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Yoshinkan Aikido

About Yoshinkan Aikido

Yoshinkan – “place for cultivating the spirit,” was developed by one of Ueshiba’s top students, Gozo Shioda (1915 – 1994). Yoshinkan emphasizes precision of techniques and basic movements, which have practical self-defense applications.

Yoshinkan Aikido is not a sport. Aikido is the development and strengthening of the body, mind and spirit, and the practical side of Aikido must never be forgotten. However, Aikido is for all, irrespective of age, sex, race or culture.

History of Aikido

Morihei Ueshiba (1882 – 1969), developed Aikido based on his lifetime study of Ju-jitsu (unarmed combat), Ken-jitsu (sword fighting), and Dojitsu (spear fighting). Dissatisfied with mere strength and technical mastery, Ueshiba immersed himself in spiritual and philosophical studies, and developed the modern martial art of Aikido.

What is Aikido?

Aikido is a Japanese martial art that does not rely on muscle and strength but concentrates the power of the whole body onto the weak point of an opponent forcing him/her to cooperate using his/her own force and momentum. Aikido is a non-competitive martial art that develops the mind, body and spirit together. Rather than meet aggression and force with resistance, Aikido redirects an opposing force using circular movements to neutralize an attack. The goal is to take an opponent’s balance with timing and control rather than strength.The art of Aikido is the sincere expression of one’s true self by means of the body. The ultimate goal is to express beauty and grace while pursuing self-knowledge and enlightenment.

The name Aikido is composed of three Japanese words: AI (harmony), KI (energy), and DO (way).

O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba: The Founder of Modern Aikido

As a young man, Morihei Ueshiba (born December 14, 1882), had an unusual interest in martial arts, philosophy, and religion. The environment of his youth, one of religious discipline and tradition, had an enormous effect on the course of his life.

In the year 1898, Ueshiba left his village outside Osaka and travelled to Tokyo, seeking instruction in the martial arts. He actively investigated dozens of arts, but was eventually drawn to specialize in three: the sword style known as Yagyu Shin-Kage-Ryu, the staff style known as Hozoin-Ryu, and Tenjin Shinto jujitsu.

The Russo-Japanese War (1904) provided Ueshiba with a real opportunity to develop himself mentally and physically in accordance with the principles he had learned during his martial arts training. Ueshiba, the soldier spent most of the war years in the harsh climate of northern Manchuria and, by the end of the war, his health had deteriorated considerably.

With characteristic vigour of mind and spirit, he regained his vitality by way of long hours spent in outdoor labour. Soon, Ueshiba was engaged by the government to lead a group of Japanese settlers to the under-populated regions in Hokkaido (the northern island of Japan).

Around this time, another adventurous man had also made the move to Hokkaido; his name was Sokaku Takeda, head of the Takeda family. Ueshiba and Takeda met in 1905 and Ueshiba began his study of Daito Ryu Aiki-jujitsu. In addition, he continued to practice the other arts he had learned in Tokyo, particularly kenjutsu and jojutsu.

The next most significant event in Ueshiba’s life occurred while travelling home on an uncompleted trip to visit his ailing father. On this journey, Ueshiba met Onisaburo Deguchi, leader of the Omotokyo religion. Ueshiba was exceedingly impressed with Deguchi, and subsequently became one of his disciples. Although his commitment led him to further develop his mind, his study of martial arts was not neglected. In 1925 Ueshiba organized his own style of Aiki-jujitsu, largely for his own spiritual and physical development.

During the next decade, Ueshiba’s leading students (Tomiki, Mochizuki, Shioda-followed later by Saito), were active in building a foundation for present-day Aikido. Ueshiba, however, was interested in seeking the essential spirit of Budo. In his search he left the dojo to work at farming. Through his closeness with nature and continued training, he tried to unify his spiritual and physical being. In 1950, after the Second World war, Ueshiba returned to his Tokyo dojo with a mature, modified martial art.

Ueshiba continued to instruct until his death in 1968, earning the respect and admiration of all who met him. Before his death he received a government award as the founder of modern Aikido, and general acclaim for his effort to bring peace and enlightenment to all.

As his concern and energy touched the lives of the many students with whom he worked, several styles of Aikido have evolved. The most notable of these styles are Yoshinkan, Saito-ryu, Tomiki-ryu, Aikikai and Shihshin Toitsu. The founders of these styles are/were dedicated men committed to the precepts set down by Master Ueshiba. Each in their own way has developed certain elements of O-Sensei’s teachings, so each style may differ in some way from the others while maintaining an essential sameness.

Gozo Shioda, Kancho Sensei

One of Ueshiba’s most outstanding students was Gozo Shioda (born September 9, 1915). It was this man who contributed much to bring about the increased popularity that Aikido has enjoyed since the war. This was especially so in the immediate post war years when the son of Ueshiba ceased any Aikido activities for several years and later came to train with Shioda Sensei and Saito Sensei.

Shioda entered Ueshiba’s dojo at the age of 18, and lived and practised there for eight years. Because he stayed at the dojo longer than any other student, Shioda learned to sense the ways of his master’s mind and spirit to a high degree.

Shioda was sent to Formosa with the Japanese army during the war years and like Ueshiba, was able to utilize this real combat situation to train himself mentally and physically. Shortly after his return to Japan at the end of the war, Shioda left the master’s dojo. His principal concern was the promotion of Aikido, since Aikido had been restricted to special groups of people. Further, in popularizing Aikido, Shioda was showing his gratitude for his master’s kindness. During the next two decades, many demonstrations were presented to police forces, army groups, dock workers, and others. Much of the support for these activities came from Japanese business.

The tremendous interest in Aikido since the war dates back to 1954 when, under the auspices of the Life Extension Society, an exhibition of 160 martial arts from all over Japan was held. This was the first time that Aikido had been demonstrated to a large public audience. Shioda’s first place performance attracted great attention.

Shioda Sensei’s style of Aikido is known as Yoshinkan, a name that he inherited from his father who owned a Kendo and Judo dojo by that name. “Yo” means cultivating; “shin” means spirit or mind; “kan” means house; thus Yoshinkan is the house for the cultivation of spirit.

During the mid and late 1950’s, having established the post-war position of Aikido in Japan, Shioda Sensei assisted Kissamaru, the son of Ueshiba in re-establishing the Aikido programs at Ueshiba’s dojo in Tokyo. From the early 1960’s onwards Shioda Sensei then principally applied himself to developing the teaching program and uschideshi system at his Yoshinkan school and at dojos (primarily police and company schools) in Japan.

Today, Shioda Sensei is highly respected all over the world for his attitude toward the Budo disciplines and for his belief in “Wa” (harmony) as a way of life.

In 1990, Shioda Sensei implemented the International Yoshinkan Aikido Federation (IYAF), the International Instructors course, the Aikido Yoshinkan International quarterly magazine and the production of instructional video tapes and books.

Through these initiatives Shioda Sensei hoped to cultivate the worldwide development and understanding of Aikido.

Shioda Sensei is referred to as Soke (founder/originator) of the Yoshinkai style, although his older title Kancho Sensei (head of the house teacher) is still sometimes used.

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