This article is from the Martial Arts FAQ, by Matthew Weigel firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
(Contributors: Torben Alstrup/Ole Kingston - email@example.com)
Intro: A prominent sub-style of Jujutsu
Daito-ryu Aiki-Jujutsu is an old Jujutsu style presumably founded my
Minamoto, Yoshimitsu in the eleventh century. Originally, it was only
practised by the highest ranking Samurais in the Takeda family in the
Kai fiefdom in northern Japan.
Feudal overlord Takeda, Shingen died in 1573, and his kinsman Takeda,
Kunitsugu moved to the Aizu fiefdom, where he became Jito - overseer
of the fief. Kunitsugu introduced Daitoryu Aikijujutsu at the Aizu
fiefdom, where the secret fighting art only was taught to the feudal
lords and the highest ranking samurais and ladies in waiting.
The feudal system was broken down after 1868 when the Meiji
restoration begun. Saigo, Tanomo (1829-1905), the heir to Daito-ryu
gave the system to Takeda, Sogaku (1859-1943) and instructed him to
pass it on to future generations. Takeda, Sogaku first used the term
"Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu" in the beginning of the twentieth century and
taught the art of it to many students.
Takeda, Sogaku taught Daito-ryu from the beginning of the twentieth
century until his death in 1943 two of his best known students were
Ueshiba, Morihei, founder of Aikido and Choi, Yong Sul, founder of
Other prominent 20th century Daito-ryu masters include Horikawa, Kodo
(1894-1980); Takuma, Hisa (1895-1979); Hakaru, Mori (1931-), the
current director of the Daitoryu Aikijujutsu Takumakai; Sagawa,
Yukiyoshi (1902-); Takeda, Tokimune (1916-1993), son of Takeda,
Sogaku; Katsuyuki, Kondo (1945-); and Okamoto, Seigo (1925-), who is
often considered the most progressive teacher of Daitoryu Aikijujutsu.
Description and Training:
The way of teaching Daitoryu comes from Takeda, Sogaku's students in
the same manner as the understanding, feeling and character of the
techniques. Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu has four levels of techniques:
Shoden (Lowest), Chuden (advanced), Okuden (highest) and Hiden (secret
The training in Daito-ryu starts with Shoden, where the student learns
ukemi (falling and rolling), taisabaki (moving the body), tesabaki and
ashisabaki (movements of the hands and feet and legs), defense against
grappling, and continues with defense against punches, kicks and
weapons, as for instance short and long staffs (tanbo, jo and chobo)
and knives and swords (tanto and katana).
There are techniques that can be done from standing, sitting or lying
positions. The first transmission scroll Hiden Mokuroku describes the
first 118 jujutsu techniques from the Shoden level.
These are advanced jujutsu techniques with large soft movements as
known from Aikido. The actual aiki training consists of a combination
of these techniques and those from Shoden. At this level of training
it is allowed to use some amount of force, several steps and large
When doing Okuden all movements should be as small as possible.
Breathing, reflexes, circles and timing are used instead of muscles;
the techniques are small and fast, and it is not necessary to hold an
attacker in order to throw him.
The reflexes of the attacker are used against him. He gets a soft
shock, similar to an electric shock activating his reflexes, and it
becomes easy to manipulate the body of the attacker so it is felt as
an extension of one's own.
These are the secret techniques. The real aiki consists always of soft
techniques that only work properly when the whole body and proper
breathing is used. The attacker is touched easily, you are as glued to
him, and the techniques are so small that even experienced budokas
cannot see what is happening. However, the most fascinating part of
Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu is that it is unnecessary to use physical power
for incapacitating the attacker his own force is turned against him.