Masters of Aikido

15th March 1900

Kenji Tomiki was born in the town of Kakunodate in Akita Prefecture. He was the eldest son of Shosuke and Tatsu Tomiki. When he was about 6 years old he began wielding a wooden sword. At the age of about 10, after entering the local primary school, he joined the town's judo club.

He entered the Prefectural Yokote Junior High School. He was active in the judo club and, on graduating from school, was awarded prizes for excellence in both academics and physical education. In November 1919 he received his 1st dan in judo. After graduation he became ill and took three and a half years to recover. During this time he received encouragement and support from his uncle Hyakusui Hirafuku who was a famous artist.

He entered the Political Economics Department of Waseda University. This was the golden age of the Waseda Judo Club and he was famous for his brilliant judo skills. He was the secretary of the Student Judo Association in Tokyo and had the pleasure of meeting Jigoro Kano of Kodokan who had a great influence on him.

He met Daitoryu Aikijujitsu's Morihei Ueshiba in the autumn. He was fascinated by Ueshiba's techniques and joined his classes. Later Ueshiba started his own style and changed the name to Aikido. Tomiki's lifelong aikido training had begun.

Whilst working for the Department Of Electricity in Miyagi Prefecture, he was chosen to represent the prefecture in the first tournament in front of the Emperor (the All Japan Tournament began from this in the following year).

He returned to his home town and took up a post at the Kakunodate Junior High School. He met Hideo Oba (formerly Tozawa) who began a lifelong effort to help Tomiki realise his budo ideals. Nine years later, he left and moved to Tokyo living near to Ueshiba so that he could study aikibudo.

He moved to Manchukuo (the japanese pre-war puppet state in Manchuria) as a teacher at the Daido Institute. He taught aikibudo to the Kanton army and the Imperial Household Agency.

He became an assistant professor at Kenkoku University in Manchukuo. He taught aikibudo as part of the regular curriculum and gave lectures on budo.

He received the world's first aikido 8th dan from Ueshiba and began his research into modernising aikido. Every summer for the next 4 years he instructed senior grades at Kodokan on a committee that researched into techniques where there is some distance between the two participants.

He continued to work on his ideas for budo during his detention in Siberia after the defeat of Japan in World War II.

Together with Sumiyuki Kotani and Tadao Otaki he went to America as part of a judo delegation to instruct the U.S. Airforce in 15 states.

He became a professor at Waseda University an d headed the university's Physical Education department. He published 'Judo Taiso'.

He published a book in English called 'Judo with Aikido' which was later called 'Judo and Aikido'; the French edition was published in 1960. This helped bring aikido to the West.

He founded the Waseda University Aikido Club and became the club's first director. He published 'Aikido Nyumon' which is still in print today. From about this time he made progress in his research into competitive aikido.

He became head of the department coinciding with the start of a special course in physical education. He published 'Shin Aikido Text' (The New Aikido Textbook).

He opened the Shodokan dojo as the first dojo exclusively for research into aikido.

He retired from Waseda University, published 'Taiiku To Budo' (Physical Education and Budo), and presided over the first All Japan Student Aikido Tournament. The foundations for competitive aikido had been laid.

He received 8th dan in Kodokan Judo.

The Japan Aikido Association was founded with Tomiki as the first president.

He became the Vice President of the Budo Society of Japan.

The Shodokan dojo was established in Osaka as the central dojo of the Japan Aikido Association with Tomiki as director.

In the spring he visited Australia at the invitation of the Australian Aikido Association.

He died on 25th December 1979, aged 79 years.