Apr
22

Eye-popping action! “Katori Shinto Ryu featuring members of the Viet Nam Dojo”

Saito Sensei’s classes were always full and he enjoyed a reputation as perhaps the finest technician teaching at the Hombu Dojo in those days. His explanations were clear and methodical in contrast to most of the other Hombu teachers that simply demonstrated a technique with little or no commentary. He was always smiling and circulating around the dojo giving a lot of personal attention to students. In addition to his superb taijutsu, Saito Sensei also spent the last part of his class teaching the aiki ken and jo, the only teacher to do so when I was there. Sensei would show the basic striking and thrusting movements of the ken and jo and then incorporate them into a series of paired kata. I thought his system of relating taijutsu and weapons was very genial and hoped to have a chance to do more of this kind of training at some future date…

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Apr
22

From Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu to Aikido: “The Noma Dojo photos capture a technical revolution!”

In 1936, an historic event took place that provides a clear snapshot of the techniques of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba at this stage of his career. The Founder, together with his devoted uchideshi Shigemi Yonekawa, were photographed performing hundreds of Aiki Budo techniques, running the gamut from basic to advanced. The Noma photos are full of complex joint-locks and pins and retain many of the characteristics of Daito-ryu aikijujutsu techniques. These images capture the Morihei Ueshiba during a transition phase on his path toward the development of modern aikido…

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Apr
21

The Daito-ryu legacy… “How Sokaku Takeda’s art shaped modern aikido!”

If a friend were to ask you about the origin of aikido techniques, could you answer intelligently? The sad fact is that few practitioners today know that, technically speaking, aikido is based on Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, a Meiji era jujutsu art taught by the famous Sokaku Takeda. The saga of this fascinating historical connection between the two arts is of vital importance to an understanding of modern aikido.

The history of Morihei Ueshiba’s study of Daito-ryu has been carefully documented, and irrevocably leads to an affirmation of the martial roots of aikido. The Daito-ryu curriculum contained hundreds of joint-locks and throwing techniques, many of which have been incorporated in modified form in aikido. Practice was very severe, and the art’s techniques were highly effective, even devastating.

Although modern aikido techniques are descended from Daito-ryu, many styles of aikido today pay little attention to the martial pedigree of the art, and practice what could be better described as an exercise or health system. The fact is that aikido techniques were “defanged” in the postwar era to match the mood of the times.

Many uninformed aikido practitioners have swallowed the story that Founder Morihei Ueshiba studied several traditional martial arts and combined the best of each, inventing his own art called “aikido”. This is an intentional distortion of the facts!

Morihei Ueshiba began his study under Sokaku Takeda in 1915 in Hokkaido. He became a certified teacher of Daito-ryu in 1922, and taught as Takeda’s representative for about 10 years. There is no escaping the fact that Morihei was one of the leading experts of Daito-ryu, and that most of aikido’s techniques have their roots in this old-style jujutsu. It would be ingenuous to deny this well-documented connection.

So how is it that a large segment of the aikido world blissfully continues forward without acknowledging the art’s roots and the relevance of Daito-ryu in aikido training today? Could it be that a concerted effort has been made to obscure the historical link between aikido and its jujutsu ancestry?

If this is the case – and it is! – what would be an intelligent approach to remedy this long-standing situation? Where could serious instructors and practitioners go to fill this gap in their training and knowledge of this crucial subject? The video linked here broaches this subject more in detail and explains how aikido practitioners can explore the martial dimensions of the art through a study of its precursor, Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu…

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Apr
21

Eye-popping action! “Katori Shinto Ryu featuring members of the Viet Nam Dojo”

Saito Sensei’s classes were always full and he enjoyed a reputation as perhaps the finest technician teaching at the Hombu Dojo in those days. His explanations were clear and methodical in contrast to most of the other Hombu teachers that simply demonstrated a technique with little or no commentary. He was always smiling and circulating around the dojo giving a lot of personal attention to students. In addition to his superb taijutsu, Saito Sensei also spent the last part of his class teaching the aiki ken and jo, the only teacher to do so when I was there. Sensei would show the basic striking and thrusting movements of the ken and jo and then incorporate them into a series of paired kata. I thought his system of relating taijutsu and weapons was very genial and hoped to have a chance to do more of this kind of training at some future date…

Click here to watch video

Apr
21

Hiroshi Tada, 9th dan: “Geriatric Genius in Action!”

This is a remarkable video of Hiroshi Tada, one of the last of the postwar generation of Aikikai instructors. Tada Sensei, now aged 84, reveals his highly developed sensitivity, ability to blend, and incredible stamina. What a model for all aikido teachers to emulate! Tada Sensei has always led a moderate lifestyle avoiding the excesses to which many of his generation succumbed. The obvious result is his longevity and vigorous health forged through aikido training as can be seen in this video…

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Apr
18

How Aikido really got its name… Interview with Minoru Hirai by Stanley Pranin

In other words, the term “aikido” was a cover-all term that could include other things as well. Mr. Hisatomi’s idea was to intentionally select a name that would not be opposed by kendo or other martial arts, but rather an inoffensive, comprehensive term to group together all of the yawara schools. In the end, no one opposed this proposal…

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Apr
18

Sophistication in action! Seigo Yamaguchi, 8th dan, at 2nd IAF convention in Honolulu, 1978

We present yet another excellent demonstration by Seigo Yamaguchi, 8th dan, filmed in a rather unusual venue. This performance was given at the Second Convention of the International Aikido Federation in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1978. Many top teachers of the era from the Aikikai Hombu Dojo were on hand…

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Apr
17

Shoji Nishio: The highly complex and sophisticated techniques of Aikido

Aikido represents a major departure from its predecessor arts that focused exclusively on winning or defeating an opponent. It was created as an art to foster moral character. It is natural that the way to present aikido techniques differs greatly from that of other martial arts. It goes without saying that aikido techniques are highly complex and sophisticated…

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Apr
17

Over 350,000 views! Stefan Stenudd on atemi and aikido!

In this video, Stefan Stenudd Sensei of Sweden, demonstrates a number of atemi sequences that can be applied as setups for the execution of aikido techniques. Some interesting training drills are shown…

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Apr
17

Last generation under O-Sensei! Interview with Shizuo Imaizumi (1) by Stanley Pranin and Marc Abrams

Shizuo Imaizumi was among the last generation of students of the Founder Morihei Ueshiba at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo on the 1960s. He later joined Koichi Tohei as a senior instructor for the Ki Society when the latter resigned from the Aikikai. Imaizumi relocated to New York City where he has taught for some 25 years. He is now chief instructor of the Shin Budo Kai, an independent organization he founded…

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Apr
16

Tetsuzan Kuroda: Martial Artist of Impossible Skills!

Tetsuzan Kuroda, the headmaster of the martial legacy of the Kuroda family, is one of the best known and respected of contemporary Japanese koryu practitioners. He is one of Japan’s finest swordsman, a master of a variety of classical weapons, and an adept in the soft-style Kuroda family jujutsu. One quickly runs out of superlatives when attempting to describe the skills of Tetsuzan Kuroda Sensei. Watching Kuroda Sensei draw his sword is a stunning experience. It’s akin to a religious revelation where you humbly thank the Creator for allowing you to witness such a miracle of movement! This video was shot during Aiki Expo 2003…

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Apr
16

The Americans made fun of me! “Interview with Hiroshi Isoyama,” by Stanley Pranin

When I tried to do koshinage on some of the taller men I found that they could just step over me; no matter how I tried the technique, I couldn’t manage to throw them because the height difference meant I couldn’t get my hips into a good position in front of theirs. Then I had the idea to try putting them across my shoulders instead of across my hips, and that’s how I started using those techniques. I wasn’t trying to be rough or flashy, I was just trying to get the techniques to work. Necessity is the mother of invention!…

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