Apr
25

Brian Kagen pick: “The Quest for the Perfect Judo Floor” by Paul Nogaki

“If any of us has done Judo for any amount of time we have probably done Judo on a myriad of different types of surfaces. I have done Judo on sawdust covered with canvas, to horsehair mats, to wrestling mats to the latest vinyl covered tatamis made specifically for Judo.

Our Judo club decided to re-do our floors after we noticed the foam under our tatami was starting to break down and our surface was becoming uneven and falls were starting to hurt more and more especially to us adults
[Read more...]

Apr
24

Brian Kagen pick:”Minimum Criteria” by Jeff Broderick from ejmas.com

“Watching the Nihon Kobudo Embu Taikai the other weekend, and seeing a couple rather lackluster demonstrations (only a couple, mind you, out of 40) got me thinking about efficacy in martial arts – again! It’s a strange cycle to fall into. On one hand, after thinking about things for a long time, I finally conclude that “combat effectiveness” doesn’t matter one iota to what we’re doing. And then, I see a demonstration of something that strikes me as obviously bad, and I start to criticize it as ineffective.

I was running these ideas past my friend Keith, and he asked me a very simple question that cut right to the heart of what I was struggling with. “So, what are your minimum criteria for iaido? Even if you know nothing about the particulars of the style, what do you need to see to think something at least has the possibility of being good?”
[Read more...]

Apr
23

Brian Kagen pick: “From the Teacher’s Corner: What Makes a Good Teacher?” by Douglas Tong

“This question is constantly in my mind, being a schoolteacher. But in terms of martial arts, where we put our faith and decades of training in the hands of one person, how do we know if we have a good teacher or not?

Some people say, I know a good teacher when I see one. Ah! The approach based on intuition and feeling. We depend on our 6th sense to inform us if we have a good teacher. Or maybe it is about feeling, how I feel after a class, how I feel about this teacher. I may like the teacher and maybe this is all that counts. But I still haven’t answered the question: is he or she a good teacher?
[Read more...]

Apr
22

“Looking at Ukemi” by Mary Stein

The other day with some new people on the mat, the instructor, James, took a couple of minutes to say something about ukemi. He pointed out that Uke’s role on the mat doesn’t usually get as much attention as Nage’s. In fact, as he said, “learning to do aikido” often amounts to learning to do what Nage does in a technique. And yet Uke’s attitude and actions are very important to the exchange. He made the point that Uke needs to cultivate a determined strike that doesn’t stop short of its target, and that in a technique like kotegaeshi he or she needs to persist in the intent of the attack even beyond the point of connection. It occurred to me that the case could be made that there’s appropriate advice for Uke that is specific to every aikido technique, advice which is not confined to taking falls.
[Read more...]

Apr
21

Brian Kagen pick:”The Dojo and the Way” by Jeff Broderick

“The moment I step into the dojo, I change. In fact, the change begins even before I set foot inside. As I walk to the dojo, perhaps limping a little bit due to some new, random pain in my foot, or ankle, or knee, hunched over slightly, looking at the ground a few paces in front and lost in thought, my mind graduallly starts to clear; my sightline raises up until I’m looking forward. My spine straightens; I begin walking with purpose, ignoring the nagging pains in my stride. I start breathing from deep in my belly.

I open the door to the dojo, careful to do it without making much noise. I remove my shoes, place them carefully on the rack, and step in. Feet together, I bow to the kamiza. I walk silently to the change room. I remove my street clothes, fold them, and place them in a neat pile – something I wouldn’t even bother to do in my own home. I put on my training clothes, careful to tie all the knots properly, smoothing the pleats in front, adjusting the ties so that everything is worn properly. All this time, my mind is getting clearer, my breathing is getting deeper, my field of vision becoming broader.
[Read more...]

Apr
21

“Founder of the Tendoryu-Aikido” from tendoryu-aikido.org

“Kenji Shimizu was borne in the year 1940 in Fukuoka-ken Kahogunhonami-machi Tendo in Japan. With 13 years he started practicing Judo and reached the 4th dan Judo by the Kodokan after 10 years. 1962 he graduated from the Meiji University.

In the year 1963 he started with Aikido as one of the last Uchi-Deshi (personal student) of the founder of Aikido, O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, and was later graduated up to the 8th dan.

After the death of O-Sensei in 1969 Shimizu Sensei founded the independent Shimizu Dojo in Tokyo and changed the name of his Dojo to Tendokan six years later.

Only three years later, in 1978, he hold the first seminars in the former West-Germany, and yearly seminars in Slovenia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and France and other countries followed.”

Please click here to read entire article.

Apr
21

On Youtube.com: The “Koru Dojo” in New Zealand

Nice video clip of the “Koru Dojo” of David Lynch Sensei of New Zealand. It is a unique structure, set in a beautiful natural environment, well worth visiting, even if you do not have time to stay and train. “Koru” is the Maori word for the curled fern tree frond and signifies “new beginnings” or “creativity.” Also known as the “Aiki Dome,” the new dojo is an ideal venue for gasshuku training camps.

Click here to view video clip.

Apr
20

Recommended reading: “Virtue Of The Sword” by James Williams

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.

I am frequently asked why I practice and teach classical warrior skills and adhere to a philosophy that appears outdated to many. The sword has defined the warrior for thousands of years. It has defined the power, ethics, duty and self-defense of a class of people who have shaped the face of civilization on this planet. The skill, exercise, mental development, and sheer pleasure of using a sword is unique. Hand-to-hand combat with edged weapons is the most demanding form of human physical combat. It not only requires the most skill, both physical and mental, it develops in the adept abilities that separate him from others and elevates intuition, reflexes, and technique to the highest degree. For the warrior, the sword represents his duty, his honor and his responsibility.

[Read more...]

Apr
20

“Ki Development as a way of life” by Irwin Hoenig

“Now that more and more people are expressing a desire to follow a holistic medical model and lifestyle, phrases relating to the union of “mind and body”, seem to pop up frequently.

The phrase itself is vague, and attaining such “unity” may seem like a lofty goal, but a system does exist that has successfully allowed people to coordinate their minds and bodies. This system is teachable, testable, and reproducible. The results of following this system can lead to a more balanced, healthier, and productive life.”

Click here to read article.

Apr
19

“Interview with Koichi Tohei and Shinichi Tohei” translated by William Reed

“I studied Aikido from Morihei Ueshiba, here again doing everything first and questioning later. Ueshiba Sensei was a master of Ki, as well as the founder of Aikido. However he was also a devoted follower of the Omotokyo Religion, and this influenced the way he taught Aikido. Often it was impossible to make any sense of his esoteric explanations. I rigorously trained in all of the exercises he had us do, though many came from the Omotokyo Religion, and made no sense to us. For example, we were expected to recite the alphabet in a different order. Rather than saying the vowels of Japanese as ”AIUEO” we were made to repeat them over and over as ”AOUEI,” as if this new sequence had a deeper meaning. He would tell us that we should become one with the Ki of Heaven, but not how we were to do this. You could learn much more by watching him do Aikido than you could by listening to him explain it. The one essential thing I learned from Ueshiba Sensei was how to relax. He was always relaxed in the face of conflict, which is why his Aikido was so strong. He would do this himself, but he encouraged his young students to hold with as much strength as possible. In Aikido if you are not relaxed you cannot throw a person. It seemed a mystery to us that Ueshiba Sensei could always throw, could always get out of a hold.”

Please click here to read entire article.

Apr
19

“Interview with Henry Kono” by Guillaume Erard

“What makes Henry Kono’s experience truly special is that he was the only foreigner to be able to speak Japanese. According to Kono himself, it was this very capacity to understand both Japanese and occidental cultures that allowed him to make a unique interpretation of what O Sensei was really doing. For the last ten years, Henry Kono has been regularly visiting Ireland and it was during one of his visits to Dublin that I got the chance to sit down with him one afternoon and talk about it all. Henry usually stays very discreet but he kindly accepted to spend a few hours explaining me, one more time, what it was all about. We ended up spending over 3 hours together on a rainy morning of April drinking gallons of tea and smoking rolled cigarettes, with Henry never hesitating to get up and demonstrate his concepts, either on my good friend Daithí, who hosted our meeting, or myself. to teach “whoever wants to learn.”

Please click here to read entire article.

Apr
19

Recommended reading: “An Aikido Life (16)” by Gozo Shioda

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.

When I look back on those times I realize that I was too self-complacent, due to my immaturity and lack of experience. In addition, I think that the time and place in which I was living, the fact of the war and its proximity, made me behave out of character. On the personal level, such silly acts may have arisen from the fact that at the office I was in charge of accounting, in which I was not at all interested. At any rate it all stemmed from my immaturity.

[Read more...]