This is quote from Interview of Hong Kong Aikido Association Ltd. in Oct 2004
Interview with Takao Hattori Sensei
M : Hattori Sensei, can you tell us how you started to learn Budo and Aikido?
H : I started first to learn Sumo when I was 16 in Yokosuka high school (same school as Prime minisiter J.Koizumi ). I joined the Kanagawa Prefecture High School Sumo Competition which was held two times a year and I won the Spring Championship of the Kanagawa Prefecture High School Sumo Competition. I also trained in western wrestling in high school and there was a lot of study and play which kept me very busy. I entered Chuo University in Suidobashi, the same university as Masando Sasaki Shihan of Hombu Dojo, and major in Mechanical Engineering. For P.T. subjects I chose Karate and Judo. In the second year of university, my friends suggested me to join American Football and I started as a new member in the team. I played American Football in the rest of my university days.
After graduation I joined Company and I started again in Karate. I remembered that after about 4 months later when I was practising Kumite (paired karate training) my opponent used a very different technique avoiding my punch. I asked what it was and he said, “Iriminage!” He told me that it was an Aikido technique. So I liked to see Aikido. I went to a branch dojo of Yoshinkan and watched and I was interested. Ishigaki Sensei suggested me to hold his hand and did Nikyo on me. It was very painful! Then Sensei asked me if I liked to join. I joined and stopped Karate. It was because if I continued in Karate I might damage my hand and for my work I did not like to damage my hand.
I trained in Yoshinkan style for 7 years and then also trained under Wakabayashi Sensei in Shinshin Toitsu style. At one time I was training in 3 styles of Aikido at the same time, in the Yoshinkan style under Ishigagi Sensei, in Shinshin Toitsu Aikido under Wakabayashi Sensei and in Nishio style under Nishio Sensei. I stopped Yoshinkan Aikido after I gained Sandan. I joined the Aikikai and I started as a Nidan.
There was a story how I met Wakabayashi Sensei. I got married when I was 26 years old and we had honeymoon together with my friend Nishioka, the two couples travelled together. When I visited his home he introduced me to his brother-in-law Tadaharu Wakabayashi Sensei. I was then Nidan in Yoshinkan. When he knew that I trained in Aikido Wakabayashi Sensei asked me to show some techniques. Then I found out that he taught Aikido in an Aikido Club in Hayama (a famous resort place in Japan). Wakabayashi Sensei then asked me to join as an instructor.
Wakabayashi Sensei studied in Waseda university and practiced Aikido at Hombu under Koichi Tohei Sensei,Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei ,Hiroshi Tada Sensei as well as Kisshomaru ex-doshu. He was Japanese American and later he established the Pasadina Aikikai when he moved back to USA for his MBA (Master of Business Administration) Degree and then he came back to Japan.
I met Shoji Nishio Sensei when a Yoshinkan friend asked me to go to the Kanagawa University Aikido Club Ceremony and I saw a demonstration in Nishio Sensei style Aikido. I enjoyed the small seminar but I was confused with the Aikido so I asked Nishio Sensei if I could join. He said “OK!” Then, after attained Sandan in Yoshinkan, I quited. Wakabayashi sensei gave me Nidan Aikikai and from Sandan to Rokudan (6th Dan) Nishio Sensei gave me certificate . In all I studied 7 years in Yoshinkan with Ishigaki Sensei, 28 years with Wakabayahi Sensei and 27 years with Nishio Sensei.
M : Many people confused about Nishio Sensei’s style of Aikido, can you explain to us about the different styles of Aikido you have learned?
H : I can understand why most people confused about Nishio Sensei’s style of Aikido and most people said that Nishio style was different from Aikikai style. I trained in many styles of Aikido. Yoshinkan style was basic Aikido. Shinshin Toitsu Aikido was Tohei Sensei style. I also visited Iwama when I was Godan (5th Dan) and I studied under Saito Sensei two times. Saito Sensei was good friend of Shioda Sensei (Founder of Yoshinkan). Iwama usually did not accept visitors. I was 5th Dan and I met the Uchideshi of Saito Sensei. He told me that if I liked he could take me to Iwama. I went to the Saturday & Sunday class and I also had a drink with Saito Sensei after training.
M : Can you tell us about the Aikido Toho Iai system?
H : When I started to learn Iai from Nishio Sensei I practised the Omori Ryu style of Iaido and the Keishicho Ryu Iaido. I held a 5th Dan rank and I am a member of the Zenkoku-Iaido Renmei . Later I quitted and followed Nishio Sensei. I am also a Rokudan (6th Dan) Renshi in the Muso Shinden Ryu and Araki Ryu Iaido. I later also stopped and now I still continue Toho Iai. I also do Batto and Tameshigiri practices. (Hattori Sensei was recently promoted to 7th Dan in Aikido Toho Iai).
Nishio Sensei learned many ways of Iai and he also learned Iai for Aikido. He created Iai forms for Aikido and related these to empty-hand techniques. He mixed many techniques together.
He hopes that by learning Aikido Toho Iai anyone can improve his Aikido.
H : More weapon training. Most Dojo do not train Ken versus Ken or Ken versus Jo. Aikido comes from Ken techniques but do not teach Ken – this is a problem. That was just the reason why I joined Nishio Sensei – Nishio Sensei teaches Ken versus Ken, Ken versus Jo and how to use sword.
Also Ukemi is important. If you learn how to do Ukemi you can enjoy Aikido. If you learn Ukemi and how to become Uke you can enjoy practice two times. Black belts have to learn Uke style – how to follow Tori, even though they are dan grades. Even (as simple as) Kokyu-ho Tori on the inside (Tori) must show Uke. The Sensei must show (how to) Uke.
M : Hong Kong. ( Oct 2004 )