Oct
13

“More on the digitization and translation of audio recordings of famous aikido teachers,” by Stanley Pranin

I would like to thank all of you who have taken the time to reply and provide your input on the project I proposed yesterday: the digitization and translation of the hundreds of hours of audio recordings of important Japanese aikido teachers in the Aikido Journal archives. Rather than give individual answers to your feedback, I will group together my comments.

Concerning the translation of audio recordings, the first step, is of course, to make a transcription of the tape. This means many Japanese will need to get involved due to the large volume of recordings to be processed. It is of utmost importance that the text be digitized as it then becomes searchable and indexable.

Also, Japanese and Japanese-speaking volunteers will be essential to the translation effort. I’m not sure to what extent this could be aided by translation software. I would like to get some more input on the state of the art at this point in time.

As to fund-raising efforts, I have given this a great deal of thought. I would rather not seek out and become dependent on an outside entity for funding. If we can sufficiently grow the Aikido Journal Members Site subscriber base, I think it is entirely possible to self-fund the project. I have some ideas on this and would like your feedback as well.

We will do all of the digitizing in-house. I hope to post the first interview later today as a sample of what sort of material we are talking about.

If good audio-processing and automatic speech recognition algorithms exist as Mikel mentions, that would be a tremendous aid. We would have to test the feasibility of available software on the sample audio file. In almost all cases, the speakers voices are clearly audible. If further processing would result in enhanced audio, it would certainly be worthwhile to undertake the effort. This is definitely an area where outside volunteers could assist.

Storage right now is being handled using Amazon S3. The idea of mirroring the audio archives on one or more servers is a good one. It can be encrypted for security purposes.

I really like Jeff’s idea of getting Japanese university students involved in the transcription-translation phases of the project. If this could be coordinated, it would give an amazing boost to the effort. Anyone having connections along these lines is encouraged to come forward to discuss how to carry this idea out.

Another great idea from Jeff: “Another possibility is to approach shihan who studied under the person interviewed and see if they would ask one of their dedicated students to work on the translation.” That thought never occurred to me. Excellent!

Keith’s idea of getting university Japanese departments is a good one. Most universities of any size will have one.

I hope my comments here have furthered the discussion. I think the two critical areas are building up the Members Site subscriber base, and enlisting the participation of many Japanese with a good knowledge of English.

What I propose now is the following:

  • I will digitize and upload the first interview today, time permitting
  • Readers, please come up with suggestions about how to grow the number of subscribers to the Aikido Journal Members Site. Here is the link to subscribe: http://www.aikidojournal.com/shop/productdetails?code=sub-mem-1-yr
  • Also, please make suggestions about how to galvanize the effort to find Japanese volunteers. Maybe those having Japanese practitioners in their dojos can approach their Japanese dojo mates and discuss the project. Let them know that we would certainly be open to the idea of providing free subscriptions and products to volunteers by way of compensation.

As a result of this next stage, I would like to come up with an action plan with specific steps to take.

Thanks all!

Yours in Aiki,

Stan Pranin

Oct
12

Video: Michio Hikitsuchi, 10th dan, at the 1983 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration

“Michio Hikitsuchi, Aikido’s Other 10th Dan!”
Michio Hikitsuchi Sensei is well-known in the aikido world as one of the art’s 10th dan. Since he was awarded this rank directly by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, for many years, never officially recognized his 10th dan. Notwithstanding the controversy over his dan status, Hikitsuchi Sensei was regarded as a gifted teacher and influenced many foreign aikidoka who trained with him in Shingu, near O-Sensei’s birthplace of Tanabe. He also traveled abroad on several occasions visiting the USA and European countries.

Hikitsuchi Sensei wore his trademark white hakama while instructing. Keep in mind that he was also an ordained Shinto priest, and personally considered his oral 10th dan ranking from O-Sensei as a high honor whose authenticity was beyond question.

This video clip is representative of his flowing, dynamic approach to aikido where many of his movements are reminiscent of the Founder himself

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!

Oct
12

“Geniuses Among You… Help Me Solve This Problem!,” by Stanley Pranin

I’ve got a problem to solve. It’s a multi-faceted problem involving the best way to store, classify and disseminate a treasure trove of audio recordings locked away in our archives. And there is a deadline… it must be done in my active lifetime!

Here’s the challenge. I have somewhere in the vicinity of 700 hours of interviews–mostly with famous Japanese instructors–in audio cassette tape format. The earliest tape dates from 1973 when I interviewed Kenji Tomiki Sensei. The last “official” interview I recall doing was about 2004 when I spoke with Shigenobu Okumura Sensei of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Offhand, I probably conducted about 200 interviews with the most notable Japanese aikido teachers. I spoke with quite a few of them multiple times.

Here is a short list of some of the interviewees: Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Minoru Mochizuki, Gozo Shioda, Koichi Tohei, Morihiro Saito, Rinjiro Shirata, Noriaki Inoue, Kanshu Sunadomari, Kiyoshi Nakakura, Shigemi Yonekawa, Tenryu, and many more. Recognize any names? To this can be added several hours of audio of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

These materials are historically important because most of the instructors I captured on tape tell the true story of aikido’s birth and evolution, but now have since passed on. Their testimonies are waiting to be heard by new generations of aikidoka. Fortunately, many of these interviews were published in Japanese and English in Aiki News / Aikido Journal over the years. Still, many hours remain on cassette tapes completely unedited and unpublished.

Think about it. If there were a way to upload the majority of these materials to the new Aikido Journal Members Site, the content of the tape recordings and the voices of these famous figures could be made accessible to the entire aikido community via the Internet.

Let me try to breakdown the project into bite-size chunks.

Assets:

  • The Aikido Journal staff has all of the hardware, software and expertise to digitize and edit these audio tapes.
  • A location to host the hundreds of hours of materials–the Aikido Journal Members Site–is already operational and has been thoroughly tested.
  • Likewise, the delivery system–audio streaming–is in place and tested.
  • The international aikido community is huge, and a certain percentage of practitioners would consider these historical materials worth preserving.

Challenges:

  • Most of the tape recordings are in Japanese while our target audience consists primarily of English speakers. Would they actively support this project in sufficient numbers?
  • The sheer volume of material presents logistic and financial hurdles to be overcome.
  • At least one native Japanese working on a part or full-time basis would be needed to edit and prepare recordings for uploading to the Internet.

This, in a nutshell, is the scope of the project I have been mulling over for some time. Now, here are my questions for you. Please put your thinking caps on…

Do you think enough interest exists among the Aikido Journal readership to warrant the huge effort required to undertake this project?

Would you as English speakers find access to all of these Japanese-language recordings of value? (Remember we would include the English translations together with the audio where available.)

Would it be possible to energize Aikido Journal fans by using social media to magnify our presence and get enough people involved to realize the project?

Is all of this just a pipedream on my part, or is it within the realm of possibility?

I guess what I’m looking for are new ideas, and different ways of looking at the problems to be overcome. There are a lot of smart people out there, and even though I think about this stuff all the time, I’m sure there are any number of solutions I have overlooked.

Please share your input with me!

Thanks!

Oct
11

Video: Morihiro Saito demonstrates outdoors in Iwama in 1964 (member video)

[portfolio_slideshow trans=scrollHorz]
“The early Morihiro Saito demonstrates in the fields of Iwama!”
This rare film captures Morihiro Saito Sensei performing taijutsu, and basic Aiki Ken and Jo movements outdoors in the fields of Iwama. Saito Sensei is a young 36 years old, and this film represents some of the earliest surviving footage of this master.

The scenes shown here, entirely in slow motion, reveal an early stage in the development of Iwama Aikido. Aikikai Hombu Dojo instructor Yutaka Kurita, for many years a teacher in Mexico, serves as Saito Sensei’s partner. The original film was shot in 16 mm resulting in a much higher quality image than other films of this era.

Saito Sensei’s performance of various basic techniques is somewhat different from that of his later years. The same can be said of his Aiki Ken and Jo suburi and kata, which predate the sharpness and sophistication of his later technique. Interestingly, you will notice that the 31-jo kata has a different ending in this film!

This video clip offers an excellent glimpse into the tentative early phase that would later blossom into the vast, tightly structured curriculum of Iwama Aikido that took root all over the world beginning in the mid-1970s. In the same way a careful study of Morihei Ueshiba’s 1935 film reveals much about aikido’s roots, through this video we can much better appreciate Saito Sensei’s formative phase and the evolution of his technique.

Duration: 7:46
Access: Paid subscribers

If not already a paid member, click here to subscribe and gain access to the thousands of documents available on this website.

Oct
11

“A Hiliarious Episode Involving Koichi Tohei Sensei I Will Never Forget,” by Stanley Pranin

Koichi Tohei Sensei in Los Angeles, c. 1965

Koichi Tohei Sensei in Los Angeles, c. 1965

“This was the trigger for the release of thunderous laughter on
the part of all present in the room, except for Tohei Sensei.”

Aikido Journal Editor Stanley PraninI had a certain amount of contact with Koichi Tohei Sensei in the mid-to-late 1960s in California. In fact, I took my shodan and nidan tests in front of him in 1965 and 1967, respectively. I know a lot about him from that period from my direct experience, and also because I was close to several key people in Southern California who would talk to me about some of the behind-the-scenes events that were occurring. Tohei Sensei even came to my home dinner one evening in 1967, and met my parents.

The event I will describe now took place somewhere around May or June 1970 in Los Angeles. At this point in time, I was serving in the US Army and was on leave prior to being assigned overseas. Since I had only a few days between tours of duty, I did not have an opportunity to train in Tohei Sensei’s seminars, but I was invited to a party one evening.

This party was attended by many of the high-ranking aikido teachers and senior students from the Southern California area, all under the tutelage of Tohei Sensei. This included many Japanese-Americans as they were some of the earliest to begin practice in California and elsewhere and had risen to higher rank before other practitioners. There were perhaps three or four Japanese speakers among the guests, which did not include me, as I didn’t learn the language until several years later.

At a certain point in the evening, the discussion came around to me and I was asked how my experience in the army had been. I briefly explained where I had been stationed, something about my training, and where I was being sent… Ethiopia! Then I began to relate to Tohei Sensei an episode that had recently occurred to me in the army barracks.

One day, our barracks underwent an inspection by the sergeant in charge. I had a framed picture of O-Sensei next to my bed. When I returned from training later that day after the inspection, the photo of O-Sensei was face down on my bed! I was more than a little irked by this and felt that my privacy had been violated. I talked to one of my buddies who informed me that the sergeant thought that this was a photo of Ho Chi Minh! You’ll recall that he had been the President of Communist North Vietnam until his death in 1969.

The fact that the sergeant mistook O-Sensei for Ho Chi Minh did not reflect a high level of education on his part. The fact that I had a photo of an oriental person at my beside in an army barracks during the Vietnam War did reflect a high degree of naivete on my part.

I paused after describing the incident to Tohei Sensei, but he had no reaction. Probably he didn’t understand who I was referring to because the Japanese use different names to refer to Asian figures due to different readings of Chinese characters. Perhaps one of the Japanese speakers present explained to Sensei who Ho Chi Minh was and he finally smiled. I don’t remember very clearly. However, the next thing that happened I will never forget!

Here’s what I said next: “Sensei, I think that if I had your photo next to my bedside, the sergeant would have done the same thing to you thinking that you were Mao Tse-tung!”

There was a pregnant pause in the room because everyone but Tohei Sensei got what I had just said. However, no one dared to show any reaction out of deference to Sensei. In retrospect, the scene was totally outrageous! All present were trying to repress an explosion of laughter. Tohei Sensei was totally in the dark because he had no idea who this Mao Tse-tung was. By that time, I was beginning to get very embarrassed because I feared I had crossed the line by making such a stupid comment while attempting to be clever. The silence continued for what seemed to be an eternity.

Yoshihiko Hirata, Koichi Tohei, and Bernie Lau in Seattle c. 1967

Yoshihiko Hirata, Koichi Tohei, and Bernie Lau in Seattle c. 1967

Present in the room was Yoshihiko Hirata, a Japanese national who had settled in Seattle, Washington. Hirata had trained at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo previously and knew Tohei Sensei well having been his student. He was also a good speaker of English. Hirata of course understood the joke. Then suddenly, he erupted in laughter being unable to control himself any longer! This was the trigger for the release of thunderous laughter on the part of all present in the room, except for Tohei Sensei. He still had not a clue about what had happened, and was the only one to have been left out of the joke.

I couldn’t control my laughter either, but at that same time, I felt myself begin to slink down in my chair. I became overcome by embarrassment after realizing what I had done. I was 24 years old at the time.

Then mercifully, Mr. Hirata leaned over and explained to Tohei Sensei that this Mao Tse-tung was actually “Motakuto” in Japanese. Finally, Tohei Sensei was let in on the joke. He looked at me in the strangest manner possible not quite knowing how to react. Finally, a somewhat sheepish smile appeared on his face.

This was simultaneously one of the funniest and most embarrassing incidents of my life! To this day, I have no idea what Tohei Sensei was really thinking at that moment. Looking back, after all my years in Japan, I really can’t believe I was that cheeky to have made such an outrageous comment directed toward a person of his high stature. I still cringe at the thought!

——————————

Oct
10

Video: Hiroshi Isoyama, 8th dan, at 2004 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration

[portfolio_slideshow trans=scrollHorz]

This is a video clip of Hiroshi Isoyama, 8th dan, from the 2004 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration held at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo. Isoyama Sensei started aikido as a boy in Iwama and learned directly under Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

Hiroshi Isoyama is known for his dynamic demonstrations that combine technique with physical power. Audiences always respond enthusiastically to his performances due to his obvious use of strength and the daredevil-type falls taken by his uke.

Isoyama maintains close ties to Hollywood movie actor Steven Seagal, the two having established their friendship more than 30 years ago when Seagal was residing and teaching aikido in Japan.

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!

Oct
09

“When is Aikido Not Aikido?,” by David Lynch

“I have never had to use the physical techniques outside the dojo in 40 years of training, so I am not going to lose any sleep over that!”

From Aikido Journal #120

Arguments about the “martial effectiveness” of aikido are a popular feature of Internet bulletin boards. Unfortunately, many posts show an abysmal ignorance of the premises on which the art was founded by making comparisons with various systems of fighting.

Aikido is not a system of fighting, but a way of not fighting, intended not to protect or enhance the ego but, potentially, to eradicate it. Its value lies in promoting qualities diametrically opposed to those advocated for use “in the street.”

Speaking for myself, the day I have to face a life and death situation will be soon enough to prove the effectiveness, or otherwise, of my aikido. I have never had to use the physical techniques outside the dojo in 40 years of training, so I am not going to lose any sleep over that.

Certainly one should strive for improvement, and it is always a challenge to try and perform the techniques with a bit more smoothness and elan, but what is the point of raving on about the inadequacies of aikido, versus kickboxing, college wrestling and street fighting? There is quite enough material to work with in aikido as it stands, without resorting to cross-training, or worrying about which schools have lost the plot and left us with some watered down, ineffectual version. There is only so much you can learn from others, anyway, so you can’t blame the system for your own shortcomings.

[Read more...]

Oct
06

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

Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) drew on his extensive martial arts experience as a young man, fusing this knowledge with his deeply-held religious beliefs, to create the modern self-defense art of Aikido.

During his long career, Ueshiba associated with some of prewar Japan’s most colorful characters, including famous jujutsu master Sokaku Takeda, the charismatic religious leader Onisaburo Deguchi, and numerous members of Japan’s military, political, and business elite. Here is the captivating story of the birth of aikido, based on the first-hand accounts of Ueshiba’s top students prior to World War II.

The interviews contained in Aikido Pioneers – Prewar Era have been meticulously edited from hundreds of hours of conversations conducted over a 30-year period with those closest to the Founder. These early devotees of the art offer an insightful portrayal of the character of the Aikido Founder, and a detailed description of his teaching and activities, spanning nearly half a century. More than 100 photos, many published for the first time, add an important visual dimension to the testimonies of the interviewees. This is an essential volume for those desiring to discover the roots of Aikido, a true cultural treasure of Japan.

Download the sample pdf file of Stanley Pranin’s “Aikido Pioneers – Prewar Era” from 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!

Click here for more information and to purchase “Aikido Pioneers – Prewar Era” by Stanley Pranin

Oct
06

“The Parable of Indra’s Net,” by Nev Sagiba

Indra’s Net or Indra’s Web is a metaphor taken from the Avatamsaka or Flower Garland Sutra. The sutra describes a vast net that reaches infinitely in all directions (probably so called “dark matter”), and linking the net are an infinite number of jewels or nexus, meeting points of juxtaposition. Each individual jewel reflects all of the other jewels, and the reflected jewels also reflect all of the other jewels. The metaphor illustrates the interpenetration of all phenomena. Everything contains everything else. At the same time, each individual thing is not hindered by or confused with all the other individual things.

This immense primordially original, multi dimensional, all encompassing, all inclusive Cosmic Mandala composed of myriad array of nexus, forms the Universe’s architecture.

Being complete, the nature of the Universe reconciles antagonistic forces and neutralises extremes without loss of integrity or energy. Understanding this potential enables infinite adaptivity in reconciling opposites, making them complementary for us humans as well. This is the Great Universal Aiki which Ueshiba referred to. When tapped, it enables an organic, living template which aligns with the immutable essence of life and nature, capturing the primordial patterns of Origin and give rise to expressions of refined aiki in all things. Because there can be no loss in the universe, energy and matter cannot be destroyed and are rather cycled and recycled.

This is in accord with the free flow that governs the expanding Light nature, the Universe’s trajectory, referred to in the Shinto as Kannagara-no-Michi and by other visionaries with terms such as, “The Eternal River of Life,” the unseen energy and matter that forms the bulk of the universe we are not yet equipped to perceive, which relentlessly moves “forward” in time. This has relevance to both consciousness and function in what we know as life.

Indra’s Net is a profound metaphor for the structure of reality, representing the interconnectedness and interdependency of all things, describing a rich and diverse universe where infinitely repeated mutual relations exist between all its elements and entities, the Cosmos is a crossing of many threads of light, at the crossing of each light is a jewel which reflects the light of each other jewel.

[Read more...]

Oct
06

日本の皆様へ


合気道の貴重な文献の保存と普及についてのブローグを書かせていただきました。読んでいただけませんか?

Click here to read the blog!

Oct
05

Video: Masando Sasaki, 8th dan, at Aiki News 30th Anniversary Demo in 2004

This video is an excellent 24-minute long demonstration featuring Masando Sasaki Sensei, 8th dan Aikikai available to paid subscribers of the Aikido Journal Members Site.

Sasaki Sensei began aikido in 1954 while employed by the Self-Defense Agency. He later joined the Tempukai and Ichikukai which were popular among teachers and students at the Aikikai during this period. Sasaki Sensei is also a priest of the Yamakage San’in Shinto sect. He is an outstanding teacher and delightful personality as you will see in this video. Excellent technique and an irresistible sense of humor… Don’t miss this video! (Japanese-language)

Duration: 23:51
Access: Paid subscribers

  • Paid subscribers may click here to view the video clip on the Aikido Journal Members Site.
  • If not already logged into the Members Site, please enter your email address and password at this time to get access.

This content is reserved for paid subscribers of the Aikido Journal Members Site. If not already a paid member, click here to subscribe and gain access to the thousands of documents available on this website.

Oct
05

“Memo to Japanese Aikidoka and All Readers from Editor,” by Stanley Pranin


発刊の言葉
道主 植芝 盛平
 世の創めより天地は生成発展を重ね、天運循環、照徹弥益々に栄光を放つ昭和三十四年目出度く初春を迎え、茲に国土挙ってことほぎの声一同勇み立つの時とはなりました。この時にあたり宇内創成の精神にのっとり、世の為め国の為めに万有の上を憂いつつ武産合気紙即ち合気道新聞の発刊に至りましたのは宇宙真理完成への誠の現れであります。

私も世界の一分身、一分業として生成化育の道を愛護するに日夜の精進を続けて居る者であります。身変る聖者の如く、又顕幽神三界を万古より守護なし来れる木花姫の神(観世音)の御神業、和合達成に神習い引添いて世を守るのが真の日本の道であらねばなりません。この日本の道を産み顕すを武産合気と申します。さて此の世の生命であり此の経営の根元たる至愛の上に愛を守る愛の働きは、言霊の妙用となりみそぎの道となります。吾人は万有万神の律法を明らかにし、宇宙の真理を把握し、身を以て自己の使命に当り、地上経綸完成の為め、人生の勤めを達成せねばなりません。それには至誠の道を練磨する事であります。至誠は本を忘れず自己を知り、自己完成大生の道であります。世の完成を望む者は自己も又幸福なる完成をせなくては人の真のつとめは望めません。茲に合気の道を愛究される誠友は先ず真空の気と空の気を、性(さが)と業とに結び合い、喰い入り乍ら業の上に科学以て錬磨するのが修業の順序であります。私も老いて愈々益々広く天下の士と交り、濁流を清め、幸福の御代を迎え、共によろこびを讃えたいと誓い、一歩、一歩と怠らず修業を致します。

次回よりは最も合気に必要な言霊を説き其の実行を教え、又人たるの理解を示し武産合気の本文に進講致し此の合気道新聞発刊の挙に懸命の奉仕を致し度と存じます。

合気道新聞
昭和34年4月10日
(transcription by Kaoru Vaiasuso)


The words for Publishing
The Master; Ueshiba Morihei

Since the beginning of this world, it had kept on progressing and developing. When this new year came, all in this nation were filled with delight, because the destiny of the universe has completed its cycle and it has been and still is, a glorious light which shines all over the world. Now is the time for all cheering with the voice of congratulations throughout all the country. As we were concerned about everything that happened in the world, expecting for a better world and the national Aikido News Journal or Takemusu-Aiki Journal was issued which is followed the great spirit of the creation of the world. Issuing certifies that it was revealed the first creation of the truth of universe. I am also a part of the universe and love to do work that is specialized toward the way of seisei-kaiku*, thus I am the one who is devoting myself for this mission day and night. Japan has to go to the way to protect this world with following and learning after Konohanahime-no-kami(kanzeon)* who has done the job of unity and protection of this world, the spirit world, and God’s world for a long time and a sage who disguised himself. The name of the way that Japan has to create and express is Takemusu-aiki*. There is a universal love which nurtures and is a foundation for life. In addition, the operation for the love to protect the way of love, leads the spiritual function of Kotodama* and becomes the way of misogi. I will be dedicated to reveal the universal providence, grasp the universal truth and throw myself into the task for my mission. Also, I have to complete my job in life to settle this world completely. To achieve those missions, what we need to do is practice the way of utmost sincerity. It means knowing yourself without losing the truth. That is the way of completely discovering oneself. The people who hope the completion of this world have to complete their own happiness first or they won’t be able to expect to do any of the duties for their true selves.

To all the members who love and take the way of Aiki, you are supposed to practice the following order. First, you must connect the Shinku-no-ki* and Ku-no-ki* with the Saga* (subconcious mind) and “Goh* (behavior). Second, keep in mind the first concept and keep cultivating your mind in a scientific way. As I have grown older, I have been and would like to continue pledging and mingling broadly with best Aikido experts, purifying dirty streams, welcoming glorious days, and sharing the happiness. Thus I will just train step by step without slacking.

In the future, I would like to mention Kotodama, which is most important word in Aikido, how to practice it, setting an example of understanding of what is supposed to be a person, and main lecture of Takemusu-Aiki. I would like to be a dedicated contributor for this Aikido-Journal.

10th of Apr. the year of Showa Emperor 34(1959) Aikido News Journal

Reference

生成化育;heaven, earth and nature raises everything in this world and manage the universe.
木花姫の神(観世音)Konohanahime-no-kami(kanze-on);the name of whom it guides spiritually. Konohana is from a god’s
story in Japan, and Kanze-on is from buddism. Both are female.
武産合気 Takemusu-Aiki;
言霊 Kotodama ; Word spirit
真空の気 shinku-no-ki; The ki which is filled in universe. It is needed for quick technique.
空の気; Mainly it wraps around people’s body and protect their body.
(translation by Kaoru Vaiasuso)


I have been waiting a long time to test out this idea. The project I am proposing here will benefit everyone who loves aikido, and wishes to insure the steady growth of the art, and the preservation and dissemination of its heritage.

The archives of Aikido Journal contain over 200,000 documents including written and printed materials, photos, audio recordings, films and videos, etc. Only a small portion of these items have been published even though we have been active for 37 years. Most of the written documents are in Japanese for obvious reasons.

With the resources we currently have at our disposal at this time, the Aikido Journal staff (=me) will only be able to produce a slow trickle of new publications in the years to come. Unless a new approach is adopted, the vast majority of these archives which remain unpublished will disappear when my time has come and gone.

Fortunately, there are solutions made possible by the information technology available today. A major step in the ongoing process to bring the contents of our archives to the aikido public has been taken with the creation of the Aikido Journal Members Site. This new site will be both the repository and dissemination point for the vast pool of materials in our possession. Each and everyone who has found that aikido holds an important meaning in their lives has a stake in the outcome of our efforts from this point forward to preserve this precious heritage.

I envision the formation of teams of volunteers–both English and Japanese speakers–to tackle various projects involving the digitalization, editing, translation and publication of important documents. Versions in both languages, the original Japanese and English translations, will be preserved together. English is the lingua franca of our times and is the vehicle for reaching an international audience since there are more than a billion people on the earth capable of using the English language sufficiently for purposes of communication.

What I now propose to put this idea to the test is a simple experiment. At the top of this blog is an image of a brief article attributed to O-Sensei titled 発刊のことば (“A Word about the Publication of the Aikido Shimbun”) that was published by the Aikikai Headquarters in the first issue of the “Aikido Shimbun” in 1959. There are many other articles bearing the Founder’s name in subsequent issues.

The image above is low resolution. If you click on it you will see a higher resolution image that is easily readable. Here is what I would like to ask be done:

  • A Japanese language speaker volunteers to digitize the text by submitting a comment below informing our readership that he or she will undertake this task within a specified time, e.g., three days or whatever time interval. The first person to volunteer gets the assignment.
  • The volunteer digitizes the text either by using OCR software or by keying the text in within the specified time.
  • When finished, the volunteer posts the digitized text as a comment below.
  • A second person (or it could be the same person), volunteers to do an English translation within a specified time frame. The first translatior to volunteer gets the translation assignment. The completed translation is posted as a comment below within the specified time.
  • If the translated English text requires editing, a volunteer editor’s services is requested. The first volunteer editor–a person preferably with some knowledge of Japanese–gets the assignment and commits to complete the task within a specified time frame. The volunteer editor posts the edited text as a comment below.
  • I will look at the final edited text to make any additional changes to the final version.
  • I will then post an image of the original text, the digitized Japanese text, and the English translation as a single post on the Aikido Journal Members Site for subscribers to access. The names of the collaborators will be included in the post and their efforts recorded as our token of gratitude.

In this way, if the world aikido community works as teams, it should be possible to preserve, prepare and disseminate a huge body of important documentation that would otherwise be lost.

So that is my proposal. I have done and will continue to do my part until I can do no more. Will you join me in this effort?

If so, post your comments below and let’s get started!

In Aiki,

Stanley Pranin

Click here to sign up for a free subscription to the Aikido Journal Members Site and see the vast amount of documentation already in place.