Nov
19

“Pivot,” by Nev Sagiba

One day many years ago, I decided to conduct a class focussing intently on the pivot.

People had been moving too straight.

On that particular day, a new guy turned up. He was heavily bearded with long hair in well neglected dreadlocks and his clothing was rough. He had a good attitude, and as is our dojo policy, he was accommodated ad hoc, with an admonishment to acquire a gi as soon as possible.
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Nov
19

“Kuzushi is useless unless it is effortless,” by Patrick Parker

“Have you ever noticed, when practicing renzoku (combination techniques) in aikido or judo, that the more effort that you put into forcing the first technique to work, the less likely you are to get the second technique? Well, consider this…”

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Nov
18

“Learning Issues,” by Mary Stein

“A friend and I went to hear a woman named Jennifer Arnold give a talk the other night. Arnold trains dogs to be service animals–to assist paraplegics by opening drawers, to signal a deaf person when there’s a phone call, and so on. For twenty years she has been teaching dogs to obey and to perform such helpful functions. Her main point was that you start by understanding the way dogs learn best—through their innate and all-important wish to please their human ‘person.’ And the primary way to let a dog know that he has pleased you is to feed him as soon as he begins to obey, first with actual food treats, and later with words of praise. If you have a grip on these two principles, and plenty of patience, you can go far with a dog.”

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Nov
18

Passing of Robert Aoyagi Sensei of Hawaii

Aikido of Hilo just announced the sad news of the passing of Robert Aoyagi Sensei on their Facebook page:

Robert H. Aoyagi Shihan, Chief Instructor of Aikido of Honolulu, passed away on November 16, 2010. He had just celebrated his 90th birthday and over 50 years in Aikido. Condolences go out to his family, especially to his devoted wife, Dora.

I met Aoyagi Sensei once in 1979 while accompanying Saito Sensei for a seminar. He was a fine person, excellent leader, and devoted aikidoka. R.I.P. – Stanley Pranin

Nov
17

“Death and Dying in Practice,” by Lawrence Bienemann

“Japanese warrior folklore says that samurais were warriors who woke each morning saying, ‘Today is a good day to die.’ While they meant it literally, the rest of us might benefit from some sort of reminder to stay in our day. But in this culture, the recognition that any day could be our last is considered kind of a downer. We certainly don’t want to wake up thinking that this would be a good day to die. We seem to prefer things like, ‘Where’s the coffee?’ or ‘What do I need to do today’ or ‘Maybe I should call in sick?’”

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Nov
17

Recommended reading: “Interview with Kenji Tomiki (1)” by Stanley Pranin

The interview below with the famous prewar student of Morihei Ueshiba, Kenji Tomiki, 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 first began to practice judo when I was about 10 years old. Later when I was to enter the university, I came up to Tokyo. But it wasn’t until I became one of the key officers of the university judo club that I was first able to get to know Jigoro Kano Sensei, the founder of Kodokan judo. It was in 1920 that I first met him directly. Kano Sensei was born at the end of the Edo Period in 1860 and died at the age of 79 in 1938, so he was of the same generation as Ueshiba Sensei’s teacher, Sokaku Takeda Sensei. Kano Sensei founded the Kodokan in 1882 so he was about 24 or 25 at that time.

Aikido Journal Online has the world’s largest archive of Aikido-related material including articles, interviews, photographs and video clips. As an Aikido Journal Online subscriber you will have access to a variety of website resources reserved exclusively for members. These include:

  • Full access to the ever-growing Aikido Journal archives consisting of more than 650 articles.
  • Full access to Stanley Pranin’s “Encyclopedia of Aikido” featuring some 900 entries with over 200 rare photos.
  • Full access to an ever growing collection of technical and historical video clips featuring many of the best-known exponents of aikido, Daito-ryu aikijujutsu, and other arts.

Besides these advantages, by becoming an Aikido Journal Online subscriber, you help support our staff in its continuing work of researching and documenting the history of aikido, Daito-ryu aikijujutsu, and related martial arts.

Finally, we are pleased to offer two free gifts for those readers who subscribe or renew for two years. In an effort to avoid any duplication of gift items, we have expanded the options to choose from. Click here to find out more information about our subscription/renewal options.

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Nov
17

“Poland 2010 with Katsuyuki Shimamoto Shihan,” by Anna Sanner

Prelude: Warsaw

On October 20th after a week of training and merrymaking in the Netherlands, a small group gathered around Katsuyuki Shimamoto Shihan and his wife ‘Mama-san’ boards KLM flight KL1365 from Amsterdam Schipol to Warsaw F. Chopin Airport.

A happy welcome committee of Polish hosts picks us up at the airport. Warm hearts in cold Warsaw. While Shihan & Co are taken to Ibis Hotel, their domicile for the duration of our stay, I feel privileged to get in the car with Paweɫ and Ewa P., and their second son (who will be born in a few weeks), the sweet family that has agreed to bless me with their hospitality for the next week.
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Nov
16

Recommended reading: “Can Competition Enhance O-Sensei’s Aikido?” 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.

Another of the most frequently advocated solutions to this thorny issue is the introduction of competition to add a realistic dimension and provide a quantifiable way of measuring one’s skills against an opponent. The argument is often framed in such a way that the measure of a martial system is based on how exponents fare, or presumably would fare, in a match situation. For example, who would come out on top if fifth dans in judo and karate were to match skills? Is taekwondo superior to kung fu? Can an aikidoka with no cross-training in another art hold his own against an exponent of any of these more combat-oriented martial arts? Such speculation is endless and has failed to lead to any sort of consensus.

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Nov
16

“Refining the Reflexes,” by Felicia H.

“My sensei has given everyone in the dojo a nickname and my son’s is ‘Squirrel’ – because he is very jumpy when someone is throwing a technique at him. I mean, VERY jumpy…”

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Nov
15

Brian Kagen pick: “California Aikido Association Dojo-cho & Senior Instructors”

“The Aikido of Northern California Yudansha Kai was organized in 1974 by black belt holders dedicated to the task of exploring the path shown by Master Ueshiba, and to teaching Aikido philosophy and techniques to all those who wished to follow. In 1980, the name of the Yudansha Kai was changed to Aikido Association of Northern California (AANC) to take into consideration the many people represented by the association who are not black belt holders. By 2001 the AANC had evolved into 3 divisions and had grown to over 100 member dojos. The California Aikido Association (CAA) was formed in 2002, from a majority of the AANC membership, based upon the principle of training together in friendship with a minimum of formal organizational structure. The CAA is affiliated with Hombu Dojo, Aikido Headquarters, in Tokyo, Japan.”

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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Nov
15

“Self-Protection – diffusing the situation,” by Jon Law

“In his book ‘Tricks of the Mind’ the Illusionist/Magician/Hypnotist Derren Brown recounts a story of when he was accosted by a drunken thug. It’s pretty amusing as he manages to avoid a tricky situation by using a rather abstract distraction technique. Brown confuses the thug and puts him off track by asking ‘Is your garden wall four foot high?’. Bamboozled the thug ended up sitting down with Brown and telling his life story which, although annoying, was preferable to a beating.”

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Nov
14

Recommended reading: “Interview with Mariye Takahashi (1)” by Stanley Pranin

The interview below with Mariye Takahashi 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.

It happened that my elder brother Kazunari Yano was friends with Tetsuo Yoshizato (former Operations Bureau Chief of the Nishi Nihon News and an acquaintance of Kisshomaru Ueshiba). He was practicing aikido and he recommended it to me as something well-suited to women. That was in 1960, back when the old Hombu Dojo was still a traditional residential-style building. As soon as I opened the door, an uchideshi garbed in a splashed-pattern kimono and hakama came rushing out into the small foyer from the front room to greet me. It was Kazuo Chiba [currently of the San Diego Aikikai]. He didn’t have a samurai top-knot, but in all other respects I was sure that I’d run into a real samurai! He dropped into a formal seated bow, hakama pleated immaculately, hands on the floor in perfect form, and said: “Welcome….” I immediately thought to myself, “Oh my, this is it! This must be what I’ve been looking for! There must be something here for me….” (laughs)

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