Rainy with a Chance of Mudslides... (randomdiversion) wrote in aikido,
Rainy with a Chance of Mudslides...

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aikikai and kokikai

My dojo is aikikai. An internet friend goes to a kokikai dojo.

Has anyone studied both and, if so, can you give a comparison as to how these two approaches differ? (I mean, they must differ otherwise why give them different names...?)
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I've trained in several Kokikai dojos and several Aikikai dojos. The most important point to understand here is that Aikikai and Kokikai are both political organizations within the aikido world. But there's a crucial difference between the two organizations.

The style and approach that one finds in a given dojo depends, obviously, on the individual sensei, and on the sensei's lineage and/or stylistic affiliation - i.e., who did the sensei learn from?

Kokikai is an organization run by Shuji Maruyama Sensei, an extraordinary and somewhat eccentric aikido old-timer. Maruyama Sensei has developed his own fairly distinctive style of aikido, Kokikai-ryu Aikido. All Kokikai dojos teach this specific style. Maruyama refines his style constantly, and tours the world regularly to make sure that Kokikai senseis everywhere are up to speed on his approach to aikido. In terms of aikido politics, Maruyama is a strict isolationist who frowns on any cross-training with other styles. So Kokikai dojos are relatively homogenous in their approach.

On the other hand, Aikikai is a HUGE "umbrella" organization. That is, within Aikikai, there are many different styles of aikido, run by various advanced senseis. So when you hear a dojo is "Aikikai," it actually tells you very little about how aikido is taught in that dojo. There's enormous variation. If you select two Aikikai-affiliated dojos at random and compare their styles, you might find them nearly identical to one another, or vastly different. To know anything about the aikido that's taught in your dojo, we'd have to know more about the dojo's specific lineage.

I can tell you that Kokikai is a "soft" style, with a strong emphasis on relaxation, flow, and natural movement. So if your dojo's approach involves a lot of breakfalls, atemi, and wide stances, then you'd find Kokikai extremely different; whereas if your dojo's approach involves a lot of soft rolls, relaxed and rounded movements, and relatively narrow stances, Kokikai probably won't seem too alien to you.
I'm not sure of our dojo's specific lineage as our dojo-cho seems to have trained at least briefly with several well-known protegés of O'sensei.

Among living 1st-generation teachers, our sensei does seem to have an affinity for Ano-sensei, if that gives any clue as to our style or lineage. I have the impression that we are pretty 'soft' but I don't have much frame of reference to make that judgment.

There's going to be a kokikai conference in San Francisco (uncomfortable yet drivable distance from here) and I'm thinking of going as a spectator, but might consider signing up if they are not too rough and not too crowded.

I've been working around several chronic orthopedic injuries unrelated to Aikido, which has kept my progress glacially slow, and I still don't feel enough in-control of my rolls to train on a thickly-crowded mat. I also still feel rather fragile and thus uncomfortable training with strangers who may throw me harder than I can fall.

(fwiw, the aikido has greatly improved my physical functionality in tasks of daily living that were previously impaired by those injuries, so it has been worth doing for me even though I'm still pretty bad at it.)
I love Anno Sensei's aikido! And it's definitely on the "soft" end of things. As soft as Kokikai, but quite different on a technical level in ways that are almost impossible to describe in writing.

There are things about Maruyama's aikido that are useful and unusual enough to make him well worth watching if you get the chance.

What's your dojo?
Hee! Transpersonal psychology as an interest in your profile.

But, my dojo isn't ITP.

I'd rather be vague and mysterious....XD
Thanks for that answer. I took Aikikai Aikido for many years, but never really knew that there was such wide variation within the school. Our school involved breakfalls and our sensei always said it was a hard style in comparison to the Ki Society dojo in town.

I looked it up--lineage is through Shingu dojo.
Yep, that's Anno Sensei's dojo.