Apr
18

“The Power of Breathing,” by Dr. Randy Borum

“It has been said that ‘Breathing is the greatest pleasure in life.’ It is also a very powerful tool for the martial artist. The use of breathing and breath control has a long history in the traditional arts. From the tradition of budo and the Japanese arts, the ‘kiai’ is thought to enhance one’s power in executing a strike or technique. The Korean arts similarly use the ‘Kihap.’ While the kiai is often thought of just as a shout that accompanies physical movement, it has a much deeper design.”

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Apr
17

“Two Principles,” by Serpentstaff

“In traditional training (if all goes well) we find that the rituals and discipline, the exercises that sometimes seem far removed from practical application, combine to condition mind and body to move and react in the most economical and effective way. This is a foundational goal of training—one that is broader and deeper than learning an arsenal of practical techniques; and the practitioner who achieves it will perform better at that arsenal than the one who tosses ritual and discipline aside.”

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Apr
17

“Martial Arts Retention Tips,” by Matthew Apsokardu

“Martial arts are a lifelong endeavor, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve how well or how quickly you learn things. I always preach patience when trying to develop techniques or kata, but I’ve noticed that there are a handful of tactics that you can use to improve your retention and learning.”

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Apr
16

Brian Kagen pick: “Aiki” and other terms, from aikiweb.com

“We have something like this from Ueshiba: ‘ I asked someone at my side who this person was. It was explained to me that he was the famous Tenryu who had withdrawn from the Sumo Wrestler’s Association. I was then introduced to him. Finally, we ended up pitting our strength against each other. I sat down and said to Tenryu, “Please try to push me over. Push hard, there’s no need to hold back.” Since I knew the secret of Aikido, I could not be moved an inch.’”

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 thread.

Apr
16

“Having Appropriate Images,” by Shinichi Tohei

“It is easy to lose what you have learned without practice. On the other hand, you will never lose what you have learned through practice and validation. Therefore, please read, practice, and validate the contents of my article for at least one month.”

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Apr
15

“Aikido Is Not Weak!,” by Nev Sagiba

I grew up with bullies. As far back as I can remember bullies were present, as well as the victims who supported their habit.

When I was born, I had to scream the hospital down to get some mother’s milk. Not separation. I won. The chief of staff capitulated and ordered I be placed on my mother’s breast in accordance to the laws of nature.

It was then I learned that the laws of bullies are invented and that there is nothing they can do to stop the Laws of the Universe. Short of murder. Even then, it recoils.

If you ever meet someone who has killed, you can smell it on them. Dark patches sit in their aura where hungry ghosts feed on their brain, bone marrow and try to get into their genitalia to be born as their children. Cosmic revenge is ultimate revenge. Nations who live by the sword end up multicultural in more ways than one. There is nothing any human agency can do to stop this universal process. Willfully terminate a micro universe before its time and it follows you until you pay. With interest.
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Apr
15

“The Time Between,” by Sue Peterson

“Recently I was looking through a martial arts equipment catalog with Shiraki Sensei to order a new gi. I came across a page that caused me to laugh out loud. It was a page of dogi belts and among the various usual primary colored and striped belts was a pink one! Shiraki Sensei pointed out a cammo belt as well. While it was funny at the time, it got me to thinking about belts, ranking, etc. in the martial arts world as a whole.”

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Apr
14

“Jutsu and Do,” by Nick Lowry

“JU is a principle that is strongly enmeshed in the dualistic world, it defines moments of opportunity as it joins centers together and it creates powerful responsive sensitivity.”

http://www.aikidojournal.com/blog/media/lowry.jpgInnumerable times over the years students have come to ask the difference between JUTSU and DO, and for the most part my answers have always been to describe the basic surface distinctions—the historical, the philosophical, technical—the simple pragmatic basis of JUTSU as the basic military or soldierly training model, and DO, the modern pursuit of excellence and self actualization, the making of happier, healthier people and society and such.

It is much deeper than that. On a most basic level JUTSU is the madness of violence and DO is the sanity of nonviolence.

JUTSU is deeply and committedly a perspective of dualism—of self and other, of good and bad, of heroes and villains, of us and them. JUTSU promises empowerment through competence, technical and strategic skill and through superior firepower. JUTSU is all about winning and killing. This is basically kid’s stuff, the adolescent fantasy of the ultimate warrior who can conquer the world and make everything fit into the “big plan.” It is a natural extension of the mind that cannot but react to the karma of the circumstance except to try to steer it, control it, and force it. Make no mistake, JUTSU is a commonsense direct approach and it will solve some problems; it does have its good points, it has developed remarkable tools and techniques in the pursuit of its ends. But at the end of the day, since blood never successfully washes away blood, it is still madness. When we enter the path of training in the martial arts we all tend to start from just such a perspective (and notably, this is irrespective of what art you are pursuing and whether its name ends in the suffix “-jutsu” or “-do”).
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Apr
14

“Student Responsibility,” by Bob Blackburn

“A professor visited a Zen master to inquire about Zen. As the master was speaking the professor kept interrupting with his own opinions. So the master served some tea. He overfilled the cup and tea went everywhere. The professor shouted ‘the cup is full, there is no room for more tea!’ The master replied ‘like this cup, your mind is so full of its own opinions, there is no room for anything new, in order to taste my tea, you must first empty your cup.’”

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Apr
13

Brian Kagen pick: “Drawing Closer to the True Essence of Aiki,” featuring Katsuyuki Kondo

This video clip features a fascinating interview with Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei and his designated successor, Masayuki Kondo. The two senior Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu instructors talk about the true nature of aiki and how it should be applied to one’s daily life. English subtitles are provided.

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 video clip.

Apr
13

“Stress Management,” by Ralph Pettman

“Breathing out is the basis of a useful technique for dealing with stress more generally. The technique I want to describe now is based on a ‘misogi’ exercise used by Zen meditators. ‘Misogi’, as I’ve said, means ‘ritual purification’. Sit in a chair with your spine straight. Or sit in ‘seiza’ (the Japanese kneeling position, where the feet are tucked under the buttocks, the back is straight and the hands rest naturally on the thighs or in the lap). Let your shoulders relax. Close your eyes. Breathe out gently through your mouth for a number of counts, perhaps six or eight. Your head will naturally want to fall forward a little. Let it. Then pause.”

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Apr
12

Recommended reading: “Koretoshi Maruyama Sensei” by Clement Choo

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.

After I became a full-time instructor in 1967, Ueshiba Sensei used me as his uke. As a deshi (student), it was important to take ukemi. One deshi didn’t know how to take ukemi from O-Sensei and went down with a bang. I already knew that Ueshiba Sensei used ki. I wondered, ‘How to take ukemi from O-Sensei?’ So I decided to extend ki to him. He said, “Come, Maruyama!”, and I attacked him. After taking ukemi from him, Ueshiba Sensei looked at me, and said, ‘Good ukemi!’ He then asked what rank I held and I told him I was a 5th dan. He gave me a 6th dan and told me to go to the office to get the certificate! I thanked him but I never picked up my certificate. However, I had learnt an important lesson, ‘Extend ki to your opponent!”

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