Different "Styles" of Aikido

One of aikido's greatest strengths is that the Founder profoundly affected a wide variety of students over his lifetime. Because of this, most of his direct disciples have went on to become famous teachers themselves. With the passage of time the remaining students and teachers who were taught directly by the Founder grows smaller and smaller.

 

All Japan Aikido Embukai - Tokyo, JapanExploring the present-day aikido landscape, one finds that most schools follow a particular student of the Founder who – at one time or another – had direct interaction with him. While many of these direct students claim to follow the "true" teachings of O Sensei, it can be argued that the Founder taught a diverse range of technique and philosophies over his lengthy martial arts career. What his "true legacy" is today has been highly debated since his passing in 1969.

In order to establish where our dojo falls in the spectrum of aikido teaching available, two general distinctions will be used. At one end there are factions of aikido that believe the best way to teach the art is by recounting the literal words and movements taught by the Founder. These groups maintain that they are transmitting aikido "without re-interpretation" or the introduced bias that naturally results from the transmission of information from one generation to the next.

The other end of conventional aikido teaching says that the Founder himself evolved throughout his life and his methods evolved along with him. While these groups recognize O Sensei's philosophical contributions as the foundations of the art, these teachers also recognize the Founder's adaptation and evolution, choosing to also emulate this aspect of his legacy.

To be certain, we believe that the origins of aikido technique and the Founder's early teaching is an invaluable foundation to the present-day aikido we practice. That being said, the Kimusubi Aikido Orlando dojo is considered to be on later end of the two ends of the spectrum described above. Our "lineage" – the past and present teachers who have influenced the direction of our practice – is considered to be more on the evolutionary side.


Our Teachers and "Lineage"

Seigo Yamaguchi Shihan (9th Dan) - (1924-1996) was born April 13, 1924 in Fukuoka, Japan. After an early education he entered the navy where he was to eventually carry out a kamikaze suicide mission. Fortunately, before he was deployed he was saved by the end of the World War II.

 

Yamaguchi sensei was introduced to Morihei Ueshiba O Sensei in 1950 and promptly entered the Aikikai in 1951. In 1958, he was dispatched to Burma to teach aikido to the army. Upon his return in 1961, he resumed teaching at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo until his untimely death on January 24, 1996. Yamaguchi sensei also taught at his own Zoshukan dojo (in Shibuya, Tokyo) and at Meiji University. He was awarded 9th dan by the Aikikai in 1994, one of a very few students to reach that rank while still living. While not very well known in the United States, Yamaguchi sensei was a major influence on the majority of present-day shihan of the Aikikai. Most – if not all – of them were taught by him as they came up through the Hombu Dojo in the 60's, 70's and 80's.

 

Endo Shihan - Saku Embu 2007Seishiro Endo Shihan (8th Dan) - (1942- ) Endo sensei began studying aikido in 1963 at Gakushuin University under Hiroshi Tada Shihan, and later senseis Mitsunari Kanai and Yasuo Kobayashi. Upon entering the Aikikai in 1967 as one of the last uchi deshi, Endo sensei also returned to his alma mater to teach aikido. Well known for his ukemi and athleticism, Endo sensei was one of the primary ukes for Kisshomaru Doshu, Koichi Tohei (10th dan), Kisaburo Osawa (9th dan), and Seigo Yamaguchi (9th dan), all prevalent teachers at the Hombu Dojo around that time.

In 1977 he dislocated his right shoulder and was unable to practice. This event turned out to be a turning point in Endo sensei's aikido path. Yamaguchi sensei said to him, "You’ve been doing aikido for 10 years now, but now you have only your left arm to use, what are you going to do?" This question began Endo sensei thinking that the way he had been practicing up to that point was somewhat limited. So rather than taking classes from all the shihan at the Hombu, as he had done previously, Endo sensei began focusing on Yamaguchi sensei's classes exclusively.

As he worked to "remove the power" from his technique, many of his peers wondered what he was doing. He would simply tell them he was trying to practice a different way, and then ask them to help him by taking ukemi even if his technique didn't work. Gradually, Endo sensei began to understand Yamaguchi sensei's teaching and was able to throw his partners even when they resisted him. This set the foundation for the "style" of aikido that he would become known for.

Today Endo sensei is internationally known for his subtle and dynamic, yet powerful style of aikido. He strongly emphasizes maintaining a mental state of clarity when practicing, as well as learning the basics in solid form (kihon waza) before exploring more flowing techniques (ki-no-nagare). At the foundation of his teaching is the importance of how to connect to your partner, referred to as "ki-musubi". Endo sensei's teaching explores the use of energy and relaxation of the body with flexible movements and a calmness of the mind at all times.

 

Jan Nevelius - Berlin -2009Jan Nevelius Shihan (6th Dan) - (1964- ) Jan sensei began studying aikido in Farstavägen, Sweden in 1975 at age 11. Ichimura sensei was the national coach in Sweden at the time and made a strong early impression, not only as an aikido teacher, but also as an acupuncturist and shiatsu masseuse. When Jan sensei was at the age of 17, Jan Hermansson (7th dan) returned to Sweden from Japan after many years of residence there. Hermansson sensei made a strong impression on Jan and became one of his main teachers, encouraging him to travel and pursue aikido.

In 1981, Jan sensei began traveling to France and in 1983 he moved to Japan for an extended stay to practice aikido. Spending the next several years in Japan, he trained outside the Hombu dojo with many different instructors, including: Shoji Nishio Shihan, Yasuo Kobayashi Shihan and Kazuo Igarashi Shihan. Jan sensei also earned his 2nd dan in Daito-ryu Roppokai under Seigo Okamoto Sensei.

Over time, however, he began training more and more at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo where he would earn his shodan and nidan. While at the world headquarters, Jan sensei practiced with most of the Aikikai teachers: Kisshomaru Ueshiba Doshu, Kisaburo Osawa Shihan, Tada Shihan, Arikawa Shihan, Watanabe Shihan and Seki Shihan. His main inspirations, however, came from shihans Osawa (Kisaburo), Yamaguchi and Endo (with Endo sensei awarding Jan his Aikikai 4th and 5th dans directly).

Upon his return to Sweden in 1986, Jan sensei taught at the Mihashira Aikido Club in Lennart Linder and later for many years at the Stockholm Aikikai. After having taught at the Stockholm Aikikai for a number of years, Jan sensei started the Vanadis Aikido Club with Johan Lindgren, Ulf Nilsson, Ulrika Bosaeus and Jorma Lyly. The Vanadis dojo has come to be very important for Jan sensei's aikido development and is today the center of his aikido teaching. In 1998 the Mitsu Domoe Aikido Club was also established by Jan sensei and has since been combined with Vanadis dojo.

Shortly after Jan sensei's return to Sweden, Endo sensei began visiting regularly and became more and more Jan's personal teacher. As their relationship deepened, Jan sensei also began traveling regularly to Japan to practice with Endo sensei.

In 1987 Jan sensei met Christian Tissier Shihan (7th Dan) from France. In addition to Endo sensei, Tissier sensei quickly became a strong influence on Jan sensei. For many years Jan sensei traveled to France to practice with him and today Tissier sensei continues to visit the Vanadis dojo each year.

For the past 25 years senseis Endo and Tissier have been Jan sensei's predominant sources of aikido inspiration. In 2007 Jan sensei received his 6th dan Aikikai from Endo Shihan. From 1991-1993 he was the Chairman of the Swedish Aikido Association and remains a member of the Swedish Aikikai Grading Committee.

In January 2013, Jan was awarded the title of Aikikai Shihan at the request of senseis Endo, Tissier and the Swedish Aikikai.


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Aikido students visiting the Orlando area and new students are always welcome.

Kimusubi Aikido Orlando

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