Salvatore Mergé, the First Westerner Student of Morihei Ueshiba

by SIMONE CHIERCHINI - At least 15 years before the French André Nocquet, another westerner had been accepted into Morihei Ueshiba's Kobukan Dojo in Ushigome. He was the multifaceted and mysterious Salvatore Mergé, an esotericist, orientalist, painter and Italian diplomat on a mission as cultural attaché at the Embassy of Italy in Tokyo from 1937 to 1943. In all likelihood Mergé was also the first to teach Aikido outside of Japan starting from 1947, when he gave lessons of the art of Ueshiba, then completely unknown, to a select few in the city of Rome, making Italy the first foreign country ever to know Aikido