The Swiss aikido web




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 teachings.

Aiki budo

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.


Iwama Ryu

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 training.


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.
Tomiki Ryu

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 sensei.
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.


Aikikai/Iwama Ryu

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, Tenchi Tessen.
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.



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