Dec
06

Free video: Gozo Shioda — The Sharp Wit and Powerful Technique of a Great Master!

Among the memorable demonstrations at this event was the dynamic and entertaining performance of Gozo Shioda Sensei, Founder of Yoshinkan Aikido. Shioda Sensei has a sharp wit and sense of humor to go along with his sharp, powerful technique. Gozo Shioda was one of the most influential aikido figures in the postwar spread of the art.

The performances presented at the 2nd Aiki News Friendship Demonstration were not typical demonstrations where the senseis appear on the stage, throw around their uke for two or three minutes, and exit. These famous teachers present what is called in Japanese “setsumei enbu,” that is, lecture demonstrations, where they impart information about their martial arts background, primary influences, and the principles infusing their arts. Then come their expert technical displays that will rivet your attention and impart valuable insights for your personal training.

See if you recognize any of these names: Morihiro Saito, Gozo Shioda, Minoru Mochizuki, Yoshio Sugino, and Kenji Shimizu… all students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, and all on the same stage!

  • 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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Dec
06

“Morihei Ueshiba and Gozo Shioda,” by Stanley Pranin

When it comes to showing aikido to the general public in a way both attractive and easy to understand, Gozo Shioda stands alone. He combines a lucid analysis of aikido theory with crisp technique and a liberal dash of humor. The observer of a Shioda aikido demonstration is almost invariably caught up in the mood of the experience and is ready to join an aikido dojo without the least bit of coaxing. Moreover, Shioda never fails to acknowledge his teacher Morihei Ueshiba and the fact that aikido evolved from the techniques of Daito-ryu aikijujutsu. In part seven of this series, Aikido Journal’s own editor-in-chief, Stanley Pranin, relates some of the highlights of Shioda’s fascinating career.

Gozo Shioda (1915-1994)

The second son of a well-known pediatrician, Seiichi Shioda, Gozo was born in Tokyo on September 9, 1915. A small, sickly child, Shioda credits his very survival to the medical skills of his physician-father. Young Gozo enjoyed a privileged upbringing, but at the same time was subject to the directives of his strong-willed father.

His fateful meeting with Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, came about in a rather unusual way. Mr. Munetaka Abe, Gozo’s middle school headmaster, was struck by the outstanding mental attitude of a young woman, Miss Takako Kunigoshi, who cleaned a nearby shrine every morning. When asked about her exemplary bearing, she gave credit to her aikijutsu teacher and suggested the schoolmaster observe a training session. Thoroughly impressed by what he saw at the nearby Ueshiba Dojo, Mr. Abe urged Gozo’s father to enroll his son there.

On May 23, 1932, the seventeen-year-old Gozo appeared at the Ueshiba dojo to witness a demonstration. Having a strong background in both kendo and judo, the confident young Shioda was skeptical of the clean, controlled techniques he saw performed. Sensing the lad’s attitude, Ueshiba invited him to attack and, in the blink of an eye, Shioda found himself flat on his back, rubbing his head, after an unsuccessful attempt to kick.

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Dec
05

Video: Morihiro Saito at the 1986 Aiki News Friendship Demonstration

On October 25, 1986, an historic aikido event took place that grouped together five famous teachers who never before or after shared a stage. We have a wonderful video for you that captures the highlights of this unforgettable afternoon. But first, let me tell you what made this demonstration so memorable.

The performances presented at the 2nd Aiki News Friendship Demonstration were not typical demonstrations where the senseis appear on the stage, throw around their uke for two or three minutes, and exit. These famous teachers present what is called in Japanese “setsumei enbu,” that is, lecture demonstrations, where they impart information about their martial arts background, primary influences, and the principles infusing their arts. Then come their expert technical displays that will rivet your attention and impart valuable insights for your personal training.

See if you recognize any of these names: Morihiro Saito, Gozo Shioda, Minoru Mochizuki, Yoshio Sugino, and Kenji Shimizu… all students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, and all on the same stage!

  • 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.

Enter your name and email below for instant access
to this fascinating video of Morihiro Saito Sensei!

Dec
05

“Etiquette and Bowing,” by Francis Takahashi

Etiquette is a most useful tool to assist people of independent thinking, different cultural and ethnic origins, and for life tested individuals to suspend for the moment, their particular biases, beliefs and boundaries, for the good of harmonious and respectful social interaction with one another. The human species is the only one I am aware of that finds this to be useful and important.

Nonetheless, such standards of etiquette are at best, arbitrarily determined, culturally specific, and never intended to be an all inclusive invitation for anyone to join without condition or consequence. In other words, they are primarily designed to discriminate amongst potential participants in a specified social function or activity. You either comply with such standards, willingly or not, or be potentially ostracized and banished from further involvement with the specific privileges and activities defined by such arbitrary and inherently unfair boundaries of applied etiquette.

From what I know or think of the Founder of Aikido, he would probably dismiss the entire conversation of “bowing” as a silly distraction to the goal of his Aikido, which is to create and maintain an environment where anyone who is honest and willing to work through differences of style, experience, preferences and misunderstandings, can find common ground in the generous capacity for tolerance and compassion expressly to be found in his Aikido.
[Read more...]

Dec
04

Video: Kisaburo Osawa, 9th dan, at 1986 All-Japan Demonstration

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“9th dan Aikido Magician and Aikikai Hombu Dojo Director!”

Here are a series of video stills from a demonstration given by Kisaburo Osawa Sensei, 9th dan, at the 1986 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration. Osawa Sensei was known for his light touch and smooth technical execution, punctuated by sudden bursts of speed. He was 76 years of age at the time of this demonstration. Osawa Sensei had many devoted students at the Hombu Dojo from the 1950s through the early 1980s. He also traveled abroad on a number of occasions to conduct seminars.

Today, many younger practitioners are not familiar with Osawa Sensei’s technique or his importance in the postwar development of aikido. Not only was he an outstanding technician, Osawa Sensei wielded tremendous political influence within the Aikikai and, for many years, served as Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba’s closest advisor. Old-timers have told us over and over again of Osawa Sensei’s significant role within the Aikikai and mastery of diplomacy.

We encourage Aikido Journal readers to become familiar with key early figures of the aikido world such as Kisaburo Osawa Sensei for their actions on behalf of the art are responsible for the present-day status of aikido.

The video clip from which these stills were taken is featured on the Aikido Journal Members Site. Take a look at this demonstration and watch Osawa Sensei’s deft execution of technique to pick up many fine points about his art.

Duration: 5:36
Access: Free through Tuesday, December 6, 2011

If you are already a subscriber of the Aikido Journal Members Site, click here to login and view the video clip of Kisaburo Osawa Sensei at the 1986 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration

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Dec
04

“Thrive,” New Documentary by Aikidoka Foster Gamble

Nev Sagiba sent me a link to the new documentary film by Foster Gamble, a yudansha instructor under Frank Doran Sensei of Redwood City, California.

Foster Gamble, creator of "Thrive,"
introduces Aikido and Morihei Ueshiba

Foster contacted me several months ago requesting permission to use the video clip of Morihei Ueshiba you see in the documentary. He sees aikido as an important means to create a new level of awareness and cooperation among people, and one of the keys to solving mankind’s pressing problems. His view is very much in the spirit of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

This is a highly professional presentation that is sure to have a great reach given its scope and message. It will surely help many people find their way to aikido. I have seen the entire documentary and was deeply impressed by the intelligence, planning, and courage involved in this production seeing the light of day. Here we present the trailer for the movie.

Here is the comment of one viewer of the documentary:

This film is outstanding, a real EYE opener to those that take the time to Pay Attention to ALL the details! Foster Gamble relays this story of how Life is supposed to work and THRIVE, not merely survive. He does this in a way that compels the viewer to open their minds and hearts to the endless possibilities of just how important their lives really are to the world we live in. In order to have the FUTURE we want, one must first understand the system on which the past and present were built.

Click here to visit the “Thrive” website where it is possible to obtain the full documentary.

Dec
03

Biography of Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei

Yoshimitsu Yamada instructing

The trainings were demanding and at life the dojo almost ascetic in nature. This was related with the difficult economic situation in the country after II World War. Hombu Dojo did not especially stand out from the general life level in Japan. The building was not heated, so in winter the temperature dropped below zero degrees, in summer the heat used to strike. Deshi did not have their own quarters or too many personal items, their life was subject to the rhythm of dojo’s life, and any private moments were very rare. Each of the uchi-deshi had to perform certain tasks and take active part in private lessons. Yoshimitsu Yamada remembers the schedule from that time even today. The first training, conducted by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, started at 6:30, another one, at 8:00, was run by Koichi Tohei or Kisaburo Osawa, whom once in a week were replaced by Kenji Tomiki. Hiroshi Tada or Seigo Yamaguchi conducted classes at 15:00, and trainings at 16:00 and 18:30 were run by various teachers. Koichi Tohei was an idol to many trainees – that impressed with his character and technical skills. Many uchi-deshi regreted that more and more he involve himself in running a school in Hawaii and that he visited Tokyo rarely. With time, the group of students grew – Yasuo Kabayashi, Kazuo Chiba, Mitsunari Kanai and Seichi Sugano joined, and along with Yoshimitsu became a tight group of friends.

Click here to read entire article

Dec
03

Video: Seigo Yamaguchi instructing at Aikikai Hombu Dojo in 1973

Seigo Yamaguchi was one of the most important of the first generation of aikido instructors of the postwar era. He taught at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo for several decades until his passing in 1996. Having now become nearly a legend, Yamaguchi Sensei influenced several generations of practitioners within the Aikikai system during his career including many of today’s senior instructors of the Headquarters school.

This is a video taken in Japan at the Hombu Dojo in December, 1973. Excerpts are from the Monday afternoon and evening classes. This video is especially interesting as Yamaguchi Sensei was a vigorous 45 years of age. In it, he executes a variety of techniques repeatedly. The main focus is on yokomenuchi shihonage, shomenuchi iriminage, katadori ikkyo, and several others.

You will notice Yamaguchi Sensei’s special emphasis on sword principles when explaining and demonstrating these techniques. It is clear that he was in the camp favoring the inclusion of sword study as a part of aikido training. This is further evidenced by the approach taken by his leading students such as Christian Tissier Sensei of France who cross-trained in the study of the Kashima Shin-ryu sword.

It is by viewing such high-level aikido by great instructors such as Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei that today’s practitioners can pick up important hints to speed their own progress in the art.

Duration: 7:16
Access: Free through Monday, December 5

If you are already a subscriber of the Aikido Journal Members Site, click here to login and view the video clip of Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in 1973

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Dec
02

Excerpt from Radio Interview with Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido


The above is an excerpt of a rare interview with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. The entire interview from which this extract was taken runs about 15 minutes and was broadcast on radio in Japan sometime in the early 1960s.

Listening to O-Sensei’s actual voice will give you a totally different feel for his personality and mode of expression. He has a terrific sense of humor and speaks very straightforwardly. Notice how he mentions the effect of World War II on his thinking and the future direction of aikido.

This audio clip was taken from “The Founder of Aikido” DVD available through this website. This DVD is the final installment of a six-part series on the Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba.

The first section is the uncut version of a Japanese tv documentary titled “Aikido” produced in 1961. This film focuses on the life and techniques of Morihei Ueshiba, and was shot on location in Iwama and Tokyo. It contains beautiful footage of the Founder in his daily life and during training. There are many marvelous action scenes, including an incredible display of empty-handed techniques, defenses against multiple attacks and a live sword!

Click here to find out how you can get this rare document for your video library.

Dec
02

“The Science of Interception” by Nev Sagiba

“Aikido is all about attack. But it is about correct attack:
Attack by interception.”

The whole of Aikido is interception and the follow up of interception. The forms and flow follow the intercept. Certainly, in order to teach beginners we strive to inculcate some forms, but without understanding the principle of interception and its function there can be no Aikido, or anything meaningful. Form without interception is but a dance.

I recall the magnificent Saito Sensei poking fun at “the dancers” and constantly referring to what Ueshiba Morihei taught him with a gentle urgency that suggested the importance of never forgetting the vital principles of Aikido he would expound.

The very few times I met Mr. Saito I was measurably impressed by the quiet depth of precision in his teaching.

Interception relies on the proper understanding of maai and deai.

There are identifiable steps in the process of intercepting an attack.

The desire to attack itself and to cause harm, comes from a predatorial warp of consciousness, an imbalance that believes the so called “silver rule” as some call it, is to “get them before they get you, just in case they might want to.” It is a left-over from the less than mythical bygone ages of ancestral cannibalism based on paranoia. It is most often in error, and by initiating aggression preemptively, in fact crosses the line that determines criminal activity.

The jails are full of people unskilled in timing for authentic defense. In short, that of pre-emptive aggression. The rest often find their way into politics or other positions where they can abuse the illusion of power they like to imagine they have. Either way, this is the path of the sociopath who leaves a swathe of suffering in the world.
[Read more...]

Dec
01

“Stanley Pranin — Just a Collector with a Passion for Aikido,” by Jacqueline von Arb

Pranin Interviewing Tissier at the San Francisco Aikido Project, Suginami Aikikai dojo, June 2009 (photo: Jacqueline von Arb)

Text and photos: Jacqueline von Arb (Stavanger JuShinKan Aikido) for aikido.no, June 2009. (This article is hosted in Norwegian on aikido.no)

Stanley Pranin… the name rings a bell, doesn’t it? It should!

That’s the editor-in-chief of THE Aikido Journal. Thanks to Stanley Pranin, many of the videos of O’Sensei and other early masters are available for study on DVD, on aikidojournal.com and on YouTube. Stanley Pranin is also the man behind the DVD “Christian Tissier — An Aikido Odyssey”.

Stanley Pranin showed up at the San Francisco Aikido Project, a 5-day summer camp with 7 daily hours of aikido inter­spersed with introductory sessions in Brazilian jujitsu, tai-chi, yoga and muay thai, with Christian Tissier (7th dan from France), Bruce Bookman (6th dan from Seattle) and the host James Friedman (5th dan) at Suginami Aikido Dojo in San Francisco this last June of 2009. Stanley, or Stan, as he is known among his aikidoka friends, was there to make a video about the Aikido Project and to interview Christian Tissier about it — and catch a few classes too, of course.

Stanley holds a 5th dan in aikido, but he could equally be considered a master of aikido documentation. During the summer camp, Stan was asked to give a one-hour special talk on the history of Aikido during the lunch break. An impossible task, of course, Stan is so full of stories and knowledge, a whole weekend seminar wouldn’t be enough to go through it all. Nevertheless, there he was, in seiza, seizing the audience with true or false quiz questions about O’Sensei or aikido followed by his insight and stories on the matter — about 20 persons were on the mat, including Friedman, Bookman and Tissier!

Did you know that the name of our martial art, aikido, was not chosen by O’Sensei? The art had several names throughout its history, like Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu and Aiki Budo. Then the Japanese government co-opted a martial arts organization called the Butokukai, which needed a category for an array of various lesser known forms of jujitsu, the committee came up with ‘aikido’ as a cover form, or generic term… and the name stuck.

Stanley Pranin giving a talk about aikido history at the San Francisco Aikido Project, Suginami Dojo, June 2009 (photo: Jacqueline von Arb)

It was clear that Stan could have gone on for hours. Days. Each word triggers a new story; each story had the potential to evolve into a dozen others. A summer camp of lectures wouldn’t be enough… Luckily, much of it can already be found on AikidoJournal.com in an innumerable array of articles, interviews, pictures and videos — but it’s not the same as hearing it from the man himself…

Would the interviewer mind being interviewed, 5 minutes perhaps, just a small interview? Could an interview-the-interviewer-interview do justice to the master of aikido interviews? But of course, he said, no problem, let’s find a corner.

[Read more...]

Dec
01

Video: Yoshio Kuroiwa Sensei at the 1st Aikido Friendship Demonstration in 1985

Yoshio Kuroiwa enrolled in the Hombu Dojo about 1954 having had a strong background in judo and boxing. In his younger years, Kuroiwa Sensei was known as one of the strongest aikidoka at the headquarters dojo. He remained a controversial figure within the Aikikai system throughout his career.

Kuroiwa Sensei was also a skilled writer and penned a series of articles in the magazine of Rikkyo University titled Wago. Aikido Journal published several of them over the years. Ellis Amdur was one of Kuroiwa Sensei’s students and wrote this about him:

When I first met him at the 1977 Kagami Biraki at the Aikikai, he sat down beside me, and began asking me questions about my training, and soon launched into what, as long as I knew him, were the same stories and same theories. In some ways, he was caught in a time, when he, a golden youth with a body much like Marvelous Marvin Hagler, was an almost invincible street-fighter, a high-ranking amateur or professional boxer (it was never clear) and a wonderfully innovative aikido practitioner.

In this clip, you will see a marvelous clip of part of his demonstration at the 1st Aikido Friendship Demonstration held in Tokyo in 1985. Dressed in a suit, he puts on a marvelous display of intricate stick movements to explain basic aikido principles and a series of effortless koshinage throws. A totally unique presentation!

Duration: 11:31
Access: free access through Sunday, December 4

If you are already a subscriber of the Aikido Journal Members Site, click here to login and view the video clip of Yoshio Kuroiwa at the 1985 Aikido Friendship Demonstration

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