Present day aikido has its origins in daito aikijutsu which is said to have been founded by Prince Teijun, the sixth son of the Emperor Seiwa (850-880 AD). Through the prince's son, Tsunemoto, it was passed on to succeeding generations of the Minamoto family. By the time the art reached Shinra Saburo Yoshimitsu, the younger brother of Yoshiie Minamoto, it would appear that the foundations of the present aikido had already been laid.
Yoshimitsu was apparently a man of exceptional skill and learning. Yoshimitsu's second son Yoshikiyo lived in Takeda in the province of Kai where he eventually became known by this name. Subsequently, the techniques were passed on to successive generations as a secret art of the Takeda House and made known only to members and retainers of the family. In 1574, Takeda Kunitsugu moved to Aizu; the techniques continued to be passed on to his descendants only, and came to be known as the aizu han otome waza.
Thereafter, the art remained an exclusively samurai practice and was handed down within the family until Japan emerged from isolation into the Meiji period in 1868. At that time Sokaku Takeda, then head of the family, began to teach the art outside the Takeda household, travelling widely throughout the recently unified Japan and finally settling in Hokkaido. His son Tokimune Takeda opened the daitokan dojo in Abashiri, Hokkaido and continued to further the development of daito ryu aikijujitsu. The most outstanding of Sokaku Takeda's pupils was Morihei Ueshiba. Ueshiba Sensei, a man of rare ability, brought to daito ryu aikijujitsu the essentials of other ancient martial art schools and added techniques of his own devising to found modern aikido. For many years Ueshiba Sensei taught and guided from his dojo in Wakamoudho, Tokyo.
One of Ueshibas Sensei's most outstanding pupils was Soke Gozo Shioda, who founded Yoshinkan Aikido. He has contributed much to bring about the popularity that aikido has enjoyed since the war. Soke Shioda Gozo was born in 1915, the son of a renowned medical doctor. From the age of 18 he studied aikido under Morihei Ueshiba Sensei, the founder of Aikido. For a period of eight years he dedicated himself solely to the practice of aikido and as a result developed and eventually mastered the art himself. Even as a student he displayed the clear cut technique and extraordinary vigour he displayed in the latter years of his life.
The tremendous interest shown in aikido since the war probably dates back to 1954 when, under the auspices of the Life Extension Society, an exhibition of Japanese martial arts was organized in Tokyo. Many masters of Japanese budo participated. Soke Shioda Gozo's outstanding performance resulted in his attaining first prize. The following year, with the support of many sponsors, the first Aikido Yoshinkan was established and Soke Shioda Gozo was placed in charge.
Yoshinkan Aikido was first taught in the Tsukudo Hachiman area of Tokyo and from there spread to Yoyogi, Koganei, and eventually Kamiochiai, Shinjuku where the present Honbu Dojo now stands.
Yoshinkan Aikido is taught nationally in the Education Department, Police Department and to the general public. There are approcimately 100 schools throughout Japan. Yoshinkan Aikido is also taught internationally and is frimly based in many countries. Dignitaries who have visited the honbu dojo include Robert Kennedy and his wife in 1962, Princess Alexandra from England in 1962 and Crown Prince Hironomiya of Japan in May 1987. These all met Soke Shioda Gozo and watched his demonstrations.
However, in spite of gradual increases in membership the organisation remained small. Planning and management became difficult. The decision was therefore made to become a foundation. The aim was to create funds so as to be of the benefit to young people.
On the 17th of July, 1994, Soke Shioda Gozo passed away at the age of 78. He gave to all the dynamic art of Yoshinkan Aikido coupled with a clear effective teaching method, which if practiced with the correct spirit, should ensure the continued growth of strong Yoshinkan technique into the future.
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