Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Is Tomiki's lineage a Ryu 流?

In the 30 years since Kenji Tomiki Sensei's death his lineage of Aikido has spread over the world. There seems to be a concentration of his schools in the United States, Europe..especially Britain. Many organizations have split but continue to use the curriculum of Kenji Tomiki's design. Collectively we tend to call the lineage 'Tomiki Aikido', or 'Tomiki Ryu'

On the Kaze Uta Budo Kai boards and on the Mokuren Dojo Blog there has been some discussion about whether to use the words 'Tomiki Ryu' or not. From what i have heard Tomiki Sensei did not like the use of this title. To him it was Shodokan or just Aikido. Plus the style has evolved radically in the past thirty years. There are the rough and tumble sport aikido guys, and there are the super soft and light touch tai chi like guys coming from other divisions of the lineages. Some have even taken to using their own name plus the word 'ryu' to distinguish their own style branching from Tomiki's lineage. Is saying Tomiki Ryu appropriate? Was it ever?

A opinion against the use of ryu is on I will introduce Wayne Muromoto at the Koryu site to enlighten us with his opinion. He says no, it is not correct. .

To Ryu or not to Ryu....I myself don't really care either way. Language is what it is. Whether he intended his name to be used or not, we did use it and likely will continue to do so. We also stuck ryu 流 on it.


  1. When you are alive, allowing your art to be named after yourself seems self-aggrandizing, and people will lose respect for you and your art. Now that Tomiki has passed and since the whole Aikido world uses his name to refer to the style, practitioners may as well adopt this practice. Since the Japan Aikido Association has split up into three distinct organizations, with the Shodokan dojo now being separate from the Shin Aikido Union and from the Waseda University dojo, it will be confusing to refer to Tomiki Aikido as Shodokan Aikido.

  2. I was following the article well until this paragraph:

    "Not only is this distasteful, in my own elitist opinion, but such badly thought out logic attacks the very reason the ryu survived for so long. Because it had become theoretized and extracted from "practical" contemporary situations, it never grows old. A classical ryu is timeless, not timely."

    I don't understand how he discredits recently created styles because they are only practical in our time, but those created in the past are fine because they were practical in theirs? That doesn't make any sense. How is practicing with a katana timeless? Since upgrades in weaponry, it has been outdated, and before katana were created (which is a pretty long time even though many of these traditions don descriptions like "ancient" and "timeless", it was irrelevant.

    I agree with attention that should be brought to terms like "ryu" and also "sensei" because they are often unfamiliar in the Western world, but I can't agree with the rest.

    In fact, for my slightly unjustified opinion, after reading much about bushido, practicing aikido, and seeing Japanese life, I'd say that 95% about what is written and practiced about bushido is bullshito, and that chasing the techniques of founders, which is never actually attainable in the truest sense as doing 100% justice, is actually a huge trap for people who have a hard time thinking for themselves.