To answer the question "what type of aikido do you teach?" the direct answer is that our aikido comes from the Koichi Tohei lineage. Koichi Tohei started his aikido study in the 1950's under the founder, Morehei Ueshiba, and was considered one of his most talented students. Tohei was a primary influence to bringing aikido to the United States, through Hawaii originally.
There is quite a bit of history on Tohei you can find on the web, but he was the only person who was promoted to 10th dan by the founder himself. Upon the founder's passing, Tohei became the chief instructor of hombu dojo, while Ueshiba's son became doshu (head of the Aikikai organization).
Tohei parted ways a few years later to establish his own style of aikido to keep his teaching style and focus on techniques intact. He did not fundamentally change the techniques of aikido itself, but kept with teaching what he found effective.
Aikido is very much a reflection of the individual practitioner, unlike many martial arts which focus on strict uniformity. Aikido instead focuses on principles which may need to be altered slightly based on the traits and personality of the practitioner.
Other notable instructors in the lineage of the aikido we teach at Spirit Aikido is Roderick Kobayashi, Isao Takahashi, and Bill Sosa.
Each person approaches their martial arts training with a slightly different focus. Aspects of training which these instructors handed down to us are: dedication to practical and useful application of technique, smooth and powerful motion, efficiency of motion, and embracing outside influence from other arts.
A martial art is constantly evolving and growing, just as each of us are. The aikido I teach is also strongly influenced by a variety of other martial arts, including: wrestling, pugilism, pankration and Greek boxing, savate, judo, and ju-jitsu, Muay Thai, and modern combatives.
A martial art must be functional. Everything we bring in must be effective, first and foremost.
In regards to lineage, I certainly respect those who brought us the art we practice. They have provided a foundation upon which to grow.
We must be careful not to look backward too long, because that is not the way we are headed. Aikido was meant to grow.
The techniques of Aikido change constantly; every encounter is unique, and the appropriate response should emerge naturally. Today's techniques will be different tomorrow. Do not get caught up with the form and appearance of a challenge. Aikido has no form - it is the study of the spirit.
- Morehei Ueshiba