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Useful Notes / Aikido

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Peace and Harmony Through Joint Locks and Throws
Aikido (translated as "the way of combining forces") is a Japanese martial art created by Morihei Ueshiba after the jujutsu style of a school called Daito-ryu. It is mostly based around hand strikes, wrist locks and pain compliance throws, often all geared to the premise that both the attacker and the defender carry or wield samurai weapons and are actively trying to use it on the other. Accordingly, the art also includes training in those weapons, like wooden swords, daggers and short staves.

Practitioners of the art are called Aikidoka. Equipment consists on a white uniform called Aikidogi very similar to the one used in Judo, only complete with ample black pants known in Japanese culture as hakama.

It was created not so much as a martial art, but rather as a philosophic movement of universal peace and reconciliation. His creator Ueshiba was trained in judo, Sumo and several styles of jujutsu, but he chose Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu as the core of his new style and gave it the name of aikido in its honor. He stripped it of its most martial traits and added a strong religious background from a neo-Shinto sect named Omoto-kyo, and the result was something that he expected it would attract people in the world towards utopia and compassion. It soon became official when the government of Japan started a movement to organize native martial arts and aikido was caught into the set. The art later expanded to United States, Europe and other countries, and although it never gained as much popularity as other, more classic martial arts, its presence can be felt.

Aikido is a controversial one among martial arts, as it could hardly be called a fighting style and absolutely not a combat sport, which is a constant source of confusion and/or discussion. The philosophy of aikido enforces little to no alive sparring or pressure testing, the basis of any effective hand-to-hand training, and instead works on prearranged, compliant drills and katas, usually simulating strictly the kind of attacks, defenses and ceremonies an Edo period samurai would expect to find at his job. (Its training does include the word randori, which in judo means alive sparring, but aikido understands it as a sort of semi-improvised exhibition with compliant partners.) Intuitively, this philosphy excludes competitions or championships too, as they are considered to go fundamentally against the art's message of peace and nonviolence.

As for why was aikido designed this way, it is unknown even what were Ueshiba's intentions. Some believe he de-emphasized actual fighting training because he expected all aikidokas to be already proficient in other martial arts, just like himself and most of his immediate apprentices; others believe he did so because he really expected his style to be effective without aliveness in training, which brings the additional debate of whether aikido is effective or not (and if not, whether it should be, or how much should it change in order to be); and finally, others don't make such questions because they believe aikido is what it is. In general, aikido is an art with a lot to discuss about, though members within its community are not always open to it.

As an additional controversy, the art's religious content sometimes makes the topic get weird. Early biographies adscribe Ueshiba literal superpowers, with stories of him performing miracles and feats of Super-Strength, Teleportation, Telepathy and other wonders, all supposedly developed thanks to his enlightenment and connection to the universe or something alike. Some aikidoka genuinely believe this really happened, while others don't, and among those many believe this whole mystique is a topic that should be better forgotten. Ueshiba's descendants are usually in this last camp, with his own son Kisshomaru being the author of a biography that omitted those tales and took a more Warts and All approach about him.

    Aikido styles 
Although aikido is mostly governed by the Aikikai organization, led by the Ueshiba family, it is not a fully unified art, and there are many other small schools and offshoots. These are the main schools in general.

  • Zaidan Hojin Aikikai or simply Aikikai: the original aikido body and official legacy to Ueshiba's works, currently led by Moriteru Ueshiba, grandson to Morihei. An umbrella organization to many schools and masters, it is the most traditional in terms of style: it follows faithfully the mainstream dogma, composed by what you read above and only sometimes every master's individual exegesis of Ueshiba's teachings. It operates from the Hombu Dojo, aikido's world headquarters, and is represented globally through the International Aikido Federation.
  • Yoseikan: it was founded by Minoru Mochizuki, a judoka with experience in several martial arts who was sent to study aikido with Ueshiba. His background can be noted in the style of aikido he went to teach, as Mochizuki mixed it with techniques from judo and karate, and eventually decided to officially fuse all the arts he knew in a single style named Yoseikan Budo, which some still consider basically aikido because it composes its core art. Some of his students have reverted to a more traditional aikido, but they still often train in a judo-esque manner.
  • Yoshinkan: founded by Gozo Shioda, son of a judoka and physician, it could be considered the hardest and most combative of all aikido doctrines, oxymoronic as it might sound. Shioda, who acquired this approach after a life-and-death experience in a brawl, supplied aikido's lackings with sheer Training from Hell, to the point the Tokyo Metropolitan Police later adopted it only because it served well to churn out tough guys. It is famous for its senshusei course, an intensive, 11-month course that everybody can take but which only riot policemen and excellent athletes are expected to finish.
  • Shodokan: an oddity between the Ueshida-direct descended styles in which it has a form of competition (which is why it is also referred to as Sport Aikido). It was created by former judoka Kenji Tomiki (so the art is often called Tomiki Aikido) as a modernization of the art, and was naturally controversial among aikidokas from the very start, but it managed to become official and accepted as well. Shodokan matches are structurally one-way but fully competitive: an aikidoka tries to execute a technique while his opponent tries to resist or counter it with another technique, and they switch places at the next round.
  • Iwama-ryu: it was founded by Morihiro Saito after Ueshiba's death, claiming to be closer to what Ueshiba actually taught than what other apprentices were teaching. As you can guess, this was a divisive move, with plenty of aikidoka calling them reactionaries and heretics. Iwama-ryu is more a movement than an organization, as aside from its main body, the Iwama Shin-Shin Aiki Shuren-kai, (founded by Morihiro Saito's son Hitohiro Saito), there are several masters and dojos from other aikido styles that follow it. Style-wise, they give a lot of emphasis to weapons. It is also referred to as Takemusu or Dentō (Traditional) by practitioners and Saito-style by outsiders.
  • Ki no Kenkyukai (Ki Society): the last great school, founded by Koichi Tohei after Ueshiba died, though the style itself is also known as Shin Shin Toitsu. The most mystic of all the aikido schools, devoting actually more time to the control of ki through Meditation and Yoga than anything else. It used to have a form of contest called “Taigi”, though not martially in the vein of Shodokan, but rather as an artistic competition like ballet. It is also the school that first brought aikido to the US in the 1950s and established America's perception of the art for years before the other styles came around (technically the school didn’t exist at the time, but Tohei was already teaching what would be fundamental to his school of aikido).
  • Shinei Taido: a school founded by Ueshiba's nephew Noriaki Inoue. Originally called Shinwa Taido, it branched off before aikido was fully formed, as such many consider it a distinct martial art, although they are both pretty similar overall. It tends to be confused with another martial art also called taido, founded by karateka Seiken Sukumine, that coincidentally uses an aikidogi-like uniform.
  • Kinomichi: a school founded by Masamichi Noro, another uchideshi of Morihei Ueshiba, and founded in Paris, France in 1979. Like Shinei Taido above, many consider it a distinct martial art and although they are both pretty similar overall, one of the main differences is that there are no dan/kyu belt ranks.
  • Korindo: a school founded by Minoru Hirai. Like Shinei Taido and Kinomichi, it branched off before aikido was fully formed and many consider it a distinct martial art, except Hirai actually created his style before he even met Ueshiba and is arguably the one that came up with the term aikido for his style before Ueshiba. Once Hirai and Ueshiba met, they saw the similarities in their respective arts and Hirai was convinced to join Ueshiba and he later became the Kobukan's (the original name of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo) representative to the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai. Hirai's style was formed by combining multiple classical jujutsu styles he learned in his youth and traditional Japanese weaponry with a focus on the principle of circular tai sabaki and later combined that with the teachings of Ueshiba's "Aiki-Budo" style (aikido before WWII).
  • Nihon Goshin: a school founded by Shodo Morita, who like Mimoru Hirai above created it before Ueshiba used aikido as the name of his art and may not even have an relation to Ueshiba's style at all. Though it is unclear if he also trained under Ueshiba, Morita was trained in judo, Daito-ryu aiki-jujitsu, kobudo, and karate, and fused these arts into his own style. The school is said to be dead in Japan, but survives in the US as it was introduced there in the 1960s by Richard A. Bowe.
    • Nihon Goshinjutsu: an obscure offshoot of Nihon Goshin founded by Jerry R. Phelps with schools limited to New York. It adds in techniques from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Isshin ryu karate.
  • Takeda Ryu Nakamura-Ha: a school founded by Hisashi Nakamura and unlike the others on this list, has no connection to Morihei Ueshiba's style in any way as he was not a student of Ueshiba. Nakamura was student under Oba Ichio, the third head of the Genyosha dojo which was founded by Takeda Tadakatsu, a descendant of the Takeda clan's Takeda Nobutora (the father of Takeda Shingen), where he learned the Koryu do Takeda Ryu Bujutsu curriculum of Aiki no Jutsu, Ju Jutsu Kenpo, Ken Jutsu, Batto Jutsu, Jo Jutsu, Shugi Jutsu and Shuriken Jutsu. Nakamura's curriculum is actually referred to as "Sobudo" as it contains several different disciplines like aikido, jukenpo, iaidō, jōdō, shugijutsu, tachikendo and shurikenjutsu. His style of aikido is actually modified form of his Aiki no Jutsu training, it just resembled Ueshiba's style enough that it got classified as aikido. The school also has two different types of shiai (competitions) and randori (free sparring), one called "Sogo" and the other "Tori Waza". Sogo has opponents wear a leather glove (called a uchi kote) on one hand and are allowed to hit freely with that hand while also allowing throws and wrist, elbow and shoulder locks, while tori waza is a technical match where opponents take alternatively the role of uke and tori.
  • Otsuki-ryu: an obscure school founded by Yutaka Otsuki, a student of both Ueshiba before WWII and Ueshiba's master Sokaku Takeda in Daito-ryu. Considered as one of Ueshiba's "rogue students", Otsuki was a right wing politician with ties to both the League of Blood terrorist organization and to the May 15th incident in which Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi was assassinated by a group of young naval officers that included Morihei Ueshiba's close friend Taku Mikami. Additionally, Otsuki was also the calligraphy teacher of Seiseki Abe, who both trained under Ueshiba and taught the founder calligraphy in turn. His style apparently had a heavy focus on the "Goshin Jujutsu" aspect, but is not well known past that.
  • Ryushinkan: a school founded by Shohitsu Nakajima, the 24th head of Shinkage-ryu Kenjutsu as well as the founder of Shinshin Muso-ryu Iai, who trained with Ueshiba for a bit. Like Yoseikan, Nakajima eventually decided to officially fuse all the arts he knew in a single style named Ryushinkan Budo which consists of the arts above and others like naginatajutsu, jōjutsu, archery, a modification of goju-ryu karate known as Ryushinkan-Goju, and a modified aikido style he dubbed "Ryūshin-ryu Taijutsu".
  • Hoshi-ryu Kobujutsu: an obscure school founded by Tesshin Hoshi, a judoka and early student of Ueshiba. He was the judo teacher of Tsutomu Yukawa, who once challenged and was soundly defeated by Morihei Ueshiba then became one of his favourite students. Hoshi later trained under Ueshiba after Yukawa challenged Hoshi to prove his training under Ueshiba was superior to Hoshi's judo, with Yukawa defeating Hoshi and then introduced him to Ueshiba at Hoshi's request. Interestingly, Hoshi's reason for creating his school was apparently to create ways for judo to overcome Ueshiba's pre-war style as Hoshi's style was described more as a way to quick study Ueshiba's style. Hoshi also later created a Goshin Jutsu system for judokas known as "Hoshishiki Goshinjutsu" before Kenji Tomiki (who was a good friend of Hoshi) helped develop the Kodokan's official Goshin Jutsu system in 1956.
  • Fujin Kobujutsu: an obscure school founded by Eiko Ōtsuyama, one of Ueshiba's few female students. It was tailored exclusively to women and not much is known about it.
  • Shinryaku Heiho Shinden Aiki Goshin Jutsu: an obscure school founded by Seitaro Tanaka, another early student of Ueshiba and also trained under Noguchi "Senryuken" Kiyoshi, the founder of the Shinto Rokugo-ryū Jujutsu and Shinto Fuso-ryū Kenjutsu, and combined the styles into his own martial art.
  • Fuji-ryu Taijutsu: a school founded by Kiyoshi "Fuji" Koga, a former training partner of Noriaki Inoue. Also known as Ura Aikido, it is considered its own martial art at it teaches zen-meditation, throwing, grappling, kicking, punching, blocking, breakfalls, light-contact sparring with full protective gear, self defence against groups and weapons.
    • Hiko-ryu Taijutsu: a successor school of Fuji-ryu Taijutsu founded by Koshiro Tanaka, Fuji Koga's official successor. It is considered a seperate martial art from Fuji-ryu, not a replacement as it combines with other arts he learned in his youth like Wado-ryu and Kyokushin karate, judo, jukendo, xingyiquan and even his experience fighting with and training the Afghan Mujahideen in the Soviet–Afghan War.
  • Rinbukan-ryu: an obscure school founded by Fudō Yagi, an early student of Ueshiba and was also the former head of Juki-ryu Jujutsu which he taught to the Kodokan. Not much is known about it but Yagi was a technical advisor to Fuji-ryu Taijutsu heads Fuji Koga and Koshiro Tanaka and contributed his knowledge to those styles as well.
  • Manseikan: a school founded by Kanshū Sunadomari, a uchideshi of Morihei Ueshiba along with his older brother and sister. It emphasizes kokyu ryoku (breath power) and is also known for having practitioners beginning their training sessions with a pledge that has been dubbed "The Spirit of Aikido". It also went by the name Aiki Manseido from 1999 to 2008.
  • Kobayashi-Ha: a school founded by Hirokazu Kobayashi, another disciple of Ueshiba who was a former karateka, kendoka and judoka. The most striking of differences between this style and others are its suwariwaza (seated techniques) and the meguri principle as well as subtle and significant differences in the different tachiwaza (standing) techniques as well as jō and bokken sequences. Also most of the schools of this style are based in Europe.
  • Wadokai: a school founded by Roy Yukio Suenaka, son of a Japanese Hawaiian practitioner of jujitsu and kenjitsu and later learned judo and kendo before training under Ueshiba. Also known as Suenaka-ha Tetsugaku-ho, it aims for the unification of the martial and spiritual elements of aikido into what he considered "Complete Aikido". Not to be confused with Wado-ryu karate or Shinpo Wado.
  • Shingu-style: a style developed by Michio Hikitsuchi, another student of Ueshida and the style is named after the city where the dojo he was placed in charge of is located. It has an emphasis on working with traditional weapons such as the bokken and the jo as Hikitsuchi a trained in many weapon arts like iaido, kendo, kenjutsu, bojutsu, and jūkendō (bayonet fighting) before learning aikido. It also emphasized the use of atemi waza as Hikitsuchi also trained in karate and jujitsu before aikido.
  • Nishio-style: a style developed by Shoji Nishio, a former Shindō jinen-ryū karateka and judoka and a master of other weapon arts who later trained under Ueshida. He developed his style based on his understanding of Ueshiba's teachings and his experience with other martial arts, which is characterized as dynamic, sharp, natural, innovative, adaptive, and effective, with a unique aspect of his style being the deep integration of principles of the sword into Aikido techniques and even created a school of Iaido known as Aiki Toho Iaido or Nishio-ryu Iai. It is also said to be the first style to have brought in hip throws from judo, which eventually spread to other aikido styles.
  • Yamaguchi-style: a style developed by Seigo Yamaguchi, another student of Ueshida and was considered the most prolific teacher at Aikikai Hombu Dojo. His style emphasizes spiritual awareness and the necessity of catching the spiritual feeling of Ueshiba's teachings, which would then be incorporated into physical and mental techniques. It is also a very personal style as he believed it could only be taught one-to-one.
  • Tendokan: a school founded by Kenji Shimizu, a former judoka and is credited as the last student of Ueshiba. Also known as Tendo-ryu, it is characterized by its large and clear movements, emphasizing naturalness and harmonic flow of motion.
  • Shinpo Wado: a very obscure school founded by Hayakawa Soohoo, a Malaysia-born Japanese karateka, judoka and kung fu stylist and one of the last students of Morihei Ueshiba. Originally called Shintoden Shotokaku Wado, it is characterized by Soohoo's study and addition of techniques and philosophy from Ba Gua, tai chi, qigong, and Zen Buddhism and was mostly considered a distinct martial art itself. The school itself seems to have died with its founder, but several students of Soohoo from Japan and Malaysia have incorporated it into their own styles like Hideharu Futani's "Aiki-Wado", Satoshi Shigetomo's "Shinpo Yawaragi Taijiquan", Malaysian aikido master Francis Ramasamy's "Mushindo" (a style that mixes it with Yoshinkan of all things) and Lee Seng Hock's weird style of "Hupkwondo" (see Taekwondo for more). Not to be confused with Wado-ryu karate or Wadokai Aikido.
  • Tenshin: a school founded by Steven Seagal. Named after his first wife's dojo, it is considered a “hard” style of aikido, focusing on the practical techniques to be used for real world situations as Seagal supposedly wanted to make his style similar to pre-WWII aikido and despite Seagal's reputation, most practitioners agree it is legit.
  • Bushikan: a school founded by Greg Sinclair, a student of Steven Seagal. It adds onto Tenshin's techniques by including modern striking combinations into its curriculum.
  • Tenshin Budo Kai: a school founded by Frank Ani Jr., an Aikikai black belt and later trained with Steven Seagal before forming his own school. It combines the Tenshin and Aikikai styles as well as the Korean martial art of Hapkido (another art adapted from Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu).
  • Tapondo: a school founded in the Philippines by Ambrosio "Monching" J. Gavileno, one of the first Filipino black belts in aikido. He combined the Aikikai style with several Filipino martial arts, both armed and unarmed, first creating a weapons art called "Modified Arnis", second a "kickboxing" style called "Bokaido", then modified his aikido training into a more combative form for street fighting, which he dubbed Combat Aikido and finally placed all of his created arts under the name Tapondo and dubbed it the "Filipino Martial Arts for Peace".
  • Real Aikido: a style developed by Ljubomir Vračarević, a self-defence instructor from Serbia who was a black belt in judo, jujutsu, and Aikikai style aikido, who created this style after finding some inspiration from Yoshinkan when Vračarević visited their headquarters in 1993. It is a mixture of aikido, judo and jujutsu techniques with some modifications and includes self-defense against strikes also includes evasion and some blocking techniques as well as defense against weapons such as knife, pistol, etc. The curriculum itself is mainly based on a general aikido curriculum, with a kyu/dan system of grading. It was created for mostly for training high-profile security and bodyguards, though it was included in elementary school curriculum in Serbia as an elective subject since 2005. It is also considered the first and the only internationally recognised Serbian martial art and is also the one of the main arts that form Odbrana, a self defense, tactical and hand to hand combat system created by Vladimir Djordjevic, who himself is a Real Aikido black belt.
  • Sugawara Sogo Budo: a school founded by Tetsutaka Sugawara, another uchideshi of Ueshiba. In addition to aikido, Sugawara also trained in Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu (one of the oldest surviving koryū bujutsu styles as it contains different weapon and jujitsu techniques), Goju-ryu karate, taijiquan, and other Chinese martial arts and incorporated all of them into his style. He is also credited with creating Aikido-Taijigong, a series of Kaeshiwaza (counter techniques) in 42 forms.
  • Takemusu Aikido Kai: a school founded by Toshinobu Suzuki, another uchideshi of Ueshiba. Similar to Morihiro Saito (yet has nothing to do with him and should not be confused for his school of aikido), he was part of a group that was considered a separate school from the Aikikai that was directly controlled by Ueshiba, where the founder taught what is known as "Takemusu Aikido", which is said to be a further refinement of his art to reflect the divine harmony and balance existing in nature, which evolved as a creative physical and spiritual practice derived from both defensive skills and Shinto mythology. Suzuki eventually established his own dojo after the founder's passing and originally taught the style under the authority of the Aikikai. He later met with the then head of the Aikikai and Ueshida's son Kisshomaru in 1975 to discuss and clarify the future relationship between his dojo and the Aikikai. As a result of these discussions, his dojo became independent of Aikikai with the authorization of Kisshomaru Ueshiba and eventually spread to other countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, and Brazil.
  • Ban Sen Juku: a school founded by Seiji Tomita, a student of Ueshiba, Koichi Tohei, Morihiro Saito, and Bansen Tanaka (a pre-war and post-war disciple of Ueshiba), who the school was named after. It describes itself as an international school for aikido with its headquarters in Belgium. It focuses on seeking the essence of traditional Japanese martial arts mainly through aikido but also applies aikido concepts to other activities such as zazen, misogi (purification), ki training, ki shiatsu massage, Japanese calligraphy and even Japanese cooking through lectures and courses. It also teaches it own form of Iaido called Aiki Iai, which is said to be unique to this school.
  • Nippon Kan: a school founded by Gaku Homma, a student of Ueshiba and Morihiro Saito. Established in Denver, Colorada, it focuses on combining kenjutsu (sword techniques) and jojutsu (staff techniques) with taijitsu (open hand techniques). Outside of the martial aspect, it is uniquely known for its commitment to community service in Denver with a monthly meal service and Homma also founded AHAN-the Aikido Humanitarian Active Network taking his concept of the principles of Aikido and community outreach to an international level.
  • Takemusukai: a school founded by Higuchi Takanari, a student of Bansen Tanaka and Morihiro Saito. It is technically part of the Iwama-ryu line as it follows their curriculum, but claims to be an independent school and is the first aikido organization in Japan to be certified as a NPO (non-profit organization) since 2000.
  • Tesshin: a school founded by Kaichi Nabeta, a student of Minoru Hirai. He combined Korindo with his training in Hasegawa Eishin-ryū iaijutsu. Dojos are limited to the town of Shimizu in the Shizuoka Prefecture.
  • Fugakukai: a school founded by Karl Geis, Tsunako Miyake, Takeshi Inoue, Hiroaki "Riki" Kogure, and Yoji Kondo (also known as Eric Kotani), all of whom were students of Kenji Tomiki. Under the official style name of Kihara (though since Geis' passing it has also been referred to as Karl Geis Ryu), it is an Americanized version of Tomiki’s aikido, mostly through Geis and his students from his dojo in Houston Texas. Geis found his students to be typically older than Tomiki’s university students and were generally uninterested in Shodokan's shiai (competition) aspect, even as a training tool, which led it to be dropped from its curriculum. Also the tanto randori of the Shodokan was dropped and toshu (empty hand) randori developed into the primary randori method. As Geis’ students became more experienced with the new randori system, their randori experiences began informing their practice of kata, leading to greater differences between the kata practiced in Fugakukai and Shodokan. In addition to aikido, the school also teaches judo (reminiscent of the version practiced in the 1950s in the Kodokan or so it claims), and Shindo Muso-ryu jōdō. Several different schools have formed by students from the Fugakukai, though despite separating that they basically keep using its curriculum, the largest schools include the Jiyushinkai (founded by Chuck E. Clark and Steve Duncan, also known as Jiyushinkai Aikibudo), the International Aikido Alliance, the American Tomiki Aikido Association, the Zantoppakai (formerly the Zantotsukai), and the Kaze Uta Budokai (founded by Nick Lowry).
  • Kokikai: a school founded by Shuji Maruyama, a student of Koichi Tohei. When Tohei left the Aikikai to found his own school, Maruyama followed him, but eventually separated in 1986 to found his own school. Like Tohei's school, it focuses on ki development above anything else and emphasises natural stances and ukemi that do not require high breakfalls, and deemphasises atemi and techniques that cause pain or undue discomfort to uke, though unlike Tohei's school, there is apparently no set way of performing any technique as Maruyama is constantly developing his school's techniques.
  • Seidokan: a school founded by Roderick Kobayashi, another student of Koichi Tohei. His father was instrumental in helping to bring Tohei to Hawaii in order to introduce aikido to the United States in 1953 and started training in Hawaii under some of Tohei' students before coming to Japan to train directly under Tohei and eventually was promoted to being one of only two foreign members of the instruction staff at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo before following Tohei in establishing Ki Society. He himself left Ki Society in 1981 to establish his own school, which like Tohei's school also emphasises ki development but claims to have a balanced practice of principle and techniques and also tends to utilise movements which are very small and economical. Not to be confused with karate styles like Okinawa Seidokan or Seidokaikan karate.
  • Yuishinkai: a school founded by Koretoshi Maruyama (no relation to Shuji Maruyama), a student of both Morihei Ueshiba and Koichi Tohei. An active youth, he was former judo black belt, boxer, weightlifter, and even trained to be a pro wrestler at Rikidozan's school before he discovered aikido in his university years. He earned his 6th Dan under Ueshiba before he left with Tohei to form Ki Society where he became a chief instructor and 8th dan under Tohei and even became President of the Ki Society in 1990 before leaving a year later due to his reservations about the direction and policies of the school. He then entered a temple in Saitama Prefecture, where he remained for a period of ten years, during which he founded his own school and eventually left the temple in 2001 to focus on his school. Like Ki Society, his school emphasises the development of ki above all else, but his school's teachings are heavily influenced by Daito Ryu Aikijutsu and Shinkage-ryū sword style and he also added material from healing arts he studied, including Seitei under Haruchika Noguchi, Soutai and Reiki under Keizo Hashimoto and also the psychology of Zen under Shogen Munou.
  • Shin Budo Kai: a school founded by Shizuo Imaizumi, another student of both Morihei Ueshiba and Koichi Tohei. A former instructor at the Aikikai, he followed Tohei to form Ki Society and was sent to New York to found the New York Ki Society and assume the role of Chief Instructor for the Eastern Region and the US, until 1987 when he resigned from the Ki Society to form his own school. This style has a very comprehensive syllabus covering Ki training, Aikido technique and a number of different weapons styles.
  • Ki Federation of Great Britain: a school founded by Kenneth Williams, an uchi-deshi to Kenshiro Abbe (a prominent Japanese master of judo, aikido, and kendo, trained directly under Ueshida to a decade, introduced aikido to the United Kingdom in 1955, and is also known as the creator of a philosophy called Kyushindo), then went to Japan to meet and train under Koichi Tohei. After his time under Tohei, he decided to create his own teaching method for the art which incorporated elements from all aspects of his training and aimed for it to be more easily learned by non-Japanese students, under the name Ki Aikido which sometimes gets confused with Ki Society.
  • Shugenkai: a school founded by Kevin Jones, a student of Kenneth Williams and Koretoshi Maruyama. It basically combines the teaching of Ki Federation and Yuishinkai into its own curriculum.
  • Keijutsukai Kokusai Renmei: a school founded by Thomas H. Makiyama, who brought Yoshinkan to the US. As an offshoot of Yoshinkan it was created especially for police and security guards as aside from aikido, it also teaches "Keijutsu" which is a specialized method of defensive tactics for law enforcement personnel.
  • Yoshokai: a school founded by former Yoshinkan-affiliated master Takashi Kushida in Ann Arbor, Michigan. While very similar to Yoshinkan, it is organized in a rather centralized fashion relative to other styles, with technique lists and explanations distributed annually. It also teaches "Genbu Sotojutsu", a Japanese sword style originating in the early 1800s that has been passed down through the Kushida family.
  • Shinwakan: a school founded by Kyoichi Inoue, Gozo Shioda's highest ranking student before his death. It is basically master Inoue's own personal variation of Yoshinkan, though it only ran from 2010 to 2014.
  • Renshinkai: a school founded by Tsutomu Chida, an uchideshi of Gozo Shioda for 23 years, the longest out of anybody. It is basically the same as Yoshinkan though it emphasises teaching methods that are physically easy to understand.
  • Aikido Ryu: a school founded by Tsuneo Ando, a student of Yoshinkan founder Gozo Shioda and is said to closely resemble Shioda in size, speed and style and also has a 2nd dan under the Aikikai style that he had before joining Yoshinkan. Also known as Yoshinkan Aikido Ryu, it gets the Ryu part of it name from Ryu-o ("The Dragon King"), which is believed to be the patron god of aikido. It was apparently formed with the goal of re-uniting the Yoshinkan and the Aikikai styles, as he prefered to see the similiarities rather than the differences between the two styles.
  • Shudokan: a school founded by Thamby Rajah, a Malaysian who trained under Gozo Shioda and was the first recognized black belt of aikido from Malaysia. The school's name of Shudokan was given to Thamby Rajah by Gozo Shioda. It sometimes has been misconstrued as a separate style from Yoshinkan, referred to as the "soft" version when compared to the "hard" Yoshinkan. In truth, Thamby Rajah's style is fundamentally the same as Yoshinkan, but is more reflective of the early days of Gozo's style and is also influenced by Rajah's extensive experience in Judo at the Kodokan (he trained under Haruyoshi Ichijima and Kyuzo Mifune, becoming the first Malaysian to attain the rank of Shodan in Judo), and his earlier Jujutsu training under Walter De Silva in Malaysia during the post war years. Not to be confused with a karate school of the same name.
  • Aikido S.A.: a school founded by Fumio Sakurai, another former student of Yoshinkan founder Gozo Shioda and was also inspired by technical exchanges with K-1 and Seidokaikan founder Kazuyoshi Ishii and Shooto founder Satoru Sayama. The initials stand for Shoot Aikido as it was the first school that adapted modern aikido for full contact sparring and competitions, as well as sending practitioners to competitions of other martial arts and allowing practitioners of other arts to participate in their competitions and sparring sessions. There are four types of competitions; 1) practical/real aikido rules, 2) traditional integrated aikido rules, 3) rookie battle tournaments, and one that is a mix of 1) and 2), though in general rules allow for palm strikes and kicking to anywhere except the head and other vital points, standing joint locks on wrists, elbows, and shoulders, as well as throws, sweeps and trips, though it also discourages hit-and-run striking, leg grabs (unless they are kick catches, though it rewards immediate takedowns and discourages holding on standing), and throws while holding a joint lock, and doesn't allow groundfighting unless it's a joint lock transitioned from standing and while the locker remains standing or on one knee.
  • Hatenkai: a school founded by Fujisaki Tenkei, a former student and competitior from Shoot Aikido, of which this school is an offshoot. It has even looser rules then his old school does with its "Unified Aikido Rules" and "Full Contact Aikido Rules", the first allows for striking to the face (kicks and palm strikes, with headgear), allows clinching, the Ganseki Otoshi technique, and one legged takedowns, while the second is more like Shoot Aikido rules.
  • Aikisambo: yes, really. A style developed by Kenji Nakazawa, a former competitive judoka, kendoka and taihojutsu practitioner before he trained in Yoshinkan and later Sambo under Japanese sambo legend Victor Koga. Also called Dynamic Aikisambo, it combines the techniques of Yoshinkan aikido and combat sambo into an unique self defense system with regular sparring sessions to test a practitioner's skills.
  • Shuyokan-ryu: a school founded by David Dye in Costa Mesa, California. It is based from Yoshinkan Aikido with additional techniques from Judo, Shotokan Karate Jutsu and Kaihewalu Lua.
  • Shuseikan: a school founded by Ronaldo Nilo based on his study of different styles and derivatives of Aikido. It is a conglomeration of Tapondo, Yoshinkan, Aikikai, Ki Society, and Shuyokan-ryu.

Famous or notable aikido practitioners

  • Steven Seagal: despite his personal life and controversies, Seagal is synonymous with aikido in cinema. Not only he popularized it in action films, he remains as the only action/martial arts star who has aikido as his core discipline.
  • Sean Connery: an aikido black belt. He famously got his wrist broken before filming Never Say Never Again in a training with Seagal.
  • Yayan Ruhian: one of the stars of The Raid Redemption has aikido training aside from pencak silat.
  • John Denver: another black belt.
  • Jerry Seinfeld: same.
  • Joan Baez: same.