Thursday, June 28, 2012

Koichi Tohei Post-war years

Koichi Tohei Post-war years

In 1953, Tohei was sent to Hawaii to introduce aikido there. From then on, Hawaii became a center for the diffusion of aikido in the United States and, later, of Tohei's particular style.

In 1969, Tohei was asked by Ueshiba to accept the new rank of 10th dan,[1] which Tohei accepted, after having previously refused the same offer. The top rank in aikido had been 8th dan, but the ranks were expanded by Ueshiba for practical as well as political reasons.

Creation of the Ki no Kenkyukai

The events leading up to the split between the main aikido organization, the Aikikai, and Koichi Tohei were fueled with the death of Morihei Ueshiba in 1969. His son Kisshomaru Ueshiba would inherit the title of Doshu. At the time of Ueshiba's death, Koichi Tohei was chief instructor of the Hombu Dojo, the headquarters of Aikikai, a title he would retain until his official split from Aikikai in 1974.

Kochi Tohei 1974
 One of the major causes of the conflict arose from Koichi 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 Tohei's actions were not welcomed by Kisshomaru and most of the senior instructors. They strongly encouraged him not to teach his principles and techniques in the Hombo Dojo. Tohei replied that he had the right to teach it outside Hombu Dojo, which he did.

But the tensions remained among the senior cadre of instructors, who still did not approve of Tohei's focus upon ki. These brewing tensions together with Tohei's general dissatisfaction with the situation culminated 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 would finally cement Tohei's decision to break away from the Aikikai and teach his own 'ki' style of aikido. So, on 1 May 1974, Koichi Tohei officially left the Aikikai organisation to concentrate on his newly created Ki-aikido and Ki-society.

On the 15th of May in 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 Coordinated". This branch of aikido is still active today even though Tohei himself retired from the day-to-day business of the Ki-aikido section and then concentrated solely on the Ki-society and further personal development of ki.

Koichi Tohei 1995

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