Sensei Shuji Maruyama is Kokikai-Ryu Aikido’s Founder and President. He founded the Kokikai Federation to disseminate his training method and its benefits to the world.
Our purpose is to realize our most natural, correct and strongest state through the study of Kokikai self defence technique and the four Kokikai principles. Within the scope of self-defence training we can discover our strongest state. Using this method we understand the simple truth that when we use mind and body correctly, internal and natural strength is harnessed in the strongest way (Kokikai Ki power).
Many people hear about Ki and go to their local book store to study about the concept. But we can never understand Ki this way. For example the word “Ki” has over 400 applications and derivatives in the Japanese language alone, not to mention its equivalent “chi” in Chinese and prana in Hindi. Sensei Maruyama never thinks of Ki in this way; rather, he studies how to use the mind and body correctly and naturally, understanding that will result in maximum Ki Power. This directs us to the fundamental Kokikai Training Method: discover the correct state and correct feeling for the human mind and body through Kokikai technique and Ki Testing and realize Kokikai Ki Power. To be correct the Kokikai practitioner must respect and follow natural law. This is best studied through the 4 Kokikai Principles. Make your purpose to develop your own Ki, realize your own full potential, and apply yourself correctly to all things in your life.
Sensei Shuji Maruyama began his study in 1955 under Koichi Tohei Sensei who was at the time the chief instructor of Aikido under Master Ueshiba. Later, Maruyama Sensei apprenticed directly with Ueshiba after receiving an introduction from Tohei.
In 1966, Maruyama Sensei came to the United States at the invitation of the Ohio Judo and Karate Association. Maruyama Sensei was astonished when the Judo students actually challenged and resisted during the application of Aikido technique, because such behavior was unknown in Japan. Sensei Maruyama was also challenged to defend against kicks and jab punches from Karate students. , Maruyama Sensei had never learned how to defend against these types of attacks because they were never practiced in Japan. His inability to respond effectively caused the students to resist him more. In consequence, Maruyama Sensei’s first few years in the United States were very difficult. He began to ask himself why Aikido did not have effective responses to the fighting styles of other countries.
Through the study of Ueshiba’s background and the history of Japanese martial arts he began to understand why Aikido had taken its particular form, as well as how it’s techniques might be adapted to meet the challenges of modern fighting. In the Samurai age, wars were fought by soldiers who wore armour. The presence of armor determined the type of attacks encountered, punching and kicking were rarely employed because those attacks are extremely tiring, and punching or kicking armour is ineffective.
In Japan, the drawing of a sword inside a household was against the law. In this environment unarmed self defense was developed and practiced to provide an acceptable and effective alternative to the use of swords indoors. This is why exponents of Japanese martial traditions devoted so much time to the practice of swari-waza (ground techniques). Although when Aikido was developed the Samurai age was long over, the ideas and traditions from that era persisted and heavily influenced Master Ueshiba. For example, early Aikido classes featured 60% swari-waza and 40% standing techniques.
Ueshiba’s development of Aikido was achieved within the parameters of these Japanese martial traditions. Through a special realization he was able to develop his potential power. The essence of his realization was that he discovered how to use only necessary strength. He understood his natural human ability and how to use that ability correctly and efficiently, and he applied his understanding to develop a system of new techniques that would eventually solidify into the art know as Aikido.
We respect Ueshiba’s ideas and practice methods very much, as well as appreciate his great achievement in the origination of a new method for developing and expressing human potential power through martial training. Our modern situation, however, is different from Ueshiba’s. Maruyama Sensei has caught Ueshiba’s feeling for using only necessary strength, describing it in terms of using the minimum effort necessary to achieve maximum results, but he now applies that feeling to technique responsive to the realities of modern unarmed fighting. Kokikai Aikido practice is characterized by realistic, focused attacks, and fluid responses that employ timing and rhythm to take the opponents balance completely before the application of a throwing technique.
Although he weighs only 59 kilograms Maruyama Sensei has been effortlessly and convincingly throwing 100 kilogram + people for over 20 years. Wherever he travels people say that he is very strong and powerful. Yet he describes his feeling while throwing as unbelievably comfortable and easy, and he is visibly extraordinarily relaxed when he throws. Having proven the correctness of his feeling, his ideas, and his techniques, Sensei Maruyama has organized the Kokikai School of Aikido to promote the practice of his method and to foster the continued development of principles and techniques applicable to daily life in the modern world.