“I have tried with all my heart to repay the kindness of
Master Morihei Ueshiba who founded and taught me Aikido.”
In May, 1974, an event occurred that shook the roots of the aikido world to its very foundations. It was then that Koichi Tohei, the chief instructor of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, resigned from his post and left the headquarters organization to form his own school. Many aikido associations, dojos, instructors, and students, particularly in Japan and the U.S.A., were compelled to make a choice of whether to stay within the Aikikai system or join Tohei’s newly-created Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido organization.
Here is the background to the story. In 1969, Morihei Ueshiba officially awarded 10th dan rank—the first ever—to Koichi Tohei. Following Ueshiba’s death, Tohei’s attempts to have the Aikikai Hombu Dojo instructors’ staff adopt his teaching methods which emphasized the principle of Ki were unsuccessful. He proceeded to set up the Ki no Kenkyukai (Ki Research Society) on his own in September 1971. On 1 May 1974, Tohei finally resigned from the Aikikai after several years of strained relations with Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba and other Aikikai teachers. At the same time, he founded the Shin Shin Toitsu Aikidokai (Society for Aikido with Mind and Body Coordinated).
On May 15, 1974, he sent a widely-distributed letter in Japanese and English versions to hundreds of dojo heads in Japan and abroad explaining the reasons for his severance of ties with the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. This letter, in which Tohei details his reasons for leaving the Aikikai, has only been seen by a few people over the years and has largely been forgotten. Anyone attempting to understand these pivotal events in aikido history will find this document to be invaluable as Tohei expresses in his own words his version of the events that transpired.
After preserving this letter for the past 37 years in our archives, we have now decided to release it to the general public.
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