Hawaii AikiKai Legacy
Aikido in Hawaii

The history of Aikido in Hawaii starts with the Hawaii Nishikai Health Organization that was founded in Japan by Dr. Katsuzo Nishi. This organization included the following key members: Dr. Norito Fujioka, Dr. Harry I.Kurisaki and Mr. Noriyasu Kagesa who were instrumental to the advent of Aikido in the Hawaiian Islands. In February of 1953, the Hawaii Nishikai Health Organization arranged for Koichi Tohei Sensei to participate in a demonstration of Japanese Budo. This was held at the Kawananakoa Intermediate School’s auditorium. Tohei Sensei’s demonstration of this unique art of self-defense mesmerized those fortunate enough to attend and soon many prominent practitioners of other Japanese Budo joined Hawaii Nishikai Health members as dedicated students of Aikido. As a member of the Hawaii Nishikai Health Organization and a practitioner of Aikido, Mr. Noriyasu Kagesa graciously offered the use of his Shinonome Rainbow Garden Teahouse for the group’s first practices. The facility was one of humble beginnings without matted floors or changing rooms. Students were unified in their purpose: training purely for physical well-being. Such beginnings established for the first Aikido dojo outside of Japan.

  • Photo Courtesy of Mitsuo Kimura

As Aikido continued to grow in Hawaii, Norito Fujioka, Noriyasu Kagesa, Shigeru Tanabe, Michio Nakamura, Yukiso Yamamoto, Yosuke Ando and Kazuto Sugimoto requested and secured on October 23, 1957 from the Territory of Hawaii a Charter of Incorporation for the Hawaii Aiki Kai organization. As more dojos were started in Honolulu, across other islands of Hawaii, and in Guam, instructors realized how many practitioners came to the art with strong backgrounds in Judo, Karate, and Kendo. Thus, one of Hawaii Aiki Kai’s functions was to unite and standardize all the Aikido dojos throughout the islands. Another function was to coordinate the promotion of Aikido in Hawaii. Thereby, Hawaii Aiki Kai became the first documented and established non-profit Aikido organization in the United States and the first outside of Aikido World Headquarters, Hombu Dojo in Japan. Dr. Norito Fujioka was elected the inaugural president of the Hawaii Aiki Kai organization. Yukiso Yamamoto

became the first Chief Instructor of Hawaii Aiki Kai. After incorporation, Hawaii Aiki Kai Hawaii Aiki Kai
Headquarters Ground continued to grow, attracted new members and expanded its reach across Hawaii. Breaking Ceremony, 1960.
In 1959, Hawaii Aiki Kai held its first statewide Instructor’s Seminar conducted and coordinated in Honolulu. It was chaired by Honolulu
Aiki Dojo President Dr. Yorio Wakatake. Instructor’s and their representatives came from the following islands to participate: Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai, and Guam. The event was a huge success and created an increasing hunger for the knowledge of Aikido and for fellowship amongst its members. It also created a thirst for Hawaii’s own Aikido headquarters within the ranks of those practicing.

Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), the founder of Aikido, known as O’Sensei, arrived at Honolulu International Airport on February 27, 1961 for a seven-week visit. O’Sensei was accompanied by his students Koichi Tohei and Nobuyoshi Tamura. He blessed the new organizational headquarters building. A Dojo Completion Dinner at Shinonome Rainbow Garden Teahouse and a Japanese New Year’s Party followed this ceremony. On March 11, 1961, O’Sensei gave a “Demonstration of Aikido” at the McKinley High School auditorium. The auditorium was filled to capacity. The 78-year old, 125-pound, 5 foot 1 inch O’Sensei filled the auditorium with the
indomitable strength, power, and force of his spirit. Towards the end of his stay, on April 9, 1961, Dr. Wakatake held a Luau Picnic at his beach home in
Punaluu in honor of O’Sensei and his delegates. O’Sensei’s visit concluded on April 11, 1961.

  • Photo Courtesy of Mitsuo Kimura

Kisshomaru Ueshiba (1921-1999), son of O’Sensei, visited Hawaii in 1963 for an Aikido demonstration that also marked the 10th anniversary since Aikido was introduced to Hawaii.

In February of 1967, Sadao Yoshioka was sent to Hombu Dojo to study under O’Sensei for a two-month period in order to strengthen the bond between Hombu Dojo and Hawaii Aiki Kai. During his stay at Hombu Dojo Yoshioka
Sensei represented Hawaii Aiki Kai at the Jijinsai Ground Breaking Ceremony O’Sensei arrives iin Hawaii, 1961. of the new Aikido World Headquarters, Hombu Dojo building.

On April 26, 1969 at age 86, O’Sensei passed away in Tokyo. Head Priest of Hawaii Kotohira Jinja Shrine officiated at a memorial ceremony at the Hawaii Aiki Kai Headquarters. An Aikido demonstration was held to honor O’Sensei’s memory. Upon O’Sensei’s passing, his son Kisshomaru Ueshiba assumed the position as the Nidai Doshu of Aikikai Aikido World Headquarters.

Hawaii Aiki Kai Chief Instructor Yukiso Yamamoto appointed instructors to various regions in Hawaii where there was an increase in interest in Aikido. This expansion of Aikido dojos in Hawaii eased the financial burden incurred
by the building project. When Chief Instructor Yamamoto retired in 1970, the Hawaii Aiki Kai Board of Directors appointed Sadao Yoshioka as the 2nd Chief Instructor of Hawaii Aiki Kai.

In June of 1975, under the leadership of Chief Instructor Yoshioka, Hawaii Aiki Kai toured Japan for the first time. The tour gave Hawaii Aiki Kai the opportunity to study Japanese culture, visit historical sites, and train at Hombu Dojo.

In 1976, the United States Aikido Federation was established. They modeled this organization on Hawaii Aiki Kai. Dr. Yorio Wakatake as President of Hawaii Aiki Kai was also elected as the USAF President. At this time, the Hawaii Aiki Kai Chief Instructor, Yoshioka, assumed the Shihan responsibilities for the USAF Hawaii Region.

In 1977, Moriteru Ueshiba, grandson of O’Sensei, visited Hawaii for the first time commemorating the 20th anniversary of Hawaii Aiki Kai.

In December of 1977, Honolulu Aiki Dojo files with the State of Hawaii to change the name of their organization to Honolulu Aiki Kai.

In August of 1978, Hawaii Aiki Kai hosted the Second International Aikido Federation Congress in Hawaii. Aikidoka from around the world participated in this prestigious event.

In 1979, Chief Instructor Sadao Yoshioka resigned and returned to the Nuuanu YMCA Dojos as their Head Instructor. Head Instructor of Honolulu Aiki Kai, Robert Aoyagi became Acting Hawaii Aiki Kai Chief Instructor. This was an interim appointment until the Hawaii Aiki Kai Board of Directors appointed a replacement.

In 1980, Hawaii Aiki Kai President, Masaji Yamashita, appointed the Head Instructor of Pearl City Aikido Club, Donald Moriyama, as the 3rd Chief Instructor of Hawaii Aiki Kai.

O-Sensei Ueshiba 1957
Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba (1 st Doshu)
Second Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba
Posthumous Shihan
Richard Hirao, Shinhan
Robert Kubo, Shinhan