What is Shodokan Aikido?

Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art founded in the early 20th Century by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969). After mastering classical styles of Judo, Kendo and Jujitsu, he created Aikido – a defensive martial art based on spiritual teachings. Although there are now many varying styles of aikido taught throughout the world, the basic principles remain the same. The force of any attack is controlled and diffused without injury to either instigator or defender. This is achieved by using avoidance and balance breaking followed, if necessary, by techniques including a range of locks and throws.

One such student was Professor Kenji Tomiki. Professor Tomiki was the first of Master Ueshiba’s pupils to attain the rank of 8th Dan and eventually was honoured with 9th dan before he died in 1979. He also held 8th dan in Kodokan Judo which he studied under its founder Dr Jigaro Kano. Dr Kano developed modern judo as a competitive form of Ju-Jitsu, using many of its techniques as a basis for kata (forms) that could be used safely in competition.

However, Dr Kano was unable to devise a way of incorporating the kansetsu waza (joint bending/twisting techniques) and atemi waza (striking techniques) from ju-jutsu into his competition format. These techniques form an essential part of aikido, so Professor Tomiki found that his judo experience enabled him to adapt aikido to contain a competitive element. Professor Tomiki felt that randori (freeplay) was the best way for a student to improve his/her technique once they had learnt the fundamentals in a kata. However, this idea was rejected by many of Master Ueshiba’s former students who felt it went against the harmonious nature of “traditional” aikido.

Modern schools of aikido fall into two very broad categories; “Traditional” – where no competition takes place and often emphasis is put on the spiritual and philosophical aspects of aikido, and “Tomiki” or “Kyogi” (sport) – where freeplay and competitions are practiced and the physical basis for each technique is emphasised.

Clearly, each of these two categories may contain many different styles depending on their lineage back to Master Ueshiba. For example the style of aikido practiced in our dojo is Shodokan aikido, which comes from one of professor Tomiki’s students called Tetsuru Nariyama.
Nariyama Sensei holds the rank of 8th Dan(JAA) and 6th Dan in traditional aikido. He is currently the technical director of the Japan Aikido Association (J.A.A.) and chief instructor at the Osaka Shodokan Hombu (Head Quarters) Dojo in Japan.