In publishing this article I hope that interested readers will have a better understanding about Inoue Hanshi and his lifetimes work in both developing and promoting Yoshinkan Aikido.
I have had the privilege to have spent much time with him both on and off of the tatami and every time that I receive his tuition I learn something new despite having studied Yoshinkan Aikido for over 47 years. As a person Inoue Hanshi is a very gentle man quick witted with a great sense of humor and one of my great pleasures is listening to his stories about his life and times with his teacher the late founder of Yoshinkan Gozo Shioda Hanshi.
My first meeting with Gozo Shioda Hanshi was many years ago in England (see Photos) my late friend Sensei Eddie Stratton had organized a seminar with Shioda Hanshi in a place called Watford which is near London. My first impression was how small Shioda Hanshi was but of course he became a giant when on the tatami. I remember well sitting next to him at a party after the first days training in Stratton Sensei’s home he was dressed in his customary suit and I felt his warmth ,kindness and genuine zest for life. Shioda Hanshi spoke a little English but with my poor Japanese we were able to communicate and he told me stories about his life with O’Sensei Uyeshiba which was fascinating, in particular I remember his sense of humor his warmth and his pleasure to know that so many people Worldwide were trying to learn Aikido. I mention this meeting because it has relevance to Inoue Hanshi, Chida Soke and all great masters of Aikido in that they are all truly humble down to earth honest people and technical ability aside they are special people.
Photos 1-4: Kancho Sensei Gozo Shioda in England
Of course being in the presence of such a great master such as Inoue Sensei can be a little daunting particularly at demonstrations and I remember in Malaysia in 2005 on the occasion of the Master Class seminar and official opening of Sensei Sony Loke’s new dojo there was to be a public demonstration. This was held in a huge auditorium in front of many people and dignitaries ,we the senior ranks were sat with the dignitaries on a row of special seats facing the stage watching students give their demonstrations and waiting for our turn. I do not like giving demonstrations too much and sat wondering what to do because I suppose being in front of Inoue Hanshi wanted to make an impression , and then it as my turn and I went into the stage facing the audience and of course Inoue Hanshi who sat there with no expression on his face. So I decided to interact with the audience and treat this as a normal teaching session, I demonstrated basic techniques and practical applications explaining as I went through my demonstration all the time watching sensei’s face for any reaction good or bad. My demonstration finished and I left the stage thinking that I had blown it ,I returned to my seat and then Inoue Sensei took to the stage and as usual gave a fantastic demonstration, several times during his demonstration whilst explaining he looked at me and said “This is exactly as David Sensei has explained”. I felt elated and at this moment I understood that in demonstrating our Aikido we should not try to impress with fancy techniques but just to be ourselves and show our Aikido at the level we have achieved .Now when I am in the presence of Sensei I can relax and absorb more because my mind is clear and free from ego. It was after this meeting in Malaysia that Inoue Hanshi began to show me many inner things about Aikido and I understand that earlier I was not ready for this.
The following information (abridged) about Inoue Hanshi is published with the kind permission of the editor of www.gottsu-iiyan.ca a fascinating website full of information about Japan and all things Japanese, much information about other sensei’s can also be found here.
7th dan Renshinkai Aikido
Hanshi Kyoichi Inoue
INOUE KYOICHI (井上強一), born Sept 10th 1935 in Hokkaido, Japan, is a 10th Dan aikido instructor and holds the rank of hanshi. He was aikido instructor to the Tokyo Metropolitan police and riot squads on behalf of Aikido Yoshinkan, and later become the 2nd Kancho.
Inoue is currently Aikido Master Emeritus of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, and Kancho of Aikido Shinwakan (合気道親和館). Although no longer affiliated, he is nonetheless a living legend of Yoshinkan Aikido, having been at Yoshinkan since its beginning and helping to formulate the distinct kihon dosa and teaching system. He is recognized as one of the very best aikidoka in the world today.
In April 2009, Inoue was awarded the title hanshi, and the rank of 10th dan by the International Budo Federation (国際武道院).
Born Sept 10th 1935 in Hokkaido. While a junior in university, Inoue was also studying at the Logos English language school in Mejiro because he wanted to become a diplomat. It was during this time that he heard about aikido from a classmate and the course of his life would be altered.
Inoue enrolled at the Yoshinkan dojo on November 1st, 1955, about six months after the Tsukudo Hachiman dojo was built, together with Kushida Takashi. Inoue trained daily, morning until night, with Kushida and it wasn't long before he became an uchideshi under headmaster and founder Shioda Gozo, and later a Yoshinkan instructor. Inoue was chosen to be a member of the first kenshu intensive training program that was started the spring following his enrollment. After that, he became an instructor and was sent around to teach at various organizations such as the police training academy, the riot police, and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.
It was under these circumstances that he had to figure out various ways to teach large groups effectively. Inoue decided that the best way to teach large groups of beginners would be to break down the techniques and teach by step-by-step commands. Under Shioda Gozo's supervision, Inoue and Kushida also helped formulate the Kihon Dosa (basic movements) and systemize the teaching of Yoshinkan Aikido. The Kihon Dosa and teaching method Inoue helped create form the basis of practice in every Yoshinkan dojo around the world. Inoue recalled this in an interview with the Aikido Journal in 1987 (issue number 76):
"When we became trainee instructors I went to teach the Youth Education Corps of the self-defense force which is headquartered in Kinugasa in Yokosuka City. When I taught them “tai no henko” (body turning exercise), one of the young men asked me something like, “Sir, how many degrees should we open our legs?” or “What percentage of weight should be shifted forward over our centers?” (Laughter). I didn’t have any answer for him but I had to say something. I responded: “There is no exact degree or percentage involved since everything changes depending on the amount of power of the opponent.” I then demonstrated several examples. I talked my way out of it like that. It was around then that the trainee instructor system was established. It was suggested that some basic forms should be established to teach future groups in order to deal with questions posed during seminars. They fixed the degree of turn of tai no henko, the practice method of “hiriki no yosei” (development of joint power) and various technical points and developed the system of verbal commands. We began to teach techniques breaking them down into component parts and using commands in 1955 or 56."
Around the time when Yoshinkan was just established, Master Gozo Shioda (Kancho Sensei) and one of his oldest students, Inoue Sensei (the previous Head of Yoshinkan), were both young. The time was still fresh after the war and the security in Japan was still quite poor, knife fights happening were everyday events. One day among these days, on the way back from a pub Inoue Sensei got involved in a quarrel and a man took a knife out of his pocket attacking him. Inoue Sensei dodged the knife moving in a side-forward way and grabbed the attacker’s other hand performing Sankajo-nage instantly as this was the technique he had just mastered. The attacker, of course, did not know ukemi and flew into the ditch straight on his face, instead of rolling. He lied on his stomach half in the ditch and did not get up. Inoue Sensei was so impressed with the impact of the Sankajo-nage and left the scene heading home. But the very next morning when he got up, his brain totally clear from the effect of alcohol, he got so frightened at the possibility of the attacker’s death from suffocation having his face half in the ditch. He checked the newspapers thoroughly and was relieved to find no news of a suspicious death. Yet, now he began feeling guilty for using Aikido for a silly quarrel while drunk and decided to apologise to Kancho Sensei - honestly summoning all his courage. He expected to be scolded badly for his light-minded attitude. Yes, he was told off furiously as he expected though it was for a totally unexpected reason. After he finished explaining all the details to Kancho Sensei of how and why the incident happened. Kancho Sensei listened to his story closely and then he asked a question to Inoue Sensei. “Which hand did you lock with the Sankajo?” He replied, “It was on the empty hand side.” Then, “You idiot! Why didn’t you put the lock on the hand with the knife? That's dangerous! You, careless thing!!” yelled Kancho Sensei with anger. He did not worry about the moral concept as a budoka at all but he was so focused on practical applications of Aikido in real battles.
Tokyo Metropolitan Police
In 1970, following a request from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Office, Inoue was assigned to teach aikido to the womens police and Riot Squad members at the Metropolitan Police School. Inoue taught aikido to the Police Department for more than 25 years. During that extended period, he honed his teaching skills to the point of being able to present the Yoshinkan Aikido curriculum in easily understood terms to a large audience.
Around that time, in 1972, with Kushida Takashi and Ogawa Masao, Inoue was part of the first visits by Japanese Yoshinkan teachers to New Zealand at the request of David Lynch (who founded the first Yoshinkan in New Zealand).
In 1992 Inoue received his 9th dan from Shioda Gozo.
Return to Yoshinkan Honbu
Inoue retired from the Metropolitan Police on March 31st 1996, and returned to the Yoshinkan honbu dojo the following day, April 1st. He was assigned the title of Dojocho by Aikido Yoshinkai shortly after.
- Inoue visited the Misogikan dojo in Russia in May with Sonoda Takehiko, this Seminar with the Misogikan also co-in sided with a two hour demonstration of Martial Arts held at the famous Russian State Circus at which Inoue Sensei was the senior rank.
As Yoshinkan Kancho
Awarded the rank of Hanshi and assigned title of Kancho by Aikido Yoshinkai. Inoue was the first to hold the title Kancho following Yoshinkan founder Shioda Gozo's death in 1994. As Kancho, Inoue was the leader and primary representative of Aikido Yoshinkan. In such capacity, he tirelessly worked to promote Yoshinkan aikido around the world and he participated in a number of special events, some of which are as follows:
- Participated in Aiki Expo 2002
- Conducted a seminar at the Misogikan in October 2002
- Participated in Aiki Expo 2003
- From July 10 to July 13, 2003, he conducted clinics at Aikido Yoshinkai Canada (AYC). Inoue taught a series of 6 advanced clinics, all of which were held at the Aikido Yoshinkai Canada headquarters in Toronto and were limited to 50 participants (of at least 3rd kyu and higher). Throughout this special training, Inoue focused on the Hombu Dojo’s testing requirements for Instructor Certification. There are various technical and other aspects to this stringent certification process – all of which were reviewed and outlined for the participants. The clinics were recorded and later released on DVD.
- In 2003, accompanied by Darren Friend (former head international instructor at honbu and now head of Yoshinkai Sydney NSW), Inoue made his first visit to Australia. A video was released that includes demonstrations by Mori Michiharu (Aikido Yoshinkan Brisbane) and Joe Thambu (Aikido Shudokan), along with Darren Friend demonstrating and taking uke for Inoue. Unfortunately, the video of this historic visit is only available in VHS PAL format.
- On February 21st, 2004, Inoue attended a ceremony for Saito Hitohiro and the foundation of Shin Shin Aiki Shurenkai. This event was also attended by Homma Gaku, who wrote a report in his column on the Aikido Nippon Kan website that includes comments showing high praise for Inoue. Homma also comments that Inoue attended the ceremony despite voices within the Yoshinkai against it out of concern for Yoshinkan's relationship with the Aikikai. Inoue is said to have commented that he felt obligated to honor the son of his teacher's good friend Saito Morihiro.
- It was reported in a Shinkendo on-line newsletter dated Feb. 2004 (http://www.shinkendo.com/news/news_feb2004.pdf) that Inoue, in his capacity as Yoshinkan headmaster, visited Kushida Takashi at the Genyokan Yoshokai dojo during celebrations for his 30th anniversary of teaching aikido in the U.S. Whether any sort of reconciliation between Yoshinkai and Kushida resulted from this extraordinary visit is unknown.
- In October 2005, Inoue visited the Doshinkan Dojo, headed by Utada Yukio (Yoshinkan aikido 7th dan), in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photos of this event are posted on the Aikido Association of North America website.
- Opened the New Dojo of Sony Loke Sensei in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and held Instructors Examinations with Misogikan taking part in the examinations and the public demonstration.
Between March 21st and 26th, he participated in a demonstration in France also attended by Obata Toshishiro, formally of Yoshinkan (Obata stated that he had not seen Inoue Sensei in 33 years before this event).
March 23-26, to celebrate the initiation of Yoshinkan Aikido in Kona, Hawaii, Aikido Yoshinkai Hawaii-Koryokan Dojo hosted a series of clinics with Inoue, Chida Tsutomu and Robert Mustard.
This was to be one of his final events representing Yoshinkan as headmaster.
Inoue resigned from the Yoshinkan honbu dojo effective Mar.30th, 2006, apparently due to an internal dispute. Exactly when Inoue actually resigned and the circumstances surrounding his leaving the Yoshinkan have not been made public. The following June, after his resignation had been announced, Inoue participated in the black belt gradings at the Yoshinkan honbu dojo, after which he addressed those in attendance and announced that he had retired from the Yoshinkan after 50 years (the actual word in Japanese, "taishoku" (退職), is ambiguous and could mean either "retire" or "resign"). In his short address Inoue encouraged everyone to continue their study of Yoshinkan aikido. A short time later it was announced that Shioda Yasuhisa had been elected to become the next Kancho on June 14th of that year, only a few months after Inoue's resignation took effect and only days after his final address to the students at the rank gradings.
During the year following Inoue's departure from Yoshinkan, a number of other instructors and staff resigned from the honbu dojo, including honbu dojocho Chida Tsutomu, who resigned effective December 2007 and is now also independant (see Aikido Renshinkai).
At the end of 2007, nearly a year after the above events, the Yoshinkan honbu dojo posted an announcement that Inoue had resigned and is now independant. No other mention of him was made and little evidence that he even existed remains in the dojo, despite the fact that he played a major role in the development of Yoshinkan Aikido's trademark kihon dosa (基本動作), and had reached the absolute highest level of Kancho.
Inoue Kyoichi Today
Although ties with the Yoshinkai have been cut, Inoue Kyoichi remains active in the aikido community. He continues to participate in the All Japan Students' Aikido League (全日本学生合気道連盟), and holds seminars around the world, as well as continuing to write his column for the Aikido Journal's quarterly Japanese magazine "Do" (Although his column page no longer features the Yoshinkan advertisement as it had in the past).
- Inoue participates in the annual All Japan Students' Aikido League (全日本学生合気道連盟: Zen Nihon Gakusei Aikido Renmei) annual demonstration. Along with various school aikido clubs, were demonstrations by the following masters (cira 2007 & 2008):
- Inoue Kyoichi (9th Dan, Aikido Master emeritus Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department)
- Matsuo Chizuko (Yoshinkan Aikido, 6th Dan)
- Matsuo Masazumi (Yoshinkan Aikido, 7th Dan)
- Tanaka Shigeho (9th Dan, Master emeritus, Meiji Jingu Shiseikan)
- December 2007 saw Inoue in Russia with a visit to the Misogikan dojo in Russia with his assistant and former Yoshinkan instructor Takashima Saburo (now with Aikido Renshinkai, as is the Misogikan dojo). also with Inoue Sensei were his wife and daughter. This visit was both to conduct a seminar and to officially open the new Misogikan Honbu Dojo.
- In April, Inoue toured Australia, hosted by Aikido Shudokan and Aikido Yoshinkai NSW. In May he gave a 3 day seminar in Germany, supported by Nagano Hiromichi (7th dan Yoshinkan) of Aikido Yoshinkan Munchen (Munich).
- In May, Inoue was in attendance at the Aikikai's annual All Japan Aikido Demonstration held at the Budokan.
- In May, Inoue conducted seminars in Petropavlovski-Kamchatka and Vladivostok (Russia) with his assistant and former Yoshinkan instructor Takashima Saburo.
- In September of 2008 Inoue was an executive committee member in the 1st Aikido Renshinkai Demonstration.
- In October Inoue conducted seminars in Philadelphia, U.S.A, hosted by Utada Yukio and the Doshinkan dojo.
- Between June 12-14, Inoue, along with Renshinkai head Chida Tsutomu and Renshinkai instructor Takashima Saburo, held the first ever "International Aikido Master's Clinic" in Malaysia. (http://www.aikidomastersclinic.com/)
In March 2010 Inoue Hanshi will visit the Misogikan in Russia then travel on to both Kamchatka and Vladivostok.
- Aikido Shinwakan is established with Inoue as Kancho.
According to Gottsu-iiyan
I first saw Inoue sensei in person in February 2006 at the Yoshinkan honbu dojo. I was considering getting back into aikido after a long hiatus and went to watch a class at honbu. It just so happened that he was conducting the class along with the dojocho, Chida Tsutomu Sensei.
During the class, Inoue Sensei took some time to come over to the visitors bench and speak with me, during which time I told him that I was interested in getting back into aikido. Instead of a sales pitch, Inoue sensei only gave me some advice and kind words. After speaking with him and seeing him in action during the class, I was convinced "this is it!" I signed up on the spot (at which time I had a chance to speak with Chida Sensei) as well and I have been training ever since.
The classes Inoue Sensei conducted always had a special feel to them, particularly the opening day of the special ten day early morning summer and winter training sessions (暑中稽古: Shochuugeiko, and 寒稽古: Kangeiko respecively). I participated in all ten days of both and loved every minute of them. Inoue sensei truly has the magic touch when it comes to teaching and I probably learned more from the relatively few words I heard him say than from any other single source during that time. If his words and demonstrations weren't enough, I had a couple opportunities to feel his techniques for myself. I don't have the words to describe it, but anyone who has encountered Inoue sensei will know what I mean. More than anything I was awed by the way he conducted himself. He is a true gentleman and I could not imagine a better rolemodel and teacher.