Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tomiki Aikido IS a form of Daito Ryu Aiki-Jujitsu

Martial artists tend to be a little exclusionary in nature. They like to draw arbitrary lines in the sand and make borders between their own art and others. Martial arts is very much a good old boys club and by and large people like it that way. I find especially the koryu minded folks like to protect their art and the name associated with, sometimes quite staunchly.

Sokaku Takeda

With this in mind I would like to promote a somewhat unpopular idea.
The arts of Takeda, Ueshiba and Tomiki are of course extremely intertwined, but...

Tomiki Aikido IS a form of Daito Ryu Aiki-Jujitsu

Here are some interesting facts to mull over while you let that sink in.

Almost the entirety of Kenji Tomiki's direct training with Ueshiba (1926-1938) happened while Morihei Ueshiba was still training under Sokaku Takeda and teaching under the Daito Ryu name (1915-1937)

Morihei Ueshiba

"Although disputed by some, the ledger books of Takeda clearly show that Ueshiba spent a great deal of time training in Daitō-ryū between 1915 and 1937. He received the majority of the important scrolls awarded by Takeda at this time including the Hiden Mokuroko, the Hiden Ogi and the Goshin'yo te. Ueshiba received his kyoju dairi certificate, or teaching license, for the system from Takeda in 1922. Takeda had not yet implemented a menkyo license, or highest level of achievement license, into his system at this time."

From Full Article

"In the earlier years of his teaching, from the 1920s to the mid 1930s, Ueshiba taught the aiki-jūjutsu system he had earned a license in from Takeda Sokaku. His early students' documents bear the term aiki-jūjutsu.[6] Indeed, Ueshiba trained one of the future highest grade earners in Daitō-ryū, Takuma Hisa, in the art before Takeda took charge of Hisa's training.[7]"

"The early form of training under Ueshiba was characterized by the ample use of strikes to vital points (atemi), a larger total curriculum, a greater use of weapons, and a more linear approach to technique than would be found in later forms of aikido. These methods are preserved in the teachings of his early students Kenji Tomiki (who founded the Shodokan Aikido sometimes called Tomiki-ryū)"

"Among Sokaku's students during this period was Makoto Miura who later became a famous general and supporter of Morihei Ueshiba. Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) was one of Sokaku's most famous students. Further, Ueshiba, now an accredited teacher of Daito-ryu, awarded scrolls of proficiency to his direct students until quite probably as late as 1937."

From Full Article

Ueshiba and Takeda drift apart during this time. Ueshiba and Takeda though still share students - even under the Daito Ryu name. In an article written in 1942 Takuma Hiza claims to be training in Daito Ryu under Ueshiba. From Full Article As a personal note my neighbor in Japan was Professor Adachi. He was a Daito Ryu student in the 1960s and he told me he attended a Daito Ryu seminar taught by Ueshiba. Professor Adachi also told me that it was his impression that the name divides were much looser then.

Kenji Tomiki

A change in direction happens with Ueshiba's work. Tomiki Sensei seems hesitant to keep up with the changes when he returns from prison camp in Russia in 1948.

"People like Kenji Tomiki who was a member of the Waseda University Judo Club came to Ayabe to practice because they heard of my father from Mr. Takeshita. Mr. Tomiki told me the following: "What I studied at that time was Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu, not Aikido. So I don’t understand present-day Aikido". So then I suggested to him that he should stop calling his art "Aikido" and call it "Tomiki Style" instead. Mr. [Shigenobu] Okumura and Mr. [Rinjiro] Shirata know all about this."

Tomiki Sensei does not even change the name of the art he is practicing to Aikido until 1960.

Yoji Kondo writes "He formally adopted the use of the word Aikido at Waseda in 1960, as he probably wanted to avoid the appearance of competition with his old teacher, Master Uyeshiba."

From Full Article

Eric Pearson

Compiled by Eric Pearson. He holds a 4th dan in Tomiki Aikido from the Kaze Uta Budo Kai. He also has an jun-kyouju license in Daito Ryu AikiJujitsu from the Shofukan (formally Renshinkan) under Ota Ikuo Sensei in Numata, Japan. By and large he cares little about styles or names and just loves mat time.


  1. So sorry you guys who want exclusiveness, we all share an art form. Many will stand by their exclusivity but if people open their eyes a little they might see they are part of a large extended family. Apparently a big dysfunctional one.

    My own teacher has told me that Taika Oyata has said that ultimately, there is only one martial art. I can certainly see that. There are differences of emphasis, and inevitable consequences of taking certain approaches--like, when karate started being taught through the Okinawan school system, and to people in large numbers, instead of just a few at a time, certain details were inevitably glossed over. Had to be. You just can't show that kind of detail to classes of fifty students, not all at once. But when each of these arts is taught in their fullness, you can't help but see family resemblances.

    Good post, very informative.

  2. Yes, really where do we draw the lines? If we are using all the same techniques and ideas - isn't it really the same art?

    Soon I will discuss some differences and preferences within the aiki family that make the results look a little different, but really the art is the same.

  3. Hate to be technical but I see two arguments above; one is 'Tomiki is a 'version' of Daito Ryu' - agreed. I would even agree Aikido is a form of Daito Ryu (Ueshiba ha) - not my idea; many have come forth with both these arguments before.

    The other argument is there is only one martial art. Well, Don Angier argued long ago that since all humans 'move the same' - same skeletol structure, stand on two legs, etc. the differences in art will never be so great as to go against core principle of body structure, stability, and balance. While I agree with Don, one must note difference; if for nothing else than because our previous teachets made it so. If it looks different, then it is and most likely our teachers intended it that way for us. Not too much time to write but just thought I would jot these thoughts down for my buddy Eric.

  4. in 1997 ms.miyake described tomiki aikido as a hybrid of daito ryu and kito ryu ideas-- she even spelled it out with a little lineage chart that is on my wall here at windsong

  5. Have you seen the Aikiweb forum article by John Driscoll outlining in terrific detail the overlap between Aikido and Daito Ryu? The article finds about an 80% overlap, much of that thanks to Tomiki aikido.

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