The charge of coordinating Aikido in continental Europe was then assigned to Abe Tadashi Sensei. His Aikido seemed even more impressive to Nocquet, albeit more violent. Abe promoted him to the rank of 1st Dan in 1954. Nocquet, now also a 4th Dan in Judo, founded clubs in the cities of Bordeaux and Biarritz and trained over 200 Judo black belts. Impressed by his enthusiasm and ability, Abe Sensei advised Nocquet to travel to Japan to learn Aikido directly from O Sensei.
This came to fruition when Nocquet was asked by the French Ministry of Cultural Affairs to travel to Japan in order to strengthen the bilateral relations established by the Franco-Japanese Cultural Agreement. Nocquet’s mission would be to study Aikido as the first foreign student to live at the home of the founder, Ueshiba Morihei, as well as Japanese physical therapy methods such as shiatsu and seitai-jutsu.
Nocquet arrived in Japan in August 1955 and was welcomed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by Matsuo Kuninosuke, who had lived in France for many years and now worked as the deputy editor of the Yomiuri newspaper. Nocquet did not speak any Japanese, but he had a decent command of English and was able to count on the support of His Excellency Sato Naotake from the United Nation Society, and French-speaking philosopher Tsuda Itsuo as his interpreter during his stay.
Nocquet was surprised to learn that his hosts had never heard about Aikido, which was understandable since until recently, O Sensei had only taught to a small number of students from the upper classes of Japanese society.
To be continued…