Hiroyuki AokiHIROYUKI AOKI, Founder

Hiroyuki Aoki is the founder of Shintaido. Born in Yokohama, Japan, in 1936, he graduated from Chuo University in Tokyo where he received a degree in jurisprudence. In 1963 he received the 5th degree black belt (the highest level) from Master Shigeru Egami, In 1965, he established a special team, Rakutenkai, with a group of martial artists to conduct research and develop a system of physical culture that encompassed the healing arts, creativity and human potential, exuberant life-expression, and profound meditation.

With Rakutenkai, he discovered Tenshingoso and Eiko which later became two of the fundamental forms in Shintaido. In 1990 Aoki Sensei received a degree of Doctor of Letters from the California Graduate School of Theology in recognition of his creation of Shintaido.

Later, Aoki Sensei added Hikari and Wakame to the core movements of Shintaido. He is the author of several works on Shintaido, including Shintaido (The Body is a Message of the Universe) and Total Stick Fighting.

His organization Tenshinkai is the home of his calligraphy work Tenshin-Shohojuku and also of Kenbu Tenshin Ryu, a training system Master Aoki has developed for students who want to study classical Japanese sword movement in a new curriculum.

For many years, Aoki Sensei has supported high school students living in poverty in the Philippines, through the 3H Scholarship Program, a volunteer group he organized with a Father Candido. More than 550 scholars have been given the opportunity to graduate from high school. Tenshinkai also donated five schools in total to three countries in Asia through this program. Recently, Aoki Sensei created a new volunteer group in Japan called “Team Tenshin”, to help people in the disaster-hit Tohoku areas (including people in Fukushima suffering from the nuclear accident).  Finally, Aoki Sensei has opened a new dojo  where all Shintaido and Tenshinkai members practice together. This is the fulfillment of a long-time dream for Aoki Sensei and the practitioners of Shintaido in Japan.

Haruyoshi F. ItoHARUYOSHI F. ITO, Master Instructor

H.F. Ito was born and raised in Hiroshima, Japan. During college at Chuo University Ito studied martial arts and met Hiroyuki Aoki. A small group of idealistic karate practitioners called Rakutenkai, led by Aoki, set out to rediscover the spiritual heart of the martial arts. What emerged was Shintaido. H.F. Ito has practiced and taught Shintaido all over the world for the past 40 years in Japan, Europe, North America and elsewhere. In 2010, Ito founded the Quebec Bojutsu Club (QBC) Doshokai, the latest in his global effort to bring Shintaido to the world.

In 1997 Ito developed an application of Shintaido to support caregivers of people with HIV/AIDS. He has also studied with a Chinese master and become an accomplished teacher of Tai Chi, and is also a practitioner of the Japanese sword art of Iaido.  Among his other accomplishments Ito is a certified scuba diving instructor.

After September 11, 2001, Ito founded the International Taimyo Peace Network – a group of people committed to practicing peace by meditating and praying together in different parts of the world. H.F. Ito has made healing and peace-making his life mission.

MITSURU OKADA, Master InstructorMitsuru Okada

Mitsuru Okada was a member of the Rakutenkai group which developed the basis of Shintaido. He was national technical director for Shintaido in Japan, and then president of the Japanese Shintaido Federation. At the age of retirement, in 2007, he left Japan to teach Shintaido in the Philippines where he lives with his family. He works as an acupuncturist and as a shiatsu practitioner. He holds the highest ranking (five dan) in all three Shintaido curricula.

Michael ThompsonMICHAEL THOMPSON, Master Instructor

Michael Thompson received a B.A. from Hamilton College in 1960, an M.A. from Middlebury College in 1963, and a Ph.D. from the State University of New York, Buffalo in 1969, specializing in French literature.

In the mid-1970s Michael and H.F Ito established the first national Shintaido organization in the United States. In 1981, he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and started a Shintaido group. He remained in Cambridge and taught under the auspices of SNE (Shintaido Northeast). In 1988, he was appointed Head Instructor of Shintaido in America by Aoki-sensei and remained in that role for four years. In 1996 Shintaido of America Publications issued Michael’s book Untying Knots: A Shintaido Chronicle.

Michael became a Shintaido Master Instructor in 2004. Since 2006, Michael Thompson has been Master Instructor in Residence at the Shintaido Farm in Deerfield, Massachusetts.

MASASHI MINAGAWA, Master InstructorMasashi Minagawa

Masashi Minagawa was one of the founding members of Shintaido in Japan. He lives in Bristol, and is the leader of Shintaido in the UK. He has been a core team facilitator with The Naked Voice since 1995. Following the direction of Hiroyuki Aoki, Minagawa has researched and taught this martial art form for 30 years. In addition to his work with British Shintaido, he is the coordinator of the European Shintaido College Technical Committee.

Jim SterlingJAMES R. STERLING, Director of Instruction

General Instructor Jim Sterling has practiced Shintaido since 1976. He is the only General Instructor in the United States and has taught classes in Europe and Japan. He has Sandan ranking in Shintaido Karate and Nidan ranking in Bojutsu. He is a member of the International Shintaido College, Technical Committee (ITC). For many years Jim has been the guiding force of the Pacific Shintaido group in the San Francisco Bay Area. Also, he is one of the founding members of Shintaido Leadership Training (SLT). In his daily life, Jim works as a Manager for Pacific Gas and Electric Company in San Francisco, California.

This post is also available in: French, Japanese

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