It has been thirty three years since the Founder passed away, and I am now fifty two years old. My perceptions then and now have obviously changed with time. I see now a wider view of my experiences than I did when I was so young.
I had the great fortune to be a part of the Founders life in more ways than just through Aikido. For that reason, my memory and view of him is different than most. I watched the Founder when he went to Hombu dojo in Tokyo. There, he was the “company president” or CEO, and he acted like one on those occasions. At Iwama, I witnessed the private life of the man named Morihei Ueshiba, a kindly aging gentleman who took naps in the sun, and planted peanuts with ease. I think the real Founder, was the one I knew at Iwama.
The Founder has been a very special person in my life, and very influential in the direction my life has taken. I have now been living in the United States for over twenty eight years. In all of these years, with my own dojo to tend to, I have never held a “Founders Memorial Seminar” or any other commercial event to commemorate his passing. For me it is a very private time of reflection.
A couple of weeks ago I received a flyer advertising a “Founders Memorial Seminar” from another dojo. The flyer had a passport size photo of the Founder that you could peel off and keep in your wallet as a souvenir. It kind of reminded me of a scratch and sniff perfume ad in a glamour magazine. The photo I recognized. It had been taken in May of 1968. I was with him as his otomo when the photograph was taken. It had been taken as the Founder arrived at Hombu dojo and was being greeted by his students. He was dressed formally as usual in his kimono and Mr. Tsunoda took the picture. I still have one of the originals.
The only picture of the Founder I have in my dojo, is the one that hangs in the dojo altar. The only reason I have a picture of the Founder is to show students what he looked like. I have never used his image in any way for commercial reasons. I knew him personally, and it would be against my pride to do so. Those that use his picture did not know him.
As Aikidoists need to think about the origin of this art we practice. We need to go back to a simpler understanding of Aikido, an aikido renaissance if you will, to not forget our way.
*All rights reserved. Article and photographs reproduced with the permission of the author Gaku Homma Sensei.