Jan
04

Free Video: Rinjiro Shirata — “A Catalog of Prewar Aiki Budo Techniques — Part 1″

This videoclip is the first of a three-part series made in commemoration of Rinjiro Shirata Sensei’s 70th birthday celebration. Here Shirata Sensei demonstrates scores of prewar Aiki Budo techniques including literally hundreds of techniques, some basic, some advanced, from the following technical groupings: iriminage, shihonage, kaitennage, kotegaeshi, and tenchinage. This video, 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 is a landmark resource in our efforts to understand the evolution of aikido technique over the years.

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.

Duration: 40:47 minutes
Access: free through January 7

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Jan
03

Free access through January 6: “Remembering Morihiro Saito Sensei,” by Stanley Pranin

Morihiro Saito at his last USA seminar in 2000

“Commemorating Morihiro Saito, 9th dan”
I have on many occasions over the years written articles about my aikido teacher, Morihiro Saito, that have been published in Aiki News and Aikido Journal. During that entire period, however, I had the psychological assurance that this giant of a man was busy with his teaching and caretaking duties in Iwama or off to some far flung part of the globe sharing his encylopedic knowledge of aikido with his foreign students. He was always there.

Now it is the time to again take up the task of writing about Sensei knowing that he is no longer with us to lead and instruct us, but that we must now use the lessons he taught us and our collective memories as sources of guidance.

The sadness that I felt on Sensei’s passing and physical absence will of course remain. At the same time, in compiling these remembrances I am again and again reminded of the incredibly exciting and event-filled life Saito Sensei led. The emotion I find I am left with is one of joy and pride at having been associated with his life and work in some meaningful way.

Saito Sensei was a man who appeared on the aikido scene at just the right time in just the right circumstances. Imagine having the good fortune of meeting Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei at age 18 and spending over two decades learning and growing under the tutelage of such an inspired genius. Imagine being a key participant in the early growth and spread of aikido as an international phenomenon. Imagine, further, the deep sense of satisfaction Sensei must have felt at having thousands upon thousands of enthusiastic Japanese and foreign students coming to study at the Iwama Dojo and attending his seminars worldwide…

Access: free through January 6

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to read the entire article on Morihiro Saito Sensei on the Aikido Journal Members Site

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Jan
02

Historical photos: Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei performing the misogi jo, c. 1965 — Free download!

“View high-resolution photos of O-Sensei on the Aikido Journal Members Site!”

This series of photos shows Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei performing misogi jo movements inside the old Aikikai Hombu Dojo, c. 1965. If you look closely, you will see that he is actually using two separate weapons. One is the familiar jo–a stick a little over four feet long–, and the other a pointed weapon of similar length called the “nuboko.” Mention of this nuboko, literally the “swamp spear,” will be new to many aikidoka. Its name comes right out of the Kojiki, the so-called “Record of Ancient Matters,” that contains the mythological creation stories of Japan.

Izanami and Izanagi, charged with creating the first land, stood on the “Ame no Ukihashi” (the floating bridge of heaven). This bridge connects heaven and earth. O-Sensei used this term often in his speech. It represents the sacred place where one performs purification practices, and absorbs the energy of heaven. Aikido itself is misogi and a means to achieve enlightenment.

A nuboko adorned with jewels was used by Izanami and Izanagi while standing on the Ame no Ukihashi to “stir” the sea, and the drops of salt water that fell from its tip formed the first land mass of the Japanese islands. So goes the legend.

Briefly then, this type of misogi practice performed by O-Sensei reflects his Shinto beliefs, the lens through which the Founder viewed the world, and his mission in creating and spreading aikido.

Access: free through January 5

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to view and download the images of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei performing the misogi jo

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Jan
02

The Best Way to Expand Your Knowledge and Build Your Aikido DVD Collection!

“Become a Better Aikidoka by Knowing the Art Inside and Out!”

Order a two-year subscription to the Aikido Journal Members Site and get THREE FREE DVDs during this Sale in effect through January 9!

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

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 will familiarize you with the techniques and personalities of Aikido’s Greatest Masters! Save time… save money! Act now!

Click here to take advantage of this Special Sale!

Jan
01

Free Book: “Zen and Aikido,” by Shigeo Kamata and Kenji Shimizu


Zen — the Japanese philosophy rooted in ancient India and China adopted by the warrior caste to enable samurai to face death with a serene spirit. Aikido — the modern Japanese martial arts which incorporates powerful techniques applied in a spirit of harmony and reconciliation. Zen and Aikido offers a lucid interpretation of aikido viewed through the centuries-old martial tradition of Japan, long a subject of fascination to Westerners.

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Morihei Ueshiba with Kenji Shimizu, c. 1965

Shigeo Kamata is a professor of Eastern Culture at Tokyo University. A renowed authority on Zen Buddhism, Professor Kamata has written numerous works dealing with the philosophies of China and Japan directed at both scholarly and popular audiences. An avid practitioner of aikido for more than twelve years, he is uniquely qualified to introduce to Western readers the essential concepts of both Zen and aikido with their relevance to daily life in a conflict-riddled world.

Kenji Shimizu, 8th degree aikido master, was one of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba’s last and best-loved disciples. Shimizu Sensei currently operates the Tendokan School of aikido in Tokyo and makes yearly instructional trips to Europe. Combining a strong background in judo with his expertise in aikido, his smooth, powerful techniques embody the ideal of effectiveness and control. Shimizu Sensei offers clear insight into his training methods which will surely prove invaluable to both beginning and advanced practitioners of aikido and to martial arts enthusiasts in general.

Contents

Translator’s Preface
Introduction
On Aikido
The Philosophy of Aikido
     ● The Philosophy of Zen and Aikido
     ● The Philosophy of the Circle
     ● The Philosophy of Nothingness
     ● The Philosophy of Harmony
     ● The Philosophy of Ki
     ● The Philosophy of Practice
Aikido Techniques
Afterword
Further Reading
Index

[English translation published by Aiki News in 1992. Originally published in Japanese as Zen to Aikido in 1984]

Access: free through January 4, 2012

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

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