Sep
05

Aikido Training in Las Vegas: “With consistency there can be progress” by Brandon Clapp

This is the sixth of a series of blogs submitted by aikido students of Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin who are currently training in Las Vegas.

I have been thinking about something that Sensei has said several times now during training, that is we are undergoing a reprogramming. I believe this to be absolutely true since this kind of rewiring is critical to the brain’s development of new neural pathways. What I mean is that when we are doing something new for the first time such as Aikido or playing the guitar or any new activity, for that matter, we are clumsy or slow at first. This is because we have not had sufficient time doing the new activities that will allow our brain to create new neural pathways for faster execution of the particular activity. For those who are just starting aikido who feel like this will never happen for them, think about the last time you drove your car. Did you have to think about specific tasks before you performed them? Did you have to actually think about applying the turn signal before switching lanes? I am confident in saying that you most likely did not have to actually think about such things before performing them. Well the same thing will happen in your training if you give it time and vigorous practice.

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Sep
04

Brian Kagen pick: “Iwama city ( 岩間 ) Japan -The home-town of Aikido-”

From YouTube.com

“Countless people in both the east and west study Aikido as result of this man’s hard work and insight into the spiritual and martial. This, you see lots of signs of everywhere in Iwama. I went there to shoot these clips for a really great friend of mine who studies Aikido. (I don’t study the art myself) The trip was a bit of an insight into how much one man can effect the rest of the world in a positive way once he really puts his heart in it.”
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Sep
04

“Ki” by Nev Sagiba

“When anyone decides to physically attack, there is one thing
coming at you: Intention, closely followed by solid mass.”

The word Ki in Japanese language carries many and nuanced connotations. It can refer to mood, ambience, feeling, a tree, attitude, inclination, atmosphere, caring, worry, attraction, consciousness, the way colour or patterns affect the viewer, or the weather and a range of other possibilities, which can be inferred depending on the context of its use.

Such a way of denoting gives rise to a vast range of nuanced meanings arising from the ancient, and more correct, way of thinking in which all things were seen as connected.

For purposes of Budo practice, Ki has more specific connotations and these, whilst several, lead in to only one. Whilst mood may be relevant, ambience may, or may not, depending on the circumstance. Whilst feeling may, a tree, unless it was to form part of your strategy or to hide behind, may not. Atmosphere should not affect the budoka’s frame of mind. If anything, he should be able to penetrate any atmosphere and inject his ki.

Particularly during training, caring is very relevant. Sharp consciousness is essential, so discard ideas of “no-mind.” Sleep in a safe place if you must wallow in unconscious states, but be fully mindful and be safe in the presence of any weaponry.

Unless you’ve grown up practicing certain shamanic or zogo techniques, there is nothing you can do about the weather, except talk about it. And with the increase of global warming such techniques are ceasing to work as well. When someone attacks, their mood may well have some relevance affecting their intention, but the weather and astrological charts, well, perhaps and perhaps not.

Whatever the ambiance, once having made up his mind, an attacker will nevertheless attack. You may get a feeling, that something is not quite right just before the attack. Listen carefully to such feelings and learn to discern. Whether it’s sunny, raining, a storm is up or otherwise, practice to be intensely conscious at all times.
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Sep
03

Recommended reading: “Aikido and Injuries: Special Report” by Fumiaki Shishida

The important article below on the subject of aikido injuries has been selected from the extensive archives of the Online Aikido Journal. We believe this subject to be of such importance that we periodically call your attention to it so that you are aware of some of the training abuses that continue to occur.

The cases contained in the documents in Chapter 1 and other materials and testimonies offered by the individuals in question such as alumni who responded to my requests for data are listed in the table included. I chose to reproduce all information in cases where data was limited and attempted to select information for its instructional value in those cases where space limitations caused me to omit details where the data was ample. I have omitted the names of the victims and universities in consideration of the persons involved. I have assigned numbers to the cases according to the date of occurrence of the accident.

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Sep
03

Brian Kagen pick: “What is ki?” by Mario McKenna

See page 16 of newsletter for article:

“This all didn’t change that much until entered university and came into contact with other budo groups, mostly kendo, judo and aikido. Out of those three I was most struck by the aikidoka. Sitting and talking to them gave me a whole new perspective on budo, what I labeled the “flower-child” mentality. They constantly talked about things that I considered quite esoteric, “harmonizing with your opponent”, “being one with the universe” and of course “ki”. We discussed things and compared ideas, but compared to the aikidoka, I suppose I had a “hammerhead” mentality because I didn’t have much use for those concepts.”

Brian Kagen is an avid web researcher with a particular interest in martial arts. His training background includes both judo and aikido. He has contributed hundreds of article links over the years for AJ readers.

Click here to download the entire PDF article.

Sep
02

New DVD! Morihiro Saito: “Lost Seminars, Part 5!” Two hours of expert instruction by one of Aikido’s greatest teachers!

We have wonderful news for Aikido Journal readers! We have just released a new DVD featuring an Aikido legend, Morihiro Saito Sensei, one of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba’s closest disciples. This exceptional DVD presents never-before-seen footage of Saito Sensei as he appeared in 1991 while teaching a seminar in San Diego, California. Without doubt, this program makes a significant contribution to the steadily growing catalog of techniques of Saito Sensei available on DVD.

With a runtime of 120 minutes, the material covered in this DVD includes the complete series of morotedori kokyuho exercises, numerous ushiro ryotedori and eridori techniques, and—a special treat—the rarely seen ninindori series, advanced techniques against two opponents. Complete English subtitles have been provided to enable viewers to follow in detail Saito Sensei’s instruction.

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Sep
02

“A Low Impact Aikido Program — Aikido for Everyone” by Paul Rest

“I realized that this experience had taught me that I could have a full experience of aikido without the falls and rolls that are so much a part of the art.”

A number of years ago my right ankle broke during a Saturday morning class. It was a clean break that took me off the mat for many months. When I returned to training, I started first with very slow two steps and a few sit falls here and there. There was a titanium pin through my ankle which further limited my movements. I also wore an ankle guard for additional protection. Mostly I trained asking my partner to only break balance with me. After the pin was surgically removed, it took many more months before I was up to speed, rolling and falling as I had done before. During one class a couple of months later, my sensei said I had more mobility and flexibility than I did before my ankle broke. Apparently I had learned something important.

Reflecting on what he said, I realized that this experience had taught me that I could have a full experience of aikido without the falls and rolls that are so much a part of the art. In other words, it forced me to slow down and look at what was and was not possible on the mat. This all came together one winter’s night when I was asked to substitute teach for a sensei that was ill. The class that night had older students with winter aches and pains who had limited rolling and falling available to them as well as students who were dealing with various injuries that excluded them from rolling or falling. In fact, I discovered that no one on the mat that night could roll or fall, even do sit falls. I had to immediately change the carefully crafted plans I had made. What I had planned to teach obviously would not work. I then remembered my own experiences being injured and having limited mobility from when my ankle was broken. I brought this to the class that night: you don’t need to roll or fall to be an aikidoist or to have a full experience of aikido. You can bring balance, energy, your own center and intention into play on the mat and move your training partner in a powerful and effective manner. I don’t know exactly how the class unfolded, except that before I knew it the class time was up.

Students came to me after class and later requesting more classes “like that one.” Another comment I had from those present that night was, “It was a fun class and I learned a lot.” I found I had to go back and replay the class in my mind to fully grasp the core of what had transpired. I realized from looking at the class in hindsight, and in light of my own experiences, that aikido as a martial art could be taught and transmitted to those with limited abilities to move on the mat. As I taught more of these classes, the classes began to develop a flow, a rhythm of their own. The martial edge always remained, but the teaching was modified to what I eventually called “a low impact” class to distinguish it from a class where the students experienced the full range of rolls and falls.
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Sep
02

From AJ Forums: “My first experience with Kondo Sensei” by Giacomo Merello

The following text is excerpted from a discussion concerning training in Daito-ryu aikijujutsu with Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei in progress on the Aikido Journal Forums:

Dear posters and everybody,

I just got back to Italy after spending one month in Tokyo to practice martial arts. During this month I also spent some time training Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu under Kondo Sensei. I was very lucky, because I received almost everytime direct instruction by him or by Amano Sensei, so I had the chance to practice with the strongest exponent of Mainline Daito-ryu.

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Sep
02

Recommended reading: “Interview with Takafumi Takeno (1)” by Stanley Pranin

The article below has been selected from the extensive archives of the Online Aikido Journal. We believe that an informed readership with knowledge of the history, techniques and philosophy of aikido is essential to the growth of the art and its adherence to the principles espoused by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

Well, we train using energetic and ki-filled techniques that I learned from Shioda Sensei. Although people should enjoy practice, I want them also to remain aware of the severity and seriousness of their training as a martial art, as a budo.

Rather than simply “playing at aikido,” I want to conduct keiko [the word keiko in Japanese, as opposed to the word renshu which means practice or training, has the literal meaning of reflecting on old things, both in one's own experience and from a tradition]. It’s impossible to develop good technique without keiko, so I want people to practice in a way that is enjoyable, but which also embodies natural discipline and produces an atmosphere befitting a martial arts dojo.

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