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Koichi Tohei 10 Dan, founder of Shin Shin Toitsu Do Aikido passed away recently and I have felt the need to write something about him. I have been researching Aikido in Hawaii from a historical perspective and a great deal of credit does go to Koichi Tohei for being an ambassador in Aikido to the world.
I never met the man in person ( Although he did frequent my Grandfathers house when visiting Hilo, Hi). I found through his writings and hearing the stories from former students, his influence was emmense on the Aikido community. Upon his arrival in Hawaii in 1953, Koichi Tohei began his introduction of Aikido with his charismatic presence and command of this energy called "Ki". His demonstrations of Aikido in the community even brought in senior martial artists such as judoka Yukiso Yamamoto who were amazed at the ease in which he threw them.
During the 60's and 70's the Aikido community florished with large numbers of practicioners in dojos (as stated to me by a senior member, the childrens class held 100 kids at one point in Hilo!!). Then the split happened, Koichi Tohei left the Aikikai and created his own organization Ki no Kenkyukai.
Even today Koichi Tohei's influence is far reaching as the former students of his continue to pass on the teachings of this pioneer. One senior Hawaii Aikikai Aikido instructor told me that he continues to teach the four principles because Koichi Tohei got it right in explaining it easily to students.
It has been over 30 years since the rift of Koichi Tohei and the Aikikai, with his passing I hope that old wounds heal and people openly recognize his position in the Aikido world.
Thank you Koichi Tohei sensei.