Photograph top left: Koichi Tohei - 9 Dan.
Born in January 1920 in Tokyo, Japan. As a child he was weak and sickly and was always under a Doctor's care.
To strengthen himself, he took up Judo at an early age, and continued his practice at Koto University. He had to withdraw from class for a year as he contracted pleurisy, the result of being hit in the chest in practice, and from overexertion.
This was a blessing in disguise, as it proved to be the turning point in his life. Being informed by his doctor not to indulge in severe physical exercise for the rest of his life, he turned to "Zen" and practiced controlled breathing. Two years later, his doctor was amazed to find that even under X-ray, there was no trace of pleurisy.
With renewed confidence, he returned to Judo, but found he was unable to throw opponents that were bigger or stronger than himself. He could not be satisfied with Judo.
Having heard of AIKIDO from a fellow student, he sought out Professor Uyeshiba, who gave him a demonstration in the art. After watching the eighty year old Professor throw students after students with hardly any effort, he thought it was some kind of "frame-up." Sensing this, the Professor invited Mr. Tohei to attack him. After several futile attempts, he was thoroughly convinced that this is what he had been seeking. For many years he was an ardent student of AIKIDO. Then in 1952, at the very young age of thirty-two, he was conferred the 8th rank, then in May 1960 the 9th rank, the highest in AIKIDO.
In 1953-1954, he introduced AIKIDO to Hawaii and remained for a year to teach, returning in 1955-56, and again in 1957-1958. He is at present the chief instructor at the headquarters of AIKIDO in Tokyo, Japan.
Photograph, bottom right: Nobuyoshi Tamura - 5 Dan.
Admitted to Professor Uyeshiba's Dojo on August 5, 1952, and was promoted to the rank of "Sho-Dan" (1st grade black belt), on May 13, 1955.
Being one of the favorites, he is often called on by Professor Uyeshiba to accompany the instructor for demonstrations and instructions in various dojos.
On October 25, 1959, he was promoted to the rank of 5th Dan, his present rank.
Besides being one of the "Hombu" Dojo instructors, he also instructs at seven other dojos within Tokyo, and also is the instructor of the U.S. Navy Special Service Center in Yokohama, Japan.
He is noted among the instructors for his "Shiho-nage", which is his pet throw.
Of all the other top ranking instructors in Japan, Mr. Tamura was given the honor of being selected to accompany Professor Uyeshiba to Hawaii.