History of Aikido
This is by no means a full account of the history of Aikido, but is simply intended to introduce you to the main figures that have shaped and cultivated our training at Aikido at Hawks Hill.
Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei
(December 14, 1883 - April 26, 1969) Aikido is a true “budo”, or Martial Way, developed in Japan by Morihei Ueshiba, or “O-Sensei” (Great Teacher), as he is called by students of Aikido. O-Sensei was a gifted martial artist whose early mastery of the sword, staff, spear and art of ju-jitsu won him wide acclaim.
It was the essence of “budo” that O-Sensei sought, however, not merely the form. Intense and strong-willed, he continued rigorous physical and spiritual training, progressing to levels of almost superhuman ability. Eventually, out of the quest for mastery, he gained enlightenment and true insight into the nature of the martial artist’s path. These realizations he incorporated into a science that he called “Ai-Ki-Do: The Way of Unity with the Universal Force.” O-Sensei had many disciples, a few of whom had the honor of being uchi-deshi, private students who lived in the Hombu Dojo (Aikido World Headquarters) and spent many years in intensive training under his watchful eye. One such uchi-deshi was T.K. Chiba Shihan.
T.K. Chiba Shihan
(February 5, 1940 – June 5, 2015) T. K. Chiba was born in 1940 in Tokyo, Japan. At 14 years of age, he began serious Judo training at the International Judo Academy. Two years later, he began the study of Shotokan Karate, but still felt that he had not found what he sought in the martial arts. In 1958, he discovered Aikido and began seven years of intensive live-in study as an uchideshi (private student) of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of the art. By 1960, Chiba Sensei had earned the rank of sandan (third-degree black belt) and was dispatched to the city of Nagoya to establish a branch school and to serve as its full-time instructor. In 1962, he was awarded fourth dan rank and began instructing at Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Within three years, during which time he taught at many local universities, he completed his training as uchideshi, and was promoted to fifth dan.
In 1966, Chiba Sensei was invited to the United Kingdom to teach Aikido. He formed the Aikikai of Great Britain, which later became the British Aikido Federation. In 1970, he was awarded the rank of sixth dan and the title of Shihan. Though he left Britain in 1975, he later served as Technical Director of the British Aikikai, a group formed by his original students in the UK. Upon his return to Japan from Britain, he resumed teaching at Aikikai Hombu Dojo, and became Secretary of the International Department of Hombu Dojo. He also began intensive study of Muso Shinden Ryu Iaido under Mitsuzuka Takeshi Sensei during this period.
In 1981, Chiba Sensei accepted an invitation from the United States Aikido Federation (USAF) and moved to San Diego, California, where he established his own school, San Diego Aikikai, and in time took on leadership of the Western Region of the USAF. In January of 2000, Chiba Sensei officially formed Birankai International, an international Aikido community that now includes nine country organizations. In 2001, he founded Birankai North America as a separate organization from the USAF. He held the post of Technical Director of Birankai North America until his retirement in 2010. Chiba Sensei passed away on June 5, 2015.
Brooklyn Aikikai Chief Instructor, Ryūgan R.D. Savoca Shihan
Ryugan Robert D. Savoca Sensei began studying judo and aikido at age 13 in San Diego County. He continued to study aikido at UCLA and then the West Los Angeles Aikido Institute.
Moving to New York, he continued his training at Aikido of Manhattan for a year and a half with Juba Nour Shihan. Afterwards, he apprenticed to T.K. Chiba Shihan, as an uchideshi (live-in student) in San Diego for a year. Moving back to New York, he resumed training with Juba Nour Shihan and then started Brooklyn Aikikai in 2001.
Savoca Sensei holds the rank of rokudan (6th dan), and is a Birankai North America Shihan.