Icho Ryu Aikijutsu / Aikido
Black Belt Requirements
The name of our style (RYU) is Icho
and has a very special meaning. The Patch we wear on our gi is a
design of three ginkgo leaves. "Icho" is Japanese for ginkgo. The
three leaf design is Sensei Lau's family crest. The three leaves
represents mind, body, and spirit. The Icho Ryu oath reads:
- Train your mind
- Develop your body
- Polish your spirit
As you train you should constantly strive to develop these three
Origins of Aikijutsu/Aikido
Aikijutsu is said to have been founded by Prince Tejun,
the sixth son of the Emperor Seiwa (850 - 880 AD). As the sixth son
he was far from the line of succession to the thrown and this left
him a lot of time to practice the martial arts. Through the Prince's
son, it was passed on to the succeeding generations of Tsunamoto.
Following Tsunamoto he art was passed down as a secret Bujutsu,
(martial art), of the Minamoto family for many generations.
The art of Aikijutsu eventually reached General Shima
Saburo Yoshimitsu Minamoto (1159 - 1189), the younger brother of
Yoshie Minamoto. Yoshimitsu had many talents, poet, priest, and
physician. Legend has it that he devised much of his Aiki techniques
while watching a spider skillfully trap a larger insect in its web.
Ron Egbert Black Belt Test
Yoshimitsu's study as a physician led to great
contributions to the art of Aikijutsu.1t is recorded that Yoshimitsu
studied anatomy by dissecting the bodies of war victims and executed
criminals to study the effects of various martial arts techniques on
General Yoshimitsu named the art "Daito Ryu Aikijutsu",
the word Daito coming from the name of his manor Yoshimitsu's second
son, Yoshikiyo moved to the town of Takeda in Kai Province. He
changed his name to Takeda and taught Daito Ryu techniques to his
families and close retainers.
Yoshikiyo is said to have done much original research
on the techniques of Tachidori, techniques applied against attacks
with a bokken and also techniques against the yari (spear). This may
be the source of blending motions of Aiki.
In 1574 Kunitsugu Takeda moved the family to Fukushima
Province in Northern Japan and entered the Aizu clan. The Aizu clan
studied their own variety of Ryu and had the reputation of being
very tough fighters. Their unarmed arts were known as Aizu-Todome.
Undoubtedly; the Aizu clan added some of the Daito Ryu
Waza to their techniques as surely as Takeda borrowed some of the
In 1758 Takumi Takeda taught the secret art to the
Daimyo Aizu Han. At this time he called the art "Aiki-In-Yo-Ho."
"In-Yo" is equivalent to the Chinese Yin-Yang. The use of
implies that both hard and soft existed in the techniques.
Sokaku Takeda, (1858-1943) was in many people's
opinion, the last of the true Samurai swordsmen. He was born in 1858
in Izu, the second son of Sokichi Takeda, a priest at the local
shrine. Through much dedicated training in swordsmanship and Sojutsu
(spear arts) he became known as a true master 0 the sword and earned
the nickname Kotengu "Little Demon of Aizu." Sokaku was small in
stature, barely five feet tall.
In 1880 his abilities as a sword master were tested in
a real fight at a construction site. By the time police arrived
Sokaku had killed 12 men and wounded many more. It is at this time
that Chikamasa Saigo Tanamo, ex-Daimyo, (1829-1925) told Sokaku to
put away his sword and study Aikijutsu. (1874 - Modern reforms,
abolition of the feudal system, 1876 - The carrying of two swords is
prohibited). Finally in 1989 at the age of 40, Sokaku Takeda took the
advice of Chikamasa began studying Daito Ryu Aikijutsu at the Reizan
Shrine under his uncle, Sozaemon Takeda, who was a priest at the
In 1899 Sokaku Takeda was authorized to teach the
style and shortly thereafter changed the name to Daito Ryu.
In 1901 one of Takeda's disciples, Jitsuhide Zaibu,
became Chief of Police in Hokkaido and invited Takeda to teach
police unit's hand-to-hand combat. Under Takeda's leadership,
Aikijutsu remained and effective system of self-defense.
In 1909 Takeda moved to Kitami and there he net
Morihei Ueshiba, who later was to become one of Takeda's most
Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) was the son of a wealthy
farmer in Wakayama Prefecture. Prior to meeting Takeda Ueshiba had
studied many styles of Jujitsu. During the Russo-Japanese War,
(1904-1905), Ueshiba served as a soldier in the Imperial Army. This
gave him the opportunity to travel and come in contact with various
arts of self-defense and combat.
After his release from the army, Ueshiba traveled to
Hokkaido with the intention of engaging in training. It was here
that paths crossed with Sokaku Takeda. An introduction was arranged
and Ueshiba met Sensei Takeda. Ueshiba requested to be introduced to
the secrets of Daito Ryu and was accepted as a disciple in 1912 at
29 years of age.
For the privilege of learning from Sensei Takeda,
Ueshiba had to pay between $150 and $300 per technique. Ueshiba
spent most of his inheritance during this period of training.
Though training in Daito Ryu lasted many years, actual
training under Sensei Takeda was only 100 days. Ueshiba was very
impressed by the secret techniques of Daito Ryu and later received a
Transmission Scroll that listed 188 general techniques, 30 Aiki
techniques, and 36 secret teachings.
Ueshiba found the techniques of Daito Ryu more
practical than the Jujitsu techniques he had previously learned. The
violent effectiveness of the joint locking techniques and attacks to
vital points (Atemi) were something new to him. Though Ueshiba was
physically stronger than Sensei Takeda, he was powerless against his
teacher's control and pinning techniques. Those secret techniques of
Daito Ryu included:
- lrimi Nage
In 1922 Ueshiba was authorized by Sensei Takeda to become an
instructor of Daito Ryu methods, then taught as Aiki-Jujitsu.
Ueshiba's early from of Aiki Jujitsu emphasized practical
measures of self-defense.
After establishing approximately five Aiki dojos in
different locations and under different names in the art of Aiki,
Sensei Ueshiba formed the Budo Enhancement Association for Promotion
of Martial arts. Sensei Ueshiba opened a dojo in Tokyo and dedicated
himself to widening the basis of Aikijutsu. However, Sensei Ueshiba
was much influenced by Shinto theology and later the Omote Religion
under Onisaburo Deguchi whom he met in 1920.These two thoughts had
much to do in changing the older, more severe forms of Aiki Jujitsu
that Sensei Ueshiba had studied and taught to a more humane form. In
1938 Sensei Ueshiba emerged with his own distinct kind of Aikijutsu
which was designed to be more suitable for use in social
circumstances of that time.
Sensei Ueshiba called his new art Aikido.