Recommended reading: “Koichi Tohei: Ongaeshi – Repayment of Kindness” by Stanley Pranin

The article below has been selected from the extensive archives of the Online Aikido Journal. We believe that an informed readership with knowledge of the history, techniques and philosophy of aikido is essential to the growth of the art and its adherence to the principles espoused by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

Indulge me for a short while as we board together a time-machine to the golden years of aikido’s infancy in the USA in the mid-1960s. We see a totally different landscape when compared to the art of today. The name of Koichi Tohei is on everyone’s lips. He is now in his vigorous 40s, handsome, charming, and physically gifted. He is a fluent speaker of English, the author of best-selling books on the art. He is supremely confident, a wonderful teacher. He is the chief instructor of the World Headquarters Dojo, the Mecca of aikido, and he is the “ambassador of ki.” Yes, Koichi Tohei is the man every devotee wants to see in the flesh, the one whose techniques are to be emulated, the one who inspires. His interpretation of techniques represents “the” standard. His views on the principles of aikido and the “mysterious” concept of ki are unending topics of conversation. He is the motive power driving the spread of the art. Koichi Tohei IS aikido!

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  1. Tohei sensei is one of the greats and his contributions to Aikido of inestimable value. No amount of toxic politics will ever extinguish this fact

  2. .. trade mark “aikido” is entirely welcome to live in it’s self made box of conceptual limitations separating itself from the great universal ocean of natural and limitless Aikido, Kannagarra, which continues without beginning or end. A worthy exploration for the explorative mind freed from cultish self hypnosis.

  3. I came up in the early days of Iwama influence, but many of my training forms are Tohei leftovers. And I cherish them. Parochialism is SO self-defeating.

  4. Jack Hosie says:

    I would like to thank Mr. Stanley Pranin and the Aiki Journal staff for the current efforts of highlighting Tohei sensei and his achievements in the world of aikido.

    One must sincerely ask, where would aikido and the resurgent interest and following in aikido’s foundational art of Daito Ryu be today, without the ambassadorial role and efforts of Tohei sensei, with such actions as the overseas visits to Hawaii and the english written books published in the West?

    It is my own thought that without Tohei sensei aikido and daito ryu would be obscure and little known martial arts. For example, it was with the Tohei’s book “aikido for self defence with mind and body coordinated’ that got be hooked and drawn to aikido, over thirty years ago.

    Tohei’s sensei contribution to the dissemination and growth of aikido is the bedrock of most of todays practitioners enjoying their chosen path, many of the current crop of shihan owe their initial teaching and learning to Tohei sensei method and manner, albeit with diminishing promulgation and continuation as they learn and grow in their own understanding of aikido.

    These supportive comments of Tohei sensei, is in no way seeking to deflect any light from Ueshiba sensei, but merely giving honour and credit to whom and where it is due, we must speak the truth as it is, and not not cover up with lies and deceit for what ever reason, if aikido is a path, it must be a path of truth, otherwise it is not Budo.

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