Gozo Shioda, born in Tokyo in 1915, spent his youth studying various martial arts and sports such as kendo, judo and gymnastics. He excelled in these, especially judo, reaching the level of sandan, or third degree black belt in his teens. At the age of eighteen, Shioda visited Kobukan Dojo, founded by Morihei Ueshiba, and was amazed by the skills of O Sensei. So impressed was he that on May 24, 1932, he joined the dojo and devoted himself to the study of aikido. For eight years, Shioda lived at the dojo and trained under Ueshiba Sensei as an uchideshi, or a ”special disciple or apprentice” to the master.
After World War II, Shioda Sensei spent a brief period at the Iwama dojo where he resumed his formal training under O Sensei. In 1954, after the lifting of the ban on martial arts training imposed by General MacArthur, the Nippon Sogo Budo Yaitai (Life Extension Association) sponsored the first post-war martial arts demonstration. Shioda Sensei displayed his exceptional aikido skills in front of an audience of over 15,000 people and was awarded the Grand Prize for best demonstration. Soon after in 1955, he founded his own style of aikido and organization, Aikido Yoshinkai, and established his dojo, Yoshinkan, or “the house of the cultivating spirit.”
Shoda sensei emphasised Shu Chu Ryoku, the concentration of power which leads to dynamic and effective technique. Through his impressive demonstrations the Yoshinkan grew in popularity, but the large numbers of students presented a new challenge to the Yoshinkan teachers. In order to effectively teach large groups of people, basic movements and techniques were outlined. These provided the base on which students can build effective aikido and has become the under pinning factor in defining Yoshinkan Aikido.
Techniques are broken down step by step allowing students to fully understand where the power is transfered from and giving them the tools to build their own effective technique. Shioda sensei strongly believed that aikido is a martial art with a practical side, and stressed that attacks be real. As part of aikido training students must therefore learn both sides of the aikido equation, strong attacks as wellas strong defense with aikido techniques.
In 1961, Gozo Shioda Soke(founder), was awarded the rank of ninth dan by his teacher, Ueshiba Sensei. Then in 1984 the International Martial arts Federation bestowed upon him the honorary award of tenth dan along with the title of Meijin or Grand Master. He is considered one of the pivotal figures in Japanese martial arts of the post war period.
Gozo Shioda Soke passed away in 1994, leaving behind an organization which has expanded all over Japan, the Americas, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. In aikido there are no boundaries of cultures nor peoples.