Aug
31

Recommended reading: “Touching the Absolute: Aikido vs. Religion and Philosophy” by Peter Goldsbury

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 title of this essay has been chosen mainly for aesthetic reasons and does not really give an accurate indication of the contents. I propose to consider aikido in opposition to religion and philosophy only in a very broad sense and do not imply that they are mutually exclusive. However, there are some issues here. Many claims have been made for the efficacy of aikido and not just as a system of self-defence. Practice is supposed to have a dimension that can be called spiritual. But some questions have to be posed. Can the practice of aikido help one to be a good Christian, or Muslim, or agnostic, or even atheist, and if so, how? In what sense can aikido practice be said to ‘complete’ the spiritual and moral life of a practising Christian, for example. Are there any relationships between aikido as a spiritual pursuit and mysticism? In what sense could aikido be called ‘sacramental’? In other words, does aikido practice automatically lead to desirable spiritual results? Does it make sense to talk of aikido as a philosophy, or philosophical system? If not, what is the difference?

[Read more...]

Aug
31

Brian Kagen pick: “Sonja Sutherland – A Martial Artist Making a Difference,” by Paul Rest

“Sonja, a black belt, began her Aikido practice in 1995 with Robert Nadeau, Sensei. At that time she was in her second year of Feldenkrais* training, and writes, “…I started Aikido to see how Aikido would inform my Feldenkrais practice. I knew that without an embodied understanding of these dynamic relationships, my Feldenkrais practice could not fully develop.”

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.

Aug
31

“Fighting like your grandfather: the meaning of ‘style’,” by Dan Djurdjevic

“Many years ago I had the good fortune to meet and train under Professor Bata Milosevic of the Belgrade University, a researcher of medieval Balkan fighting methods and the founder of ‘Svebor’ – an attempt to collate these fighting methods into a modern system.”

Click here to read entire article.

Aug
30

Brian Kagen pick: “The white hakama of Yushinkan,” by George McCall

“Nakayama [Hakudo] was highly influential in the Butokukai and therefore the kendo community at large. He practised around the country and many of his students went on to become kendo leaders in their own right. Quite a few of the innovations he came up with at Yushinkan (and promoted by him and his students) are currently taken for granted in the kendo community now, including parts of the reiho we use, and even the method many of us tie our men-himo. This article deals only with one such thing: the origin of the use of white dogi (hakama in particular). I’ve heard a lot of explanations for its use, from the ordinary to the mystical, with people sometimes even arbitrarily defining rules for wearing white. This occurs even in Japan. However, the reason for its initial introduction is as mundane as it can be, despite what connotations people may or may not give it now.

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.

Aug
30

“Joint Locks Considered Dangerous,” by Chris Pearson

“In the martial arts, a ‘joint lock’ is a technique that targets a joint in an opponent’s body, holding it near or outside its normal range of motion. The purpose of a joint lock is not to inflict harm, but to issue a credible threat of harm. The recipient of a joint lock is expected to submit: to move, or to stop moving, as directed by the applicant.”
Click here to read entire article.

Aug
30

Seiichi Sugano Shihan passes away in New York City

We have been notified of the passing of Seiichi Sugano Shihan in New York City on August 29. A notice has been posted on the Australian Aikikai site announcing his death:

“Sugano Shihan has passed away in New York. He challenged illness with great courage, then passed away peacefully, in the arms of his family. Sensei touched and changed the lives of generations of aikido students around the world. We were privileged to know him.”

Sugano Sensei was among the last generation of uchideshi at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo to have studied directly under Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. He was dispatched to Australia in 1965, later taught in Belgium and Europe, and beginning in 1988, at the New York Aikikai until his passing.

An Aikido Journal interview with Sugano Sensei is available here.

Further information is available in French and English here.

We would like to acknowledge Christiaan Zandt and Clark Bateman for notifying us of this sad news.

Aug
29

Black Belt Interview with Koichi Tohei, November 1965

The interview linked here is a rare conversation with Koichi Tohei Sensei, 10th dan, conducted during the summer of 1965 in Los Angeles during his USA tour. At that time, the publisher of Black Belt magazine was its founder, Mito Uyehara, a practitioner at the Los Angeles Aikikai.

“I definitely keep my one point at all times. If you do it only in the dojo, you cannot develop your ki because the training you receive in the dojo is too short. Only an hour or two a day is not enough. You must do it until it becomes a part of you and you do it naturally – unconsciously like breathing. Too many beginners do not really understand and keep concentrating on the one point (a point 2 inches below your navel) almost in a physical manner. They look at their expanded bellies and think they are doing it right. They do not understand they must concentrate, not intensively, but calmly.”

Click here to read entire article.

Click here to view information on new DVD featuring Koichi Tohei, 10th dan.

Aug
29

“Kiai! My First Time,” by Felicia H.

“I’ve always been very physically active. In grade school it was kickball, tag and later, the middle school’s softball team (I played first base). As a freshman in high school, a few months after watching my uncle in the NYC marathon, I decided to give the track team a try. I ran and jumped my way right into an athletic scholarship, seeing the US and earning a B.A. without any school loans hanging over my head in the process.”

Click here to read entire article.

Aug
29

Recommended reading: “Interview with Yasuo Kobayashi (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.

I also went through a difficult period of several years trying to spread the art. However, I think my personality is such that I end up training with everyone in an enjoyable way and so I have decided to devote myself to the spread of aikido. In the beginning we did a lot of severe training, but there were quite a few people who did not like that kind of practice. Some of them would say it was enough if the beer they drank on the way home from training tasted good [laughter], and there were people who were satisfied with only that. However, the uchideshi or professionals must practice proper techniques.

[Read more...]

Aug
28

“I Lost a Student With Too Much Philosophy,” by Serpentstaff

“This was quite a few years ago already. And while the student in question did not use that exact phrase, I don’t think he’d disagree. But let me give the background. As you’ll know if you have read other parts of this blog, I do have a strong sense of a philosophy underlying traditional training, and I try to teach in accordance with it. I am also respectful of the style/organization of which I’m a member, and I ask my students to meet that organization’s requirements in terms of learning a code of ethics and certain other tenets.”

Click here to read entire article.

Aug
28

Recommended reading: “Teaching and Shu-Ha-Ri” by Yukiyoshi Takamura

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.

“Shu-ha-ri” literally means embracing the kata, diverging from the kata and discarding the kata. The pursuit of training in a classical Japanese endeavor almost always follows this educational process. This unique approach to learning has existed for centuries in Japan and has been instrumental in the survival of many older Japanese knowledge traditions.

[Read more...]

Aug
27

“Minimalism,” by Sean Ashby

“I think I’m going to add another dimension to the subjects about which I ruminate on this blog. In short, ‘minimalism’.

Allow me to explain. What, you may wonder, does ‘minimalism’ have to do with budo, which is, after all, the focus of this blog? Maybe nothing. But then, maybe it does, if even in a broad, general sense.”

Click here to read entire article.