Loss to Aikido
Walter E. Todd, 8th Dan
by H. E. Davey
Walter Todd (1927-1999) - November 26, 1999, the
Shudokan Martial Arts Association
president and founder, Walter Todd, 8th Dan. He was 72 years old, and his wife Eve and two children survive him.
Walter Todd, in early training, with
Photo courtesy of H. E. Davey
Director -- SMAA HQ
While Todd had not operated a dojo for some time, he continued to teach seminars, and he remained actively involved in the Japanese martial
ways until the end of his life. Despite advanced age, and in spite of suffering from injuries and illness for many years, he never reached a point
in his life where he could no longer teach.
Walter Todd's martial arts career spanned over 50 years, and he although he
generally avoided the limelight, he was featured in numerous martial arts
magazines. Todd began training in budo, the traditional martial arts of Japan, in 1945, while stationed in Tokyo with the American
military. He married and lived in Japan off-and-on
throughout the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Todd studied under many illustrious teachers including Kyuzo Mifune,
10th Dan, and Ichiro Abe, 8th Dan, at the Kodokan Judo Institute. Mifune, a legendary figure, was the last living holder of the tenth
dan awarded by Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo. He accepted Walter Todd as his personal student. In 1948, Todd
became the first foreign student of Hironori Otsuka, founder of Wado Ryu karate-do and tenth
dan. Later, in 1954, Todd trained under Isao Obata and other Japanese experts in Shotokan karate-do. Obata
was a direct student of Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan karate and the person
responsible for bringing karate to Japan from Okinawa. Funakoshi is commonly regarded as the "Father of Japanese Karate," and
it was Funakoshi
approved Todd 's black belt certificate, making him the first foreigner
in history to obtain a dan rank in Shotokan karate-do.
After returning to the USA, Todd trained in karate-do under Yoko
Takahashi, a direct disciple of the legendary Kanken Toyama. Toyama, the founder of his own celebrated system of karate, eventually
appointed Walter Todd as Shibu-cho (Branch Director) for the U.S., giving him
complete authority to rank students in Toyama-style karate and direct the
development of karate in America. After Toyama 's death, his son approved Todd
's rank of eighth dan.
Todd later began aikido under two world famous instructors --
Kenji Tomiki, founder of Tomiki aikido, and Koichi Tohei, 10th Dan the only man
to ever receive a judan certificate in aikido directly from the art's originator Ueshiba Morihei
. In fact, Ueshiba personally approved and signed Walter Todd's first and second dan certificates. Todd
later received a sixth dan in aikido from the celebrated Kokusai
Budoin of Tokyo. In June of 1993, the Kokusai Budoin, which was founded in
1952 by leading masters of various forms of budo, issued Todd an
eighth dan in judo. Even in Japan, ranks above fourth dan are difficult to
achieve, and it is extremely rare to find a foreigner ranked sixth dan or
higher. The Kokusai Budoin is one of few groups in history to be authorized
to issue rank certificates by Japan's Imperial Family, it has branches in
dozens of countries, and is known to be rather conservative in nature.
Despite battling back from a near fatal automobile accident several years
ago, and surgery to install two artificial hips, Walter Todd , a rugged, solidly built senior citizen, continued to teach and subdue young
opponents literally one-third his age. His supporters saw him as "a living
testament to the power of perseverance and the vitalizing capacity of authentic budo."
In addition to being a Senior Advisor to the Kokusai Budoin's USA branch,
Todd was the founder of the Shudokan Martial Arts Association. The
public should realize that the SMAA is an association consisting of multiple
martial arts divisions, and as the result Todd left no specific person
as a successor. The SMAA will continue to be lead by the Board of Directors
and Board of Advisors, who were in place before Todd 's passing, and in
accord with Mr. Todd's expressed wishes. These boards presently consist of
Dave Lowry (Japanese kobudo), Wayne Muromoto (iaido and jujutsu), Guy Power
(iaido and batto), Stephen Fabian (jujutsu), Mike Donnelley
(aikido), H. E. Davey (jujutsu), Nick Suino (iaido and judo), and Karl Scott
(aikido and karate-do).
Cards, letters, and other expressions of sympathy will be forwarded to the
family by the SMAA. Individuals who would like to help the Todd family deal
with the cost of funeral expenses and other expenditures can do so by sending
checks or money orders (made out to Mrs. Eve Todd) to:
PO Box 5447
Richmond, CA 94805
Thank you to
H. E. Davey
for the above tribute and photo.
Please note that the owners of photographs illustrated
here have their own respected copyrights. Permission to display and or
use information must be made in writing.
For more information on
Walter Todd and the SMAA, please go to the Shotokan
Martial Arts web site.
deepest condolences to the family of Walter Todd and the Shudokan Martial Arts Association
for their loss.