The following interview conducted by Simone Chierchini with Aikido Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba was originally published by Aikido, the official magazine of the Italian Aikikai. It was taken in Rome in 1982, during the first visit to Italy of the then Waka Sensei (Young Master)
by SIMONE CHIERCHINI
Some newspapers interviewed Waka Sensei Moriteru Ueshiba during his stay in Rome on the occasion of his first Italian seminars ever in Rome and Mantua, which were attended by 240 Aikido enthusiasts. We are happy to publish this interview carried out for Aikido by Simone Chierchini, 2nd Kyu at Rome Dojo Centrale.
Sensei, what are your impressions of the city of Rome?
It is the second time that I come to Rome. I have to admit that for the second time I was greatly impressed. I love the city, it really fascinates me, especially from a historical point of view. I used any spare time I had left from the seminar to go sightseeing. Rome and its monuments make you breathe the grandeur of the ancient times gone by.
Seven years ago you visited Rome while accompanying Doshu Kisshomaru. What opinion did you form on Italian Aikido when you compare what you witnessed today and your previous experience?
When I visited Rome seven years ago I mostly felt a tourist. Aikido aspect was secondary since my role was only to assist Doshu Kisshomaru. That said, I clearly noticed that, when comparing it with seven years ago, Italian Aikido has certainly changed, and changed for the better. Tada sensei’s work and that of his assistants in Italy was certainly very fruitful. I can see the Hombu Dojo’s teachings and directives here. We have great faith in our Shihans.
To understand the “way” and improve more and more their technique, Italian Aikido students simply need to follow Tada sensei’s teachings. Hombu Dojo Shihans are the most reliable and qualified.
If I think back to my 1976 visit, I notice another important change: I have become a more mature person.
Following the foundation of the International Aikido Federation (IAF), do you expect new prospects for the world development of Aikido?
I certainly do. The first task of this new united federation will be to foster friendship among Aikido people from all over the world. A connection of this kind was somewhat difficult in the past, as each nation had its own separate federation. Now the IAF assembly includes representatives from every Aikido nation. Over time, this connection will become more and more solid and Aikido will develop further from a technical point of view. It will be possible to follow a united didactic approach based on the teaching of Kaisho, the Founder. The IAF duty will be to disseminate O’Sensei’s Aikido while protecting it, and I believe this should be considered its primary purpose.
A clarification about the figure of the Kaisho it is necessary at this point, as we don’t want to pass on the idea that Aikido is unchangeable: Kaisho is O’Sensei, but the idea of Kaisho also embodies Doshu and Waka Sensei. Kaisho is not a detached entity, outside the current reality of Aikido. Kaisho is a concept personified in a role passed down from generation to generation, with gradual evolution. Any developments will always have to look at the path shown by O’Sensei as an unavoidable starting point because his is the true Aikido.
What is the main message that you wanted to pass on in directing your Italian seminars?
During my seminars in Rome and Mantua, I focused my attention on teaching basic techniques, which are fundamental in Aikido. I didn’t do that, however, because I noticed that Italian students had lacked in the basics: I believe that every Aikido student, regardless of nationality, should specifically apply himself on studying the basic techniques. If we define this as a message, this is the one that I wished to pass on, in perfect correspondence with my standard didactic approach when teaching in Japan.
Is there a specific criterion in planning your seminars abroad?
No, there isn’t, seminars abroad are not planned in advance. Last year I held a few of them in the United States, this year I came to Italy. A location for next year’s seminar abroad has not been established yet, we have to evaluate if a suitable location will be presented.
Any interesting memories of your American experience that you would like to share with our readers?
Aikido, as practised in the United States, does not differ much from that of Europe or Japan. What I liked best in the US is something that is different from my everyday experience: like in Japan, people train eagerly, but in the United States, Aikido people immediately develop a relationship of sincere friendship outside of training. Here in Italy, I experienced it first hand with particular intensity. In Japan is not the same.
What is the relationship of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo with other Budo systems in Japan?
In Japan, each martial art follows its own path, one independent of the other. There is no federation that groups them. Normally they are separate, but not divided, relations are good, friendly, to the point that every year at the Budokan the individual Budo federations meet to hold a congress and a demonstration together.
First published in 1982 by Aikido, Aikikai d’Italia
Copyright Simone Chierchini ©1982
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