Archives for October 2011


Video: Seigo Yamaguchi, 8th dan, at the 1994 All-Japan Demonstration

Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei was one of the leading teachers of the postwar aikido generation. He taught for many years at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo and had a legion of followers, including a great many French students who developed a predilection for his instruction. One of his most famous students is Christian Tissier of France.

Sensei’s aikido was poetry in motion. He had a unique way of blending, and then unbalancing his attacker. Many of his techniques were characterized by bobby and weaving motions and finished off with explosive throws. He had a strong background in swordwork and sword principles are clearly visible in his demonstrations.

Duration: 3:55
Access: Free through October 22, paid subscribers

Click here to login to the Aikido Journal Members Site to view the video clip of Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei

Not yet a member? Click here to sign up for a free membership and enjoy access to all of the free materials available on the Aikido Journal Members Site with our compliments. All it takes is your name and an email address!


“Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 1,” by Peter Goldsbury

This column is an extended discussion of some recent topics already touched upon in the AikiWeb discussion forums and in private mail. The various topics are closely connected and treatment of one influences the perception and treatment of others. The column is very much work in progress and is not intended as a full-blown academic paper. The topics discussed are related to the various issues involved in the transmission of theoretical and practical knowledge in a non-competitive martial art like aikido, especially the transmission of knowledge across cultures. All these issues are fundamental to how we conceive the form and content of the aikido training we undergo at the hands of our teachers and can be presented as propositions, subsumed under the three headings in the title.

(a) Morihei Ueshiba made no attempt to ‘teach’ the knowledge and skills he possessed to his deshi.

(b) The latter all gained profound knowledge and skills during their time as deshi, but it is by no means clear that they gained all the knowledge or that all gained the same knowledge.

(c) Morihei Ueshiba appears to have made no specific attempt to check whether his deshi had understood what they had learned from him.

(d) On the other hand, all the evidence indicates that Morihei Ueshiba worried very much about passing on the art to future generations and finally designated his son Kisshomaru Ueshiba as heir and inheritor of the art.

(e) Kisshomaru Ueshiba seems to have changed the inheritance he received quite radically, again, with no clear reaction from his father, such that it has been stated that the aikido taught by him and by his successors nowadays is no longer Morihei Ueshiba’s aikido.

Click here to login and read the remainder of Peter Goldsbury’s article on the Aikido Journal Members Site

Not yet a member? Click here to sign up for a free membership and enjoy access to all of the free materials available on the Aikido Journal Members Site with our compliments. All it takes is your name and an email address!


Historical photo: “The amazing chameleon photo of O-Sensei from 1922,” by Stanley Pranin

As a researcher of aikido history, this photo is one of the most fascinating documents I have ever come across. First of all, a little background. This photo was shot about 1922 inside Morihei’s home situated near the Omoto precincts in Ayabe. Morihei is seated in seiza inside the “Ueshiba Juku,” his home dojo that marked the beginning of his career as a martial arts teacher.

Immediately obvious is Morihei’s powerful physique and stern expression that convey a strong impression even 90 years after the fact. You will notice to Morihei’s left a sword stand holding three blades, certainly an appropriate accessory for a martial arts dojo. Then behind the displayed swords are a placard with kanji characters. This is where the intrigue begins…

What is written? The characters read: “Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu.” This, as you will recall is the precursor art to aikido that Morihei studied under Sokaku Takeda Sensei in Hokkaido beginning in 1915. If this is the dojo where Morihei Ueshiba, the Founder of Aikido, taught, why is this “Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu” placard on display there?

A fair question. You see Morihei was openly teaching Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu in his “Ueshiba Juku” because aikido had not yet come into being. In fact, he was a certified Daito-ryu instructor. Morihei was just beginning his transitional phase, technically speaking, that would culminate many years later with the creation of aikido. Also, Sokaku Takeda had recently visited Morihei in Ayabe, and they agreed that Ueshiba would use the name “Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu” to refer to his art.

Ok, but what is this bit about a “chameleon photo”? Ah, this is the interesting part! To my knowledge, this photo has been published in books and newsletters at least five times. Here’s the kicker. The photo appears in four different versions!

Four versions? Yes, the Daito-ryu placard first disappears altogether in the first publication of the photo. Then it reappears with the “Daito-ryu” characters missing, leaving only the “Aikijujutsu” characters. What’s a poor aikido historian to do? Then, the original photo you see here appears for the first time. Next, some of the characters are again omitted, but not in the same way as the first altered photo. Finally and miraculously, the unretouched photo again resurfaces, hopefully to remain intact. Strange workings of the kamisama?

Not exactly. From a historian’s standpoint, all of these “miraculous events” can be explained. Briefly, Morihei had a falling out with his teacher Sokaku Takeda that would lead to his distancing himself from his teacher. As a result of this, there has always existed a certain tension between the aikido and Daito-ryu camps despite a surface cordiality.

This reticence to give due credit to the significant influence of Daito-ryu on modern aikido has existed for many years, and was not surprisingly inherited by the Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba. These shenanigans with this famous photo took place in the period of the 1960s through the 1980s when Daito-ryu’s role in the evolution of aikido was little known. I believe this explains the psychology behind the photo tinkering. Now, I don’t believe it would be possible to do such a thing since the relationship between Morihei Ueshiba and Sokaku Takeda has been well documented.

Early in my career, I published one of these altered versions of the photo perfectly innocently, and it got me into quite a pickle!

Anyway, as Paul Harvey used to say, “Now you know the rest of the story!”


Video: Norihiko Ichihashi, 8th dan, at the 1994 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration

“Norikio Ichihashi (1940-2001)

Norihiko Ichihashi Sensei, 8th dan, was one of the senior instructors at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo from the 1970s until his untimely passing in 2001.

A powerfully built man, he demonstrates a soft, yet powerful technique with a minimal of physical exertion. His effortless performance is a model of poise and blending. Ichihashi Sensei was very well-liked by all who knew him. We honor his memory by posting this video permanently on the Aikido Journal Members Site.

Duration: 2:47
Access: Free through October 21, paid subscribers

Click here to log in to the Aikido Journal Members Site to view the video clip of Norikio Ichihashi Sensei


Your Top Ten: “Here’s What You Like,” by Stanley Pranin

A few months back we began using some new email software that provides us with statistics about what readers’ preferences are. I went back through some of the data for the last few weeks, and it yielded a lot of great insights about where your interests lie.

It occurred to me that you might find this information interesting as well, so here you have it, your top-ten emails from the last several months with links to these popular items in case you missed them.

Here is the countdown:

10. Free PDF: 90-page sample of Stanley Pranin’s “Aikido Pioneers – Prewar Era….

9. Yamaguchi Sensei had never had a foreign student and it seemed he didn’t particularly want one…

8. By viewing such high-level aikido, today’s practitioners can pick up important hints to speed their own progress!

7. Kisaburo Osawa was known for his light touch and smooth technical execution, punctuated by sudden bursts of speed.

6. Doshu’s presentation is highly polished and his ukes’ falls are often times acrobatic in nature.

5. New Video: “Yoga Warmups for Aikido Training,” by Stanley Pranin

4. O-Sensei, what is aikido? He responded by saying, ‘Well, let me write it down for you…’

3. When Koichi Tohei resigned from the Aikikai, the impact was traumatic…

2. The weak attacks used in aikido dojos simply are not realistic…

And the top-rated link is…

1. Early in Steven Seagal’s movie career, there was somewhat of an “aikido boom” due to the popularity of his movies

It seems you like videos a lot! Good, because we have several hundred waiting to be uploaded. You like the top aikido teachers. No surprise there. You like yoga? That is a surprise! And a significant percentage of you respond to the mention of the name “Steven Seagal,” whose video was the number one drawing email.

Tomorrow I’ll be telling you what I like!


Video: Hiroshi Tada, 9th dan, at the 2004 All-Japan Aikido Demo

“Hiroshi Tada gives dynamic demonstration at 2004 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration!”

Hiroshi Tada Sensei is one of the last of the early postwar generation of Aikikai instructors. He began training at the Hombu Dojo in 1950 while still a Waseda University student. Tada Sensei spent eight years instructing in Italy starting in 1964. He has also traveled extensively, especially in Europe, to teach aikido. Tada Sensei returns to Italy at frequent intervals to conduct seminars.

Following his return to Japan, Tada Sensei taught at the Hombu Dojo for a period of some 30 years, being one of the mainstays of the Aikikai instructors staff. He remains active teaching at several private dojos in the Tokyo area.

Tada Sensei has always embraced a healthy lifestyle and moves like a young man despite his age of 82 years. In this demonstration, you will see him perform at age 75. His aikido is alive with ki, and unlike any other teacher you will ever see. Careful viewing of his techniques will be an eye-opening experience for the astute student of the art. These videos are important to furthering your studies of aikido.

Duration: 7:44
Access: Free through October 18, paid subscribers

Click here to log in to the Aikido Journal Members Site to view the video clip of Hiroshi Tada Sensei


Audio: Kenji Tomiki Interview, December 24, 1973

“Kenji Tomiki: The Scholar–Athlete who created his own vision of Aikido”

This is the first interview conducted by Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin in Japan in four-decade-long odyssey of documenting aikido history. The subject of this first interview is the famous aikido teacher, Kenji Tomiki, a student of both Jigoro Kano and Morihei Ueshiba. Tomiki was also a Waseda University professor and the man who created a competitive style of aikido.

A revolution in the study of aikido history
Through the burgeoning number of documents being added almost daily to the Aikido Journal Members Site, you are now able to access carefully organized information on every aspect of aikido that was previously unavailable. Now, as we systematically upload the actual audio recordings of Stanley Pranin’s interviews, you will have the ability to listen in on hundreds of fascinating conversations with the greatest figures in aikido history! Despite the fact that most of these interviews are conducted in Japanese, you will gain a clear insight into the personality and mode of expression of each teacher. Moreover, most of the interviews have been translated into English for those who wish to delve further in their research. Your time spent educating yourself by listening to these recordings will surely have a profound impact on your study of aikido!

About Kenji Tomiki
Tomiki Sensei began studying Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu with Morihei Ueshiba Sensei in 1925 while a university student and competitive judoka. He assisted Morihei Ueshiba as an instructor and secretary during the Kobukan Dojo period before the war. After being repatriated following World War II, Tomiki was instrumental in the postwar spread of aikido and in fomenting a number of reforms in the judo world.

In this interview, Tomiki talks about martial arts history, the theory of Judo Founder Jigoro Kano, and the character of Morihei Ueshiba. A good deal of Tomiki Sensei’s comments in the recording are translated into English so readers will be able to follow along the thread of the interview.

File size: 30 mb
Format: mp3

Note: Please use a headset to listen to this interview for best comprehension.

Click here to log into the Aikido Journal Members Site and download the Kenji Tomiki interview recording


“Who Are We?”, by Stanley Pranin

Aiki News #61 (May 1984)

Something rather amusing happened to the AIKI NEWS staff recently during an interview which is perhaps symptomatic of the ambiguity surrounding this publication. We had just completed a nearly three-hour taped interview with a grand old gentleman who kindly and patiently did his best to respond to our many questions concerning 0-Sensei and the history of Aikido. As we were beginning to collect our belongings, he then turned the tables and asked a question which caught us totally off guard. His query: “By the way, who are you?”

Indeed. Who are we? In the past we have simultaneously been mistaken for the “Voice of Aikikai Hombu Dojo,” the “Iwama News” and the “0-Sensei Fan Club Newsletter”. Well perhaps it’s time to tell the story of how it all started. Probably the initial impetus which eventually led to the publication of AIKI NEWS was my first trip to Japan during the summer of 1969. It was a mere two months after the death of the Founder. I had almost cancelled my plans out of sadness and disappointment at not being able to meet 0-Sensei. I was at that time a lean, impoverished, but eager university student, largely ignorant of Japanese ways. There are those who would question whether or not there has been any fundamental change, but at least it can be said that I am no longer a university student! I remember in my excitement taking a taxi directly from the Haneda airport to Hombu Dojo. Now that’s enthusiasm for you!

One of my main goals over and above a large dose of training was to begin to gather materials books, articles, photos, films and so forth dealing with 0-Sensei and the top teachers of Aikido out of little more than personal interest. I found that since I was unknown, possessed of very limited language skills and rather naive about proper conduct in this society that my success in gathering such documents was quite limited. After ten exciting and frustrating weeks in Japan it was time to pack my bags and return to the States where induction into the Army and basic training awaited me.
[Read more…]


“Winning vs. Not Losing,” by Francis Takahashi

The promise of Aiki is potentially limitless in terms of applying its impact and significance to Aikido. Any viewpoint of its martial relevance to Aikido, whether deemed major or minor, is totally on the declarer to clarify and to justify. One can take as narrow, or as broad a paint brush to color in the shapes, hues and lines of their understanding of Aiki’s role in describing the Founder’s aikido, and realize that tens of thousands of others have done the very same thing. It is my opinion that it is not up to us to teach others of what Aikido is or isn’t, but to quietly and humbly allow Aikido to reveal its connections to Aiki principles to us directly over a lifetime of diligent training.

There is to be found a certain purity of purpose on the road of self discovery, and hopefully of some level of mastery, as one decides to devote mind, body and spirit to dealing with any worthwhile endeavor, struggle or challenge. This definitely rings true for the promise from general Aikido research and training, to the individual who commits unconditionally to do whatever it takes to stay the lifelong course of unrelenting study, focused training, and by incorporating subsequent understanding into meaningful behavior and results.

It is my sincere stance, that we should study Aikido primarily as a discipline to undertake, correct and refine our search for meaning within ourselves, and for the pursuit of excellence within our art. We should not study the Aikido of systems, techniques, and martial philosophy, simply to emerge victorious in any confrontation we may encounter. Rather, we should consider using any such confrontation as a self test to measure and appreciate how close, or how far we have progressed towards or from our stated goals of embracing fully the potential of studying this art called Aikido.
[Read more…]


Rare photo from September, 1961 with O-Sensei and Morihiro Saito

We thought you would enjoy this rare photo of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei demonstrating with Morihiro Saito published in the September 1961 issue of the “Aikido Shimbun.”

The caption reads, “Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei and Morihiro Saito, 6th dan, performing a demonstration in the Aiki Shrine.” I applied a descreening filter in Photoshop to minimize the Moiré pattern of the photo.




“Ironing out the kinks,” by Stanley Pranin

I have spent the better part of today troubleshooting and dealing with certain idiosyncracies of the software we are using for the new Aikido Journal Member Site. While I was at it, I made substantial changes to the look and feel of the home page.

I believe I have completely solved the problem of “confused logins” that some readers reported, and that I myself have experienced on occasion. I got things to work perfectly every time and in a predictible manner. This is a big relief!

Check out the new look and functionality of the Aikido Journal Members Site

Here is a list of the enhancements and bug fixes:

  • Recent posts have been moved to the center section of the page and display the most recent six posts in reverse chronological order, the newest entry appearing on top.
  • A search widget has been added to the left sidebar
  • Login and logout functions now work as expected
  • A “Free Signup” button has been added to the sidebar
  • A paid membership button has been added to the top of the center section
  • A list of “sticky” Favorite posts has been placed below the recent posts

Please try out the website now and give us feedback about your user experience. I’m not a programmer, but given time, I can usually find a solution to technical problems.

Go to Aikido Journal Members Site
Thanks to all who have assisted us during the rollout of the new website!


“To Know,” by Nev Sagiba

This is a small extract from “Paracelsus” by Robert Browning

“TRUTH is within ourselves; it takes no rise …
…From outward things
And to KNOW,
Rather consists in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape,
Than in effecting entry for a light
Supposed to be without.”

What is knowledge?

Is it the ability to parrot something you’ve read?

Or is it or something more?

Indeed, do words have anything at all to do with knowing as such?

Is there nothing more to the wise person than simply the ability to do what a tape recorder can do less expensively?

What about obsolete knowledge that has no context to the conditions of today? What can be its value?

Will attempts to bolster myths with superstition and rote habit be helpful?

Or will it only lend weight to the potential for eventual disaster?

What is an idea or an opinion worth?

On the other hand what is the worth of long hard experience that produces living, contextual and immediately useful understanding of cause and effect as it may appertain to current conditions as they are?

What are core values based upon?

What is the regurgitation of platitudes worth?

What constitutes living survival in the now that is in touch with conditions as they are right now?

Are we just a lump that waddles to the supermarket to collect plastic things and waddles home to eat junk?

Or are we a living process without beginning or end going back to the beginning of time, interconnected in a living web of life and conscious awareness moving towards a trajectory without end?

If so what are the tools of navigating this precious moment whilst alive, conscious and sentient before death inevitably removes these gifts?

Does the transition of death remove them permanently, or do the lessons of life take root in other dimensions?

Is it possible to teach with credibility from a mere book?

How important is experience?

What does Aikido or any Kobudo training mean to you?

Does it make you a better person?

Can the strategic lessons discovered in such training be applied to various other, or all attributes of life?

If so how?

PS I recently received this in an email. To credit the source I’ve replicated it as received.

“Hi buddy
Just woke up with this,

Whilst everyone is searching for the secrets of the universe, they fail to see that we are all secrets of the universe that can only be unlocked by ourselves.

Kind Regards,
Tony Jack.”

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.