An excerpt from Competitive Aikido by the Japan Aikido Association Coaching Division.

Takeda Sokaku AikidoLooking back at the origins of aikido, Daito-ryu Jujutsu (later called Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu) was handed down within the Aizu clan from long ago. This was revived by Sokaku Takeda (1859-1943) who learned Onoha Itto-ryu kenjutsu (swordsmanship) from a young age and also studied Jikishinkage-ryu under the guidance of the famous swordsman Kenkichi Sakakibara (1830-94) at the end of the Edo era (1603-1868). His study was not limited to kenjutsu as he also received a license from Hozoin school of sojutsu (spearmanship). The techniques of Daito-ryu Jujutsu absorbed the principles of the sword and spear and had a great technical influence on later aikido.

Morihei Ueshiba 150x150 AikidoMorihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), the founder of aikido, was qualified to teach in Takeda’s absence. He also practiced diligently in judo, kenjutsu, sojutsu, jukenjutsu (bayonet), etc and spread aikido from a religious perspective. He was a very pious man so his practice was not limited to physical technique. He had a deep faith in the Omoto religion and his speech and conduct were of a divinely inspired aikido so this was one aspect in which it was seen different from other budo. Also, his techniques were very changeable depending on the situation as he would say. “When I move, it is a technique”. This led to students learning techniques in different ways at different times and is the reason for the various branches of aikido.

tomiki AikidoKenji Tomiki (1900-1979) excelled among the many students of of Ueshiba. His achievement was to form a theory of old jujutsu, from a historical and educational viewpoint, that included aikido. Ueshiba practiced from a religious point of view particularly in the latter part of his life in contrast to Tomiki who sensed the necessity to modernize budo. Tomiki tried to clarify the position of aikido within the whole of budo regarding it as a modern physical education that includes a sport aspect.

Known as the founder of competitive aikido, Tomiki started receiving instruction in aikido (Daito-ryu Jujutsu at the time) from Ueshiba in 1926. When the dan rank system was introduced in 1940 he received the first 8th dan which was the highest rank. In later years he reminisced about those days when he was starting to find his way towards the creation of competitive aikido.