques executed using the knife, sword, spear and mock-bayonet. There are a number of identifiable influences that bear on the inclusion of these weapon techniques. One is the fact that Ueshiba was at the very time of the compilation of Budo experimenting with the sword techniques of the Kashima Shinto-ryu school. The manual includes several suburi movements derived from Kashima paired-sword (kumitachi) practices. Ueshiba, together with Zenzaburo Akazawa, formally enrolled in this 500-year-old classical tradition based in Kashima, Ibaragi Prefecture in 1937. Although Ueshiba never actually practiced at the Kashima dojo, instructors from the school visted Ueshiba’s dojo once a week for about a year to teach a few students including Akazawa and Ueshiba’s son, Kisshomaru. Ueshiba would keenly observe these special training sessions and then practice on his own with students such as his son and Akazawa who had taken lessons with the Kashima teachers. Ueshiba would continue his experimentation with these sword arts through approximately 1955. These constitute the root forms for the aiki ken techniques which were subsequently systematized into their present forms by Morihiro Saito in Iwama.
The inclusion of bayonet techniques no doubt reflects the fact that Ueshiba was contemporaneously teaching at various military institutions including the Army Toyama School of which Prince Kaya later served as superintendent. Such bayonet practices were de rigueur in Japanese army infantry training up through World War II. As a young man, Ueshiba himself practiced bayonet forms intensively during his military training as a foot soldier during the Russo-Japanese War.
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