History of Aikido

Shodokan Aikido

One of the major branches of modern Aikido, first developed by Kenji Tomiki, a direct student of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, and Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo. Often in parts of the world Shodokan Aikido is referred to as Sport Aikido or Tomiki Aikido after the name of its founder. However Tomiki Sensei prefered his system to be know as Shodokan.

In the autumn of 1926 Kenji Tomiki was introduced to Morihei Ueshiba in Tokyo by his friend Hidetaro Nishimura (formerly Kubota) from Waseda University Judo Club. Tomiki was immediately impressed by Ueshiba’s aikido techniques. The techniques were different from Judo but left a deep impression on him. After this, with his younger brother Kensaburo, Tomiki started going to Ueshiba’s dojo in Gotanda every day. during the following summer holiday in 1927 Tomiki went to Ayabe, because Ueshiba had mover there, and trained with him for a month.

Art that time, Ueshiba spoke about his own teacher Sokaku Takeda (founder of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu)
Tomiki was a graduate student and started to read Omoto religious scriptures (Ueshiba’s faith at that time) as well as working for Ueshiba. In Tokyo, Ueshiba’s only uke Yoichiro Inoue who only attended occasionally so Tomiki promptly took his place.

Tomiki then became a junior high school teacher in his hometown of Kakunodate and continued practising aikido during his occasional holidays. In 1934 he resigned and returned to Tokyo where he set up home one minute away from Ueshiba’s Kobukan Dojo and continued to study aikido seriously. In that year he became an army officer and, with Ueshiba’s permission, went to Manchukuo to teach as an instructor of Ueshiba-ryu Aikijujitsui. His techniques were praised enthusiastically by Chief of Staff Hideki Tojo which promoted the spread of aikido there. In March 1936 he became a lecturer at the Daido Institute which was established in Manchukuo. In the spring of 1938 he then moved to the newly established Kenkoku University lecturing in Budo, in charge of Aikibudo (the name used by Ueshiba at that time) on the curriculum.

From this period on Tomiki made great progress in his research and wrote various books and papers, such as ‘The future of Judo and Aikibudo’ (1937), explaining the significance of judo and the budo in aikibudo. As a result, he received recognition from many people in budo and judo including Jiro Nango, the second president of Kodokan.

Through his favourite pupil, Ueshiba’s aikibudo became established as a form of educational budo. Between 1940 and 1942 Ueshiba visited Manchukuo and took great pleasure in demonstrating aikibudo. In 1940 he established a grading system and made Tomiki his first 8th dan.


The Shodokan system of learning Aikido has its roots in the Japanese University system.

The current head of Shodokan is Tetsuro Nariyama (9th Dan)

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