The founder of Aikido, Morehei Ueshiba was born in Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan on December 14, 1883. Although not showing much physical aptitude or strength, his father encouraged him to take up sumo and other training arts, which he did, although sporadically.
In 1912, his training began to take a more solid foundation when he moved to Hokkaido and studied aiki-jujutsu under Takeda Sokaku. It was here that the fundamental techniques of aikido existed within the aspect of the training. Ueshiba continued to teach aiki-jujustu into the pre-WWII years.
Over time, Ueshiba moved further from Takeda and he began to make changes in the art. The names even transformed from aiki-jujustsu, then Ueshiba-ryu, aiki budo, until finally it was named aikido, "The way of harmonious spirit". It became softer, circular, and blended more with the attack, thus utilizing the energy of the opponent. He also incorporated the concepts of swordsmanship (kenjutsu) within the techniques.
Ueshiba was deeply spiritual and the essence of aikido is bound to Omoto-kyo, a neo-Shinto movement which was concerned with the attainment of utopia during one's life. In order to acheive this, one must extend love and compassion, especially towards those who seek to harm others. The goal of aikido, according to the teachings of Morehei Ueshiba, is by receiving the attack and redirecting it, not only is the receiver unharmed, but also the attacker.
Koichi Tohei is credited for being one of the first students of Morehei Ueshiba to bring aikido to the United states. He was born in Shitaya ward, now Taito, in Tokyo. As a youth, much like Ueshiba, he was sickly and frail, which led his father to recommend judo studies. He found new strength and vigor as a result.
A severe bout with pleurisy prohibited him from training for one year. He turned to Zen meditation and misogi exercises for his illness, during some time he was restored to health. Tohei believed he owed his recovery to the cultivation and extension of his ki, his spirit energy.
Tohei abandoned judo and instead found the art of aikido from Morehei Ueshiba, the founder of the art. He trained tirelessly and was given teaching privliges in Okawa and the military police academy. It was then he was drafted into the military during WWII.
After the war, Tohei was sent to Hawaii in 1953 to introduce aikido which was the start of infusion of aikido elsewhere in the United States. He was given the rank of 10th Dan in 1969, a rank rarely acheived, by Ueshiba. Tohei was also chief instructor of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo.
Beginning in 1971, several years after Ueshiba's death, tensions arose between Tohei and the Aikikai due to his intentions of focusing on ki development principles through aikido. Some agreed with his new approach, but was advised against it by senior instructors. He had already created the Ki No Kenkyukai, or Ki Society, practicing outside the umbrella of the Aikikai, and in 1974, officially broke with Hombu dojo.
Koicchi Tlhei has taught some notable students over his career. They include Fumio Toyoda of the AAA, Koretoshi Maruyama of Aikido Yuishinkai International, and Steven Seagal.
Fumio Toyoda was born in 1947 and raised in Tochigi Prefecture in Japan. He began his aikido career under the tutalage of Koichi Tohei at the age of ten. He received his Shodam rank at the age of 17, and after, spent three yeats as a resident student at the Ichikukai Doho in Tokyo. This is also where he began his studies in Zen philosophy and meditation.
Toyoda later enrolled as an uchideshi at Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo. Two years later, in 1974, Koichi Tohei broke with the Aikikai Foundation to start the Ki Society, and Toyoda immediately followed. That same year, he was sent by Tohei to Chicago, in the United States, to spread Aikido to the eastern part of the country.
Eventually, disagreements between he and his teacher Tohei pushed Toyoda to embark upon his own aikido style. In 1984, he formed the Aikido Association of America (AAA) in Chicago. His travels in teaching also helped to form the Aikido Association Intermational (AAI), which has reaffiliated with Hombu Dojo.
In 1997, Toyoda was given inka shomei, the certification of completion of his training in Rinzai Zen, by the late Tenshin Tanouye Roshi of Chozen-ji temple in Honolulu, Hawaii; the dharma name awarded was "Tenzan Gensei". Toyoda was active promoting Zen training in his network of Aikido dojo.
On July 4th, 2001 Toyoda succumbed to a bacterial infection, dying suddenly at the age of 53. His posthumous Buddhist name is "Tenzan Gensho Rokoji".
Andrew M. Sato
Sato Sensei is a Rokudan (6th degree blackbelt) Aikikai, reconcognized by Hombu Dojo in Japan. Sato Sensei began his Aikido training in 1977 under Toyoda Shihan and was former chief instructor for the Aikido Association of America (AAA) and Aikido Association International (AAI).
After Fumio Yoyoda's untimely passing, responsibility and direction was rested upon Sato Sensei, in which he continued to travel extensively to Europe and the United States, passing on the methodology of Toyoda's teachings. He eventually parted ways with the AAA in order to further his own understanding of aikido and founded Aikido World Alliance (AWA) in 2005 as an internationally recognized Aikido organization with dojos in the United States and Puerto Rico with direct affiliation to the Hombu Dojo in Japan.
The AWA is headquartered in Chicago at Kiku Matsu dojo. Sato Sensei continues to tirelessly travel our affiliated dojos every year throughout the United States to train aikidoists. He also travels to teach in Poland, Greece, Slovenia, and Bulgaria.
Dale Eisenberg is the founder and dojo cho of Laguna Hills Aikikai. He was born in 1959 in Orange County, California. Dale was first introduced to aikido at the age of nine and studied for a year. After studying several other martial arts, he became reacquainted and immersed in aikido in 2002.
After years of training and understanding of the priciples of aikido, Dale Einsenberg Sensei received his shodan in 2009 by The Aikikai Foundation from Hombu Dojo. He began his teaching career in 2010 by starting Mission Aikido in Mission Viejo, CA, and later established what is now Laguna Hills Aikikai in 2013. As a youth, Dale was amazed by the beauty and power of aikido. His teachings on the philosophy and techniques of aikido convey this beauty and power to his students of Laguna Hills Aikikai.
Sensei Dale has expanded his dojo to Rancho Santa Margarita, and the Laguna Hills Aikikai has become recognized as one of the foremost aikido learning centers in Orange County.