Apr
05

Official Training Manual: Yoshinkan Aikido: Introduction to Basic Techniques, Vol. 1

In 1999, the Yoshinkan Aikido Hombu Dojo in collaboration with Aiki News published an updated edition of its official training manual in bilingual format. This training aid complied under the supervision of Kyoichi Inoue Sensei serves as an invaluable reference for beginners and instructors alike. The following groups of techniques are covered in great detail in Volume 1:
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Apr
05

“Recovery After Martial Arts Training,” by Markos Markou

“A martial artist trains, then recovers, then trains and recovers and so on and so on. Training, to many martial artists is given thought, attention and a high level of respect. This is needed so one can learn, adapt and constantly improve ones fighting abilities. So why is recovery not given the same respect?”

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Apr
05

Brian Kagen pick: “How Samurai Work,” by Ed Grabianows

“The samurai are the legendary armored swordsmen of Japan, known to many westerners only as a warri­or class, depicted in countless martial arts movies. While being a warrior was central to a samurai’s life, they were also poets, politicians, fathers and farmers. Samurai played a pivotal role in the last 1,500 years of Japanese history. In fact, the history of that period in Japan essentially is the history of the samurai.”

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.

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Apr
04

“Masakatsu Agatsu,” by Dan Kawakami

“Masakatsu agatsu, true victory is victory over oneself, is commonly interpreted as being in control of oneself. It is said that one must have control over oneself before one can control others. While this interpretation appeals to common sense, closer analysis seems to raise more questions than it answers. Is there a battle between a ‘self in control’ and a ‘self out of control’? If the ‘self in control’ is victorious, by what process and strategy was the victory achieved? What happens to the ‘out of control’ self? And most importantly, what is the nature of the ‘self’? Because of the vagueness surrounding the concept of self, it may have limited value as an explanatory principle for optimal functioning in a situation of self defense and, by extension, in all of life.”

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Apr
03

Brian Kagen pick: “The Japanese Tradition,” by Guillaume Erard

“The Japanese Tradition series is an hillarious video series dealing with of the Japanese culture produced by the Japan Culture Lab. I found a few of their videos on Youtube and they have to be taken with a pinch of salt to say the least.”

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.

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Apr
03

“Respect in the Martial Arts,” by Robert

“I received a comment last week that didn’t make it past initial review, meaning it was a bit rude. The thrust of the comment was simply that practicing martial arts was a decent enough thing to do with one’s time but that bowing and referring to senior instructors by strange titles should be beneath me. As a general rule, I have referred to my instructors in a teaching environment simply as Sir or Sensei; however, when writing about my instructors I refer to them by the ranks they were given my the organizations they teach in, sometimes this title has been master. It is not up to me to determine if this is a proper title, it is a title that has been awarded. Mostly, the instructors I meet are not comfortable with this title and have requested to be addressed simply as sensei, or sifu in the Chinese arts, or in other occasions Ted or Joe. When writing I feel the need to give the respect that 30 years of training earns even if the individual might prefer to be called Jack in person.”

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Apr
02

“Like Pushing on a Rope,” by David Shevitz

“Last night, a new student stepped onto the mat.

Immediately, he was noticed by the rest of the dojo. This was due to facts: first, he is a genuinely nice guy. Great personality, very polite, good sense of humor. Before class started, he kept introducing himself, shaking people’s hands, and so on. The second reason? He’s a very big guy. I mean, this is the kind of guy who you would expect could be playing pro or semi-pro football. And, in fact, he use to play football quite a lot, was an avid wrestler, and studied judo for some time. His primary reason for coming to the dojo was something that I hear I lot: he wanted exercise, and he often heard interesting stuff about aikido, so he wanted to try it out.”

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Apr
02

“Irimi – He Who Hesitates Is Lost!,” by Nev Sagiba

I once saw a fight between a tall boxer with long arms and a very short guy.

The tall guy was trying to use the length of his arms to keep the little guy at a distance and prolong the fight. The little guy, must have had an urgent appointment somewhere and had no time to waste. He simply entered under the tall guy’s guard and pulverized him into a sound sleep. The fight was over before it had begun.

This basically epitomizes the essence of all combat. To enter inside the opponent’s threshold, establishing kuzushi and finalizing quickly and skillfully.

All high standard and useful physical combat is IN-FIGHTING. No combat can, by definition, “be safe.” Aikijutsu was designed for final close quarter in-fighting. Aikido is merely the kindergarten of aiki with a thin coat of quasi-philosophy borrowed from most other, already existing ethical/moral core-value precepts. That does not make an Aikido cult special, but it does make the treasures Aikido training can teach, of immeasurable and far-reaching value to the individual and to the world.
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Apr
01

“Aikido Books: Try to know what you’re buying…,” by Clark Bateman

There are a couple of disturbing developments in the book world today. Despite all the upside that the burgeoning print-on-demand publishing business has brought to those who enjoy books, and to those who otherwise would not be able to write them, there comes along with it a bit of a seedy element that can cost you money if you fall prey.

The first is the “information harvester” publication, which is often no more than an electronically-produced compilation of info taken from public domain sources (most notably, Wikipedia). Wikipedia has no real rights of control over the information it distributes, so it is not illegal for the data to be reproduced, even for profit, by anyone who wishes to do so, as long as the source (Wikipedia) is credited somewhere in the publication. The resulting “book” is usually nothing more than what shows up in an automated “mining” operation performed on the pages of Wikipedia, wherein every reference mentioning the word “aikido”, for example, is pulled out and compiled in book form, usually unedited, and certainly produced by people who don’t know diddly about aikido. Not only that, but the source of any quotation is usually listed by name as an author, even if they’ve never written anything in their life! Not only that, but Wikipedia is user edited, so the information there may not even be correct. The result is often a book which you will usually pay too much for, that is a mass of disjointed, irrelevant, redundant, misquoted and basically useless information, sitting on your bookshelf gathering dust.
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Apr
01

“Zen & Traditional Martial Arts,” by Krista de Castella

“So, I’m sitting here in seiza and my legs are killing me. It’s my first time to zazen and I’m trying to observe the pain, but just can’t understand how people can mediate through this kind of torture. ‘Stop thinking Krista… concentrate on your breathing… Surely it’s been half an hour already… I wonder if the monks would notice if I try to wiggle my toes back to life… where is the pain coming from when I can’t feel my legs…?’ I steal a quick glimpse of Yamashiro-Sensei. He’s sitting across the room from me poised in lotus position, his long hakama pants draped around him. He looks so peaceful and dignified, just like the monks sitting on either side. I don’t know how they do it. To be honest, this isn’t exactly what I had in mind when Sensei first invited me to come to Zazen…”

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