Nov
19

Brian Kagen pick: “Don’t Stop,” by Mike Van Ruth

“Many students,in their practice, fall into the trap of stopping the technique at the instant they think they have done something wrong. There can be many reasons for this. They may think the technique was botched and there is no reason to continue. Others may stop performing the technique in order to evaluate the cause at the point of the mistake. In cutting the techinique short, the student misses out on fundemental lessons and if this stopping is done often enough, the student can develop a bad habit.”

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 read entire article.

Nov
18

“Reductio Simplicitas – Where the Hara Is,” by Nev Sagiba

Training is like an Algebra of sorts, using the whole of ourselves; body, mind and spirit, in a way that reduces otherwise complex moves to their simplest and most efficient, immediate application.

These form the basic key or kihon, core techniques which can then be extrapolated outwards in a never ending exploration that keeps proving the basic forms.

The exploration touches some of the variables which are possible and infinite in subtle nuance and yet subject to fundamental laws of the universe.

The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction. When in doubt, remove. But be careful what you remove.
[Read more...]

Nov
17

Brian Kagen pick: “Donn F. Draeger: The Life and Times of an American Martial Arts Pioneer” by Paul Nurse

“Draeger is remembered today chiefly as the author of more than 30 books and numerous articles about the Asian martial arts, as well as for being one of the best-qualified and most experienced Western exponents of the combative arts. The oft-repeated legend that he either had or possessed the equivalent of some 100 black-belt ranks is perhaps apocryphal, but he no doubt was among the most accomplished martial artists of his generation, perhaps of all time. He held a sixth-degree black belt in judo; a seventh degree in jojutsu (Japanese stick fighting), kendo and iaido; and a menkyo license in the tenshin shoden katori shinto-ryu of bujutsu.”

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 read entire article.

Nov
16

Brian Kagen pick: “Energy Projection in Aikido Wrist Techniques,” by Bob Ward

“As with all higher martial arts based on universal principles, aikido can be practiced and understood on many different levels. Over the years, an aikidoka will experience the same technique being performed in a myriad of ways, ranging from very athletic to extremely subtile. Of course, your perception of the technique will depend on your own athletic ability, maturity, and the level of your teachers. The first time I felt a shihan who was twenty-five years my senior, move me easily and with no apparent strength or speed, I was amazed and extremely excited. From that moment on, my focus shifted: my only desire was to direct my training and study toward the development of that energy.

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 view entire article in PDF format.

Nov
14

“Are YOU Studying Japanese Culture, and Japan as Part of Your Aikido Research?” by Tony Wilden

“Learning about Japanese culture, and Japan is an excellent way of developing your understanding of the martial art of Aikido… The Japanese language has always played a major role in Japanese culture. Written in a combination of three scripts… hiragana came from the Chinese cursive script, katakana, came from a shorthand of Chinese characters, and kanji, imported from China.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Nov
13

“Breaking through your boundaries,” by Gregor Erdmann

“In the Aikido dojo, we again have a chance to grow and push ourselves. In the company of like-minded individuals, an environment of exploration and hard work is born. In this strict and nurturing atmosphere, spirits are polished, bodies hardened and minds sharpened. The benefits of hard training and discipline will naturally flow to every day activities. Diligence at work and in the home will inspire colleagues and children. Even without realising it, our training in the dojo does make the world a better place.”

Click here to read entire blog.

Nov
12

“A Thousand Falls,” by Nev Sagiba

In the equestrian world it used to be a common saying, “Not until you’ve had a hundred falls will you become a rider.”

Falling successfully is part of riding. Horses are more deadly than any “mushal art.” Many times over.

The ancients were horse men. Those warriors were real, not imaginary. Death happens only once in a lifetime.

You get one chance to get it wrong.

It’s all become a surface thing. Riders, budoka, and other arts. The majority merely want to show off. A fantasy.
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Nov
11

“Warrior Training with Traditional Martial Arts,” by Lt. Colonel Dane S. Harden

Part One: Traditions – Introduction:

“The way you train is the way you fight and the way you fight is because of the way you train”…this is a common military pearl that applies to nearly every aspect of warrior arts. As modern day soldiers, we learn to adapt and modify our tactics, training, and procedures to address the various combat and situational environments in which we find ourselves operational. Warrior skills as outlined by Sun Tzu in the Art of War are as applicable today as they were centuries ago in ancient China. From personal experience the military (martial) training done for deployments to Bosnia and Kosovo was both technically and philosophically different than the pre-mobilization training my unit did prior to rotations in Iraq and Afghanistan…even Hurricane Katrina in 2005. That is because the situational environment often dictates the defensive/offensive focus.

When Katrina hit, my unit had just returned from wartime operations in Iraq. We approached that mission as we had trained…with a tilt towards a wartime event, which of course, Katrina was not. The way we train for martial arts should also be modified and adjusted based on our intent, goals, and situational needs. A pharmacist would likely benefit from close range drill and disarming skills. A policeman would benefit from skills at all ranges. Many martial artists don’t really stop to think about the “why or what” of their personal exposure to dangers. Are they planning to compete in tournaments, do full contact karate, develop self-defense skills, or just get in shape?
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Nov
10

French-speaking volunteers sought for subtitling project!

Some readers may recall how a few years ago we made a concerted effort to solicit translations of our archived articles into various foreign languages. That outreach to the world aikido community was an unqualified success as volunteers busied themselves translating articles into their native tongues. Over time, some 200 translations were received, formatted and uploaded to our archives. I hope that at some point we will be able to revive this effort, but for the moment we are allocating our limited resources in a different direction.

The project we are now undertaking involves the inclusion of additional foreign-language subtitle tracks in our flagship DVD products. Allow me to elaborate. Those of you who have purchased our Lost Seminars DVDs by Morihiro Saito Sensei will have noted the detailed English subtitles contained in these programs. Virtually every word spoken in Japanese is rendered into English providing viewers with the ability to follow very closely and review the seminar content at their leisure. The net result is that aikidoka who never had exposure to this great master during his lifetime now have an opportunity to access his teachings directly.

Our recently released Seigo Yamaguchi: A Seminar in Paris DVD offers another example of this process carried one step further. In this case, Christian Tissier Sensei’s interpretation during Yamaguchi Sensei’s seminar is in French. The subtitle tracks of this program include the original French and an English translation. This particular product serves as a model of where we would like to go with this effort.
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Nov
10

Brian Kagen pick: “Aikido and Meditation,” by Michael McNally

“I remember the afternoon I came into the dojo accompanied by a beautiful Italian woman who was also interested in Aikido and we sat on the bench at the end of the mat to watch. Yamada Sensei was away. Butch was teaching and came by frequently to answer any question the young lady might have. I was amazed by the students’ relationship with the mat and by the senior students’ calm demeanor while under attack! I remember thinking “How elegant! What a beautiful flow of energy. Ki in action!” The young lady never did take up Aikido, but I signed up that day and with great eagerness began my meditation with the aiki movements.”

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 read entire article.

Nov
09

Memorable quotes: Yukiyoshi Takamura on pacifism

Here is a particularly interesting quote on pacifism from an interview with Yukiyoshi Takamura Sensei appearing in Aikido Journal several years ago:

“Some aikido teachers talk a lot about non-violence, but fail to understand this truth. A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence. He chooses peace. He must be able to make a choice. He must have the genuine ability to destroy his enemy and then choose not to. I have heard this excuse made. “I choose to be a pacifist before learning techniques so I do not need to learn the power of destruction.” This shows no comprehension of the mind of the true warrior. This is just a rationalization to cover the fear of injury or hard training. The true warrior who chooses to be a pacifist is willing to stand and die for his principles. People claiming to be pacifists who rationalize to avoid hard training or injury will flee instead of standing and dying for principle. They are just cowards. Only a warrior who has tempered his spirit in conflict and who has confronted himself and his greatest fears can in my opinion make the choice to be a true pacifist.”

Click here to read full interview

Nov
08

Brian Kagen pick: “Managing Change in Aikido” by George Ledyard

“Slowly the Aikido public is starting to redefine what it means to be “advanced” in this art. Teachers with long history and high rank are being reconsidered by a community which is far better educated than it was twenty to thirty years ago. Starting with the first Aiki Expo, almost ten years ago now, Aikido practitioners were exposed to a number of practitioners of what we will call “aiki arts” whose skill level seemed far beyond many of the Japanese teachers, both in Japan and overseas, who had become identified with post war Aikido. It was also clear that many of these teachers had a far more effective methodology for transmitting their knowledge than the teachers from the Aikido community as a whole.”

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 read entire article.