Hanshi Kyoichi Inoue
Misogikan: Dear Inoue Sensei, would you please be so kind to answer some questions for Russian Aikido practitioners?
Misogikan Question (Q.): About when did you begin your practice of Aikido, Sensei?
Hanshi Inoue: I started my Aikido training in 1955.
Q.: Did you practice any kind of martial arts before?
Hanshi Inoue: I had not practiced in any other martial arts professionally, however I studied Judo, Kendo and Kyudo as a part of a school curriculum. Then when I was a child I was interested very much in a baseball, in junior high school and in a high school I practiced basketball. I also played role in a drama company as an actor and I won the first prize in a Tokyo children actor’s competition. I also studied a little of bit a tap-dancing because during that time in Japan tap-dancing and famous tap-dancers were very popular, and I wanted to make Tap-dancing my career. It was also my dream to become a diplomat, so I studied English in an English school. I also liked singing and was a member of a singing ensemble.
Q.: Who were senior students in those days?
Hanshi Inoue: Of course, you know Yoshinkan was founded by the late Gozo Shioda Sensei, so he was my main teacher, and at that time there were a couple of other senior instructors who supported the school, such as Terada Sensei, Matsuo Sensei, Watanabe Sensei. All these senior instructors have since passed away.
Q.: As far as we know, you developed Kihon Dosa with Kancho Sensei Gozo Shioda and Takashi Kushida Sensei. Could you please tell us about Kihon Dosa development?
Hanshi Inoue: During that time I was teaching large groups of people by myself; and to be able to teach aikido techniques properly to a large number of people it was very important to develop very simple movements which consists of every aikido technique, and for that reason myself and Kushida Sensei with the help of Shioda Sensei developed the six Kihon Doza movements.
Q.: So at this time Kihon Dosa was developed?
Hanshi Inoue: Well, Yoshinkan was found in 1955 and I became a first special student (uchi-deshi) of Gozo Shioda in the year following, so it was three or four years after, in 1958 or 1959.
Q.: Sensei, you had the longest relations with late Kancho Sensei Shioda Gozo. Would you please share with us some of the special moments that you have with Shioda Sensei?
Hanshi Inoue: There are so many wonderful memories it’s very hard to pick one; however, Sensei was a pure person, he was like a child, he has a very pure heart.
Q.: Sensei, what could you say about the practice method of step-by-step techniques studying and having everyone in the dojo practice them in unison? Is it useful for beginners, and for advanced-level students, or we must study Kihon Dosa from the very beginning to high-level?
Hanshi Inoue: I think, that it is necessary for every different level. For beginners, particularly, if you start to train basic movements well enough, then it will facilitate people to master their actual techniques after this. For the senior students the reviewing of basics is good because there is a tendency to loose a strong position (Kamae) and proper way of moving forward and pivoting, then they starting make techniques but because there are so many points to think about; once you master the basic movements you can make movements properly, it is this that allows students to focus more on small points.
Q.: Sensei, as far as we know, you taught at the police academy, didn’t you? How did you come to teach at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department?
Hanshi Inoue: In 1960 Shioda Gozo Sensei was requested by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department to give a demonstration and to teach each department of the Police Force and on Kancho’s instructions I was assigned as instructor to teach at these departments then after 7 years, in 1967, Metropolitan Police Department decided to put Aikido as an official curriculum for women police. Then Shioda Kancho decided to appoint me as an official instructor of Yoshinkan to spread Aikido in the Police Departments. Thus I became a professional Aikido teacher in the Tokyo Police Department.
Q.: What sorts of questions did the students at the police academy ask you regarding the handling of dangerous situations?
Hanshi Inoue: It was women police, so there were not questions as we can expect from male policemen. However, if women police faced difficult situations and asked questions about different types of attacks I taught them techniques, that do not require too much physical force to effectively use against attack.
When I was teaching in Tokyo Police Department I also taught Tokyo Riot Police Division.
Q.: From the perspective of other martial arts, aikido techniques are often believed to be ineffective in actual combat situations. And some people said, “Aikido is not a Budo, it’s just a dance in a martial art style” (because in Aikido we have neither competitions, no kicking techniques, and so on).
That is your opinion about Aikido as a kind of Budo?
Hanshi Inoue: I believe Aikido practice is a practice of martial arts. So it does have aspects of real martial arts, I believe, and yes, in our practise method we have no kicks, because you unbalance yourself then you are kicking somebody with your legs. For example, when I doing an Aikido demonstration in a New Zealand with two local guys, one of them held me around my chest with both arms, and another tried to punch me, then I kicked him on the body and he was quite surprised. After the demonstration he asked: “Why did you kick me? I thought there are no kicks in Aikido?” Then I replied: “oh, in a practise we have no kicks, but Aikido is a martial art, and in martial arts we cannot exclude any applied techniques”. It depends on the situation so if it is necessary to kick, we will kick if it is necessary to tackle – we will tackle. There are no fixed ideas in Aikido techniques.
Q.: A small technical question about knee position in Kamae posture. In Kenjutsu the leading leg’s knee is pointed straight forward, but in Aikido the leading leg’s knee is rotated outward. What is the reason for this difference?
Hanshi Inoue: In other martial arts there is a standing position called Hasso-No-Kamae in which the sword is held up near the shoulder and the body forms a triangular stance. It is used basically in Kendo and Karate, in martial arts, there are some that require fast movements back and forward so the leading foot is pointed forward, in Aikido we put more emphasized on the balance and turning movements but even in Iai, when you cut down inward, you will have to turn out your front leg to avoid cutting your own legs. So, this is basically about balance, and it is not a question of Aikido or Kendo. I think many other martial arts have this idea to keep the balance.
Q.: Could you please tell us about Shinwakan Aikido organization and its mission?
Hanshi Inoue: When I retired from Yoshinkan Kancho three years ago, there was someone whom I know, and this person asked me: “Wow, now you are free, how do you plan spend your free time?” and he offered me to work with him to open a new dojo and to teach children, for the future of Japan. The idea was to educate Japanese children through Aikido but nowadays we educate not only children, but their parents who are also studying Aikido . So we have to teach adults as well. Our Dojo is named Shinwakan. ‘Shin’ means – parents, relatives and family, ‘wa’ means harmony. So we opened this place and named it ‘Shinwakan’ – “the house of family harmony”. Our dojo will be open from this year April.
Q.: What is your opinion about Russian aikido level, and particularly, Misogikan school?
Hanshi Inoue: I have been invited in Russia several time and every time I come here I always have the same impressions of the people in Misogikan, and students in Russia. They are very dedicated to training, and it is has always impressed me, I think it is because of their serious relation and passion for this art.
However, one difficult point, once people are given black belts they tend to forget where they come from and they become arrogant and start to become very self-centered. I think that this one of important and most difficult part of their problem. So it is my wish that all students in Russia should not forget to appreciate their teacher who created the opportunity to practice this art. I want people to be good friends and respect each other, Aikido would play a great role in this part. To understand true Aikido there is no other way.
Q.: Do you have any plans to publish new books such us already published under your supervision by Aiki News?
Hanshi Inoue: I’d like to do it, if I have chance. But the publishing company called Aiki News has now changed its name to Michi Ltd., so the original Aiki News company does not exist.
Q.: Do you have any plans to write new books about Aikido?
Hanshi Inoue: I have many plans, I have very strong feeling to write a book. So, if I will have any chance, I will.
Misogikan: Sensei, thank you very much for your interview!
And our special thanks to Sensei Takashima Saburo for his help with the translation.