Jun
14

“Look Mean; Avoid Fights?,” by John W. Zimmer

“Ok imagine you are on the way to the airport in a major US city but you have to fill up the gas tank. It is 4:30 a.m. in the morning and you’ve found a station near the airport! Unfortunately this airport is near the barrio and some of the people are plain scary looking.”

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Jun
14

Recommended reading: “Interview with Kazuo Chiba (2),” by Stanley Pranin

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.

One of the most important things I recall from those times was the high quality of the people gathered together there to practice aikido. All of them had an intense interest in budo. Aikido wasn’t being practiced on the global scale that it is today, but the atmosphere generated by the uchideshi and the other students really motivated me. O-Sensei was still relatively energetic and in good health then, too.

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Jun
13

“Can you learn Aikido from a video? Of course not, but…,” by Stanley Pranin

I remember once asking a famous teacher of a classical Japanese martial art if he thought a person could learn his budo by watching a video. His answer was, not surprisingly, “Of course not!” This seemed like a reasonable answer, one that I had heard many times before, and I thought nothing of it. Then, a short time later, someone at one of his seminars asked permission to videotape his class. “Dame da! Waza ga nusumareru!” (Absolutely not! My techniques would be stolen!) was his curt reply.

Later, he confided to me that a couple of students had visited his dojo from Eastern Europe. They had never studied with him or any of his affiliated instructors. Saying that they had merely been studying on their own by watching a videotape, the by-now-curious teacher told them to demonstrate what they had learned. He said he was amazed at how well they could mimic the martial forms just by studying the videos.

I never forgot what he said and, after many years, publishing and marketing videotapes, I have come to believe that such visual materials can indeed be a valuable aid for the martial arts learner.

This especially became the case after I began editing the Lost Seminars DVDs of Morihiro Saito Sensei. I realized that an edited version of a videotape containing complete subtitles would maximize the experience for the viewer, particularly if that person had some experience with Saito Sensei’s style of aikido.
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Jun
13

“A Civil Warrior?” by William Terrell

I distinctly remember the first time I worked a full shift at the Sheriff’s Office. I was driving northbound on the interstate enjoying the sensation of being THE MAN. The Poe-lease. The Five-O. I was armed with a 9mm Smith & Wesson semi-automatic firearm, pepper spray, a ticket book and just enough experience to be dangerous. A poet I was not. A warrior I was really trying to be.

Then, reality. My mind began trying to embrace the reality that whatever came out of that state-of-the-art super-duper Motorola radio would be my responsibility. Whether it be a burglar alarm, a murder, a broken down vehicle, a rape, a funeral escort, a suicide, a stranded traveler, an armed robbery, an unruly juvenile, a molestation, a hazard in the road or any of the other innumerable versions of malice and mayhem I would have to respond.
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Jun
13

“Striking Distance,” by John Vesia

“Middle-Aged Martial Artist recently penned a post about punching range, in particular how boxers use ‘reach’ to their advantage. In the Sweet Science, having long arms is considered favorable as a skilled fighter can use them to keep an invasive opponent on the outside. The pugilist’s jab or the karateka’s forward leg front kick both work effectively to stop an aggressor in his tracks.”

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Jun
13

Brian Kagen pick: “The Martial Arts Myths,” by Torbjorn Arntsen

“You may or may not be aware of the volume of searches for terms such as “deadliest style of martial arts”. It’s actually quite a substantial amount. Having taught and trained the fighting arts for many years, I tend to find this somewhat disturbing – as well as sad.”

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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Jun
12

“Zanshin in Aikido,” by Marc Abrams

“The literal translation of ‘Zanshin’ is ‘remaining mind.’ Many people use the term ‘Zanshin’ in a limited sense that refers to the continued awareness on the attacker after you have executed a technique. Other people use this term to refer to remaining aware of all that is occurring around you. I frankly prefer the ‘wider’ use of this term.”

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Jun
12

“Transmission by Feel,” by Nick Lowry

“Information bound in words is an amazing and efficient means of transmission, but it has the weakness of the circle game at the party…”

http://www.aikidojournal.com/blog/media/lowry.jpgA student once asked a zen teacher about “Transmission” and wondered how a clear message, a clear and undiluted dharma reality, could be transmitted from person to person across time and culture, from the historical Buddha’s time to our own…

“But, isn’t it like the old party game where one person whispers something to the next person and on and on around the circle until the original message is completely lost?”
“No, it’s not like that at all.” replied the teacher.
“Then… what is it like?”
In response, the teacher slapped the student on the cheek, and said “Pass it on.”

The student did so and around the circle went the slap from person to person until it came all the way back around to the teacher’ own cheek.
“Yep that’s it.” said the Teacher.
The student bowed deeply in gratitude.
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Jun
11

“Concatenation,” by Nev Sagiba

The word means chain of events.

It comes from the Latin word for “chain.”

It points to a sequence, series or succession and may refer to anything from elements of mathematics, geological soil profiles, chemical chain structure, actions and almost anything else.

For the purpose of this discourse it will be used to define a chain of events.

When thinking is lucid, by that I mean clear as opposed to cluttered by opinions, direct perception becomes enabled and the obvious then stands out.

Good solid basic principles stand out to the clear mind. The sort of things everyone says “I knew that!,” but only after it’s been pointed out. And if you did already know some points, it’s good to be reminded anyhow.

A chain of clear thinkers collaborating on a co-creative endeavour can bring about the deemed to be impossible, to an all-gain conclusion. This is what so called “enlightenment” is about. The outcomes of harmony. What you can bring about because of clarity. Enlightenment is not sterile and self serving, but all inclusive.
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Jun
11

VII. “Modern Discipleship in a Martial Way,” by Charles A. McCarty

“One of the several influences of the increased availability of martial arts training is the lack of emphasis on the combat effectiveness in the modern budo…”

The contemporary role-playing utilized by teachers such as Terry Dobson to reaffirm the validity of the principles upon which Aikido is built contrasts with the traditional methods by which classical martial forms have been taught, as well as with the modified teaching techniques more recently used to disseminate a modern art such as Aikido. Each of these tools for teaching, from classical to contemporary, are appropriate to the given cultural setting and age. It would be well to consider some of the more traditional forms of teaching, for they may reflect and illuminate the foundations of the martial arts and of Aikido itself.
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Jun
10

“The Realities of Street Self Defense,” by Neal Martin


“It is often said by martial artists that if they use the skills they have practiced for years in training in a real street self defense situation then their actions will be perfectly justified because they will be doing so in ‘self defense’.

To my mind, this is a very dangerous attitude to have if you are a martial artist. The consequences of such a generalized viewpoint are that martial artists begin to believe that every technique they practice in the dojo is a perfectly valid response to any situation that happens on the street. Thus we have those who think it is okay to break the arm of a drunk who took a wild swing at them, we have those who think it okay to break someone’s neck from behind or retaliate to being pushed with an over the top flurry of strikes, and all because their instructor told them it was okay to do so because it’s ‘self defense’.”

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Jun
10

Recommended reading: “Founder of Aikido (2): Day in and Day Out Training” by Kisshomaru Ueshiba

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.

The Founder had students all over the country. Moreover, because he prided himself in the number and variety of his acquaintances from all levels of society, he was beseiged by visitors starting from early in the morning and he spent large amounts of time in receiving them. In addition, the occasions when he would, on invitation, travel to teach or lecture were not few. However, even on those occasions, his mind was always in the dojo and he seemed to be absorbed in thinking about some new method of training. It seemed as though he disciplined himself in this manner out of the belief that one day training missed was a step backward. At least as far as I observed personally from my earliest recollections as a boy, except for a short period at the end of his life when he was forced to remain bedridden being faced with cancer, this is how the Founder’s daily life was spent.

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