August 11, 2021

Chiba Sensei

Ō Sensei's direct student and Founder of Birankai International

Chiba Sensei
Photo credit: Alchetron

It’s very difficult to say to what extent these things are to be considered budo. But to my way of thinking, there is no doubt that budo is what forms the roots of aikido. The branches and leaves grow out of that. All the other elements—aikido as “an art of living,” as a means to better health, as calisthenics or a physical aesthetic pursuit—all of these stem from a common root, which is budo. That they do so is perfectly fine, but the point is that they’re not the root themselves. O-Sensei always stressed that “Aikido is budo” and “Budo is aikido’s source of power.” If we forget this then aikido will mutate into something else—a so-called “art of living” or something more akin to yoga.

–Chiba Sensei

Chiba Sensei was born in 1940 and began his Aikido training at the age of 18. He successfully petitioned to become an uchideshi or “live-in student” of Master Morihei Ueshiba. For seven years, he trained intensively under the master himself, and his son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba Dōshu.

He arrived in Britain in 1966 with the mission to disseminate Aikido. He founded Britain’s first Aikido organisation the Aikikai of Great Britain (later known as the British Aikido Federation). At first, Chiba Sensei established his headquarters in Sunderland, and then in London, naming his dojo Ten Pu Kan, “the House of the Heavenly Wind”. Chiba Sensei spent ten years promoting the development of Aikido in Britain and many other countries throughout Europe. In 1970 he was promoted to 6th Dan and awarded the title of Shihan — “master instructor” or “teacher of teachers”.

Chiba Sensei returned to Japan in 1976. In 1981, on the invitation of the United States Aikido Federation (USAF), he moved to San Diego, California, to become Chief Instructor of San Diego Aikikai and Chairman of the Teaching Committee of the USAF Western Region. He was promoted to 8th Dan in 1994. In February 1995, a group of Chiba Sensei’s students in the United Kingdom came together to form the British Aikikai (now the British Birankai) with Chiba Sensei as its Technical Director. In 2001, Chiba Sensei created Birankai International to bring together all his students throughout the world under one umbrella, and to ease the financial burdens on Aikido students in poorer parts of the world.Chiba Sensei passed away at his home in San Diego in 2015, after fifty years of training in and teaching Aikido throughout the world.

cr: Ei Mei Kan