Aikido means "the way to union with the ki of the universe," and is a soft martial art founded in the 1920s by Master Morihei Ueshiba. Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei continued the development of aikido to the present form called Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido, or Ki-Aikido, which is the style taught in our dojo.
Ki-Aikido combines rigorous physical discipline with personal development, emphasizing the cultivation of one's own energy ('ki'). The movements of Ki-Aikido are circular and flowing, using the natural power of calm relaxation, timing, and rhythm. Aikido is a non-competitive means of redirecting the ki of others to neutralize an attacker without injury.
The martial art style we now know as aikido was founded by O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba in the 1920s. A practitioner of Daito-ryu aiki-jutsu, jujutsu, and kendo, O Sensei was a deeply spiritual man, and was disheartened by the violence and destruction he experienced in martial schools, and during his time as a soldier and revolutionary. He founded aikido based on teachings of peace ('do' meaning "way" or "spiritual path") rather than those of conflict ('jutsu' meaning "war").
In 1953, Koichi Tohei Sensei, O Sensei's chief instructor, brought aikido to the United States, and was instrumental in bringing the teachings of aikido to the world. Also a deeply spiritual and talented man, Tohei Sensei trained himself intensely for many years to strengthen his ki and his connection to the universe. Following O Sensei's death in 1969, Tohei Sensei continued to refine aikido, and focused not only on the techniques of aikido, but also in the development of ki as a way to peace.
Late in 1969, Yoshihiko Hirata Sensei founded our school -- the first aikido school in the Northwest. He was assisted in 1973 by Koichi Kashiwaya Sensei. Hirata Sensei trained extensively with O Sensei and Tohei Sensei, and was instrumental in helping Tohei Sensei spread the message of aikido through the United States.
In 1971, Tohei Sensei founded Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido: "Aikido With Mind And Body Coordinated," the style of aikido taught in our dojo. In 1974, Tohei Sensei founded the International Ki Society to further spread the teachings of ki and its applications, not just through the martial arts, but also through daily life.
In 1977, Kashiwaya Sensei returned to the United States from Japan where he had been training extensively with Tohei Sensei, and founded the Rocky Mountain Ki Society in Boulder, Colorado. In 1990, he returned to Seattle where he assumed the leadership of the Seattle Ki Society for the next eight years. In 1998, he stepped down as Head Instructor and appointed Michael Scarey Sensei to lead the dojo. Scarey Sensei continued in this role until 2004 when he retired. At that time Susan Grigsby became Head Instructor.
Soshu Koichi Tohei
Koichi Tohei Sensei was born on the 20th of January 1920 in the Tochigi Prefecture of Japan. Encouraged by his father, himself a practicioner of judo, Tohei Sensei practiced judo to build his strength, and earned his first black belt at the age of 14. Spiritual by nature, he also began studying Zen meditation and meditative chanting ('misogi'), and at the age of 19, began studying aikido under O Sensei.
In 1944, Tohei Sensei was drafted into the military and was sent to central China. It was in China, on the battlefield, that he became deeply interested in the differences between martial arts as sport and the daily uncertainties of battle. He continued his meditation practice during this time, and found it instrumental in calming his mind under the intense pressures of war.
After his release, he returned to Zen and misogi, and began to apply his experiences and insight to aikido. During this time, O Sensei made him the chief instructor and awarded him the highest aikido rank of tenth degree black belt ('judan').
Between 1953 and 1979, Tohei Sensei made numerous trips to the United States to teach the principles and techniques of aikido. In 1971 he founded Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido. In 1974 he founded the International Ki Society, and in 1980, his continuing interest in applications of ki led him to found the Kiatsu Ryoho Gakuin -- a school to teach healing with ki.
In 1996, Tohei Sensei held the first International Taigi Competition at the Ki Society headquarters north of Tokyo as part of his continued endeavor to promote world recognition and understanding of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido, and to unite those studying ki and aikido worldwide.