Master Sokaku Takeda
Daito ryu Aiki jujutsu, is a Japanese martial art that became popular in the early 20th century under master Sokaku Takeda. His most well-known student was Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido.
Takeda began teaching his traditional family arts outside of the family in the late 19th century. He learnt sword and spear arts from his father, Sokichi Takeda. He was also an uchi-deshi (live-in student) under the well-known swordsman Sakakibara Kenkichi.
Sokaku traveled extensively to preserve his family's traditions by spreading Daito-ryu throughout Japan. His third son, Tokimune Takeda, became the headmaster of the art following his death in 1943.
Tokimune taught Daito-ryu Aikibudo, that included the sword techniques of the Ono-ha Itto-ryu and traditional techniques of Daito-ryu. He also created and awarded modern dan rankings.
Aiki focuses on early control, and teaches throwing techniques and joint manipulations to effectively restrain, or injure an attacker.
Of great importance is the timing of a defensive technique to either blend with or neutralize the effectiveness of an attack, and use the force of the attacker's movement against them.
Daito-ryu aiki jujutsu is characterized by use of atemi strikes to vital points on the body, to prepare for joint locking or throwing.
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.
“The secret of aiki is to overpower the opponent mentally
at a glance and to win without fighting”
Master Morihei Ueshiba
Apart from the Aikido of Morihei Ueshiba, there are several organizations that teach Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu, each tracing their lineage back to master Sokaku Takeda through one of four of his students...
Daito-ryu techniques involve both jujutsu and aiki applications. Techniques are broken up into series, and students only progress to the next series when they have mastered the previous one.
Upon completion of each series, a student is awarded a certificate or scroll that lists the techniques of that level. These act as different levels of advancement, which was a common system among classical Japanese martial arts schools before the belts, grades, and degrees system.
Officially, the Daito-ryu system is said to include thousands of techniques, divided into omote (front) and ura (back), but many of these could be seen as variations upon the core techniques.
Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido.
Today, Daito-ryu is the most widely practised school of traditional Japanese jujutsu in Japan. This may be due to the success of Sokaku Takeda's student Morihei Ueshiba, and Aikido.
Aikido is practised worldwide and has hundreds of thousands of students. Many of those interested in aikido have traced the art's origins back to Daito-ryu, which has increased the level of interest in an art which was otherwise virtually unknown a few decades before.
The mysterious concept of aiki is an old one, and was common to other classical Japanese schools of armed combat. Many modern schools influenced by aikido presently use the term to describe their use of aikido-like techniques with a more combative mindset.
There are a number of martial arts in addition to aikido which appear, or claim, to be descended from the art of Daito-ryu or the teachings of Takeda Sokaku. Among them are...
1 - Korean martial art of Hapkido founded by Choi Yong Sul, who as an orphan in Japan was trained and raised under Takeda Sokaku.
2 - Hakko-ryu, founded by Yoshiharu Okuyama, trained under Takeda.
3 - Shorinji Kempo, founded by Nakano Michiomi , trained under Okuyama.
Numerous other schools of aikijutsu claim some sort of lineage to Sokaku Takeda or Daito-ryu.