Jun
30

Brian Kagen pick: “The Challenge of Not Competing” by Stefan Stenudd

“Aikido is non-competitive. That’s easy to say. The practice is not about defeating an opponent, but about both participants being victorious by finding a truly peaceful solution and growing as human beings in the process. That, too, is easy to say.

Still, there’s a lot of competing going on in aikido. Numerous aikido students hurry along the way in an effort to surpass their fellow trainees, in skills as well as grades, eager to take a teaching role when working with whatever partner, reluctant to learn as equals.”

Please click here to read entire article.

Jun
30

Brian Kagen pick: “Atemi” by from wikipedia.com

“In Japanese martial arts, the term atemi (当て身?) designates blows to the body, [1] as opposed to twisting of joints, strangleholds, holding techniques and throws. Atemi can be delivered by any part of the body to any part of the opponents body. They can be percussive or use ‘soft’ power. Karate is a typical martial art focusing on percussive atemi. The location of nerve and pressure points, such as might be used for certain acupressure methods, also often informs the choice of targets for atemi (see kyusho-jitsu).

Some strikes against vital parts of the body can kill or incapacitate the opponent: on the solar plexus, at the temple, under the nose, in the eyes, genitals, or under the chin. Traditional Japanese martial arts (the ancestors of judo, jujutsu and aikido) do not commonly practice atemi, since they were supposed to be used on the battlefield against armoured opponents. However, there are certain exceptions.”

Please click here to read entire article.

Jun
29

“Aikido Interview with Stan Pranin” by Jun Akiyama from aikiweb.com

“The history of aikido had not been systematically recorded. In 1977, the second Doshu, Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei, published the founder’s biography which is the first extensive biography of his father. But, certain very important areas were not really dealt with in-depth and certain people who had fallen out of favor with the Aikikai were neglected or not even mentioned. I don’t think it was something I could call a “balanced” biography although the book really is essential for anyone interested in the history of aikido.

I found the history for me to be a way of organizing a body of material and establishing its roots. It’s like an anchor-point for the activity, the discipline, the family, and so forth. It gives you a tie to some focal point that can help you guide and give you a sense of belonging or the desire to want to contribute to that extended family.”

Please click here to read entire article.

Jun
29

Announcing Prepublication Sales of “Hidden in Plain Sight,” Ellis Amdur’s new book

Ellis Amdur’s new book will be released in mid-July. Ellis is offering 250 prepublication sales, which will be signed and numbered. Please go to his website at http://www.edgework.info/buy.html

Ellis Amdur’s writing on martial arts has been groundbreaking. In this volume, Amdur has radically reworked his iconoclastic essays first published on the website of Aikido Journal. Here, he attempts to establish the existence of something all but lost in Japanese martial arts — a sophisticated type of training, encompassing mental imagery, breath-work, and a variety of physical techniques that offered the practitioner the potential to develop skills sometimes viewed as nearly superhuman. Commonly
referred to as “internal training,” and usually believed to be the provenance of Chinese martial arts, Amdur asserts that not only was it once common among many Japanese martial traditions, but elements of such training still remain, passed down in a few martial arts — literally “hidden in plain sight.” As always, Amdur reminds us that this is a human endeavor and he provides vivid, even heartbreaking portrayals of some of the great practitioners of these skills, men who devoted their lives to an obsessive pursuit of power.
[Read more...]

Jun
28

“Does “Aikido” Even Exist?” by George Ledyard

“What is Aikido? One could simply say that all Aikido, regardless of style, has a certain basic set of techniques and movement principles which make the art “Aikido” as distinct from aikijutsu or jiujutsu or any other martial art. But, as any person who has trained widely in the Aikido community can tell you, there is such a wide range of interpretation with regard to how these techniques are practiced and executed that the surface similarities get outweighed by these inherent differences.

In Japan there is the traditional faction that believes that the art is the sole creation of Morihei Ueshiba and that Aikido is essentially the property of the Ueshiba family. Whereas, this might be the attitude of certain members of the Aikikai Honbu Dojo in Tokyo, I don’t think one can effectively maintain this as a point of view. Unlike the koryu, or classical martial styles of Japan, Aikido has had no set curriculum or any narrowly defined standards for the certification of its teachers. Even before the term “Aikido” came into common usage in the 1940’s, a wide gulf existed between the interpretations taken by various early instructors. The Yoseikan, Yoshinkan, Shudokan, Aikibudo (later Shin’ei Taido) systems emerged as distinct styles of what was just becoming known generally as “Aikido”.”

Please click here to read entire article.

Jun
27

“Connecting 2″ by Gregor Erdmann

“If you can deeply and profoundly accept that your body is by its nature completely connected, you are able to keep your joints free which facilitate good aikido. Some of this acceptance comes from exploring the physical nature of one’s joints – understanding the ligaments, tendons and muscles, and their relationship to range of movement. By allowing your arms and legs to simply be, and driving movement from your core we are able to produce force without the sensation of doing so. This can be disconcerting, especially from the standpoint of living in a society where success is synonymous with putting in hard long effort at work, and study.

It takes a bit of a leap of faith to accept that at the instant we are born, we are connected to the universe and everyone in it. However, when you contemplate upon this matter, this fact is no less deniable than our limbs being connected to our torso. This relationship with others may feel tentative however when confronted with hostility, it feels very real.”

Please click here to read entire article.

Jun
26

“Beyond Attack and Defence” by Nev Sagiba

morihei-ueshiba-tanabe-stat

“When you move your mind and your training beyond the ideas of ‘winning’
and ‘losing’, ‘attack’ and ”defence’, it will open the eye of the soul.”

sagibaUkemi and nagewaza are not two separate entities but part of one attribute, one energy, one flow.

There are no “throws” in Aikido. I’ve been practicing since 1970 and can find no throws. Earlier in the piece when I was more deluded and came from, in part, a Judo background I had trouble conducting good Aikido techniques because my mind was stuck in the idea of having to throw someone.

I did not begin Aikido in earnest until I let go of this grave delusion. Then Aikido began to reveal itself gradually expanding in its magnificence.
[Read more...]

Jun
26

“Interview with Aviv Goldsmith Sensei of Aikido in Fredericksburg”

“When I arrived in Fredericksburg in 2001, there were four core students in the club. The Club was subleasing from a jujitsu club that had subleased from a karate school. As the class grew we began to look around for alternative space and the moving decision was accelerated by an eviction of the jujitsu club! We trained for a while at a gymnastics school until we leased our own 48-mat space in 2002 where we now have 14 classes per week. Aikido in Fredericksburg was organized in 2004 as a non-profit educational corporation.

We are now in the process of finalizing the construction of our own dojo building on a twenty-acre parcel of land. Many have commented that the “feel” of the land is similar to the feel at the Iwama Dojo in Japan. The plants in the landscape and garden are indeed similar. The new dojo will have at least twice daily classes, a traditional uchideshi program, and be able to host large seminars on a 102-mat training area. The program there will be modeled after the program that existed at the Iwama Dojo while Saito Morihiro Shihan was still alive.”

Please click here to read entire article.

Jun
25

“The yoga supergran who can still assume the lotus position… at the age of 83″ from mailonline.com

“Yoga instructor Bette Calman may be 83, but she’s still bending over backwards to spread the benefits of the ancient Indian discipline.

The nimble grandmother can really pull some shapes and with her set hair and pearl earrings she looks as glamorous as Greta Garbo in a pink jumpsuit. [Read more...]

Jun
24

“Connecting” by Gregor Erdmann

“If you are too eager to throw you will meet your opponent’s resistance like a brick wall and discover that your own centre is lacking. Make sure that throughout the technique your weight presses strongly into your feet, and that you are standing independently. The beginner aikidoka will often find themselves too keen to throw and end up leaning on their uke. With their balance so compromised the power that can be generated is greatly reduced.

You may also discover that without the benefit of a good connection to your attacker that you clash with their power as soon as you try to throw them. This is most likely caused by a linear application of force towards your thrower. When you are able to use the mobility of your arms in the throw, the lack of movement in your hips and torso is disguised. Take care to place your feet correctly and rotate your hips in a spherical motion.”

Please click here to read entire article.

Jun
24

Brian Kagen pick: “Life in Harmony” by Mark Bilson

“When people think of meditation they usually imagine doing ‘something’ called meditation. Following a set of rules for meditation, sitting in a certain way or place, perhaps with no noise or only gentle music. The truth is, however, to truly cultivate a meditative experience, you just have to be aware of what is happening in this moment.

By working with you I will help you become more conscious of where your thoughts are, and you will be able to view them with less emotional attachment, noting any repetitiveness or patterns that have developed.”

Please click here to read entire article.

Jun
23

Brian Kagen pick: “Daito-Ryu vs.Aikido” from aikidojournal.com

“Generally speaking one can say that Aikido doesn’t include the “jujutsu” type of techniques of Aikijujutsu concentrating more in what is called the “aiki no jutsu” part of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, or techniques that emphasize in the timing, and syncronization of mind and body with the opponent’s attack (Obviously both require proper breathing). However Aikido was influenced by other schools in addition to Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu.”
[Read more...]