Founded by Hiroyuki Aoki, an actor, painter, and master of Shotokai karate, Shintaido was born in Yokohama in 1965.
There Mr. Aoki formed “Rakutenkai”, or “Meeting of Optimists.“ This group of approximately 30 people, including some of Japan’s top martial arts instructors and a variety of artists, musicians, actors, and men and women young and old, set out to create a new art — they did not yet know what — from their own ideals and sense of optimism. They practiced together every day and many nights to test their physical limitations and discover what Aoki sensei called “the unknown world which begins at the end of our psychological strength.”
Out of their efforts grew Shintaido, a movement form intended for an international audience. With roots deep in the traditions of sword and karate, Shintaido is designed to express sincerity, peacefulness, and freedom. Its expansive movements and extensive use of voice and touch infuse the rigorous martial arts tradition with creative expression.
As word spread of this new development in the Japanese arts, people from around the world came to study in Japan and took Shintaido back to their home countries. Shintaido was introduced in the U.S. by Haruyoshi F. Ito and Michael Thompson, who in 1976 co-founded Shintaido of America. Because the people who originally developed Shintaido are still very much alive, the Shintaido system itself continues to grow and develop. While the basic curriculum is well established, a group of top instructors (the International Technical Committee) meets regularly to further refine and improve the Shintaido program.
Although Shintaido is a complete art in itself, there are systems within it which students may elect to pursue in addition to the standard curriculum. Shintaido bojutsu (practice with six-foot staff) and Shintaido karate retain a strong connection with the warrior spirit of the martial arts. “Yokikei”, or “nurturing life force” Shintaido, teaches many soft movements, stretches, and partner exercises. Students often become interested in extending Yokikei study into the areas of massage and bodywork.
Shintaido is a unique combination of martial arts and body movement that cultivates the spirit along with the mind and body. It has been called a moving meditation. In Japanese, Shintaido means "new body way." Shintaido's forms exemplify openness and freedom. The movements of Shintaido provide a new way of experiencing our relationship with ourselves, others, nature, and the spiritual world.
Shintaido is also a healing art, and a form of artistic expression. Shintaido attracts people who are interested in change, self development, and re-connecting with their bodies, their community, their spiritual nature.