Video: Kenji Shimizu, Favorite Uke of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei

“Kenji Shimizu was called on again and
again to be uke for Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei”

This video features Kenji Shimizu, one of the last generation of Aikikai instructors under Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Shimizu Sensei had a strong judo background and quickly came up through the ranks in his early aikido career. He was one of Morihei Ueshiba’s favorite uke during O-Sensei’s latter years. A few years after the Founder’s passing, Shimizu became independent of the Aikikai and established “Tendokan Aikido” centered in his private dojo in Tokyo.

Since the late 1970s, Shimizu Sensei has traveled extensively, mainly to Europe, where he has large student bases in several countries. He was also a participant in the 2nd Friendship Demonstration sponsored by Aiki News is 1986. Shimizu co-authored a book titled Zen and Aikido with Shigeo Kamata of Tokyo University.

Shimizu Sensei’s aikido is both powerful and graceful at the same time. His ability to blend is exemplary and his technical repertoire varied, partially due to his judo background, which is revealed in certain throws. As this is a promotional film, the production quality is very high and there are many spectacular techniques displayed.

Link to Tendokan Dojo in Tokyo

Duration: 7:56

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  1. Arnaud Versluys says:


  2. Ellis Amdur says:

    He truly was Ueshiba Morihei’s favorite in the mid-sixties. Terry Dobson recalled that on a number of occasions, when Osensei went to teach, he would look for Shimizu, and if he wasn’t there, he’d loudly demand his presence, and wouldn’t get on the mat until he was found.

  3. Tame Farmer says:

    AMAZING! Some of the best Aikido I have ever seen.

  4. Tame Farmer says:

    Is there a way I can get a copy of this video?

  5. Thant Coleman says:

    I really like his style and technique. Strong and very effective in my opinion. Loved the throwing techniques at 2:05 and 6:30. I intend to add them to my repertoire. Any other video of Shimizu Sensei would be appreciated!

  6. Richard Thomson says:

    This is a great video. You can see O sensei’s influence, power and style.

  7. Fred Little says:

    Interesting, and as the blurb notes, the technical repetoire is more varied than the norm.

    There’s seems to be a high correlation between individuals being regarded as “favorite students” and the subsequent establishment of “new lines.”

    Ueshiba Morihei as a favorite of Takeda Sokaku.

    Shioda Gozo as a pre-war favored student (if not a favorite in the same precise sense as Shimizu) of Ueshiba Morihei.

    Shimizu Kenji as a post-war favorite of Ueshiba Morihei.

    Not a one-to-one correlation, but still, those three cases come immediately to mind in DRAJJ/Aikido, and the pattern seems to extend to other fields of endeavor. Perhaps it’s quite simple: favorite students both get it (whatever “it” may be) and bring something interesting to “it”; but in the long run, this same fact makes it more difficult for them to stay within the box.

    Just a thought.

  8. Charles Warren says:

    Excellent. I’ve only been taught sutemi-waza once, and that briefly when training with Terry Dobson and he didn’t want to do koshinage. I haven’t seen anybody else since O Sensei in the 1935 movie demonstrate the ryote-dori throw (where nage uses a variation of ryote dori as a kokyu nage)…

  9. Larry Castleberry says:

    Very impressive. Thank you.

  10. Tom Anderson says:

    Excellent. He started studying in 63 and from what I have read about O Sensei teaching infrequently during the 60s. Amazing

  11. Chandrakant shinde says:

    Excellent !

  12. Nick Hentschel says:

    WOW! There’s so much to say….

    It’s clearly very energetic (and very skilled) aikido, worlds apart from our dojo. These guys aren’t screwing around, especially with the falls that they take.

    Also, it’s a very well-filmed, unusually dramatic documentary, with some unusual shots and camera angles used.

    This is exactly the sort of footage that persuaded me to take up aikido.

  13. sumi-otoshi says:

    @Fred Little – the fact that a person is chosen often as an uke does not mean he is the one who understands something best; the ones who probably understood osensei best were deguchi onisaburo and goi sensei; who hardly ever practiced aikido, but that didnt matter

  14. Masher1962 says:

    Wow, this brings back many memories. When I first started on the path Shimizu Sensei’s book was one of the first I picked up when I was an Aiki bookworm. Marvellous to see the endless possibilities that the Way can show you if your mind is open enough. Thanks Aikido Journal!

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