Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei
Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei was born on 20th January 1920 in Tokyo. He graduated in Economics from Keio University. When he was young, he suffered from pleurisy and he was very weak. Determined to strengthen both mind and body, he undertook intensive training in Zen meditation and Misogi breathing methods. At the age of 19 he began the study of Aikido under the founder O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba and ultimately achieved the highest level of 10th Dan. After the war, he studied mind and body unification from Tempu Nakamura Sensei. From 1953, he traveled all around the world to spread Aikido, starting with Hawaii and the USA. He was Chief Instructor of Aikikai Hombu Dojo from 1956 until 1974.
In 1971, he established the Ki Society which focused on spreading of the Ki Principles and in 1974 founded Shinshin Toitsu Aikido (Aikido with Mind and Body Coordinated). Through his teaching efforts he trained many instructors throughout the world. He was also well known for having taught Ki Principles and applications to a number of artists, companies, and athletes, such as baseball players Mr. Tatsuro Hirooka and Mr. Sadaharu Oh. In 2007, he let his son Shinichi Tohei Sensei succeed his teachings. Since then, he retired from the forefront of teaching and watched the development of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido. On 19th May 2011, he passed away at the age of 91. He was also the author of a number of best-selling books such as “Ki in Daily Life”, ” Kiatsu” and several other books.
Kaicho Shinichi Tohei Sensei
Kaicho Shinichi Tohei Sensei was born in Tokyo on 18th August 1973. At the age of 2, he started to learn Shinshin Toitsu Aikido based on the Ki Principles from his father Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei. From 1993 he studied at Tokyo Institute of Technology and majored in Bioscience. In 1997 he became Uchideshi and started learning and training directly under his father. He also started teaching Shinshin Toitsu Aikido at the Keio University official Aikido Club. In 2000 he also became a liberal arts part time teacher at Keio University. In 2002 he completed his Uchideshi training and began teaching overseas. From this point on, Shinichi Tohei Sensei conducts a National Seminar in the United States in such places as Hawaii, Seattle, Las Vegas, Oregon, Colorado, or Washington D.C., where instructors from all over the U.S. and overseas come together to practice.
In 2007 he took over from Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei officially, conducting seminars and workshops at Ki Society H.Q. in Tochigi and teaching all over Japan. He also started conducting seminars at companies, schools, universities and sports organizations, such as the Japan Ladies Softball team in 2008 (they then won the gold medal in the Beijing Olympics), and in 2010 the Los Angeles Dodgers major league baseball team. Since 2010 he is the President of the newly formed Japanese organization “ShinShin Toitsu Aikido Kai”. He is the author of several books on the application of the Ki principles in various areas of life.
Shinichi Suzuki Sensei – Kyudan, Okuden, Lecturer, Examiner
Shinichi Suzuki was born in 1917 in the small Central Maui town of Waikapu, the first in a family of ten children. He attended Lahainaluna Technical High School as a member of the class of 1934. Immediately after graduation from high school, young Suzuki began work as a laborer in the sugar fields with Wailuku Sugar. After about one year, Suzuki took a job with the Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association in soil analysis and field experimental work, where he stayed for six years.
Suzuki loved Judo play and studied for eight years with both Rev. Nishi and Rev. Kawashima of the Wailuku Hongwanji Mission. He exhibited a clear sense of leadership in the community, and when he was offered the opportunity to join the police department, he jumped at it. Through the years, by constantly applying himself, he worked himself up through the ranks from Foot Patrolman to Captain of Detectives in the Criminal Investigation Division, and eventually to Major of Police – Central Command. He retired as a Major, after a distinguished police career, in 1972.
The real contribution Shinichi Suzuki Sensei made to his immediate community and to the world at large, emerged through his tireless dedication to the martial art of Aikido. In 1953, he met a charismatic young Aikido instructor from Japan by the name of Koichi Tohei. Tohei Sensei had been invited to Maui by the Hawaii Nishi Kai organization, to teach Aikido to the Maui Police Department. Sensing great potential in Mr. Suzuki, Tohei Sensei chose him for an intensive month of training during September of 1953. It was during this brief period of time that the Maui Aikido Club was organized, and Tohei Sensei appointed Mr. Suzuki as the Chief Instructor. Thus began, over 55 years ago, an illustrative “second” career for Suzuki Sensei; a period of intense study, personal sacrifice, deep satisfaction, awards and honors, and teaching throughout the globe.
Suzuki Sensei was the very first Aikidoist from Hawaii and the U.S.A. to actually train at the World Headquarters in Japan. In 1959, at the invitation of Tohei Sensei, he spent 3 months at the Tokyo Aikido Headquarters, training with Tohei Sensei, and his teacher, the Founder of Aikido, Master MoriheiUeshiba.
After his retirement from the Maui Police Department in 1972, Suzuki Sensei returned to Japan again, this time for 15 months of training directly under Tohei Sensei. It was during this time that Tohei Sensei appointed him Head of Foreign Affairs for the Aikido-Ki Society, a position he held for 8 years.
In 2008, Koichi Tohei Sensei awarded Suzuki Sensei the rank of Kyudan (9th degree black belt), making him the highest ranking Aikido Instructor in the world, outside of Japan, and one of only three living Kyudans at that time. Of course, through the years, Suzuki Sensei has received many honors, some of which are the following:
- 1962 – At the 2nd State Instructors Seminar held on Maui, he received a commendation from Gov. William Quinn.
- 1963 – Received the first Maui Jay Cees Good Citizen award.
- 1970 – Received the Black Belt Magazine Aikido Instructor Hall of Fame award.
- 1993 – Recieved commendation from Gov. John Waihee and State House of Representatives.
- 1996 – Received “Living Treasure” designation by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii.
- 1997 – Received first Senior “Tradi” award from the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.
- 2004 – Maui Nihon Bunka Award (Lifetime Achievement award) from Maui Japanese cultural Society.
- 2005 JCCH – Japanese Cultural Center for Hawaii lifetime achievement award.
Suzuki Sensei is not only recognized by the people of Hawaii for his many contributions, but by the people of the world. Besides teaching regular seminars in the State of Hawaii, he has traveled extensively, teaching throughout the United States, as well as Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Brazil, New Zealand and Japan.
Shinichi Suzuki Sensei passed away in 2009. Aikido, as it was passed on to us by Suzuki Sensei, is an inspiration in daily life. Senseialways emphasized that he found that many aspiring Aikidoka are merely interested in fancy techniques to impress others and tend to ignore the basics of fundamental training which lay the groundwork for the techniques. He believed in the principle of teaching to others only that which he has experienced and, thus, is a strong proponent of self-discipline. Shinichi Suzuki Sensei was the dynamic guiding light for Maui Ki-Aikido. We are very proud and grateful to have had such a dedicated and selfless human being as our leader.
Christopher Curtis Sensei (Hachidan, Okuden, Lecturer, and Special Examiner)
Head Instructor – Maui Ki Aikido (1996)
Chief Instructor – Hawaii Ki Federation (2000)
Ki Society Advisor – Europe Ki Federation (2004)
Curtis Sensei’s first encounter with Aikido was in 1968, with then student of Koichi Tohei Sensei, Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei, in New York City. After attending a three-year meditation retreat, Sensei began training with his teachers Koichi Tohei Sensei (Japan) and Shinichi Suzuki Sensei (Maui) in 1974. Curtis Sensei served as Suzuki Sensei’s otomo for many years, accompanying him as he traveled to attend and teach seminars in Japan, the United States, South America, and Europe.
Curtis Sensei now teaches regularly at Maui Ki-Aikido and continues to travel and teach Aikido and Ki Principles throughout Hawaii, the United States, and Europe. After 14 years of teaching in Europe, in 2018 the Europe Ki Federation (EUKF) was established, bringing all Ki Society dojos in Europe together as one.
Curtis Sensei has authored the book “Letting Go,” addressing the practice of Ki-Aikido in daily life, “Ki Aikido on Maui – A Training Manual,” which addresses each step of the process of Ki Society training as it is approached at the Maui Shunshinkan Dojo, and “Otomo – A Journey,” which is a semi-autobiographical account of his many years of practice with his teacher on Maui, Shinichi Suzuki Sensei.