Aikido Kobayashi Dojo

Aikido, My Way.

Part 2 The Founding of the Aikido Club

I didn’t say anything to my father about my passion for Aikido. Since he was a merchant who had led a life in which there was no chance for other kinds of study, he understood my need to walk my own path.

“If it doesn’t cause trouble for anyone, continue; don’t give up,” he told me. About that time, under his management his business was running smoothly and our family was suffering no economic difficulty, so I was able to do the things I had wanted to do but had put off.

When I was a junior at the University, I founded the Aikido club there. For many years before and after that, Aikido clubs were being started in universities all over Tokyo. At this time, through the efforts of Mr. Toshiyuki Arai, organized an Aikido club at Tokyo Art University. He presently heads the Aikido Federation of Gunma Prefecture

Gradually, Kisshomaru Sensei planned the founding of an Aikido club at every university and enlisted the help of university students who were coming to Hombu Dojo. If clubs were founded at universities, eventually Aikido would permeate society: this was the way his thinking went. Soon after, there was a big growth in Aikido, led by the establishment of clubs in universities everywhere. We can say that this expansion was the result of Kisshomaru Sensei’s effort and ability.

One effect of the expansion of Aikido was that regional shihan were called upon and encouraged to develop the clubs in their areas. Thus clubs in universities across the country were founded and nurtured. It took a great deal of ability to develop a club at a university. First, you had to start by getting together some people who were interested. Then you needed to put up posters around the university campus to recruit people and go many times to the Office of Student Affairs or to the Physical Education Department, bowing your head and going through the necessary red tape in order to obtain permission to use university facilities. Even after we got permission, we had to schedule our practices outside the hours already reserved by the Judo and Kendo clubs, so that usually we had to practice in the early morning or during lunch hour, times which made it difficult to attract students who stayed up late. And then there were times when the Judo club would come and say, “We are using the dojo today.” Even though we had reserved it, we had to yield to them.

In these circumstances, Aikido groups gathered to create a federation of university aikido clubs which, at that time, included clubs at Tokyo University, Waseda, Hosei, Senshu, Meiji, and others. Their first problem was deciding upon who would be the head of the organization. The Aikikai faction immediately recommended Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei, but the Yoshinkan faction recommended the one banker. That banker didn’t do Aikido but was helping to support the Yoshinkan financially, so they didn’ want to give up their nomination.

After hours and hours of discussion, in the end both factions went their separate, parallel ways; the problem was not with the students but with the adults who were involved. The student weren’t completely innocent, but it was the adults who were unable to meet each other halfway and so couldn’t create an association in which we were all united. The Tokyo University representative who had spoken so eloquently became, after graduation, a politician and is still active. His name is Shizuka Kamei. When I see his recent energetic campaigns, I recall how hard he advocated for a single association. Finally, however, the Aikidokai and the Yoshinkan founded different federations.

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