Aug
31

“Aikido Essay-III” by Will Gable

“In the learning process of Aikido participation, one is always practicing with another individual who is always involved in the further benefit that they can give to their mutual training involvement. This is traditionally depicted as the attacker is Uke and the receiver of the attack is Tori. These two perspectives help practitioners to open themselves up to what is the core of their practice together. Uke is always attacking Tori and both are benefiting mutually from being what our Sensei Geis has defined as “two parts of a learning machine”. So, the information and consciousness that is being gleaned is transmitted via our kinesthetic sharing in which we are communicating on a multi-channel processing dialogue which is felt in the silent levels of intuitive guidance.

We are processing the experience of being attacked from a completely different vision, one that doesn’t look at it from a traditional perspective of self defense. Yes, those views are there but we are looking for a different outcome in the light of both people learning from the interaction on the mat as one from which the growth of both people on many levels is more important than just how to defeat someone. The process of centering oneself in relation to working with someone on the mat is a deep and profound practice and is regarded as one of the main Principles that brings about fruition in one’s life on or off the mat. Being centered is a balance that almost everyone can benefit from in relating to just about anything or anyone, once one is accessing this conscious wholism in oneself they are more Aware of themselves from a responsive level of interaction and do not fall into the easily accessed “reactive” self or the unconscious survival mechanisms that one is not aware of and can come out as attempts to make one secure in the form of overreacting to situations that were not that serious but through the unconscious were determined to be of greater consequence than they usually are when we are not centered, and live from clarity.”

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Aug
30

“The Psychology of Aiki” by Lawrence Novick, Ph.D.

“There are many things in life that we perceive, consciously or unconsciously, as a threat. This creates conflict, as it invokes the fight-or-flight response. In times of conflict, we naturally establish a negative bonding pattern with the person who initiates threatening behavior towards us; a bonding pattern between our vulnerability, which is the part of us that can be open and therefore hurt, and the other person’s “power,” as defined by their behavior. The important aspect of the process, at the psychological level, is that when we feel threatened, the natural thing for us to do is to identify ourselves with (or become) the part or parts of us that we learned to protect ourselves with when we were young, and then react accordingly to the present situation.”

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Aug
29

“Hidden in Plain Sight” by Ellis Amdur now available!

“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.”

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Aug
28

“The Aikido Body” by Nev Sagiba

Will You Be Able To Do That Technique When You Are Old?

A slow strike becomes a push and a fast push becomes a strike.

We train slowly focussing mainly on kusushi flows as sort of “pushes” because full impact kansetsuwaza conducted as atemiwaza will do harm.

Unless we could fully restore ourselves overnight like the fictional character, Connor MacLeod played by Christopher Lambert in the movie “Highlander,” “full contact” Aikido training is impossible.
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Aug
28

“Harmony in Aikido” by Mark J. Norton

“I indicated that this young student was resonsible for what had happened. Aikido practice requires two people, and both must help each other if advancement is to occur. If one person is superior in strength, speed, or skill, it is he who must adapt to the other and use a level of technique appropriate to the other’s level. At the end of the class, I shared my interpretation on the meaning of the word Aikido, which I will try to repeat from memory here.

Lately in my work, I have been playing with the written form of the Japanese langauge, Kanji. Kanji is a very different way of writing than what we are used to. English and most western languages use an alphabet to spell words. Kanji (as well as Chinese and Korean) uses a single character to represent a concept. The word Aikido (gesture to scroll in kamiza) is composed of three Kanji characters: Ai, Ki and Do. Do means way. It comes from the chinese word Tao, which means a path throught life. Aikido is a long path, who’s final goal we never reach.”

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Aug
27

“Tomiki Sensei’s Writings” from Vassar College Aikido Club

“Tomiki Sensei, in addition to being a superb martial artist, was also a man of letters and arts. Tomiki Sensei was a graphic artist of a high caliber and his calligraphy and brush paintings are highly sought after by collectors to this day. (A picture of one of his calligraphic works is below.)

As a man of letters, Tomiki published numerous articles on Judo, Aikido, the relationship between the martial arts and Eastern religious and philosophical traditions, articles on the proper place of the martial arts in the modern world, and of course articles on the technical aspects of various martial arts techniques.”

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Aug
26

“Aikido and the Paradox of Violence: The Instructor’s Dilemma” by David Birt

“The name Aikido means “The Way or Harmony and Love,” but teaching Aikido as budo, The Way of The Warrior, involves the difficult task of reconciling Harmony and Love with violence. This “difficulty” reflects a universal paradox best exemplified by the carved wraithlike apparitions that “guard” houses of worship world wide. Why such terrifying specters (some frightful beyond description) surrounding sanctuaries of peace and serenity? They offer a simple message: before entering the tranquility of the inner sanctum, the supplicant must look upon and reconcile to life in ALL its aspects. Heedful of this wisdom, a good teacher realizes that some teaching situations require the student traverse a path of violence before entering into the way of Peace.

This understanding of Love as a process involving violence and death often puzzles students whose sentimental and dualistic thinking leaves them unable to reconcile such incompatible categories. Thus they reject the harsh and violent aspects that attend to the study of Aikido as budo and quit. Most serious students pass beyond sentimental understanding and come to an intuitive but not intellectual understanding of the paradox of violence. I remember a student in Albuquerque that successfully foiled a rapist who grabbed her and attempted to force her into his car. At first she expressed surprise at how calm she remained throughout her ordeal; then she reflected for a second and told me that after all I had put her through she wasn’t about to lose her composure to some hoodlum.”

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Aug
25

“What is Aikido and What is Shugyo” by Tamara Rozman

“Aikido was created by Morihei Ueshiba, referred to by some aikido practitioners as Osensei (”Great Teacher”). Ueshiba envisioned aikido not only as the synthesis of his martial training, but also an expression of his personal philosophy of universal peace and reconciliation. During Ueshiba’s lifetime and continuing today, aikido has evolved from the old-style martial art that Ueshiba studied into a wide variety of expressions by martial artists throughout the world.

The purpose of Aikido is to make human beings strong by tapping their natural energy. This will also make them healthy in mind and body. In Aikido, we transcend the distinction between mind and body; we unify body and mind and function as a single entity. It is from the center of that unified entity that limitless ki is born, and vital breath springs forth. If those powerful forces are manifested in daily life, one can lead the best and most positive kind of existence.”

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Aug
25

“Aikido In Action Doing combat with the essence of love” by Terry Dobson

“The following story provides an additional perspective on the role of martial arts training. It is reprinted from PHP, published monthly by PHP Institute International, No. 32 Mori Bldg. 6th Floor, 3-4-30 Shibakoen, Minatoku, Tokyo 105, Japan, $18 US yearly.

THE TRAIN CLANKED and rattled through the suburbs of Tokyo on a drowsy spring afternoon. Our car was comparatively empty – a few housewives with their kids, some old folks going shopping. I gazed absently at the drab houses and dusty hedgerows.”

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Aug
24

Brian Kagen pick: “Teja Bell – A martial artist making a difference” by Paul Rest

“He received a black belt ranking in Tae Kwon Do Karate with In Mok Kim, a 9th degree black belt in that art. A younger Teja competed in tournaments and did full contact fighting. Yang Style Tai Chi and Qigong followed, taught by Li Leita–who was a lineage Master in the “Yang Style.” He continued his Aikido studies with Robert Nadeau Shihan and Frank Doran Shihan at City Aikido in San Francisco. During this time he notes that he “created a series of advanced training programs for students preparing for black belt level examinations as well as creating and teaching children’s Aikido program[s] at the old Tam Dojo– what is now Aikido of Tamalpais. He also trained with the well-known Aikidoists Richard Strozzi-Heckler, Wendy Palmer Sensei and George Leonard Sensei. In 1984 he traveled to Japan where he studied with the late Saito Sensei and lived at the Iwama Dojo.
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Aug
24

Brian Kagen pick: “Aikido as Budo” by Christopher Hein

“When one begins to talk about practicality, application and usefulness in the world of the martial arts we enter onto a slippery slope. People start talking about “street fights” and “what REALLY happens in a fight”. We begin to theorize about reality, instead of living and training in it.

Training in the martial arts is not fighting. No matter how much we want it to be, no matter how much we pretend or don’t pretend it simply isn’t fighting. You can not do or experience the things you would in a life or death struggle in a Dojo. It’s not possible, for many reasons.”

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Aug
23

“It’s Not Too Late” by Seishiro Endo

“When I first saw the TV news of the terrorist attacks on America (9.11.01), I thought it was just a fire. Then came information that airplanes had struck some buildings and speculation that they were terrorist acts. Next were the images of the plane striking the second building. I was glued to the TV and the repeating images of the moment of impact. I believed that a terrible thing had happened.

Several days after the incident, I glanced at an article in a Japanese sports newspaper. Several lines of comment by a famous American baseball player caught my attention. He said, “We play baseball here in America, pleasing many fans, and are seen as heroes. But in this tragedy, what can we do? Absolutely nothing.””

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