Aikido Yuishinkai (合気道唯心会) is a Japanese budo founded by Koretoshi Maruyama Sensei on 9th May 1996. Maruyama Sensei was a student of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, for thirteen years until the founder's death in 1969. He began studying aikido in the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo in 1956. In the early 1970s the Chief Instructor of the Aikikai, Koichi Tohei resigned from the organisation and created the Ki Society, Maryama Sensei left the Aikikai with Tohei Sensei and was appointed the Chief Instructor of the Ki Society by Tohei Sensei. Maruyama Sensei eventually became Tohei Sensei's designated successor and the President of the Ki Society. However in 1991, Maruyama Sensei resigned from the Ki Society and entered a Zen monastery for a period of ten years, while in the monastery Maruyama Sensei founded Aikido Yuishinkai, and in 2001 after leaving the monastery he began teaching aikido again internationally.

Yuishinkai (唯心会) means The Fundamentally Mind Association. Yui (唯) can be translated as, just, simply, or only. Shin (心) can be translated as mind, core, heart, thoughts, intention or spirit, the symbol can also be read as kokoro. The common translation of 心 is mind or heart, but it conveys a much more subtle notion of the core of a person's being and their true nature and intention. Kai (会) means association or club, but can also be translated as society or party. The 会 symbol itself is derived from a pictogram of a communal rice pot used to prepare food at a social gathering. The name Yuishinkai and it's meaning of Fundamentally Mind Association derive from the core teaching of "you are fundamentally mind", that Maruyama Sensei experienced during his time in seclusion in the monastery from 1991-2001.

The Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai’s Philosophy

"Words have a power of their own. The power of the spoken word was recognised in ancient Japan as ‘kotodama’, or word spirit. To speak a word is to encourage it to come true. Your life energy responds to sounds and thoughts, as expressed in the spoken word. When you fill your daily life with positive words and thoughts, your life is filled with the power of Ki. In this way you can keep mentally and physically healthy, and have a positive influence on others as well. Words have real power, and can produce practical results in your life. I have written the following membership motto for members of Aikido Yuishinkai. I encourage you to read them aloud each morning and night to keep your subconscious in a positive state of mind."

The Founder’s Motto

I am mind itself.
If I hold positive thoughts in my mind, good things are likely to happen.
Holding negative thoughts in my mind works against my best interests.
Therefore, even if my body suffers physically, my mind remains optimistic.
Even if I encounter obstacles, my mind is never defeated.
Daily I fill my heart with thoughts of joy, gratitude and hope.
I face each new day with a bright and optimistic spirit,
which I express in word and deed.
I have faith in life, and life responds in kind.

Technical Aspects of Aikido Yuishinkai

Aikido Yuishinkai would be considered an internal or soft art based upon the internal/external dichotomy commonly found in the martial arts world, examples of other internal arts include Tai Chi and Bagua, whereas an external art would be something like Brazillian Ju Jitsu (BJJ) or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Aikido Yuishinkai includes influences from the internal strength/power aspects of Daito-ryu aikijujitsu as passed to Maruyama Sensei via Morihei Ueshiba, and Shinkage-ryu kenjitsu which was also studied by the founder of aikido. Maruyama Sensei also stresses the philosophical and spiritual aspects of the art as he learnt them from his teacher. The art itself is organised in four levels of practice, kotai (固体), juntai (順体), ryutai (流体), and reitai (霊体) and each technique may be practised at each of these levels.

  • Kotai (固体) is the beginner's level, ko (固) means solid or firm and tai (体) means body, this level of practice is often characterised by small precise steps to establish a firm foundation in executing the technique.
  • Juntai (順体) is the level associated with the intermediate student who has established a firm grasp of the basic movementts and is now working towards getting the sequence of them correct, jun (順) means order or sequence.
  • Ryutai (流体) is the level of practice expected as the student moves towards the level of a black belt, ryu (流), means flow in the sense of a current flowing in a stream or river, at this level the techniques should be smooth and flowing.
  • Reitai (霊体) is the level of the advanced student, rei (霊) means soul or spirit and this refers to the level of the student having become such that the techniques become an expression of their innermost self, that all the techniques express clear ki musubi which is the tying together of the ki between your opponent and yourself.

Other technical facets of Aikido Yuishinkai include:

In Yo, which is the Japanese for Yin Yang, this is fundamental to aikido technique, without manifesting In Yo in your techniques your aikido will not express aiki and will likely degenerate to a contest of strength. To get a sense of it's importance to aikido, one of Morihei Ueshiba's poems was:

Manifest yang
In your right hand, 
Balance it with
The yin of your left, 
And guide your partner.

Shinbashira, which means centrepole. An understanding to the central axis of the body and how it interacts with aikido techniques to provide body structure. It is also an understanding of rotation and spirals in aikido movements.

Tanden, an understanding of the centre (hara) in the dynamics of aikido technique is essential, tanden coordinates all movements.

Ki. Aikido Yuishinkai also contains various technical aspects in common with ki aikido on account of it's shared lineage.

Ukemi. The art of receiving technique is essential to proper aikido practice, ukemi is 50% of your aikido training at all times. Morihei Ueshiba described aikido training as being like shinken shobu (literally a fight to the death with real swords), this implies a certain attitude of seriousness when training, each technique ought to be performed with this life or death struggle in mind - this is one of the reasons why aikido has no competition, the loser would be dead or seriously injured. In order to facilitate proper training, uke must make committed and sincere attacks, holding back or resisting serves no purpose in aikido training.

Philosophical aspects of Aikido Yuishinkai - Budo and Tanren

Calligraphy of Tanren drawn by Maruyama Sensei

Calligraphy of Tanren drawn by Maruyama Sensei

Maruyama Sensei stresses the importance of the practice of aikido as a budo - a way to live your life. The Japanese kanji for budo is 武道, where bu (武) is usually translated as war or martial, but the kanji itself is derived from a pictogram of a foot being used to stop a spear indicating that bu means to protect rather than just to fight. Do (道) is usually translated as path or way, but the kanji can also be read as michi, where mi means body and chi means blood. Thus the kanji commonly translated as path contains a subtler meaning that Do is a way to live your life - body and blood - if your body breaks or your blood stops flowing you die. Budo is therefore a way to live your life in a spirit of protection, this distinction is important because it means that aikido is not a sport, there is nothing to be gained from winning a competition, nor is it a hobby that you do in your spare time because you don't stop being you when you run out of spare time. Aikido is budo, which means that it is something that is a part of your every moment, it is a way to be, the challenge of aikido is therefore to practice with a view to becoming the best version of yourself that you can be. 

Tanren can be translated as 'to forge the spirit', but the kanji literally mean forge. The first kanji (鍛) is composed of two parts, the first part means metal the second means step, the second part in fact is identical for the kanji for dan (段) as in shodan, nidan etc - look closely and you'll see it on the right hand side of 鍛, so the first kanji means to beat metal in steps, the second kanji in tanren is 錬 and means to smelt metals. 

Maruyama Sensei teaches that O Sensei saw the whole of aikido as misogi, which is to say ritual purification. Sensei is explicit in saying that we must always take ukemi and not resist our partner as taking ukemi is like a process of death and rebirth. Nage purifies himself by throwing away his impurities (kegare) but those impurities don't just go away and cease to exist, they go back to the earth and are reborn. This is why aikido is an endless dance of death and rebirth, a process of purifying the spirit. This is why aikido is misogi.

Misogi isn't simply an intellectual practice, the founder of aikido used to do it (amongst other places) seated under an ice cold waterfall in the mountains near Iwama. Misogi requires austerity, it requires that there be some challenge to be overcome, the more severe the challenge, the greater the purification. This is why aikido is a martial art and distinct from many other self-improvement methods, the more difficult to deal with the attack offered by uke is, the more effective the misogi, because nage must work harder to purify themselves. They must have spent time forging their spirit to deal with more and more difficult challenges, they must embody tanren, one day, one practice, one step at a time.

Aikido Yuishinkai in the UK

Aikido Yuishinkai UK in Japanese is Eikoku Aikido Yuishinkai and is written as 英国合気道唯心会, where 英国 means UK, 英国 can be read either as Eikoku, or as Igirisu (Igirisu is the Japanese word for England but is usually applied to mean the whole of the UK).

Aikido Yuishinkai UK began in 2004 when Denis Burke Sensei of the Isshinkai discovered that Maruyama Sensei had begun teaching again and invited him to conduct a seminar at his dojo in Andover. Shortly thereafter, several aikido teachers joined the newly formed Aikido Yuishinkai UK as a loose affiliation of individual dojos and aikido associations, overseen by the then Chief Instructor of Aikido Yusihinkai Internatinal - Michael Williams. The slogan commonly used within Aikido Yuishinkai at this time was 'aikido without boundaries' and as a result Aikido Yuishinkai was more of an umbrella organisation at the beginnings of it international establishment.

As time moved on it became clearer that a more traditional model of aikido transmission was the one preferred by Maruyama Sensei, with a clear focus on Aikido Yuishinkai as a traditional budo, this meant that various traditional Japanese methods of transmission and teaching were increasingly emphasised. This move away from Aikido Yuishinkai as an umbrella organisation to a more traditional school of aikido saw many of those who had joined Aikido Yuishinkai UK choose to leave, we wish them well on their new journey and thank them for the opportunities we had to practice with them and learn from them. It is for this reason that you may see reference to Aikido Yuishinkai on the websites of other aikido dojos not now a part of Aikido Yuishinkai. Currently Aikido Yuishinkai UK is led by it's four senior instructors, all of whom are ranked 5th dan in Aikido Yuishinkai.