Aikido & Organisation


Aikido federations

An example from Switzerland
On, Valerio Gianascio, publishes a list of all Aikido dojos in Switzerland with their respective federations. Obviously, there is a lot of them.
Why are there so many different federations in Aikido?
Visiting the websites of the individual dojos you may find the answers.

  1. We follow a specific teacher.
  2. We preserve the tradition of a particular teacher.
  3. We don't want to bind ourselves and practise free Aikido.

The federations

The umbrella organizations are mainly used to maintain a common examinations' programme and a graduation system. As a side effect the local dojos can say that they are affiliated to a very important recognized federation.
If there is one main teacher this person mostly decides everything. When the top teacher has already died, they found usually a committee by the highest dangrades to lead the organisation.
The permeability between the different federations is low. If an Aikidoka changes his place of residence and then finds only dojos of other "styles" in his vicinity, they will surely first explain him what all he is doing wrong.
Organizations who wanted to be recognized by the state have adopted precise rules for the formation and authorization of instructors/teachers and examiners.

The dojos

The different training groups (dojos) are the basis for the practice of Aikido. There are various forms of organisation, for example as a registered association, as a private enterprise or as a course in an adult education centre. The teachers in the local dojo ensure the quality of Aikido by attending seminars at more advanced Aikidoka.


Some organisations like AIKIKAI or the old Ki society award teacher and examiners licences. In the KNKI of Yoshigasaki Sensei this is not the case but there are the so-called Shihan. These are advanced Aikidoka, who not only teach in their own dojo, but are also invited by other dojos to lead seminars or to conduct exams. In the KNKI, Shihan is not a title awarded nor a license.


In 2004, Yoshigasaki Sensei wrote a text explaining his own title DOSHU:
Aikido is a way (DO, 道) and the way should be maintained in aikido practice. The person who keeps the way is called doshu . There are two different meanings of doshu in Japanese. The first means ‘master of the way’ (道主) and the second means ‘keeper of the way’ (道守). The difference is that there can be only one master of the way but many keepers of the way.
The top teacher of any aikido organization should be called doshu - keeper of the way - but actually many aikido organizations do not have doshu. This is because most Japanese teachers actually follow the teachings of somebody else, especially Morihei Ueshiba, even though he is dead. There are also teachers who do not follow a particular teacher but instead follow some established philosophy. They too are not keepers of the way. That is why there are not many doshu in the aikido world.
A teacher is doshu only when he teaches completely independently of any philosophies or other teachers including the dead ones.
DOSHU 道守 Yoshigasaki 2004

For understanding the text, it is helpful to remember why it was written:
Yoshigasaki Sensei wanted to explain why he calls himself doshu - keeper of the way.
However, the statements may also raise some questions.
- Does each Aikido organisation need a master teacher, i.e. a doshu (道守)?
- Are Aikido ombrella organizations necessary at all?
- Shouldn't we no longer follow established pilosophies?
- Should we follow the teaching of a deceased Aikido master?
- Isn't everyone of us a doshu when he has earned his own understanding of the world and propagates this on the tatami?

The Messiah

A problem that we don't have in Aikido.
People desperately want to find a Messiah and follow him.
Brian was chosen by the crowd. But he doesn't think that's so good.
From "The Life of Brian" by Monthy Python, 1979.