Jul
28

If he looked at you suddenly, you were frozen! Interview with Michio Hikitsuchi Sensei, Aikido 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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Jul
28

Complex, high-level 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. 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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Jul
26

Shocked and humbled… Just received this morning!

prostrate-bow

“Thank you for being here for us, and for shouldering
the immense burden of the entire history of aikido!”

This morning I received this most incredible email! I was shocked and humbled and share it with you now:

“Dear Stan,

As always, I am grateful beyond description for your unwavering efforts to make in-depth knowledge of aikido available to all of us worldwide!

Although certain things are only possible to learn by being an uchi-deshi, this also has the effort of anchoring one’s perspective solidly in one place. Through your work spanning decades, we all have access to the knowledge of many uchi-deshi, putting us in a truly unique position of being able to add and compare multiple perspectives.

Your fearless integrity also in the face of politically established “truths” is a priceless gift to all of us, and in my humble opinion we aikidoka around the globe must recognize the truly remarkable efforts of disseminating aikido teachings worldwide, performed by four outstanding individuals, each in his own irreplaceable way:

Saito Sensei, Tohei Sensei, Kisshomaru Doshu – and yourself!!

Thank you for being here for us, and for shouldering the immense burden of the entire history of aikido!!

Best wishes,

C.S. “…

Jul
25

Founder not part of the discussion… “Understanding our ‘obsession’ with O-Sensei,” by Stanley Pranin

In recent years, we often present aikido techniques the way they were taught by Founder Morihei Ueshiba and contrast them with later practices that have become the norm in modern schools of the art. Some readers have drawn the conclusion that our intent is to fix Morihei’s method of doing this or that technique as an absolute standard, and that any deviation from this form is incorrect and therefore to be summarily rejected…

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Jul
25

High-level, sophisticated Aikido! “True Aikido happens in an instant!”

Welcome and thanks for joining us as we continue to explore the aikido of Michio Hikitsuchi, 10th dan, through his “Essential Teachings of Aikido” course.

In today’s video clip, Hikitsuchi Sensei states that “true Aikido happens in an instant” and that “the issue is decided the moment the opponent thinks to attack”. He illustrates what he means using kotegaeshi, aikido’s wrist-turn throw, as the example. I think it likely that most aikido practitioners will be encountering this concept for the first time. Let’s have a look at Hikitsuchi Sensei’s demonstration.

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Jul
24

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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Jul
24

How You Can Discover the Art’s Deepest Secrets in Michio Hikitsuchi’s “Essential Teachings of Aikido”

Aikido Journal has just released a rare how-to video 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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Jul
23

Envelop uke to prevent his escape! “Morihiro Saito’s Morotedori Kokyuho”

Learn how to neutralize uke’s power with this blending move taught by O-Sensei during every class. “When your partner stands in right hanmi and grabs your left hand, move your left foot to your partner’s right foot and turn your hips to change from left to right hanmi. Do this movement with the feeling of dropping your shoulder, elbows, and hips slightly. Turn to a position beside your partner, looking in the same direction. This is basic for all kokyuho exercises. The spacing, or maai, between you and your partner will be wrong if you look at him…

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Jul
23

Shinken shobu… training in dead ernest: Michio Hikitsuchi’s “Essential Teachings of Aikido” Online Course in 38 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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Jul
22

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.

Thanks to Sakura Mai for finding these two photos and noticing their similarity.

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Jul
22

Speed transcending time and space… Michio Hikitsuchi’s “Essential Teachings of Aikido” Online Course in 38 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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Jul
21

O-Sensei verbatim… Michio Hikitsuchi: “Aikido’s controversial 10th dan from Shingu!”

Michio Hikitsuchi (1923 – 2004) was one of the closest disciples of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. He started his training under Ueshiba before the war as a teenager, and later built the Shingu Kumano Juku Dojo at the Founder’s behest in 1953. Hikitsuchi Sensei continued as the chief instructor of the Shingu Dojo for 50 years until his passing in 2004. He became a controversial figure as the recipient of an unofficial 10th dan awarded verbally in 1969 by Morihei Ueshiba. There were those who doubted its authenticity since the ranking was not processed through normal organizational channels. However, no one doubted his status as one of the leading aikido masters of the postwar era…

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