|Born||February 5, 1940|
Tochigi Prefecture, Japan
|Died||June 5, 2015 (aged 75)|
San Diego, California
|Native name||千葉 和雄 Chiba Kazuo|
|Style||Aikido, Judo, Karate|
|Teacher(s)||Morihei Ueshiba, Kisshomaru Ueshiba|
Kazuo Chiba (千葉和雄 also T.K. Chiba; February 5, 1940 – June 5, 2015) was a Japanese Aikido teacher and founder of Birankai International. He served for seven years as uchideshi at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo before being dispatched abroad to help develop Aikido internationally. He held an 8th dan in Aikido, issued by Aikikai world headquarters in Tokyo, Japan and was active in Aikido for over 50 years.
Kazuo Chiba was born February 5, 1940 near Tokyo, Japan. At 14 years of age, he began serious Judo training at the International Judo Academy, and also began the study of Shotokan karate at age 16. In 1958, after coming across a photo of Morihei Ueshiba in a book, he decided to dedicate himself solely to Aikido and set out to apply as an uchideshi at the main school in Tokyo. Though not accepting live-in students at the time, after much persistence Chiba was admitted as an uchideshi at the Hombu dojo in Tokyo. Most of the daily training at the Hombu dojo was conducted by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, the son of the Aikido founder; Morihei was frequently away from the dojo giving lectures on Aikido and Oomoto-Kyo during Chiba's stay as uchideshi. For much of his seven-year period as a live-in student, however, Chiba Sensei travelled extensively with Morihei Ueshiba as his personal assistant during travels spreading Aikido. By 1960, Chiba had received the rank of 3rd dan and was assigned to Nagoya to establish one of the first branch schools of the Aikikai headquarters, where he served as its full-time instructor. In 1962, he also began teaching at the Hombu Dojo, and within three years had completed his training as uchideshi and earned promotion to 5th Dan.
United Kingdom, Europe and return to Japan
In 1966 he was assigned to Great Britain to form its first national Aikikai organization, the Aikikai of Great Britain. During the ten years Chiba spent in the UK, he also helped to promote Aikido in Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Morocco, Spain and Switzerland. In 1970 he was promoted to 6th Dan and awarded the title Shihan, Master Instructor. In 1975, Chiba returned to Japan to serve as Secretary of the International Department at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. In addition to his duties within the Aikikai after returning to Japan, Chiba also began serious study of Musō Shinden-ryū iaido under Takeshi Mitsuzuka.
Chiba moved to San Diego, California in 1981 on an invitation from the United States Aikido Federation and formed the San Diego Aikikai. Under Chiba’s direction, San Diego Aikikai served as the headquarters for the Western Region of the United States Aikido Federation (later Birankai North America), an organization directly affiliated and recognized by Aikido World Headquarters (Hombu Dojo) in Tokyo, Japan. For the next twenty-seven years Chiba continued to work diligently to promote aikido worldwide by teaching numerous seminars and by creating a rigorous teacher training program for his own students. In 2008, after 50 years in Aikido, Chiba retired from active teaching.
In an effort to unite all of his students around the world, Chiba founded Birankai International in January, 2000. This multinational organization was founded to strengthen the connections between Chiba’s students worldwide, and is recognized by Aikido world headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. It includes organizations in the United Kingdom, France, Austria, Greece, Poland, Canada, United States, Chile and many other places worldwide.