Aikido has grown explosively since World War II. Koichi Tohei, a distinguished contributor to this development, is perhaps one of those most. Koichi Tohei Sensei demonstrating at the Los Angeles Aikikai in Some of those early aikidoka did much to spread aikido in California. Koichi Tohei at Ki Society Headquarters in Tokyo, c. And Ueshiba Sensei was adamant all his life that aikido is a budo, not a sport.

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They recruited students from all over Japan into their high schools. To give the reader an idea of the level of skill and power of these young men, we used to line up by weight to bow in. Among my greatest achievements in martial arts training was during a workout with their star, a two meters, kilos young man, expected to be the successor of Yamashita Yasuhiro. He tragically and suddenly died of sudden-onset leukemia in his senior year. I caught him off-guard aiiido a kouchi-gari inside reap and managed to get him wrong-footed, up on one leg.

The views expressed in this article reflect only those of the writer, they are independent from those of the curators of this website. Five yudansha, including Yoshimura 4th Danattacked him simultaneously and were summarily beaten off by the agile little man dancing so daintily on the tatami. The bout was unrehearsed ailido I have never seen anything to equal it.

Robert Smith My Aikido Interlude. He was short, but not little, as his massive arms in this photograph clearly show. In fact, Tohei was monstrously strong. Not only was Tohei sensei strong, but he also had control over his body. One time, during a demonstration, I, Tamura, Kobayashi, and Noro were supposed to qikido a multiple attack on him, and we decided to embarrass him. He was always bossing everyone around, so we decided to really go for it, just grab him and slam him to the mat.

Koichi Tohei : Shinshin Toitsu Aikido

We got a aikiso of him and he just exploded. We were flying every which way. You want to know how strong he was? This was considered black-market dealing. If he looked like he was having trouble with the suitcases, someone would have gotten suspicious and he would have been found out and arrested. Robert Smith was one of the pioneers among Westerners writing and studying East Asian martial arts.

His writing, although often somewhat florid and verbose, beautifully described the teachers he studied under. Ueshiba Kisshomaruin his book, Aikidowrote: Tohei visited Hawaii during the period of and and worked to introduce Aikido to Americans. At the request of the many attendants there, he faced five American judoists who were selected among the players of various states. They attacked him at one time. With little effort he felled them all.

This event was announced to all the world and the fact he defeated the five main players without any trouble—the giants whom he had not aijido met—made him a hero in the United States and showed the true value of Aikido. This story has always seemed dubious to me.

Did it really happen the way Smith—and subsequently the Aikikai—claimed? At one point, the cameraman, a tubby, lumbering middle-aged fellow with no fighting skills whatsoever, has a go at Tohei. Rendez-vous with Adventure available Aikido Journal [3]. At one moment painful to watch, Tohei is pulled to the ground in a tangle of limbs, but manages to extricate himself and dumps the guy again. Situations like this are awkward. When I first saw it koochi was asked to comment, I wrote:.


This reminds me of when Reverend Andy farted next to Aunt Junie and she claimed that he had a beautiful resonant tone in a lower D flat, and smelled like a Kent mango, just before the peak of ripeness.

Of course Ueshiba told him—or tohi him, at any rate—not to hurt the guy. But it did resonate beautifully in a low D flat. I have no doubt whatsoever kkichi Tomiki, Shirata, or Mochizuki could have easily and safely managed this lurching uncoordinated middle-aged man.

Thanks to the research of the incredible Joe Svinth, I got the names of some men who were at this tournament, sixty years before. I wrote a letter, a portion of which is reproduced here:. Robert Smith was, doubtless, one of the best writers on martial arts, and a seasoned practitioner. This is another one that sounds like magic to me.

So, first of all, were you there?

Were you one of the five guys? Did you see it?

Was it the way Smith described, or were the young guys taking falls for the honored visitor? Myths are a lot of fun in the martial arts, but the truth is even better.

Ellis Amdur Personal communication. I did participate in that tournament you are referring to. Since it has been a long time since the demonstration occurred, I vaguely remember that the judo participants could not get him down. As a bystander, it looked very real and I will stand by that. The event you speak of was announced and a aikidi of contestant appeared on the mat. I can visualize all of them approaching the mat, but recall no faces or names. My recollection varies from that of Mr.

I vaguely recall the group on the mat and executing attacks in an individual sequence, not a group pummeling. Of course, you must keep in mind that I could be very wrong about this as the event occurred many years ago.

My impression was Tohei was attacked okichi earnest and that he defended himself admirably. I was 23 years old at the time and am now 83 years old. I akiido the event as described above and to the best of my knowledge my recollections are accurate. This account is from a phone interview with the great Hawaiian judoka, Frank Nakashima.

Of my three correspondents, aikodo had the most direct contact with Tohei, although he was not part of the demonstration aikieo. He spoke with wonder tobei his voice:. I was amazed at what he could do.

I visited him at his hotel room. While we were talking, he picked up a six foot rod and told me to grab the other end and see if I could move him. Wow, what did this guy do to me?

An Overview of Koichi Tohei’s Early Aikido Career by Stanley Pranin

Then he stuck out his hand and extended his little pinky and told me to push on it. I put two hands against his pinky and pushed with all my might.

Koicho just met the aikjdo. He was knocking them over like flies. I wanted to train with the guy. Just imagine that—people bounce off when you put out your arm. Frank Nakashima — Interview with Frank Nakashima. The awe in Mr. He was doing one-on-one randori in sequence. Joining the three accounts together, he was apparently evading attacks, getting his opponent off-balance by moving just beyond their reach at an angle and then using the standard attributes of what is called, variously, aiki or kokyu-ryoku, a connected, trained body augmented by his massive power.

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By this, I mean that Tohei had the ability to align his body so that any impact was transferred through his body into the ground. They have a reputation of being formidable fighters, although in China, this is largely due to the exploits of their founder, Wang Xiangzhai, and a few of his immediate successors. The originator of the Japanese faction, Sawai Kenichi, had a similar reputation—Mas Oyama of Kyokushinkai karate stated that he was the only man who ever defeated him. In essence, they tuned up koichl engine in an already well-functioning car.

These days, however, many of the taikiken students, training exclusively in their own arena with people playing the same game, manifest significant skills in their ability to redirect force, or root themselves against a push.

However, when they participate in sparring matches against Kyokushinkai karate fighters, they invariably lose—quickly. Power is one thing and fighting another.

An Overview of Koichi Tohei’s Early Aikido Career by Stanley Pranin

I can easily be accused of arm-chair criticism, so let me add the opinions of some contemporaries. First of all, Kuroiwa Yoshio stated of Tohei: In California, he was facing people, one-after-another, from whom he knew exactly what to expect.

In short, they were chasing and trying to grab a rubber ball that, at just the right moment, bounced and hit them back. Couple this with the stricture against throwing the cameraman down hard, where he, with no skill at ukemi, might be concussed, as well as an apparent constraint against joint locks as well, Tohei, with his limited array of techniques, was at a loss. I once sparred with a capoeira contra-mestre and he took my cell-phone off my belt and started tapping in a number, without disrupting the spinning kick that grazed my chin which immediately followed.

I saw that Ueshiba Sensei had truly mastered the art of relaxing. It was because he was relaxed, in fact, that he could generate so much power […] To be honest, I never really listened to most of the other things he said […] At the same time I was continuing my training at the Ichikukai.

I used to stay there overnight and practice zazen and misogi. The training focused on achieving a kind of enlightened state in which both body and mind become entirely free from restraint.

To my surprise, I found that in that state people who could always throw me before were completely unable to do so! He skips practice and comes back stronger than ever! Koichi Tohei Interview with Koichi Tohei [7]. Tohei clearly was interested in two things: One hard throw or a full-on wrist lock and that would have been the end of it. Why spend so much time on a discussion like this?