Jan
20

Video: Tetsuzan Kuroda, Headmaster of Kuroda Family Bujutsu, at Aiki Expo 2003

Tetsuzan Kuroda: “Martial Artist of Impossible Skills!”

Tetsuzan Kuroda, the headmaster of the martial legacy of the Kuroda family, is one of the best known and respected of contemporary Japanese koryu practitioners. He is one of Japan’s finest swordsman, a master of a variety of classical weapons, and an adept in the soft-style Kuroda family jujutsu. This video was shot during the course of Aiki Expo 2003.

One quickly runs out of superlatives when attempting to describe the skills of Tetsuzan Kuroda Sensei. Watching Kuroda Sensei draw his sword is a stunning experience. It’s akin to a religious revelation where you humbly thank the Creator for allowing you to witness such a miracle of movement!

Kuroda Sensei is a wonderful teacher who patiently circulates among his students during class pointing out the minutest detail and letting everyone feel his technique. It seems that his body is constructed in a different way compared to that of the normal human being. He assumes with ease postures that are impossible or excruciating for the untrained individual to attempt. Everything about his art stimulates you to set your goals at a much higher level. Old limitations become the floor from which to ascend to new heights!

Official Website of Shinbukan Kuroda Dojo
Duration: 23:07 minutes
Access: free through Monday, January 23

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and watch the video of Tetsuzan Kuroda Sensei at Aiki Expo 2003

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Jan
19

Historical photo: Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei and Morihiro Saito at Self-Defense Force demo c. 1955

“Venturing out to demonstrate Aikido during the early years of the art”

We have uploaded three unpublished photos from the personal collection of Morihiro Saito taken c. 1955. Morihei is aged 71 years and Saito Sensei is about 27 years old. Although the exact location is unknown, it appears as though the event is taking place at a Self-Defense Force facility due to the presence of uniformed observers.

Saito Sensei would accompany O-Sensei frequently during this period as his partner for demonstrations. One of the main reasons this was possible was his flexible work schedule. Saito Sensei was an employee of the Japanese National Railways working on a 24-hour on 24-hour off schedule. In this respect, he was unique among Morihei’s senior students in Iwama whose training was constrained by their job commitments.

Also of note is the fact Morihei is demonstrating using the bokken with Saito Sensei as his partner. Before well before the advent of the war, Morihei was keenly interested in both the ken and jo and would practice these weapons regularly in Iwama in addition to taijutsu training in the dojo. Saito Sensei had the good fortune of being able to learn the Founder’s weapons techniques on a one-on-one basis during outdoor training. Few of Morihei’s students in Iwama from that era learned this important part of aikido’s curriculum.

Access: free through Saturday, January 21

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Jan
18

Stanley Pranin’s “The Aiki News Encyclopedia of Aikido” available as PDF download

Stanley Pranin’s 1989 book titled “The Aiki News Encyclopedia of Aikido” is now available for download by all Aikido Journal readers. This book, long out of print, is a one-of-a-kind aikido reference work that includes more than 800 encyclopedia entries, hundreds of rare photos, a subject bibliography with author index, a dojo directory, a chronology of Morihei Ueshiba, and detailed contents of the back issues of Aiki News magazine published up to the time of the appearance of the book.

Our ability to once again make available this historical work completely bypassing the printing and distribution stages perfectly illustrates one of the main purposes of the Aikido Journal Members Site. It has now become possible to preserve and disseminate important materials that constitute our aikido heritage thanks to the wonder of the Internet. Such documents as this book would be doomed to obscurity in an earlier age to the detriment of the development of aikido.

Sample pages from Stanley Pranin's "Encyclopedia of Aikido"

Access: free through Friday, January 20

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and download the PDF file of the “Encyclopedia of Aikido”

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Jan
18

“Aiki Principles, are they realistic?,” by Francis Takahashi

Are the Aiki Principles, the exalted foundation for the Founder’s Aikido, and the very same ones which his direct followers claimed to have formed the structure and rationale for his Aikido, realistically based on a workable theory that we can implement, or merely a fanciful construct of ideals that we can only wish were attainable? Are we merely justifying a fantasy, a magnificently romantic notion, that the citizens of this world can truly understand and apply such standards of excellence to everyday life, to personal mastery, and to harmony worldwide? What proofs do we have that verify the actual existence and implementation of these most laudable characteristics in the makeup of mankind as we know it to be?

Perhaps we can view the Founder’s adoption of “Aiki Principles” in the same fashion that we would view the notion of “world peace”, or of “equality amongst men”, both extremely popular and desirable concepts, but having pragmatically no chance of becoming reality. Perhaps it is enough to merely state such dreams and hopes for some utopian future, when such notions may truly become reality, and where the destiny for mankind finally comes into its harmonious fruition.

As rather utopian ideals, is it wrong to want to employ Aiki Principles to then construct a feel good philosophy, an ongoing “work in progress” for the affording of happiness to the common folk, and a truly human vehicle to help bridge the chasms that obstruct the way to positive and open communication, natural exchanges of courtesy, and the much needed methods of simply getting along with one another? Even so, wouldn’t this be so much better and universally desirable to using drugs, consuming alcohol, and foisting fanciful schemes to benefit one class of people at the expense of another?
[Read more...]

Jan
16

“Hisa Takuma’s ‘Soden’: Preservation and Dissemination,” by Stanley Pranin

Above is a black and white scan of a sample page from Takuma Hisa’s famous “Soden” collection of technical photos of Aiki Budo and Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu taken from around 1933 through 1939. These photos cover the period of instruction of both Morihei Ueshiba and Sokaku Takeda at the Asahi News dojo in Osaka during this period. First, a bit of background about the “Soden.”

By a stroke of good fortune, Hisa had the foresight and the means through the facilities of Asahi News to make a pictorial record of their aikijujutsu training. After each training session, the Asahi dojo members would systematically photograph the techniques practiced on that day. Yoshiteru Yoshimura, Heizaburo Nakatsu, and Kuniyoshi Kawazoe are the main individuals who appear in the technical sequences photographed. These photos eventually numbered more than 1,500 and were later assembled into scrapbooks with brief explanations by Hisa under the title of Daito-ryu Aikibudo Densho Zen Juikkan. These books cover some 547 techniques and are commonly referred to as the Soden by Hisa and his students.

The techniques taught by Ueshiba in the Asahi News period consisted mainly of suwariwaza, hanmi handachi, and tachiwaza. What Ueshiba was teaching was primarily basic techniques, however, his instruction also included some more advanced techniques of Daito-ryu aikijujutsu as evidenced by the hundreds of photos comprising the first six volumes of the Soden.

From “Remembering Takuma Hisa”

Sample of text darkened in Photoshop

As you can see, on many pages the handwritten text has badly faded and I feel we need to make the effort soon to preserve and restore this important record of the evolution of aikido and Daito-ryu technique before further deterioration takes place. I would like to ask the advice of readers, particularly those who work with photography, Photoshop, design, and related fields, about how best to go about this task.

Forgive the use of technical terminology, in what follows. The photos can be realigned and their tone curves manipulated in such a way as to improve their quality. The handwritten text is a bit problematic because the amount of fading varies from page to page. Of course, it is possible to darken the text tone curve to make the writing more legible, but this means darkening the background such that the selected area stands out from the rest of the page where the photos appear.

So my questions are the following:

- What would be the best way to make the text clearly legible, preferably it being possible to achieve this without having its background stand out from the rest of the page?

- What advice do you have from the historical/archival standpoint for the preservation and presentation of the “Soden”?

Please feel free to post your advice/comments below. I welcome the support of the aikido community on this project.

Jan
15

Video: Frank Doran Sensei, 7th dan, instructs at Aiki Expo 2002

Frank Doran Sensei, 7th dan, is one of the founding fathers of aikido in Northern California. He began training in 1959 in San Diego, California under Tokuji Hirata, an early student of Koichi Tohei in Hawaii. Doran Sensei is one of the main instructors in the San Francisco Bay area and a leader of the California Aikido Association heading Division 2 of that organization. He has traveled extensively in the U. S. and Europe giving aikido seminars.

“Stressing that aikido is budo–a way of life that seeks to polish the self through a blend of rigorous physical training and spiritual discipline–his classes emphasize a balance between effective technique and the philosophical, ethical, and spiritual aspects of aikido.

His current rank of 7th dan was awarded in January 2001 by Aikido Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba (grandson of the founder of aikido) at the Hombu Dojo, World Aikido Headquarters, Tokyo.”

This video offers highlights of Frank Doran Sensei’s seminars at Aiki Expo 2002 held in Las Vegas, Nevada. His teaching method is very detailed with a liberal touch of humor. Doran Sensei’s aikido is very precise and powerful and stresses the importance of posture and body alignment.

Duration: 8:58 minutes
Access: free through January 18

Contact Frank Doran’s Dojo, Aikido-West

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and view the video of Frank Doran Sensei instructing at Aiki Expo 2002

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Jan
15

“Penetrating Daito-ryu’s Inner Secrets,” by Stanley Pranin

[portfolio_slideshow trans=scrollHorz]

“Look carefully at these photos for hidden
details that make Aiki techniques work!”

Putting the teeth back in Aikido’s techniques

Early in my research into the origins of aikido, I kept running into a wall about O-Sensei’s early teachings. The fact that Morihei’s was a certified instructor of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu and awarded Daito-ryu scrolls was subtly obfuscated. The key to clarifying this nebulous subject of Morihei Ueshiba’s intimate relationship with Daito-ryu came as a result of my meetings with Sokaku Takeda’s son, Tokimune Takeda, and Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei, starting in 1985.

This resulted in the publication of a series of articles, books, and videos that presented Daito-ryu and Sokaku Takeda in a different light and elucidated the strong influence of this highly sophisticated jujutsu art on the aikido of Morihei Ueshiba. Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei was an extremely innovative martial artist and he modified many of Daito-ryu techniques in such a way as to make them safer to practice while retaining their martial essence. To probe the fine points of many Daito-ryu techniques, and achieve an understanding of some of the changes Morihei made, have a close look at these detailed screenshots.

These slideshow stills are from the landmark set of DVDs by Katsuyuki Kondo, Menkyo Kaiden, that we are offering our readers at a special discounted price through tomorrow evening, Monday, January 16th. We have gone to great efforts over the years to bring you materials such as this. Now it is up to you to roll up your sleeves and do the work!

Click here for a fascinating interview with Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei

Jan
14

Magazine: Aiki News Number 37, 1981


Aiki News Number 37, 1981

Contents

     ● Editorial on Mitsunari Kanai, by Stanley Pranin
     ● Interview with Mitsunari Kanai, by Stanley Pranin
     ● Morihiro Saito’s Technical Notebook — Katatedori koshinage, Katatedori koshinage, Ryotedori koshinage, by Morihiro Saito
     ● World Aikido Directory
     ● The Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, “Idol Among the Soldiers, Chapter II – Part 4, by Kisshomaru Ueshiba
     ● Back cover: Noma Dojo photo with Morihei Ueshiba and Shigemi Yonekawa

Access: free through Tuesday, January 17

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and download the PDF file of Aiki News Number 37

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Jan
14

The Hara – Our Second Brain?

I just ran across this on the internet. It looked somewhat familiar.

I then realised that I recognised it because it emerged from my pen (keyboard in this case) and was originally posted about 2006, then was lost permanently because of a bad computer crash. (Is there such a thing as a good one?)

Or so I thought. Unbeknownst, some thoughtful good people with insight have been respectfully republishing it on the web. To these I extend my thanks!

Resultantly I was able to copy it to use again.

You may find some of the information useful.
………………………………..
The Hara – Our Second Brain?

Perhaps there is more to HARA than “Oriental superstition.”

Did you know? There are almost as many neurons firing in the gut region as the brain? Not just neurons. Known for many years now, there is release of neurotransmitters by the GI system independent of central nervous system control!

I would venture a guess that they are not there just waiting for the next bus, but serve a vital purpose. Deemed to be “controversial” cutting edge research, also suggests that peptide cocktails formed in the gut region are responsible for moods and contribute to the chemistry involved in effector/receptor functions and immediate physical responses.

Really? I thought they were just hanging about ‘cos they had nothing better to do. Controversial? Why? Because they don’t fit in a conceptual box made by some sedentary theorist in a lab coat? Guesswork and rigidly calcified preconceived notions do not win survival situations, contribute to discovery, evolution or achieve any constructive value! Facts do.

Predictable strategic flexibility that can be tested and based on observation and experience over aeons may have some merit after all. Combat, as with so-called meditation, indeed all skills, are sciences as much as they are arts. What works, works because it does. Not because of an opinion. After testing and trialing and the R&D of many centuries, certain predispositions emerge as indisputable, despite the theories and ideas of myopic pseudo-intellectuals.

Perhaps there is more to HARA than “Oriental superstition” after all.
[Read more...]

Jan
13

Exploring Morihei’s training background in Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu

“Katsuyuki Kondo covers all the basics of
Daito-ryu for your personal edification!”

Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, the major technical influence on modern aikido, was a martial art taught in the first part of twentieth century Japan by the famous Sokaku Takeda of the Aizu clan, a certified martial arts’ genius. Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba met Sokaku in 1915, and immediately became engrossed in training. Daito-ryu, in Morihei’s words, “opened his eyes to budo.”

This week’s special consists of two instructional DVDs on Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu by Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei. Kondo Sensei is the leading figure in the Daito-ryu world, having received Menkyo Kaiden Master certification from Headmaster Tokimune Takeda, son of Sokaku Takeda.

The “Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu – Hiden Mokuroku” DVD series by Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei is the perfect introduction to Daito-ryu for beginners and experienced martial artists alike. Expertly demonstrated and explained, these two DVDs cover all of the techniques of the Hiden Mokuroku transmission scrolls of the formerly secret Daito-ryu school. Kondo Sensei takes great care in covering all of the important details to ensure your success in learning Daito-ryu basics. Be sure to watch the videos we have prepared to understand the quality of this material.

Offer valid through Monday, January 16th! Don’t delay!

Click here to view the two videos of Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei and Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu

Jan
13

Video: Pat Hendricks teaches at Aiki Expo 2002

“Congratulations to Pat Hendricks Sensei on her recent promotion to 7th dan!”

Pat Hendricks started Aikido in 1974 with Stanley Pranin and Mary Heiny. In 1977, she moved to Iwama, Japan, to study with Saito Sensei Shihan. For the next 30 years, she returned to Japan over 25 times including six years as an uchideshi in the Iwama Dojo.

Hendricks Sensei holds a menkyo kaiden weapons certification awarded by Morihiro Saito Sensei, and was authorized to conduct weapons testing in the U.S. She served as Saito Sensei’s representative for the U.S. and runs the Iwama division in the California Aikido Association (CAA). Her own dojo, Aikido of San Leandro, attracts students from all over the world, including Japan.

This video offers highlights of Pat Hendricks Sensei’s seminars at Aiki Expo 2002 held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her precise teaching approach and lucid explanations are on display at her well-attended seminars at the event. Scenes covering both taijutsu and aiki weapons are included in this video.

Hendricks Sensei was promoted in 7th dan by the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in January, 2012.

Duration: 6:05 minutes
Access: free through January 16

Contact Pat Hendricks’s Dojo, Aikido of San Leandro

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and view the video of Pat Hendricks at Aiki Expo 2002

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Jan
12

Layout of Old Aikikai Hombu Dojo as sketched by Sadateru Arikawa Sensei

The above image is an annotated sketch drawn by Sadateru Arikawa Sensei in my presence on October 22, 2000 at the Aiki News office in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture. I have left the underlying sketch intact but with the layer made 50% transparent. In addition, I have inserted gray lines to square up the various parts of the sketch to make it easier to discern details.

This is only a beginning attempt to reconstruct the layout of the old dojo. Since there are people still alive who have trained in the dojo, I would appreciate it if you would show them this drawing and have them make corrections and clarifications. Since tatami are of a standard size, it may be possible to bring the drawing somewhat to scale over the course of time.

Access: free through January 15

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login to view the high-resolution sketch of the old Aikikai Hombu Dojo

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