Tohei Sensei was born on 20th of January 1920 in Shitaya area of Tokyo. Ever since his childhood he had a fragile health, inherited from his mother who had suffered of pneumonia. He began to practice Zen, Misogi and Judo at his father’s advice, to improve his health.
In 1937, when he was 16, he entered the Keio school of judo, which he had to abandon one year later, when he got sick with pleurisies. The doctors imposed him a drastic treatment and the interdiction to train heavily because it could have put his life in danger. Tohei Sensei began to study intensely religion and oriental philosophy, then deciding to teach what he had read. He devoted his time to Zen and Misogi training (intense breathing exercises during one-two days sessions). After a while, he went back to the doctors, who discovered that the disease was gone.
In 1939 Tohei Sensei began studying Aikido with Sensei Morihei Ueshiba.
Tohei Sensei entered the army soon after graduating Keio University. He was 23 years old at the time. He became a platoon leader in the army and was sent to China for four years. He discovered that if, on the battle field, one's defenses are down for just a moment, this could mean death. Considering this circumstance, he decided to do Ki breathing 200 times a day. By doing Ki breathing on the battle field, he mastered keeping one point.
Sometimes he could not calm his breath even though he did Ki breathing. When he felt like this, he noticed that it was because the enemy was hidden somewhere nearby. As a result of Koichi Tohei's vigilant awareness, not a single member of his platoon was killed or injured during the war.
At his return from Central China, Tohei Sensei continued his Aikido and Misogi studies in Tokyo. He started to spread the Ki principles in Europe and Hawaii and became one of the most important and influential personalities in the Aikido world.
In 1947, Tohei Sensei was initiated in the teachings of Sensei Tempu Nakamura (the first to teach yoga in Japan), who talked to him about the importance of thinking positively and how the mind moves the body. It was the moment when Tohei Sensei realized that this is the universal principle present at the base of all martial arts. He remembered that when he watched O Sensei executing the Aikido movements, it was clear that the Master led his partner’s mind and as a result he led his body.
Between 1953 and 1971 he contributed to the building of Aikido schools on the North-American continent, for which purpose he visited USA more than 15 times.
In 1969, Tohei Sensei received his 10th Dan. In 1971 he set up the Ki and Aikido Society (non-profit organization), the Tokyo main office was established, followed by the Kansai main office in 1976 and the Chubu main office in 1994.
In 1990, the Tochigi Headquarters were established in Ichikai town where Koichi Tohei was born and raised.
On the 19th of May 2011 Tohei Sensei went back to the source