Andre Nocquet (1914–1999) was a French 8th dan Aikido teacher at the Aikikai Hombu in Japan. He was among the first non-Japanese students to practice the art.
Nocquet studied Greco-Roman wrestling, and started practicing Jujutsu in 1937 with Israeli professor Moshe Feldenkrais. Later Mikonosuke Kawaishi came to Feldenkrais's dojo to teach and Nocquet became his student.
Tadashi Abe went to France and stayed for several years. He also spent time in Italy, UK, etc. His aikido was very hard and linear, and not circular. Abe always kept a photo of Morihei Ueshiba Sensei with him, and said that it protected him from harm.
He became a great friend of Andre Nocquet and taught him Aikido.
In 1955, Andre Nocquet was encouraged by Tadashi Abe to travel to Japan to see Morihei Ueshiba and study at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo.
He stayed for almost three years as an uchideshi (live-in student) living a humble, severe life learning at the feet of the master, sleeping on the tatami, and eating Japanese food.
This was a difficult time for him as a westerner as there were virtually no other non-Japanese practicing aikido at the time.
Nobuyoshi Tamura and Masamichi Noro took up residence there, and Nocquet and Tamura, both of whom held the rank of first dan at the time, trained extensively together.
They got up at 5 a.m. every morning and worked in the dojo and Mrs. Ueshiba, the wife of Kisshomaru, would prepare breakfast for them.
One day Andre asked Ueshiba Sensei if Aikido is a religion, as he was always praying. He thought his reply was an amazing response...
" No, that’s not true. Aikido is never a religion, but if you are a Christian, you will be a better Christian because of aikido. If you are a Buddhist, you will be a better Buddhist "
Morihei Ueshiba developed the martial art of Aikido from his combat studies of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu with Sokaku Takeda, and his spiritual studies with the Omoto Kyo and Onisaburi Deguchi.
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When Andre Nocquet saw O'Sensei's way of working, and his amazing mastery of everyone, he thought how extraordinary he was, and very different from other people.
He said that if there is no spirit and heart in aikido it becomes just a physical exercise, which is the reason that there is no competition. It was clear that technique is important, but it is still secondary.
In 1958, he traveled to the USA to give seminars and demonstrations to special self-defence instructors of the Fresno Police department. He returned to France, and practiced alongside Tadashi Abe. In 1959/60 Abe returned to Japan, leaving him to teach aikido in France.
He was asked to do research at the National Library on the Martial Arts of the western European countries since the 15th Century in order to make a comparative study with Japanese Techniques.
He submitted a report to the Japanese Ministry of education through the Japanese Embassy in France.
In 1962, Andre Nocquet received from Morihei Ueshiba Sensei, the title of general representative of the World Aikido Headquarters for France.
In 1971, with the assistance of several foreign teachers, he established the European Aikido Union. He conducted courses for the National Parachutist Union, and the National Police, and demonstrated the principles of combat at the St-Maixent Military School.
Over the course of several years, Nocquet gave lectures in France and Europe on the spirit of non-violence, stressing the theme of International assistance and friendship.
In 1982, Andre Nocquet, as President of the European Aikido Union, is named Knight of the National Order of merit for exceptional services rendered to the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
In 1985, Nobuyoshi Tamura and Andre Nocquet met in order to establish the basis for the unification of Aikido in France.
In April 1990, Nocquet returned to Japan after an absence of 33 years to present Aikido Doshu Kisshomara Ueshiba a Gold Medal on behalf of the French Ministry of Youth and Sports.
He wrote - O'Sensei, Morihei Ueshiba, which is a collection of reflections on the philosophy of the founder of aikido, and includes 80 photos.
He also wrote Aikido: Heart and Sword which includes info about the teachings of O'Sensei, and the basis of the spirit of Aikido. More Info