Aikido Styles

Aikido Styles

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Aikido is also more than a physical art. It is a way of life that develops the mind/body principles of centering, grounding, blending, relaxation, timing intuition and positive Ki (energy) flow. New students will quickly find Aikido applying to almost every aspect of their lives.

Sincerely practicing the principles of this art can result in increased physical balance, emotional calmness and mental alertness. Studying Aikido can also develop a greater harmony with self, others and the environment.

The major styles of aikido each have their own headquarters (honbu dōjō) in Japan, have an international breadth, and were founded by direct students of Morihei Ueshiba. 

  • Aikikai The largest organization is the Aikikai Foundation, referred to as Aikikai. This style has remained centred on the family of Morihei Ueshiba, and is currently headed by the founder’s grandson, Moriteru Ueshiba (Ueshiba Moriteru, born 1951).

The earliest independent styles to emerge were:

  • Yoshinkan Aikido founded by Gozo Shioda in 1955
  • Yoseikan Aikido, begun by Minoru Mochizuki in 1931, and
  • Shodokan Aikido, founded by Kenji Tomiki in 1967.

The emergence of these styles pre-dated Ueshiba’s death and did not cause any major upheavals when they were formalized. Shodokan Aikido, did cause come controvery since it introduced a unique rule based competition that some felt was contrary to the spirit of aikido. After Usehiba’s death, two more major styles emerged:

  • Ki Society – Another event that caused significant controversy was the departure of the Aikikai Honbu Dojo’s chief instructor Koichi Tohei, in 1974. Tohei left as a result of a disagreement with the son of the founder, Kisshomaru Ueshiba (Ueshiba Kisshōmaru, 1921–1999), who at that time headed the Aikikai Foundation. The disagreement was over the proper role of ki development in regular aikido training. After Tohei left, he formed his own style, called Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido, and the organization which governs it, the Ki Society.
  • Iwama Ryu – A final major style evolved from Ueshiba’s retirement in Iwama, Japan, and the teaching methodology of long term student Morihiro Saito. It is unofficially referred to as the “Iwama style”. Although Iwama style practitioners remained part of the Aikikai until Saito’s death in 2002, followers of Saito subsequently split into two groups; one remaining with the Aikikai and the other forming the independent organization Shinshin Aikishuren Kai (Shinshin Aikishuren Kai?) in 2004 around Saito’s son Hitohiro Saito (Saitō Hitohiro, born 1957).

A number of organizations independent from the major styles of aikido have developed some of which are notable in their own right through their size or historical association. These “minor styles” are distinct from independant dojo or small dojo clusters.

  • Shin’ei Taido (Shin’ei Taidō) is a style closely related to aikido, founded in 1956 by Noriaki Inoue (Inoue Noriaki, 1902–1994), a nephew and pre-war student Morihei Ueshiba.
  • Tendoryu Aikido (Tendō-ryÅ« Aikidō); founded by Kenji Shimizu (Shimizu Kenji, born 1940) in 1982. Founded the “Shimizu Dojo” in 1969, renamed it the Tendokan (Tendōkan) in 1975.
  • Kokikai Aikido International; founded in 1986 by Shuji Maruyama (Maruyama Shuji, born 1940).
  • Fugakukai International Association, founded in 1982, has roots in the Shodokan style, but without the competition element.
  • Yoshokai; founded in 1991 by Takashi Kushida (Kushida Takashi, born 1935), a senior instructor of Yoshinkan aikido.
  • The Kokusai Aikido Kensukai Kobayashi Hirokazu Ha, or Kobayashi aikido , was founded by Hirokazu Kobayashi.
  • Aikido Yuishinkai International ; founded in 1996 by Koretoshi Maruyama (born 1936).
  • Aiki Manseido (Aiki Manseidō), founded in 1999 by Kanshu Sunadomari (Sunadomari Kanshu, born 1923), is an independent style centred in KyÅ«shÅ«, Japan.

The above styles can trace their lineage through senior students back to the founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba. Two further well known martial arts use the name aikido but do not have this direct connection. They are Korindo Aikido founded by Minoru Hirai (Hirai Minoru, 1903–1998) and Nihon Goshin Aikido (Nihon Goshin Aikidō) founded by Shodo Morita (Morita Shodo, fl. c.1930s–1962). These schools, with some historical justification, suggest that the name aikido is not the exclusive domain of arts derived from the teachings of Morihei Ueshiba.

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