Brief history

"The purpose of this art is not to be killed, not to be struck, not to be kicked, and we will not strike, will not kick, and will not kill. It is completely for self-defense. We can handle opponents expediently, utilizing their own power, through their own aggression. So even women and children can use it. However, it is taught only to respectable people. It's misuse would be frightening..."
— Sokaku Takeda.


Unfortunately, the exact origin of the different root arts and forms that serve as the foundation of different branches of modern day Aiki Jujutsu have not been documented completely, and as such, there are several popular theories.

There are various Jujutsu styles found within the Martial Arts world.  At first glance the Jujutsu styles are quite similar to aiki jujutsu but by looking closer you will find that there are some very distinct differences.

Probably the most dramatic difference is the intent in which the techniques are performed. Aiki Jujutsu techniques are more circular and flowing whereas Jujutsu techniques are quite linear and direct.

In it's earliest form Aiki Jujutsu can be traced back to around 1087, when large family of Jujutsu techniques was first classified and given first systematic and scientific approach by Yoshimitsu Minamoto, a famous samurai, descendent of Emperor Seiwa, who studied and analyzed body and
skeletal mechanics and at later times was regarded as a father of Daito Ryu Aikijutsu and a major contributor to development of Aiki Jujutsu .

The Jujutsu techniques of different styles evolved with the needs of the times and were handed down the generations of different families.

Aikijutsu originally had been developed as a combat art, a way to effectively and efficiently neutralize violence, not cause it.  This is why, although there are forms used to demonstrate Aiki Jujutsu, there are no competitive matches. Within this type of jujutsu were additional levels of training, called Aiki no Jutsu and Aiki Jujutsu, that were reserved for the higher ranking samurai. There are multitude of the techniques that can be done from standing, sitting or lying positions.
The training in Aiki Jujutsu can be broken in three major sections:

I.
 The training starts with ukemi (falling and rolling), taisabaki (moving the body), tesabaki and ashisabaki (movements of the hands and feet and legs), defense against grappling, and continues with defense against punches, kicks and weapons.

II. The jujutsu techniques with large soft movements. The actual aiki training consists of a combination of these techniques and those from section I. At this level of training it is allowed to use some amount of force, several steps and large movements.

III. All movements should become as small as possible. Breathing, reflexes, circles and timing are used instead of muscles; the techniques are small and fast, and it is not necessary to hold an attacker in order to throw him. The reflexes of the attacker are used against him. He gets a soft shock, similar to an electric shock activating his reflexes, and it becomes easy to manipulate the body of the attacker so it is felt as an extension of one's own.

The highest level of real aiki could be identified as soft techniques that only work properly when the whole body and proper breathing is used. The attacker is touched easily, you are as glued to him, and the techniques are so small that even experienced attackers cannot see what is happening. However, the most fascinating part of Aiki Jujutsu is that it is unnecessary to use physical power for incapacitating the attacker his own force is turned against him.

The Goshin Aiki Jujutsu style, taught at Three Streams school, although based on old style Aiki Jujutsu, also incorporates, what seem to be most effective techniques for modern self defense adapted from other styles such as Tenshin Aikido, Hapkido, Lameco, Kempo, as taught by masters Antonino Certa, Steven Seagal, Elliot Freeman, Felix Valencia, Mark Tedeschi, Bruce Tegner.

What more can be said about Sokaku Takeda that has not already been said. Certainly for people who practice Aikido, Takeda Ryu, Saigo Ha, Daito and other martial arts he is a household name.  So I will be brief.

He was born on October 10th 1859 in Aizu. His father Sokichi was a very large man and it is said to have favored Sumo over Oshikiushi and thus did not teach the art to young Sokaku.  It is quite probable that Sokichi did know Oshokiushi and transmitted it to Sokaku.  It is certain that Sokaku was thought and influenced by Tanomo Saigo, it is under his suggestion that Sokaku introduced Daito to the public. But the extent of  Tanomo Saigo's technical teachings to the young Takeda is speculative, opinions differ on this matter.  He also studied the sword (an absolute must for a Daito student) learning the techniques of the Jikishinkage-ryu and the Ono Ha Itto Ryu.

Tanomo Saigo a.k.a. Hoshina Chikanori/Genshin is more than just a prominent name in the history of Daito Ryu. His name is linked to a fundamental transition in the art, since in the opinion of many; he is greatly responsible for its preservation. It was Saigo who recommended that Sokaku Takeda teach Daito Ryu openly.

Tanomo Saigo was the eldest son of Chikamoto Saigo (also known as Tsunechiyo/Kichijuro, 1795-1860) who was a chief retainer of the Aizu clan and enjoyed a well deserved reputation as a warrior as well as a poet and a scholar.

 

Sokaku Takeda died in 1943 after teaching many illustrious masters, the most renowned being undoubtedly Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido. In 1943 he was succeded by his third son Tokimune Takeda (1916-1993), the 36th and last "undisputed" soke of Daito Ryu.

Currently, the Aiki-Jujutsu organizations that can verify their teaching lineage directly to Sokaku Takeda can be traced back to the teachings of one of four teachers under the first headmaster; Tokimune Takeda (the second Headmaster)

Yoshiyuki Sagawa (an outstanding early student of Sokaku's), Takuma Hisa (the highest ranking student of Sokaku Takeda) and Kodo Horikawa (a talented innovator in the art). Tokimune Takeda taught what he called Daito Ryu Aikibudo, an art that included the sword techniques of the Ono-ha Itto-ryu along with the traditional techniques of Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu.

It was also under Tokimune Takeda's headmastership that modern dan rankings were first created and awarded to students.

Tokimune Takeda died in 1993 leaving no official successor, but a few of his high ranking students such as Katsuyuki Kondo and Shigemitsu Kato now head their own Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu organizations.

Kato Shigemitsu's organization is represented by long time students and teachers from Tokimune's original Daitokan headquarters in Hokkaido, Shigemitsu Kato and Gunpachi Arisawa. Their organization is called the Nihon Daito-ryu Aikibudo Daitokai. They maintain a smaller organization in Hokkaido with strong connections to practitioners in Europe, especially Italy.

Kato Shigemitsu Soshi In the words of Nakagava Ise: "... Kato Shigemitsu Sensei as its pivotal figure has never changed even during the last period of inner discords...  Kato Sensei is remarkably skilful also in Shodo..."

Matsuo Sano Shihan: "... Kato Sensei became the General Secretary and Director (Kangicho) of Daitokan in ...1978 and is the only and meaningful case in which this important assignment lasted for 14 consecutive years, that is until the death of Soke."

 

Kato Sensei had liked Martial arts since he was a child. Even though he looked very tiny and fragil, not tall, and in relatively frail health in his youth, he was in love with Budo, practiced Sumo, and fought against bigger boys.

 

In 1966 he had his first encounter with Daito Ryu, and in 1967 enrolled full time in the Daitokan Dojo. He started attending the dojo every day, twice a day, per the advice of his Sempai, Suzuki Sensei, he started practicing shodo in 1968. As a result of these extraordinary efforts, in 1969 he achieved the rank of Shodan! In those days, 5th Dan was the highest rank in the Daitokan ranking system. Examinations were very strict. To advance even to Shodan, it was necessary to master Nihon Kendo no kata, and from the second dan up, Ono ha Itto Ryu Kenjutsu. There were only a few schools in Daito ryu to have Ono ha Itto Ryu as a mandatory part of the curriculum, but in the Daitokan Abashiri dojo it was (and still is) a mandatory discipline of the curriculum, because it is considered of great importance for skill development.

By 1975 Kato Sensei obtained the title of Shihan in Daito Ryu and Shodo. In 1983 Kato Shigemitsu was awarded the highest degree inside Daitokan, 5th dan, by Takeda Tokimune Soke, as a testimony of his great abilities.

In 1992 Honbu Dojo of Nihon Daito-Ryu Aikibudo was given "new life and a new beginning" by testimony of masters. Sano Sensei at that time assumed the responsibilities of Soshi of Seishinkai, but Technical direction was left to Kato Sensei and Arisawa Sensei.

In 1994 Kato Sensei along with Okabayashi Sensei and 4 other masters visited Europe. The branch dojo in Milan under Antonino Certa was selected as a base .Just couple of years ago Kato Sensei was still practicing with the same rigor as 40 years ago.

 

In 2002 because of age of some of the older members and decision of others to separate Kato Sensei united the Nihon Daito Ryu Aikibudo Daitokai with other dojos and assumed title of Soshi.

 

Antonino Certa Shihan is one of the very few westerners to have had the privilege of continuous Nihon Daito-Ryu Aikibudo study under Soke Tokimune Takeda. His direct teachers also include Matsuo Sano Sensei, Kato Shigemitsu Sensei, and Arisawa Gunpachi Sensei. Certa Shihan has also spent almost twenty-seven years in Aikido (4th dan Aikikai), seven years in Karate, and five years in Kendo training.

 

More of his martial arts history and biography can be found at: www.daito-ryu.com and www.daitokan.it

Tanomo Saigo
1859 - 1943
Sokaku Takeda
1830 - 1905
Tokimune Takeda
1916 - 1993
Kato Shigemitsu
Soshi
1940 - 2013


Antonino Certa
Shihan