Aikido Kenkyukai International (AKI), is an organization of affiliated dojo inspired by the overall vision and unique teaching of Takeda Yoshinobu Shihan, 8th dan. AKI has dojo in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, British Columbia, Canada; and in the USA – California, and Pennsylvania.
AKI dojo are directly linked to Aikikai Honbu Dojo (Aikido World Headquarters) in Tokyo under the auspices of Takeda Sensei, and all gradings are internationally recognised and awarded through the Aikikai Foundation, Japan. The U.S. dojo are under the direction of Lia Suzuki Sensei, 6th dan.
The AKI Approach. In our dojo, keiko (practice) is high energy and fast paced with an emphasis on sensitivity and adaptability to our partner’s movement. Our name: kenkyukai means “study or research group.” The kakejiku or scroll found in an AKI dojo comprises only two kanji (Chinese characters): Ai, meaning harmony, and Ki, meaning spirit. The third character Do (meaning Path or Way, as in Aikido) has been deliberately omitted. This is Takeda Shihan’s way of encouraging us to find our ownDo or Way: to discover and develop the art of aikido for ourselves. This approach is challenging, exciting and inspiring, not to mention great fun!
Ukemi. One of the first things we learn in Aikido is how to “take ukemi.” This is arguably the most important part of our practice. Ukemi comes from the Japanese word ukeru (meaning to receive) and refers to the way in which we receive potentially dangerous joint locks and throws safely through relaxed blending and rolling movements. Students take a lot of ukemi (they are thrown over and over again) during an AKI class! It’s our way to develop suppleness, sensitivity, and to begin to drop purely muscular power.
Ukemi is so important that some students push themselves to stay on the mat after the formal bow-out and ask their sempai/sensei to throw them more. This is called atogeiko. Taking lots of ukemi builds a strong center and a certain “heaviness.” Moreover, this type of training helps us to extend beyond our perceived mental and physical limitations.
Gasshuku. Gasshuku (literally,“coming or lodging together”) is a traditional Japanese custom of spending a weekend together to train. A gasshuku is not the same as a seminar. People train, play, and eat and drink together often in very beautiful surroundings. Each AKI dojo usually holds several such camps each year. The practice is often led by Takeda Shihan or a high ranking AKI instructor.