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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Jul
18

Artistically filmed… Aikido with Hitohiro Saito and Stephanie Yap at Tsukubasan Jinja Budo Enbu 2013

This video features highlights of demonstrations by Hitohiro Saito Sensei and Stephanie Yap Sensei among others that took place at the 2013 Martial Arts Demonstration at the Tsukubasan Shrine near Tsukuba, Japan…

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Jul
18

Part 2 uploaded! Rare seminar taught by action star Steven Seagal at 1990 aikido seminar

We are pleased to present the first two of a series of video clips featuring movie action star Steven Seagal taken at a seminar in San Jose, California in 1990. This seminar took place just at the time of the ascent of his movie career, and as such is a rare event…

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Jul
17

8th dan Aikikai Shihan… The Aikido of Mitsunari Kanai

O-Sensei would throw the uchideshi, (live-in disciples), with very little in the way of explanation and we would grasp what we could of the feeling of the technique while we were flying through the air. We were budo people, so I think that’s the way it should be. Without trying to keep everything very rigid in our minds, like “1 plus 1 is 2”, we learned and progressed on our own by being thrown by the master and feeling his technique…

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