What is ‘Traditional Reiki’?

I was reading an article that stated “traditionally, Reiki is…” Now what follows is irrelevant for the moment, what I want to focus on is this idea of “Traditional Reiki.”

Reading articles that talk about “Traditional Reiki” always amuses me. Why? Because when they say “Traditional Reiki,” they are usually referring to the Reiki system that Hawayo Takata taught. What many people now call “Western Reiki.”

Takata-sensei learned Reiki Ryoho from her teacher, Chujiro Hayashi. Hayashi-sensei was a student of Mikao Usui, but he left the Gakkai and went his own way. There is some evidence that suggests he even called it Hayashi Reiki to differentiate it from what Usui taught and the Gakkai still practiced.

So can what Takata-sensei learned truly be considered “Traditional Reiki?” Let’s say it is. Let’s say, since she started the teaching in the western world, that what she taught is “Traditional Reiki” because that is what is “traditionally” taught in the west.


Even her teachings weren’t 100% consistent. A few people have gone around an interviewed all of the Masters trained by Takata-sensei. Guess what? They didn’t learn all the same material. How they were taught the symbols, for one thing, appears to be different.

Another problem we find is that none of them were allowed to take notes. Everybody left the class having to remember everything they were taught. So what you have is 22 different teachers with different personalities and viewpoints applying their own personal filters to the teachings. That means 22 different classes were born out of Takata-sensei’s teachings. And when Takata-sensei passed away and these teachers got together, a grand unified system was NOT established.

So what is “Traditional Reiki?”

“Tradition” has a couple of different meanings, but the most likely one is:

    • the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way

So if we take the definition, we kind of fall down a bit. What Takata-sensei taught is not the same as what Hayashi-sensei taught. And what her students taught is not the same as what she taught.

If we take the teachings in a broad sense, then technically EVERYTHING is “Traditional Reiki:” Japanese Reiki, Western Reiki, Gendai Reiki, Komyo Reiki, Jikiden Reiki, Karuna Reiki, all of them. They all link back to Usui-sensei.

I think what bothers me the most about the phrase “Traditional Reiki” is that I often see people using it to try and establish authority. No one system has authority over any others. What Takata-sensei taught is no more or less valid than what the Gakkai practices.

Now let’s look back at the quote that kicked this all off, “traditionally, Reiki is…” If the author is trying to explain a fact that is common in most Reiki-ho classes, as opposed to establishing authority, then I would suggest the statement be rewritten “typically, Reiki is…”

If the author is trying to establish authority, well then it’s time for me to find something else to read.

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  1. Reply

    I could not agree with you more about Takata. She did not teach what she was taught.
    My website concerns a contemporary Reiki Master who traveled world wide for answers. He was called Ven. Seiji Takamori. You might find my information useful.

      • Randall Hall
      • May 22, 2015

      Thank you for stopping by; I always enjoy talking about Reiki with others. I look forward to visiting your website.

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