Sep
01

Innovative Founder… An Overview of Aikido History, by Stanley Pranin

It is difficult to appreciate the uniqueness of modern aikido without an understanding of its extraordinary founder, Morihei Ueshiba. This innovative man presents a challenge to historians not simply because he lived in an earlier age very different from our own-he was unusual even for his time and cultural context. His esoteric views were heavily influenced by the doctrines of the Omoto religion and are barely comprehensible to modern Japanese. The challenge faced by foreign aikido devotees who hope to absorb the founder’s philosophy is made even greater by the formidable barrier of the Japanese language. The task would be seemingly hopeless were it not for the aikido techniques themselves, which offer everyone an avenue of approach to the essence of the art, irrespective of language or culture…

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Sep
01

10 Kumijo… Morihiro Saito’s “Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo” Online Course in 20 modules!

In addition to the paired jo forms that accompany the 31-jo kata, Morihiro Saito Sensei assembled 10 kumijo for partner practice and demonstrations. These kumijo were based on partial movements he learned from O-Sensei in Iwama. Here are some examples.
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The kumijo — as all weapon forms — require great caution during practice. The maai or combative distance changes rapidly when 2 partners use a ken and jo which extend their reach. Saito Sensei always emphasized safety in training both when practicing taijutsu or weapons.

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Sep
01

Noma Dojo photos: “Gateway to Modern Aikido”

“This photo collection is the most complete record of Morihei Ueshiba’s prewar art and represents a transition phase between Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu and modern aikido”

In 1936, more than 1,000 technical photos of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba were taken at the private dojo of publishing magnate Seiji Noma.

This collection of rare photos were taken with an expensive Leica camera by Noma’s son Hisashi, one of the top kendo champions of the era.

Morihei’s uke in all of the photos was devoted student Shigemi Yonekawa a martial artist of great talent and stalwart of the Kobukan Dojo of the Founder.

This photo collection is the most complete record of Morihei Ueshiba’s prewar art and represents a transition phase between Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu and modern aikido.

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Aug
31

5 Aiki Ken and Jo Videos by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan

“An Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo Online Course in 20 modules”

The 31-count jo kata left by O-Sensei in Iwama is the basis for aikido’s jo curriculum. The kata gave birth to the jo suburi and the kumijo that that expand upon it. For today’s video, we have selected several kumijo combinations to show you how they are applied to the kata. Saito Sensei devised many possible variations for these kumijo.


Over the years, Saito Sensei constructed an elaborate series of jo exercises and forms based on the movements and kata he learned from O-Sensei. For several decades, he taught this jo and ken curriculum to thousands of students in Iwama and during the course of his world travels.

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Aug
30

Morihiro Saito: Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo Course – 31 Jo Kata

“An Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo Online Course in 20 modules”

Today we continue our look at the Aiki Ken and Jo Course by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan. Saito Sensei will demonstrate the 31-jo kata for you. This was a form taught by O-Sensei in Iwama after the war. The 31 kata includes a wide variety of jo movements designed to illustrate numerous attack and defensive forms.


Everyone who learns the Iwama Aikido curriculum studies the 31-jo kata and the kumijo exercises that go with it. These are paired practices that show the applications of the kata movements with a partner. We’ll look at these kumijo in our next video.

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Aug
29

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Aug
29

Hint… It’s not gentle! Katsuyuki Kondo, Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu Menkyo Kaiden, demonstrates Shihonage

In this video, Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei, Menkyo Kaiden in Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, demonstrates the art’s shihonage technique both with and without the sword. In Daito-ryu, the concept of “Aiki” is very important and Kondo Sensei gives some examples in his demonstration…

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Aug
29

Featuring the Ken Kumitachi… Morihiro Saito’s “Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo” Online Course in 20 modules!

Welcome back to Morihiro Saito Sensei’s “Aiki Ken and Jo” instructional course. Last time, Saito Sensei explained the 7 suburi sword exercises. Today, Sensei will introduce 2 of the 5 kumitachi, the more complex paired sword kata he learned from O-Sensei. You will see how the suburi exercises are applied in these more complex kata.

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As you can see, the 5 kumitachi are quite spectacular when performed at full speed. Saito Sensei demonstrated the Aiki Ken and Jo over the years at the All-Japan Aikido Demonstrations in Tokyo. Among the many historical videos contained in this course, is Sensei’s show-stopping Ken demonstration at the 1989 event. We’ll be sure to show you scenes from that demonstration later in our presentations.

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Aug
28

Bequeathed by the Founder: Morihiro Saito’s “Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo” Online Course in 20 modules!

These are the aikido sword and staff forms taught by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan. Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba spent many years studying these weapons — called the Aiki Ken and Jo — at his country retreat in Iwama during and after World War II.

Morihiro Saito was one of the Founder’s most talented students. Saito lived in Iwama and devoted himself to aikido training at the side of Ueshiba Sensei for over 20 years. Due to the severe conditions existing after the war, the Founder had few students during this period. As fate would have it, the responsibility for preserving, systematizing, and disseminating Morihei Ueshiba’s weapons practices fell to Saito Sensei.

Added to the hundreds of empty-handed techniques of aikido, these ken and jo practices combine to form a cohesive, content-rich curriculum.

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The “Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo Course” consists of 20 video modules available for online viewing and downloading. The first section of the course includes Saito Sensei’s instructional videos that cover all of the fundamental weapons exercises and forms.

The second section consists of instructional and demonstration footage that record the evolution of Saito Sensei’s ken and jo practices over a 30-year period. You will see many clips such as these spanning the years from 1964 through 1993.

It’s fascinating to watch the evolution of these beautiful weapons forms as revealed in this rare footage of Morihiro Saito.

We have a great deal more video of Saito Sensei from this course to share with you in coming days.

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Aug
27

O-Sensei’s weapons legacy: Morihiro Saito’s “Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo” Online Course in 20 modules!

I’m Stanley Pranin and it is my pleasure to announce the launch of our latest online course. This content-rich curriculum presented by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, covers all of the fundamentals of the aiki ken and aiki jo as practiced in Iwama for decades.

The world of aikido is divided on the subject of whether or not weapons practice belongs in the aikido curriculum. The official position of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo is that taijutsu or empty-handed techniques alone constitute the core of the art. This notwithstanding, aikido schools across many different styles have gradually adopted weapons training in some form or another in their training.

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Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba spent many years studying and practicing weapons, mainly the aiki ken and aiki jo. Morihei studied the aiki ken and jo intensively during and after the war at his country residence in Iwama. Due to a series of historical circumstances, Morihiro Saito was the Founder’s main training partner during this period.

It was Saito Sensei who preserved, systematized, and disseminated these weapon forms that the Founder bequeathed. Saito Sensei’s rich curriculum consisting of a cohesive whole of empty-handed and ken and jo techniques attracted a worldwide audience due to his ground-breaking technical books and extensive international travels.

The “Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo Course” consists of 20 video modules available for online viewing and downloading. The first section of the course includes Saito Sensei’s subtitled instructional videos that cover the following material:

  • 7 Ken Suburi
  • Ki Musubi no Tachi
  • 5 Kumitachi – Henka no Tachi
  • 31 Jo Kata
  • 20 Jo Suburi
  • 31 Jo Kumijo
  • 10 Kumijo
  • 13 Jo Awase

The second section comprised of instructional and demonstration footage traces the evolution of Saito Sensei’s ken and jo forms over a 30-year period. You will see rare clips of weapons instruction and demonstrations beginning in 1964 through 1993…

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Aug
26

Yoga, pilates and dance! Garuda Standing Matwork Introduction

This is a wonderful promotional video of the Garuda system that combines elements of yoga, pilates and dance. It should be of particular interest to martial artists as an efficient means of thoroughly warming up the body while promoting flexibility and conditioning…

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Aug
26

O-Sensei ensconced in Iwama… Is O-Sensei Really the Father of Modern Aikido?, by Stanley Pranin

What does all of this mean? It means that the common view of the spread of aikido following the war taking place under the direct tutelage of the Founder is fundamentally in error. Tohei and the present Doshu deserve the lion’s share of the credit, not the Founder. It means further that O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba was not seriously involved in the instruction or administration of aikido in the postwar years…

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