We review the reference masters that are relative to the entire discipline: who threw the first seed, who has contributed more to the development of its theoretical, philosophical, and educational basis, as well as in its worldwide diffusion, in various stages of its evolution. These being the masters on which we base our practice:
Founder of KI No Kenkyukai Association Internationale. Kenjiro Yoshigasaki was born in 1951 in Kagoshima, Japan. He started practicing yoga at the age of 10 and Aikido in 1968, at the age of 17, under Koichi Tohei Sensei. In addition he has studied many other martial arts and in 1971 he spent a year in India devoted to the study of Yoga. He also studied Zen Buddhism, New Shintoism, Catholicism and Islam. In 1973 he became an Aikido instructor with the Ki Society, under Tohei Sensei. Being fluent in English, French and Italian in addition to his native Japanese, He accompanied Tohei Sensei on many of his overseas teaching trips.
In 1977, Kenjiro Yoshigasaki Sensei moved to Europe as the chief instructor for the Ki Society, being pioneer and giving its fundamental contribution to the development and dissemination of Ki Aikido particularly in Europe, South America and South Africa. In 2003 Yoshigasaki Sensei founded the independent Ki No Kenkyukai Association Internationale organization, to further develop the concepts of Tohei Sensei. The organization has over 4.000 members, from around 130 dojos in more than 20 countries, predominately in Europe but also in South Africa and South America. Yoshigasaki Sensei is based in Brussels and conduct training seminars throughout Europe.
1978 is the date in which Tohei Sensei held its first seminar in Europe, with the assistance of a young Kenjiro Yoshigasaki. An important date because it was the beginning of the development of many dojos across the old continent.
Equipped with a superb interpretation capability, Yoshigasaki Sensei was able to translate in a simple language and didactically explain the already rich teaching of Koichi Tohei Sensei. Even in later years when the Tohei Sensei, unable to move for health reasons, he taught while sitting in a chair, unable to demonstrate sufficiently explanatory with his bodies’ movements the technics or proposed concepts.
Having been a teacher for forty years of over 20,000 students worldwide, Yoshigasaki Sensei has developed increasingly clear the way for a “practice for living” , respecting the original motivations and assumptions given by Morihei Ueshiba Sensei for a way of harmony and peace. From the study of Aikido techniques, interpreting them as a moment of relationship and not as a moment of conflict, He has revealed a more introspective path, using also techniques and exercises of the martial and meditative Japanese tradition.
In 2002 he published his first book: “The inner journey of a stranger”, aimed at anyone who wants to understand life. In 2012 he published his second book, “Aikido art of living”, first volume. In 1996, the first video was made, the famous “The Beginner” with Lord Menuhin. Later on made other instructional videos as ” All of Aikido”.
Yoshigasaki Sensei is the Doshu (the custodian of the way) of Aikido in his organization, Ki No Kenkyukai Association Internationale. He is currently one of the most important figures in the world reference for teaching Aikido as a path of life.
Aikido is a way (Do) and the way must be maintained in practice. The person who keeps the way is the Doshu. In Japanese, there are two different meanings of Doshu. The first means “master of the way” and the second means “custodian of the way” (which maintains preserves, canned). The difference is that there can only be one “master of the way”, but many “custodians of the way”. The highest teacher of the Aikido organizations should be called Doshu – custodian of the way.
Founder of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido; Aikido with mind and body unified (Ki Aikido). Koichi Tohei was born on January 20, 1920 in Tokyo, Japan. At the age of seventeen he began the study of Misogi and Zen. At the age of 19 he started to study Aikido under Ueshiba Sensei, and at 25 he started studying mind and body unification from Tempu Nakamura. Tohei Sensei developed his own systematic way of teaching incorporating the concepts of mind and body unification in Aikido and He has spread the principles of Ki and Aikido in the USA and Europe since 1953. He died on May 19, 2011.
Koichi Tohei studied judo as a teenager, but his training was interrupted while a student at Keio University due to a bout with pleurisy. In 1940, in an effort to regain his health, Tohei engaged in intensive misogi breathing and meditation training, when he returned to his doctors, all traces of pleurisy had disappeared.
It was shortly thereafter that he received an introduction to Morihei Ueshiba Sensei who operated a private martial arts dojo in the Shinjuku Ward of Tokyo. Tohei immediately joined the dojo and practiced intensively under the Aikido Founder up until the time of his induction into the Japanese Imperial Army in October 1942, there he was dispatched to a platoon near the Central China front. He realized through personal experience in battle that he must master calmness and relaxation. Tohei Sensei learned under fire the secret of directing ki and maintaining the one point in the lower abdomen. He gained important insight into his previous training and how it must be applied to daily life.
at the end of the war he was repatriated in 1946. Soon thereafter, Tohei reestablished contact with Morihei Ueshiba who had retired to his country home in Iwama, Ibaragi Prefecture. Tohei resumed training in aikido. It was also during this period that Tohei began training under Tempu Nakamura Sensei, whom is credited as being the first to teach yoga in Japan. His teachings had a profound influence on Tohei Sensei. Nakamura talked about the importance of positive thinking and taught what he called mind and body unification (shin-shin toitsu do). Tohei Sensei saw that these ideas were fundamental to Aikido and incorporated them as he developed his own systematic way of teaching.
Ueshiba promoted Tohei to 8th dan at the young age of 32 in 1952 in recognition of his status as the Founder’s leading student. In 1953 Tohei Sensei began to spread Ki Principles and aikido in Hawaii. He spread aikido throughout the US and helped establish schools on the east coast, west coast and in Chicago, as well as Hawaii. Tohei Sensei sent many instructors from Japan to the US to teach and lead schools. Between 1953 and 1971 he visited the United States on fifteen occasions, staying in the US for up to a year at a time.
Tohei Sensei received tenth dan, the highest rank in aikido, in 1969. In 1971, Tohei created the Ki no Kenkyukai outside of the Aikikai where he taught his Ki principles separate from aikido techniques. He served as Director of Shihan and Director of the Aikikai until leaving that organization in 1974. At this time, he established Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido, Aikido with Mind and Body Unified (Ki Aikido), Tohei’s approach to aikido with Ki principles incorporated. He later launched a healing method called “Kiatsu” that was taught in conjunction with his Ki-based Aikido.
Tohei Sensei was famous for teaching Ki to many well-known athletes, including Japanese baseball star Sadaharu Oh. He was also the subject of a lengthy television documentary in Japan. Tohei Sensei wrote many books on Ki Principles and Aikido including Ki in Daily Life, Ki no Iryoku (“Power of Ki”), Seiko no Hiketsu wa Ki ni ari (“The Key to Success is Ki”) and others.
Koichi Tohei Sensei died in Japan on May 19, 2011 at the age of 91.
Founder of Aikido. Ueshiba Sensei was born on December 14, 1883 in Tanabe, Japan. He developed Aikido from Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu and the Omoto religion integrating the teachings of Sokaku Takeda and Onisaburo Deguchi respectively. He is often referred to as Ōsensei “Great Teacher”. Ueshiba Sensei died on April 26, 1969.
Morihei Ueshiba was one of the greatest martial artists of the twentieth century. Master Ueshiba spent his youth and early adulthood training under a variety of sword and Jujitsu masters. As he grew older he experienced increasing disquiet, feeling that training for the sake of winning was not enough. After a long, arduous period of training and meditation, Master Ueshiba perceived the true purpose of the martial arts to be the promotion of universal peace and love. He saw that the ideal victory was a conflict resolved without winner or loser. Master Ueshiba began to change the techniques and practices he had learned to align with his new understanding. This led to the development of Aikido.
It is quite clear that the main technical influence on aikido are the Daito-ryu techniques of Sokaku TAKEDA. His direct association with this school has so far been documented from 1915 through 1937.
The founder of aikido was also influenced philosophically and religiously by the OMOTO RELIGION, especially the thinking of Reverend Onisaburo DEGUCHI. His involvement with this religion began in December 1919. Ueshiba lived in Ayabe from 1920 through 1927 and was active as an Omoto believer and close supporter of Deguchi. He accompanied the Omoto leader in 1924 on an ill-fated trip to Manchuria and Mongolia in an attempt to establish a utopian colony.
At the urging of several high-ranking military officers, notably Admiral Isamu TAKESHITA, Ueshiba relocated to Tokyo in 1927 and taught in several locations before establishing the Kobukan Dojo in 1931. This dojo was the center of his activities over the next 11 years where he was extremely active as a teacher of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu. He gradually separated himself from Sokaku Takeda and began calling his art AIKI BUDO. In the late 1930s, the founder also made several trips to Manchuria where he conducted seminars and gave demonstrations. Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War, he resigned from his teaching posts in Tokyo, which included several military schools, and retired to IWAMA. During and immediately after the war, Ueshiba remained in Iwama and devoted himself to intensive training, meditation and farming. He repeatedly stated that it was in Iwama that he perfected modern aikido. In the mid-1950s, the founder began to spend considerable time in Tokyo and also traveled to a certain extent, often to the Kansai region. Ueshiba received the Medal of Honor with the Purple Ribbon from the Japanese government in 1960. In 1961, accompanied by Koichi TOHEI and Nobuyoshi TAMURA, he visited Hawaii to participate in the opening of the Honolulu Aikikai. His last years were spent primarily in Tokyo where his health gradually became frail. Nonetheless, he continued instructing through the early part of February 1969, until he fell ill and was admitted to Keio University Hospital. He was released to be returned home where he died of liver cancer on 26 April 1969. He was posthumously given the Buddhist name of Aiki-in Seibu Enyu Daidoshi. Ueshiba taught tens of thousands of students during his teaching career which spanned some 50 years and is noted for his ethical and humanistic view of the martial arts which holds the concept of non-conflict, rather than the defeat of an adversary, as the ideal.
Founder of Shin Shin Toitsu Do; The Way of Mind and Body Unification, also known as Japanese Yoga. Tempu Nakamura was born on July 20, 1876 in Tokyo, Japan. He was a martial artist who created the art Shin Shin Toitsu Do, from Japanese martial arts and meditation practices, as well as Western medicine, psychotherapy and unique versions of Raja Yoga and Karma Yoga, which he learned from his teacher of Yoga and meditation called Kaliapa in Kangchenjunga, in the Himalayas. Nakamura Sensei is often regarded as the father of yoga in Japan. He died on December 1, 1968.
Nakamura Sensei trained Judo, Kenjutsu and Iaijutsu. At the age of 16, he joined the Imperial Japanese Army and served as a covert agent in Northern China. He was one of only nine out of 113 military affairs investigators to return to Japan alive from the Russo-Japanese War, after which he suffered a severe attack of tuberculosis at the age of 30.
Seeking a cure for his disease and to arrive at peace of mind, he began reading about medicine, religion, philosophy, and psychology. at the age of 33 traveled to the USA to seek advice and medical treatment, rather than waiting to die, there his illness went in to remission, impressed by these treatments, he entered Columbia University, where he studied medicine. His illness returned, prompting him to look for a psychosomatic cure, he traveled to England, Germany, Belgium and France for a period of time seeking in to psychology, biology and philosophy. Afterwards Nakamura Sensei lived in India, where he studied the art of Raja Yoga, the Yoga of meditation. Where he experienced spiritual realization and awakened his higher mind, after two years and several months of practice his tuberculosis disappeared.
At 43 years old after returning to Japan, He founded his own art called Shinshin Toitsu Do, the Way of Mind and Body Unification, where he blended Indian meditation and health improvement with his background in medicine, psychology, Japanese healing arts and meditation, and Japanese martial arts. He taught for many years in Japan, authored best-selling books, and counted among his students a large number of Japan’s top executives, politicians, fine artists, athletes, martial artists, and people from every walk of life. Nakamura Sensei taught Shin Shin Toitsu Do to Koichi Tohei Sensei, who later founded Shinshin Toitsu Aikido, Aikido with Mind and Body Unified.