Archives for December 2011


“Yurusu, an Aiki perspective,” by Francis Takahashi

Yurushimasu, in Japanese, is the decision to, and the act of forgiving another person for an action or intention deemed detrimental or hurtful. In a tightly controlled society as may be found in Japan, the value of forgiving and being forgiven is a highly prized, and perhaps indispensible characteristic of that society. For me, it means forgiving the person involved, without necessarily discounting or dismissing the actual damage done or perceived to have been committed. To distinguish between these two notions is vital to appropriately and reasonably resolving any conflict or misunderstanding for any and all parties involved and affected. Thus, the fundamental connection to the other party is preserved, while constructive measures are being taken to rectify the situation, and reconcile true emotions, perceptions, and attitudes.

No doubt, other cultures and societies have their own version of dealing with applying the notion, and with the actual act of forgiveness, and must be respected as such by any fair observer. Nonetheless, it seems to me that there are certain factors in common for all such manifestations of human compassion and tolerance. One such characteristic may well be the WIIFM factor. “What’s In It For Me?” to forgive another person one may ask. For one, the release of tightly held resentment in exchange for opening that burdened space to more positive emotions and to establish constructive solutions can be huge. For another, the opportunity to reestablish lines of communication and of exchange that proved previously beneficial to both parties, cannot be quickly discounted, and steps may then be taken to reconnect them. When one realizes how much, and how long it took to establish this advantage in the first place, it certainly is worth every effort. It certainly can be accepted as “good for business” to bury the hatchet of resentment and rancor, thus providing new and improved opportunities for mutual growth and prosperity. Say, don’t our so called world leaders strive to achieve this happy result most of the time?
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Aikido Memorabilia: Koichi Tohei Poster from 1965!

“Add to your collection through December 17!”

Today I was rummaging through some boxes containing miscellaneous stuff and ran across a beautiful poster that has been in storage since back in 1965. This flyer was an announcement of a large aikido demonstration given by Koichi Tohei Sensei, 9th dan, in downtown Los Angeles, in the Little Tokyo district.

I was a participant in the demonstration from the Los Angeles Aikikai and remember the event very well. Let me tell you what happened. On the day of the event, there was some kind of a mixup, and no tatami mats were brought to the Koyasan Temple, the venue for the demonstration. This meant that everyone had to take ukemi on the hard linoleum flooring!

Tohei Sensei gathered us together and told us that this mishap would be a good opportunity to train our ki, and that we should stay relaxed and not worry about getting hurt. I must confess that I was a bit apprehensive since I had never trained on a hard surface before. I know I wasn’t alone in feeling that way, but as they say, the show must go on!

There were aikidoka from all over California and neighboring states who came to town for the event. Tohei Sensei had been in Los Angeles for several weeks and was conducting classes and examinations in various locations. Just prior to this demonstration, I took and passed my shodan test in front of him at the Los Angeles Aikikai. It was an exciting time for me in the early stages of my aikido career.

As he did always, Tohei Sensei held the audience captivated with his mixture of ki demonstrations, flashy techniques, and good humor. Fortunately, there are some films from that era here at Aikido Journal, so you can get an idea of what Tohei Sensei’s technique and aikido curriculum that heavily emphasized ki were like.

I don’t know how I managed to hang on to this poster for all these years. It was in very good condition, and I had three copies of it folded together. I have worked on it in Photoshop to clean up blemishes and improve upon the quality of this outstanding photo of Koichi Tohei. I know there are some collectors out there who like things like this poster, so I have uploaded a high-resolution copy that you can download to your computer. Please help yourself!

Free to download through December 17!

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: Click here to download the Koichi Tohei 1965 poster

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“Facebook Woes!” by Stanley Pranin

I’m very sorry to have to report this news… Today, I attempted to login to my Facebook account as I have done since September 2010. I was met by a message asking me to input a confirmation code that was sent to my cell phone. The problem is that that cell number was discontinued months ago. I looked through the help section for assistance and found many FB users experiencing the same problem. Their requests–in some cases pleas!–for help were completely unanswered.

I widened my search on the Internet and found literally hundreds of complaints about the same issue. Very few people had their problems resolved. Facebook doesn’t have a support phone number, and only occasionally deigns to answer emails sent to their help desks.

So that situation is that I’m blocked from entering my own account due to a disconnected cell phone number. I cannot update my settings with a new number because I can’t log in. I have sent a message requesting help, but I’m not even expecting a response due to the numerous emails I’ve read over the last several hours lamenting FB’s poor customer support.

For the time being, until and if this issue is resolved, I cannot update the Aikido Journal FB page. If anyone has experienced a similar problem and has found a resolution, I would really like to hear from them.

Right now, I’m stuck, so please come here to the website for news and announcements from Aikido Journal.


“Aikido Densho” Technical Manual by Morihei Ueshiba’s Biographer!

“Free Download through Friday, Dec. 16!”

We are pleased to announce the archiving of an almost totally unknown training manual compiled by Kanemoto Sunadomari, Morihei Ueshiba’s biographer. Kanemoto Sunadomari was from a family of devout Omoto believers and was the elder brother of Kanshu and Fukiko Sunadomari. He began his training in an earlier form of aikido in 1928 after observing a demonstration by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in Ayabe.

Kanemoto maintained a long relationship with Morihei that lasted until the end of the latter’s life. In 1969, he published the first biography of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei after having conducted research for many years and gathering documents with the assistance of his siblings. Kisshomaru Ueshiba cites passages from Sunadomari’s book in his later biography of his father published in 1977.

Given the time frame of Kanemoto’s study under Morihei Ueshiba, the techniques covered in this manual reflect an early stage in the development of Morihei’s art. As such, this technical volume warrants a thorough study along with such documents as the Noma Dojo photos series and the 1938 training manual “Budo.” Quite a number of the techniques covered in this book are no longer practiced in mainstream aikido, but will be familiar to students of Iwama Aikido curriculum.

We invite members of the Aikido Journal readership to download this 80-page training manual in PDF form to peruse its contents. From there, we would be interested in hearing your feedback concerning the book’s content. We offer this manual free to all readers through Friday, December 16, at which it will become part of our permanent archives.

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: Click here to download the “Aikido Densho” by Kanemoto Sunadomari

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“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!
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“One Arm Dangling and Standing Waiting” by Nev Sagiba

“Flinging yourself around in the fakest of ukemi in order to make
an incompetent look good, deceives no one, but yourself.”

Pseudo-aikido is identifiable by the ineptness of its practitioners, something which waving a camera around, hot music, drums and grass growing introductions cannot hide. It impresses no one but those who know better, and that negatively.

Sizzle does not win fights, nor enable survival against serious odds. Skill does.

Skill cannot be faked, and at best, any attempt to do so is worse than amateurish. It is suicidal.

Remember the good ol’ Chinese Fung-ku movies where someone would punch the air (out of the maai) and the other guy would rush in to “block” it? What on earth for? Why on earth block anything?

“Modern aikido” has become too self-excusing. Many schools do not even know what the basic techniques are or have a name for them. They “flow.” And well they may. Among each other. Because any real attacker would have other plans.
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“Dan Inflation in the Early Years of Aikido,” by Stanley Pranin


“My own teacher, Morihiro Saito told me on more than one occasion that he skipped two ranks in his advancement to 9th dan”

stan-pranin-closeupThe other day I found an interesting article in the 33rd issue of the “Aikido Shimbun” published in March 1962. You may recall that the Aikikai Hombu Dojo began publishing this four-page newsletter in 1959. The newsletter has appeared continuously through today, an enviable publishing run of over 52 years!

What caught my eye was an announcement listing the dan promotions awarded on January 15 of the same year at the annual Kagami Biraki celebration. A number of famous names are mentioned in that list, some of them prewar students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, while others began training following World War II.

I have selected certain names of people that have become prominent and added the year of their enrollment by way of reference.

8th dan
Rinjiro Shirata (1933)
Hajime Iwata (1930)
Takaaki (Shigemi) Yonekawa (1932)

7th dan
Morihiro Saito (1946: 16 years to 7th dan)
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“Motto,” by Koretoshi Maruyama

“I have written the following membership motto for members of Aikido Yuishinkai. I encourage you to read them aloud each morning and night to keep your subconscious in a positive state of mind.” – Koretoshi Maruyama

I am mind itself.

If I hold positive thoughts in my mind, good things are likely to happen.

Holding negative thoughts in my mind works against my best interests.

Therefore, even if my body suffers physically, my mind remains optimistic.

Even if I encounter obstacles, my mind is never defeated.

Daily I fill my heart with thoughts of joy, gratitude and hope.

I face each new day with a bright and optimistic spirit,

which I express in word and deed.

I have faith in life, and life responds in kind.


The Best Way to Build Your Aikido DVD Collection!

“Wondering what to get your favorite Aikidoka? No worries!”

Order a two-year subscription to the Aikido Journal Members Site and get THREE FREE DVDs free during this Sale in effect through January 8!

What this means is that you can now easily and inexpensively build your aikido film collection and obtain THREE DVDs!

In the bargain, you get a two-year subscription to the Aikido Journal Members Site. Paid subscribers have access to all available materials on the Members Site. At the present time, this includes over 2,000 articles, encyclopedia entries, interviews, chronologies, images and videos. The vast amount of content covers virtually every aspect of aikido and related disciplines.

These materials are fully indexed for easy search and retrieval of specific content. Paid members have the means to quickly inform themselves on any covered subject, and further deepen their knowledge of all aikido-related areas. Members also receive our newsletter containing timely information on new content on Aikido Journal, aikido resources, special discounts, etc. There is no better investment for the serious aikido practitioner!

These Aikido DVDs are wonderful study aids and make great holiday gifts for your training partners! Save time… save money! Act now!

Click here to take advantage of this 48-hour sale!


Free video: Lecture in Spanish on Aikido History by Stanley Pranin, Mexico City, 2004

This video consists of a lecture on aikido history by Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin in Mexico City in 2004. The lecture was conducted in Spanish and should serve to provide our Spanish-speaking audience with an introduction to the history of the art and its Founder, Morihei Ueshiba.

It is our hope that documents such as this will help strengthen ties with our readers from the worldwide Hispanic community who may not have access to this material in their native language. This lecture was sponsored by the AHAN Society of Gaku Homma Sensei of Denver, Colorado and the dojo of Fernando Roman Sensei in Mexico City.

Una conferencia en español sobre la historia del aikido por Stanley Pranin, Editor del Aikido Journal, dada en la ciudad de México en 2004.

Duration: 80 minutes
Access: Free through Sunday, December 11

If you are already a subscriber of the Aikido Journal Members Site, click here to login and view the lecture of Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin in Spanish recorded in Mexico City in December 2004.

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Free video: Minoru Mochizuki — Martial Arts Expert and Theoretician!

“Direct student of Morihei Ueshiba and Jigoro Kano!”

Five unforgettable lecture demonstrations were presented at the 1986 Aiki News Friendship Demonstration in Tokyo by these famous teachers: Minoru Mochizuki, Gozo Shioda, Morihiro Saito, Yoshio Sugino, and Kenji Shimizu. The entire event is available in a 2-DVD Set through Aikido Journal.

Minoru Mochizuki was one of two people who had the distinction of being a direct student of both Morihei Ueshiba, Founder or Aikido, and Jigoro Kano, Founder of Judo. He was also a martial arts genius who achieved expert status in a wide variety of Japanese martial arts. Mochizuki Sensei devised an eclectic martial system known variously as Yoseikan Aikido and Yoseikan Budo. This video clip captures scenes of Mochizuki Sensei where he explains his martial theories along with the execution of a series of sophisticated techniques by his high-ranking students.

Below are brief introductions of the participating teachers at the Friendship Demonstration:

  • Morihiro Saito: 9th dan, and one of aikido’s most respected teachers. Saito Sensei was one of O-Sensei’s closest students and achieved worldwide recognition due to his numerous international seminars and the publication of many authoritative technical books.
  • Gozo Shioda: One of O-Sensei’s most skilled students from the prewar era and founder of Yoshinkan Aikido. Shioda Sensei taught an effective, martial-style of aikido that attracted tens of thousands of students over his long teaching career. He is also the author of numerous technical manuals on Yoshinkan Aikido.
  • Minoru Mochizuki: A leading student of judo founder Jigoro Kano sent to study with O-Sensei in 1930. Mochizuki Sensei underwent rigorous training in numerous martial styles during his career and created Yoseikan Budo, an eclectic martial art incorporating aikido, judo, karate, swordsmanship, and other arts. He was one of the only students to have learned extensively from both Jigoro Kano and Morihei Ueshiba.
  • Yoshio Sugino: A judo and Katori Shinto-ryu master who studied under O-Sensei in the prewar era. Sugino Sensei was one of Japan’s most famous martial artists, and choreographed the fighting scenes in Kurosawa movies such as “The Seven Samurai,” “Yojimbo,” and others.
  • Kenji Shimizu: One of the last and most talented students of O-Sensei who came to aikido after a successful judo career. Shimizu Sensei later created Tendokan Aikido, and developed a following of thousands of students throughout Europe.

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“Morihei Ueshiba and Minoru Mochizuki,” by Stanley Pranin

Morihei Ueshiba and Minoru Mochizuki, c. 1951

The budo career of Minoru Mochizuki has been unique in many respects. He began judo training as a child and is still active today at the age of 81 [now 93]. As a young man he had close relationships with some of the towering figures of budo of the day including Jigoro Kano, Kyuzo Mifune and Morihei Ueshiba. In addition, he is a man of high intellect whose thinking has been greatly influenced by Kano and Ueshiba as well as numerous writers and philosophers. Let us touch upon the highlights of this exceptional man’s career in this fourth article on aikido history.

Early Career in judo

Minoru Mochizuki was born in 1907 and embarked upon his budo career at the tender age of 5 when he began his practice of judo. As a boy his training also included kendo and a kobudo called Gyokushin-ryu Jujutsu, his eclectic approach to budo already being apparent. In 1926 at age 19, he enrolled at the Kododan and within the brief span of less than two years was promoted to sandan, an outstanding achievement for that time.

Mochizuki relates an amusing story of how he came to the attention of the famous Kyuzo Mifune Sensei while attending “kangeiko” (winter training). It seems that that he was living in Tsurumi at that time and in order to attend the early morning keiko had to set out at 12 midnight. One morning outside the Kodokan, failing to find the bucket he was accustomed to using to wipe off the sweat worked up during the vigorous all-night walk, he jumped into a well breaking the ice which had formed on the surface. When young Mochizuki started to emerge from the well, an unknown hand began pulling him out. It was none other than Mifune Sensei who was peering at the drenched boy incredulously. “What are you doing splashing yourself with cold water? You fool, you’ll ruin your health that way.” Mifune ordered him to stay at his house that evening. He continued to stay on at Mifune’s house thereafter as an uchideshi and learned first-hand the importance of being at the side of one’s master on a 24-hour basis.

Singled Out by Jigoro Kano

Young Judoka, c. 1930

Even though a young man in his prime and full of competitive spirit, Mochizuki also felt a need to engage in spiritual training. A “Classical Martial Arts Research Group” had been established at the Kodokan by Kano and Mochizuki joined. As a result of his involvement in the study of several classical traditions including Katori Shinto-ryu and his unusual ability, Mochizuki was singled out by judo Founder Jigoro Kano. “You have the makings of a leader… In the future you will be a top teacher here at the Kodokan,” were the words of encouragement of the famous Kano. Mochizuki was to report to Kano on a monthly basis on his training progress. This led to a series of meetings where the philosophically-oriented creator of judo attempted to stimulate the mind of young Mochizuki who, at that time, could only think of winning tournaments. Nonetheless, Kano’s observations concerning the true purpose of judo and the pitfalls of sports would later greatly contribute to the theoretical basis of Mochizuki’s own Yoseikan Budo.

Kano, at the invitation of Admiral Isamu Takeshita (the subject of an earlier last article), witnessed a demonstration of the jujutsu form of Morihei Ueshiba in Mejiro in October 1930). Highly impressed, the judo leader arranged for two of his top judo students, one of them being Minoru Mochizuki, to study under Ueshiba.

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