Daito-ryu Aiki-Jujutsu is an old Jujutsu style presumably founded my Minamoto, Yoshimitsu in the eleventh century. Originally, it was only practised by the highest ranking Samurais in the Takeda family in the Kai fiefdom in northern Japan. Feudal overlord Takeda, Shingen died in 1573, and his kinsman Takeda, Kunitsugu moved to the Aizu fiefdom, where he became Jito – overseer of the fief. Kunitsugu introduced Daitoryu Aikijujutsu at the Aizu fiefdom, where the secret fighting art only was taught to the feudal lords and the highest ranking samurais and ladies in waiting. The feudal system was broken down after 1868 when the Meiji restoration begun. Saigo, Tanomo (1829-1905), the heir to Daito-ryu gave the system to Takeda, Sogaku (1859-1943) and instructed him to pass it on to future generations. Takeda, Sogaku first used the term “Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu” in the beginning of the twentieth century and taught the art of it to many students. Takeda, Sogaku taught Daito-ryu from the beginning of the twentieth century until his death in 1943 two of his best known students were Ueshiba, Morihei, founder of Aikido and Choi, Yong Sul, founder of Hapkido. Other prominent 20th century Daito-ryu masters include Horikawa, Kodo (1894-1980); Takuma, Hisa (1895-1979); Hakaru, Mori (1931-), the current director of the Daitoryu Aikijujutsu Takumakai; Sagawa, Yukiyoshi (1902-); Takeda, Tokimune (1916-1993), son of Takeda, Sogaku; Katsuyuki, Kondo (1945-); and Okamoto, Seigo (1925-), who is often considered the most progressive teacher of Daitoryu Aikijujutsu. Description and Training: The way of teaching Daitoryu comes from Takeda, Sogaku’s students in the same manner as the understanding, feeling and character of the techniques. Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu has four levels of techniques: Shoden (Lowest), Chuden (advanced), Okuden (highest) and Hiden (secret techniques). Shoden The training in Daito-ryu starts with Shoden, where the student learns ukemi (falling and rolling), taisabaki (moving the body), tesabaki and ashisabaki (movements of the hands and feet and legs), defense against grappling, and continues with defense against punches, kicks and weapons, as for instance short and long staffs (tanbo, jo and chobo) and knives and swords (tanto and katana). There are techniques that can be done from standing, sitting or lying positions. The first transmission scroll Hiden Mokuroku describes the first 118 jujutsu techniques from the Shoden level. Chuden These are advanced jujutsu techniques with large soft movements as known from Aikido. The actual aiki training consists of a combination of these techniques and those from Shoden. At this level of training it is allowed to use some amount of force, several steps and large movements. Okuden When doing Okuden all movements should be as small as possible. Breathing, reflexes, circles and timing are used instead of muscles; the techniques are small and fast, and it is not necessary to hold an attacker in order to throw him. The reflexes of the attacker are used against him. He gets a soft shock, similar to an electric shock activating his reflexes, and it becomes easy to manipulate the body of the attacker so it is felt as an extension of one’s own. Hiden These are the secret techniques. The real aiki consists always of soft techniques that only work properly when the whole body and proper breathing is used. The attacker is touched easily, you are as glued to him, and the techniques are so small that even experienced budokas cannot see what is happening. However, the most fascinating part of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu is that it is unnecessary to use physical power for incapacitating the attacker his own force is turned against him.
Reference: Torben Alstrup/Ole Kingston