Gozo Shioda, Vice President of the International Martial Arts Federation, outstanding martial artist, author, teacher and founder of the Yoshinkan School of Aikido, died in Tokyo, on Sunday 17th July 1994 after a protracted illness. He was 78 years old and is survived by his wife Nobuko and three sons, Tetsutaro, Takahisa and Yasuhisa. His autobiography published in 1985 summarized his outlook in its title Aikido Jinsei "Aikido is my life" as Shioda dedicated his life to studying, mastering and transmitting the Aikido he learned from the modern arts founder, Master Morihei Ueshiba.
Gozo Shioda was born in Shinjuku Tokyo in 1915, his father Seiichi Shioda was a prominent pediatrician and medical academic who having a penchant for the martial arts had constructed a dojo known as the Yoshinkan, at his home in Yotsuya, Tokyo. Various teachers were invited to demonstrate and instruct there and the young Gozo Shioda was soon taken with the prowess of the newly emerging Judo .He began enthusiastically began to practice showing the determination and abundance of energy that were to characterize his entire approach to life. He was naturally talented and made rapid progress, quickly advancing to third Dan, while in his teens he liked nothing so much as to challenge police Judo instructors to test himself to the limit. A turning point in his life came at the age of seventeen when his father sent him to watch a class led by Morihei Ueshiba whose dojo the Kobukan was located a couple of miles away at Ushigome.
Ueshiba’s school was then somewhat exclusive and was said to offer a powerful martial art to those who could provide suitable guarantors of good character and withstand the disciplined atmosphere .On his initial visit, watching Ueshiba throw his opponents about so easily and without apparent effort, Shioda felt sure that he was witnessing a fraud, but was invited to try his Judo skills against Ueshiba to see for himself. On launching an attack he found himself flying through the air hitting the ground head first, without understanding what had happened .He was immediately convinced that this was the real thing and the very next day, the 24th May 1932 joined the Kobukan dojo and commenced his Aikido career as an Uchi-Deshi or "resident disciple".
Shioda trained with Morihei Ueshiba until 1941 when he also graduated from Takushoku University and at the end of the year married Nobuko. He spent the war years in an administrative support capacity in China, Taiwan, Celebes and Borneo, eventually returning to Japan in May 1946. After a brief period at Iwama Ueshiba’s country residence, dojo and farm to revive his strength after the wartime deprivations he returned to Tokyo and worked for the Nihon Kokan Steel Company, his involvement with this company lead to an invitation to teach Aikido to its employees commencing in 1952. Following the lifting of the ban on the practice of martial arts which had been imposed by the McArthur government, the Nippon Sogo Budo Yaitai, or Life Extension Association sponsored the first Post-War demonstration of Aikido in 1954, Shioda participated and was awarded the Grand Prize for the best performance in front of an audience of 15000 spectators. He also attracted the attention of a number of prominent businessmen who got together and proposed that he establish his own dojo1, in this way the Yoshinkan named after his father’s dojo and with its first location in Yoyogi Hachiman was born.
Since his early Judo experiences Gozo Shioda maintained frequent contact with police martial arts instructors. During the 1950's he traveled all over Japan, demonstrating the effectiveness of his Aikido to local police forces. This gradually lead to a number of police Aikido courses, culminating in the compulsory Yoshinkan Aikido training of the Tokyo Metropolitan Women’s Police Force and the annual training of an elite group of Kidotai or “ Riot Police” to become instructors at the Yoshinkan Headquarters dojo. The Riot Police Instructors Course is now in its 30th year. In 1990 Gozo Shioda launched another course, this time for Yoshinkan Aikido practitioners from around the world seeking to become instructors. Shioda’s complete mastery of Aikido was confirmed in 1961 when Morihei Ueshiba awarded him the degree of ninth dan for his outstanding contribution to the promotion of Japanese martial arts in general and Aikido in particular was further acknowledged by the honorary award of tenth dan by the International Martial Arts Federation in 1984, along with the title of Meijin "Grand Master"
During the years since it was established Yoshinkan has expanded all over the World. The reputation of Gozo Shioda, described by Black Belt magazine as "Aikido’s Little Giant" attracted a long line of visitors to his dojo eager to observe the diminutive Shioda subdue opponents a third of his age and often more than twice his weight. Members of the Japanese and the British Royal Families observed Shioda demonstrating, as did Robert Kennedy in 1962. The boxer Mike Tyson was also a visitor.
Towards the end of his life Gozo Shioda traveled widely overseas to practically demonstrate his vision of Aikido as a means to promote meaningful interaction between cultures
He was convinced that through the silent language of Aikido all differences between cultures and people would disappear.
1 In according with words of Hanshi Kyoichi Inoue, Gozo Shioda already had rank of 8th dan in Aikido, then he established Yoshinkan.