In a nutshell, Aikido is a very powerful Japanese martial art that is defensive in nature. It is non-competitive and non-agressive. It does not meet force with resistance or brute strength; instead it redirects an aggressor’s force with well-timed, flowing, circular movements that lead an attacker off their centre of balance. Rather than relying on our strength to protect us, the attacker’s own motions and momentum are utilized to compromise their balance and stability. Once they are off-balance they are subdued or dispensed with by using any of a large variety of joint locks, pins or throws.
The Origins of Yoshinkan Aikido
Modern Aikido evolved from Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu which is said to have originated around 900 AD. It was passed down through the generations, though only to direct descendants of the Japanese royal family, until Sokaku Takeda began to teach the art outside of the family in the mid-19th century.
Takeda’s most outstanding student was a small man named Morihei Ueshiba. Ueshiba augmented Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu with the essentials of other traditional martial arts he had mastered, and with techniques of his own, thereby founding ‘Aikido’ in the early 20th century.
One of Ueshiba’s most talented students was Gozo Shioda, who went on to begin the Yoshinkan style of Aikido. Gozo Shioda, born in 1915, studied and earned a 3rd Dan in Judo while still a teenager. He then discovered Morihei Ueshiba’s school and immersed himself in an eight year full-time, intense study of this new martial art. He readily mastered Ueshiba’s teachings and was eventually awarded Aikido’s first 9th Dan. The tremendous popularity of Aikido in Japan probably dates back to 1954 when an exhibition of Japanese martial arts was organized in Tokyo. Masters of many Japanese martial arts participated but Shioda’s astonishing demonstration resulted in his easily attaining the top award. As a result of his exhibition many sponsors offered support and so Gozo Shioda’s now-famous Yoshinkan (‘House for Cultivating the Spirit’) Dojo was firmly established. Yoshinkan Aikido is now taught nationally in Japanese schools and the Tokyo Police Department as well as to the general public. Yoshinkan Aikido has also spread worldwide. In 1990, Gozo Shioda established the International Yoshinkan Aikido Federation (IYAF) to bring together and organize virtually all global Yoshinkan Aikido dojos and instructors. On the 17th of July, 1994, Gozo Shioda passed away at the age of 78. His gift to all was the dynamic power of Yoshinkan Aikido coupled with a clear and effective teaching method which will ensure the continued development of powerful Aikido technique, well into the future.
The Yoshinkan Style of Aikido
Yoshinkan Aikido is occasionally called the “hard” style because the strict and sometimes gruelling training methods are a product of the pre-war military period Gozo Shioda spent as a student of Ueshiba.Yoshinkan Aikido uses six fundamental training movements and about 150 common defensive techniques which are practiced repeatedly. Mastering these basics conditions students to be able to execute the remaining techniques, which are thought to total about 3000 in all.Yoshinkan Aikido is not a sport. It is the cooperative development of both physical and mental dexterity. But there is also an incredibly powerful and practical self-defense side of Aikido that is available to all, irrespective of size, age, gender, race or culture.