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Morihei Ueshiba

In most martial arts but specifically in Japanese martial arts great importance is often attached to knowing the lineage of your school and your sensei.  Aikido has a variety of schools and styles. Knowing the lineage of your sensei allows you to understand where your art comes from and the authenticity of the Aikido you are learning.

Sokaku Takeda, taught Daitoryu aikijujutsu (Daito-style aikitechnique) to the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba (O-Sensei or great teacher).

Morihei Ueshiba taught Gozo Shioda, the Soke (founder) of Yoshinkan Aikido. Shioda Soke was an uchi-deshi (live in student) in Ueshiba’s dojo and studied with the founder for 8 years. Gozo Shioda taught Takeno Takafumi Shihan (master). Takeno Shihan was an uchi-deshi (live in student) in Shioda’s Soke’s dojo for 20 years.

Takeno Shihan has taught Paul Stephens and Eva Stauffer since 1995 and awarded their 6th and 4th dans (respectively). Our school follows the teachings of Takeno Sensei and is a branch dojo of Aikido Yamanashi Yoshinkan based in Yamanashi, Japan.

By learning from Paul and Eva you will be learning the highest standard Yoshinkan Aikido in a direct line from the founder of Aikido and the founder of the Yoshinkan style of Aikido reaching back in history to the Daitoryu Aikijujutsu of Sokaku Takeda and the bujutsu of the samurai of medieval Japan.

Paul and Eva are sanctioned by the Hombu dojo to award ranks in Yoshinkan Aikido to their students.  These ranks are widely acknowledged and respected by other schools of Aikido and throughout the martial arts world.


Ranks and syllabus in Yoshinkan 

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Yoshinkan has 10 kyu (ranks) below black belt (Shodan) and 8 grades of black belt.  Kyu ranks start at 10th kyu and go up in reverse order to 1st kyu after which one can test for shodan (first black belt).  Black belt ranks are called “Dan” and go up in ascending order from first to tenth.  Shioda GOZO was awarded 9th dan by Ueshiba and 10th Dan for being the founder of the Yoshinkan style, 8th dan is probably the highest achievable grade outside Japan.

Ranks in Yoshinkan are awarded by testing as part of a formal grading process.  This process tests your skills and ensures that Yoshinkan ranks are a meaningful reflection of skill level.

Yoshinkan Aikido is fairly traditional, everyone up to 3rd Kyu level wears a white belt.  The only coloured belts are black and brown belts.

If you are like the vast majority of people new to Aikido, right about now you are thinking: “how long does it take to get a black belt?”  The short answer is: a long time.  The better answer is that it depends on how often you train and your natural ability – and it will still take a long time.  Learning Aikido takes years and you should expect to train at least twice a week from 4 to 7 years before you are ready to test for shodan.  But the point of Aikido is not getting a black belt,  it is learning Aikido and you can start doing that on your first day.