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
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
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.