Sokaku Takeda: Deserving of Our Respect
August 17, 1997 · 8:04am EST · Posted by Fujiyama Dojo
Fujiyama Dojo
P.O. Box 20003
Thorold, ON, Canada
L2V 5B3
(905) 680-6389
Due to the amount of letters that we have received on the topic of Sokaku Takeda, we have decided to write this brief article as a general reply. Had the mail been favorable, we would have answered with a quick nod and smile, but since it has not been, I believe we must resort to words rather than gestures to clarify our position. We will not continue with an already fruitless debate, of which we refuse to be a part, but we do wish to settle things at last in regards to our viewpoint.

To begin with, we must emphatically repeat that in regards to Daito Ryu's history, Sokaku Takeda is the most prominent figure, and no other teacher can be credited with the survival and dissemination of Daito Ryu. We are all too familiar with the negative press that Sokaku has received in recent years. Articles criticizing his attitude, interviews with individuals that describe him as an irrational and crude man, or belittling his character and his techniques, some even calling him a liar in regards to the source of his knowledge, have influenced the public's opinion, and painted a grim picture of the late teacher. We will make no attempt to defend Sokaku Takeda, because that would imply that he needs an advocate to help him claim the respect he deserves. He certainly does not now, as he never did when he was in this world.

His character reflected the times in which he lived, and the events that formed his personality. Most of the faults for which he has been criticized are, more often than not, no more than the views of those incapable of understanding him, or the resentment of those who felt threatened or diminished by him. This is an obvious fact.

As for the source of his knowledge, if his name, lineage and upbringing aren't enough, we leave it to Sokaku's own words to explain it.

When his friend, Rinzaburo Itabashi, commented on Sokaku's techniques by saying, "Your jujutsu has changed. Your jujutsu is different from the one you did in your youth," Sokaku answered, "What I do now I learned from Hoshina-san (Tanomo Saigo). There was another student, but he's gone now."

Nothing else needs to be said.

Letters implying that Sokaku borrowed from here and there, taking undeserved credit for what did not belong to him, show not only disrespect, but ignorance, and we will not honor them with discussion.

As for those others which state that true aiki jujutsu owes more to current analysis and modification of techniques than to older traditions, hence the homage paid to Sokaku Takeda and his lineage, past and current, is overstated - and therefore acknowledging the authority of those teachers is unnecessary - we can only recommend to those writers to take an honest look at their own "self-created" systems and find a single principle that was not already covered in Daito Ryu's techniques. We do not pass criticism on any modern system, but no new ryu should justify its existence by means of slander.

Sokaku Takeda deserves the respect, not only of Daito Ryu and Aikido students, but of all budoka. We understand that it is a human temptation to gather credit, authority and recognition upon ourselves, but vanity is not a virtue nor is ego synonymous with strength. The opposite is actually the truth.

The relevance of Sokaku Takeda should not be diminished for the sake of giving credit to new systems who aspire to deserve the definition of aikijujutsu, or relatively older ones who, although already well established, have a penchant for predominance.

It is a sad picture that those letters have painted, not of Sokaku Takeda but of those who wrote them, but we will not dwell on them any more. Fortunately, a good part of what Sokaku taught and was later conveyed to Tokimune Takeda is still with us. We can see it as a reflection of the techniques and sometimes the character of several teachers, with Yukiyoshi Sagawa, Matsuo Sano, Katsuyuki Kondo and Ise Nakagawa among others

The hardest thing to understand is why, although our character should be mainly defined by nasake [understanding] according to true ethical conduct, we so often encounter attitudes in Budo that remind us more of the word nasakenai [shameful].

Those with open ears, let them hear.


Current Class Schedule