From AikiKai to Tomiki Aikido

My “Tomiki Aikido” Adventure or the discovery of "Aiki"
Eddy Wolput, organizer of Study Group Tomiki Aikido

My relationship with Kenji Tomiki is very simple. I never met him. But I was taught by some of his students and briefly by his lifelong assistant Hideo Ohba.
These teachings are very different from what JAA is presenting as Tomiki’s Aikido or also called Shodokan Aikido by the followers of Nariyama sensei.
Before I started with Tomiki’s Aikido, I already studied Aikikai aikido, Korindo aikido, Yoseikan aikido and also judo/jujutsu, karate and Hakkoryu jujutsu.
In 1978, I visited the Yawara dojo in London and was taught for the first time in Tomiki’s Aikido by dr Lee ah Loi and Itsuo Haba.
We changed our training system in our dojo in Antwerp/Belgium to Tomiki’s Aikido, but this was not accepted by the majority of the students and totally rejected by the Aikido Association where we belonged.
We can clearly say, the birth of Belgian Tomiki’s Aikido happened in 1978.
Early eighties, I met Nariyama sensei and Shishida sensei on several occasions in Europe and I saw some differences between the method I learned from Tomiki’s other students like Itsuo Haba. But there was also a difference with the teachings of Hideo Ohba, which I met on several occasions in Japan and the new teachings of Nariyama sensei and Shishida sensei.
This difference puzzled me alot and it took me many years to find a solution to this paradigm.
My view on Tomiki’s Aikido is a parallel research with Fumiaki Shishida. He inspired me to look further into the different aspects of Tomiki’s martial arts view.
Later this was further influenced by Tadayuki Satoh view on Tomiki’s Judo and Aikido.
A major influence was also dr Lee ah Loi, who advised me to take up the training of Iaido and Jodo. Again those arts gave some conflict in my view on japanese martial arts, and it is only recently I discovered the relationship between those martial arts (Tomiki’s Aikido, Iaido and Jodo).
The relationship you only can discover if you accept there is just an outer form of martial art, but there is also an inner form of martial art.
It was Senta Yamada’s teachings which put me on the trail of the discovering of a totally new way of thinking of Tomiki’s aikido.
Together with a remark of Tadayuki Satoh on the use of the “inner movement” in the sumi otoshi, I started over with Tomiki’s Aikido from the beginning.
I reread my notes again, which I made from the beginning I started Tomiki’s Aikido and I was surprised about what they told me years ago, but what I didn’t understand at that time.
The discovery of “aiki” in Tomiki’s aikido.
Our contemporary JAA training system is focused on randori and to a lesser extent of the development of “aiki”.
Why I take this remark? If you compare the older ways of doing unsoku and tandoku undo (tegatana dosa), you will notice emphasis on circular (or spiral) movements. Those movements are an essential factor for the development of “aiki”.
Of course only these movements are not sufficient to develop “aiki”.
I am not alone in this field of research. When I met Yoshiomi Inoue sensei some years ago, I noticed he used different elements in his aikido related to a very soft and flexible application of the body. He didn’t overpowered his partner by muscular force.
In Tomiki’s Aikido, “aiki” is the fusion of proper posture (body frame) with inner and outer movements and the use of flexible hard/soft power. This “aiki” you have to blend with your oppenent to control the situation (with atemi waza, kansetsu waza or hiki waza)
This “aiki” you can use in randori as a sport activity, but also as a form of self defense. Besides basic techniques, koryu no kata daisan (goshin no kata) and koryu no kata daiyon (kuzushi no kata), the development of “aiki” can be formed by studying the other koryu no kata.
Those kata have a close relationship with Morihei Ueshiba’s early teachings. Ueshiba was an expert in using “aiki” and Kenji Tomiki was exposed many years to this kind of training. As an introduction to koryu no kata we are practising the extended forms of unsoku and tandoku undo shown by Kenji Tomiki in his early movie, but also taught by early students of Kenji Tomiki like Senta Yamada.

Competition and aikido

My son Tim Wolput and my daughter Gitte Wolput are very keen in competition. A few years ago Tim Wolput gave a seminar in Belgium about his aikido way of thinking. After examination of his methods, we can note a similarity with some of the teachings of the early students of Kenji Tomiki. His ideas are in sharp contrast with the linear approach of other people.

Studygroup for Tomiki’s Aikido

We started years ago a research group to study the original teachings of Kenji Tomiki. This group is made of people from Belgium, Holland, Spain, Switserland and United Kingdom. We are coming together to discuss and practise the original teachings.