Koichi Tohei’s 1974 Letter of Resignation from the Aikikai Hombu Dojo

“I have tried with all my heart to repay the kindness of Master
Morihei Ueshiba who founded and taught me Aikido.”

koichi-tohei-letter-of-resignation-p1In 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.

Koichi Tohei at his award ceremony to receive his 10th dan (1970)
Koichi Tohei at his 10th dan award ceremony (1970)

This essential document that changed the course of aikido history more than four decades ago, is now available to the general public as a free PDF download.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for posting! Ballsy! There is a need to reconcile throughout the Aikido community. A prominent Sensei said at a seminar a few years back in Virginia, and I’m paraphrasing here, that though Aikido came to us from Japan, we in the West will be bringing the harmony back to the source; as division and exclusion, not to mention an almost complete evisceration of our Aikido heritage is now going on in Hombu.

    Sadly, there exists much division in the varying styles of Akido, but it’s all Aikido! Like music, there is; Punk, Rock, Jazz, Classical, etc… and likewise within them there is division, but it’s all music! O’Sensei had a vision, one of unity and peace! We are missing the real message here! We need to celebrate our stylistic differences! O’Sensei was so talented and presented such a vision for the future and humanity that each student took a piece of the puzzle with them, and this is why we need unity, to regain the true and broad picture that is Aikido. I have, and continue to train with different organizations such as Iwama Ryu, Aikikai, and AAA/AAI, Daito Ryu, etc… all that is needed is an open mind and an open heart from all sides. I wish you all Peace!

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