a web resource for the art of Shodo Morita

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The original NGA dojo in  Hokkaido, Japan. Morita Shodo (left) and Nara Tominosuke (right) are seated on the right in suits, and Richard Bowe (the only American in the group) is standing far right.

The History of Nihon Goshin Aikido

Shodo Morita created this art in the first half of the 20th century. Master Morita had reportedly studied several other arts, including Karate, Judo, Kobuto (ancient weapons techniques), and Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu, as well as other arts, and used his experience in these arts to build a complete and versatile self-defense system. He used Daito-Ryu as his primary base upon which to build this system, but incorporated strikes, ground work, and other techniques from the various other arts to craft a system that provided complementary techniques to suit many different situations and body types.

While stationed in Japan, Richard Bowe studied Nihon Goshin Aikido under Master Morita, becoming the only westerner to earn a black belt rank from him. Upon Master Morita's death in 1962, Master Morita's stepson - Tominosuke Nara - became the head of the style, and Richard Bowe brought Nihon Goshin Aikido to the United States, where he organized it into the 50 techniques we currently know. Mr. Bowe kept in close contact with Master Nara after coming to the U.S., eventually receiving the title of Shihan from Master Nara for his continued training and promotion of Nihon Goshin Aikido in the U.S.

Master Nara eventually closed the original training hall in Hokkaido, and the art is no longer taught in Japan. It is growing, however, in the U.S., under the leadership of Bowe Shihan and the instructors who have learned from him and his lead students. 

Bowe Shihan still teaches black belt classes at the hombu (heaquarters) dojo in North Bergen, NJ. There are also a number of instructors and schools now operating both within a few NGA-related associations, as well as some independent dojos. In all cases, legitimate NGA instructors should have a fairly direct link to Mr. Bowe in their instruction lineage.

How is Nihon Goshin Aikido related to other Aikido?

Most styles of Aikido are descended from the art of Morihei Ueshiba O-sensei. Sometime after creating his art, O-sensei named it Aikido, to reflect its heritage from Aiki Jujutsu (following the naming convention of the time by changing the "-jutsu" art to a "-do" art). O-sensei's background included training in Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu (the same art that provides the main basis for Nihon Goshin Aikido). Shodo Morita was a contemporary of O-sensei, though he was somewhat younger. When Master Morita created his new art, he also followed the common naming convention, calling his art Aikido, as well, but adding "Nihon Goshin" to identify the primary focus of his art: self-defense (and, presumably, to differentiate it from O-sensei's art).

Thus, Nihon Goshin Aikido is related to Ueshiba Aikido (and all of its descendents) through a common heritage in Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu. Many techniques are similar, and many similar principles are applied, although the movements and philosophies can be dramatically different between the two offshoots of Daito Ryu. 

Copyright© 2009, Gerry Seymour. All rights reserved.