History Of Yoshinkai Aikido
GOZO SHIODA SOKE-SENSEI
Gozo Shioda was born in Shinjuku, Tokyo, 9 September 1915. His father, Seiichi Shioda, was a prominent paediatrician and medical academic who, having a penchant for the martial arts, had constructed a dojo, known as the Yoshinkan, at his home in Yotsuya, Tokyo. Various teachers were invited to demonstrate and instruct there, and the young Gozo was soon taken with the prowess of the newly emerging Judo. He enthusiastically began to practice, showing the determination and superabundance of energy that were to characterize his entire approach to life. He was naturally talented and made rapid progress, quickly advancing to third dan. While in his early teens, he liked nothing so much as to challenge police judo teachers to test his technique and push himself to the limit.
A turning point in his life came at the age of seventeen, when his father sent him to Ushigome to watch a class led by Morihei Ueshiba at the Kobukan, Ueshiba’s dojo. Ueshiba’s school was then somewhat exclusive. It was said to offer a powerful martial art to those who could provide suitable guarantors of good character, and stand the disciplined atmosphere.
On his initial visit, watching Ueshiba throw his opponents about so easily and without any apparent effort, Shioda felt sure he was witnessing a fraud, but was invited to try his judo skills against Ueshiba to see for himself. On launching an attack he found himself flying through the air, hitting the ground head first, without understanding what had happened. He was immediately convinced that this was the real thing, and the very next day, the 24th May 1932, joined the Kobukan Dojo and commenced his Aikido career as an Uchi-deshi or “resident disciple.”
Shioda trained with Morihei Ueshiba until 1941, when he also graduated from Takushoku University; at the end of that year he married Nobuko. He spent the war in an administrative support capacity in China, Taiwan, Celebes and Borneo, eventually returning to Japan in May 1946. After a brief period at Iwama, (Ueshiba’s country residence, dojo and farm, to revive his strength after wartime privations), he returned to Tokyo and worked for the Nihon Kokan Steel Company. His involvement with the company led to an invitation to teach Aikido to its employees commencing in 1952.
In 1954, the ban on the practice of martial arts, which had been imposed by the MacArthur government, was lifted. The Nippon Sogo Budo Yaitai, of Life Extension Association, sponsored the first post-war demonstration of Martial Arts. In front of an audience of fifteen thousand spectators, Shioda was awarded the grand prize for the best performance. He also attracted the attention of a number of prominent businessmen who proposed that he establish his own dojo. In this way the Yoshinkan, named after his father’s dojo, and with its first location in Yoyogi Hachiman, was born.
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