Gozo Shioda Sensei was the founder of Yoshinkan Aikido. Known as Aikido’s “Little Giant,” he is credited for spreading the art during the years after WWII.
He was born in Tokyo in 1915. His father, Seiichi Shioda, was a prominent pediatrician and well known patriot. It was Seiichi who encouraged his son to take up various forms of exercise. As a result, Gozo Shioda practiced Kendo, gymnastics and Judo as a young man. He excelled in Judo and reached the level of third dan by this mid-teens.
A turning point in his life came at age 18, when his father sent him to the Kobukan dojo to study under Morihei Ueshiba Sensei, a man many considered to be invincible. On his very first visit to the Kobukan dojo, Gozo Shioda was invited by Ueshiba Sensei to attack him in any way he liked. The young Shioda was skeptical of the older man’s abilities and launched his attack with full force. Shioda found himself flying through the air. He hit the ground hard and had no idea how Ueshiba had thrown him so easily.
The young Shioda joined the Kobukan dojo immediately and began his Aikido career under the direct supervision of the art’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba Sensei. He eventually spent 8 years as a live-in student and left the Kobukan in 1941 when he had finished his university studies. The advent of the Second World War prevented the practice of Aikido and Shioda Sensei served his country.
After the war, in 1954, Shioda Gozo gave a demonstration of Aikido during the first open public martial arts demonstration. He was awarded the grand prize for best demonstration and within a year of his demonstration, Gozo Shioda was heading his own Aikido dojo — the Yoshinkan.
Gozo Shioda was awarded his 9th dan by Morihei Ueshiba Sensei in 1961. His outstanding contribution to the promotion of Japanese Martial arts in general and Aikido in particular was further acknowledged by the honorary award of 10th dan by the International Martial arts Federation in 1984, along with the title of Meijin or Grand master.
Gozo Shioda passed away in 1994, leaving an organisation which had expanded throughout Japan and all over the world. He was convinced that through the practice of Aikido, the differences between peoples and cultures could disappear, making peace and a harmonious co-existence a reality rather than an ideal.