Hiroo Mochizuki Sensei, a Teacher for Europe

As a long-time student of his and editor of Aikido Italia Network, I was able to arrange an interview with Hiroo Mochizuki sensei. The result was a long, interesting, constructive chat in which his son Michihito (Mitchi) Mochizuki also actively participated. This interview, presenting memories, thoughts on the Martial Arts of yesterday and today, explanations on the Yōseikan Budō discipline, will be shorthly issued in a book versionby Aikido Italia Network Publishing. As a preview, we are presenting here Hiroo Mochizuki sensei’s biography.

by ADRIANO AMARI

A Biography of Hiroo Mochizuki sensei

Hiroo Mochizuki, eldest son of Minoru Mochizuki sensei, was born in 1936 in Shizuoka. His earliest memories include a trip to China, where his father Minoru moved with his entire family in 1939. Active in politics, he was appointed vice-prefect of a province in Manchukuo. Little Hiroo began to study martial arts, practising Kendō in the garden of the residence in the early hours of the morning. 

The vastness of China is firmly imprinted in his memory, and inspires his drive for broad human and geographical horizons.

After the Second World War, the Mochizuki family returned to Japan and Hiroo sensei began training in Jūdō and Aikidō in the re-built Budō Yōseikan hall.

In 1952 young Hiroo was sent to study with Morihei Ueshiba sensei, founder of Aikidō, as an “Uchi-deshi” or “internal student”. He lived with O-sensei at his house adjacent to the Iwama Dōjō, the “Aiki Shrine”. He was welcomed with great affection and learned the Aikidō of Ō Sensei Ueshiba. The personality of this Martial Arts giant strongly struck the young Hiroo, who would always carry the image of him as the perfect example of martial arts teacher and practitioner, the holder of an irreproachable and compassionate Budō.

A very young Hiroo Mochizuki in his early days in Europe

Hiroo Mochizuki sensei shows his great talent since his young days, excelling in the various disciplines that are taught in the Shizuoka Budo Yōseikan Dōjō. At his first Iaidō examination he directly received the 3rd Dan from the teacher examiner from Tokyo, and was further promoted to 5th Dan at the following examination.

After completing his studies, he enrolled at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Tōkyō and began to attend classes in Shōtōkan Karate. In 1957 he was sent to Europe to work alongside the young European Martial Arts pioneer Jim Alcheik, who had already been a student of his father’s Minoru, to encourage the development of the organisation that looked after the dissemination of Yōseikan disciplines outside Japan. In Europe, Hiroo Mochizuki sensei introduced Karate as well as his father’s Jūdō, Aikidō and Kobujutsu.

At the end of 1958 he returned to Japan to complete his degree in Veterinary Medicine: his plan, actually, was to start a cattle farm in Brazil with a group of veterinary colleagues. During this period he approached Wadō Ryū Karate, becoming a student of Shinji Michihara sensei, another educator and expert who had a great influence on his training. Demonstrating an eclectic and all-round ability, he became captain of the University’s Jūdō team and simultaneously vice-captain of the Karate team.

The death of Jim Alcheik in an accident in 1963, however, caused a major void in the European martial arts world. The presence of Minoru Mochizuki sensei was required to overcome the crisis. Unable to move, Minoru sensei sent back his son.Hiroo sensei believes that he has only a temporary commitment, after which he could go to Brazil., but instead he will not move from Europe.Hiroo sensei believes that he has only a temporary commitment, after which he could go to Brazil. Instead he will no longer move from Europe.

In France, Hiroo Mochizuki sensei launched Karate, which he took to the highest levels. His presence in Paris also served to coordinate the European activities of several other Japanese teachers who came to the Old Continent to propagate their disciplines. These include Murakami, Kono, Fukazawa and Sugiyama sensei. His presence promoted and considerably advanced the technique and organisation of Karate and Aikidō. Proof of this is the unexpected and striking victory of the French team at the second World Karate Championships in Paris in 1972.

Nevertheless, in these joyful and triumphant times, a profound disquiet arises in Hiroo Mochizuki sensei: sport and western concepts of sectorialisation and specialisation were poisoning martial arts, making them increasingly distant from the principles of health, wellbeing, self-realisation and social promotion that teachers such as Jigorō Kanō and Morihei Ueshiba had advocated.

Hence the search for new modules: taking his cue from the ‘Koryū’, the classic schools of Japanese martial arts, Hiroo Mochizuki sensei sought to return to the ancient classical tradition of the Samurai, where each school taught all combat disciplines in a synthetic and effective form. He re-examined their contents, and physical and teaching methods in the light of modern times. The long gestation that will lead, at the end of the ’70s, to the foundation of YŌSEIKAN BUDŌ began.

Hiroo Mochizuki sensei at the start of Yōseikan Budō

The announcement of the birth of this new school created quite a stir in the world of martial arts. Many reject it, among them several of the older students and those closest to Hiroo Mochizuki sensei himself, who regarded Yōseikan Budō as a dangerous attack on the current ‘status quo’, where they themselves had carved out small positions of prestige and interest.

Many others, on the contrary, welcomed it and were thrilled by it. A gradually growing association was established around Hiroo Mochizuki sensei and many people approached it with interest, considering it a suitable alternative to the purely sporting and competitive practice of the best known martial arts.

In the process of establishing Yōseikan Budō, in a second phase, the sporting practice was also introduced, although limited and aimed at the exuberant energies of young practitioners. The first competitions took place in 1987, and from then on followed World, European, and National championships, which received strong participation and considerable enthusiasm from the general public.

Later on, Hiroo Mochizuki sensei also focused on developing the single disciplines that constitute Budō, those already presented in the Shizuoka Dōjō and at the heart of Minoru Mochizuki sensei’s teaching. He intended to provide his students with an opportunity to specialise, while also offering a learning possibility to those who did not feel like following Yōseikan Budō’s universality. Continuing his father’s studies and contributing his own, Hiroo sensei established the Yōseikan disciplines of Aikidō, Kenpō, Jū Jutsu, Kenjutsu, Iaijutsu and Bajutsu – the Yōseikan Bajutsu, the equestrian version of Yōseikan Budō, is a discipline that gathers methods and techniques of classic western and eastern chivalry.

Always at the forefront of research, Mochizuki sensei is constantly working and experimenting to improve and perfect his creation.

In the course of his martial career, Hiroo Mochizuki sensei achieved the following ranks:

  • Karate 10th Dan (awarded by the French Federation in February 2016)
  • Aikidō Yōseikan 8th Dan
  • Nihon Jū Jutsu 8th Dan
  • Iaidō 7th Dan
  • Judō 3rd Dan
  • Karate Shōtōkan 2nd Dan

In his career he has also acquired an excellent knowledge of Kobujutsu, Okinawan Kobudō, Western Boxing, Savate and French Cane. He is now simply the creator of Yōseikan Budō and the second Sōke of the Yoseikan school.

Ceremony awarding the 10th Dan in Karate to Hiroo Mochizuki sensei

Copyright Adriano Amari ©2021 
All rights reserved. Any reproduction not expressly authorised is strictly prohibited.


The Heir
Interview with Hiroo Mochizuki

The Aiki Dialogues #8
by Adriano Amari, Hiroo Mochizuki, Michihito Mochizuki

Hiroo Mochizuki is the heir of a samurai family.
Creator of Yoseikan Budo, he is a world-renowned expert in Japanese martial arts.
Son of the famous teacher Minoru Mochizuki, who is considered a Japanese national treasure and was also a direct student of Jigoro Kano and Morihei Ueshiba, the successor of a line of samurai, Hiroo Mochizuki was inspired by his forefathers combative spirit to create Yoseikan Budo.
He adapted the philosophy, pedagogy and traditional practice of martial arts to a new modern environment, as well as to contemporary combat techniques.
Besides practicing Mixed Martial Arts before people knew what MMA was, Hiroo Mochizuki has one of the most impressive records in the martial world.

Book Contents: Introduction. The Long-Lasting Link with the Kobudō Kenkyukai. The Relationship Between Yōseikan and Morihei Ueshiba. The Iwama Experience. The Role of Aiki in Yōseikan Budō. Training Elements and Learning Outcomes. The Educational Value in Martial Arts. The Sword is the ‘Salt’ of Martial Arts. “You Can Come from All Directions to Get to the Centre”. Yōseikan Budō Must Go Beyond Theory. Reading the Kata. Sharing Knowledge. The Meaning of Randori. Online Teaching & 90th Anniversary. A Biography of Hiroo Mochizuki Sensei