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A brief history of Aikido

Modern Aikido is firmly rooted in the following three Martial Arts: Kito Ryu Jujutsu, Goto-Ha Tagyu Ryu Jujutsu and Daito Ryu Jujutsu. Practitioners of Kito Ryu Jujutsu perform their techniques in full armor or in formal robes representing full armor; techniques are centered upon throwing an opponent to the ground. Dr. Jigoro Kano combined the best elements of Kito Ryu Jujutsu with Tenjin-shinyo to found modern Kodokan Judo. Goto-Ha Yagyu Ryu Jujutsu traces it's origin to Iajutsu or the Art of Sword Drawing. Of all three, Aikido is primarily influenced by Daito Ryu Jujutsu.

Daito aikijutsu is said to have been founded by Prince Teijun, the sixth son of the Emperor Seiwa (850 - 880 AD.). Through the prince's son, Tsunemoto, it was passed on to succeeding generations of the Minamoto family. By the time the art had reached Shira Saburo Yoshimitsu, the younger brother of Yoshiie Minamoto, it would appear that the foundations of the present Aikido had already been laid. Yoshimitsu was apparently a man of exceptional skill and learning. He realized that a warrior's hands and wrists, uncovered and unprotected as they were could be especially vulnerable and he therefore developed techniques to be applied against these points. It is believed he called his system Daito Ryu Aikijutsu after his house "Daito Mansion".

Yoshimitsu's second son, Yoshikiyo, lived in Takeda in the province of Kai, and he eventually became known by this name. Subsequently, the techniques were passed on to successive generations as the secret art of the Takeda house and made known only to members and retainers of the family. In 1574, Taken Kunitsugu moved to Aizu and the techniques passed on to his descendants came known to be as Aizu-todome techniques.

Thereafter the art remained an exclusively samurai practice and was handed down within the family until Japan emerged from isolation into the Meiji period in 1868. At that time Sokaku Takeda, the head of the family, began to teach the art outside the Takeda household, traveling widely throughout Japan and finally settling in Hokkaido. His son, Tokimune Takeda, opened the Daitokan dojo in Abashiri, Hokkaido, and continued to further the development of Aikido as the head of the Daito school.

The teachings of the Daito Ryu Aikijutsu continue today and Tokimune Takeda is its current headmaster in Japan. The leading exponents of this traditional sect are Kotaro Horikawa, Yukiyoshi Agawa, Takuma Hisa, Hosaku Matsuda, Tomekichi Yamamoto and Richard Kim in the USA. Matsuda trained two other leading proponents of aikijutsu. Yoshiji Okuyama and Sachiyuki Oba. Okuyama is the founder of Hakko Ryu Jujutsu, a modern Bujutsu and includes among his many disciples Michiomi Nakano who, as Doshin So is the founder of the Nippon Shorinji Kempo system.

AikidoThe most outstanding of Sokaku Takeda's pupils was Morihei Ueshiba (often referred to by his title 'O-Sensei' or 'Great Teacher'). O-Sensei, a man of rare ability, brought to the Daito school the skills of other ancient martial art schools and added techniques of his own setting the stage to develop modern Aikido. O-Sensei, prior to studying under Sokaku Takeda, had received certificates from Tokusaburo Tozawa of Kito Ryu Jujutsu and Masakutsu Nakai of Goto-Ha Ryu Jujutsu.

Aikido was founded in Tokyo in 1942 by Morihei Ueshiba (often referred to by his title 'O-Sensei' or 'Great Teacher'). For many years O-Sensei taught and guided the development of his creation from his Dojo in Wakamusu-cho in Tokyo.

With the death of O-Sensei in 1969 the development of Aikido was continued by his son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba who presided at Hombu Dojo the general headquarters of the International Aikido Federation, representing all the countries of the free world. Through this organization the quality of the art and the black belt ranks have been strictly regulated.

AikidoAikido was originally developed by one man, O-Sensei. Many students who trained under O-Sensei decided to spread their knowledge of Aikido by opening their own dojos. Due, among other things, to the dynamic nature of Aikido, different students of O-Sensei interpreted his Aikido in different ways. Thus different styles of Aikido were born.

Ki Society Also known as Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido (Aikido with Mind & Body Coordinated), founded in 1971 by Koichi Tohei a 10th Dan student of O-Sensei who, at O-Sensei's request, brought Aikido to the US. in 1953. Ki Society stresses the use of Ki not only in technique but in daily life to remain calm & relaxed in stressful situations.

Despite what many people think or claim, there is no unified philosophy of aikido. What there is, instead, is a collection of religious, ethical, and metaphysical beliefs which are only more or less shared by aikidoka, and which are either transmitted by word of mouth or found in scattered publications about Aikido.

Some examples: "Aikido is not a way to fight with or defeat enemies; it is a way to reconcile the world and make all human beings one family." "The essence of aikido is the cultivation of ki [a vital force, internal power, mental/spiritual energy]." "The secret of aikido is to become one with the universe." "Aikido is primarily a way to achieve physical and psychological self-mastery." "The body is the concrete unification of the physical and spiritual created by the universe." And so forth.

At the core of almost all philosophical interpretations of aikido, however, we may identify at least two fundamental threads:

(1) A commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict whenever possible.

(2) A commitment to self-improvement through aikido training.

Percept of Koichi Tohei sensei

AikidoI will tell you a story which is described in an old Japanese poem.
"I heard everybody saying that spring had come, therefore, I went out to look for spring. I looked for spring everywhere until my shoes were worn out, but still I was not able to find spring. I gave up looking for spring and went back home. When I arrived at home, I found that Japanese apricots were blooming in my garden. I was glad to have found spring." We try to find happiness outside. However, true happiness exists inside ourselves.

I teach that "mind and body are one". We receive both mind and body when we are born. There is no one who has received only body but has not received mind. I teach universal principles which everybody can say yes to and nobody can say no to.
Once you know that you received both mind and body, it is natural to use them both at the same time. It is natural to coordinate mind and body and it is something that everybody can do.
In Japan, everyone believes mind and body coordination is doubtlessly a very difficult affair. Mind and body are one. Therefore, there it is not possible for correctness or incorrectness to exist between mind and body. However, from a functional view we can see that mind leads the body. To be able to understand this, I teach the unbendable arm. If the one thinks in his mind, "Ki is extending", your partner cannot bend your arm. If one thinks in his mind, " Ki is not extending", your partner will easily bend your arm. If you use your mind in a plus way, your body also become plus. Therefore, if you think "mind and body coordination is difficult", you will never be able to coordinate mind and body. The important thing is whether you use your mind in a plus way or a minus way.
Ki-Aikido, Oneness rhythm exercise, Kiatsu therapy are to keep your mind in a plus state and for extending Ki.
There is no plus or minus in the absolute universe. However, we are living in a relative world, therefore, there is plus and minus in the world we live in. It is up to how we use our minds if we think the universe is plus or minus. It is up to ourselves if we like a plus life or a minus life.
The famous Japanese General, Isoroku Yamamoto made following poem. "First, do it yourself, then explain the reason, have the person do it and give praise when it is done. If you do so people will follow you." I apply his principle when I teach students. If mind and body coordination is natural, first I will do it and show it to students. Nobody will believe you if you just explain Ki principles with words only. Next, explain the reason it works and tell students that they can also do it. Then, let the students do it. Everyone will believe it if they can do mind and body coordination by themselves. And then it is important to give praise in a plus way. The reason you cannot do something well is that your mind thinks it is impossible. If you use your mind in plus way, you can do it. Therefore, use your mind in plus way all the time. Everyone will understand and practice it.

AikidoSome members think the purpose of their study is to learn mind and body coordination. I teach that mind and body coordination is a natural thing, and it is not the purpose of our study. The purpose of our study is to become one with the universe and accept the universe in a plus way. When we try to follow the way of the universe, we tend to look for it outside of ourselves. However, the way of the universe is inside our minds. Which means how do we use our minds.

Koichi Tohei

*This is a translation from "Ki wo Dasu (Extend Ki) vol. 28" in Japan.