Doshu Yoshigasaki

* 1951   † 12.02.2021

2021-03-01

Kenjiro Yoshigasaki was born in Kagoshima, a port city on the southern tip of Kyushu, and studied later in Tokyo. There he got to know Aikido by chance. In 1977 he accompanied Koichi Tohei as Otomo and Uke to Europe. He settled in Brussels and taught first Ki and then Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido as part of the Ki no Kenkyukai.

Summer seminar in Empoli 1979

Koichi Tohei and Kenjiro Yoshigasaki, taken from a group photo.
At that time Yoshigasaki Sensei was already 4th Dan and technically absolute top class. He was also fit in terms of condition, he was able to complete all 30 Taigi (precursor of the tsuzukiwaza) one after the other as Uke. Tohei taught in English and was translated into Italian by Maurizio Volpe.
Many participants of the course already had experience in other styles of Aikido and were surprised how many explanations Tohei Sensei could give until one was finally allowed to practice a technique again.

Discussion

Koichi Tohei and Kenjiro Yoshigasaki in a lively discussion during a break behind the sports hall. Apparently Yoshigasaki already had his own ideas here talking with his teacher Tohei. The photo shows Yasuko Taniguchi (2nd from left), Koichi Tohei (3rd from left), Kenjiro Yoshigasaki (5th from left), Mario Peloni (6th from left) and Renata Carlon (7th from left).
When asked, Yoshigasaki Sensei stated at the time that there was no intention to "missionary" Ki-Aikido in Europe.

Seminars across Europe

Until the lockdowns due to COVID in spring 2020, Yoshigasaki Sensei was constantly from Brussels on the road in Europe. On weekends he supervised the dojos from Finland to Sicily and in the summer he gave several weekly seminars such as the seminar in Bosco Gurin (CH). He held his last seminar in October 2020 in Novara, Northern Italy. He taught in English, Italian and French. To some of his students Yoshigasaki awarded the 9th Dan.

First seminar in Haigerloch 1991


After a peparatory seminar with Dagmar Kristkeitz, the Association for Ki, Aikido and Health e.V. succeeded in inviting Yoshigasaki Sensei to Haigerloch in 1991. In the beautiful large hall there was plenty of space for the numerous participants from Haigerloch and other German dojos. Yoshigasaki taught in English and was translated by Irene Hänsler-Opizzo.
A decade later, Yoshigasaki Sensei changed the language of teaching to Italian because of the many participants from Novara and Balerna. In fact, he had also learned German, but hardly spoke it.

All of AIKIDO

From 1999 to 2001, Yoshigasaki Sensei, now 8th Dan the Ki no Kenkyukai of Tohei, filmed the state of Shin Toitsu Aikido techniques at the time and published it on 5 VHS tapes. Later, the original recordings were digitized. They are now also available in very good quality on the Internet.

Books by Yoshigasaki Sensei

In 2002, Yoshigasaki published his book "The inner voyage of a stranger". There he described his view of life, perception, meditation and reality.
In 2015 he published his book "All of Aikido". It contains the verbal descriptions of all the Aikido techniques he taught, illustrated with many photos as well as explanations for Misogi and Kenkodo.

Central concepts of the Aikido by Yoshigasaki Sensei were perception, lines and forms. During the seminars he spoke not only about Aikido, but about life and the world. In doing so, he gave many of his students important food for thought.
At the beginning of the 2000s he separated from Toheis Ki no Kenkyukai and taught his own conception of Aikido. He changed the canon of techniques and the examination program only slightly, but undercut it with more logic (mathematics - according to his words) and a further developed philosophy. He resolved the contradiction between Aikido and self-defense in a first step with the realization that the aikido on the mat is an art and does not copy reality.
While he had taught the teachings of Tohei until about the year 2000, he had studied the techniques he saw at his students for the next twenty years, and improved them towards harmony. Most recently, he worked on a book project that deals with Aikido in real life, i.e. self-protection instead of self-defense, respecting the ethical principles of Aikido. It is very much to be hoped that this project will be completed by those involved so far.
The author of these lines attended many seminars of Yoshigasaki Sensei for more than 40 years and has a high respect for the life achievement of this great Aikido teacher, who always appeared very modest, but which did not prevent him from developing and teaching his very own explanations and ideas of life and aikido. Yoshigasaki's image of reality emerged with the profound background of original Japanese culture, his multilingualism, and his view of European cultures. This image was inevitably non-conformist and exposed the dark sides of European cultures and the failed receptions of Japanese culture in order to achieve improvements. For many of his students, this view has become formative.
For the future, it is to be hoped that the many dojos of the Ki no Kenkyukai International in Europe will find a way to continue to work together fruitily and to further develop the teachings of Doshu Yoshigasaki.

Two songs to say goodbye

雪の降る町 Yuki no furu machi
Music: Yoshinao Nakada 1953. Text: Naoya Uchimura

さくら Sakura Cherry blossom
Music: Old Japanese folk melody. Text: traditional

Video material by Luis Alvarez

Yuki no furu machi

雪の降る町を 雪の降る町を
思い出だけが 通りすぎて行く
雪の降る町を
遠いくにから落ちてくる
この想い出を この想い出を
いつの日にか包まん
あたたかき幸福のほほえみ。

Yuki no furu machi o, yuki no furu machi o,
omoide dake ga toori sugite yuku
yuki no furu machi o.
Tooi kuni kara ochite kuru
kono omoide o, kono omoide o,
itsu no hi ka tsutsuman.
Atatakaki shiawase no hohoemi.

A snowy town, a snowy town.
Only memories pass by.
In a snowy town
fall from far away
Take this memories, this memories.
One day I'm wrapped up
A smile of warm happiness.

さくら さくら Sakura Sakura

さくら さくら 野山も里も
見わたすかぎり
かすみか雲か 朝日ににおう
さくら さくら 花ざかり
さくら さくら やよいの空は
見わたすかぎり
かすみか雲か においぞいずる
いざや いざや 見にゆかん

Sakura sakura noyama mo sato mo
mi watasu kagiri
kasumi ka kumo ka asahi ni niō
sakura sakura hana-zakari
sakura sakura yayoi no sora wa
mi watasu kagiri
kasumi ka kumo ka nioi-zoi zuru
iza ya iza ya mi ni yukan

Special Date

The date 12.02.2021 is a special date. Read forwards or read backwards you get the same result. In the years 2001 to 2092, it is the days of February that have this property.
The first mirror date in the Gregorian calendar and with the writing DD.MM.YYYY was the date 01.01.1010 and the last will be 31.12.2113. Clearly, in other calendars or in other writings, for example the international standard date with the form YYYY-MM-DD, these special dates are different.