Tomiki Aikido

Aikido with just a touch of Judo realism

Kenji Tomiki Sensei, master of both Judo and Aikido, and founder of Shodokan Aikido
Kenji Tomiki Sensei, master of both Judo and Aikido, and founder of Shodokan Aikido

Tomiki Aikido includes Randori free-practice, and full competition (Shiai) as done in Judo.

Tomiki Aikido is the generic name for Shodokan Aikido, founded by Kenji Tomiki Sensei.

Tomiki Sensei was originally a high-ranking Judo student and champion, and a prize student of Jigoro Kano Sensei, the founder of Judo.

Professor Kano heard about this new ‘Aiki Budo’ martial art being created by Morihei Ueshiba, and sent Tomiki along to learn from Ueshiba.

Kenji Tomiki earned the first-ever 8th Dan black belt in Aikido (same importance as the old-style Menkyo certificate of mastery) from Morihei Ueshiba, and he was the first manager of Ueshiba’s Honbu Dojo. Tomiki Sensei went on to blend this Aikido with the carefully-structured teaching techniques of Kodokan Judo, which he had been taught by Jigoro Kano.

Tomiki Sensei was, by profession, a master of physical education, and was employed by Waseda University to teach Judo to its university students. (In those days, martial arts were taught in traditional Japanese schools as physical education.) The males learned Judo or Kendo, and women were taught Naginata-do.

Kenji Tomiki was an 8th Dan master of Aikido and an 8th Dan master of Judo. (The ranks of 9th and 10th Dan black belt had not yet been invented back then.)

At the end of World War II, Tomiki returned to Japan and got permission to begin Aikido classes at his university, but only on condition he introduce a sport aspect. Kenji Tomiki developed several new ways of training his students, including Randori free-practice and Competition (Aikido Shiai) where your attacker resists every technique you try to use on him.

Aikido competition can be done with a safe rubber dagger (tanto size) or unarmed, usually from a punch or grab.)

Tomiki’s method of Aikido is sometimes called Aikido Kyogi or Sport Aikido, because it has a competitive sports aspect which is popular among Japanese university students.

This caused a split between Tomiki Sensei and the followers of Ueshiba, because O-Sensei disapproved strongly of competition, believeing it breeds a bad attitude in martial artists. (Some young martial art students can get big-headed about their skills.) But Tomiki knew from long experience as a master teacher of Judo, that Randori and competition (Shiai)  helps to train better students. Any sign of poor attitude, such as bullying, should be spotted early by the teacher and dealt with long before it could develop into a serious problem.

People with the wrong attitude should never be taught a martial art.


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