Aikido is a modern non-violent Japanese martial art that was developed in the early 1900s by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969).
Aikido means “the Way of Harmony with the Force and Principle of Nature”. It is derived from Japan’s traditional Budo (the Way of martial arts) yet goes beyond the realm of Budo;
It is a path on which the keen edge of martial art is used as a “Way” to spiritual growth.
Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, studied many traditional Japanese martial arts, including jiu-jitsu and the art of the sword. He joined the imperial army and fought in the Russo-Japanese war of 1905-6. This first taste of war along with other experiences during the two world wars, strengthened his opposition to the use of martial arts for destructive purposes. Having opened his own dojo (training hall) in 1930, Ueshiba began his search for the true meaning of Budo as a path for man’s spiritual growth. His training, both physical and spiritual was rigorous and unceasing and through this he obtained almost inhuman levels of power becoming known at that time as ‘the greatest martial artist in Japan’. In 1942, Aikido was officially recognised as Ueshiba’s martial art. Prior to his death, at the age of 86, O’Sensei (great master), as he came to be known, went on to obtain full realisation and continued training and teaching his students living to see Aikido spread throughout the world.
T.K. Chiba Shihan
Professor T.K Chiba began his study of Aikido in 1958 aged 18 having previously trained in both Judo and Shotokan Karate. He trained for seven intensive years as uchideshi (live-in student) training under Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido and his son Kisshomaru Ueshiba spending much time traveling with O’Sensei as his personal assistant. Having been promoted to 3rd degree black belt he was assigned to Nagoya City to establish a branch dojo in 1960. Two years later he received his 4th degree black belt and began teaching at Hombu Dojo. After three years he had officially completed his training as uchideshi and received his 5th degree black belt. In 1966 Professor T.K Chiba was assigned to the United Kingdom to teach Aikido where he established the Aikikai of Great Britain which later became the British Aikido Federation. Four years later he received the rank of 6th degree black belt and the teaching title of Shihan (teacher of teachers). 1975 saw Chiba Sensei return to Japan and teaching at Hombu Dojo where he undertook the responsibilities of Secretary of the International Department during which time he worked ceaselessly towards a greater integration of foreign practitioners within the Hombu Dojo system.
After a period of time studying Zen meditation in Shizuoka Prefecture he was invited to the United States by the United States Aikido Federation and in 1981 he founded San Diego Aikikai. In January 2000 Chiba Sensei established Birankai International an umbrella organization bringing together teachers and students from the United States Aikido Federation Western Region, British Aikikai and dojos throughout Europe.
Chiba Shihan passed away on the 5th of June 2015 having achieved the rank of 8th degree black belt and leaving behind many dojos throughout the world dedicated to his vision of Aikido practice. After almost 60 years of dedication to the Art and supported by his wife Mitsuko Chiba and family, Chiba Shihan managed to transform and shape his unique approach to practice by combining what he described as, the four pillars of practice; Aikido body arts, weapons, Iaido and Zazen giving his students deep insight into budo or the martial Way. Living in the West for much of his life Chiba Shihan became familiar with Western ways and worked deeply to find the best methods to transmit Eastern Arts into western minds and bodies. He was a passionate and demanding teacher who inspired and transformed those fortunate enough to experience his work.
Anyone interested in learning more about the life of T.K Chiba Shihan can read “The Life-Giving Sword Kazuo Chiba’s Life in Aikido” by Liese Klein