Feb
28

“Women in Aikido: A brief introduction,” from The Accidental Aikidoist

“Just this past Wednesday I had the honor of having the night’s class taught by Mary Heiny Sensei, 6th Dan. Her site can be viewed here. But as a brief introduction of her she is one of the few (if not the only) high ranking female instructor of Aikido in the world who studied with O’Sensei. She also studied extensively with Michio Hikisuchi, 10th Dan for a while after his passing.

I’m sure it is the same with other martial arts but it’s always interesting to see women instructors do their thing. Let me give you a short discussion on what I have noticed about women instructors – and women Aikidoka in general.”

Click here to read entire article.

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Feb
27

“An Upright Stance and Posture Reflect a Healthy State of Mind,” by Nev Sagiba

Soft hands, strong hara further reflect this spiritual equilibrium good manners and reasonable behaviours that refrain from unseemly arguments and thereby not inflaming unnecessary conflict.

Strong at the core and accommodating at the perimeter is Aikido. Not only as dojo practice, but also as a universal principle. Unskilled dilettantes reverse that and thereby reveal their status. I can’t put it more bluntly to make clear what to correct. Top heavy use of force is bound for a fall. This applies to everything. Without a foundation even the best house cannot stand, but merely makes itself an inconvenience until it fails and falls.

This in all things. You cannot have “heaven” without “earth,” or vice versa. Yin and yang are mutually reliant and mutually inclusive opposites that ultimately mutually enhance. Simple principles of existence when applied, serve well.

It is preferable and more sustainable to trade good, services and cultural wisdom than bullets, bombs and devastation. Either path has a tendency to escalate towards a logical conclusion. The choice, if we love future generations, is a no-brainer.
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Feb
27

“One cut,” From The Martial Traveler

“There’s a famous quote from Musashi Miyamoto’s Book of Five Rings:

‘You can win with certainity with the spirit of one cut. It is difficult to attain this if you do not learn strategy well. If you train well in this Way, strategy will come from your heart and you will be able to win at will. You must train diligently.’

So, the question is, what does that mean? What is ‘one cut’? I asked my Sensei, and he gave me his interpretation, which I now give to you, filtered through my understanding (which is to say, any errors are mine and not his!)”

Click here to read entire article.

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Feb
26

Recommended reading: “Interview with Hakaru Mori of the Takumakai” 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.

We have nearly forty dojos, with a total of about six hundred members. The reason we have grown to be such a large organization is, I believe, due to our use of the seminar system, which began at the Asahi Newspaper Company for teaching groups of students. Originally, the classical martial ways were taught one-on-one, as individual lessons. I suspect that Sokaku Takeda O-Sensei taught on an individual basis as well. However, we could not teach the way it was done in places such as the Asahi Newspaper Dojo, and so we organized things into a seminar-style approach where we gathered together those who wanted to learned and taught them.

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Feb
26

“Why Learn Martal Arts? Hint… Fighting?,” by John W. Zimmer

“The more I have entered into this quasi social networking blogasphere I have come to realize that there are plenty of the more esoteric karateka that seemed to have divorced themselves from the notion that the end goal of any martial art is to ultimately defend oneself! I mean on the one hand it is good that one has the option to fight or not in today’s society but are we in danger of losing sight of the prize?”

Click here to read entire article.

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Feb
26

“Status of Aikido Journal newsletter,” by Stanley Pranin

I wanted to update those of you who are on our newsletter mailing list and have not received anything for the last several days. By way of explanation, the ISP hosting our mailing server was recently bought out by another firm and the new company relocated to a different area. Our dedicated mail server was shutdown without notice.

We are currently evaluating the situation and will probably move to a weekly or perhaps twice-weekly mailing through our email management partner Aweber, one of the leaders in this field. Our recent 24-hour sale mailings have been sent via Aweber, with excellent results. They provide a multitude of features and statistics that help us understand our customer base better. We think this will work out best in the long run for readers and for us.

If you are not yet on our mailing list and would like to be, please follow this link:
Signup link for Aikido Journal email newsletter

Thank you!

Stanley Pranin

Feb
25

Recommended reading: “Interview with Morihei Ueshiba and Kisshomaru Ueshiba”

The article below with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba and his son, Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba, 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.

O-Sensei: In my opinion, it can be said to be the true martial art. The reason for this is that it is a martial art based on universal truth. This Universe is composed of many different parts, and yet the Universe as a whole is united as a family and symbolizes the ultimate state of peace. Holding such a view of the Universe, aikido cannot be anything but a martial art of love. It cannot be a martial art of violence. For this reason, aikido can be said to be another manifestation of the Creator of the Universe.

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.

Click here to read entire article.

Feb
25

“Aikidoka’s Shugyo,” by Flo Li

“I saw a translation of the Tao Te Ching (道德經) naming the Tao (道) as the Great Integrity. In my engineering experience the word integrity means ability to withhold structural properties. The Cambridge dictionary definition of integrity refers to the quality of being whole and complete, or the state of being unimpaired. In mechanical engineering we also stress the importance of structural integrity. In any kind of construction, we combine materials together to complete a working whole. And this working whole must withstand outside stresses being applied. If the bridge you are standing on is unable to hold its structural integrity, the whole would break apart and the bridge might crack or worse collapse.”

Click here to read entire article.

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Feb
24

Recommended reading: “The IAF – Some Reflections” by Peter Goldsbury

The article below written by International Aikido Federation Chairman Peter Goldsbury 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.

What I am saying is that aikido is a living, breathing art and that conflicts occur. This fact should be recognised. Conflicts cannot simply be pushed under the tatami in the hope that they will go away. Many disputes arise because of lack of communication and I have suggested that an autocratic structure which places great emphasis on the role of the individual shihan makes ‘bottom upwards’ communication very difficult. By providing as one of its functions a general forum for communication among aikido organisations and between aikido organisations, aikido shihans, and the Aikikai Hombu, the IAF can be a source of support for these organisations, for the shihans, and also for the Hombu. A vast reserve of trust and goodwill towards the Aikikai has been built up over the years from many thousands of aikidoists overseas & their teachers. This is something which needs to be protected and nurtured and the IAF has an important role to play in this.

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Feb
24

“Simple Mind,” by Fin Valino

“In 1994 a movie based on a 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom hit the big screens. The movie? Forrest Gump.

The main character in this movie, Forrest Gump, was a man whose intelligence was well below average. He grew up an only child who was raised by his mother (the movie never explained what happened to this father). The movie followed Forrest’s life from childhood to life as an adult raising his son as a single father.

What struck me about this movie and the character and what possessed me to write about it in my Aikido journal was how very Zen-like Forrest lived his life. Most people would attribute his willingness to accept his situation and whatever people threw his way to the fact that he was dumb or stupid. But the way I see it… He was simple minded. He had simple mind.”

Click here to read entire article.

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Feb
23

“34 year-old mystery solved!” by Stanley Pranin

Today I had a big surprise waiting for me. One of Aikido Journal’s Facebook fans was kind enough to send me the following link of a Japanese-language movie whose English title is: The Power of Aikido. Being curious, I clicked on the link and lo and behold saw the figure of the Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba doing a stylized randori demonstration as the introduction to a commercial Japanese martial arts movie. When the title came on in Japanese, I was stunned: 激突合気道 (Gekitotsu Aikido, literally “Crash Aikido”). I had been looking for this film for 34 years!

Here is the announcement I wrote back in 1976 when this movie first came out:

“O-SENSEI MOVIE RELEASED IN JAPAN
Aiki News learned recently that a commercial movie dealing with the life of O-Sensei as a young man was released in Japan in November (1975). The movie, with the unfortunate title, ‘Gekitotsu Aikido’ (Crash Aikido), was produced by a major Japanese film company, Toei Films. It stars Jiro Chiba as Morihei Ueshiba, the young man, and the well-known actor, Ryunosuke Kawada, as the famous religious leader, Onisaburo Deguchi. The film is directed by Shigehiro Ozawa. We don’t have any information on the content or quality of the movie but it certainly will be interesting to see its effect on the Japanese and possibly the world public.”

[Quoted from p. 11 of Aiki News #16, January 1976]

Not surprisingly for a commercial film, this production plays fast and loose with historical fact. In fact, very little of the story line bears resemblance to real life events in the life of Morihei Ueshiba. Having some knowledge of this subject, I have a few observations to make.

First of all, the script writers had access to and the cooperation of Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei. There were a sprinkling of details that only an insider would have known about. One such detail in particular caught my eye. When Morihei opened the “Ueshiba Juku” in Ayabe in 1921, Onisaburo Deguchi brushed a scroll for him to display with these characters, a great honor. This scene appears in the movie and the resulting scroll is an exact reproduction of the original. Kisshomaru’s hand was certainly at work here. Morihei even took this scroll with him and hung it in his Kobukan Dojo when it opened in 1931. Have a look for yourself.

Although most of the facts are totally jumbled up compared to real events, one can at least get an idea of the historical milieus of the wilderness of Hokkaido and the atmosphere of Ayabe, the religious center of the Omoto Church.

For those purists who love details, I’ve compiled a little list of characters and names that appear in the movie and what they correspond to in reality.

Morihei Ueshiba = Morihei Ueshiba
Hatsu Ueshiba = Hatsu Ueshiba
Engal = Engaru
Kitouryu = Kito-ryu
Yagyu-ryu = Yagyu Shinkage-ryu (probably)
Shiten School = Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu jujutsu
Soubei Honda = Sokaku Takeda
Onisaburo Deguchi = Onisaburo Deguchi
Scene of Ueshiba thrusting hanging balls in Ayabe garden is true
Ozaki Sensei = composite of Admiral Isamu Takeshita and Vice-admiral Seikyo Asano
Sanae = perhaps name suggested by Morihei’s niece of the same name

Altogether, I enjoyed watching the film. The action is at times quite mediocre, but sometimes reasonably well-choreographed. Anyone with a bit of knowledge of aikido history will have a great time trying to figure out who is who. Please have a look for yourself. Also, be sure to turn on the English subtitles.

And thank you T.K., for your amazing find!

Feb
23

“The 36 Strategies, #36: Run Away,” by Rick Matz

“Next to The Art of War by Sun Tzu, The 36 Strategies is the most widely known Chinese book on strategy. Where AoW is almost a textbook like overview of the subject, The 36 Strategies attempts to teach the general concepts of strategy with six groups of six maxims each.

Before we examine the last of the 36 Strategies, let’s review what we’ve read so far:

The 36 Strategies, briefly translated by Thomas Cleary, in The Japanese Art of War.”

Click here to read entire article.

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