Kenji Tomiki

Kenji Tomiki (1900-1979) was one of the early students of Morihei Ueshiba and also of Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo and in both styles he was eventually awarded 8th Dan, the rank of a  Grandmaster. But Tomiki was not only interested in martial arts, he was also a university lecturer and this greatly influenced the way he approached aikido.

After returning from 3 years internment in the former Soviet Union as prisoner of war, he spend many years teaching both judo and aikido at Waseda University. During this time he formulated and expanded his theories about both kata based training and a new competition style free-style fighting in aikido. The latter put him at odds with his former teacher Ueshiba, who believed that introducing competition to aikido would actually violate the non-violent, spiritual concept of aikido itself. A major driving force in the development of the competition element was Waseda University which made the competition part a condition for the establishment of an Aikido Club.

Tomiki used his expertise in teaching as a university lecturer and his knowledge about judo to create the aikido kyogi style, which he considered a more modern and improved version of aikido which later would become known as Shodokan Aikido.

In 1967 Tomiki opened the Shodokan Dojo and further improved his theories about aikido and competition, using his dojo as a testing ground. In 1970 he retired from his university work and presided over the first All-Japan Student Aikido Tournament for which he had previously worked out the tournament rules.

In 1974 he established the Japan Aikido Association, an organisation to promote his theories and in 1976 with the support of Masaharu Uchiyama, the Vice-Chairman of this organisation he established a new dojo in Osaka which was intended to become the headquarters of the Japan Aikido Association.

In the summer of 1978, Kenji Tomiki’s health deteriorated and he had to undergo surgery for what turned out to be bowel cancer. He died 10 March 1979, leaving the organisation he had founded in the hands of his disciple Hideo Ohba.