Aikido Research and Development

Morihei Ueshiba said, “Training is not real because nobody dies or is injured.”

As it should be!

Do you remember the good ol’ original Aikido and other methods’ “how to,” books each purporting to show “how” a technique should be done?

How many times could you make sense of these photos? Indeed how many time did the editors, non-aikidoka get the sequences right!?

And yet many emerged believing that after have read the book, no, looked at the pictures, they suddenly knew what Aikido was about. And of course, pigs fly!

Knowing has nothing to do with looking at pictures or reading words. These, if correctly compiled, are mere indicators. Knowing means a full absorption of the subject until each and every cell, molecule, atom and sub-atomic particle of your being, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, resonates in full ongoing and evolving attunement with the subject.

Any idea is merely an idea, an opinion which is usually wrong.

Experience is the only teacher. In order to experience, we must overcome inertia and move; and this with daily regularity.

Otherwise no understanding comes. And with no understanding, the quagmires of mediocrity remain as stagnant pools of inertia with big ideas about itself but no real capability.

Even.. no, especially when training regularly, insight increases concomitant to the application, focus, paying attention and effort expended.

There is no way around this. You can mimic a form but when it comes to the crunch, that mimicry will not serve you because it is empty, devoid of spirit and internal structure.

Internal structure, whether you want to describe it in esoteric “eastern” terms such a flowing of chi, prana or nadi systems, or “western” scientific terminology such as the building of neural pathways or mind-tracking are one and the same thing. Descriptive labels, much like opinions, count for nothing more than indicators, in the face of the factuality of what is really and truly going on during practice.

Transformation from a lesser state or condition, to a more refined and actively skillful state, happens in the rest periods in between active practice. But this only if you do in fact practice.

That’s where such old sayings about personal mastery come from, such as “Practice makes perfect..” “Perfect practice makes progress..” and so on.

You must understand that there is no arrival or a place where you get to when you can then go back to sleep and cease refining. Unless of course you are choosing to fall, to plummet into a state of disrepair again.

Look at those poor fellows who, “hang up their gloves.” I rest my case.

That’s the cold, hard facts. Once you start on the Path you can’t then change your mind. You can stop practicing but the damage of change stays with you. For this “damage” to become a rebuilding into a greater self, you must be focused on the light at the end of the tunnel and persist, endlessly striving to attain the honesty of the promise you made to yourself in the first place.

Practice interruptus is not a good idea. As well as breeding personal frustration, it fortifies your own insincerity of commitment to your self-made promises. It’s like swimming across the English channel. Why turn back at the half way mark when going forward is the same distance?

Personal power resides in being true to promises you make to yourself. Morihei Ueshiba exemplified this sincerity of purpose in his life and training.

If you want to be like him, it’s not going to fall from the sky by a wish, or be bestowed by copying his beard. You will have to expend the same amount of energy, sincerity, hard work, both physical and mental, the same austerities, the same singularity of purpose, the same integrity..

Lasting success only comes to those who know how to persist.

Nature does not understand resting on laurels, such as certificates, belts, name droppings (what lineage you think you may come from) and the like. Once you cease training, you start to downslide.

Your only true and real qualification is to be found in the barometer of practice. This varies from day to day in a cyclic manner, but persistence does add to a gradual ascension.

“This old man must keep improving and training..” said Morihei Ueshiba when caught training on his last day on earth.

Unfortunately, too many people believe that life should be a movie, where instant gratification is possible after waxing on and waxing off in about three five second clip edits.

Not in this galaxy folks. And probably not in any other.

Even to prep soldiers for battle is a full time 24/7 process of at least six months. Most of these force grown speed-jobs then die in battle. A truly professional combatant matures over several years, and does not stop improving in either skill or understanding.

Lest we forget, Aikido is Budo! Nothing less. Only the major purpose is the winning the battle within oneself, Masagatsu Agatsu Katsu Hayabi, a far more meaningful and consequential enterprise than accumulating debt and death in the killing fields of futility.

Matter, by its very nature is subject to entropy. If energy does not act upon it, decay then sets in and random particles return to original substance as happens to organic bodies after they die.

Most humans don’t know how to directly affect or modify sub-atomic source particles. Or their products such as atoms, molecules etc.

However, we can evoke change by the use of mind and will to generate purposeful, skilled activity on a regular basis. The nature of the universe and natural evolution being as it is, this will bring about transformation.

The average person knows but a fraction of themselves. The yogi, meditator and Aikidoka has within their grasp, the tools to become cognizant of, and also to activate a considerable part of themselves which would otherwise remain dormant and unconscious.

This develops the Aikido body. Even elementary basics such as ukemi, then make it possible for you to take a fall unharmed. To the average person who has experienced fractures and other injuries over a minor fall, this would constitute a stupendous quantum leap.

Yet, once we can, we take ukemi for granted!

Multiple attacks? Those who practice take this for granted as well. Transitions and counters, impossible to most Aikido folk, start to become obvious after a while.

As you progress, you not only develop the Aikido body that comes with basics, but also the Aikido mind.

When these two meld and become one, you will have commenced on the path which Morihei Ueshiba made reference to severally such as:
“The union of heaven and earth through the hito jinja.”
“Golden bridge..”
“Kannagara no michi..”
“The Great Universal Way..”
“I am the universe..”

The Aiki body-mind nexus is a truly wondrous thing.

The research of Aikido is something that never ends because the horizon, just like that of the universe, is forever expanding in a blaze of Kami no Hikari.

This transforms you, directly affecting circumstances around you and the world is changed because harmony, once unleashed is unstoppable.

The gates have been opened and can no longer be closed in this regard. There may be battles but that’s the nature of things. How you respond will rely upon the skills you have accrued.

If you just want to fight, that’s pretty sad. If you want to participate in making all fighting, violence and contention impossible to happen, by developing consummate skill in all things, that is Aikido, a small sapling at this point of time on earth, but one with the whole of the universe to grow.

And then, should you choose to do nothing more with such a gain, you can simply use it to navigate existence more happily.

Nev Sagiba

“Now an e-book:
FOUR DIAMONDS 1024 – Basic Transitions and Counters of Aikido

by Nev Sagiba

4 Diamonds 1024  - The Book

Get the e-book: "FOUR DIAMONDS 1024, Basic Transitions and Counters of Aikido"

The ability to adjust seamlessly between techniques defines mastery. In most cases, this essential attribute of Aikido has been either ignored or guessed at. This book not only reveals the innate simplicity behind the apparent complexity of Aikido Transitions and Counters, but it provides a full spectrum of possibilities for practicing. Here it is, simplified in drills of two techniques. When you can do these drills easily, you will be able to effect spontaneous responses to any attack. If you know your basic techniques this book is recommended and will enrich your Aikido. FOUR DIAMONDS 1024, provides complete sets of exercise drill guidelines to enable exploration of the available range of basic transitions and counters and unlock their potentials.


  1. …in response to the tag line on this email – Bob Nadeau and Frank Doran worked up a practice for multiple person attack which they called “Frankenstein walk”. The drill is to set up a typical multiple person situation found on dan tests. The number of attackers are lined up abreast opposite nage. the gimmick is that EVERYBODY moves in slow motion. when I run this drill I usually clap the timing. one clap is one step. attackers advance with their arms extended in front. There are no throws, only bypasses, but attackers must continue a couple of steps and return at the same slow pace as everybody else in the exercise.

    The effect is to give nage a realistic feeling for the evolving geometry of a randori. just as speed is controlled in this practice, so, in the real thing it is controlled by the fact that people can only go so fast, no faster. nor can they be a threat outside the range of their outstretched arms. oh. If nage does nothing, ukes may grab on.

    Some observations quickly arise. For every step backward nage takes, they usually accumulate another attacker. moving forward, irimi, almost always works best, at least easiest. going toward one or other end of the attacking line is usually an easy way to begin. The geometry is obvious. If you go to the center of a 5 man line, then those both to the right and left of you are at equal range. if you go to the end of the line, say to your left, then everybody to your right is at increasing range. The implication is that, in the “go to the middle” case, 2 attackers will be in position to attack at every time following the first throw. In the “go to the end” scenario, only one at a time will come into range. outside the dojo, the heavy weight of most attacks is at the center. messing with the attacking geometry is an option. of course, the center may also be advanced compared to the flanks. another key is for each attacker you have, basically, one move. Complex techniques usually get nage bogged down with more than one attacker attached. While a spiral component usually evolves from “go-to-the-end”, nage’s position at the end of the first throw or bypass has the attackers, basically in a line. As Musashi said, ‘deal with multiple attackers like threading fish on a string’.

    in a real situation you may find that geometry ready-made if the “big guy”in the attacking group is in the lead. i have dealt with real multiples with both the lead attacker at an end and at the center. deal with the leader.

    i’m told that Frank and Bob developed this practice to help their dan candidates with the randori component of their tests, but pay careful attention to the films of O Sensei and Tohei sensei. O Sensei is never entangled, but Tohei sometimes is. imo, Tohei got himself “in trouble” sometimes by backing up. see if you agree.

  2. What can you know of the taste of chocolate unless you put some in your mouth.

  3. Charles,

    Yes, there is only forward impulsion and forward impulsion. Id est – irimi plus irimi, plus irimi and tenkan only happens at the very last moment. And only if necessary.

    Backstepping is fatal in real survival. It will be used by the conscious opponent. More so the armed one.
    Gratuitous pivots and long winded techniques even worse.

    Re O’Sensei and Tohei, AI-ki, is different than just ki.

    Aiki harmonises, mere ki is what everyone does, force futilely where the bigger, stronger, younger more yang usually overwhelms. And then they backstep and often trip.

    O’Sensei knew how to capitalise on his dwarf physical stature by using the AI in the KI.

    One of the most salient features of training is to learn to obviate the fear pattern/reaction (for that’s all that it is) of backstepping.

    This is better learned where blades are involved (or batons) where the blade reveals the fatality of the back step for the one who is unarmed.

    Always practice as if dealing with blades. In real survival, then, in the case there are no blades that becomes a bonus.
    Nota bene, kusushi manifesting as “throws” is seldom successful in combat and is a 50/50 proposition. But that is not the purpose of Aikijutsu or Aikido.

    Anyone with a little sense and more than six months regular training should find it obvious that kushushi, whether successful as “throws” or not, simply buys time, where finishing techniques and atemi can be applied.
    Ask O’Sensei. “Aikido is 99% atemi.” This includes kansetsu. If you get this you get this.
    In which case your Aikido will be of good and practical stature and not just a dance :)

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