Rod Kobayashi

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Roderick T. Kobayashi was born in Hawaii and raised in Japan by his grandfather who was a Buddhist priest. From Kobayashi's youth, he was deeply involved in learning the history and philosophy of budo (Japanese martial arts). Kobayashi's first introduction to Aikido was when Master Koichi Tohei arrived in Honolulu in 1953. However Kobayashi's formal training in Aikido did not start until 1957, after his 3 years of military service. His first teachers at the Hawaii Aikikai were Yukiso Yamamoto, Kazuto Sugimoto, and Isao Takahashi. These masters were the first students of Tohei Shihan, the foremost authority on Aikido and Ki in the United States. Each of these masters was unique in his own way, and had a great influence in Kobayashi's understanding of Aikido and Ki.

Kobayashi's training with Master Tohei began in 1961. He trained under Tohei Sensei whenever possible in Japan, Hawaii and the continental U.S. He received his Shodan (1st degree black belt) in 1962, Nidan (2nd degree) in 1965, and Sandan (3rd degree) in 1966. After becoming a full time professional Aikido instructor in the fall of 1968, he was promoted to the rank of Yondan (4th degree). He was also appointed as one of the two non-Japaneese nationals to receive the rating of Hombu Shidoin, instructor of Aikido for the Aikido World Headquarters, Tokyo, Japan. He assumed the responsibilities of the President and Chief Instructor of the Western States Aikido Federation until 1974. He was promoted to the rank of Godan (5th dan) in January, 1972. In September, 1973 Kobayashi was promoted to Rokyudan (6th degree), or master teacher.

As Master Tohei organized the Ki-no-Kenkyukai (Ki Society International) in 1971, Kobayashi was one of the most outspoken supporters of the Ki training program and the applications of the Ki principles in Aikido and daily life. In January, 1973. he was appointed as Koshi (full lecturer) of the Ki-no-Kenkyukai and received the certificate of Okuden (certification of completion of the innermost training in Ki).

In May, 1974, when Master Tohei founded his own system of Aikido, Shishin Toitsu Aikido, Rod Kobayashi began assuming the responsibilities of both the Chief Lectureship of Ki Development and the Chief Instructor of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido of the Ki Society Western USA.

Kobayashi began lecturing for the Physical Education department of the California State University, Fullerton in 1972. His goal was to establish a program at the University which would develop and certify well trained instructors of Aikido and Ki.

Rod Kobayashi has conducted numerous workshops throughout the United States, Israel, Russia, Europe, and Mexico. However, his main contribution was the founding of the Aikido Institute of America in Los Angeles, California. It was established for the purpose of developing instructors of Aikido in the United States. He emphasized the principles of Aikido; the Principal of Oneness which the founder, Master Morihei Ueshiba has professed and the Principles to Unify Mind and Body which, Master Tohei compiled.

The teaching methods at the Institute are designed for developing instructors. The instructors who are trained at the Institute are fully qualified to instruct the principles and the techniques of Aikido. Furthermore, the Institute emphasizes the application of the Aikido principles in daily life. Kobayashi strongly believed that Aikido instruction in the United States should be trained in the United States.

In March, 1981. Rod Kobayashi resigned from the Ki Society International and branched out to establish his own system of Aikido: Seidokan Aikido. Seidokan Aikido emphasizes the balanced practice of principle and techniques. The purpose of the system is to further develop Aikido so that it is better suited for the modern way of life.

The Doshu has accepted Seidokan Aikido as a legitimate system of Aikido. He and Kobayashi Sensei agreed that they shared the same goals and accepted the same fundamental principles of Aikido.

In February. 1989. Rod Kobayashi and his associates organized the Seidokan Institute, Inc., a non-profit California corporation to share the principles of Seidokan Aikido to those who wish to learn them and apply them in their everyday lives without the practice of self-defense arts.

On June 17th, 1995, Kobayashi Sensei passed away, at his home in Downey, California. He is succeeded by Stewart Chan, chief instructor of the Aikido Institute of America.

© Copyright 1995, Seidokan Aikido World Headquarters.

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