May
23

Recommended reading: “Morihei Ueshiba and Onisaburo Deguchi” by Stanley Pranin

Onisaburo Deguchi (1871-1948)

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.

If Sokaku Takeda can be said to have provided the technical basis for the later development of aikido, it was Onisaburo Deguchi, leader of the Omoto sect, who offered the key spiritual insights that struck a responsive chord in the religiously oriented Morihei. This article focuses on the relationship between the Aikido Founder and Onisaburo, which had a major bearing on the spiritual thinking of Morihei and the ethical framework of aikido.

[Read more...]

May
22

“On the Passing of My Teacher — Soshu, Koichi Tohei Sensei,” by David Shaner

David Shaner with Tohei Sensei in 1979

Two days ago (May 19 at 9:14am [Japan time]) the Founder of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido and Ki no Kenkyukai (Ki Society) passed away at the age of 91. Tohei Sensei was the first to bring the Art of Aikido out of Japan in 1953. I do not have words to describe Tohei Sensei’s influence on my life. His positive impact upon so many around the world is due to his genius at helping people to think and perform to the best of their ability. The learning process is experiential (not mystical); it requires patience, discipline and a commitment tantamount to true spiritual development.

One of the most important teachings of Tohei Sensei is simply to “Be Positive and Grateful”. It is a simple universal principle. If you can learn to choose your mindset and become both positive (in your outlook each day) and grateful in your heart (for simply being blessed with the opportunity to live another day), then you can experience your original connection to the universe itself.

Click here to read entire article.

May
21

“Gravity and Love – A Universal Commonality?,” by Nev Sagiba

Without gravity there would be no form. All would be a void of chaotic dark. Perhaps a soup of undifferentiated, random, sub atomic particles. No light or solidity or forms would exist. Without form, suns and planets to propagate, organic life could not exist to interact and everything we now see and do would be impossible. Life, meaning and individuated consciousness would be impossible.

Aikido techniques are not “done” by “you. They are the result of the meeting of Ten and Chi, Heaven and Earth, and all the forces therein contained. Otherwise they are merely “muscles-pushing-do,” and a farce.

Unless you relax, weight underside and gravity on top, it is not Aikido.

There is no pushing or shoving in Aikido. That comes from the idea of separation. Aikido is musubi, sensitivity and coordinated deep relaxation which good training develops.
[Read more...]

May
20

“On Transforming Your Aikido,” by Stanley Pranin

The man who created aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, was a most extraordinary person. He lived in an age of history that was tumultuous and brought out the best and worst in people. For Morihei, the circumstances he lived in and the people he came into contact with provided fertile ground for his creative energies.

Morihei was the genius who modified the martial techniques he received from his teachers–primarily, Sokaku Takeda–and forged a new ethical vision of the true purpose of martial arts. The techniques of his newly-conceived aikido served as the vehicle for the transmission of his vision to future generations.

We as aikidoka have benefited from Morihei’s foundational work through our own teachers who were his students, and his student’s students. We are three, four, or even five generations removed from the Founder.

Consider the following: where should we go for inspiration and to discover the root principles that underlie aikido? Is it farfetched to suggest that the art’s Founder is a good place to start?

The “Founder of Aikido” DVD that we offer this week contains a goldmine of content. Finally, you can see and hear Morihei O-Sensei as he appeared and moved in his vigorous 70s. Watch his movements and what preceeds them. Observe how he sets up the technique so that his partner cannot mount a strong attack. Notice how he is relaxed when applying techniques.

There is a tremendous amount to be learned through viewing, and reviewing Morihei’s films… over and over again. All aikidoka determined to develop their art and abilities to a high level now have access to the source. Study and grow, and reap the benefits as aikido transforms your life!

Your next step is to click on the link below, and read what is written there. Watch the video trailer which will give you a taste of what to expect in the “Founder of Aikido” DVD. Consider this purchase and what it can mean for your personal development in aikido and your life.

Click for more information and to purchase Morihei Ueshiba’s DVD

Thank you!

May
19

Koichi Tohei Sensei passes at age 91

Koichi Tohei Sensei (1920-2011)

We received this message from David Shaner Sensei about the passing this morning of Koichi Tohei Sensei at the age of 91.

“Dear Aikido Friends, it is with great sadness that I share the passing of Koichi Tohei Sensei at 9:14 this morning in Japan. He was 91 years old. A closed family funeral will occur soon and in some weeks time a formal funeral will be planned in Tokyo where members and friends my be present. With deep gratitude for all his teaching helping many throughout the world to realize their true potential.”

This just received from Ki Society Headquarters in slightly edited form:

“Dear Chief Instructors,

We regret to inform you that Koichi Tohei Sensei passed away at 9:14 this morning. He was 91 years old.

Two weeks ago, he had sense of discomfort on his chest and it was found that he had inflammation of the lungs, so he had been receiving treatment. He went to intensive-care unit (ICU) twice and came back to general ward each time with his strength of Ki, however, his heart got weak little by little this morning and he passed away.

After discussion in his family and it was decided that the closed funeral will be held within his family including Shinichi Tohei Sensei and the formal funeral for all members will be held in Tokyo some weeks later for those who would like to be present.

The date and place of the formal funeral will be announced to all of you after a decision has been reached.

We are very sorry for the inconvenience but would appreciate your kind understanding for the above.

Sincerely,

Wataru Hatakeyama
(sent on behalf of Shinichi Tohei Sensei)
Overseas Division
Ki Society H.Q.”

Further reading:
“Encyclopedia of Aikido” entry for Koichi Tohei Sensei
Interview with Koichi Tohei Sensei (1996)
Interview with Koichi Tohei Sensei (1997)
Wikipedia entry of Koichi Tohei Sensei

May
18

Passing of Seiseki Abe Sensei on May 18

Seiseki Abe (1915-2011)

We just received news via Chuck Holland of the passing of Seiseki Abe Sensei at the age of 96. Seiseki Abe Sensei was one of the closest students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba of the postwar period. A resident of Osaka, in addition to his many decades of devotion to aikido, Abe Sensei was a renowned calligrapher and actually taught calligraphy to O-Sensei. He remained active teaching until shortly before his passing.

Below is the text of the sad news from Haruo Matsuoka Sensei:

“I received the sad news a few hours ago that Abe Sensei, our mentor, passed away last night (LA time). He passed away peacefully on May 17th (Tue.), at 10 pm (LA time). So I decided to participate in his funeral this coming Saturday at 11:30 am (Japan time; Friday night in LA time). I will leave tomorrow (Thur.) morning and will be back on Monday (next week). I’m sorry I won’t be able to teach the classes at the both dojos the rest of this week.

I was glad to see Abe Sensei last month and shake hands. And we should proud of that we did many seminars over the years. We have many memories and many great moments together with him and raised many capable people. I truly, truly appreciate all of your support on and behind the scenes to make many positive things happen with him since ’91.

We now would like to send prayers for him and celebrate his life!

Thank you

Haruo Matsuoka”

Here are two interviews with Abe Sensei conducted in Japan by Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin:
Interview with Seiseki Abe (1982)
Interview with Seiseki Abe (1998)

May
18

“Budo and Symbolism,” by Paolo Corallini

“In the Far East everything has a deep connection with symbolism. Ancient traditions and customs still co-exist with the most advanced technological progress and modernity. Even in these contemporary days, when man seems to be more and more projected towards esotericism, an unaffected world survives where the most noble and knightly virtues can still inspire us: it is Budo.

Budo means “the way of peace through the practice of Martial Arts.”This word comes from BUSHI (referring to the nobleman, the knight, protector and guardian of the established order, guarantor of justice, and the holder of the highest ethics and morals: he is the keeper of the Temple) and DO (which denotes the Way, the search for spirituality). Budo, then, is the way followed by the knight, as the man that embodies the noblest virtues and applies these virtues to the service of society.”

Click here to read the entire article.

May
18

Video trailer for Morihei Ueshiba’s “Founder of Aikido” DVD

 

This exciting DVD is now available at the special price of $19.95!

The martial art created by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba evolved over a period of half a century. Well into his golden years, Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei displayed amazing abilities in the dojo, being able to easily handle strong young men many years his junior. What was the secret to his effortless strength? Koichi Tohei Sensei attributed it to the Founder’s “ability to relax.” Morihei himself declared that he channeled his energy from a universal source. Whatever the wellspring of Morihei’s power, his demonstrations left uninitiated onlookers entranced as they beheld his magical movements.

Our special for this week consists of a priceless DVD containing some of the most important historical footage of the Founder to have survived. At last, you will have a chance to peer into O-Sensei’s world, and study his graceful movement and masterful technique during the final years of his career. You will also have an opportunity to listen to Morihei’s actual voice explaining his views on aikido and spiritual matters.

Click here for more information and to order the “Founder of Aikido” DVD at the special price of $19.95, this week only!
May
17

Bruce Bookman’s response to Stan Pranin’s article, “Virtues of Aikido”

I would very much like to thank Stan Pranin Sensei for his thought-provoking article on the Virtues of Aikido. The article first appeared in 2002 but it took seeing it again recently to inspire me to write. Stan listed many attributes of aikido practice. Additionally, he devoted a considerable portion of the article to the lack of martial spirit that is prevalent in aikido practice today, why that is the case and made suggestions for improvement. The issues he brought up about the state of aikido practice are what I will address here, in my response.

Stan’s comments shine a spotlight on the need for serious aikido students and instructors to emphasize martial effectiveness. He goes on to say that focusing on stronger attacks and doing some cross training to learn more effective ways to punch and kick would help the aikido student to practice more realistically. Mentioned in the article is the need for nage to practice kiai, atemi, and taking the balance of the attacker. Stan explains how a martial atmosphere in the dojo brings not only effectiveness of technique but also a heightened consciousness that follows the practitioner off the mat and into daily life. I agree with these points as well as the recommendations for how one can improve one’s practice.

[Read more...]

May
17

Recommended reading: “Interview with Koichi Tohei (2)” by Stanley Pranin

The interview below with Koichi Tohei sensei, aikido’s first 10th dan and founder of the Ki no Kenkyukai, has been selected from the extensive archives of the Online Aikido Journal. Tohei Sensei is an outspoken individual and one of the towering figures of aikido in the postwar era. At the present time, Tohei Sensei is 91 years of age and retired in his ancestral home in Tochigi Preference. 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.

Ueshiba Sensei was an individual who showed what it means to exist in a relaxed state, to possess true ki, and to have a unified mind and body. His posture was as solid as a rock and you couldn’t budge him no matter how you pushed or pulled; yet he would toss me effortlessly without ever letting me feel that he was using any strength at all. I was astounded that such a person should actually exist in the world.

[Read more...]

May
16

“Close-up of O-Sensei in his Final Years!”

Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei featured in this week’s special!

The martial art created by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba evolved over a period of half a century. Well into his golden years, Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei displayed amazing abilities in the dojo, being able to easily handle strong young men many years his junior. What was the secret to his effortless strength? Koichi Tohei Sensei attributed it to the Founder’s “ability to relax.” Morihei himself declared that he channeled his energy from a universal source. Whatever the wellspring of Morihei’s power, his demonstrations left uninitiated onlookers entranced as they beheld his magical movements.

Our special for this week consists of a priceless DVD containing some of the most important historical footage of the Founder to have survived. At last, you will have a chance to peer into O-Sensei’s world, and study his graceful movement and masterful technique during the final years of his career. You will also have an opportunity to listen to Morihei’s actual voice explaining his views on aikido and spiritual matters.

Believe that you, too, can develop your skills in aikido to an extraordinary level through hard training and careful study. Morihei Ueshiba proved that this is possible by his own example. Why should you limit yourself and be content with being a casual participant in the art when your life can be transformed through training in Morihei’s aikido?

In these hard economic times, Aikido Journal is making every effort to reach out to as wide an audience as possible through these special weekly offers at extremely affordable prices. This is such an opportunity. Act now… as time waits for no one!

Click here for more information and to order the “Founder of Aikido” DVD at the special price of $19.95, this week only!

May
14

“To Play or Not To Play,” by Nev Sagiba

A Buddhist friend once said to me, when speaking of a verbal attack that had happened, “I just don’t buy into it. I don’t play their game.”

Whilst some people take verbal attacks very seriously, I consider them all mild, since they shed no blood. I’m referring to people who raise their voice, press buttons and hurl insults. The problem is entirely theirs.

If a threat is evident, take note and adjust maai accordingly.

In instances of verbal venting it is indeed possible to, “Not play their game.”  The rest is navigation, a skill some fare in better than others.

Computers are a new field now taking over the world and which, because of money and other security issues such as all the other things we do, are having to be taken very seriously indeed.

But a computer can have no bearing on the rising of a tide or a falling coconut. Outside of an electric plug, all computers fail and we are faced with air, earth, temperature shifts and water or the lack of it, issues far more important to whether we live or die, that an computer.
[Read more...]