Jul
25

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

This video features a beautiful demonstration by Seishiro Endo, 8th dan, at the 2004 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration. Endo Sensei moves with grace while remaining centered and eschews the use of any physical strength while executing techniques. Seishiro Endo was one of the last generation of Aikikai instructors to have received training from Morihei Ueshiba and the senior instructors of the headquarters dojo in Tokyo beginning in the 1960s…

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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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Jul
21

Video demo of Shihonage! Michio Hikitsuchi’s “Essential Teachings of Aikido” Online Course in 38 lessons

Hi, I’m Stanley Pranin. Thanks for joining us again as we continue our presentation of the aikido of Michio Hikitsuchi, 10th dan. Today, we introduce a clip of Hikitsuchi Sensei’s demonstration of shihonage, aikido’s four-direction throw, taken from his online course, the “Essential Teachings of Aikido”.

Hikitsuchi Sensei describes shihonage as a method for dealing with an attack “by several people coming from all directions”. When performing shihonage, Sensei makes a full turn to uke’s shoulder which completely takes his balance. You’ll notice that uke takes a back fall because he is no longer in control of his body. Contrast this with the high falls you often see in demonstrations.

We hope you enjoy this quick look at Michio Hikitsuchi Sensei’s approach to shihonage in this video. We’ll have more of his aikido for you, so please stay tuned!

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Jul
21

Founder’s Wisdom… Michio Hikitsuchi: “I Always Initiate!”

True Aikido happens in an instant! The minute he thinks to strike me, he is led to a place where he himself is struck…

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Jul
21

Direct 10th dan from Founder! Michio Hikitsuchi’s “Essential Teachings of Aikido” Online Course in 38 lessons!

Hi, I’m Stanley Pranin here to tell you about our newest online video course, the “Essential Teachings of Aikido” by Michio Hikitsuchi, 10th dan

We are able to republish this beautifully filmed video footage of a great aikido master in the form of an online study course through an arrangement with Laurin Herr of Pacific Interface, Inc., the architect of the original project.

Michio Hikitsuchi (1923 – 2004) was one of the closest disciples of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Hikitsuchi Sensei hailed from Shingu in Wakayama Prefecture near the birthplace of the Founder in Tanabe. 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..

Hikitsuchi Sensei 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.

Hikitsuchi Sensei is a very important historical figure because of his extensive contact and training with Morihei Ueshiba during the latter’s frequent visits to Shingu. He was also an ordained Shinto priest and had the ability to comprehend Ueshiba’s often arcane manner of speaking. A devoted follower of the Founder, Hikitsuchi was capable of faithfully reproducing the speeches and technical explanations of Ueshiba with uncanny accuracy during his long teaching career in Shingu.

You will see many examples of this in the video lessons presented in the “Essential Teachings of Aikido” course. Hikitsuchi Sensei emphasizes important concepts like perceiving the opponent’s ki and seizing the initiative when executing aikido techniques. The precious content he imparts in these videos accurately reflects the ideas and technical methods used by Morihei Ueshiba. We sincerely hope that this information receives much wider recognition in the aikido community as a result of the availability of this course!

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Jul
18

Body flexibility a must! “Progressive approach to aikido ukemi”

A progressive demonstration of aikido ukemi by Maung Thant of Myanmar Aikido performed inside the Iwama Dojo. Several of the ukemi shown are done in unusual ways not common in aikido dojos. Some of the ukemi would not be practical from aikido techniques but the flexibility and agility acquired from such falling exercises would certainly be beneficial to training…

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