Shioda Aikido - An Overview

6 October 2019

What is Shioda Aikido

In brief, Shioda Aikido is the style of Aikido promoted by Gozo Shioda, one of the foremost students of O'Sensei Morihei Ueshiba. The style is based on the concept of using a clear centerline to generate power and express technique. There is a core of six basic movements that the student uses to develop center power, along with a curriculum of about 300 techniques. The basic pedagogy promotes the teaching of Aikido in a step by step manner with a clear path of progression.

Students generally progress by continued practice of the basics, along with the expression of these basics via the practice of technique. Through step by step instruction and repetition, the student learns to move in a particular way and eventually begin the process of coordinating the body into a single unit.
Shioda Aikido uses the Jo (short staff), Bokken (wooden sword) and Tanto (wooden knife) in practice. However, unlike other forms of Aikido, there is no emphasis on weapon use. Most techniques and training are performed empty handed. Weapons come into play in the areas of learning proper distance and timing when facing an armed opponent, along with the heightened awareness one needs when performing Randori (free style practice) with multiple armed partners. Finally, the Bokken can be used with basic movements as a tool to help further emphasize the centerline and promote unification of the body.

Observing Gozo Shioda

While I have never had any direct contact with Gozo Shioda, there is a fair amount of video on the Internet that one can use as a point of observation. Watching these videos you can see the following:

  1. Shoulders never move - ever
  2. Arm never extends high enough to engage the shoulder
  3. Movement from the waist
  4. Uses waist to redirect and express power.
  5. Use of up/down forces
  6. Vertical posture
  7. Moves Uke then directs all power to the moving point of contact.

Plus there is a lot more we can't see via video.

Video as a Training Tool

Using video as a training tool is difficult because you can't see what is going on inside the teacher. The "magic" just happens and it looks completely fake or collided. Not until you have the chance to have an instructor perform technique upon your person do you realize that there is an awful lot of power that seems to magically come from nowhere.

Watching Gozo Shioda Sensei perform technique, you see people stumble around like they have a house sitting on them or simply start flying through the air. It really is incredible and perplexing at the same time.

This leads to the question. How does one develop these skills? Is it just a matter of repetition and practice? What emphasis do you place on training and how do you determine what that emphasis should be?

The Goal of Training

In essence, Aikido is not about technique, but rather about changing your body and its way of moving so that you can naturally express technique with your movement. This is where most of us fall down at the entry level stage. We are so caught up in doing technique to our partner that we miss the fact that "doing" is not what is really being demonstrated by the teacher.

Aikido is in many ways ironic. If you want more power, use less. Need more speed, slow down; wrapping your mind around this can be daunting. As a student, one must be patient and let the required changes manifest within the body, there is no way to speed up this process: though we can certainly impede it if we practice incorrectly without purpose.
Therefore, the goal of training is to build the body in a specific way to "become" Aikido. As one develops their "Aikido Body" they will then see that as techniques are learned, they are nothing more than codified methods of expressing the Aikido Body. Techniques will work when physical strength is applied, but when joined with the Aikido Body, techniques become so much more powerful and a lot more effortless. In addition, the untrained person has no idea how the practitioner generates that power.
Everyone expresses their Aikido in an individual way, at Grand River Aikido our goal is to develop the Aikido Body that allows one to easily express and manifest technique.

The Purpose of This Series of Posts

Through research, experimentation and training I have become aware of additional tools one can use to help develop the Aikido Body. Over this series of posts I will go into more detail of the exercises used at Grand River Aikido, along with how you can use Yoshinkan basics with certain emphasis to train the Aikido Body.

In general, this blog is aimed at my students. If you do find anything useful please feel free to incorporate it into your own martial arts practice or disregard as you require.

There are many practitioners of other martial arts that use various methods to achieve a body that expresses technique and these methods are varied and defined in many ways, so much so, that one can't rely on a term carrying the same meaning. In these posts I will do my best to minimize the use of the lingo of martial arts to make things as clear as possible. However, I will make some references to the Japanese names of the Shioda Aikido techniques as this can't be completely avoided.
Finally, please keep in mind that we are all students and the learning process never ends. If you wish to comment on the posts, please be respectful and if you wish to share information, a video or link is very helpful.

The Next Post

In the next post I will look at the basic stance of Shioda Aikido. Kamae

Thanks for reading.

Darke Sensei