The Aikido Association International (AAI) is the international arm of the Aikido Association of America and has affiliated dojo in over ten nations. AAI was founded by Shihan Fumio Toyoda and offers the same types of services internationally as AAA does nationally. Services include instruction, school recognition, rank verification by standardized tests, seminar workshops and other support to Aikido instructors and practitioners worldwide.
The goal of AAI is to lift Aikido training internationally to its highest possible level and to pass Aikido on to future generations through the development of quality, professional instruction. AAI is now headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Shihan Toyoda founded AAI in 1986 and brought over 40 years of Aikido training experience to AAI and its programs.
AAI provides a variety of services to its members, in an ongoing effort to promote quality Aikido and Aikido instruction worldwide. These services are described below.
The AAI provides international recognition and accreditation to its dojo and members. It also provides its instructors with training and certification through Instructors Seminars. AAA has established promotion test requirements and certifies kyu and dan ranks. Dan certificate are issued by Aikido World HQ.Learn more...
AAI provides international recognition and accreditation of Aikido dojo and their satellites. It provides guidance on establishing and maintaining a dojo, whether university club to professionally-run, full-time dojo. Member dojo are listed free of charge on the internationally-accessed AAA web site.
A full dojo offers an Aikido program that meets consistently at least three times per week, and has been in existence at least three years. Instruction is by shidoin and fukushidoin. An Aikido club offers an Aikido program that meets consistently at least three times per week, and has existed at least one year. Instruction again is by shidoin and fukushidoin.
Legitimacy of instructors and quality of instruction are always emphasized in AAI. To this end, the organization has requirements for several levels of instructor certification, and provides national recognition of this certification. Instructor training seminars are also offered annually in Chicago, Illinois, and the Western Region of the USA.
Instructor levels include shihan (master instructor),shihandai (assistant shihan), sensei (teacher), shidoin (instructor), fukushidoin (assistant instructor), and jyoshu (assistant). Certification level depends on guidelines set forth in AAI policy.
International recognition of status as an Aikido practitioner is one of the services provided to individual members by AAI. Membership entitles the student to an AAI membership card or yudansha booklet, in which records of the students test and certification dates, annual dues payments, and camp and seminar attendance is recorded.
Rank Testing, Promotion, and Yudansha Certification
AAI has established standardized requirements for kyu rank promotion tests for adults and children, and for black belt tests. The organization provides certification for successful kyu-rank promotions; dan certificates are issued by Aikido World Headquarters.
The local test committees, or Shinsa iin kai, are composed of Aikido instructors ranked sandan (third degree black belt) and above, who are elected from among the collective group of Aikido black belts present at a promotion test. The head of the Shinsa iin kai is shibucho of the area in which the test is taking place, and reports directly to the AAI Teaching Committee.
The AAI provides a full spectrum of instruction from traditional aikido to modern applications and expressions of the art. These also range from Daily Instruction, Local Seminars, and Regional Camps to Uchideshi Training and Professional Training Programs.Learn more...
Daily, quality instruction at an introductory or ongoing level is one of the foundations of AAI. AAI instructors teach six-week introductory courses designed for those who have never done martial arts before, or who have trained in other martial arts but are looking for a change. At the ongoing level, students can participate in a variety of classes, from introductory to beginner’s to mixed rank to advanced. Special classes are offered at AAI Headquarters for yudansha (black belts) and for dedicated students (uchideshi and kenshusei). Classes are designed for children, youths, or adults, and may also be run outside the dojo at, for instance, a community center, workplace, local high school or college. For more information on daily training opportunities in your area, contact the nearest AAI dojo.
To further training of Aikidoka (Aikido students) through standardized instruction and intensive, focused training, the AAI offers seminars at a variety of levels and on a variety of subjects including beginning and advanced techniques for both empty-hand and traditional weapons, tactical applications, breathe work, and therapeutic bodywork. Seminar instructors include shihan (master instructor), shihan-dai (assistant shihan), and AAI Teaching Committee members.
National and Regional Camps
The AAI Training Camps are large regional gatherings of Aikido practitioners for training, black belt tests, and personal exchange. Held in different parts of the world, the AAI Camps are major opportunities for practitioners to network and improve themselves through intensive Aikido practice and when possible, through participating in on-site lodging and meals.
Consistent quality professional instruction is necessary for the long-term growth of Aikido arts. AAI offers and organized method of instruction, documented in an instructor’s manual, and promulgated through instructors’ seminars and the certification of instructor levels. AAI’s instructional program, instituted by President and Chief Instructor Shihan Fumio Toyoda, is promulgated under the guidance of Aikido Doshu M. Ueshiba’s teaching methodology, and the philosophy of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. AAI offers its instructors’ seminars once a year in Chicago, USA, as well as at various other times and locations.
Professional Instructor Training Programs
AAI believes that professional, full-time Aikido instructors are the means by which the art will be successfully transmitted to future generations. For this reason, the Association has instituted a professional instructor training program with unique opportunities for learning teaching methodology as well as strategies for establishing and operating professional schools in today’s world. The Professional Instructor Training Program requires completion of three years as Uchideshi (live-in trainee), followed by several years of additional training working under AAI. During this time, responsibility for several satellite dojo may be given. Finally, permission to open and operate a full-time dojo under one’s own management will be given.
Uchideshi Training Programs
As mentioned above, Uchideshi are full-time, live-in trainees. Their commitment is to training 24 hours a day. The minimum term for uchideshi training is one-year, with a a three-year term being the maximum and considered the completion of the program. Prospective candidates for Uchideshi training must be recommended by their instructors.
Kenshusei Training Programs
The Kenshusei program is an intensive training program for those students who wish to deepen their training experience, but are unable to commit to the full-time schedule of the Uchideshi. Kenshusei attend special weekly training sessions with T. Toyoda Sensei, and also take responsibility for the organization of various projects and special events.
COMMUNICATION AND EDUCATION
AAI seeks to promote communication among dojo and their members and to spread education, philosophical, and academic standards in Aikido. AAI offers to the general public education and public awareness about Aikido.Learn more...
Cultural Trips and Training Tours
Opportunities to expand one’s awareness and experience, and to train in different parts of the country or with different Aikidoka, exist through AAI-sponsored cultural trips and training tours. From outdoor camping/ training retreats, to visits to Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Japan, AAI sponsors a variety of educational and cultural visits.
AAI publishes a periodic newsletter, Aikido World, to promote communication among dojo and their members and to spread education and philosophical and academic standards in Aikido. In addition, Aikido World contains AAI Camp News which informs readers about information about AAI National and Regional Camps, the philosophy behind this type of event, reports and photos from previous events, and information on upcoming events.
AAI offers public demonstration to educate the general public about Aikido and about the spirit of Shugyo and transcendence of life and death that Aikido embodies.
Public and Private Workshops
To further to training of Aikidoka though standardized instruction and intensive training, AAI offers seminars at a variety of levels and on a variety of subject including beginning and advanced taijutsu (body techniques), weapons, breathing and meditation, and therapeutic bodywork.
Items for sale by AAI include T-Shirts, caps, gear bags, weapons bags, red oak and white oak training weapons (bokken, jo, tanto, suburi bokken), manuals, and video. Visit the AAI Supply page for more information, photographs, or order form.
Video and Books
AAI is developing a new series of educational and instructional Aikido video tapes. Several tapes from Toyoda Shihan’s seminars are currently available. AAI also offers two training manuals, the AAI Student Manual, and the AAI Instructor Manual. Please see AAI Supply.
The AAI wishes to aid the dojo in the organization beyond the standard recognition and instructional hurdles a dojocho may encounter. The organization understands the work involved and challenges dojocho face and wants to be able to provide guidance and support in areas including disaster relief, financial support, instructional and training workshops.Learn more...
Disaster Relief and Financial Support
During times of crisis, the AAI has helped dojo navigate through difficult waters. The AAI also help advocate for dojo and bring attention of their causes to the Aikido International Foundation (AIF).
Instructional Support and Training Workshops
The AAI helps support those dojo that are geographically isolated with instructional support to both its members and dojocho with workshops from AAI Teaching Committee Members and senior instructors.