Interview with Waka Sensei Moriteru Ueshiba

Simone Chierchini, Moriteru Ueshiba, Hideki Hosokawa (Roma 1982)

The following interview, conducted by Simone Chierchini with Aikido world leader Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba, was originally published in 1982 in Italy by “Aikido”, magazine of the Italian Aikikai. It was taken during the visit of the then Waka Sensei (Young Master) at the Central Dojo Aikikai in Rome


Some newspapers have interviewed Moriteru Ueshiba Waka Sensei during his stay in Rome during the seminars of Rome and Mantua, which were attended by 240 aikido. We gladly publish the interview conducted by Simone Chierchini for Aikido, 2 Kyu Rome Central Dojo.

Sensei, what are your impressions of the city of Rome?

It is the second time that I come to Rome and I must confess that for the second time I have been greatly impressed. I like this city and I was especially interested  by it from a historical point of view. In my free time I went visiting the main monuments. Through them Rome manages to share with the visitor the ancient grandeur.

You came to Rome seven years ago with Doshu Kisshomaru. What  is your opinion on Italian Aikido in relation to your previous experience?

1984_MoriteruUesh_Roma_2 (2)

When I came to Rome seven years ago, the prominent focus for me was tourism. Aikido was secondary, since my presence was only on the basis of assistance to Doshu Kisshomaru. Notwithstanding this, I can certainly say that in relation to seven years ago, Italian Aikido changed, and changed for the better. The work of Tada Sensei and his assistants in Italy, in accordance with the teachings and the directives from Hombu Dojo, has certainly been very successful. Hombu Dojo has much confidence in Tada Sensei and his assistants. To understand and continuously improve their technique along the Path, Italian Aikido practitioners only need follow the teachings of Tada Sensei: it is a fact that  Hombu Dojo teachers are the most reliable and qualified.
When I think back to my trip seven years ago, I find another change: namely, the maturation occurred in me.

Do you believe that there are new prospects for world Aikido development after the founding of the IAF, the International Federation of Aikido?

Indeed. The first task of the unitary federation should be to foster friendship between the Aikido world. This link was absent because each nation had its own federation. Now the assembly of the IAF comprises of representatives of each Aikido nation. Over time, Aikido, by virtue of the union which will become ever stronger, will develop more and more from a technical point of view. In fact, it will be possible to follow a coherent teaching pattern, based on the teaching of the Kaisho the founder. The IAF will have to divulgate, protecting it, O-Sensei’s Aikido and I consider this to be regarded as its main purpose.
A clarification, however, is required for what it concerns the figure of the Kaisho, to avoid an accusation of immobility: Kaisho is O-Sensei, but also Doshu and Waka Sensei are Kaisho. Kaisho is not a separate entity, apart from modern Aikido. Kaisho is an idea, embodied in a character, that is passed down from generation to generation, with a gradual evolution. This evolution, however, must always be seen from the inescapable starting point of O’Sensei, because his it is the true Aikido.

Moriteru Ueshiba
Moriteru Ueshiba on the Dojo Centrale tatami (Roma, 1982)

Sensei, what is the message, the teachings that you intended to communicate during your Italian seminars?

During the seminars in Rome and Mantua I focused my efforts, my attention on the teaching of basic techniques, which are essential in Aikido. But I must point out that this special insistence is not due to a lack of basic Aikido found in Italian Aikido students: I think every Aikido person, regardless of nationality, should apply specifically in the basic techniques. If one can talk about a “message”, that is what I wanted to launch, in perfect agreement with the teaching that I have normally adopted in Japan.

There is a criterion in planning your seminars abroad?

No. Seminars abroad are not fixed in advance. Last year I held one in the United States, this year I came to Italy. For next year a venue has not been established yet, will see if an opportunity arises.

Any interesting memories of your American experience that you would like to share with our readers?

Aikido practiced in the United States does not differ much compared to European or Japanese. The thing that I remember with the most pleasure and a situation that stands out clearly from my every day experience is the following: in the U.S. the training is as serious and challenging as in Japan, but outside the mats between Aikido people is easily established a relationship of sincere friendship. I felt it towards me, and expressed with particular intensity here in Italy. This is in Japan hardly happens.

What is the relationship of the Japanese Aikikai with other martial styles in Japan?

In Japan each martial art follows its own path, independent of one another, each with its federation. They are separated but not divided, relations are good, friendly, to the point that each year the individual associations gather together at Budokan to hold a conference and public demonstration.

First published in 1982 by Aikido, Aikikai d’Italia

Copyright Simone Chierchini ©1982-2011Simone Chierchini
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