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View Full Version : Why did almost all of K.Tohei's students establish independent ryuha?


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Haowen Chan
03-31-2007, 09:32 AM
Just when I'd decided that Ki-Aikido might have a decent emphasis on internal development. I find out there's all these different flavors of non-ki-society versions of ki-aikido throughout the USA. Argh!

What's the deal with the different lineages? It's like basically every one of K.Tohei's senior students split from Ki-no-kenyukai eventually. I can find no information about why this happened or what exactly it means. It's utterly insane.

Basically in my city there's a Kokikai dojo AND a Ki Society dojo. Two sets of people practicing almost the same thing but in different dojos (with clashing timetables so no, I can't join both). Drives a (potential) student insane. What's the deal?

Haowen Chan
03-31-2007, 09:58 AM
Update:

I've read some stuff from this book:
http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Aikido-Definitive-Harmony-Martial/dp/0804831408/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-5605107-3585561?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1175352827&sr=8-1

It seems the source of the split was more interpersonal politics, and less ideological (maybe some dissension on the paucity of waza and use of taigi in Ki-Aikido - anyone knows more?). A crisis of personalities that happened in the Ki Society in the 1970s.... ancient history. I don't care about politics. Can someone shed some light on the implications of this on modern aikido? There are too many beasts in the forest and my brain hurts trying to decide which one to ride.

I know the old rule-of-thumb : find a sensei that is willing and able and forget the system. But the fact that by choosing a sensei I implicitly have to decide between two almost identical systems is massively annoying.

George S. Ledyard
03-31-2007, 10:27 AM
Update:

I've read some stuff from this book:
http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Aikido-Definitive-Harmony-Martial/dp/0804831408/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-5605107-3585561?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1175352827&sr=8-1

It seems the source of the split was more interpersonal politics, and less ideological (maybe some dissension on the paucity of waza and use of taigi in Ki-Aikido - anyone knows more?). A crisis of personalities that happened in the Ki Society in the 1970s.... ancient history. I don't care about politics. Can someone shed some light on the implications of this on modern aikido? There are too many beasts in the forest and my brain hurts trying to decide which one to ride.

I know the old rule-of-thumb : find a sensei that is willing and able and forget the system. But the fact that by choosing a sensei I implicitly have to decide between two almost identical systems is massively annoying.

The guys who went with Tohei when the split occurred sacrificed an immense amount to do so. As Americans we can't really understand what it cost them. So why do you think that they've virtually all ended up on their own, doing their own things? It wasn't disagreement with his Aikido...

Haowen Chan
03-31-2007, 10:57 AM
The guys who went with Tohei when the split occurred sacrificed an immense amount to do so. As Americans we can't really understand what it cost them. So why do you think that they've virtually all ended up on their own, doing their own things? It wasn't disagreement with his Aikido...

From what I read: they respected him a lot as a martial artist, but they all didn't think he really had it together as a leader of a organisation and the organisation was going nowhere... at that point in time. Since K Tohei is now retired, what do you think is the implication of this on modern ki-aikido and its offshoots?

George S. Ledyard
03-31-2007, 11:12 AM
From what I read: they respected him a lot as a martial artist, but they all didn't think he really had it together as a leader of a organisation and the organisation was going nowhere... at that point in time. Since K Tohei is now retired, what do you think is the implication of this on modern ki-aikido and its offshoots?

It's the same old question... did the teacher create any students who were as good as he was? The only one of the old Tohei students who I have trained with is Imaizumi Sensei who is wonderful. Has Imaizumi Sensei trained anyone up to the point at which they are as good as he is? I haven't trained with any of he others so i can't say but it's still the same story. Thia is true across the board, have the former uchi deshi managed to train any students who are as good as they are? If not, we have another generation of decline...

tarik
03-31-2007, 11:21 AM
From what I read: they respected him a lot as a martial artist, but they all didn't think he really had it together as a leader of a organisation and the organisation was going nowhere... at that point in time. Since K Tohei is now retired, what do you think is the implication of this on modern ki-aikido and its offshoots?

Howard, you sound a little frustrated and your frustration reminds me of when I was researching the best place to learn scuba diving. I was very concerned about PADI, NAUI, SSI, etc. etc. and heard the propaganda and histories and that made it seem "obvious" what I should do..

..until I went and talked to the instructors of each group. Once I did that, my decision was significantly easier. The instructor I chose was also a professional industry technical diver with thousand and thousands of dives behinds him and the only one with a serious long term history of teaching technical (nitrox and helox) recreational diving, which I knew I would someday wish to learn.

Go meet the instructors and don't worry so much about the organizations. Talk to them, tell them what you think you wantto learn, and listen to their ways of explaining themselves and their study.

Unless you really care about politics. Personally, I just want to train and train in the way I find productive. It bothers me a great deal when politics interferes with my training.

Regards

crbateman
03-31-2007, 01:26 PM
Tohei Sensei actually has two groups which could be called his "senior students": There are those who were in Aikikai and came out with him, and then there are those who have been with him for practically the duration of KNK, but were not under Aikikai. Motivations for branching off from Tohei might vary between those two groups, although I think you'd have to ask the individuals themselves. I think also that it would be both unfair and incorrect to assume that those who have gone on to do their own thing did so because of some disagreement with Tohei Sensei. It may be simply that some wanted to concentrate on Aikido in the Ki Society style, without the additional training regimen relating to ki development, kiatsu, bell misogi, etc. that are part of the KNK program. I'm sure there are many other possible reasons, but I have been told of this particular rationale about more than one person who has made the move.

The best advice I can give you is to visit the various dojos you have to choose from, and make a decision based on what feels right to you, rather than worry about why somebody who belonged to the group twenty years ago no longer does. After all, ki is ki for everybody, and training in the principles is not exclusive of any single group.

Haowen Chan
03-31-2007, 01:40 PM
Thanks everyone. I was overthinking it - intellectual shock from having (finally!) made a decision and then confronted with more data. I think I still had a bit of fear that Tohei's senior students left because they disagreed with his methodology at a fundamental level... but clearly if they disagreed at that level their exercises and principles wouldn't look so similar. After a bit of research, indeed this does not seem to be the case.

So the little details I'm sweating about "which subsystem" are actually totally irrelevant. Thanks!

aikidoc
03-31-2007, 06:39 PM
I wonder how many split: Toyoda, Suenaka, Imaizumi, Oshima (?-wrote book called Ki Points), etc. Toyoda told me he was tossed out. Don't know about the others.

Ecosamurai
03-31-2007, 06:57 PM
I wonder how many split: Toyoda, Suenaka, Imaizumi, Oshima (?-wrote book called Ki Points), etc. Toyoda told me he was tossed out. Don't know about the others.

Koretoshi Maruyama was the heir apparent, I don't know why he left. I find it deeply ironic that Tohei Sensei's son is now his designated successor.

I think that a large part of it is simply admin issues. Don't think that any of them left because they wished to go in a different martial direction. Basically all politics. Tohei Sensei left the aikikai, he left behind the aikikai infrasturcture and the patronage of the supporters of Morihei Ueshiba and his son Kisshomaru and struck out on his own. Did that for 20 years and c1990 built a very expensive facility which caused as I understand it a large amount of financial strain.

Like I said, it's politics and money I think. It was never about a doubt for his martial direction.

Take this with a pinch of salt, I am not a member of the Ki Society, nor have I ever been. This is just the impression I have got from speaking to various people who know more about the politics of it all than I do.

Regards

Mike Haft

kironin
04-01-2007, 01:16 AM
Thanks everyone. I was overthinking it - intellectual shock from having (finally!) made a decision and then confronted with more data. I think I still had a bit of fear that Tohei's senior students left because they disagreed with his methodology at a fundamental level... but clearly if they disagreed at that level their exercises and principles wouldn't look so similar. After a bit of research, indeed this does not seem to be the case.

So the little details I'm sweating about "which subsystem" are actually totally irrelevant. Thanks!

I really don't know why you are sweating all this out. Mostly you seem to be coming to the wrong conclusions. It's pretty much irrelevant to having a local ki-aikido instructor near you that is a good instructor.

For one thing it's not a fair characterization to say almost all of Tohei's students established independent organizations. Your question is based on a false conclusion. The ones that did split are well known by virture of having an active organization getting the word out about them. Many others did not split and are not as well known outside Ki Society because of that. That doesn't make them any less senior or knowledgeable. Many were just as talented and experienced. Many of the older ones that went back to the 50's or 60's have passed away in the last 10 years so your definitely will not know of them. I can think of a number of wonderful teachers that are no longer with us but whose talented students continue on without any spotlight on them. There are others still alive that I would definitely train with any opportunity I get.

For another you, you need to understand that Ki-Aikido or more correctly called Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido is a particular specific style of aikido unlike the Aikikai which is an umbrella organization of a group of many styles. Shodakan Aikido would be another example of a particular style of aikido that comes from one teacher (Tomiki Sensei) but from which their exists organizational offshoots for various reasons. Just because I am more aware of the Tomiki students in the offshoots does not mean I assume there is any problems with Shodakan's methodology or that Tomiki didn't have many talented students carry on his organization. Nor would it mean I would be worried to be a student in one of the offshoots that has some very talented teachers and students.

Toyoda Sensei was kicked out for good reasons that had nothing to with Tohei's methodology or the reasons Toyoda liked to tell people. It's ancient history and so not productive to go in to, there are multiple sides to every story. Others have left because of various intraorganizational politics and I would say I know that in a couple cases and perhaps more it was definitely about egos. Money issues have certainly contributed to some of the departures. While no one is getting rich, I guarantee you that the ones that left did or are doing better monetarily than those that stayed. Those that left were all professional teachers and so one can hardly blame them. In that regard being the head of an organization is much better than simply a senior person in an organization.

I have taken classes with at least five of these offshoot organizations that I can think off the top of my head including small classes with four of these senior Tohei Sensei's students after they went on to develop their own organizations. As far as I can tell it's ki-aikido with the not unexpected spin of that particular person would come up with when they make something their own. Certainly ok, I have my own spin and opinion.

I am part of Ki Society simply because my teacher chose not to follow his teacher in breaking off from Ki Society. Why didn't he ?
Simply because the break had nothing to do with teaching methodology or what Tohei Sensei was teaching and everything to do with organizational politics.

You asked what the deal is ?

Well the deal is this. You got choices, many places you could be where you would have no choices. So what's the complaint? Visit both and talk to the teachers, observe classes, try a class at both places, pick the one you like best. Fretting over history is simply a waste of time.

CitoMaramba
04-01-2007, 03:44 AM
I'm also wondering how many of those who left SST/KNK subsequently re-affiliated with the Aikikai. Shiohira Sensei and the late Toyoda Sensei are the ones I know about. Are there any others?

L. Camejo
04-01-2007, 07:42 AM
Shodakan Aikido would be another example of a particular style of aikido that comes from one teacher (Tomiki Sensei) but from which their exists organizational offshoots for various reasons.Just to clarify, Tomiki's official style name is spelt Shodokan.

Regards.
LC:ai::ki:

Haowen Chan
04-01-2007, 08:55 AM
Thanks Craig Hocker sensei,

I had come to the conclusions that you advocated before you made that post, that's why I said I was "overthinking" i.e. asking a pointless question. The ryuha are irrelevant, only the specific people near me are important. Thank you for your kind advice!

Larry Feldman
04-01-2007, 02:27 PM
John - Since you asked, the Late Rod Kobyiashi was one of the first to leave Tohei when he established his organization Seidokan.
Rod was based in Southern California.

David Shevitz
04-02-2007, 09:59 AM
It's the same old question... did the teacher create any students who were as good as he was? The only one of the old Tohei students who I have trained with is Imaizumi Sensei who is wonderful. Has Imaizumi Sensei trained anyone up to the point at which they are as good as he is? I haven't trained with any of he others so i can't say but it's still the same story. Thia is true across the board, have the former uchi deshi managed to train any students who are as good as they are? If not, we have another generation of decline...

I recently returned from an event in which there were a great many senior Kokikai instructors. While I am sure none of them would say they were at the same level as Sensei Shuji Maruyama (Kokikai's founder), many of them, if not all, seemed to show a real understanding of what Sensei Maruyama is teaching. Perhaps that's the point: assuming that everyone, instructor and student alike, are still growing and understanding aikido, you can't expect to "catch up" to anyone; what you can do is gain the tools and confidence to make progress in your training regardless of circumstances.

As far as why splits occur: this has been issue much on my mind of late. I don't think anyone other than those directly involved will really know what happened. It's probably safe to say that each split had some blend of differences in politics, philosophy, and technique. In the end, as has already been stated, it's probably better to look at a given school as it is now, and only spend a little time trying to comprehend how that school came into existence in the first place. Well... if not better, then at least a whole lot easier!

Dewey
04-02-2007, 03:34 PM
John - Since you asked, the Late Rod Kobyiashi was one of the first to leave Tohei when he established his organization Seidokan.
Rod was based in Southern California.

Often overlooked is the fact that Kobayashi Sensei separated from Tohei in 1981 and founded Seidokan a short time later. I'd suggest checking out their site http://www.seidokan.org for more information. It provides a basic history as well as a brief explanation of the philosophy & reasoning behind the founding of Seidokan.

The dojo I study at is affiliated with the Seidokan, and my sensei is one of the founding instructors of the Seidokan, as well as being a long-time student of the late Kobayashi Sensei.

kironin
04-02-2007, 03:41 PM
Just to clarify, Tomiki's official style name is spelt Shodokan.

Regards.
LC:ai::ki:

That's called a typo dammit! :crazy: :D

I knew that. I recently started using an altenative touch typing layout called Colemak that has "o" on my right pinky and "a" is on my left finger like qwerty. Sometimes the wires cross and the correct finger on the wrong hand moves. :grr:

best,
Craig

kironin
04-02-2007, 04:00 PM
Often overlooked is the fact that Kobayashi Sensei separated from Tohei in 1981 and founded Seidokan a short time later. I'd suggest checking out their site http://www.seidokan.org for more information. It provides a basic history as well as a brief explanation of the philosophy & reasoning behind the founding of Seidokan.

And this is an example of what I mentioned about level of awareness. The teacher senior to all the senior students in Seidokan and of comparable experience to Rod Kobayashi and who you are probably not aware of simply because he decided not to separate from Ki Society in 1981. He is the chief instructor of Southern California Ki Society schools now and a 7th dan and has several programs with 4th and 5th dans in charge under him. He also keeps a very low profile and only recently is there a website,
http://www.socalkisociety.org/activities.html . There is no promotional bio, but he started Aikido about 50 years ago when he was a teenager.

One of those teachers I wish I could train with more often.
:(

Joe Jutsu
04-03-2007, 07:56 AM
And this is an example of what I mentioned about level of awareness. The teacher senior to all the senior students in Seidokan and of comparable experience to Rod Kobayashi and who you are probably not aware of simply because he decided not to separate from Ki Society in 1981. He is the chief instructor of Southern California Ki Society schools now and a 7th dan and has several programs with 4th and 5th dans in charge under him. He also keeps a very low profile and only recently is there a website,
http://www.socalkisociety.org/activities.html . There is no promotional bio, but he started Aikido about 50 years ago when he was a teenager.

One of those teachers I wish I could train with more often.
:(

Chinn sensei is definitely one of the best that I have had a chance to train under, but my experience is definitely limited. With such a wealth of knowledge and great sense of humor, it's hard to imagine a class with sensei that pretty much wasn't one of your best training sessions ever. Perhaps the best advice that I've been given in regards to aikido was from Chinn sensei.... "Just go out and give it the old college try!" :D

Haowen Chan
04-03-2007, 11:04 AM
Gosh, I really have to apologize for the idiotic thread title and the stupid question. I'll PM Jun to change it....

miratim
04-03-2007, 11:45 AM
Don't apologize! I found this thread pretty enlightening, and it had information I didn't know about before..

David Shevitz
04-03-2007, 12:29 PM
Don't apologize! I found this thread pretty enlightening, and it had information I didn't know about before..

Agreed! This is an interesting thread. I've found it to be an interesting read so far.

kironin
04-03-2007, 12:55 PM
It's the same old question... did the teacher create any students who were as good as he was? The only one of the old Tohei students who I have trained with is Imaizumi Sensei who is wonderful. Has Imaizumi Sensei trained anyone up to the point at which they are as good as he is? I haven't trained with any of he others so i can't say but it's still the same story. Thia is true across the board, have the former uchi deshi managed to train any students who are as good as they are? If not, we have another generation of decline...

You actually trained with a student of one of his students, you just didn't know it because we were playing with knives in a Systema class at one of the Aiki Expo's in Las Vegas.

;)

Mato-san
04-05-2007, 11:04 AM
I will throw in my 2 yen..... my Sensei was an uchideshi of Tohei for 5 years and a ki no kenkyukai instructor for over a decade and has split from the organisation.... he simply says that he didn`t agree 100% on the concepts but 80% was good for him. I am not sure what we study is Ki Aikido but it definately has its roots, Sensei actively studies to this day with some very high ranked instructors from all styles, the topic of his seperation still remains a wee bit mystical. Some say money .... who knows.....I hate the political side. My 2 yen.

crbateman
04-05-2007, 11:34 AM
I will throw in my 2 yen...See? It is about money... :D

nagoyajoe
04-06-2007, 02:27 AM
David wrote "I recently returned from an event in which there were a great many senior Kokikai instructors. While I am sure none of them would say they were at the same level as Sensei Shuji Maruyama (Kokikai's founder), many of them, if not all, seemed to show a real understanding of what Sensei Maruyama is teaching. Perhaps that's the point: assuming that everyone, instructor and student alike, are still growing and understanding aikido, you can't expect to "catch up" to anyone; what you can do is gain the tools and confidence to make progress in your training regardless of circumstances."

You hit the nail on the head! You do get Sensei. Thank you so much.

Keith Larman
04-11-2007, 12:14 PM
And this is an example of what I mentioned about level of awareness. The teacher senior to all the senior students in Seidokan and of comparable experience to Rod Kobayashi and who you are probably not aware of simply because he decided not to separate from Ki Society in 1981. He is the chief instructor of Southern California Ki Society schools now and a 7th dan and has several programs with 4th and 5th dans in charge under him. He also keeps a very low profile and only recently is there a website,
http://www.socalkisociety.org/activities.html . There is no promotional bio, but he started Aikido about 50 years ago when he was a teenager.

One of those teachers I wish I could train with more often.
:(

Yes, he is very good and they have some great students.

From my limited understanding in discussions with members of the Kobayashi family as well as senior students of the time, there were many reasons for the split in his case. Suffice to say I really wouldn't know all the reasons nor would I want to share some of the things I have learned as it is not my place to do so. But I think I can safely say that it was clearly a very difficult decision for sensei for reasons that go way beyond simple politics and organizational issues. And like many things in life, things happen, you make your decisions, and you get on with life after that.

But keep in mind that many of Kobayashi's students, some going back 40 years (well over a decade before the split) stayed with Kobayashi sensei. So they were fully involved during the times when we were still affiliated. Larry Wadahara-sensei, for instance, started as a child in the Children's classes taught by Kobayashi-sensei back at that same time. Many decades later now Wadahara-sensei is one of the chief instructors at Seidokan's HQ as well as his own dojo in Long Beach.

As already pointed out, many who split off as well as many who stayed pretty much kept to themselves and just kept on training. If you like your teacher, if you like your training, just keep on training.

And yes, the seidokan site does give a bit of history as well as some outlines of our training philosophy. Any further info on the whys and wherefore's of the separation... Ancient history.

All opinions and all factual errors are my responsibility and mine alone. ;) I'm not speaking on behalf of anyone but myself.