IESUKE HANMURA
Photo Not Available.

1829 - 1905
He was the second son by the second wife of a high ranked retainer of the Aizu clan (the first was still born, so Iesuke kept the privileges of primogeniture). His father, related to a prominent family, enjoyed a high status, but Iesuke was not spared from strict learning and discipline. His rigorous training began very early, and he excelled in spearmanship and swordsmanship. Soon he joined the elite warrior guard, and eventually became one of the instructors. However, caught in the middle of a conflict caused by the resentment of the first born son of his father by his first wife, Iesuke had to remain alert against intrigues aimed at undermining his status within the clan. Upon his father's death, Iesuke was offered the position his late father held, replacing him in the responsibility of tax collecting. Upon a warning from Soemon Takeda, and personal friend Tanomo Saigo, he tried to decline the position, but his request was denied. Not long after, Iesuke, along with several other prominent individuals (among which was another high retainer: Yasuhiro Ichikawa), were falsely accused of thievery. Almost miraculously, he barely escaped being forced to commit seppuku, thanks to the intervention of influential friends. But the ordeal was far from over.
His immediate family and several others related to those involved in the incident were banned from the Aizu clan, in dishonor, never to return or relate to any member of the clan in any manner. Ten families in total became isolated and struggled together, forging a relationship that survived the passage of time, keeping their martial traditions and a special code of conduct as a bond, strengthened by mutual collaboration. In spite of the impoverishment, the name changes, the oath of secrecy, and the creation of confidential koseki to preserve the lineage of the original families, Iesuke never let himself become embittered, nor did he neglect the teaching of harmony and compassion.

The traditions he strove to keep alive are jealously maintained by his descendants and the rest of the current members of the organization now called Rengokai.

TAKUMA HISA

1895 - 1979
A former sumo wrestler, Takuma Hisa had the good fortune of being a student of two great teachers: Sokaku Takeda and Morihei Ueshiba. His position of Director of General Affairs at the Asahi News, in Osaka, was instrumental in providing him with the opportunity of becoming acquainted with Ueshiba. Because of the political turmoil of the times (early 1930's) the threat of violence was very real, and Hisa was advised to study with the Aikido founder. Later, Takeda himself began instructing at Asahi News dojo. Hisa compiled a formal catalogue of techniques of Daito ryu using photographs taken at the Asahi dojo, which has survived until today. The Daito ryu Aiki Budo Densho Zen Jukikan Mokuroku (also known as Soden) constitutes a valuable historical record.

In 1939, Takuma Hisa received a Menkyo Kaiden certificate from Sokaku Takeda. Although in his later years he relocated to Ogikubo, Tokyo, and was unable teach assiduously due to failing health, his students remained faithful, and eventually agreed to create the very reputable organization known today as Takumakai.

KODO HORIKAWA

1894 - 1980
His father, Taiso Horikawa (originally from the Fujino family), was a student of Sokaku Takeda, and it was from him that Kodo (then called Kotaro) first received instruction in martial arts. Before meeting Takeda, Taiso had trained in Shibukawa ryu jujutsu and swordsmanship, and enjoyed bujutsu very much. To be able to remember the techniques he learned from Takeda, he began practicing with his son. When Sokaku learned of this, he was initially upset (in traditional Bujutsu teaching the techniques without a formal permission is a grave offense), but he seemed to overlook it, since he obviously liked young Kotaro, who in 1914 became his formal student.

Because Kodo's body was small, Sokaku taught him accordingly, offering him ways of performing the techniques that suited his body type. The devoted Kodo received his Kyoju Dairi certificate in 1931, and was awarded a Menkyo Kaiden from Tokimune Takeda. As a teacher, he preferred the old ways. He would teach a technique just once, and disliked repeating it or having to answer many questions, as did Sokaku Takeda.

Although Kodo Horikawa died in 1980, his students continue preserving and teaching his techniques through the organization called Kodokai.

YUKIYOSHI SAGAWA

1902 - 1998
He was born in Uebetsu, Hokkaido in 1902, and began studying Daito Ryu Jujutsu with Sokaku Takeda in 1914 after receiving instruction from his own father, Nenokichi Sagawa. Sagawa received the Kyoju-Dairi(teaching certification) from Sokaku Takeda on August 24th, 1932, in Sapporo, Hokkaido. He also traveled with Sokaku Takeda often, acting as a demonstrator and later as an assistant instructor.

Sagawa was considered as the headmaster of Daito Ryu while Tokimune Takeda was absent during his service in the army. However, since Tokimune returned safely, Sagawa went on to teach independently, in his small private dojo in Kodaira, a suburb of Tokyo.

Yukiyoshi Sagawa had with him a treasure of experience from Sokaku Takeda. His techniques may not have been identical to those of actual main-stream Daito ryu, because Sokaku Takeda did not teach always in the same way, but his Daito ryu was nevertheless of great value.

Respected and remembered, in spite of his very low profile and humble ways, Yukiyoshi Sagawa was one of the last great teachers of the ko dai(old ways), and deserves a place of honor in the history of Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu.
SHIRO SAIGO

1867 - 1922?
Although a member of the Shida family, he is rumored to have been the natural son of Tanomo Saigo, born out of wedlock. Saigo would later formally adopt him, giving him the name of Noritake Shiro Saigo. Shiro's training was aimed at making him the inheritor of the art of oshikiuchi. Tanomo tried to instill in him the traditions of Uchinaru Aizu[internal Aizu] and the precept of Bunbu ryodo[giving equal importance to the pen and the sword]. Shiro would later comment to Toraziro Nobumitsu Ichikawa and Kinjiro Sada on Tanomo's strict adherence to formal rules of Aizu ettiquette, and their affinity for reading texts about Confucianism.
Shiro's call to fame, however, came from his involvement with Jigoro Kano and the Kodokan. He was instrumental in establishing the reputation of Kano's newly created art Judo. His trademark system of "total absorption" into one single technique at a time, borrowed from Saigo's teachings, was his greatest advantage, besides his natural abilities. However, when he was 25 years of age, Shiro suddently left the Kodokan. This incident is the subject of much speculation, but nothing conclusive is known about his reasons. Shiro did not truly sever his contacts with the martial arts. He is said to have traveled to Korea, and to Taiwan when he was 31 years of age, but he remained close to Mr. Sada, Mr. Narimoto, and other practitioners of jujutsu, kyujutsu, kenjutsu, etc.

He seemed to have spent his last years in Nagasaki as a newspaper employee, where he taught kyujutsu and Koshiki Eiha. Shiro Saigo suffered from an injured spine which produced recurrent and increasingly worse bouts with extreme back pain. This ailment may account for his alleged "difficult" character in his last days. He died at the age of 57. His teachings survived through his student, Houei Yamashita in the Shodokai.

TANOMO SAIGO

1830 - 1905
Tanomo Saigo, a.k.a Hoshina Chikanori Genzo/Genshin, was the eldest son of Chikamoto Saigo (also known as Tsunechiyo/Kichijuro, 1795-1860).

Tanomo Saigo’s father was a chief retainer of the Aizu clan and enjoyed a well deserved reputation as a warrior as well as a poet and a scholar. Young Chikanori had the opportunity to be among other great warriors of high learning, friends of his father or relatives of his mother, who was a member of the respected Komori family.

As the first born of his parents four sons and eight daughters, Chikanori enjoyed the privilege of being tailored to be head of the family, and his instruction in martial arts and related disciplines was much more thorough and intense, as was customary. One of his instructors was Soemon Takeda, grandfather of Sokaku Takeda.

Tanomo Saigo survived the Boshin war, and the fall of the Shogunate. He changed his name to Hoshina (a name used by some of his ancestors) as he entered the life of formal priesthood and administrator of the shrine. Sokaku Takeda visited him while Saigo lived at the Nikko Toshogu shrine, and at Ryozen shrine. And it was from him that Takeda received the advice to put aside the secrecy, which until then had protected the martial traditions of the Aizu clan, and teach Daito ryu openly. Saigo's influence on Sokaku proved to be of great importance for the survival of Daito ryu.
SOKAKU TAKEDA

1859 - 1943
He was the second son of Sokichi Takeda (1819-1906) and his wife, Tomi.

He was a direct descendant of the Minamoto lineage.

His main teacher was Tanomo Saigo, a Jodai Karo (minister or chief councilor) of the Aizu clan. His skills as a martial artist are the subject of popular oral traditions describing extraordinary feats of strategy and technique, but his relevance in Daito ryu history is the fact that it was he who first taught Daito ryu openly to individuals who were not related to the Aizu clan. His students number in the thousands, including some foreigners such as the 26th President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt, according to the surviving records. Many of those students head the majority of the lineage’s of Daito ryu who teach openly today. It is undeniable that without Sokaku's efforts Daito ryu would have died, or at most survived only as an obscure art taught to only a few, like so many other styles of ko ryu bujutsu.

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*. There was another student**, but he's gone now."

Nothing else needs to be said.

Letters and articles 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 has been painted, not of Sokaku Takeda, but of those who denigrate him, 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, such as Matsuo Sano, Katsuyuki Kondo and Ise Nakagawa among others.

* Tanomo Saigo
** Shiro Saigo

TOKIMUNE TAKEDA

1916 - 1993
The third son of Sokaku Takeda, by his second wife Sue, Tokimune (also called Sozaburo by his father), began his formal training in 1925, and was the logical successor of his renowned father. When his joining the army brought up the possibility that he would not return alive, another great teacher, Yukiyoshi Sagawa, was considered for this position, ensuring the survival of Daito ryu. Fortunately, Tokimune returned unharmed to resume his responsibilities.

In 1945 he moved to Abashiri, Hokkaido. In 1946 Tokimune joined the police force, and during his year in the service he received several awards for his outstanding record in police procedure and number of arrests.

In 1953, he established the Daitokan in Hokkaido, continuing the traditions of Takedaden Daito ryu, under the name Aiki Budo. Tokimune worked hard during this time at naming and cataloguing Daito ryu techniques, and forging harmonious ties of friendship and tolerance with other Daito ryu organizations. He also wrote about his father, clearing confusing or misinterpreted aspects of Sokaku's life, and providing useful insights into the character and skills of the legendary teacher who was once nicknamed Aizu kotengu[little demon of Aizu].

Tokimune's will power and dedication was put to the test when, after suffering a stroke, he was left partially paralyzed, and the diagnosis given by the doctors was that the condition was irreversible. Still, undefeated, Tokimune began a strict regiment of training that eventually restored his body, and once again he went on to dedicate his energies to Daito ryu. Although physically powerful, Tokimune was an affable and gentle man. Unconcerned with self-image, his motivation was not to surpass his father's reputation, but to preserve his father's art.

Shortly after his death, some conflicts arose about the identity of the rightful successor of the Takedaden Daito Ryu Aiki Budo. Regardless, we can rest assured that there are faithful followers who, in respect for an illustrious lineage and the memory of Tokimune Takeda, will not allow the traditions of Daito ryu to weaken.

MORIHEI UESHIBA

1883 - 1969
Ueshiba already had some previous martial arts training when he first met Sokaku Takeda at a seminar at the Hisada Inn, in Engaru, Hokkaido (1915), but he became very impressed by Takeda's skills, so much so that he remained there for some time longer so he could continue learning from him.

That was the start of a relationship that would bring renown to both teachers.

Ueshiba built a house for Sokaku in Shirataki Hokkaido, and Takeda relocated there with his family. Morihei enjoyed private instruction until he left Hokkaido in 1919, after receiving news of his father's illness. While living in Ayabe, Ueshiba (by then a follower of the Omoto religion) opened a dojo and began teaching Daito ryu. Sokaku moved to Ayabe in 1922. Some researchers are of the opinion that it was the suggestion of Onisaburo Deguchi (leader of the Omoto-kyo sect) that the term aiki should be added to Daito ryu Jujutsu. It is proper to say that the Aikido founder is indeed the best known student of Sokaku Takeda. The initial techniques taught by Ueshiba are very close to what he learned from the diminutive warrior from the Aizu. Their relationship lasted, it seems, until 1936. Ueshiba was living in lbaragi when Sokaku Takeda died.

Regardless of the controversy surrounding the connection between Daito ryu and Aikido, it is undeniable that Ueshiba taught Daito ryu, and handed out Daito ryu certificates where his name was followed by the phrase "a student of Takeda Sokaku".

It is also undeniable, however, that without Ueshiba's success as a teacher, and the ecumenical appeal of Aikido, Daito ryu would have remained in relative obscurity outside Japan.

Aikido is today an art much more popular and widely practiced than Daito ryu. But Morihei Ueshiba indeed deserves mention in every Daito ryu genealogy, for it is inarguable that for Aikido to come to life and develop as it has to its current grandeur, Morihei Ueshiba had to have been a teacher of Daito ryu.

HOUEI YAMASHITA

1889 - 1972
Houei Yamashita (or Hori) began his instruction at an early age in several disciplines of ko ryu bujutsu, under Kitano Unsui. Later, he would join the military academy in Tokyo, where he embraced nationalistic ideals. In this period of his life his bujutsu training was inflamed by the drive of a strong political passion. In 1915 he met with Shiro Saigo (who shared some of the same ideas) and began training with him. When Shiro died of illness in Hiroshima, Yamashita went through a difficult period spiritually. In 1927, he traveled to Manchuria, refusing the help offered by his friend, Sada. In 1930, he taught taijutsu to the Kanto Army Preservation Headquarters, and to the Military Police in 1931.

In 1965 he founded the organization named Shukikai. His teachings included bajutsu, kyujutsu, iaijutsu, and Koshiki Eiho. He also served as a Shinto priest in North Kyushu. Part of his legacy are writings on Koshinto Gyoho, and the ancient traditions of Daito ryu. Houei Yamashita’s teachings continue in the organization he created, now renamed Shodokai.