Black Belt Interview with Koichi Tohei, November 1965, in Los Angeles, California

Koichi Tohei during 1965 Black Belt interview

The interview linked here is a rare conversation with Koichi Tohei Sensei, 10th dan, conducted during the summer of 1965 in Los Angeles during his USA tour. At that time, the publisher of Black Belt magazine was its founder, Mito Uyehara, a practitioner at the Los Angeles Aikikai.

“I definitely keep my one point at all times. If you do it only in the dojo, you cannot develop your ki because the training you receive in the dojo is too short. Only an hour or two a day is not enough. You must do it until it becomes a part of you and you do it naturally – unconsciously like breathing. Too many beginners do not really understand and keep concentrating on the one point (a point 2 inches below your navel) almost in a physical manner. They look at their expanded bellies and think they are doing it right. They do not understand they must concentrate, not intensively, but calmly.”

“The most important concept of Aikido training is applying it to daily life. Aikido teaches you to relax and that alone is beneficial. I wrote a book recently entitled How to Apply Aikido Principles to Your Daily Life.”

“This book explains the details of ki. The first book tells readers how they can understand ki, how they can develop it, and how they can apply it to their daily life in sleeping, waking, eating, walking, and thinking.”

Click here to view Black Belt interview with Koichi Tohei.
Note: Click on “Contents” and select “Koichi Tohei Interview” on page 44.

Learn Koichi Tohei’s secrets of Ki development!


  1. Alister Gillies says:

    The late Koichi Tohei Sensei opened a gate to understanding, but this interview illustrates that neither a teacher nor an organisation can guarantee a life of harmony on the mat or, more importantly, off the mat; each person has to find their own way.

    The limited amount of training that we get at a dojo is not sufficient to fully integrate mind body coordination into one’s daily life. The base of the iceberg escapes our attention as we strive to memorise and amass a range of techniques, acquire rankings, get lost in the politics and inflate that which the training should really diminish. The techniques of Aikido may be divinely inspired, but all too often our beliefs and actions are motivated by more material considerations.

    If the training does not afford us the opportunity to substantially change the character of our sub-conscious, then the schismatic tendencies of the past will continue to be replicated in the present and future: “Circumstances do not make the man; they merely reveal him to himself” ~ Epictetus (thank you Thong).

    Aikido is simple. In order to benefit from it, perhaps we need to be less complicated?

  2. Jan Robberts says:

    The late and awesome Koichi Tohei Sensei was right, of course!

    I had a discussion with a fellow Ki-Aikidoka not that long ago about how this has become a way of life indeed.
    I see several students going from course to course about every second weekend but, in between and out off the Dojo not practising their breathing, their relaxation… basically everything you do and think about.

    It is not just about techniques, however perfect you demonstrate these; the mind plays a much bigger part which was well illustrated a few issues ago with the old man and young man on the Tokyo train.

    To support what Alister says, we always make everything far too complicated and cause ourselves a lot of unnecessary anxiety and stress…as well as to others. Learn to live in peace with yourself as well as in harmony with others.

    It’s always a shame to see conflicts and splits appear in what we love, but this is not a perfect world, and we must appreciate all leaders in any area of our interest, regardless which one we remain attached to, after all, the sum of all of them created the art we all benefit from and, to go on about the good, the bad, and the ‘ugly’ of any split, while considering whether any person should have had merit for their contributions is meaningless to me. (I’ve seen a few splits in our Ki-Aikido during the years and, having to choose for loyalty, growth in knowledge, or for any other reason is never pleasant)

    Instead we should celebrate the growing of our art without being narrow minded and remember, someone does not become a very high ranking artist by bringing little to the table. A lot of our great masters have passed away, a new generation in many different organisations has emerged.

    Let’s be grateful and thankful for them all and the continuing growth of the art we love.


  3. Tanyo Lubbock says:

    I really wish “This is Aikido” would be reprinted. I’ve heard it’s a great book but can’t find a copy for under $100. Are all of Tohei’s books out of print?

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