What kind of training did your father give you specifically?
I trained along with everyone else, so there was never any time when he called me aside to give me alone any special training. He always did make a point to give me certain pieces of advice while I was out on the mat, for example, to always perform my techniques cleanly and carefully, to keep my hips down, and to make my movements large. But in terms of how to do nikyo or sankyo or what have you, I’d been seeing and experiencing those techniques since I was small and already understood them, so I never received any particularly detailed instruction about them.
Mostly what I was taught had to do with the larger main points like those I just mentioned.
Also, I have to say although my father was also my teacher, when we went home at night I think our relationship was just about like that between any other father and son. (laughs)
Did that include the kind of “rebellious” stage that most teenagers go through at one point or another?
Well, no, in fact I never went against my father like that, but apparently I was something of a terror in elementary school. (laughs) I used to get into all kinds of mischief, and my mother was forever being called in to the school to account for something I’d done. So I suppose any rebellious urges I may have had got channeled outside instead of going against my father.
How do you view your father’s role in the history of aikido?
Aikido exists because somebody created it, but the fact that it exists in its present form is in great part due to the cumulative results of the ongoing efforts my father made all his life based on his understanding of the founder’s intentions. I think it is largely due to those efforts that aikido has taken the form it has now, and that it has become so popular and well-regarded throughout the world today.
Looking even further back, in the process of formulating aikido the founder travelled extensively and pursued many different types of training, and he was able to do that largely thanks to the backing and support of my great grandfather Yoroku, who let him walk on his own path and helped him do it. My grandmother also supported him, in her own fashion, as his wife. So for the aikido we have today, we owe a great deal to the cumulative efforts of many different people.