There are no 'styles' of Aikido. It is like cheese cake.
You can cut it in wedges or squares or just dig in with your fork but
it is still cheese cake!
Aikido was originally developed by one man, O Sensei. Many
students who trained under O Sensei decided to spread their knowledge
of Aikido by opening their own dojos. Due, among other things, to the
dynamic nature of Aikido, different students of O Sensei interpreted his
Aikido in different ways. Thus different styles of Aikido were born.
The more common are listed here along with a brief explanation
of what is different about the style. Each style has its own strengths
and weaknesses, but all are firmly rooted in the basic concepts which
make Aikido the unique art that it is. None should be considered superior
or inferior to any other, but rather an individual must find a style which
best suits him or her. Outside factors such as geographic location may
of course limit one's options.
No matter which style you choose, you are going to be taught
that particular instructors interpretation of it, and you yourself are
going to develop your own particular Aikido. One might say that there
are as many different styles of Aikido as there are practitioners.
Since this list is going to be challenging enough without
looking for extra work, we'll restrict our definition of Aikido to mean
styles that clearly trace their lineage to Ueshiba O Sensei. The classification
into categories is fairly arbitrary.
The "Old" Schools
Here we'll list the schools that developed from the pre-war
This is the name given to the art O Sensei was teaching early in his development.
It is very close in style to previously existing Jutsu forms such as Daito-ryu
Aiki-Jutsu. It is considered to be one of the harder forms of Aikido.
Most of the early students of O Sensei began during this period and much of
the early practice overseas was in this style (e.g. Abbe Sensei's teaching in
the UK in the 50s).
Tadashi Abe, forerunner and pioneer of French and European Aikido is then called Aïkitai-Jutsu and wanted a martial and realistic practice.
Aïkitai-Jutsu is seen as the synthesis of the work of O Sensei and Tadashi Abe, sent to Europe in 1952. In the spirit of Tadashi Abe’s practice, its attacks and techniques must be realistic and do not mix the educational side and the application side, therefore Aïkitai Jutsu is also called a "hard" style.
This form was developed by Minoru Mochizuki, who was an early student of O Sensei
and also of Jigoro Kano Sensei at the Kodokan.
This style includes elements of Aiki-Budo together with aspects of Karate, Judo
and other arts.
This is the style taught by the late Gozo Shioda. Shioda Sensei studied with
O Sensei from the mid-30s. After the war, he was invited to begin teaching and
formed the organization known as the Yoshinkan. Unlike many later organizations,
the Yoshinkan has always maintained friendly relations with the Aikikai both
during and after O Sensei's life.
The Yoshinkan is a harder style of Aikido, generally concerned with practical
efficiency and physically robust techniques. It is taught to many branches of
the Japanese Police.
The international organization associated with the Yoshinkan style of Aikido
is known as the Yoshinkai, and has active branches in many parts of the world.
In recent years, there have been a number of offshoots of this style, usually
developing for political reasons.
The "Modern" Schools
This includes most of the variants taught today. Most of
these "styles" are taught by various senior students of O Sensei,
with the divergences coming after the death of the Founder. Most would
claim to be teaching the art that O Sensei taught them - and this is probably
true even though some have little in common with others! Taken together
with O Sensei's notorious obscurity in teaching style, the story of the
elephant and the blind men may give us some clue as to how this could
have come about :-).
Most of us have our biases and preferences amongst the various
styles but can recognize that all have their strengths and weakness and
we all have something to learn from all of them.
The "Traditional" Schools
The Aikikai is the common name for the style headed by Moriteru Ueshiba, O Sensei's
grandson, as taught under the auspices of the International Aikido Federation.
Most regard this school as the mainline in Aikido development.
In reality, this "style" is more of an umbrella than a specific style,
since it seems that many individuals within the organization teach in quite
a different manner. The Aikido taught by Ueshiba Sensei is generally large and
flowing, with an emphasis on a standard syllabus and little or no emphasis on
weapons training. Other teachers within the auspices of the Aikikai (like Saito
Sensei) place much more emphasis on weapons practice.
The style taught by Morihiro Saito, based in the Iwama dojo, is generally considered
sufficiently stylistically different from mainstream Aikikai that it is named
individually, even though it still is part of the Aikikai.
Saito Sensei was a long time uchideshi of O Sensei, beginning in 1946 and staying
with him through his death. Many consider that Saito Sensei was the student
who spent most time directly studying with O Sensei Saito Sensei says he is
trying to preserve and teach the art exactly as it was taught to him by the
Founder. Technically, Iwama-ryu seems to resemble the Aikido O Sensei was teaching
in the early 50s mainly in the Iwama dojo. The technical repertoire is larger
than in most other styles and a great deal of emphasis is placed on weapons
The "Ki" Schools
One of the most noticeable splits in the Aikido world occurred
in 1974 when Koichi Tohei, then the Chief Instructor at the Aikikai, resigned
from that organization and founded the Ki no Kenkyukai to teach Aikido
with strong emphasis on the concepts of Ki. Since that time, there has
been little interaction between the traditional schools and the Ki schools.
All of these arts tend to refer to themselves as Ki Aikido, even though
there is little contact between some of the styles.
|Ki Aikido (Shih shin Toitsu Aikido)
The style founded by Koichi Tohei - Aikido with Mind and Body Unified. Tohei
Sensei places a great deal of emphasis on understanding the concept of Ki and
developing this aspect independently of the Aikido training for application
to general health and daily life.
This style is one of the softest styles of Aikido and is characterized by soft
movements that often involve the practitioner jumping or skipping during the
movement. Most schools are not concerned with practical application of the techniques,
considering them exercises to further develop Ki.
In recent years, Tohei Sensei has been moving further and further away from
Aikido and has devoted himself almost exclusively to Ki training. The latest
news is that Ki no Kenkyukai has started an initiative to make Shin-shin Toitsu
Aikido into an International Competitive sport.
|Ki Aikido (Yuishinkai Aikido)
The style founded by Koretoshi Maruyama, born in Nihonbashi,
Tokyo, on October 5, 1936.
In 1967 he become a full time professional Aikido instructor, under the tutelage
of the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, and dedicate himself to the martial
art that taught the principles of mind and Ki.
In 1971 he went to Hawaii for 4 months, to teach Aikido on each of the islands.
In 1972, he resigned from the Aikikai to become the Chief Instructor of the
Ki no Kenkyukai, founded in September of 1971 by Koichi Tohei Sensei, who granted
Maruyama Sensei the rank of 8th-dan.
He bacame the President of Ki no Kenkyukai in 1990. However he began to have
reservations about the direction and policies of the Ki Society, and resigned
from this position on July 29, 1991. From this time he undertook a period of
10 years in a temple in Saitama Prefecture, intensively training in the philosophy
and practice that 'You are fundamentally Mind.' He left the temple on October
9, 2001, during which time he had received permission from the temple priest
to establish Aikido Yuishinkai on May 9, 1996, which he has continued to develop
until the present day.
The "Sporting " Schools
One of the other big breaks in Aikido history occurred during
O Sensei's life when Kenji Tomiki proposed "rationalizing" Aikido
training using Kata and Competition. Since that time, there has been little
commonality between the Tomiki schools and the mainline Aikido schools.
In recent years there have been a number of offshoots of Tomiki-ryu that
have abandoned the idea of competition.
Founded by Kenji Tomiki, and early student of O Sensei and of Judo founder Jigoro
Kano. Tomiki Sensei believed that a "rationalization" of Aikido training,
along the lines that Kano Sensei followed for Judo would make it more easily
taught, particularly at the Japanese Universities. In addition, he believed
that introducing an element of competition would serve to sharpen and focus
the practice since it was no longer tested in real combat. This latter view
was the cause of a split with O Sensei who firmly believed that there was no
place for competition in Aikido training.
Tomiki-ryu is characterized by using Kata (prearranged forms) in teaching and
by holding competitions, both empty handed and with a rubber knife.
The "Minor" Schools
Founded by students of later generations, such schools have
been created in order to spread more details peculiarities of the parent's
school which have been mentioned above. Such sub-sets, are the result
of the even more creative and sperimental nature of Aikido.
|Tohei / Kobayashi / Cauhépé
Not properly a style, but following basically the teachings of the mentioned
Tohei: Shih shin Toitsu, Ki Aikido, see above.
Kobayashi: Aiki Osaka Ryu, see above
Cauhépé: Jean Daniel, founder of the Sumikiri®
School in 1985, based in France. Sumikiri® means "to blunt, to smooth
the edges of a square". The philosophy of the school is coming from aiki-jutsu,
passing through aiki-budo, arriving to aikido, to become aikido sumikiri®,
and then shobu aiki. This concept has been early explained by André Nocquet,
then again by Koichi Tohei.
Both teachings of the two main schools are taught.
|Aiki Osaka ryu
Founded by Kobayashi Hirokazu, following the teachings of the same founder.
The TenChi project promotes the Art of Movement challenging East and West borders,
in the inclusive sense rather than exclusive sense of the word. It includes
Art of Budo (traditional Japanese martial art), Yoga, Ikebana, Calligraphy,
Founded by Georges Stobbaerts in 1978, in Portugal, Sintra (Várzea).
Georges Stobbaerts was born in Morocco in 1940, he has received a scientific
education and for more than 30 years has dedicated his life to the teaching
of Aikido and Yoga. He also teaches Theatrical Anthropology e works together
with well-known exponents in the field of acting posture and scene movement.
Faced with the evolution of the so-called martial arts and of a society geared
towards competition and violence, he creates a new art of movement - the Tenchi
Tessen. In reply to the question of why he created it, he said, "I was
looking for a new way which allowed for self discovery". Georges Stobbaerts
lives in Portugal traveling frequently to several countries to direct seminars.
Not only a style but a Federation, as well. Please refer to the federation's
page for more information.