Why go to Japan? “Is ‘Stealing’ Really the Best Policy?” by Stanley Pranin

Morihiro Saito was an exception to this rule. That was one of the main reasons I choose to move to Iwama and study with him. He would clearly explain what he was doing and demonstrate the correct execution of techniques so that students could make quick progress. Moreover, he wrote many books and left a wealth of videos where he introduces his technical system in very clear terms…

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Continuous connection! Seishiro Endo, 8th dan, at the 48th All-Japan Aikido Demonstration (2010)

This video features a demonstration by 8th dan Seishiro Endo Sensei of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Here he displays his soft approach to aikido and extreme sensitivity. This video clip offers a good opportunity to study his advanced approach to the art based on nearly 50 years of experience…

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Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu Takumakai… “Techniques a Wonder of Human Ingenuity!”

An excellent documentary in Japanese on Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu Takumakai, the largest branch of the various descendants of Sokaku Takeda’s art, studied by Morihei Ueshiba beginning in 1915. The complex old-style jujutsu techniques comprising the curriculum are a wonder of human ingenuity!…

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Don’t become a victim! “Killer Shihonage: “Escaping serious injury or even death!” by Stanley Pranin

Practitioners who are less advanced may be overwhelmed by the pain caused and lack the skills to escape injury to the wrist, elbow or shoulder. In some cases, promising aikido careers have been ended as the victims have been left with chronic pain and loss of function in the injured areas…

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Why did O-Sensei go to Shingu so often? Who is Michio Hikitsuchi, 10th dan?

“In those days, O-Sensei had an amazing body. He looked like an old style Japanese partition screen, wider than it is tall. He was 53 years old, weighed about 200 pounds, about five feet tall, and very broadly built. His body had strong joints and bones, and he was full of vigor. His gaze was very kind, but his eyes also had a fierce light in them, as though they were glowing. It could be intimidating! If he looked at you suddenly, you were frozen — unable to move…”

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High-level Aikido Techniques! “Michio Hikitsuchi: No one articulates O-Sensei’s message better”

Welcome to our final video on Michio Hikitsuchi Sensei’s “Essential Teachings of Aikido” course in 61 lessons. Today’s video clip features a demonstration of ninindori, or techniques for handling two attackers. These are complex, high-level techniques. Let’s watch Hikitsuchi Sensei’s powerful demonstration now.

Throughout the week we have given you an intimate look at the rich content of Hikitsuchi Sensei’s “Essential Teachings of Aikido” course. I’m not aware of anyone who has succeeded in articulating the profound concepts of O-Sensei contained in these lessons better than Michio Hikitsuchi.

There is little doubt that we are merely scratching the surface of what is possible in our normal way of training. O-Sensei pointed the way for us to much higher levels through his message and movements. Enter through this door and your aikido will reach a different dimension.

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Watch for shomenuchi iriminage! Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba demonstrates at the 30th anniversary of the Aikikai of Italy (1994)

In this video, Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba gives a demonstration on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Aikikai of Italy held in 1994. He executes shomenuchi iriminage in a couple of instances for those wishing to understand the basic Aikikai version of this important technique. This event took place toward the end of his life, but Kisshomaru Sensei’s techniques are well represented here…

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Faithful to O-Sensei’s teachings… “How You Can Discover the Art’s Deepest Secrets in Michio Hikitsuchi’s Essential Teachings of Aikido!”

Aikido Journal has released a collection of rare how-to videos by one of Founder Morihei Ueshiba’s most brilliant students: Michio Hikitsuchi, 10th dan. In this online course, Hikitsuchi Sensei elucidates the essential principles of Aikido that should be part of your current training.

Here is a glimpse of some of the many key concepts explained by Hikitsuchi Sensei in this course. Do you understand these principles and are you applying them in your aikido practice?

1. Sincerity of attack. In your role as uke, do you attack with full intention and sincerity? Aikido relies on both parties bringing a pure energy to practice.

2. Inryoku. Attractive power is what checks uke’s will to attack. It is what instantaneously stops the ki of uke when he thinks to attack.

3. Seizing the initiative. One must control uke from the very outset of the encounter. To wait for a person to attack is to become conscious of him as an adversary. We lead to transcend being the attacker or the defender.

4. Katsuhayabi. Speed independent of space and time. In Aikido, the issue is decided at the instant of the encounter. It is decided at the instant uke and nage come together. Uke thinks to attack, but he himself is struck.

5. Shinken shobu. Action in dead ernest. You must put everything you have into your aikido as if it your life were at stake. Otherwise your true heart will never manifest itself.

6. Masakatsu – Agatsu. True Victory, Victory over Self. The true aim of aikido is not victory over an opponent, but purifying and attaining victory over oneself.

7. Shugyo. Ascetic discipline. The practice of aikido is a discipline for polishing one’s character and living life in harmony with divine nature.

8. Takemusu Aiki. Aiki giving birth to martial techniques. An expression of his ideal of the highest level of aikido where techniques perfectly suited to the immediate circumstances surge forth spontaneously.

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Shinken shobu… training in dead earnest: Michio Hikitsuchi’s “Essential Teachings of Aikido” Online Course in 61 lessons

Thanks for joining us as we continue our look at the aikido of Michio Hikitsuchi Sensei, 10th dan. Today’s focus is on the all important concept of “Shinken shobu”, acting in dead earnest, something indispensable in aikido, the martial arts, and life. Think how often it is that we find ourselves training in a light, playful mood, oblivous to the outside world. Of course, we should enjoy our practice, but neither should it be a casual endeavor.

The techniques, tactics, and attitudes that we develop through our aikido training are for the purpose of navigating life with all its unexpected turns and challenges. At times we need to draw upon a heightened awareness, a determined resolve, and high-level martial skills. So, how do we develop these abilities? Shinken shobu describes this mindset. Listen to what Michio Hikitsuchi Sensei has to say about this topic.

Perhaps you can see the importance of these ideas to our aikido journey. What Hikitsuchi Sensei is talking about here reflects the vision of the Founder O-Sensei. This is how Morihei Ueshiba viewed aikido and its potential for enriching our lives.

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Haruo Matsuoka Sensei’s Aikido Journey: Part 1

Haruo Matsuoka Sensei

Haruo Matsuoka Sensei

“Haruo Matsuoka Sensei reminisces about his early Aikido
career and training under Steven Seagal Sensei”

This is part one of a multi-part interview with Haruo Matsuoka Sensei. Over the course of an evening, Sensei was gracious enough to share the stories of his aikido journey in great detail.

Haruo Matsuoka Sensei: When I was probably six years old, I saw a master named Seigo Yamaguchi, I’ll never forget. I was a child. My father took me, and I saw aikido for the first time in my life, and wow, that’s it. It made a very strong impression on me as a child.

Josh Gold: And your father he was familiar with aikido at the time, right?

Yes. My father met O-Sensei and studied macrobiotics under its founder, George Ohsawa. My father became a disciple of George Ohsawa right after World War II. One of Mr. Ohsawa’s good friends was Morihei Ueshiba (O-Sensei).

Oh really?

Yes. That’s how my father met Ueshiba Morihei. He was introduced by George Ohsawa, and then my father immediately went to practice. Even though my father was a disciple of Ohsawa, Ohsawa Sensei sent him to O-Sensei’s place to study aikido. Unfortunately, my father was only able to study for a short time.

 Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei (1924 - 1996)

Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei (1924 – 1996)

So you saw Yamaguchi Sensei’s demo when you were younger, but didn’t start training until you were in high school. Correct?

Exactly. There was no dojo in my town so I didn’t have an option to train. However, as I became a high school student, I had more freedom. I could take the train and go to different cities. I found a dojo that my father’s friends used to go to. That place ended up being Ten Shin Dojo, actually.

You’ve mentioned before that the dojo wasn’t in the best area at that time…

Right. Juso was not a good neighborhood at the time, but now it’s much better. During the Japan trip in May 2014, Craig Dunn and I went to the old neighborhood, and everything has changed.

And so the first dojo you went to was Ten Shin Dojo?

Actually it was in the same building, but it wasn’t called Ten Shin Dojo at the time. About a year after I started training, Seagal Sensei moved from Tokyo, and took over as chief instructor.

So I actually didn’t know this before, but there was another chief instructor at the dojo when you started right? And then all of a sudden he left?

Yes, he left.

And then there was nobody teaching?


And you kept showing up to take a class and no one…

No one was there. And where was his staff? The building was there, the dojo was there, but nobody was there. I was a high school student, and just kept going. That’s why I was looking for another dojo, and I found Abe Sensei’s dojo by coincidence, in Suita. But I couldn’t see Abe Sensei when I went there. If I could have met Abe Sensei, I probably would have joined. I met one of the instructors there, and he asked me, “Where do you live?” I told him I live in Toyonaka city. He told me “Oh that’s very far away, you shouldn’t come here. Let me introduce you to another dojo that is near your home.” I said, okay. That’s why I didn’t join Abe Sensei’s dojo. But if I had, I probably wouldn’t be here right now. So life always has meaning you know.

After no one showed up at the dojo for months, I finally stopped going. Then I saw a TV quiz show and they showed three or four foreigners (Americans) and asked “Who’s teaching Aikido at a dojo in Osaka?” It was Seagal Sensei, and they showed the dojo building on TV. I recognized it – that was my dojo! Haha. So the next day …

You went back…

Yes. And I met Seagal Sensei, he asked me how old I was. I told him 17 years old. That was our first conversation, and this is how I started. Re-started actually.

Steven Seagal Sensei

Steven Seagal Sensei at the Juso Dojo in Osaka, Japan

And how old was he at that time do you think?

Very young. I was 17, so I guess he was in his late 20’s.

And what was his aikido like?

I was inspired very much. And immediately I was glad that I didn’t go to any other dojo. His style was so attractive to me as a teenager, so I immediately re-joined on that day.

And were there many students there at that time?

Yes. Many people rejoined after the dojo reopened. At the same time, many foreigners who lived in Osaka began to join, so the dojo was really international. It was a bit unusual. There were people from Europe, the Middle East, America, and other places. They started joining every day. It became a community of foreigners helping each other in Osaka.

And this was about 1976?

Yes, 1976 is when I joined.

And didn’t you say you first met Abe Sensei through Seagal Sensei?

To Be Continued: In part two of the interview, Sensei recalls his first meeting with Seiseki Abe Sensei (10th dan and O-Sensei’s calligraphy teacher) and talks about his shodan test.

This interview originally appeared on the Ikazucho Dojo website and is reproduced here with the kind permission of Josh Gold.


Decidedly martial… O-Sensei’s prewar and postwar iriminage!

Consider these two photos of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei executing iriminage. The first is from O-Sensei’s 1938 “Budo” book, while the second viirtually identical one was taken in the early 1960s. Considered in this sense, this early iriminage is decidedly modern. People don’t realize that “Budo” already contains some of the trademark techniques that we associate with O-Sensei’s postwar aikido of the Iwama years.

Notice that uke has no control over his body since his balance has been broken, and therefore doesn’t have the option of taking a high fall out of this technique. This is very different compared to the “high fall” ending commonly showed today in aikido demonstrations. O-Sensei’s approach is decidedly “martial” whereas today’s version is mainly for demonstrations and to impress an audience.

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Speed transcending time and space… Michio Hikitsuchi’s “Essential Teachings of Aikido” Online Course in 61 lessons

Hi, I’m Stanley Pranin. Thanks for joining us as we continue our exploration of the aikido of Michio Hikitsuchi Sensei, 10th dan. These video clips we have selected from Hikitsuchi Sensei’s “Essential Teachings of Aikido” stress an extremely important principle of aikido.

I’m referring to nage, as the initiator, exerting complete control over the encounter with an opponent. Nage never lets uke gain the initiative. Uke can never land an attack. The exchange is over in a flash. This concept of speed transcending time and space, which O-Sensei referred to as “katsuhayabi”, is mostly absent from today’s aikido. Yet it is a cherished principle of the Founder that should never be forgotten. Let’s watch Hikitsuchi Sensei’s demonstration now.

We are very happy that this wonderful video documentary of Michio Hikitsuchi Sensei has found its way into the Aikido Journal archives. By offering this “Essential Teachings of Aikido” Course to the aikido public, we are able to focus attention on the theory and practice of aikido as conceived by its Founder. Michio Hikitsuchi was a life-long advocate of the teachings and philosophy of O-Sensei and we look to him for a better understanding of the Founder’s genial art.

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