View Full Version : What differences are there between pre-war and post-war aikido?

Brad Hoffner
17th September 2001, 02:37
I know that this has been discussed many times before but what differences are there between pre-war aikido and post-war aikido?

What are some general differences? I know there are differences because of the pretty big differences between Yoshinkan and aikikai aikido!!!

Brad Hoffner

17th September 2001, 02:53

This may be to much info for one post (at least it would be for me). Try reading Aikido Masters Edited by Stanley A. Pranin. you can get a copy at

It has the answers you are looking for.

Hope this helps

Ron Tisdale
17th September 2001, 15:51
Hi Brad,

I think the previous suggestion is an excellent one. Another thing to be aware of is that the Aikikai is *not* a "style", it is an organization that has many instructors under it, some of whom may actually be very "pre-war" themselves (ex: Rinjiro Shirata's students, possibly Nishio Sensei's students, Saito Sensei's organization, etc.).

Even some of Ueshiba Sensei's later students have what some might call a very "yoshinkan look" about them (check out some vids of Chiba Sensei, I think you might see what I mean). Even some of Chiba's students show a strong centerline, powerfull forward focus, and good breath power in their stance and movement, all things that might be associated with the Yoshinkan training methods.

In short, do the suggested reading, and don't look at "styles" and how people classify themselves as much as you look for individual instructors and what you see them do on the mat. That said, I do personally find the most benefit for myself in the yoshinkan training method, but individual tastes and experiences may well vary. I also have exposure to non-yoshinkan instructors, and my aikido is stronger because of it (since my aikido is pretty weak over all, I take anything I can get).

Ron (just my two cents) Tisdale

P Goldsbury
18th September 2001, 10:12
Hullo Brad,

This post is really an expansion of what Jimmy Crow and Ron Tisdale have written.

To get a flavour of what pre-war aikido was like, I think Aikido Masters would be a good start, but also two other books: Budo Renshu (English version Budo Training in Aikido), published in 1933 and Budo, published in 1938. I don't just mean reading them; I mean actually doing the techniques as the books show. In addition there is the famous film of the Founder training in the 1930s. I think if we were to sum the characteristics, we might plausibly say that the provenance from Daito-ryu is more obvious.

Nevertheless, as Ron has stated, aikido (certainly the Aikikai) is as much a matter of people as of styles of practice and so for postwar aikido, you would need to consider, for example, Kisshomaru Ueshiba (though he started training around 1934), Morihiro Saito (1946), Hiroshi Isoyama (1949). I think the main lines of postwar aikido have been drawn by the first two of these teachers. There is also Koichi Tohei, who had a huge influence on postwar Aikikai aikido.

Then there all the other prewar people, like Rinjiro Shirata and Gozo Shioda, Shigenobu Okumura, who continued to train after the war and also helped to shape what we know as 'postwar' aikido. I knew Shirata Sensei and he once told me that a certain technique we were doing was 'prewar'. (This was in 1984.) It was a very direct type of ikkyo with a strong atemi, but this was the only such technique in the entire three-day seminar.

Even if you look at three central figures: Gozo Shioda, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and Morihiro Saito, around whom have arisen three distinct approaches to aikido training, it is not clear to me that prewar / postwar is a particularly good distinction to draw. G. Shioda started aikido in 1932, K. Ueshiba started a few years later, and M. Saito swears by the 1938 "Budo" text as being the closest to what he learned from the Founder in Iwama fro 1946 onwards.

So, I am not sure you can really isolate synchronic features only superficially, so to speak. You know, less blows, more circles, softer armlocks etc. But as soon as you look at the individual teachers mentioned above (better still, talk to them if/when possible) and look at their development, I think these synchronic features (I have borrowed this term from linguistics, by the way; it means looking at the features of a language at a fixed point in time, ignoring the historical development) become less easy to pin down.


Peter Goldsbury,
P A Goldsbury,
Graduate School of Social Sciences,
Hiroshima University

Ron Tisdale
18th September 2001, 14:05
Hi Brad,

You should listen to Dr. Goldsbury, he says what I think in a *much* better fashion, using better examples, and giving a thorough historical treatment to boot. His thoughts are probably clearer too... :)

Ron (thanks Peter) Tisdale