Today, August 9th, marks the 73rd anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. Three days earlier, on August 6th, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. This put an end to WWII and was a difficult call made by President Truman, but it was the right call. Thousands and thousands of American lives were spared that would have been lost with an invasion of the Japanese mainland in the face of a people with an ancient warrior spirit that would have fought to the last man. Sometimes, you have to go to his house before he comes to yours (a lesson for decent Americans to ponder even today in the face of growing liberal, mainstream media, and Antifa tyranny).
As for Japan, it seems like the ancient warrior spirit of an ancient people never recovered after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In a mere two generations, the culture has gone from bushido and the fierce fighting spirit of the samurai and the kamikaze to sex dolls, anime, blue hair, crying rooms, and a government that will not stand up to a North Korean fat man who threatens with nuclear rockets.
In the realm of martial arts, WWII and the atomic bombs are a great divide. What was promoted and pedaled to the Western world after 1945 slowly devolved and eventually paled in comparison to what was practiced, preserved, and applied prior to Japan’s defeat. Bujutsu became budo; the martial became religious superstition; principles became techniques; kata became a dance; training became competition with rules; and black belts became a dime a dozen. Those bombs did more than destroy a couple of cities; they virtually extinguished an ancient warrior spirit. What remained of that spirit and was brought to the Western world has then only been further doused by American sensei who have betrayed what they have been taught while kidding themselves that they are somehow like the ancient warriors and that what they teach is somehow like what was once taught. And all the while, the tails of that black belt get shorter and that belly gets wider. It really is quite sad. Seventy-three years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the spirit of Japanese martial arts as practiced in the United States is on life support and has become as big of a joke as today’s Japanese “crying room.” Shame!
As a culture, are we Americans any better? We didn’t have atomic bombs dropped on our soil, and yet in the same two generations, we have gone from the fighting spirit of the American WWII GI and Rosie the Riveter, the Greatest Generation, to “safe spaces,” millennial snowflakes, #metoo, and sheeple that sit back and do nothing as their nation is torn apart, their freedoms are taken, their borders are breached, and their society is overrun by liberal tyrants. Oh that we had the same Japanese spirit that was once willing to fight to the death to preserve things held dear.
There were some after WWII who were trained in pre-WWII Japanese martial arts apart from that which was quickly watered down to accommodate post-war politics, the university framework, and formal competition. Jack Mumpower, Jr. is one such example. He was a student of Kenji Tomiki and Hideo Obha (Aikido patriarchs who trained prior to WWII) at Fuchu Air Station in Fuchu, Japan in the late 1950's. This air base provided the medium for Mr. Tomiki and Mr. Ohba to continue practicing what they were originally taught on American servicemen, something the politics of nearby Waseda University did not allow with regard to it students. Mr. Mumpower was a rag doll for these men, and they taught him their ways without outside interference clamoring about safety, competition, or rules. Jack studied four nights a week with these men for two and a half years. There were no intermediate instructors, only personal attention, hand-to-hand. What he learned is precisely what Mr. Tomiki himself referred to when he reflected on his own studies: "What I studied at that time was Daito-ryu aikijujutsu, not aikido, so I don't understand present-day aikido.” It wasn’t present-day competition-based aikido or religious Omoto crap taught at Fuchu Air Station, it was the pre-WWII MARTIAL art. In 1960, Jack Mumpower, Jr. became the first American to ever attain the rank of Nidan in Tomiki Aikido and then returned to the States and opened a dojo in Charlotte, NC, the first of its kind in North America. In the sixty years since, while so many martial arts that were brought to American shores have effectively been castrated, he continued practicing and teaching exactly the same principles he was taught by those who wanted them preserved and perhaps realized this couldn’t be done in a culture that had been forever altered by Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This pre-WWII form of Aikido has been preserved primarily in the 15 Basics, the defining principles of an art entrusted to Mr. Mumpower to preserve. Sadly, many who learned from him or from his students in North Carolina over the years have abandoned these as principles to be applied and rather teach them as techniques to be memorized so one can run on to some other set. Some of the videos posted online today by those who claim to practice the Aikido that was taught in North Carolina long ago are barely recognizable and only embarrass the dojos who dare upload this stuff.
A select few of us are privileged to have found Mr. Mumpower in recent years and to have become his students. We emptied our cups so that we might fill them with martial art principle as it was taught long ago, before the ancient fighting spirit of a culture was quenched.
Now, so much of what we once learned and once practiced seems like a joke. Thankfully, those memories are fading.
We train to FIGHT, not to dance or rehearse sets. We don’t want to fight and will do everything to avoid it, but like the Japanese warriors before the atom bombs, we will fight to the last man to protect our hearths, our homes, and the things we hold dear in these increasingly dangerous times. If need be, we will fight, and we certainly know how!