Sep
29

Video: Steven Seagal at the 1995 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration

Steven Seagal is a well-known action movie star who has showcased aikido in many of his films. Steven lived in Japan for a number of years where he operated an aikido dojo in Osaka. After first following Koichi Tohei Sensei upon arriving in Japan, he later became part of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo system. Steven was closed to the late Seiseki Abe Sensei and hosted seminars in Osaka in which people like Noriaki Inoue, Morihiro Saito, Hiroshi Isoyama, and other famous teachers participated.

Early in Steven’s movie career, there was somewhat of an “aikido boom” due to the popularity of his movies. He was instrumental in familiarizing millions of people with his dynamic aikido technique, which was often portrayed in a brutal manner in his films.

This video clip is from the 1995 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration and Steven performs in the center mat in deference to his celebrity status to an appreciative audience. On this visit to Japan, he was also awarded 7th dan ranking by Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba.

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Sep
29

“Hypnotic Fraudsters – Fakekido,” by Nev Sagiba

hypnotist

“The ‘no touch’ fantasies flew out the window, as did the pushing people over with silly gestures and fake kiais and other circus tricks”

A real warrior cannot be hypnotized or deceived by anyone. Not his teachers, not his adversaries. Indeed the whole purpose of the Way or Do is to un-hypnotise the mind to see clearly and lucidly existence in the moment as it is. And to respond impeccably.

Hypnotic frauds and charlatans seductively select followers who make them look good because they are susceptible to hypnotic suggestion, brain massage and blowing smoke up their ego. They then fit sycophantically to following a leader.

Such people do Budo a disservice. Sadly they do themselves a disservice as well because most often, once their followers begin to treat them a certain way, they end up believing their own act. As in a biofeedback loop this creates a bubble of reality that is only real for those inside it. A cult is born.

With religiosity this deception can be gotten away with for extended periods of time. With Budo, only until the next real attack.

Rest assured, nor can a real, hell-bent attacker be hypnotized. You either have real skill or you will have a rude awakening. It is then hoped that you will survive the attack so that you can re-evaluate and gain a sense of perspective.

Whilst the crutch seeking mentally weak, needy or insecure are easily seduced into such quagmires, the wolf in sheep’s clothing generally deploys certain mind trapping techniques that appeal to the ego. For example, ensnaring you with too early promotions, telling you that your ability is more than it is, and fortifying this by placing even weaker followers under your charge, bribery, sexual exploitation has been known to be used, rewards and fear to steer, appealing to pride and so on. The carrot and the stick is older than both religion and politics.
[Read more...]

Sep
29

“Lessons from a torn rotator cuff,” by Brandon Clapp

The time it takes to heal from an injury can be difficult and trying, especially if it affects your normal training routine.

This isn’t to say that change can’t be a good thing; in fact, it’s a time for research and reflection. After I realized I was injured, my attendance at my dojoI became quite erratic. At first, I would argue that this has taken a toll on me. I’ve always been one of the first to class, always ready to help, or have a thought provoking conversation with Sensei.

“All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” -Ellen Glasgow

I think this is an interesting quote from a personal standpoint. This was definitely my mindset once I finally admitted to myself that I was seriously injured. I found myself wondering how I would come back from such an injury. In these rough economic times, I–like many of my peers in the 20-29 age group–don’t have health insurance. So getting a professional’s opinion or some other sort of medical treatment would cost me more than I’m wiling to spend out of pocket right now. For this type of rotatory cuff injury, there is a surgery that can be performed, but I’ve heard conflicting results about the success and lasting effects of that procedure. This is especially true because my shoulder injury is an old one that I have been ignoring for three to four years now, hoping that it will heal on its own.

So, with these factors weighing on my mind, I realized that to get better, it would be up to me. I would need to pull myself from physical training for a bit and allow myself to heal. This decision was not made easily, in fact, I spent a long time continuing to train. I would train only on the left side of the body letting everyone know about my injury. It seemed like a good idea at first, but over time I wold start to feel better and allow myself to train a bit harder than I should. I also noticed that with ukemi, I would still feel the arm taking more stress than it should. Ultimately, after six months of training like this I noticed my arm becoming weaker, not stronger. After much consideration, I decided to pull myself from our weekly training I always look forward to.

Click here to read “Lessons from a torn rotator cuff”

Sep
28

“Morihiro Saito: Following the Founder Into History,” by Gaku Homma

Mr. and Mrs. Saito and his son Hitohiro in 1986

There have been many technical books written featuring Saito Shihan and his Aikido. There have been many interviews and articles written about him as the Keeper of the Aiki Shrine and Iwama Dojo Cho over his lifetime. For those who will be able to attend this memorial seminar, or even if you will not be able to attend, I would like to share what I know about a side of Saito Shihan that has not often been written about; the more private side of the man who is known publicly world-wide as the great martial artist that he was.

Saito Shihan has had many uchideshi, and thousands of students share in his teaching and his mission. There are few, however, that saw his more personal, private side. His family, close senior students, and long time friends such as Stanley Pranin, editor of Aikido Journal, knew his “real face,” as I call it, or his personal manner.

My relationship with Saito Shihan, spanned almost four decades, beginning in Iwama when I was just a boy. From those early days until these last years, I have had the honor to know him, and to share in some private times with him. It was one of his last requests of me that I express what I knew of him during his final days, and his final battles. He especially wanted his students in the United States to understand the end of his life, as a way to understand its beginning. To this end I pick up my pen to write…

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Sep
27

Video: Koichi Tohei, 10th dan, in 1990 TV documentary

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“Aikido’s First 10th Dan in the ‘Power of Ki’!”

Check out these stills from a fascinating Japanese tv documentary from 1990 featuring Koichi Tohei, 10th dan. Tohei Sensei explains the fundamentals of his ki principles as his students and the hosts demonstrate. Also presented are interviews with several famous sports figures who have benefitted from ki training with Tohei Sensei.

Koichi Tohei is one of the most important figures in the postwar development of aikido. He played a pivotal role in spreading the art in Japan and the USA from the early 1950s through the mid-1970s. Tohei traveled abroad on numerous occasions during his active years conducting seminars and demonstrations. He is also a prolific author, having published many works in Japanese and English. His publications had a strong influence both technically and philosophically on early aikido practitioners.

This video clip is featured on the new Aikido Journal Members Site and will give you a rare glimpse into the world of the late Koichi Tohei, the first person to be awarded 10th dan by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

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Sep
26

“Interview with Masatake Fujita,” by Stanley Pranin

Masatake Fujita, 8th dan Aikikai shihan, was born April 21, 1937 in Shinkyo (present-day Changchun) in Japanese-occupied Manchuria. He repatriated to Sapporo, Hokkaido in 1948. Fujita enrolled in Takushoku University in 1956. He entered Aikikai Hombu Dojo in November of the same year. After graduation, Fujita was employed for seven years at the Shin Seikatsu Undo Kyokai (New Lifestyles & Athletics Association). In 1967, he joined the office staff of the Aikikai. Aikido 8th dan.

AJ: I understand your father learned aikido from Ueshiba Sensei in Manchuria.

Fujita: Yes, he was originally a judo man and he continued to practice judo during his work posting in Manchuria. There was a group called the Manchuria Budo Society (Manshu Budokai) whose members got together to practice not only judo, but kendo, sumo and other arts as well. My father was one of those involved in running this group and so he knew quite a few of the people practicing other martial arts. It was through that connection that he learned aikido when Morihei Ueshiba was invited to Manchuria. He trained with people like Kenji Tomiki (1900-1979), who was a professor at Manchuria’s Kenkoku University, and sumo wrestler Saburo Wakuta (1903-1989, also known as Tenryu, a well-known wrestler who began learning aikido after being impressed by the techniques of Morihei Ueshiba).

In those days, aikido practitioners tended to be people with considerable experience in other martial arts, and often a personal introduction was required as well. Most of them were already quite strong in judo or kendo or whatever art they had studied.

AJ: What kind of work was your father doing in Manchuria?

Fujita: He was with the Concordia Society (Kyowakai), an organization established to do a kind of “behind-the-scenes” government work. The [Guandong] army was very strong in Manchuria. The government was comprised of Chinese at the very top, in the ministerial and other high-ranking positions, and Japanese in the positions below those. Within this arrangement, the government, the army, and the Concordia Society served to balance one another. For example, if the army detained a Chinese national for some reason, my father would step in to offer the person assistance and support. In other words, these three acted as a triangular set of counterbalances to one another, and within that my father’s position gave him at least enough authority, for example, to be able to lodge complaints against the army.

Click here to read the rest of the interview on Aikido Journal’s new Members Site
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Sep
26

Ganbaru, of being persistent by Francis Takahashi

The Japanese word “ganbaru” is a verb meaning to “hold out”, to “stand firm”, and to “persist in” an activity or endeavor of meaning. The image is one of “holding fast to the end”, of a special kind of tenacity or stubbornness that brooks no interference or obstruction to a perceived goal.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” These words attributed to an American president, Calvin Coolidge, appear quite pertinent today.

To seriously undertake the in depth study of a martial art, is to require a commitment that is both resolute and consistent, one that will sustain the seeker for the duration of a lifetime. No half hearted attempts to “check it out”, or to “see what happens”, are the attitudes welcome here.

Such a search also requires full knowledge of what is required to begin such a journey, both of the subject matter itself, and of the person’s individual talents, characteristics, and realistic chances to complete such an undertaking. The actual search itself will surely test the resolve of the seeker, and will provide ample answers to key questions along the way.

Click here to read the rest of the article on Aikido Journal’s new Members Site
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Sep
25

Video: Superb Seigo Yamaguchi Demo from 1988!

“The Legendary Seigo Yamaguchi in action!”
We have just uploaded a rare six-minute video clip of Seigo Yamaguchi, 8th dan, to the Aikido Journal Members Site. This particular demonstration took place in Tokyo in 1988. Yamaguchi Sensei presents an outstanding performance with numerous taijutsu and sword techniques.

Seigo Yamaguchi was one of the most important of the first generation of aikido instructors of the postwar era. He taught at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo for several decades until his passing in 1996. Having now become nearly a legend, Yamaguchi Sensei influenced several generations of practitioners within the Aikikai system during his career including many of today’s senior instructors of the Headquarters school.

It is by viewing such high-level aikido by great instructors such as Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei that today’s practitioners can pick up important hints to speed their own progress in the art.

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Aikido Journal has a remarkable DVD of Seigo Yamaguchi teaching a packed seminar in Paris in 1987. This is a must-have video 97-minutes long filled with amazing demonstrations by this top expert.

“Yamaguchi Sensei’s style was characterized by a powerful, spontaneous technique adapted freely to rapidly changing circumstances. His movements ranging from soft to explosive must be seen to be appreciated.”

Click here for more information and to order this DVD!

Sep
24

“The Secret of Success,” by Nev Sagiba

 

Many years ago I realised that the secret of success was failure.

Let me explain.

We repeat the same exercise getting it wrong and striving to get it right so many times that we finally run out of ways to get it wrong.

Not only with Aikido and fighting arts, but in all things. When I took up IT, it also proved an exhausting process of trial and error until, when you run out of errors, only the right way remains. And even this can be refined without end.

Probably works with marriage and relationships too. At least it would explain the high rates of divorce.

Pointing to this predisposition is the fact that most “naturals” at any skill are noticed to soon become complacent, and not long after peter out. They have no challenge, and therefore no reason to try and continue to try.

Whereas the klutzes just hang in there and become masters in the end.

How often is this proven to be so? Countless times.

This makes a case for persistence.

We learn our best lessons from errors. And from going back to correct them. In fact, the whole process of evolution is pretty much like that.
[Read more...]

Sep
23

Stanley Pranin’s “Aikido Chronological Chart” free to all subscribers of Members Site!

We are pleased to inform you that we are making Stanley Pranin’s “Aikido Chronological Chart” available to all subscribers of the Aikido Journal Members Site as a pdf file for personal use. This is a beautifully presented chart containing photographs and capsule biographies of some 70 of the best-known disciples of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. The kanji characters for all names are also included, and each period is color-coded for easy reference.

Many times, aikido practitioners have little understanding of those that preceded them, or the remarkable heritage of which they are the beneficiaries. This chart, titled “The Principal Disciples of Morihei Ueshiba,” will give you an overall view of the various periods in the evolution of aikido, and the important people who learned from Morihei Ueshiba and were responsible for the dissemination of his art.

With the advent of the information age, no one need be left behind and wondering about the origins of the life-changing art that we practice. Inform yourself and add a whole new dimension to your study of aikido!

If you would like to obtain a high-quality poster version of this aikido chronological chart suitable for dojo or home display, click here.

  • All subscribers may click here to view download a free pdf file containing the chronological chart on the Aikido Journal Members Site.
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Sep
22

Discovery of 1964 Film of Morihei Ueshiba and Morihiro Saito!

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“Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba and Morihiro Saito in Iwama, 1964.”

Aikido Journal recently discovered a rare video clip filmed in Iwama, the location of Morihei Ueshiba’s country dojo and the famous Aiki Shrine, in 1964. The Founder O-Sensei appears here with his devoted student, Morihiro Saito, one of the most outstanding figures in the postwar development of aikido.

The scenery consists of the rice fields and woods near the Aiki Shrine. O-Sensei often trained outdoors in this manner and Morihiro Saito was frequently his training partner.

The slideshow offered here of key still shots from the film will convey an idea of the atmosphere and scenery of the video. This is a remarkable find and we are archiving this video clip so that Aikido Journal readers may access it and the thousands of other documents awaiting them on the Aikido Journal Members Site. Expect much more of this sort of historical documents on a continuing basis. A subscription to the Aikido Journal Members Site is the best investment that an aikidoka can make!

More outstanding film of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba available as downloadable videos here

Sep
21

“Aikido’s Library of Alexandria,” by Stanley Pranin

The Alexandria Library was celebrated as the most important treasury of information in the world at the time. Its disappearance is rightly seen as a catastrophe and symbolic of the loss of respect for knowledge that followed the collapse of Classical civilization.

That’s how I conceive of the new Aikido Journal Members Site… “Aikido’s Library of Alexandria,” a repository for thousands of articles, photos, videos, audio recordings, and every sort of documentation pertaining to aikido and related subjects.

You know, I began research into aikido back in the early 1970s by translating a series of newspaper articles about Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Since that time, I’ve conducted more than 200 interviews with many of aikido’s greatest figures. A large portion of these edited conversations are housed in our indexed archives on this site.

During this long period, I have experienced the joys of many wonderful moments and research breakthroughs… meeting with scores of extraordinary people from all walks of life, the discovery of old photos, films, documents, and much more. I have also been frustrated by the realization that many of the most important aikido documents kept in private hands will never see the light of day. Far be it for me to judge the reasoning of those who have chosen to keep important materials to themselves, but the fact of the matter is that these precious documents might just as well not exist. As the years pass, the disappointment I have felt due to this state of affairs has diminished, for there is much to do. In fact, recently, I have come to the realization that I might be guilty of this same sort of neglect unless I take action. What do I mean by that?

Well, even though we’ve been active for several decades and have published thousands of pages, photos, and all manner of documents about aikido, there is much more material that remains stored away… unedited and unpublished. You see, we’re in a race against time. How many years will it take to process and publish all of the important items in our care? A long, long time, that’s for sure. The sense of urgency I feel is palpable….

Read the rest of the article on the Aikido Journal Members Site:

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