“Why can’t the aikido world get together?,” by Stanley Pranin

Morihiro Saito, Stanley Pranin, and Koichi Tohei at the latter's residence in Tochigi Prefecture, October 2001

Morihiro Saito, Stanley Pranin, and Koichi Tohei at the latter’s residence in Tochigi Prefecture, October 2001

“I think I can safely say that few of today’s leaders are focused on the philosophy and technique of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.”

Sometime ago, I wrote a short article accompanied by an unusual photo that has produced a number of comments from readers. The photo taken in 2001 captured the last meeting of Koichi Tohei Sensei and Morihiro Saito Sensei, two of the luminaries of postwar aikido.

I think the photo evoked a great deal of nostalgia for an earlier era in which the few aikido organizations maintained cordial relations and members could meet freely without fear of being ostracized. Alas, these days are long passed as aikido has moved into a different phase where the various aikido organizations now have second or third generation organizational heads. Present-day leaders, I believe, are more conscious of the fact they are running businesses. Some carry out this task more efficiently than others, but that is ultimately their main aim.

I think I can safely say that few of today’s leaders are focused on the philosophy and technique of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Their main concern is the solidification/expansion of the organization and its smooth operation. The concepts espoused by the Founder in his old-fashioned way are considered quaint, esoteric and impractical. After all, we’re in the 21st century!

More than one of the commentators on my article asked me to use my influence, such as it is, to approach the concerned principals to attempt to “thaw the ice,” as it were, among the leading organizations that no longer communicate. That won’t happen! At least not now… Not because I would not be disposed toward undertaking such an attempt, but because there is no desire on the part of the leadership to apply the ideals of aikido to the practical operation of their associations.

You must understand some things about how all of this works.

In Japan, when a major event occurs that results in the splitting off from an organization of a key member, there are two sets of reasons that explain what has happened. The first is for public consumption. It is designed to make the communicator of the viewpoint look acceptable and justified in the decision taken by his side. The second set of reasons may include all of the first set, but it also reflects other information that is deemed too sensitive to be made public. Usually, it is these “unmentioned” reasons, often involving personal foibles, that are what really caused the break.

Neither party will go into these taboo areas in public, but one can learn the actual unseen causes in a more private setting where the person feels comfortable, particularly where drinking is involved. One can learn a lot by keeping an ear to the ground in such situations.

This is where the journalist/historian comes in. Such people conduct research, write down facts and opinions, and publish their findings. They have their supporters and detractors. Their success and fate rests on how they conduct themselves, their output, and how close they come to crossing the line and exposing these taboo areas in a public context.

The journalist/historian often appears as an academic type, perhaps having the outward demeanor of a mere fly on the wall. Such persons are, however, potentially very dangerous to the established order, as they have the power to strip the players in the political drama of their outer facade by using their insider knowledge.

This is a problem I have had to come to grips with throughout my career in aikido as I have ventured across organizational boundaries. At this point in my life, I no longer wish to be in the “heat of the action.” I have drunk deeply of the Japanese culture and its martial arts world over nearly five decades. I have encountered many wonders and many travesties along the way. Sometimes, single individuals have embodied both facets simultaneously. It becomes difficult to arrive at a moral verdict as to the totality of that person’s deeds and accomplishments, or where to place him in the overall historical context.

When I wax nostalgic from time to time about some past episode in my writings, I try to emphasize the positive aspects in my portrayal of events. Perhaps I am guilty of violating the journalist’s expected pretense towards objectivity, but the prospect of hanging out another’s dirty laundry for all to see in the manner of a tabloid publication is revolting to me. I have thought long and hard about this dilemma. If I were an artist, I would want to be remembered for my best works, for the ones that inspired and gave food for thought. I would not want to leave dark, despairing paintings that evoked like sentiments in the beholder. What would be the point?

My closing thought is this. Don’t look to Japan or any organization for leadership in aikido or any other field of endeavor. This world of dizzying technological advancement has left these bloated dinosaurs panting in the dust. In today’s networked world, any visionary and hard-working individual can produce prodigious results at lightning speed. The shaping of aikido’s future lies in our hands. Let’s get crackin’!


  1. Stanley,

    You are truly an amazing man. I wish more people had the integrity that you have consistently shown over these many years. To me, you will always be the leader of saving Aikido from a developing, myopic path towards absurdity and obscurity through your Aiki Expo’s. I think that you allowed Aikido to move beyond being beholden to a few big organizations in Japan. I am heartened to see the continued benefits in this country with what you started. When we get together, we always end up thanking you for the Expos. These events changed our Aikido lives for the better.


    Marc Abrams

  2. Clark Bateman says:

    There are far more people that choose to dwell on the differences, rather than seeking out the common ground. Even among those who advocate interaction between the various “factions”, there are many who would only take the initiative if their own agenda could be advanced. This is not blending; this is not harmony. Sadly, there are painfully few who would put forth the effort with an open mind and heart. But yours is a tall pulpit, Stan. I hope it indeed makes a difference, while brother can still recognize brother.

  3. Just train. We don’t need more leaders. Just good teachers that enable us to lead ourselves.

    • I want to agree. “The Way is in Training.”

      A “Good Teacher” is still defined within the boundaries of their organization, their success in business and their political acumen. A good teacher can be vilified by one group for the same reasons that they are held up as a model in another. I knew one teacher who thought his promotion criteria was tied to how many black belts were promoted underneath him – so, he “fast-tracked” his students well beyond what I judged their ability to be.

      Students who are there for recreation can also be lazy and define the “good teacher” as the one they like, who doesn’t push them and makes them feel comfortable (does not take them outside of their comfort zone or work them hard but gives lots of compliments).

      Without a leader, what is the defining standard of any aspect of the Art that we are held to? Can anyone just call what they teach as Aikido? Can anyone learn anything and call it Aikido so long as they can point to time and effort invested?

  4. Antoine says:

    Thanks for your excellent eye-opening article and work Pranin Sensei. Keep it up! Human nature being what it is,political unification can only be considered an utopian ideal. Unfortunately EGO keeps getting in the way of real self improvement and ontological work that Aikido should be! I perfectly agree with Nev Sagiba’s above statement. But the craving for ‘official’ recognition, the ‘official’ certification, the belonging to the ‘best’ group, may interfere with the quiet, sometimes lonely process of honest painful study that has O Sensei’s achievement as a lofty goal, WITHOUT expecting any admiration or any other reward in return….

    As Stan writes in the last paragraph, the intelligent student today can avail himself to much knowledge to stimulate his personal journey, even going beyond stylistic nuances and differences. Finally the improved quality of living one’s life through aikido training should be enough. Ultimately the best aikido shihan and the newest aikido student are perfectly equal at the human level.

  5. Precisely this problem is one of the key issues addressed by Aiki Extensions ( In particular, we are working with it by the creation of the International Aiki Peace Week (

    And I have an article titled “Tools for Harmony” on my website ( which addresses this issue. It starts off with:

    “I suspect that for some Aikidoists there is little or no connection between physical and spiritual cultivation simply because we are not given an explicit, practical formula which relates the physical attributes of a good defense technique to the spiritual attributes of a compassionate and harmonious way of being. “ What I attempted to do in the article is suggest a concrete way in which the ideals of Aiki can be practiced in the defense techniques.

  6. Bob Molerio says:

    We need teachers that won’t pander to the politicians. Who are not beholden to this organization or that. We need teachers that can help us to lead ourselves in developing a better Aikido.

  7. Thank you again Stan for all your efforts. Aikido would be a very different “place” without them. We should all aspire to do what we can to make the aikido “space” one in which we feel at home.

    As with many things this is a matter of attitude. Egotism and greed are just exaggerations of self-respect and self-sufficiency. How much “space” can we individually fill without our individuality dominating that space rather than contributing to it? Is this a function of our merit? the nature of the space? some combination of the two? To what extent is “the material world” an obstacle? Clearly, when it comes to life and death the material world fades into insignificance. If it doesn’t you probably die. O Sensei was not especially interested, as far as I know, with the profitability of aikido, but in the normal day-to-day, profit is what perpetuates it.

    Perhaps, on the whole, we should be thankful for having lived in an era in which O Sensei is still present in living memory. Immortality is such an illusion (‘I am Ozymandias the Great. Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair…’) Bringing me back, again, to thanking you Stan for helping to extend that time.

  8. Stanley:

    Thank you for your insightful and poignant article. Though I have only been practicing aikido for a decade, I too have struggled with the apparent lack of leadership and positive role modeling in much of the aikido world. At first, this was perplexing for me, but as I’ve grown, I see every human endeavor fraught with genius and idiocy, generosity and greed. As these qualities all exist in me, I am learning to be much more compassionate towards myself as well as others. The true goal of aikido IS love; could I be generous and perceptive enough to love even the stingy, the dominators, the ego? Can I learn to be as good at connection as I am at separation? I try to answer these questions every time I step on the mat.

    I acknowledge all you have done for the aikido world. I feel your role has been under-appreciated; therefore let me say, thank you!

    Michael Wilkinson
    Durango, Colorado

  9. Fr Douglas Skoyles SSC says:

    Thank you, Stanley, for another realistic and memorable piece. How easily nostalgia and politics modify history! Your work will stand for as long as anyone practices Aiki.

  10. Stanley.
    That is quite an ‘énoncé’ about the present situation and evolution process Aikido is going through as senior Shihans are ceding their essential roles and places to a new generation of Technical Directors assuring the care of which direction our precious Martial Art will take.

    I have had the privilege to be introduced and trained under Massimo di Villadorata who founded the first aikido dojo in Canada in 1967.

    di Villadorata Sensei has always maintained an independence and personal vision on how one’s path to assimilating aikido is related to their own life trek and enlightenment.

    He has always favoured student’s exploration of other Shihans, Senseis and upcoming visionaries in our movement. Throughout the years of changes and remissions he has kept his loyalty to Y. Yamada Shihan while maintaining friendships to the late Tamura sensei, Tada Shihan and many upcoming apostles of the true spirit that O’Sensei wanted spread throughout our global societies.

    We are blessed to be constantly reminded that wisdom and knowledge must go through acceptance and understanding. An open heart tied with an open mind surely meets with Ueshiba’s dream of a harmonious mankind accessing a higher level of consciousness and acceptance.

    As a second, perhaps third generation North-American aikidoka, I dwell in my chance of having experienced the first «Summer Camps», all the friends I have made amongst people who shared this common passion, and admiration I keep for you, the historian, archivist and keeper of the essential spirit of what we all are trying to achieve.


    D. Laurendeau

  11. Sensei,

    I must commend you on a what has to be one of the best articles I have ever read on aiki-politics.

    Thank you for your past, and continuing efforts!


  12. Aikido was created by Kaiso Morihei Ueshiba and he stabilished that Aikikai should be the center for the development of his dream leaded by the Ueshiba family. Some did not accepted that and created their own center and keep creating it, since the time O sensei was alive, up to now.

    If there is not whole union in Aikido this is because many people did not followed what the Founder desired and left the guidance of the Doshus.
    THEY WERE THE ONES THAT PROVOCKED THE PRESENT LACK OF UNION. Generally those that claims for union are exactelly those that are part or origin of some rupture in the past.

    Maybe some people wanted to have this top position to lead Aikido movement but were not designed by the Kamis to have this destination and istead of accepting the designation of heaven decided to follow what they believed was the correct way.
    This has a name and it is : “Excess of wordly ambition”.
    Of course that mistakes were done in the sucessions during their administrations, and this is quite normal, once only with experience and corrections and help that the young can reach the level of the older one, and maybe expcets perfection, but mistakes even bigger happened when top important masters left Aikikai just because the directions were different of what they thought it was the correct way.
    It is important to disagree, and to argue, and do things for correcting mistakes but with the idea to HELP THE LEADERSHIP and not to give it problems and even more difficulties creating obstacles for progress.

    People like Saito Sensei (father), for example, always made a lot of critics, but have not left Aikikai and he died under its umbrella.
    He had had the freedon to create his own style, and do things in technical ways in how he wanted, and Aikikai did not expulsed him because of that, on the contrary, all Saito Sensei students that wanted Aikikai certificates could have it and participate of all its activities . He was accepted in spite of all his difference. So, when he died, his main students remained in Aikikai, they followed his master model and disire.

    Unfortunatelly not all.

    I see no problem to mix bussiness with Aikido. As Saotome sensei once wrote in one article, Aikido is a very serious bussiness presentelly, and it is good that it is treated professionally by those that have the time and dispositon to do it. And it is necessary a lot of courage, cause Aikido is a very difficult and bad product to work with in professional terms, cause it has not competition and the consumer only knows of its big value after years for experimenting it. So it is difficult to keep students during to first years of training then many leaves, and with then the income goes too. Those who want to make just money, should choose another product more easier to sell. Really good professionals of Aikido are idealistic persons, they really love Aikido.
    Of course, professionallism means working ethically, with honestity, and giving the product to the consumer that it is offered in the midia of the bussiness.
    Some, unfortunatelly did not that and are not doing it still, but this is not a problem of Aikido or of Aikikai, but because of bad character of some people that entitles thenselves Aikido masters but in fact, they have not idea of what the Founder really wanted to say when he stated:
    “I build a bridge of gold from Japan to heavens, and now I want to create a silver one from Japan to all countries”.
    In my view Stanley Pranin did a extraordinary service to western Aikido specially, cause he gaves us historical facts and access to the oppinions and informations of people that it would be impossible to us to have without him.
    Of course that sometimes the Truth bothers people that do not want it revealed. But it is important to observe that the Truth is a law that lives in heaven and that the Lie lives in Hell.

    There is not problem to make money teaching Aikido in my view, on the contrary , it is good that it happens to those that has the guts to follow this professional career.

    What it is not accepted is to “prostitute” the art, “selling graduations”, and “slaving students” using their good feelings, respect for the Founder ideals and love for the art to manipulate then in order to make them work as slaves with abuses of all sort .

    If someone do not want to follow Aikikai in my view they should not use the name AIKIDO for its activities. If they want to follow what they believe is the original O sensei Teachings and not what Aikikai recomends, they should change the name of what they want to teach for a new word, and say that this stuff they interpreted from what they heard about O Sensei, but never say that the sucessors are not doing the correct way.

    In Brazil we say,:

    “Do not think you can teach the priest to pray”.

    Aikido name is a kind of “property” of the Ueshiba family.

    O sensei´s teachings are free of course and anyone can use it and interpret it as one wishes, but not the name Aikido.

    Wagner Bull

  13. Nev is exactly right on this subject; “Just train. We don’t need more leaders. Just good teachers that enable us to lead ourselves.” To me the term spiritual leader is an oxymoron, but there are indeed spiritual teachers, and they can help us to lead ourselves. I have been fortunate to have had just a few authentic teachers, and they never did it as a business.

    I agree with Wagner Bull that the Aikikai successors should be our models of aikido technique, and that those who stray too far afield from that model should consider using a different name, or a variation of the name, as Tohei Sensei did. I question whether it is acceptable to pursue aikido teaching as a business, because as Mr. Bull says, it is a difficult product to sell, because the consumer doesn’t get the long term benefit until after years of training. It is exactly for this reason that teachers who wish to make a business out of aikido are tempted to stray from the Aikikai model, entitle themselves as aikido masters, and repackage aikido into something that is flashy, presumably easy to master in the short term, and which therefore lacks long term training in fundamentals.

    The first generation of students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba have been compared to the Blind Men in the Blind Men and the Elephant story. Regardless of their personal reasons, they codified their individual interpretations publicly in order to create their own organizations. It is the task of serious aikido students to investigate the interpretations of these men who were taught directly by Ueshiba Sensei. We should also take advantage, as Pranin Sensei suggests, of all of the visual information available to us through 21st century technology. From this we can observe, if we have eyes to see, the form of the early teachers and the Aikikai successors. Finally, it is important to read and embody the Philosophy of the Founder. Any good teacher would have us do all of this to enable us to lead ourselves. And of course, any good teacher would tell us to Just Train.

    The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell – Confucius

  14. Rauyl Nakayama says:

    “True victory is victory over one’s self” Only then will ego’s and personalities be recognized as a lack of self confidence and ignorance of O’Sensei’s goal of freedom from egotism. It is through hard, dedicated training that one discovers that it is Uke that you must be concerned with, not Nage (self). Certification does NOT a shihan make. Look at your instructors for who they are. Learn from them or look elsewhere. There are few instructors, if any, who are without egotism. Embrace those who have learned O’ Sensei’s goal, and become one with all those who surround you of positive energy. Avoid the negative as tho the plague.

  15. …As I read the comments beside my own and think on Aikido, I think of what Bob Frager once said, “O Sensei was like the ocean. Everybody brought his cup. If you want to have an idea of what the ocean was you have to look in all the cups.” Then I think of the thunderstorms in the desert. The rain falls on the mountain and rushes down the gullies in a torrent. At the foot of the mountain there are fans of alluvium. The flood waters spread out over them, dropping its own burden of debris and perhaps covering the old lakebed in the valley for a time… Much thanks to Pranin Sensei for providing a channel to capture and direct at least some of the flood for our mutual benefit.

  16. Wonderful article, thank you.
    I received my shodan in Tomiki Aikido in 1985, when I moved to Oberlin Ohio, and had the honor to train under Frank Hreha Shihan, student of Mitsugi Saotome Sensei, uchideshi of O-Sensei.
    I have not attended a class with Saotome Sensei where he has not talked about O-Sensei. But O-Sensei is not a constraint, he is a liberation. I think many of the generation of O-Sensei’s students who were young when he died didn’t really get O-Sensei. They could perform the techniques, but they didn’t really understand the spiritual and metaphysical framework which informed those techniques, so they didn’t feel comfortable talking about aikido “philosophy.” But without aikido “philosophy” there really isn’t much left of aikido, other than a sort of kata.

    Saotome Sensei has always encouraged his students to train with other shihan, and I took that encouragement to heart. I had the pleasure of training with Yamada Sensei, Kanai Sensei, and many other Shihan. But I have to say in my experience, at least, they never really talked about O-Sensei, about his philosophy, his desires, his aikido. And that is why I have always come back to Saotome Sensei, and that is the reason that his organization, recognized by Hombu, is called Aikido Schools of Ueshiba–because he harkens back to the ideas of his teacher.

    Yet he is among the most creative of aikidoka–because he teaches the principles of aikido, and from those principles flow not specific techniques that O-Sensei may have done, but principles upon which an infinite number of “techniques” derive.

    Now lest you think me a slavish syncophant, I can assure you that I have always approached this art with an open mind, starting with Tomiki, training under ASU, then USAF, and then back to ASU. I am not loyal to an organization, or even a teacher, but to the idea of aikido. So I would suggest that if you find yourself with a teacher who rarely references O-Sensei, who doesn’t talk about , or manifest aikido philosphy, that you keep looking

  17. How do we make the difference between a leader who has his followers’ best interest at heart and a leader who is just there for himself?

    Should we blindly follow a leader for the simple reason that he is the heir?

    What do we do if we find out that he doesn’t live according to the teachings? Do we quit or do we attempt to let him correct himself?

    What do we do if he refuses to listen? Repeat history?

    • two things that have helped me over the years are:

      1 You will know them by their actions.
      2. Watch out for all or nothing thinking.

  18. Just like many of the worlds great religions………………………..the understanding of the deeper levels is not there. So this misunderstanding is passed on …and on…..and on …so it turns into an aspect of this physical world………………………corrupted.

  19. Thank you for a great article Stan. It is a real pity but I agree that because the aikido world is lead by humans, we never will get together. We have too much ego, we think that we are the only ones who are right and are doing things the right way. Money moves our actions more than following O Sensei’s idea, and develop humbly his great vision. In our small dojo, we leave politics for politicians and just train, celebrate our birthdays and dan tests always together with a cake, enjoy weddings, Christmas and other parties together, travel to close seminars together depending on our pocket. It would be great if we could translate our small dojo to the Aikido world, but it is just a fantasy, an utopia, a nice dream.

  20. Marco Pita Santos says:

    A wake up call way overdue, but straight to the point: are aikido organizations privatizing common ground? Maybe they are, but I agree with the author’s position on constructive critique, not demolishing one.

  21. I can only speak from my own limited experience, but on the subject of Aikido for profit, I’d have to say that my Sensei, Gordon Hannah, is largely disinterested. So also was his teacher Kanai Sensei, and O Sensei before him. (Sigh.)
    A good time to talk about spiritual matters with Hannah Sensei is while he is folding his hakama after class. He has told me that at Kanai Sensei’s dojo, once a year there would be a ceremony for cleansing the dojo which involved some clapping and chanting. I believe he said that Kanai Sensei did not believe in the Shinto religion, but did however perform some Shinto practices and had expressed a wish to be a monk. Most importantly though, Hannah Sensei shared with me the story that when Kanai Sensei was an uchi deshi, O Sensei would sometimes come to the students in the middle of the night, and wake them to talk about spiritual matters. Unfortunately, the students were most often confused by what he was saying.

    Recently our dojo was very blessed to have David Halprin Sensei come and teach in honor of our second anniversary. When my husband asked Halprin Sensei what he considered the most important thing he hoped to pass on to his students, he replied, “Well, I would hope that they remember the techniques… but I know that will never happen.” Halprin Sensei also told a story about a certain technique that appeared to change over the years as he studied with Kanai Sensei. When questioned, Kanai Sensei replied that the technique was actually “growing.”

    So practicing Aikido is very demanding, and our teachers have made great sacrifices to not only learn Aikido but to pass it down to us. The Aikido itself is ever-green as is the love between teachers and students, no matter their school or nationality.

    I’m almost done. My husband, a great asker of questions, wanted to know who I thought was the sexiest man in Aikido, (that is besides my Hannah Sensei.) I told him that for me, it would have to be Tamura Sensei, who could totter across the mat, ukes falling over themselves in his wake. So my point is, we could all learn a thing or two from these supple old dinosaurs, in spite of their differences, and I’m very, very thankful.

  22. In everything under the sun there are clear and dark sides.
    These poles are necessary in order things can exist.
    Nobody is pure 100% and nobody is also pure 100%.
    What exists in fact it is a “mixture” .
    Soon I will become 63 years old and 43 of Aikido, and I agree that the most important thing it is to train as hard as possible, and research as hard as possible the origins of Aikido in order to incorporate then in our movements and in our personality if we really accept this ideal as our “DO”.

    But leaders and organizations are also necessary.
    It is better not to judge, and just go on.

    I can still remember what I saw in the botton of a water pot in a Zen Temple in Kyoto that is very propper in my view in this discussion:

    “The only thing one must know is that everything is fine exactly in the way they are”.

    This is the truth.

    The rest are just personal partial views and judgments, that in terms of the Universe action, makes no difference.

    I think that Stanley did what he had to do, and the leaders and organizations did what they had to.
    And they will keep on in the same routine.

    Both helped us, seachers of the Way.

    Saints are necessary to exist , but businessmen too, otherwise nothing will happen in terms of progress. Money is the oil that moves ideas and made then be realized
    Let´s give both their proper space and respect then…OF COURSE KEEPING THE NECESSARY MA-AI .

    Let´s go on…..

    Wagner Bull

  23. Interesting article with losts of interesting responses.

  24. Stan , I don’t know if this might fit in here, if not just delete it, but a question:
    Why can aikidokas not act like that?

  25. The MAN is ALWAYS more important than the STYLE/ORGANIZATION. As a martial artist and AIkidoka that has DARED to go outside of Aikido for answers. I can tell you the above statment is 100% true. I have also discovered that the BEST martial artists are the ones you have never heard of>

  26. This is a great article. I have to say I am with you on your ideas in this article. I have noticed how strange it is how the room changes or the conversation drifts upon the mention of (blank) Sensei’s name turns up or (x)organization is mentioned in the presence of certain people. Why is so taboo to talk about this person? Why is it only good to stay and practice in one organization? Why shouldn’t I practice with them or avoid them? Perhaps I am young and ignorant….well, maybe not young. I can understand if you enjoy the particular style you practice and don’t see any purpose to leave your group. But what about the people who see no boundaries and barriers or love the arts more than the organization? The people who see the beauty and depth of each of the different styles of Aikido. The flow of the many different styles of Aikikai, the solid kihon of Iwama Aikido, the precision of Yoshinkan, the relaxation of Shin Shin Toitsu Do Aikido, the benefits of competition in Tomiki or the power of the “new” internal power movement. I can see why some leave these organizations and become independent and not tie themselves down to limitations. I hope we move forward past the trivial closed door mindset of our little worlds and realize the world is much bigger than a name.

  27. Jan Michels says:

    I think most leaders lost the idea of AIKI along the way because the EGO got in the way.

  28. As quite a few of you will know, I have been in or connected to the martial arts snce 1944. A long period broken only by military service and various area moves. I am 8th dan International Shodokan Aikido, and BAA aikido, and Japan Aikido Association. I also practice kenjutsu and judo. As it happens, I am interested in the spiritual; aspects of some areas of the martial arts. I do also believe, that the way has been lost. What happened to the martial art we were all originally studying? It has been altered, modified, turned into a sport and/or a philosophy. Techniques have been ‘softened’ because of fear of legal action….and so on. I’m now glad that at 86 years old, I feel honoured to have experienced the best of it, with genuine Japanese instructors who knew exactly what it was all about without the flim-flam offered to students today. So move back, not forwards….but back a long way to when it was real.

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