This is the third part of our exclusive documentary on Chiba Tsugutaka Sensei, the last Daito-ryu master of Shikoku. In this section, he explains the origins of the founding of the Takumakai under the influence of the students of Takuma Hisa and Nakatsu Heizaburo.
Video: Documentary on Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu from the Takumakai part 3
Third part of the documentary on the life of Chiba Tsugutaka Sensei, the Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu master of Shikoku (Click on "CC" to display subtitles)
Olivier Gaurin: Can you tell us about the Takumakai and the place of Shikoku in this organization?
Chiba Tsugutaka: Aikibudo was the art of the Takeda warriors. After this experience Daito-kan , we really had a lot of respect for Takeda Tokimune and it was mutual. We really started to integrate the thinking of Takeda at this time.
The proof of this is that Shikoku is authorized to use the four-diamond symbol of the Takeda. It is a sign of trust from the Daito-kan and Mr Takeda towards students of Shikoku.
Olivier Gaurin: Who decided on the name Takumakai?
Chiba Tsugutaka: We wanted to find an official name for these koryu gatherings of mutual exchanges between students of Takuma Hisa Sensei and Sensei Nakatsu Heizaburo which took place at Kansai Aikido Club.
Many proposals have been made to name the study group but because we studied under Takuma Sensei, I proposed to use "Takumakai" [lit. Rally for Takuma]. These are administrative stories. The clerk wrote that it had been decided in Osaka following my proposal, but in fact it is a student of Sensei Nakatsu from Komashima who first had the idea. We received a request from Osaka to find a name, so after discussions between us, that name was proposed. It is not us who went to Osaka to tell them what to do, but they have agreed to do what we suggested. Thus the name "Takumakai" was decided.
Olivier Gaurin: At this time, the techniques of Shikoku and Osaka were a bit different right?
Chiba Tsugutaka: Totally different! This is why Hisa Takuma thought that Daito-ryu from Shikoku should also be taught in Osaka. When you mix the techniques of Shikoku with others, it becomes explosive!
Hisa Sensei finally decided he had to do it, and he taught a few people the techniques of Shikoku. He told the people of Osaka: "wouldn't it be more interesting if we merged the two forms ?" I certainly thought it would be.
Look at this [Chiba Sensei shows a small book].
Olivier Gaurin: What is it?
Chiba Tsugutaka: This is the manual of the Takumakai. Here are the rolls that belong to Takumakai.
Olivier Gaurin: Because they want to show that they have them?
Chiba Tsugutaka: Yes.
Olivier Gaurin: Originally, it is Tokimune Sensei who compiled these techniques right? This means that techniques should be the same?
Chiba Tsugutaka: Yes, the same.
Olivier Gaurin: But even if the names match, the means to do them are differents?
Chiba Tsugutaka: Yes, different. Hisa Sensei had received the Menkyo Minakaï no Kaigi [certification of the complete transmission and teaching license].
Olivier Gaurin: Where did Nakatsu Sensei formally studied Daito-ryu?
Chiba Tsugutaka: At the Asahi Journal with Sensei Morihei Ueshiba and Sokaku Takeda Sensei. The person at the top of the Asahi pyramid was Takuma Hisa Sensei but those who trained most regularly were those below him.
They took pictures of the movement immediately after seeing them demonstrated by Takeda Sokaku so they were not designed as educational references, but rather as an aid to memory. This means that from these images, there is a part that can be understood, and a part that cannot. This is why I do not think that the techniques called "Shoden" were exactly like the ones you can see on the pictures of Soden. Tokimune Sensei thought the same thing.
All techniques up to Menkyo Kaiden were merely guidelines for practice. It was a way to combine the knowledge of both "Ju" and "Jutsu".
I asked how long it would take to learn. I was told that 20 years would not be enough. But I was sure that 20 years should be enough to learn the basics. So I started to learn and copy it all, to immerse myself in the techniques again and again.
This is where I realized that the way how to do these techniques was different.
Olivier Gaurin: Regarding the grading system, how and why do we have changed the system from Menkyo system to Dan?
Chiba Tsugutaka: There were three levels of knowledge, Shoden, and Chuden, Okuden, and Hiden, the secret techniques. This was the core of the teaching at the time, the technique began with that. But nowadays, even that is difficult to understand and that is why we moved to the Dan grades.
Olivier Gaurin: Shoden was the equivalent of Nikajo today?
Chiba Tsugutaka: Yes, the Shoden was roughly equivalent to Shodan and Nidan today.
Olivier Gaurin: What is Chuden ?
Chiba Tsugutaka: Chuden is only equivalent to Sandan.
Olivier Gaurin: Sensei, how can we begin to understand anything about this?
Chiba Tsugutaka: From Sandan to Godan, only Yonkajo. This means that you know the things which are written below [on the scrolls]. This [he points] is also taken into account. So if we know this, it is Chuden.
In the Takumakai today, Ikkajo is Shodan, Nidan is Nikajo, Sankajo is Sandan, but before, the list [the rear] did not exist, Ikkajo was just that.
Ikkajo, Nikajo, Sankajo, they were not as defined. We knew nothing about it. We knew just Daiichijo, Dainijo etc.
From here to there [points to the scroll], it was the beginning, almost exclusively seated techniques. Today, it is called Idori. There were more than 100 techniques Idori, and only in Idori. And after learning that, we should implement standing. We had to make the connection between what we had learned on our knees and what we were doing standing. This is how we learned. We did it for Shoden, but also Chuden.
Olivier Gaurin: So the Shoden program was almost exclusively practiced on the knees?
Chiba Tsugutaka: Yes, with some additional things like "Kime" [joint locks] that we saw earlier. Otherwise, it would not have been possible because of Idori if someone pulls you, you collapse forward. In tachiai [standing techniques], it is different, you just move the foot forward to restore balance. That is it.
So you learned all the general stuff, plus the Soden. But what really matters is the time spent and how the techniques are done. If you take the time to study, it will be reflected in the techniques. So at the beginning, you learn 10 techniques, but at the 10th, you forget. But even if you forget, there are at least 2 that are remembered. In 5 minutes, you can learn 5 techniques... you can learn a technique in 2 or 3 minutes.
The other day someone told me: "It hurts" so I said: "In this way, you will remember!" In general, between the beginning and end of a course, painful techniques are the ones best remembered. That is why we should not hesitate on the question of pain in techniques such as those of the Soden. Otherwise, you cannot learn the essential points of these movements..
If you don't, you cannot have confidence in the technical heart of Daito-ryu. If the techniques are performed in a sloppy way, we cannot get the essential roots of techniques. And this way, we cannot understand Kaeshi.
Regarding the technical part at the top [those in the top of the parchment], Soke used to say that because we do not understand, we should do so only on Katatedori and Ryotedori of Ikkajo, we were to hold like that. It was a secret.
One day, Hisa Sensei decided to check the depth of my understanding of the technique. He wanted to test me. He asked me to show him my Aiki-Nage .
I do not care about whether or not I get caught so I said: "attack me", and when the attack came, I sent the guy flying pronto. So I said: "Next" but Hisa Sensei said, "Stop, you're going to hurt each other."
Since that day, he never told me anything again. Even in Osaka during joint training, he made me sit next to him. He used to tell me: "You see, it will not do, these techniques are not very good are they?" I nodded, a little embarrassed, and he said: "Go, teach them how to do it correctly."
- Many thanks to Sato Hideaki Sensei for helping us conduct this interview.