Koichi Tohei was born in 1920 and grew up in an upper class
Japanese family, north of Tokyo. He was sickly as a child and
was introduced to Judo and Zen by his father to try to
strengthen his constitution. Later he became involved in misogi
and various forms of Japanese Yoga. These events and training
shaped much of what was to develop in later life.
In 1939, he met O-Sensei and was introduced to the art of
Aikido. He expressed some amazement that despite his Judo
training he was unable to deal with this much older man and
quickly became a serious student of the Art. In 1942,
he was called up to the army and spent time in
action in China. After the war he returned to his role
as uchi-deshi to O-Sensei,
becoming one of the strongest and most influential figures
within the Aikido world. In 1953, he was sent by O-Sensei to Hawaii,
becoming the first
teacher to introduce Aikido to the United States.
Tohei-Sensei rose to the position of Chief Instructor at the
Aikikai Hombu dojo and was the only person awarded 10th Dan by
O-Sensei and issued with a formal scroll of rank.
After O-Sensei's death, Kisshomaru Ueshiba-Sensei became the
second Aikido Doshu, and Tohei-Sensei continued to be the Chief
Instructor for a few years.
In 1971, while still the Chief Instructor of
the Aikikai, Tohei-Sensei founded the Ki no Kenkyukai, to teach
the principles of Ki and Unification of Mind and Body, outside
the Aikido framework. He later resigned as Chief Instructor
and founded the Shin-shin Toitsu Aikikai.