In 1961, Morihei Ueshiba wished to send an expert to Europe and entrusted his disciple Masamichi Noro, who by that time had received the 6th dan, the responsibility of supporting the enthusiasm and training of the European and African practitioners. So, he was pushed by Morihei Ueshiba to embark toward the West with the title “Official Delegate for Europe and Africa”. It has been noted that from this time, he renounced all dan above the 6th that had been given to him by his master. He followed the sea route of the time, passing the Suez Canal and the Pyramids to land at Marseille on September 3, 1961. The beginning was difficult.
The art was new and the way of teaching it very different from the way it was taught in his master’s dojo. Everything had to be constructed, understood and made accessible to the western body and mind. Masamichi Noro deployed his initial energy in southeastern France and in Italy where Judo teachers had invited him to enrich the understanding of their students. The spirit was one of mutual assistance and pleasure in the study, following the wishes of Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo. Then he was invited to Belgium. He opened his first dojo there. In ploughing these new lands for the budōs he opened more than 200 dojos, as many in Europe as in Africa, flying from Sweden to Senegal.
This was a time of pioneers. Mutsuro Nakazono and Nobuyoshi Tamura joined him in 1963 and 1964, respectively. The task was immense, the success exemplary. In 1964, Masamichi Noro established his base in Paris and opened a succession of dojos which left their imprint within the heart of the French aikidokas : at the Gare du Nord, rue de Constance, rue des Petits Hôtels. In the Parisian melting pot, Masamichi Noro met Taisen Deshimaru, Karlfried Graf Dürckheim, Marie-Thérèse Foix, Gisèle de Noiret and Docteur Lily Ehrenfried. He opened himself to new ideas, to original perspectives, to occidental techniques.
To be continued…