Mar
31

Recommended reading: “Interview with Shoji Nishio (1992), Part 2″ by Stanley Pranin

The article below with one of aikido’s most innovative teachers, Shoji Nishio Sensei, 8th dan, 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 would often say. “You and your opponent breathe as one so that he comes to strike. What do you do if you disturb his breathing? In aikido we regulate people’s breathing.” Both the opponent and I grow together. Our way of thinking shouldn’t be on such a low level as to need to disturb people’s breathing. Therefore, in our way of doing things there is no kamae (combative posture) or anything. That’s the fastest way.

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Mar
30

“Learning Aikido and Whole Body Memory,” by Nev Sagiba

All sustainable learning goes deeper than the intellect. Species learn from survival, and in those that do survive it becomes a preconditioned adaptation variable.

You learn best by responding actively.

Collecting ideas is not learning as such since nothing is known that can be of sustainable use in opinions and beliefs.

I should refrain, but the object lesson is before us in the current global market recession and the failing polar ice caps and other evidence.

Opinion is error.

Fact is fact. It will not change one atom to suit an opinion. On this basis, finding out is preferable to arrogating.

Failure to respond effectively and resisting or fighting energy can be suffering, but it need not be. The universe is all energy and change. A great ocean of it and infinite nuances of it. We can choose to dance if we alter out attitudes.
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Mar
28

Weekly special: Morihiro Saito’s Aiki Ken & Aiki Jo!

Our special for this week is the famous Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo DVD set by Morihiro Saito Sensei, 9th dan. These DVDs cover all of the basic Iwama weapons forms of the aikido sword and staff curriculum as taught by Saito Sensei over a period of several decades. We offer this set at the special price of $24.95 for both the ken and jo DVDs, allowing all serious practitioners to build their video libraries.

Click here for further details and to order the Aiki Ken and Jo DVD set for $24.95!

Mar
27

“Kisshomaru Ueshiba’s stamp on modern aikido,” by Stanley Pranin

Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei applying sankyo to Nobuyoshi Tamura Sensei c. 1962

Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei applying sankyo to Nobuyoshi Tamura Sensei c. 1962

“Kisshomaru created conditions whereby political rebels who had sided with Koichi Tohei on his split from the Aikikai could return to the good graces of the mother organization.”

I would like to devote a few paragraphs to the profound influence of Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba (1921-1999) on aikido as we know it today. I am prompted to write at this time because I have noted an increasing ignorance of Kisshomaru’s many contributions in a shift towards a focus on the views and activities of the present Doshu, Moriteru Ueshiba Sensei, in his leadership of the Aikikai organization. This gradual change in perceptions is completely understandable as a historical phenomenon and given the passage of time since Kisshomaru’s death 14 years ago.

Why is Kisshomaru arguably the most important figure in aikido history, apart from his famous father Morihei Ueshiba, the art’s founder? Let me outline in brief the scope of his imprint on modern aikido within the context of the Aikikai system, the art’s dominant political entity.

Kisshomaru Ueshiba's first visit to USA in 1963. Front row: Isao Takahashi, unknown, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Jane Phineas, Aikira Tohei. Back row standing second from right, Stanley Pranin

Kisshomaru Ueshiba’s first visit to USA in 1963. Front row: Isao Takahashi, unknown, Kisshomaru
Ueshiba, Jane Phineas, Aikira Tohei. Back row standing second from right, Stanley Pranin

When I met Kisshomaru Sensei in 1963 in Southern California during his first foreign visit, he appeared to be a rather shy, modest gentleman, possessed of a journeyman’s skills in the art. His soft-spoken teaching approach seemed designed to inculcate the basics of the art as taught at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo during this early time frame.

Kisshomaru was vastly overshadowed by the charismatic Koichi Tohei — parenthetically, his brother-in-law — who had already conducted numerous seminars abroad, especially in Hawaii, and was just beginning his foray into the mainland USA. Kisshomaru, by contrast, was seen primarily as the founder’s son and manager of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, the person occupied with administrative tasks. His role as an Aikikai instructor was seen as de rigueur given his position as Morihei’s son, but he was in no way regarded as a technical standout or gifted teacher in a league with Tohei.

When Koichi Tohei resigned from the Aikikai in May 1974, his absence left a huge void that had to be quickly filled for the Aikikai to maintain its prominence as the world’s premiere political body. It was at this point that Kisshomaru stepped forward to assume a leading role in all matters aikido-related, and began to actively reshape the Aikikai according to his vision while casting off Koichi Tohei’s heavy mantle.

Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba at Iwama Taisai c. 1992

Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba at Iwama Taisai c. 1992

Kisshomaru’s new activism took several forms. He worked systematically to standardize the aikido curriculum, and his efforts could soon be seen in the new generation of junior instructors, young men in their 20s and 30s, whose techniques began to closely resemble those of Kisshomaru. This was perhaps no more apparent than in the grooming process of his second son, Moriteru, as the successor to his position as aikido’s doshu. Moriteru’s technique became virtually identical to that of his father, and his pedagogical approach became likewise similar. Besides serving as the model for the young crop of Aikikai instructors, Moriteru’s education would insure the propagation of Kisshomaru’s technical and pedagogical legacy far into the future.

The last half of the 1970s and 80s also saw the publication of numerous technical books authored by Kisshomaru that laid out a formal curriculum that would form the basis for technical instruction within the Aikikai network. His son Moriteru began appearing in these texts as well, initially in a supporting capacity, and later in a more prominent capacity. These books played a strong role in promoting a common teaching approach among teachers and federations within the Aikikai system.

kisshomaru-ueshiba-c1992In a similar vein, Kisshomaru worked to create an official version of aikido history, starting with his biography of his father titled “Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido” in 1977. In addition to providing a great deal of previously unpublished material on his father’s life and the early years of aikido, Kisshomaru’s work staked out the official stance of the Aikikai on a number of sensitive historical issues. These included the following:

  • the influence of Sokaku Takeda and Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu on the formation of aikido
  • a Morihei-centric version of the founder’s involvement in the Omoto religion
  • the minimizing of the extensive connections of early aikido to right-wing political and military figures and institutions
  • the obscuring of the respective roles of Morihei’s nephew Yoichiro Inoue, Kenji Tomiki and Koichi Tohei in the evolution of the art

Kisshomaru skillfully appropriated the image of the founder disseminated by the Aikikai in the service of the organization’s views and goals for the greater aikido community. Morihei’s image served as proof of the unquestionable legitimacy of Aikikai authority, while retaining an opaque quality that resisted close analysis or alternate interpretation. Little by little, a form of “political correctness” took hold within the Aikikai system that discouraged independent historical research and publications of findings that fell outside the scope of acceptable boundaries in the portrayal of Morihei’s life and art.

During the late 1970s through 1996, I interviewed Kisshomaru Sensei for publication on about 12 occasions. I was able to witness first-hand the evolution of the Doshu’s thinking on various historical matters, and to identify sensitive areas that, for personal or organizational reasons, he chose to avoid or downplay.

Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei with Stanley Pranin at last interview, December 1996

Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei with Stanley Pranin
at last interview, December 1996

Kisshomaru’s outwardly soft demeanor concealed a politically shrewd mind that he used in good stead in the furtherance of Aikikai organizational aims. During the last decade or so of his life, Kisshomaru created conditions whereby political rebels who had sided with Koichi Tohei on his split from the Aikikai could return to the good graces of the mother organization. His attitude of forgiveness where deep-seated wounds lingered will no doubt accrue to his credit on analysis by future aikido historians. Kisshomaru also had the foresight to accept various independent and desenfranchised federations into the Aikikai fold, in those instances where their size and cohesiveness met the necessary criteria.

By the 1990s, Kisshomaru’s status as the aikido world’s predominant figure had become cemented within the Aikikai sphere of influence. The unassuming, bespectacled son of Morihei Ueshiba had transformed himself into a force in his own right, and begun to receive fawning treatment wherever he went. Now an elegant, grandfatherly-like figure, he wielded unquestioned authority in all matters concerning the governance of the art within the Aikikai dominion. Kisshomaru’s stamp had been firmly impressed on aikido, and its future influence guaranteed for at least the next two generations through his son Moriteru, and grandson Mitsuteru.

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BEST VIDEO RESOURCE OF AIKIDO FOUNDER MORIHEI UESHIBA AVAILABLE…

Click here for information on the complete collection of Morihei Ueshiba films in downloadable format for $49.95

Mar
26

“An Aikido Life, Part 3,” by Gozo Shioda

“When practicing you have to put all other thoughts out of your mind and achieve a pure heart. You repeat each technique with an empty state of mind. Realizing this empty state of mind is more difficult than you might expect. Therefore, in the beginning, you must consciously make an effort to remove all other thoughts from your mind. The process is the same as realizing a spiritual state of perfect selflessness while sitting in meditation. Through repeated effort to achieve this empty state of mind, you will someday unconsciously realize this goal. It is then that you will have achieved a pure heart.”

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.

Mar
24

Photo Album of Seigo Yamaguchi, 8th dan, on AJ Facebook page

We have just uploaded 11 rare photos of the late Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei from a performance given at the All-Japan Aikido Demonstration c. 1992. This week’s special consists of a 2-DVD set featuring Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei, 8th dan, and his brilliant student Christian Tissier Sensei, 7th dan. The two DVD titles are “Seigo Yamaguchi: A Seminar in Paris” and “Christian Tissier: An Aikido Odyssey”, both now available for only $24.95 during this time-limited sale.

This special will remain in effect for a few more hours, so please hurry!

Click here for information and to order the Yamaguchi-Tissier DVD set at the special price of $24.95 today only!

Click to view the Seigo Yamaguchi photo album on Facebook

Mar
23

Special time-limited offer: Seigo Yamaguchi: “A Seminar in Paris” and Christian Tissier: “An Aikido Odyssey!”

For this week’s special offer, we have what will surely be a highly desirable addition to the collections of aikido enthusiasts everywhere. Our special for your consideration consists of a 2-DVD set featuring Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei, 8th dan, and his brilliant student Christian Tissier Sensei, 7th dan. The two DVD titles are “Seigo Yamaguchi: A Seminar in Paris” and “Christian Tissier: An Aikido Odyssey”, both now available for only $24.95 during this time-limited sale.

Click here for further information and to order

Mar
22

“Blueprint for Standardization of Aikido Testing,” by Stanley Pranin

“Historically, most of the “bones of contention” ultimately resulting in the splintering off of dojos from parent organizations have in one way or another arisen from attempts at creating new governing structures or the expansion of existing political institutions. While it is clear that various segments of the Aikido population favor organizing, it seems that there will always be a significant number of practitioners who will resist efforts both from within and without to complexify existing organizations.”

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.

Mar
21

“Being a Totem Gaijin: 1″ by Peter Goldsbury

The article below by Dr. Peter Goldsbury, Chairman of the International Aikido Federation, 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 was attracted to Japanese culture in general as a result of practicing aikido, but I was attracted to direct, hands-on experience of Japanese culture by actually living in Japan, as a result of practicing aikido under the direction of Japanese teachers, who often talked of their experiences as direct deshi of the Founder. They talked of a world that I wanted to experience directly, for myself.

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Mar
20

“Follow up report on Iwama Dojo,” submitted by Carl

The message below submitted as a comment is from Carl who resides in Iwama. Carl offers a status report of the current damage to the Iwama Dojo as a result of the many aftershocks that have occurred since the horrific earthquake that struck Japan last week.

I’m moved to read that people are already talking about donations to rebuild the founder’s dojo.

At present it is much as is described above with the ceiling caving in and walls at angles. Each aftershock brings the ceiling a little lower. Isoyama Shihan was teaching a seminar in Yamanashi when the quake hit but has now made it back to Iwama. Inagaki Shihan and Watahiki Shihan have been salvaging what they can. All other teachers and deshi are accounted for.

Keiko continues in the Aiki Shrine.

Iwama Budokan is also out of action.

Friends from the Shin Shin dojo came to pay their respects and said the tanrenkan is okay.

Nemoto’s Aiki House and Nisshinkan dojo seem alright – just a bit of broken glass visible from the outside. Nemoto Sensei and his wife are alright I hear.

Electricity and water have now been restored to Iwama although there is still no fuel available and the main joban line will be down for some time.

Carl in Iwama

Mar
20

“You offended me..,” by Nev Sagiba

“You offended me, and this justifies my bad behaviour.” Not really.

Such lack of responsibility reveals the mental illness of the ape instead.

I remember well a schoolyard brawl.  In about the fourth year of primary school, a monumental brawl erupted, following which, one of the teachers was assigned the role of chief inquisitor and interrogator.

One by one she questioned each and every perpetrator in the presence of the others. And for a day, this was class.

Little did we know, an early exposure to jurisprudence.

Finally, after many long hours, the facts began to reveal themselves after whittling down to the root cause where it all began.

A girl. The sweet thing, butter would not melt in her mouth, finally confessed, “But she offended me..” And she had leapt scratching at her verbal assailant, instead of walking away.

Her friend, the meekest and the mildest then picked up a stick. And in interrogation, innocently made the claim, “But I was just holding it up like this..”

The teacher glared. “So you only wanted to look like the statue of liberty. You really had no intention to strike anyone? I find that hard to believe that you were not threatening..”

The luxury of taking offence, at mere words, can be a dangerous pastime. In bygone eras, such gave rise to wars, and death, and spilling of blood and tragedy unmeasured.

The problem, the stress, the suffering resides in the bearer of the offensive words and is merely a reflection of their state of mind. Often when analysed, a mere confession.
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Mar
18

Recommended reading: “Morihei Ueshiba, Founder Of Aikido, Part 3″ by Kanemoto Sunadomari

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.

It was late in the Meiji period (1912) that Morihei went to Hokkaido together with his followers from Tanabe. There were many kinds of people there. Some were serious, others were merely greedy adventurers, some were happy-go-lucky types and others former prisoners or members of violent gangs. The good and bad congregated in the same area.

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