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Kenji Tomiki and Shodokan Aikido

Kenji Tomiki was born on March 15, 1900 in Kakunodate, Akita Prefecture. He began to learn under the Morihei Ueshiba in 1926 and was also a Jigoro Kano‘s student. He managed to get 8 Dan at Aikido in 1940 and 8 Dan at Judo in 1978. He taught both of them in Waseda University, Tokyo and this is when he started a development of his own Aikido theories which crossed with what Aikikai was about to become.

Tomiki’s idea was to convert Aikido into a sport and this led to a split with the Morihei Ueshiba. In 1967, Tomiki opened a Shodokan Dojo which he used as a testing ground on Aikido and competition.  After leaving the Waseda University in 1970 Kenji Tomiki launched a first All-Japan Student Aikido Tournament.

In 1974 Japan Aikido Association was created by the Kenji Tomiki and in 1976 he opened another Shodokan Dojo in Osaka which became a headquarters for the JAA. Here’s a greeting by Kenji Tomiki at the opening of the Shodokan.

So this is a story of how another Aikido style was born. It’s easy to remember this one with the competitions.

After the Tomikis death in 1979 Hideo Ohba was left as a head of the JAA. He was also a 6th Dan in Judo, 4th Dan in Kendo and a student of the Morihei Ueshiba. You can find him in the next video or in the first video of the post as an uke.

Today a technical director of the Shodokan Aikido Federation (SAF) and a chief instructor of the Shodokan Honbu Dojo is Tetsuro Nariyama. He holds a 9th Dan in Shodokan Aikido and that’s the highest rank possible. Tetsuro Nariyama wrote an article about the teachings of his teacher Kenji Tomiki. He also lived as an uchi-deshi learning from the Hirokazu Kobayashi.

Some say that Tomiki is closer to full contact than any other Aikido style. Others say that this style is the best. It’s up to you to decide but now you at least know about its existence and see it with your eyes.


  1. Very nice to see an article on the Aikido of Kenji Tomiki on an independent website. I think there is a closer relationship between Daito-Ryu Aikijutsu and Tomiki Aikido than there is between Tomiki Aikido and the Aikido as practiced by Aikikai today. It’s no surprise, given that Kenji Tomiki was taught Daito Ryu by Morihei Ueshiba and only later did Morihei Ueshiba begin to formulate and develop the softer forms of his new art “Aiki budo” which has led to the Aikido of today.

    Von Ryan – Senpai –

  2. It’s great to see that there are so many styles and different points of view in Aikido. Tomiki Aikido proves that Aikido can be practised as a full fledged competition sport just like Judo and Karate.

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