Originator of Aikido
The son of a landowner from Tanabe, Ueshiba studied a number of martial arts in his youth, and served in the Japanese Army during the Russo-Japanese War. After being discharged in 1907, he moved to Hokkaidō as the head of a pioneer settlement; here he met and studied with Takeda Sokaku, the founder of Daitō-ryū aiki-jūjutsu. On leaving Hokkaido in 1919, Ueshiba joined the Ōmoto-kyō religious movement in Ayabe, while serving as a martial arts instructor and opening his first dojo.
The real birth of Aikido came as the result of a spiritual awakening that Ueshiba experienced.
"The Way of the Warrior has been misunderstood. It is not a means to kill and destroy others. Those who seek to compete and better one another are making a terrible mistake. To smash, injure, or destroy is the worst thing a human being can do. The real Way of a Warrior is to prevent such slaughter – it is the Art of Peace, the power of love."
The technical curriculum of aikido was undoubtedly most greatly influenced by the teachings of Takeda Sokaku and his system of aiki-jūjutsu called Daitō-ryū. The basic techniques of aikido seem to have their basis in teachings from various points in the Daitō-ryū curriculum.
The early form of training under Ueshiba was characterized by the ample use of strikes to vital points (atemi), a larger total curriculum, a greater use of weapons, and a more linear approach to technique than would be found in later forms of aikido. These methods are preserved in the teachings of his early students Kenji Tomiki (who founded the Shodokan Aikido sometimes called Tomiki-ryū), Noriaki Inoue (who founded Shin'ei Taidō), Minoru Mochizuki (who founded Yoseikan Budo), Gozo Shioda (who founded Yoshinkan Aikido). Many of these styles are considered "pre-war styles", although some of the teachers continued to have contact and influence from Ueshiba in the years after the Second World War.
Later, as Ueshiba seemed to slowly grow away from Takeda, he began to implement more changes into the art. These changes are reflected in the differing names with which he referred to his art, first as aiki-jūjutsu, then Ueshiba-ryū, Asahi-ryū, aiki budō, and finally aikido.
As Ueshiba grew older, more skilled, and more spiritual in his outlook, his art also changed and became softer and more circular. Striking techniques became less important and the formal curriculum became simpler. In his own expression of the art there was a greater emphasis on what is referred to as kokyū-nage, or "breath throws" which are soft and blending, utilizing the opponent's movement in order to throw them. Many of these techniques are rooted in the aiki-no-jutsu portions of the Daitō-ryū curriculum rather than the more direct jujutsu style joint-locking techniques.
Founder of Ki No Kenkyukai
Koichi Tohei was born 1920 in Shitaya ward presently Taitō, in Tokyo. As a boy he was sickly and frail, leading his father to recommend he studied judo. He trained hard and his body prospered, but soon after he began his pre-college studies at Keio University, he developed a case of pleurisy. This forced Tohei to take a year off.
He decided to replace his judo studies with Zen meditation and misogi exercises, learned at the Ichikukai Dojo in Tokyo. As with his judo studies, Tohei entered the training of the mind with fervor and soon excelled despite his serious health issues. After his recovery from pleurisy, Tohei became convinced that it was his efforts in training his mind and cultivating his ki that had helped him to heal and recover. This stimulated his later development of Kiatsu, a system of treating physical illness by pressing with the fingers and extending the ki into the ill persons body.
In 1940, when he was 19, Tohei's judo instructor, Shohei Mori, recommended that Tohei meet with the founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba.
According to Tohei, when he first met with an aikido instructor and practised some techniques at the Ueshiba dojo, he had doubts about aikido and its value to him. That changed when Ueshiba entered the dojo and started to perform his techniques on the instructors and on him. Tohei asked to enroll on the spot. Tohei continued to train his mind as well as his body with meditation, misogi and aikido.
Beginning in 1953 Koïchi Tohei Sensei was responsible for the introduction of Aikido to the West, mainly through regular teaching journeys to Hawaii, but also continental US and Europe. It was the first time the Founder of Aikido allowed the art to be taught outside of Japan. For that reason, Hawaii became a center for diffusion of Aikido in the United States, and remains today an important place for Ki-Aikido.
In 1969, Tohei was awarded the rank of 10th Dan. O’Sensei Morihei Uyeshiba died some three months later.
With the death of Morihei Ueshiba , his son Kisshomaru Ueshiba inherited the title of Doshu. At the time of Ueshiba's death, Tohei was chief instructor of the Hombu Dojo, the headquarters of Aikikai, a title he retained until his official split from Aikikai in 1974.
One of the major causes of the conflict arose from Tohei's emphasis on his principle of ki in aikido. Tohei wanted aikido to focus on these principles, using exercises to both cultivate and test ki in the daily aikido practice. He had already started teaching his new ideas during his own training sessions at Hombu dojo, but the majority of the other instructors would not. There were some who agreed with Tohei's approach but many senior instructors did not. They strongly encouraged him not to teach his principles and techniques in the Hombu Dojo. Tohei replied that he had the right to teach it outside Hombu Dojo, which he did.
In 1971 when he created the Ki No Kenkyukai, with the purpose of promoting the development and cultivation of ki inside aikido, but outside the Aikikai "umbrella". The years of conflict finally cemented Tohei's decision to break away from the Aikikai and teach his own 'ki' style of aikido.
On 15 May 1974, Tohei sent a letter in English and Japanese to the majority of the dojos both in Japan and abroad, explaining his reasons for the breakaway and his plans involving Ki-aikido and the Ki-society. This breakup came as a shock to many aikidoka throughout the dojos of the world. Tohei was well regarded by many instructors and students. He was seen as the foremost sensei of Aikido after Ueshiba's death. This, in turn, led to several dojos breaking with the Aikikai and joining Tohei in his new style. Tohei's new objective was to coordinate all the dojos who joined him and incorporate them into the organisation of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido: "Aikido with Mind and Body Unified".
In 1990 he retired as Chief Instructor of the Ki No Kenkyukai and became Soshu, that is the founder of Ki Aikido. Koretoshi Maruma Sensei was appointed Chief Instructor.
Koichi Tohei Sensei died on May 19, 2011 leaving a considerable legacy to the world of aikido.
Founder of Ki No Kenkyukai Internationale
Kenjiro Yoshigasaki Sensei was born in1951 in Kagoshima, Japan. He started to practise Yoga at the age of 10 and Aikido in 1968, at the age of 17.
In addition to Aikido, Yoshigasaki Sensei has studied many other martial arts as well as Zen Buddhism, Shintoism, Catholicism and Islam. In 1971 he spent a year in India devoted to the study of Yoga.
In 1973 he became an Aikido instructor with the Ki Society, under Koichi Tohei. 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, he came to Europe as the chief instructor for the Ki Society. Since then he has also travelled to USA, South America and South Africa to teach Ki and Aikido.
In 2003 Yoshigasaki Sensei formed his own organisation, the Ki No Kenkyukai Internationale. The organisation has around 4000 members in more than one hundred and twenty dojos in Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Slovenia, South Africa and the UK.
Yoshigasaki Sensei is based in Brussels and visits the UK four times a year to conduct training seminars.