“Mitorigeiko: “Watch & Steal” Aikido Observations of a (temporarily) Crippled Aikido Student” by Sean Hannon

“I am always surprised and somewhat saddened to see Aikido students stop coming to class to train at the dojo when they sustain any injury, only to return once that injury is healed. Incurring an injury simply means, to me, that I must train differently until I am able to return to the mat. I regret that some students miss out on the total experience of Aikido; that, in my opinion, they don’t quite understand or embrace the comprehensive value and benefit of Aikido. I regret that they perceive Aikido only as a physical art and not as a way of life.

In America, students expect to be “taught” Aikido (or any martial art), step-by-step-by-step, by a willing and generous instructor. What a luxury that is! In Japan, students never expect to be taught. Instead, they are expected to have to “steal” technique from their sensei by carefully watching them demonstrate Aikido techniques year after year. Observation is in many ways just as valuable as actually practicing the techniques. Perhaps in some ways, it is more valuable. We at Castle Rock AIKIDO are very fortunate to have instructors traditionally trained in Japan who give us the best of both cultures. They “teach,” but they also force us to “steal it” from them.”

Please click here to read entire article.


  1. Have been lucky that my injuries have been minor enough to train through, if at a lower activity level. Have had to back off high falls since pulling a groin muscle last spring, for instance.

    Stealing techniques is an excellent learning device. And, it’s the only way to relate to training videos. Have found that my thefts usually take three stages. First I can’t even see what happened. Next I can see it but not do it. Third, I can sort of do it, and spend the next few years working on it… 😉

  2. Being an older aikidoist, I suffered from an arthritic thumb for the past few years. I managed to train regularly, usually with the aid of a thumb splint. I finally decided to do something about it, and on June 3 had surgery to repair the joint. For the first month the joint was pinned, and I couldn’t train much at all- but I did not miss a class! After the pin was removed, I could train a little more, mostly helping newer students with the basics. Now I’m undergoing hand therapy, and hopefully in another month I’ll be able to train less selectively and participate more fully. In the meantime, I did what I could do to help the dojo. I even put together a 30+ page training manual, had it printed, bound, and handed it out last Tuesday! I wholehartedly agree with Sean and Charles that being an active aikidoist doesn’t necessarily stop due to injury or surgery! Just being there is a contribution and a learning experience!

  3. Clayton Bearden says:


    I would like to say that i very much enjoy reading your newsletter and in particularly the article on “watch and steal” In my former experience in kajukenbo i was often encouraged to observe and learn rather than only showing up when healed of an injury or other reasons kept me from actively participating. This is a good way to learn as well as provide encouragement for those students still participating and makes a person still feel involved as well. Now, that i have reached the age of 57 i am being encouraged to take and practice a more internal art like Tai Chi. Since first looking at your newsletter it seems as if Aikido is adaptable to older people and i would like to more know more about this aspect of it. The new Dojo looks great, Kudos to you and all your students!

    Thank you,


    Clayton Bearden

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