Archives for June 2011


Gallery of Screenshots from Morihiro Saito’s “Lost Seminars 1 & 2” DVDs

Morihiro Saito Sensei conducting seminar in Italy in 1986

We have just uploaded a series of 31 photos from the “Lost Seminars 1 & 2” DVDs which depict Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, instructing at seminars held in Italy in 1985-86. As you will see, these DVDs are filled with clear instruction of scores of techniques from Saito Sensei’s curriculum.

What and extraordinary learning opportunity!

The existence of these DVDs allows you to access top-level aikido instruction from one of aikido’s great masters at your leisure. “Lost Seminars 1 & 2” are being offered this week only at the special price of $24.95.

Click here for more information and to order these DVDs.

Click here to view the gallery of screenshots from Aikido Journal’s Facebook page.


“Daito-Ryu and Omoto: The Two Pillars of Aikido,” by Stanley Pranin

“The figure of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, is an elusive one for chroniclers of martial arts history. This is the case despite the fact that there are still hundreds of first-hand witnesses to his life and work, including his son and successor, Aikido Doshu Kisshomaru. Ueshiba. Ueshiba’s life, which reads like an adventure novel — unfolded in a cultural and religious setting quite foreign to modern Japanese.

In particular, a clear understanding of the crucial roles played by Sokaku Takeda and Onisaburo Deguchi in Ueshiba’s development is essential in order to grasp the spiritual and technical evolution which culminated in the creation of modern aikido. Takeda was the disseminator of Daito-ryu aikijujutsu in twentieth century Japan, and Onisaburo Deguchi was the leading light of the influential Ornoto religion. Takeda’s art provided the physical basis for Ueshiba’s expression — in the form of martial techniques—of the universal spiritual insights gleaned from Onisaburo’s religious teachings.”

Click here to read the entire article.


Review of Stanley Pranin’s “Aikido Pioneers: Prewar Era,” by Robert Noha

“Like the 1950 Akira Kurosawa film “Rashomon,” which shows multiple perspectives of the same event, this book of interviews provides 20 unique perspectives on the life and teaching of Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido. The interviews were conducted by Stanley Pranin, editor in chief of the Aikido Journal.

The interview subjects range from his son and successor Kisshomaru Ueshiba and nephew Yoichiro Inoue to Tenryu, a famous sumo wrestler, and four students who founded their own systems of Aikido: Gozo Shioda; Kenji Tomiki; Koichi Tohei and Minoru Mochizuki.

This book is a priceless opportunity to learn about the life, times and teaching of the Aikido founder. It is especially valuable in that it provides details of the critical era before the Second World War when Aikido was becoming the art it is today.”

Click here to read the full review.
“Aikido Pioneers – Prewar Era” is available here.


Wonderful Technical Resource: Morihiro Saito’s “Lost Seminars, Volumes 1 & 2”

Learn Aikido’s Fine Points under the guidance of Morihiro Saito, 9th dan!

Our special for this week contains two information-packed DVDs by one of aikido’s most highly-regarded instructors: Morihiro Saito, 9th dan. The DVDs we are offering are titled “Lost Seminars, Volumes 1 & 2.” These DVDs present the outstanding seminars given by Saito Sensei in Italy in 1985 and 1986. Scores of techniques from Saito Sensei’s curriculum, including both empty-handed and weapon techniques, are demonstrated and explained in great detail.

Morihiro Saito Sensei (1928-2002) was one of the closest and most gifted of the thousands of students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. He began his training in Iwama in 1946 and became one of the most highly regarded aikido teachers of the postwar generation. Saito Sensei authored more than 10 technical books on aikido and conducted over 100 international seminars during his lengthy career. He was noted for his superb technical ability and exceptional teaching skills.

The “Lost Seminars” DVD series constitute an amazing store of technical reference material edited specifically for the serious aikido practitioner. One of the most difficult aspects of achieving long-term improvement in the art rests on finding a good teacher. Saito Sensei’s reputation as one of aikido most skilled technicians and communicators is well-known. Though he has left us, his legacy survives through film documents such as these DVDs. They are very useful because they afford you a close-up, intimate view of Saito Sensei and his instruction. Every word he speaks in Japanese appears on the screen in English. You can review his teachings over and over to master every fine point.

At Aikido Journal, we have worked for decades to create materials that will bring you information you absolutely need about aikido, and all aspects of its history and evolution. You can choose to pursue aikido as a hobby, or get serious about your training, and master the art’s wonderful techniques and philosophy. This week’s special offer is yet another excellent opportunity to further your studies and understanding of aikido. Your investment of $24.95 will be well spent and prove a continued source of study and inspiration! Act now!

Order This Week’s Special Offer Now — Only $24.95!


Recommended reading: “Interview with Shizuo Imaizumi (1)” by Marc Abrams

The interview below with Shizuo Imaizumi Sensei, founder of the Shin Budo Kai, 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.

When O-Sensei would return to Iwama, someone had to accompany him. It was easy to do, but it took a long time because you had to go back and forth between Tokyo and Iwama. Kisshomaru Ueshiba usually didn’t ask an instructor to handle this. When I went to Iwama with O-Sensei for the first time, we went to Ueno Station by taxi and then took the Joban line up to Iwama. When we arrived at Iwama Station, O-Sensei started to walk fast because he knew his way back home. I had to run after him because I was carrying his bag and some souvenirs he had received.

[Read more…]


Video blog: Stanley Pranin’s lecture on “Morihei Ueshiba and Sokaku Takeda”

Stanley Pranin presents a 28-minute lecture titled “Morihei Ueshiba and Sokaku Takeda.” He explores the complex relationship between these two martial arts geniuses, and explains how Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu techniques form the basis for most of the techniques of modern aikido.

Among the topics covered are the following:

  • Background on Sokaku Takeda
  • Meeting of Morihei and Sokaku in Hokkaido
  • Morihei’s study of Daito-ryu under Sokaku
  • Sokaku’s 1922 visit to Ayabe to teach in Morihei’s dojo
  • Morihei’s licensing as an certified instructor of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu
  • Morihei’s connection with Sokaku after becoming a professional martial arts instructor
  • Strain in relationship between Morihei and Sokaku over money issues
  • Morihei distances himself from contact with Sokaku and Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, and founds his own art called “Aikido”
  • Technical influence of Daito-ryu on modern Aikido
  • Resources for study and training in Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu

Click here for more videos and a special set offer on Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu by Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei


“What Is Your Responsibility in Training?” by George Ledyard

“Ok, so I am attending a seminar with a teacher who decides to do a sword class. I am excited because this teacher’s sword work is extraordinary and I love sword. The teacher started out with a basic flow exercise, which as it happens, is in the first chapter of his sword video which has been around since VHS days. He demonstrated then set folks to work. Folks were pretty much mangling the exercise so he stopped them and showed it again, this time a bit slower. The same thing happened. In fact it happened four times. By the end Sensei was furious. And, I have to say, I was furious.”

Click here to read entire article


“Keeping up with technological innovation,” by Stanley Pranin

I usually date the start of my formal aikido research activities as April 1974. This was when I first published “Aiki News,” a very modest four-page newsletter. This little labor of love was centered around the translation of a series of biographical articles on Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba published in a Japanese sports newspaper. These early newsletters were produced on copy machines since the print runs were too small to justify offset printing. The sheets were then folded and stapled together by my “volunteer” students who didn’t manage to escape fast enough from the dojo after class!

Around the same time, I offered for sale 8mm films, mainly of O-Sensei, as a resource for those wishing to see what the Founder’s techniques actually looked like. 8mm film was and is a surprisingly durable medium. I still have the film masters which have seemingly withstood the test of time well. All of this was just a hobby, but the satisfaction of the work made me continue.

Moving forward to the early 1980s by which time I was living in Japan, videotape became ubiquitous and all of the O-Sensei films had to be transferred to this new medium. In those days, editing of videotape without employing the services of video professionals–very expensive!–was very primitive. What I could do consisted of little more than insert titles, sometimes handwritten or made by rubbing on letters from plastic sheets available at stationery stores. The newsletter had become a bilingual magazine of sorts, large enough to justify being printed on an offset press. This, too, was quite expensive and usually ate up any revenues from magazine subscriptions.
[Read more…]


Background on Sokaku Takeda: “Interview with Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei”

This week, in connection with our special on Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei’s instructional DVDs on Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, we have provided readers with a lot of information on the art and teachings of Sokaku Takeda. Sokaku was the disseminator of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu and the main technical influence on Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Aikido devotees today who want to understand the origins of their art will be fascinated by the curriculum and training principles of the Daito-ryu system.

See Daito-ryu in action here

Here is more information for you of a historical nature in the form of an interview with Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei:

“Sokaku Sensei traveled all over, from Hokkaido in the north all the way to Okinawa in the south. It is also remarkable that he taught not only in police departments of one particular region, but throughout the entire country. I believe that if his technique was fake or ineffective, he would have been considered useless because police departments could easily exchange such information. The case would have been the same with the military . He also taught at many military establishments. It is sometimes said that Sokaku Sensei’s relationship with the military was limited and only through the Omoto religion and the connection with Morihei Ueshiba Sensei. In fact, however, Sokaku Takeda Sensei had direct connections to the military. This is clear from the enrollment books he kept.”
[Read more…]


Two videos by Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei unveil the world of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu

Katsuyuki Kondo demonstrating at Budokan c. 1985

Serious aikido practitioners will naturally be express an interest in familiarizing themselves Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, the classical bujutsu school that served as the basis for aikido techniques. The two video clips featuring Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei that we have prepared will introduce you to this fascinating subject.

Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei is one of the world’s leading exponents and historians of this genial art disseminated in twentieth century Japan by famous jujutsu master Sokaku Takeda. Kondo Sensei has a thorough understanding of the historical events underlying the evolution of Daito-ryu techniques into modern aikido forms. Moreover, he has studied in great depth the complex relationship between Sokaku Takeda and Morihei Ueshiba.

Click here to view the two video clips and for ordering information on our Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu DVD set


“Aikido and Feet,” by Bartłomiej Gajowiec

“Human feet are a part of a whole self-coordinating
system of body balance and stability.”

Feet are our body’s supporting elements. A close look at them will reveal the whole genius of Mother Nature: elasticity and endurance. Hardness and softness. The rear part of your foot is a supporting part that bears body weight and load and distributes it on the ground along with the front part of the foot. Feet are also one of the transverse structures of human body. This means they are not parallel to most of the body’s longitudinal elements (blood vessels, limbs, trunk, lymphatic channels, long muscles…), but transverse to them and strongly change the function of body in the case of any reflectoric and structural changes.

The feet and two-storey buildings are alike: the joints connecting the foot and tibia bone are the first floor, and the foot itself is the ground floor. The same is the case for the posterior and anterior part of the foot.

The feet are connected to the calves with ankle ( tibio-tarsal hinge joint), “it controls the movement of the leg relative to the foot in the sagittal plane. Those movements are essential for walking on flat and rough ground.” (I. Kapanji). Inherent movements within every joint are so called “joint play movements,” passive movements that are basic physiological normal movements along every single axis possible, and in all planes that are built-in the joint construction. With strong short ligaments surrounding the whole complex, the feet do accommodate regular and irregular ground demands.
[Read more…]


Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei explains the basic principles of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu

Sound martial principles and combative psychology

In this clip, Menkyo Kaiden holder, Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei explains the basic principles of Daito-ryu, to wit: Rei, Metsuke, Maai, Kokyu, Kuzushi, Zanshin, and Kiai. This clip is excerpted from the Aikido Journal DVD set titled “Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu – Hiden Mokuroku.”

Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, the major technical influence on modern aikido, was a martial art taught in the first part of twentieth century Japan by the famous Sokaku Takeda of the Aizu clan, a certified martial arts’ genius. Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba met Sokaku in 1915, and immediately became engrossed in training. Daito-ryu, in Morihei’s words, “opened his eyes to budo.”

The “Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu — Hiden Mokuroku” DVD series by Kondo Sensei is the perfect introduction to Daito-ryu for beginners and experienced martial artists alike. Expertly demonstrated and explained, these two DVDs cover all of the techniques of the Hiden Mokuroku transmission scrolls of the formerly secret Daito-ryu school.

How to Order

At Aikido Journal, we have worked for decades to create materials that will bring you information you absolutely need about aikido, and all aspects of its history and evolution. This week’s special offer is yet another excellent opportunity to further your studies and gain an understanding of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, the martial system on which aikido was built. Your investment of $24.95 will be well spent and prove a continued source of study and inspiration! Act now!

Order This Week’s Special Offer Now for only $24.95!