Apr
11

“When it’s time to move on,” by David Shevitz

“The phone call was a welcome one, and not unexpected. An old friend of mine, a fellow aikido instructor, was on the other end of the phone. I had been trying to reach him to see if he was able to come to a seminar I was hosting, and if I could provide any assistance to ensure he had a comfortable (read: economical) trip. The voice that greeted me on the other end of the line was filled with that calm resignation that comes only from someone who has made a difficult decision, and now must share the results of that decision.”

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Apr
10

“(Martial) Art Imitating Life,” by Felicia H.

“Whenever a person who is brand-spanking new to martial arts comes into the dojo and we start with the basic hand and foot positions, I am the first one to encourage them to scream – loud, often and like a banshee – because their lives could someday depend on it. Especially with children, I let them know that an evil-doer trying to get them to go ‘away’ by force wants them to remain as quiet as possible. Never let them stun you into silence because using your voice is a way of fighting back.”

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Apr
09

“Padwork And Movement Drills Against Multiple Attackers,” by John Law

“One very safe method for getting a handle on fighting multiple opponents is windsucking. This is a drill they use over at DKK, something that Gavin Mullholland came up with I believe. In simple terms it involves one person striking the kick shields and/or thai pads of 2 to 4 others, while they move and jostle/barge the striker. It’s simple but puts a lot of pressure on the striker particularly when tired and it doesn‘t take very long to get tired!”

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Apr
09

“Aikido and the Universal Spirals,” by Marco Rubatto

morihei-ueshiba-os02-boeicho

“In Misogi no Jo, O-Sensei claimed to perform a “purification” of the mat from “evil spirits” and it is clear that he did that through spiral movements!”

In recent times, several scientists, both physicists and mathematicians, are realizing the importance and the deep connection of spiral forms in our universe.

Finding empirically such a geometry in the world around us is rather natural: in nature, spirals are very common. Draining water in bathtubs, tornados, and whirlpools are all clear examples of the spiral form that arises from these phenomena.

But there are spirals almost everywhere, even where we wouldn’t expect to find them. If we take the image of a match just lit, we can spot in the early moments the natural geometric behaviour of smoke around it and we can see that it assumes clearly a spiral shape!

But that’s not all! Galaxies are spiral-shaped too, which suggests that we find this occurrence both in the infinitely big as the infinitely small. There are spirals formed by the pistils in the crown of a sunflower, as well as in shells or in the arrangement of the petals of a rose.

Again… we intuitively know that the human body is full of spiral forms. The ear lobe, the lines of our hands, etc. We have even found that there are spirals which approximate quite well the spontaneous nature of human profiles. In the specific case, spirals derived from the logarithmic function that makes them, in turn, the geometric shape more similar to the numbers of the convergent and famous Fibonacci sequence, containing the equally famous “golden ratio” which our entire universe seems to be built upon.

But this is a different story and for our purposes we should look beyond. The key question is: why is this ubiquitous geometry so important?

In physics, it seems that the energy might have been transformed into matter through a spiral shape in the first instants of the Big Bang as it now appears that matter goes back to its energy state (and possibly has been ejected in some other dimension?) through the well-known phenomenon of black holes.

Therefore, there are essentially two kinds of spirals, each of them with a different pole. The first kind is able to focus a dense critical energy built around its center and throw it to the periphery (Big Bang), while the other is able to attract the energy from the outside and concentrate it around its center (as in the black holes).

And this is something more than a theory. It is in fact well known and accepted by everyone! Hurricanes are formed by spirals of “positive polarity” and can lift objects they encounter on the ground and throw them in the air, tangentially to their rotation.

On the other hand, whirlpools do exactly the opposite: they attract boats or whatever floats in the surface of the water and sink them. This is an example of a receptive spiral motion that we could call of “negative polarity”.
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Apr
08

“Who Controls the Technique, Uke or Nage?,” by Nev Sagiba

In Aikido partner kata training where a single technique or set of combined techniques or counters are practiced, who controls the technique? Uke or Nage?

The word “throws” is used a lot, by many, but if this were the case it would no longer be Aikido, but a form of judo expressing the same-old-same-old bully-victim paradigm of one person “doing something” to someone else following a contest of some kind.

In such case, not only is it not Aikido, but nothing has been learned of the Founder’s paradigm of transcending violence. “Throwing” someone or pushing “them” over plays into the very illness true Aikido was formulated to transcend!
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Apr
08

“Tools of the Sensei,” by Matthew Apsokardu

“One of my instructors, Ann-Marie Heilman, has a rather intense day job. She has to guide children with autism and other special needs in a classroom environment. As you might suspect, her job entails slower lessons, more attention per student, and emotional understanding. But it also comes with random bouts of violence and sporadic launching of bodily fluids.

The real challenge of this job is the bureaucratic freeze placed on teachers and administrators regarding what they can do to defend themselves and control the children. Teachers must essentially cover-up and take beatings handed to them (don’t underestimate the angry violence 11-13 year olds can dish out). Luckily Mrs. H has years of training to guide her in protecting herself while caring for the children and keeping them safe. Other teachers are not so lucky and have been choked, clawed, and hit with blunt objects to the point of unconsciousness.”

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Apr
07

Recommended reading: “Interview with Seiseki Abe” by Stanley Pranin

The interview below with Seiseki Abe Sensei of Osaka, 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 met Ueshiba Sensei at the Osaka Dojo of Bansen Tanaka Sensei. At that time I had no idea that it was the opening ceremony for the dojo. I was just passing by when I suddenly noticed a sign that read Morihei Ueshiba. I guess that it was some kind of (mysterious) guidance from O-Sensei; anyway, I went right in. That’s when I realized that the dojo had been open only the day before, and that the display, at the misogi-kai, was given by the same Ueshiba Sensei. When I mentioned it, I was immediately taken upstairs. There I asked Ueshiba Sensei, “How did you ever learn such a wonderful budo?” He answered, “Through misogi” Now, I had been doing misogi since 1941 and when I heard that Aikido came from misogi, suddenly, “snap” the two came together. Then and there, I made up my mind that I had to dedicate myself to learning Aikido and stick with O-Sensei to the bitter end.

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Apr
07

“The friction grip,” by Dan Djurdjevic

“While I’m on the topic of reflexes, I thought I’d deal with one that I’ve previously alluded to but which I think deserves specific attention, namely the ‘grip reflex’.

What is the grip reflex? Briefly put, it is the human tendency to ‘hold on to what you’ve got’ in times of danger or other emergency. The origins of this reflex are easy to understand; when control is of the essence (eg. in climbing, holding or pulling etc.) your capacity to keep a firm and constant grip with your hands is vital.”

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Apr
07

Message from James Friedman: 5th Annual San Francisco Aikido Project June 22-26

Thank you for coming to the San Francisco Aikido Project website. We will be hosting the 5th Annual San Francisco Aikido Project on June 22-26, 2011.

Our featured guests this year will be Christian Tissier Sensei 7dan, from Paris, France and Bruce Bookman Sensei, Tenzan Aikido Kai-cho from Seattle. The seminar is hosted by James Friedman Sensei. The seminar will be held at Suginami Aikikai in San Francisco, California. Aikidoists of all styles are welcome.

For a complete list of instructors, please click here

For registration information, please click here.

Apr
06

Recommended reading: “Interview with Paolo Corallini” by Stanley Pranin

The interview below with Paolo Corallini Sensei of Italy, one of the closest students and supporters of Morihiro Saito Shihan, 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.

Toward the end of my first stay in Iwama, Saito Sensei handed me a letter containing several questions, which thanks to the help of Mr. Pranin I succeeded in understanding. He wanted to know what I thought of his teaching method, the Iwama-style, and my experiences with this form of aikido. In addition, he requested that if my response was positive that I talk about Iwama aikido upon my return to Italy. I realized at that point that I must do something and that it was not fair that I was the only one to have the good fortune of such a marvelous experience. One evening after explaining the aikido situation in Italy and central Europe to Saito Sensei, I sincerely invited him to come to my country to conduct a seminar. After a long silence, Saito Sensei accepted my invitation. This event determined my future. From that moment on I dedicated myself completely to him, in order to make his technical and spiritual genius known to all of those with whom I would come into contact.

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Apr
06

Photo portfolio of screenshots from Katsuyuki Kondo’s Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu Basics, Part 2 DVD!

Please have a look at this excellent selection of screenshots from Katsuyuki Kondo’s Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu Basics, Part 2 DVD that we have uploaded for you on our facebook page!

Album of screenshots from Katsuyuki Kondo’s Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu Basics, Part 2 DVD on Facebook!

Our special for this week is a DVD by Menkyo Kaiden Katsuyuki Kondo titled “Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, Part 2.” This video is the second of a 2-DVD set providing expert instruction in the fundamental techniques of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, the art that forms the basis for the majority of Morihei Ueshiba’s techniques. The second video is a DVD showcasing one of the most significant aiki-related arts events ever held, the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Sokaku Takeda Sensei’s death. Held at the Nippon Budokan, this unforgettable exhibition includes performances by some of the top practitioners of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, aikido, and classical Japanese martial arts. We offer this set at the special price of $24.95 for both DVDs, your chance to expand your martial arts video collection.

Click here for more information and to order the Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu Basics, Part 2 DVD and 50th anniversary of Sokaku Takeda commemorative Demo DVD at the special price of $24.95

Apr
06

“Fit Tip: Cardio Machines,” from TKRIblog

“You have seen them, the rows and rows of expensive cardio machines upon which so may people rack up countless hours. Most martial artists are more drawn to the kettlebells or dumbbells then they are to these behemoths. Few of the folks perched on theme look very fit anyway.

So why should you consider including them in your fitness program? There are a couple of good reasons actually. First, if used correctly they can provide a good cardio workout while reducing the pounding your joints take. Second, some machines, like ellipticals are designed to reduce the opportunities for you move in ways that can be harmful to your body.”

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