Aikikai Foundation and Legacy — 1 by Francis Takahashi

The fact that Aikido is not a democracy is a given. Neither is it a fresher version of an anachronistic return to feudal thinking, where there needs to be superior people over inferior people for the system to function.

The Aikikai model of shihan, shidoin, fukushidoin, etc. including the stale and irrational notion of sempai – kohai relationships as being necessary trappings for Aikido organizations , is a major reason for the ever widening disconnect with Aikikai and its Shihan driven identities, versus the remainder of legitimate Aikido organizations, dojos and genuine Aikido leaders throughout the world.

How often have I had to endure listening to a Japanese person tell me that I would never understand the Founder’s Aikido, simply because I “was not Japanese”. The Founder never told me that. Nidai Doshu never told me that. Kisaburo Osawa Sensei never told me that, Senseis Kobayashi, Masuda, Kanai, Chiba etc. never told me that. In fact, they treated me the very opposite, in that they led me to believe that I could and would eventually understand.

Even within the greater identity of world wide Aikikai affiliated dojos and organizations, that continually maintain direct or indirect ties to Aikikai Foundation, there is no formal or de facto recognition of any pre-eminent position that Aikikai Foundatiom has over the conduct of training, qualification for instruction, or even for ranking. Their position is that certain individuals have been granted authority to recommend dan ranks, and that they must trust these individuals to perform the job correctly without oversight or review.

Click here to read the rest of the article on Aikido Journal’s new Members Site
(Click on link, log in, and you will be taken directly to the article. Go here if you have not yet registered.)


  1. Wagner Bull says:

    Of course, it is not necessary to be japanese to understand Aikido.

    But it is necessary to understand japanese culture very well to really be able to learn the art using the methods of teaching and theory that are offered presently by japanese top masters, since they were created under the japanese cultural environement.

    If one does not learn japanese culture before or during studying Aikido, unless a westerner would have a westerner master that really dedicated his life to go deep into the art and Japanese tradition, it would be possible for him to be able to receive the good “translation” and receive really good instruction . And there are few like that .

    So , Japanese people, in theory, has a good advantage, in fact if they would be interested.

    It is really difficult for a non japanese to really understand the essence of the art . I know very few westerner masters that really seem to have mastered it. They teach, but they do not know very well the origins of what they are doing in theory and in techniques.

    It is not easy to translate “japanese culture” to westerners, most of what exists in the market is superficial. Aiki, is a very difficult concept to grasp. Westerners are used to boxing and wrestlling. We have no cultural tradition in Aiki in martial arts terms.

    The good part regarding the complex of inferiority that Stanley mentioned is that most japanese young people are not interested anymore in their traditions, a fact that started due to the efforts of General Mac Arthur in the end of the second World War. So , in practice and considering the average, I believe we are even.

    So beeing japanese or not to learn Aikido presently does not matter, because most japanese do not know what they are losing, and forget their traditions. On the other hand, we recognize the value of them, but we have not all the instruments to study it.

    The real problem today is HOW TO LEARN AIKIDO PROPPERLY AND IN THE NECESSARY DEPTH whether in the USA, or in Japan, or anywhere. There are very few top masters that really grasped the essence of the art in technical and theoretical terms.

    Unfortunately, what I see is that day after day, more blind men are leading blind men all around the world. And this is very sad and the quality of what is beeing spread is day after day becoming weaker.

    Of course, there are people reacting I hope they succeed.

    Anyway, I fear for the future of Aikido as a Martial art and as a Way of Life if nothing is done.

    Wagner Bull

  2. What we may know as Aikido is indeed the inspiration and creation of a singularly special Japanese man, whose totality of cultural influences were essentially Oriental in origin, and Japanese in nature. There is certainly much to respect, admire and learn from of such knowledge and wisdom accumulated for centuries. To continue to do so is appropriate, admirable and acceptable. It is also true that the Aikikai Foundation is important in its role to preserve and disseminate to interested parties, the teachings of the Founder of Aikido, as they perceive the value and validity of their beliefs to be.

    The concept of Aiki, however, is much more universal in its core of component truths, as its fundamentally sound principles are easily identifiable as they exist and are utilized in the multitude of cultures worldwide, and for as long a humanity has recorded and preserved its values and benefits. The fact that the Founder expressly attempted to apply his constantly changing understanding of Universal Aiki to his likewise growing and developing art form of Aikido, proves how important it was for him to humbly acknowledge its immense promise and providential existence as a primary resource for all of mankind to enjoy and to share ownership. Perhaps this is also why the societies and cultures worldwide also recognize the fundamental appeal of Aiki Principles, and readily accept the validity, applicability, and the genuine value of the Founder’s gift of Aikido to its resource base for living well.

    Yes, one may remain romantically immersed in the illusion that Aikido is essentially Japanese, and feel obligated to learn its secrets and avail themselves of its treasures strictly from a Japanese point of view, interpretation, and legitimacy. That fallacy would readily be exposed in the cleansing light of international scrutiny, and of the countless proofs that abound, authenticating that Aikido principles are successfully being acknowledged and applied throughout the world.

    Notions of “inferiority” vs. “superiority” are mere smoke screens, employed by those who refuse to admit that Aiki Principles are indeed universal in nature and application, and who deny the undeniable existence of quality Aikido everywhere serious students of the Founder’s unconditional gift to mankind enjoy and share its amazing benefits. The Founder himself consistently admitted to being a mere student of Universal Aiki, and constantly strove to refine his understanding of its principles, and to improve his ever expanding development of his Aikido. To whoever would kindly listen, he generously invited each of them to do the same.

    I have no fear for the future of Universal Aiki. It has been present long before mankind appeared on the scene, and its natural existence will be in charge long after we become extinct as a species.

    Neither do I fear for the demise of the intent and purpose of the Founder’s gift of his Aikido. His Aikido ceased to exist when he did. His example, however, lives on in each and every serious student of his efforts and findings, and will continue to manifest itself in the amazing epiphanies and developments yet to come by successive generations of sincere students, and even geniuses, of Aikido.

  3. Sound contribution, and excellent reply Takahashi Shihan. Always a pleasure to enjoy your intelligent and considered insights, vis a vis other opinions. Though you never tout it, your intimate relations with Hombu, as well as familial ties with Isao, Mariye, etc., afford you a clear perspective many of us may not have available. Thank you for your thoughtfulness.

Speak Your Mind