Archives for December 2011


Free video: “Kenji Tomiki — The Basic Curriculum of Aikido Kyogi”

“Kenji Tomiki, the Second Jigoro Kano!”

Among the many distinguished disciples of Morihei Ueshiba, the Founder of Aikido, Kenji Tomiki stands out for his intellectual stature and skill in articulating the historical and ethical rationale of the art. Whereas the Founder viewed life and, consequently, his budo, mainly in religious terms, Professor Tomiki espoused a view of aikido that included a form of competitive sparring where an attacker wielding a dagger attempted to score points against an empty-handed adversary. Tomiki launched and refined his system of Aikido Kyogi, or “Competitive Aikido,” during his years as a professor at Waseda University.

Tomiki’s rationale for introducing competition to aikido was his view of the martial arts as a means for edification of the individual that was heavily influenced by Professor Kano’s philosophy. On the one hand, Tomiki regarded the traditional martial systems of Japan as feudalistic, brutal and thus unsuited for the modern age. Yet, at the same time, he wished to guarantee the survival in some form of these highly-refined technical traditions that had been developed over hundreds of years.

Tomiki Sensei’s solution was therefore to modify the classical ryuha eliminating dangerous techniques without, however, losing sight of their historical rationale. The practice of kata would permit the preservation and transmittal of the classical forms while competition insured that the trainee would gain a practical understanding of the application of offensive and defensive techniques.

This documentary film was made in 1975 at Waseda University and is part one of a two-part series. Tomiki Sensei and Hideo Ohba–his long-time assistant–demonstrate many individual and paired forms, basic techniques and the kata comprising the curriculum of Aikido Kyogi. These are the building blocks necessary to acquire a high level of skill in his martial system and to compete in a tournament setting.

Duration: 22:25
Access: Free through Tuesday, December 27

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to get access to the Kenji Tomiki video

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Video: “Kenji Shimizu, Favorite Uke of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei”

“Kenji Shimizu, Author of Zen and Aikido

This video features Kenji Shimizu, one of the last generation of Aikikai instructors under Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Shimizu Sensei had a strong judo background and quickly came up through the ranks in his early aikido career. He was one of Morihei Ueshiba’s favorite uke during O-Sensei’s latter years. A few years after the Founder’s passing, Shimizu became independent of the Aikikai and established “Tendokan Aikido” centered in his private dojo in Tokyo.

Since the late 1970s, Shimizu Sensei has traveled extensively, mainly to Europe, where he has large student bases in several countries. He was also a participant in the 2nd Friendship Demonstration sponsored by Aiki News is 1986. Shimizu co-authored a book titled Zen and Aikido with Shigeo Kamata of Tokyo University.

Shimizu Sensei’s aikido is both powerful and graceful at the same time. His ability to blend is exemplary and his technical repertoire varied, partially due to his judo background, which is revealed in certain throws. As this is a promotional film, the production quality is very high and there are many spectacular techniques displayed.

Duration: 7:56
Access: Free through Monday, December 26

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to get access to the video of Kenji Shimizu of Tendokan Aikido

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“Aikido Journal Members Site: The Game Plan,” by Stanley Pranin

A number of you have commented both publicly and privately on the amount of new material we are adding of late to the Aikido Journal Members Site. One person even used the term “overwhelmed,” in a positive sense, to describe the steady of flow documents being made available to our readers. As I write this blog, every few minutes I’m looking over my shoulder monitoring a lecture-demonstration by Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba from 1986 that I am digitizing from an old Sony Beta tape.

Let me explain what’s going on these days, and the sense of urgency behind our efforts. First of all, I’m sitting on a mountain of documents! These are in the form of old films, videotapes, audio recordings, over 100,000 photos, a heap of photocopied material, and an assortment of memorabilia, much of it unclassified.

If I could devote time to doing nothing other than digitizing and uploading these documents to the Members Site, it would still take years to complete the task. The reality is that I have only a couple of hours per day to allocate to these preservation efforts. The result is that it will take probably a couple of decades to complete the job. I need to push hard into my 80s!

One consideration affecting our present efforts is the fact that some of the most historically important materials exist in the form of videotape, a notoriously sensitive medium that degrades over time. This creates a certain urgency to digitize this analog material so that it is first preserved, and then edit and dessiminate it later as time and resources permit. That’s why a lot of what we’re uploading now has been only minimally edited, unlike what we would release as commercial products.
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Resist Not Evil – Position, The Aiki of Daily Life

Contention is expensive. Excessive striving costs irreparably as all the mad of history can attest.

Cause and effect being the entire nature of the universe, to every action there are consequences. No being exists who is exempt and there are no dispensations save in the application of the Law Itself. The only way to apply it harmoniously is harmony itself, which then augments the Law and Order that maintains the Universe.

Wise navigation learns to not accrue debt, but to sail efficiently and economically. You may call it Love, or Harmony, or Goodness or Tau or whatever label you wish, it’s all the same.

The secret is not how well you control others, because you can not, but how well you control yourself and become response enabled, response able, responsible or able to respond.

The error is in the desire to control others. The mad become madder and madder and more entangled trying to play this game of futility.

But of yourself, you have absolute jurisdiction.

Few use this to its immeasurable potential. Instead, most, driven by simian genes, seek jurisdiction where they have none. People bully their spouse, their children their employees, their dog (the cat won’t let them) and anyone else they can for as long as they think they can get away with it.

Most of the time they don’t even realise they are doing it. Manipulation, womanipulation and people manipulation leads to lose-lose outcomes.

Eventually you will be caught.
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Magazine: Aikido Journal Number 100, 1994 — Featuring Minoru Hirai, Creator of Korindo Aikido!

Aikido Journal Number 100, 1994


     ● Editorial – Aikido: A Legacy from the Past, a Vision for the Future, by Stanley Pranin
     ● Aikido Journal News
     ● Letters to the Editor, by Stanley Pranin
     ● Interview with Minoru Hirai, by Stanley Pranin
     ● Aiki is not Always Pretty, by Ellis Amdur
     ● Interview with Takefumi Takeno(1), by Stanley Pranin
     ● Coping in a Violent World, by Mike Mello
     ● The Omoto Religion and Aikido, by Yasuaki Deguchi
     ● Takemusu Aikido — Shomenuchi sankyo omotewaza, by Morihiro Saito
     ● Kobudo & Kobujutsu, by Meik Skoss
     ● Morihei Ueshiba & Gozo Shioda, by Stanley Pranin
     ● Interview with Mark Jones, by Meik Skoss
     ● Famous Swordsmen of Japan, by Takefumi Hiiragi
     ● Heard in the Dojo
     ● The Book Page, by Diane Skoss
     ● Events & Announcements

Access: Free to all through Saturday, December 24

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to download the PDF file of Aikido Journal Number 100

Not yet a member? Please enter your name and email address below to gain instant access to this item and the hundreds of other free aikido-related documents that await you!



Video: Minoru Hirai — Rare footage of Creator of Korindo Aikido!

The fact that this video was ever made and has survived is little short of a miracle. It features the reclusive Minoru Hirai Sensei, the creator of Korindo Aikido. Although little known among contemporary aikido practitioners, Hirai Sensei played a pivotal role in the naming of aikido while serving as the General Affairs Director of Morihei Ueshiba’s Kobukan Dojo in the early 1940s.

Hirai was a top-level martial artist in his own right and enjoyed a congenial relationship of mutual trust with Morihei Ueshiba. It was Hirai Sensei who mentored Kisshomaru Ueshiba when the latter was suddenly thrust into the position of becoming the Dojo-cho of Morihei’s dojo while still a university student when the Founder moved to Iwama in 1942. You can read all about Hirai Sensei’s relationship to aikido here.

This video is a remarkable document in which Hirai Sensei, at age 91, demonstrates a wide variety of the taisabaki techniques, for which Korindo Aikido is was known, and ken and jo movements. He is remarkably sprightly even considering his advanced age, and you will see flashes of his martial arts genius.

In a startling scene, Hirai Sensei suddenly calls forth Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin, who is taking photographs, to attack him. Hirai Sensei fires off a series of throws, the contrast between his diminutive frame versus Stanley’s towering six feet is impressive!

Duration: 21:11
Access: Free through Friday, December 23

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to get access to the video of Minoru Hirai, Founder of Korindo Aikido

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“The Legendary ‘Judo’ Gene LeBell,” by Patrick Parker

Patrick Parker: Your bio on your webpage says that at age 20 you had 14 years of hardcore training behind you, including some grappling with Ed “Strangler” Lewis, who is credited with inventing the sleeper hold. Is that where you got your fabulous rear choke?

Gene Lebell: The 1st time I learned it, yes it was from Ed Lewis. Since then there have been many variations in the world, from which I have learned to do it from the sides, the front, etc. They are in my Encyclopedia of Grappling, Finishing Holds for those who want to learn them…

Patrick Parker: You mentioned your Godfather of Grappling and Encyclopedia of Grappling books… What do you think is the role of books in training? Since you’ve got to lay hands on a real guy to learn to grapple, how much of what kinds of things do you think folks can learn from a book or a website? What is the best way to learn something when you don’t have face-to-face access to an expert?

Gene Lebell: Of course it is always better to work with an expert, but how often can you do that or afford it. As an alternative you use students of the experts, then videos or books. And there is no substitute for getting on the mat and experimenting and trying things to see what works for you and what doesn’t.

Please click here to read entire article.


The Foundation on which Aikido Journal was built: Download Aikido Journal Number 119, Spring 2000

This website was built on the publication of 119 issues of Aiki News/Aikido Journal beginning in 1974 through 2000. These publications represent a vast resource of aikido-related documents, numbering more than 4,000 pages. We have archived all issues published in the form of PDF files. One by one, we will upload each back issue of the magazine to the Aikido Journal Members Site where it may be downloaded and accessed by members. Aikido Journal Number 119 was the last printed issue published.

Aikido Journal Number 119, Spring 2000

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Spectacular Demonstration of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu by Members of the Takumakai!

“Spectacular Display of the Intricacies of Sokaku Takeda’s Art!”

Here is a marvelous video documentary released in 1980 featuring a breathtaking demonstration of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu techniques under the supervision of Menkyo Kaiden Takuma Hisa. This is an opportunity to observe an abundance of the intricate Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu taught by Sokaku Takeda over a period of some 50 years. This film is perhaps the earliest one ever produced on the subject and is beautifully filmed with multiple camera angles. It is part of a series of film documentaries done on a variety of Japanese kobudo.

The figure of Takuma Hisa, whose senior students demonstrate, was one of the most significant persons in Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu history, having learned directly from Morihei Ueshiba and Sokaku Takeda in Osaka. He is also one of only two persons to have received the Menkyo Kaiden from Sokaku. Hisa Sensei was very active is the postwar period promoting Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu from his base in Osaka, and later in Tokyo. Also, during that period he was promoted to 8th dan by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

Editor Stanley Pranin met Hisa Sensei shortly before his passing and tells the story of their association here. Also, Hisa Sensei appears in Morihei Ueshiba’s 1935 film shot in Osaka in the Asahi News dojo, the only known film of the Founder of Aikido from the prewar period.

Duration: 20:59
Access: Free through Wednesday, December 21

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to get access to the Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu documentary video demonstrated by members of the Takumakai

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“Katsujinken Applied In Real Life,” by Nev Sagiba

I originally wrote this as a tribute to one of my greatest and most exemplary teachers who lived The Way 24/7. It was originally published way back under the title, “The Cutting Edge of Forgiveness”. I think now I would probably give it another title, such as, “To Have the Power and Not Misuse It,” or “Converting Darkness Into Light Without Theories About It,” or “Killing the Devils Whilst Giving Life a Second Chance,” or some other long winded thing. But I won’t.

Instead I’ll call it by it’s true name: “Katsujinken Applied In Real Life” It contains a lesson or two that seldom occur or are understood in today’s world. This really happened. It was more vivid than my skill to write about it, but I hope this modest effort will impart this dimension of intense living in the light.

Katsujinken Applied In Real Life

“Warriors, warriors we call ourselves.
We fight for splendid virtue, for high endeavour, for sublime wisdom,
therefore we call ourselves warriors.”

from the Aunguttara Nikaya

To Give Back a Life

The Islanders of the Torres Strait are a unique people. They are big, strong, lean, fast, powerful, coordinated and skilled. These Melanesians are tribal people who have sustained a powerful warring, seafaring and permaculture society since before the Vedic Era, if not longer. Powerfully litigious, they know their rights and they are prepared to fight for them if negotiations fail. And they fight for keeps, not points. There is no tapping. Well traditionally there was a lot of flapping around after your head was removed from your body and the winner sucked on your brainstem to ‘steal your soul.’ But that was the old, dark days.
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Video: Rinjiro Shirata — “A Catalog of Prewar Aiki Budo Techniques”

“The Bridge between Aiki Budo and Modern Aikido”

This video is one of the most important visual documents in the Aikido Journal archives. Rinjiro Shirata, 9th dan Shihan, demonstrates scores of prewar Aiki Budo techniques in commemoration of his 70th birthday. This document, nearly 30 years old and virtually unknown, will help aikido instructors and practitioners bridge the gap between the prewar curriculum of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba and modern aikido. It constitutes an excellent tool in the endeavor to track the evolution of aikido technique.

In this video, you will discover many Aiki Budo techniques you have never seen before. As with the Kanemoto Sunadomari book we released a few days ago, the techniques covered are closer to Morihei Ueshiba “Aiki Budo” film than to modern aikido.

Bio of Rinjiro Shirata

Born on March 29, 1912 in Yamagata Prefecture to a family of Omoto believers, Rinjiro Shirata was accepted into the Kobukan Dojo of aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba as an uchideshi in 1933. Known for his modest character and great physical strength, he quickly became one of the star pupils of the “Hell Dojo,” as the founder’s early school was called. Shirata later spent a short period teaching aiki budo in Osaka before being drafted into the Japanese Imperial Army. He spent the war years stationed in Burma until his repatriation.

Shirata’s training was interrupted for several years due to the war, but he began actively teaching again in Aomori in 1959. In 1962, he received the 8th dan rank from the founder. At this time his teaching activities were concentrated in his native Yamagata. Shirata was awarded 9th dan in 1972 by Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba and is one of only a handful of people ever to have achieved this rank. Shirata was also active in the International Aikido Federation following its establishment in 1976. He occupied several high posts and served on the technical council. He traveled to Honolulu in 1978 in connection with the IAF and to Chicago in 1984 at the invitation of Akira Tohei Sensei. On both occasions foreign practitioners responded enthusiastically to his skillful, yet gentle approach to teaching.

Devoted to the spread of aikido and one of the staunchest supporters of the Ueshiba family, Shirata was a regular participant over the years in major Aikikai-sponsored events such as the All-Japan Aikido Demonstration, the Iwama Taisai, and the Kagami Biraki New Year Celebration at the Tokyo Hombu Dojo.

Duration: 27:27 minutes
Access: Free through Monday, December 19

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: Click here to get access to the video of Rinjiro Shirata, 9th dan, demonstrating Aiki Budo techniques

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“Add Morihei Ueshiba’s Name Card to Your Collection of Aikido Memorabilia!”, by Stanley Pranin

More interesting items have come to light as I sift through boxes and photo albums. Today’s find is a “meishi” or name card of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. This is an extremely interesting document, and there is a long and involved story to be told in this connection.

First, here is what is written on the meishi:

“Morihei Ueshiba
President, Jinrui Aizenkai Tokyo-to Rengokai”

This is followed by the address of the Tokyo branch of the Aizenkai near Ueno Park, and in addition, the address of Morihei’s residence which is the same as that of the old Aikikai Hombu Dojo.

What is this Jinrui Aizenkai? This association was an auxiliary organization established by Onisaburo Deguchi in May 1925. It is usually translated into English as the “Universal Love and Brotherhood Association.” The descendant of this association still exists today as a Non-Profit Organization with branches in many countries.

Here is an excerpt from the mission statement issued by Onisaburo Deguchi shortly after the founding of the Aizenkai:

“This Association exalts the noble cause of Love of Mankind, and hope to make its best efforts to bring about the friendship and harmony of the whole human race, thus bringing about a world of light eternally full of happiness and joy.

The human race are essentially brothers and sisters, one in body and spirit. To return to this basic principle is the profoundest desire of the divine nature in all people, as well as the loftiest ideal of the human race. However, in recent years, the state of the world has changed suddenly, the way has become dark, and the hearts of the people are hard and corrupt, with truly deplorable and horrifying consequences. If things are left to proceed in this way, it is clear what the future holds for the world.”

See “The Great Onisaburo Deguchi” by Kyotaro Deguchi, p. 189.

This lofty statement and the launch of the Aizenkai was followed by a flurry of activity both in Asia, the United States, Brazil, Europe, etc. It engaged in many charitable and educational activities in Asia, especially in Manchuria and Mongolia. The Aizenkai and Onisaburo also were intimately involved with the Kwantung Army in this region and served as a buffer to concerns of Japanese expansion and empire building among the local populace. There are many interesting areas of study in this regard that will provide more of a background to Morihei’s evolution both as a martial artist and prominent person active in prewar militaristic Japan.

For those who have come to believe that Morihei’s association with the Omoto religion became distant after the devastating consequenes of the Second Omoto Incident of December 1935, this simple name card speaks volumes. This meishi was used by Morihei toward the end of his life and he is listed as the “President” of one of the Omoto religion’s most active arms.

Historically speaking, the truth is that Morihei continued regular association with the Omoto after the war and, even visited Onisaburo Deguchi in Kameoka shortly before his death in 1948. I personally interviewed Yasuaki Deguchi, a grandson of Onisaburo, in the home where Onisaburo and his wife Sumiko lived at the time. I spent two nights in that house, apparently in the room next to where Onisaburo slept. It was an eerie experience, to be sure!

In any event, for those of you who are interested in such things, please accept a high resolution copy of Morihei’s personal name card, and keep in mind all of the history behind it, and the connection to the Omoto religion which played a pivot role in the creation of aikido.

Free access through December 18!

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: Click here to get access to a high-resolution image of the name card of Morihei Ueshiba

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