Sep
18

“Leadership,” by George Ledyard

“I just heard the news that Sugano Sensei had passed away. Another direct student of the Aikido Founder whose lifetime of experience is no longer available to us. Here in the United States we have lost A. Tohei, Toyoda, Kanai, and now Sugano Sensei. That leaves Yamada, Chiba, Saotome, and Imaizumi Senseis from that generation of post war uchi deshi who trained directly under the Founder.”

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Sep
18

Recommended reading: “Interview with Katsuaki Asai” 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.

Listing [the uchideshi] in order of enrollment, there were Mr. Nobuyoshi Tamura, Mr. Nishiuchi, Mr. Yoshio Kuroiwa, myself, Mr. Masamichi Noro [founder of the Ki no Michi based in Paris, France], and Mr. Yasuo Kobayashi. People like Mr. Yoshimitsu Yamada [New York Aikikai], Mr. Kazuo Chiba [San Diego Aikikai], Mr. Seiichi Sugano [New York Aikikai], and Mr. Mitsunari Kanai [New England Aikikai] enrolled much later. Around 1959, Mitsugi Saotome [founder of Aikido Schools of Ueshiba in the U.S.A.] came to the Hombu Dojo from the Kuwamori Dojo. Besides the uchideshi there were people like Mr. Ikuo Iimura, Mr. Kubodera, Mr. Matoba, who took beautiful ukemi, Mr. Sakai, and Mr. Hiroshi Kato.

[Read more...]

Sep
17

Brian Kagen pick: “Lia Suzuki – Aikido Kenkyukai Santa Barbara Still Kicking as Nonprofit,” by Ray Estrada

“Suzuki said her nonprofit is trying to provide South Coast residents with a path toward peace. It encourages the practice of the Japanese nonviolent martial art of aikido, promoting it as a vehicle for self-improvement and spiritual growth, as well as a harmonious way to resolve everyday stress and conflict. Suzuki received her sixth-degree black belt in aikido in January. She teaches the “art of peace” to anyone age 3 or older. The nonprofit also runs various community projects, such as its sponsorship program for low-income and at-risk children who are given the opportunity to train in aikido.”

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.

Sep
17

“Rank in Aikido, a Perspective,” by Nev Sagiba

Dojo ranks are not really ranks at all.

In the good old days we had the classifications of senseis, sempai and kohai. It was more than sufficient to define an authentic measure of progression.

These are service levels, which by virtue of time and skill developed over that time, allow a person to care for, assist, nurture and facilitate the growth of those they serve. Of course, there is a reciprocal obligation of respect and care.

Sensei, as the prefix “sen” denotes, simply means the individual doing the guiding and leading has merely been at it for a brief period longer than those having newly begun. A few years, since no one lives more than three score and ten. He is not a guru. He is not a “spiritual “ leader. He is definitely not, or should not be a political leader of a cult like malady, seeking “followers” to train “under” him. Rather a person reasonably capable of allowing individuals to find and reclaim their own personal power by keeping a potentially high risk environment safe, without omitting exemplary context and understanding of an art that is more than merely a handful of “techniques.”
[Read more...]

Sep
17

“Riai,” by Jeff Dooley

“One element of Saito Sensei’s Aikido that perennially stands out is his emphasis on the technical parallel between empty-handed Aikido, or Tai Jutsu, and Aiki Weapons practice, or Buki Waza. Goto Sensei often says, ‘I used to think that maybe he meant this as a metaphorical parallel, but later I saw that it is a literal parallel: they are the same.’”

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Sep
16

Recommended reading: “Looking Back at the All-Japan Aikido Demonstration” by Stanley Pranin

The article below from 1999 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 recently attended the All-Japan Aikido Demonstration sponsored by the Aikikai Hombu Dojo for perhaps the 20th time. The 1999 event was held on May 22 at the Nippon Budokan in commemoration of the late Aikido Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba (1921-1999). There was a huge portrait of Kisshomaru Sensei hanging above a flower display behind the shomen. An impressive sight, indeed, and a constant reminder of his legacy! I think this year’s demonstration was especially important in a psychological sense in that, among many things, it represented a strong show of support for the new Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba. Moriteru Sensei is now 48 years of age and, coincidentally, the same age as his father when he assumed the title of Doshu.

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Sep
16

“Conflict Resolution in Teaching,” by Sensei Strange

“Early in my aikido career I was largely unknown in the dojo. I was the college kid who came stumbling in with dirty hair and smelling like coffee and cigarettes. I found the practice very interesting, but then one of the senior instructors noticed me and took me under his wing. He spent a lot of time training me, encouraging me and inviting me to walk with him down the path. I felt like I was getting more out of my practice than I was getting out of school. This instructor spun my world around, gave me the gift of drive and motivation. He helped me fall in love with training and the path. I learned that the basis of practice is relationships with people. I found a mentor.”

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Sep
15

Brian Kagen pick: “Midlife Lessons from Aikido,” By Nannette Matilac

“I marvel at the age-old wisdom inherent in the techniques, like the principle of the unbendable arm and the movement in strong beautiful circles, whether these are centrifugal or centripetal. Watching the black belts move with effortless grace reminds me of all the ninja TV series I watched from childhood. Blessed are those who are born to practice aikido – those who transform like superheroes on the mats. I know I can never be like them in this lifetime. Still clumsy even after a year of aikido practice, I found comfort in the fact that most of the black belts have been practicing for years, if not decades.”

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.

Sep
15

“UNIVERSAL NEXUS,” by Will Gable

“In our practice of Aikido we are relying on a universal pole of connection of principles that while practicing them allow us to let go of our fixation on the horizontal linear consensus reality that seems to prevail in our common everyday interactions. Instead of stopping in the midst of an attack we maintain the principle of movement in relation to the momentum of the energy field that is moving towards us. Movement helps us release ourselves from the stagnation of static thinking which tends to lock one in place, again, principle transcends ego, and allows us to move beyond what the mind thinks it wants to do in relation to the situation upon us. We need to have reliance on the universal subconscious that spirit in its magnificent genius has bestowed upon us to collectively be able to learn many principles and simultaneously apply them without thinking to the situation at hand with continuous movement being at the forefront.”

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Sep
14

Recommended reading: “A Conversation with Daito-ryu’s Other Child” by Ellis Amdur

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.

All this makes the world of Korean martial arts one of constant ferment, showing some of the best and worst traits of martial arts practice. On the down side, inflated ranks, even rank for sale, are rife, and political maneuvering among the practitioners occurs at all levels. Commercialism takes place on a mind-boggling scale, and traditions are sometimes changed to suit the whims of a fickle public. On the up side, however, creative individuals, who have diligently trained in the basic requirements of their respective arts, have a lot of room to breathe and to continue to develop.

[Read more...]

Sep
14

“Internal Power within Martial Arts,” by Joe Bellone

“There are many teachers of martial arts that like to talk about internal power and chi as something fantastic and mysterious (especially in the west) this is usually the result of misunderstanding (on the part of the teacher) or outright deceit (because it’s good for business).

The term ‘internal,’ as in internal martial arts, is often misunderstood. The term ‘internal’ refers to working with our inherent and inborn strengths under the direction of the mind.”

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Sep
13

Amazon book reviews for “Aikido Pioneers – Prewar Era”

We would like to thank Aikido Book Guy and Charles Warren for taking the trouble to post books reviews of Stanley Pranin’s Aikido Pioneers – Prewar Era on Amazon.com. Here is what they have to say:

Charles Warren: “Stan Pranin has divided his aikido career between practice and researching its historical background. He is probably the only person to have met and talked with so many of the “old timers”, and here is one of the fruits of his efforts. If you have moved beyond a superficial curiosity about aikido, or if you wish to expand your perspectives beyond one teacher and one style, Pranin sensei is your source. This is an important addition to his work. I won’t try to go into detail here, but while Morihei Ueshiba, O Sensei, was widely recognized for his martial prowess in the pre-war era, Japan was full of excellent martial artists. What quirk(s) of fate brought O Sensei to such international prominence that Americans (British, French…) now study his art? What have we (almost) lost in the process? This is one of the few places to look.”

Aikido Book Guy: “If you are interested in learning about the history and important characters behind aikido in its formative years, then you need this book. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, has amassed more material on this subject than Stanley Pranin, and much of this would never be heard or passed on without his important work. This book is a LOT of bang for the buck. An unbiased and emphatic double thumbs-up… ”

Click here for more information and to order “Aikido Pioneers – Prewar Era”