View Full Version : Should aikido evolve?

Please visit our sponsor:

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!

antonis paps
02-09-2009, 02:07 PM

I believe that in order to perfect an art,
one should challenge what he knows,
in a continuing road towards knowledge
and truth.

I been thinking if Aikido should-could evolve
as a martial art. To add more techniques for instance,
to counter various attacks, and unorthodox ones also.

Could we use more of our body for aikido?
Could we use aikido on the ground?

Thank you,

Antonis Paps.

Lyle Laizure
02-09-2009, 03:09 PM
I thought we already did.

C. David Henderson
02-09-2009, 03:26 PM
See: http://aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14937

02-09-2009, 06:08 PM
Adding more techniques will not improve the system.

Learning to use the one's we have would be a good start.

If one seeks knowledge of ground fighting, there are already several amazing systems to choose from.

I think Aikido as a system is already quite evolved, it is we who practice it that need to grow.

02-10-2009, 02:58 AM
It has evolved.

O Sensei taught and his students took it where they felt it should go:

1) Shodokan {Tomiki} Aikido
Emphasis: Randori/Sports

2) Yoseikan Aikido
Emphasis: Mixed Martial Arts
note: he, (Mochizuki) was a high ranking black belt in karate, judo, kendo, etc.

3) Yoshinkan Aikido
Emphasis: On correct Kamae (body position)

4) Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido (Ki)
Emphasis: Ki (but read Toheis interviews, its not mystical)

5) Iwama Style Aikido (tied to Aikikai)
Emphasis: Weapons

6) Aikikai
Emphasis: giving a unified face to Aikido.
note: now only if they could unite the above.
(Going beyond letting the shihans that stayed, the freedom to do what they want.)

Take those, master each of the emphasis from each category, then you can evolve it to the next level. ;)
The next level of evolution in Aikido is an inner journey. :)



Carsten Möllering
02-10-2009, 06:14 AM
6) Aikikai
Emphasis: giving a unified face to Aikido.
note: now only if they could unite the above.
Why do you think the aikikai should or could unite other styles?

Shodokan, Yoseikan, Yoshinkan, Shin shin toitsu aikido and Iwama shin shin shurenkai all had reasons to leave the aikikai an build up an own organisation:

Tomiki wanted to integrate aikido and judo and allowed competition. There are world championships. A lot of scholars all over the world: A style on its own.

Mochizuki wanted to integrate some other budo and aikido. In France its affiliated to aikido. But it is a style on its own.

Shioda wanted to continue the aiki budo of the postwar years. He explicitly didn't want to practice the aikido which is practiced in the aikikai. He called himself 'founder' and set up an own iemoto line.

Same with Tohei: He wanted to integrate Shin shin toitsu do to aikido. (He didn't only emphasize on ki.) And he has a follower, like Shioda had and Ueshiba himself had.

And Iwama shin shin shurenkai: I just read an interview in which Saito Hitohiro said, that at the Aikikai hombu dojo there is no real aikido.

So why do you think the aikikai should or could unite those differing styles?
The aikikai isn't responsible or in charge of other styles of Aikido. They are independent, autonomous and free. Don't they walk their way in their own right?

And on the other hand: The aikikai intentionally didn't want to integrate those aspects into it's aikido. That's why ther was a parting of the ways.


02-10-2009, 06:43 AM
And on the other hand: The aikikai intentionally didn't want to integrate those aspects into it's aikido. That's why ther was a parting of the ways.


Just a hypothetical scenario.

Basically I spent the past couple days trying to understand the various nuances between styles...trying to understand a bit of 'Aikido History'.

At the end of the day, each of the various arts within Aikido, actually seemed to focus on certain aspects. (i.e., weapons, mixed arts, randori, etc.)

The fact of the matter is that I would love to incorporate all the various aspects, (strengths), of these organizations into my personal Aikido. ;)

But, when I looked at the Aikikai, I didnt really see anything that 'stuck out' that the others did not offer, and more.

The only thing that 'popped out', as it were, was the fact that they are the face of Aikido, so to speak, and it would seem people have a higher chance of running into an Aikika affiliated dojo. (Not going into schools that have no affiliation to anyone.)

So, idealistically, it would be cool if that which is already established could unite the various aspects.

But as you pointed out, that is why the others left the Aikikai...though as I dig through the history, its not all that clear.
After reading an interview with Tohei, it seems to say that after the Aikikais initial rejection of his Ki classes - where they told him out of the dojo only - that there was a change of mind, but he said...'to late'.

Neither here nor there...As I pointed out somewhere, (as I brought this up in another thread as well), it all starts in the individual.

More and more people appear to be learning across styles: Saito, Tohei, Sioda, etc. So as more people do this, to make their Aikido more complete...it will reflect in the outside world as well.
Maybe the Aikikai will adapt and change, but more than likely something new will come and evolve. :)

Im quite psyched about the possibilities with Aikido after having looked at the different styles though...some cool potential there if you can harness all that, and integrate it. ;)



02-10-2009, 01:00 PM
Dalen - the main differences between these styles and Aikikai is mostly when the founders of those other styles left O'Sensei.

Shioda sensei had learned everything from O'Sensei at the time that O'Sensei was doing the art in that particular manner. Later on Saito sensei had learned everything from O'Sensei at the time that O'Sensei was doing the art in that particular manner. O'Sensei had changed the art from what he had taught to Shioda sensei and taught this new form to Saito.

Tomiki sensei had learned everything from O'Sensei but he had to change the art in order to get it accepted in the school system. The school wanted an excercise and not a martial art - too brutal.

Tohei sensei had learned everything from O'Sensei but wanted to include the Ki stuff but this was not allowed by the other higher ups for they only wanted to do the stuff that came strictly from O'Sensei.

Michizuki sensei had learned everything from O'Sensei but he wanted to combine it with karate, judo, etc.. for he thought that Aikido was not totally complete. Again this was not strictly from O'Sensei so he started his own thing.

They all mainly the same techniques but with slight variations either do to O'Sensei's evolvement or the other styles creator putting their own stamp on it.

Ron Tisdale
02-10-2009, 03:01 PM
That was a nice general way to state it Mike. You should have that posted somewhere...not too technical, not too touchy feely, just right.


02-10-2009, 04:16 PM
Tohei sensei had learned everything from O'Sensei but wanted to include the Ki stuff but this was not allowed by the other higher ups for they only wanted to do the stuff that came strictly from O'Sensei.

Toheis involvement has been quite intriguing to me to read about the past couple of days. Again, this is all new to me - as far as the research into Aikidos background - but somethings struck me as interesting concerning what is 'assumed' about Toheis ki aikido and what it is.

Here is what I could gather from the interviews I have read by him at Aikido Journal, etc.

- He noticed that the students he taught, when he came back to Hawaii, could not even agree on what he taught.

- It seemed that he implied that they made it mystical, as well as did O' Sensei. This would imply that Ki was a vital part of OSenseis teachings. (Ironically, he takes a rather pragmatic view point on the subject, just as I do.)

The only difference, from what I can tell, is that O' Sensei talked in religious parable type talk, much like what many people in ki Aikido do today. (This is from Toheis interview that Im saying this.)

- Another interesting note, forget the name right off hand, is that the guy who told Tohei he could only teach ki out of the dojo was the same one that came back and told him he could after Tohei had over 100 people signed up at the Olympic stadium, I believe it was? (Where he taught only ki)
Which, at the time, Tohei said it was to late.

Again, I read the whole bit of where someone originally asked him to be the 2nd Doshu but he declined. Very detailed info...again, one side/perspective of the story...but a lot can be seen with this.

Overall, I get the impression, its like everything else - politics. (Ego)
Crazy, crazy, crazy. :D

About Tomiki, I read about what Tohei had to say about O' Senseis view on competition, which seemed to be the main draw of what broke the camels back there.

I havent got into the nitty gritty of the rest of the stuff...I have the dates of when the main Shihan started and left, got their dan ranks, etc. - to try to make sense of the period. But as far as why Shioda was separate, I havent really gotten into yet...though it appears in that time he kept close ties with O' Sensei.

In a way, it makes sense. O' Sensei was developing his own bit, and like you mentioned, they took away aspects of his teaching and went their way...yet did not severe ties with him.

Overall, as I have looked into the various styles, I can only reiterate, that personally I see a lot of value in the styles from the various Shihan mentioned. (to make a well rounded art...a well rounded person) ;)

True, if one wants to claim to be pure to one man, O'Sensei, then I can see the lines. But I agree with Tohei when he said that to experience 'god' you must stop following. :D

Anyway, this is all good stuff...quite interesting, and has been fun to ponder.

Thanks for the comments. :)



Mike Sigman
02-10-2009, 08:08 PM
The only difference, from what I can tell, is that O' Sensei talked in religious parable type talk, much like what many people in ki Aikido do today. (This is from Toheis interview that Im saying this.)Probably the whole "ki"-paradigm was basically "religious" (or quasi-religious) for thousands of years in India, in China, in Japan, and in other countries. The real out-rider is not Ueshiba, Tohei, Ushiro Sensei, etc., but rather the more modern views of "if this works physically then it must have physical origins".


Mike Sigman

C. David Henderson
02-10-2009, 10:01 PM
Thus, the physical, as opposed to the metaphorical, become the black box, the deus ex machina that ties up the loose knots between our experience and our philosophy.

Mike Sigman
02-10-2009, 10:17 PM
Thus, the physical, as opposed to the metaphorical, become the black box, the deus ex machina that ties up the loose knots between our experience and our philosophy.Unless someone can do Aikido via thought beams, love of humanity, or other closely-held beliefs.....yes. ;)

Spoken with all the cynicism of Mary Malmros,

Mike Sigman


George S. Ledyard
02-10-2009, 10:35 PM
I wrote this for Aikido Journal back in 2004 but i think it shows that Aikido has always been evolving, right from its very inception and it continues to do so.

Is There any Such Thing as Aikido?
Posted by George Ledyard on Saturday, August 7th, 2004

What is Aikido? One could simply say that all Aikido, regardless of style, has a certain basic set of techniques and movement principles which make the art “Aikido” as distinct from aikijutsu or jiujutsu or any other martial art. But, as any person who has trained widely in the Aikido community can tell you, there is such a wide range of interpretation with regard to how these techniques are practiced and executed that the surface similarities get outweighed by these inherent differences.
In Japan there is the traditional faction that believes that the art is the sole creation of Morihei Ueshiba and that Aikido is essentially the property of the Ueshiba family. Whereas, this might be the attitude of certain members of the Aikikai Honbu Dojo in Tokyo, I don’t think one can effectively maintain this as a point of view. Unlike the koryu, or classical martial styles of Japan, Aikido has had no set curriculum or any narrowly defined standards for the certification of its teachers. Even before the term “Aikido” came into common usage in the 1940’s, a wide gulf existed between the interpretations taken by various early instructors. The Yoseikan, Yoshinkan, Shudokan, Aikibudo (later Shin’ei Taido) systems emerged as distinct styles of what was just becoming known generally as “Aikido”.
The family claim to “Aikido” stems from its origin with the Founder whom we refer to as O-Sensei. Yet, even before the death of the Founder in 1969, his son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, had secularized the philosophical underpinnings of the art and begun the process of simplifying its techniques, de-emphasizing the use of weapons and the more martially oriented techniques of the system. The Uchi Deshi who took Aikido abroad after WWII took varying elements from the Founder, the Nidai Doshu, and the Honbu Dojo Cho (Chief Instructor), Koichi Tohei Sensei, not to mention varying influences of the other senior instructors at the Honbu dojo. Saito Sensei, the caretaker of the shrine at Iwama, also had a degree of influence over the teachers sent overseas as virtually all of them had spent considerable time accompanying the Founder on his lengthy visits to the shrine and dojo.
By the time we reach the late 1970’s, this process had largely completed itself with Japanese Shihan presiding over the growth of Aikido all over the world. Yet even amongst these teachers, all considered “Aikikai” instructors, there was a wide range of interpretation as to what Aikido actually was. Some maintained a strong emphasis on weapons work; some even developed their own unique weapons training systems. Others put little or no emphasis on weapons training. Some ignored the trend towards a less martially oriented Aikido coming out of the home dojo and kept a strong emphasis on atemi and the more martial techniques which were dropping out of the Honbu Dojo repertoire. Even in Japan, apart from a small number of teachers like Abe Sensei, Hikitsuchi Sensei, Sunadomari Sensei and a few others, the spiritual orientation of the art had completely shifted away from the traditional, religious, Shinto based outlook which was fundamental to the way in which the Founder conceived and taught his art.
Where some sense of spirituality was maintained, its emphasis was more on the ethical / philosophical elements of the Founder’s teachings than on the mystical religious elements which didn’t travel well overseas and were even considered obscure by most modern Japanese practitioners themselves. Kisshomaru Ueshiba, the Nidai Doshu, wrote a number of books on Aikido and this orientation was quite evident in his works. In many, if not most cases, the practice of Aikido became almost entirely secularized with almost no emphasis by the teachers on the spiritual side of the art in favor of almost total focus on the technical side. This was in stark contrast to the Founder’s emphasis which was to talk about the spiritual underpinnings of Aikido and only rarely deal with the technical aspects of training.
When Tohei Sensei left the Aikikai after the death of the Founder he created his own style of Aikido which focused heavily on ki development as well as waza (technique). His ideas on this were derived from the work done by Tempu Nakamura rather than anything he had learned directly from O-Sensei and despite a painful rift with the Aikikai, many prominent teachers both in Japan and abroad left the organization to do the new style called Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido. Over the decades that followed, the majority of these teachers have struck out on their own, setting up their own organizations and adding further to the wide mix of interpretations that exist in contemporary Aikido.
So by the time the new millennium rolls around we find an Aikido that is variously defined by styles, organizations and individual teachers. In addition to the previously mentioned recognized “styles”, some teachers like Saito Sensei, in an attempt to distinguish their very traditional Aikido from the variants that followed came very close to developing new “styles”. “Iwama Style” came into common usage although it was never declared to be such by Saito Sensei nor recognized as such by the Aikikai Headquarters.
Some individual teachers, like Mitsugi Saotome, went off on their own (in his case the USA), started their own organizations, and then subsequently were reunited with the Aikikai Honbu Dojo. The “organization”, led by a talented and charismatic senior teacher soon became the new vehicle for promoting the growth of Aikido. It became possible to actually have one’s own organization which promoted a very specific interpretation of Aikido while simultaneously maintaining membership in the Aikiaki organization. K. Chiba Sensei’s creation of the Birankai is an example of this approach. Thus, re-absorption of previously estranged groups coupled with this toleration of organizations functioning within the larger headquarters organization has slowed down the creation of recognized separate “styles” of Aikido but serves to only thinly veil the fact that there continues to be very wide variation in approach and technique, even amongst students who trained with the Founder at precisely the same time.
With the spread of Aikido around the world we find the tendency towards entropy magnified even more. Most countries now have senior instructors at what would once have been considered “Shihan” grade who have their own ideas, not always in concert with the Japanese viewpoints, on what should happen with their art in their own country. Further, the development of non-Japanese teachers has also diminished the Japanese mystique which used to surround the senior teachers, all of whom had trained with the Founder. Now, students of the students of these teachers are instructing in their own schools. The pure numbers of practitioners, especially in France and the United States has made it virtually impossible for the Uchi Deshi of the Founder to remain as the dominant influences in the countries in which they have settled. Aikido has begun to take on aspects of the national character of the various countries it has spread to with increasing variation amongst a growing number of high level instructors.
At this stage, connection with the Aikikai Headquarters in Japan is more a sentimental attachment rather than something considered important to the continued development of the art in its various host countries. Pandora’s box has been opened and nothing will return it to its former state.
It is evident that, at this point in time, that the term “Aikido” which might have referred to something specific historically, is really a generic reference to a collection of martial and non-martial movement systems which share only the most surface similarities. Saying one does Aikido is like saying that one likes to eat Chinese Food. What kind of Chinese food? Sichuan, Hunan, Shanghai, Peking? What kind of Aikido? Yoseikan, Yoshinkan, Shudokan, Aikikai? Aikikai? Well, that doesn’t describe anything at this point… it’s all about the particular teacher within the organization or even which organization within the organization.
If this all seems to be impossibly confusing, it is. My intention in pointing this out is to help us all get past any remaining tendency to argue about what is the “true” Aikido, which Aikido is the most authentic. I don’t believe that there ever was anything that could be defined as “Aikido” in the sense of a “style”. Even before it officially became “Aikido” it had already morphed into several versions. The fact that the Founder spent his entire life refining and developing his art meant that what was called Aikido at any point in time represented only a temporal snapshot of what kept changing right up until the Founder died. It is almost impossible to maintain that any particular approach is more valid than any other. It’s simply a matter of finding the one that works for a particular individual. Not much more can be said.

Mike Sigman
02-10-2009, 10:53 PM
Good points, George. One thing that I've often thought is that Japanese martial-arts scholars should do a cross-check between Ueshiba's philosophy and the putative idea of "Change" which is so important in Chinese cosmology. I believe that the idea of "Aiki" is actually based on the idea of Change and perhaps that baseline idea can be used to reconcile a lot of seeming differences between styles and factions.


Mike Sigman