Bansen Tanaka (1912-1988) was a 9th dan Aikikai Aikido master and one of the pre-war student of aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba O'Sensei.
He was a judo student when he first met O'Sensei in 1936. Eager to learn about aikido, he set up a dojo in Osaka, Japan for Noriaki (Yoichiro) Inoue, who was an early student and nephew of Morihei.
Tanaka followed Inoue and Ueshiba until 1939 when he was drafted to go to war. His aikido skills secured him a position as a bodyguard in the army. He returned a year later and continue his training.
Morihei Ueshiba, who often gave courses at the Police Office in Osaka, contacted Tanaka in 1951 and told him to gather together those who used to practice in the old days and gave a demonstration.
While talking with O'Sensei he suggested that he build a dojo, which was completed at the end of 1951.
He accompanied Ueshiba to Iwama for several weeks, where he trained 4 times a day. This was during the construction of the Osaka Aikikai Dojo, which had the nameplate 'Ueshiba Morihei', which pleased O'Sensei.
By the time he returned from training in Iwama the building had already been completed. After the opening ceremony in early 1952, O'Sensei stayed and taught for about 18 months.
Since his wife was in Tokyo he often returned home during this period.
At that time there were often people who went to the dojo to challenge them, but never when O'Sensei was there. Bansen Tanaka stated that he was never beaten by anyone because he felt a great responsibilty for his dojo, and O'Sensei told him never to give a visitor a chance to attack.
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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Around 1960 the number of students began to increase rapidly. Including school clubs he had about 48 dojos, many of them in Kyoto. Tanaka didn't teach at all of them and had trained instructors.
Nearly all of his Aikido movements were circular, and he focused on spiral movements with the hips kept low, which he said was most important.
Bansen Tanaka, remained the chief instructor of the Osaka Aikikai Dojo until his death in 1988.
Yukio Kawahara, technical director of the Canadian Aikido Federation, Higuchi Takanari, chief instructor of the Kyoto Renmei Dojo, Seiji Tomita, founder of the Ban Sen Juku school in Belgium and Ishu Ishiyama, chief instructor of the Vancouver West Aikikai Dojo were all his students.