He was verbally awarded 10th dan by Ueshiba in At the age of 9, he began studying kendo and later ken-jutsu, ju-jutsu, bojutsu and karate. Hikitsuchi trained extensively in jukenjutsu bayonet as a young man, and was highly skilled in both iaido and kendo. When he was fourteen years old, he met Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei for the first time. Even though he was too young to study budo with O-Sensei, they made an exception for him. The piece flew off, and he searched throughout the dojo for it.
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I was 14 years old, and that was 65 years ago. I believe that I was predestined to meet O-Sensei. Although I was his student, I always viewed O-Sensei as my father. Had you studied other martial arts before you met him? My father passed away when I was two years old, and my mother when I was seven. At that time, O-Sensei was visiting Shingu and teaching at the warehouse.
He did not teach Aikido publicly. Not just anyone could study Aikido. What was your first impression of Aikido? It was a mystery.
No one seemed to be using any strength at all, yet they could throw each ether easily. At first, I thought they must be doing something prearranged. Please study Aikido.
Only adults 25 and older were taught Aikido. Perhaps I was the first child to be taught Aikido. How did you feel when O-Sensei talked to you? I feit very grateful. I was the only child O-Sensei accepted as a disciple. At that time O-Sensei had an amazing body. He looked like a partition screen [square shaped].
His gaze was very kind, but his eyes also had a fierce light in them, as though they were glowing. If he looked at you suddenly, you were frozen — unable to move. O-Sensei always stared sharply at someone he was meeting for the first time. With just a glance from him, I felt as though I had been shot with an arrow. He was fearsome, yet I was drawn to him. He asked me to be his student. Is our current style of practice different from that when you started?
Yes, the waza were done differently. You know, the other day I pulled out a book, Maki-no-Uchi. Was it a secret book, something that was never shown around? I think that is still true today. In classes with O-Sensei, what was most important — verbal explanation or physical practice? These things called waza… [techniques]. Waza themselves spring forth from kototama. How, exactly, would O-Sensei conduct practice? First we did Shinji. Then we purified ourselves and the dojo space and began the practice of waza.
It was kamigoto [divine inspiration]. But, when he did technique, it was always different. We started with suwariwaza [seated technique], which strengthens the hips. At the beginning of class, the waza was always dai-ikkajo — what we now call ikkyo.
Nothing was fixed. What was his teaching method? O-Sensei did not usually teach people individually. However, he sometimes did give me one-on-one instruction. What did you think about that?
I was very grateful. Sometimes, when O-Sensei touched me, I felt my power suddenly increase. I also felt a tremendous pressure sometimes — I think it was the strength of the Kami. Training was very strict. There was no consideration or sympathy. Training with him was terrifying. I thought I would be broken. How did you link up with him after the WW II? I met O-Sensei again in I had not seen him for 10 years. I hurried to his house on my motorcycle.
From now on Budo must become love, end give joy end happiness. Mac Arthur has told me to start a dojo. Please join me. You should follow me.
Would you say that O-Sensei had changed ouring the war years? His fierce gaze had become tender. One felt like getting close to him. His eyes were still strict, but they ware no Ionger scary. His thoughts about waza had also changed completely. After the war, he urged us not to attack opponents or to think of defeating them. I have changed how we do everything. And, to do this, we must unify our speech, body, end mind.
The method of practice was the opposite of what it had been. We did not have a strategic purpose. Training this way was difficult. Now aIl techniques are those of the post-war period. They are the true waza. When opponents try to attack, we must not rely on form but spontaneously create technique.
In the old days, we reacted to the opponent. After the war, things changed. It had to be done with what seemed to be perfect timing. What is the most important lesson that you learned from O-Sensei? I learned from him to pray to the Kami and Buddha. The teachings of Aikido are for the purpose of returning to the Kami and receiving the power of the Kami. Basing our actions on that, we work tor the peace of the world.
The root, the foundation, is here. It is useless to argue about whether technique is modern or old. Technique is just technique. The object of this practice is to create a person who is sincere and kind — a person with a true heart. Just practicing technique will lead nowhere. How did O-Sensei transmit this teaching? When O-Sensei moved he seemed more than human.
We thought we were witnessing a real Kami. It was my mission from heaven ten-mei. My mission was to serve O-Sensei.
When he emerged, I immediately handed him the towel. My mind was always on O-Sensei. It just happened naturally. How did you associate with O-Sensei outside the dojo? O-Sensei told stories, and I listened. He spoke of a variety of things.
How did O-Sensei relax?
It is truly a pity that we are no longer able to see his divine techniques. It was a true expression of the state of his soul. More than this: his power was absolute, and if you attacked him with an inimical spirit, you were flattened, as if struck by lightening. It is impossible that a BUDO so fashioned were created by human intelligence. He can only be an emanation of the gods. The teaching of AIKIDO has as its goal the creation of human beings who know truly how to harmonize with one another, by suppressing their aggressive spirit, and thus contribute to the realization of world peace.
Michio Hikitsuchi Shihan remembers O’Sensei…