Feb
29

Free Video: Rinjiro Shirata — Prewar “Aiki Ken”



“The Evolution of the Sword in Aikido!”

Duration: 34:07 minutes
Access: Free through Saturday, March 4

This video is a very important historical document in that Rinjiro Shirata demonstrates a lengthy series of Aiki Ken suburi and kata based on the prewar swordwork of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. The sword content in this video program follows Morihei Ueshiba’s sword in the 1935 Asahi News film. There is no other source of similar material as many of the uchideshi of the prewar era ceased training following World War II. This video was recorded in 1981 when Shirata Sensei was 69 years of age in Yamagata Prefecture in northern Japan. The sounds of all of his movements and breathing are clearly audible and this is an indispensable document for those interested in the evolution of the sword in aikido.

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 1932. 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.

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and watch the video of Rinjiro Shirata demonstrating the Aiki Ken

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!

Name:
Email:

Feb
28

“Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 3,” by Peter Goldsbury


“Morihei Ueshiba made no attempt to ‘teach’ the knowledge and skills he possessed to his deshi!”

In the last column I considered the first of the above three propositions from the viewpoint of Morihei Ueshiba as a teacher and discussed the question of how, as a Japanese living in the Taisho & early Showa periods, he would have seen this role. Morihei Ueshiba was not only a teacher, or master, but was also the Source of aikido and constantly refined himself as the Source. (Here we can disregard for the time being the crucial importance of his inheritance from Sokaku Takeda and Daito-ryu, except to note in passing the ways in which Ueshiba distanced himself from Takeda and modified this inheritance. We can also disregard the differences between Morihei Ueshiba and Judo Founder Jigoro Kano, who, like Takeda, was also a Source, but in a less technical sense.) In particular, I drew a sharp distinction between (a) the Master as a Learner, striving to increase his own understanding or possession of the art he is creating, and (b) the Master as a Teacher, or transmitter to others of the art, whether considered as the ‘public’ expression of an individual’s evolving ‘private’ training, or considered as something like an end-product, fashioned into a recognizable art and called aikido.

One could argue that learning and teaching are not so separate and note that many young aikidoists have observed that it was not until they began to teach the art that they actually understood more deeply what they were doing. This might be true, but underlying this observation there seems to be a ‘western’ notion of teaching, with the provision of structured explanations and syllabuses, etc. The observation would thus mean that learning the art in depth entails the quite separate activity of teaching the art to others. Clearly, underlying the observation is also an assumption that teaching is not a mirror image of learning, but a completely different activity, with its own internal principles and strategies. However, the examples of engineering, medicine, languages and philosophy, considered in the previous column, show that in Japan, at least, it is not at all intuitively obvious that acquiring an understanding of an art entails actually having to teach that art to others.

Click here to read the entire article by Peter Goldsbury

Feb
28

Is Magnetism the Same as Ki?

Lulu Hurst, "The Georgia Magnet"


“The Georgia Wonder Meets the Great Japanese Wrestler”

One of the new students in our dojo happens to be a professional magician of note. Last evening we had a discussion that touched upon a variety of different topics. The name of “The Georgia Wonder” came up. This refers to a diminutive woman named Lulu Hurst who performed amazing feats in vaudeville acts in the latter part of the 19th century. She had many imitators and a legion of researchers who attempted to debunk her show as nothing more than physical and mind tricks. My student sent me this link about Lulu Hurst that I thought our readers might find interesting.

One of the branches of aikido, popularly known as “Ki Aikido” established by Koichi Tohei, 10th dan, uses demonstrations of such things as the “unbendable arm” and the “unliftable posture” as part of the curriculum. These are learnable skills that involve focus the mind and body in specific ways. Is this “ki power” related to what Lulu was doing in her “magnetic act”?

Lulu Hurst, also known variously as the “Little Georgia Wonder” and as the “Georgia Magnet”, was a music hall sensation during the mid-late 19th century. Claiming to possess a supernatural power of electrical or magnetic force, but in fact skilfully exploiting subtle principles of physics, anatomy and the ideomotor effect, the apparently frail “Magnet” was often matched against heavyweight strongmen, boxers and wrestlers in carefully controlled “tests” using simple props such as pool cues, wooden chairs and umbrellas. The results were often both spectacular and amusing to the “Magnet’s” many fans.

Later, Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright was to produce a written expose of the “magnetic act”, including many of the feats first popularised by Lulu Hurst.

There follows an account of one of the “Georgia Magnet’s” New York performances, pitting her skills against the strength of sumo wrestler Sorakichi Matsuda….

Click here to read the entire article

Feb
27

Slideshow of Highlights from Morihiro Saito’s “Lost Seminars”

[portfolio_slideshow trans=scrollHorz]

“Steal Aikido’s Secrets to Your Heart’s Content!”

Morihiro Saito Sensei, 9th dan, was one of aikido’s premier instructors. A close student of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in Iwama, Saito Sensei learned his craft from O-Sensei, in many cases, on a one-to-one basis. A mastery of technical detail was the hallmark of his pedagogical method, and Saito Sensei had a reputation of producing strong, technically skilled students quickly.

Much has been written about his strong impact on the practice of aikido today. During his active years, Saito Sensei taught tens of thousands of students both in Japan and abroad. He also published a number of bilingual training manuals on aikido that sealed his reputation as one of aikido’s top authorities.

Saito Sensei passed away in 2002 at the age of 74. Those who never had a chance to study under Saito Sensei directly missed a rare opportunity. Fortunately, valuable film and video of this great teacher has survived. His wonderful legacy remains intact and easily accessible through the DVD seminars offered through Aikido Journal.

This week, we are offering the entire set of 7-DVDs of Saito Sensei’s authoritative “Lost Seminars” DVDs at a greatly reduced price. You will receive over 14 hours of expert instruction with complete English subtitles. Catch every word he is saying, and with a new, deeper understanding, be able to apply these lessons to your aikido!

Get Morihiro Saito’s “Lost Seminars” 7-DVD Set today. Bring your art to a new level!

Order This Week’s Special Offer Now For Only $97.95… Offer ends on Saturday, March 3!

Feb
27

“Attention all dojo-chos! What do you think about these ideas?”, by Stanley Pranin

We’re getting ready to take the Aikido Journal Members Site to the next level. The site has grown steadily since its inception back in September of 2011. Thus far, our advertising efforts have been limited to Aikido Journal channels, but I think there is considerable potential for partnering with dojos who are interested in our subject matter and supportive of our efforts.

It is obvious that there is a steady shift taking place in the marketplace towards the digitization and online delivery of products as fewer and fewer customers opt for physical delivery of their purchases. I think this is a positive trend as it eliminates several steps in the product development cycle. Of particular interest to customers, this allows the lowering of prices and makes delivery of products almost immediate. Perhaps more importantly, it eliminates the need for dealing with the world’s postal services. The performance of these institutions is uneven at best, and their pricing has risen to the point that, in certain cases, postage costs more than the product itself! Then, there is the potential for loss, damage or theft, and the assessment of customs charges in the case of international mail.

Aikido Journal is, in a business sense, in the Internet marketing field. In this field, one of the essential elements for success is the building of opt-in email lists culled from visitors interested in the content offered by the website. As these email lists grow in size, economies of scale are achieved that allow businesses to reduce prices, expand sales and extend their product lines, and take on additional personnel as needed. To be specific, we’ll be in a position to do a better job at what we do, and at a quicker pace. (This is my 50th year in aikido, and hence my interest in accelerating the tempo!)

How might Aikido Journal and interested dojos partner? Here are some thoughts that have been banging around my overworked brain that I hope will result in an exchange of ideas for possible collaboration. Here is one scenario, fleshed out in some detail:

  • Dojos who are interested in partnering with AJ contact us and describe their particular area of focus, and the size of their current email list
  • AJ tailors messages with content designed to appeal to the areas of interest of the school
  • Dojos send out mailings to their internal email lists–the messages prepared by AJ–encouraging members to explore links to our content and products. The emails contain a message from the instructor or list owner explaining the reason for the mailing, how it will benefit the dojo, and encouraging members to “opt-in”.
  • AJ provides gift subscriptions and digital and/or physical products to participating dojos for their assistance in developing its email lists

Another scenario might involve the dojo using its social media accounts to send out the same or similar contact conveyed in email messages. There are many possibilities.

Beyond this, after working relationships are established with a core group of dojos, affiliate-type relationships can be explored allowing the level of collaboration to be expanded in a number of ways, perhaps even to the point that income-generating opportunities for the dojos become possible.

Please give me your feedback on these ideas, and also feel free to suggest other collaborative approaches that might be mutually beneficial.

Thanks folks!

Stan

Feb
27

Ushiro Karate SANCHIN Vol. 1

Kenji Ushiro’s Sanchin Kata develops your breathing, helps you to take in Ki into your body and mind, and creates a “unified-body.” This video shows detailed footage of “Kata”– the secret to Bujutsu Karate that generates this energy, Ki, which is far more effective than muscle strength or sport-type timing.

This video consists of two parts: 1) the basic part including the demonstration of Sanchin Kata with detailed explanation about the Kata by Kenji Ushiro and the demonstration of Sanchin’s basic applications; and 2) the application part including free sparring applied from Sanchin Kata.

Ushiro Sensei’s mastery of ki, as expressed through his karate, is at a level rarely seen in the world of martial arts. He is a highly sought-after instructor in Japan and author of several books on martial arts. His second book, Karate and Ki, has recently been released in an English version.

Click here to order from Dou Shuppan in Japan

Feb
24

“Concatenation,” by Nev Sagiba

The word Concatenation means chain of events.

It comes from the Latin word for “chain.”

It points to a sequence, series or succession and may refer to anything from elements of mathematics, geological soil profiles, chemical chain structure, actions and almost anything else.

For the purpose of this discourse it will be used to define a chain of events.

When thinking is lucid, by that I mean clear as opposed to cluttered by opinions, direct perception becomes enabled and the obvious then stands out.

Good solid basic principles stand out to the clear mind. The sort of things everyone says “I knew that!,” but only after it’s been pointed out. And if you did already know some points, it’s good to be reminded anyhow.

A chain of clear thinkers collaborating on a co-creative endeavour can bring about the deemed to be impossible, to an all-gain conclusion. This is what so called “enlightenment” is about. The outcomes of harmony. What you can bring about because of clarity. Enlightenment is not sterile and self serving, but all inclusive.

A chain of malintentioned ones invariably make all lose scenarios as they squander time and resources in conflict, trying to be right when they are in fact off the rails. They make all-lose scenarios because their minds are in darkness. They imagine doors and openings where none exist. Their sense of importance and entitlement denotes their state of mind and lack of sight. The “endarkenment” of the self-serving, if you will.

No person can really be an island and those who succeed in attaining such a state gain only oblivion. We are all part of a symbiotic, interdependent web of life without beginning or end.
[Read more...]

Feb
23

Video: Rinjiro Shirata — “1978 Yamagata TV Documentary — Part 2″



“He was known as the ‘Kobukan Dojo Prodigy’!”

This video is part twp of a 80-minute tv documentary spotlighting Rinjiro Shirata, 9th dan, that was aired in 1978 in Yamagata Preference. This is an especially important historical document as it includes a rare interview with Shirata Sensei, historical photographs, plenty of aikido action, etc. This long-buried documentary contains essential information to give today’s aikidoka an intimate glimpse of the Shirata Sensei, one of the aikido’s greatest figures.

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 1932. 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: 20:29 minutes
Access: Free through Sunday, February 26

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and view Part 2 of the 1978 TV documentary of Rinjiro Shirata Sensei

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!

Name:
Email:

Feb
21

“A Biography of Rinjiro Shirata – Part 3,” by Kozo Kaku



“When I faced O-Sensei, his eyes appeared large and his “ki” came towards me with great energy.”

“The Kobukan Prodigy” goes to the Continent
and makes great efforts in Postwar Japan

Dreamlike Days

A scroll hung smooth and quiet in the altar of the Kobukan Dojo. There were kamisama there and a bamboo blind neatly screened it off. Every morning the uchideshi, Rinjiro Shirata, thought, “Ueshiba Sensei’s being is exactly the same!” But when facing his teacher in the dojo, it wasn’t like that at all.

Morihei Ueshiba started advancing slowly from a long distance, yet there was still a separation of two mats. While Morihei moved another step forward, he slowly raised the arms that had been hanging down naturally to in front of his chest.

Thinking, “He’s driving into me,” Rinjiro let out a shout, “Ii eh ii!”, from the bottom of his core, readied his hand blade and shortening the distance himself, moved to strike preemptively. Mind, spirit and body were unified. Certain victory with a single stroke… He expected his hand to strike the top of Morihei’s head, but instantly Morihei moved his body and slipped behind him. He earnestly launched another cut and a fist, but all of them cut the air as if it had been prearranged. Morihei, who was weaving his way around, wasn’t hit at all; Rinjiro couldn’t even lay a hand on him.

“It’s… it’s no good!”

Even though he was the “Kobukan Prodigy,” this teacher was the only one with whom he could do nothing.

In later years, Rinjiro recalled what it was like to face Morihei, in the following way.

“When I faced O-Sensei, his eyes appeared large and his “ki” came towards me with great energy. When facing him, all my “ki” would be absorbed and my power ended up amounting to nothing. The more earnestly you faced him, the greater the effect of the “ki” from Ueshiba Sensei. It isn’t comprehensible, if one hasn’t experienced this kind of confrontation.”

Morihei was reading Rinjiro’s intentions as if they were an open book. As soon as Morihei felt the faint signals, he immediately stopped those movements, and in the next moment, he bent Rinjiro’s body like a large bow, immobilizing him. Afterwards, the finish was said to be like yonkyo, but Rinjiro didn’t even have a chance to confirm that; all he could do was endure the intense pain and struggle to somehow slip out of the technique even though he knew it was useless. Contrary to the struggle in his mind, his body didn’t even twitch.

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and read Part 3 of the Rinjiro Shirata Biography.

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!

Name:
Email:

Feb
20

“Morihei in Tanabe,” by Stanley Pranin

Introduction

“It would not be an exaggeration to say that the major steps in Morihei’s life… can be traced back to the influence of his immediate and extended families.”

Historians, like scientists, are fond of coming up with theories. The scientist forms a hypothesis based on previous studies and his own observations and then proceeds to see how well his theory stands up to testing and experimentation. The historian, for his part, seeks to catalog facts and events and from them to glean an understanding of the actions and motives of the subjects of his research.

The minutiae recorded and cataloged by the historian serve as signposts that guide him through the maze of historical events and provide a means of testing out his hypotheses. An offhand comment by a relative, an old newspaper article or program, an object on display on the wall in the background of a photo, any of these seemingly insignificant details can hold the key to a new and important revelation.

Unlike other periods in the life of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, his early years in Tanabe and family circumstances are not well documented. Our principal sources of information on this period of Morihei’s life are the biography of Morihei Ueshiba published by his son Kisshomaru in 1977, later interviews and conversations with the author, and a few pages from the first biography of the Founder written by Kanemoto Sunadomari in 1969. To this can be added the recollections of members and relatives of the Ueshiba and Inoue families.

Undated photo of Tanabe rice fields

The information gleaned from the latter sources does not represent the aikido viewpoint, but has nonetheless proved valuable by shedding new light on Morihei’s early years and suggesting areas of discrepancy in the primary sources.

Given the limited data available on the Tanabe period, our main task here will be to recall the key events and influences on Morihei’s early years. We will also endeavor to identify those character traits and patterns of behavior that led to the formation of the man who would go on to create aikido.

Ueshiba Family Background

In Japan of the Meiji Era, the family unit had a more decisive role in the life and career of an individual than it does today. With this in mind, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the major steps in Morihei’s life that prepared him for a career as a martial artist can be traced back to the influence of his immediate and extended families. This is the case early in his life when he tried his fortune as a merchant in Tokyo, on the occasion of his move to Hokkaido, and when he finally settled on a career as a martial arts instructor.

The Ueshibas

Morihei’s father, Yoroku, was born in 1843 and was a prosperous landowner who was engaged primarily in farming. He is reputed to have been a hot-tempered man of great physical strength with an interest in martial arts. Yoroku was also a prominent citizen of Tanabe and served on the Tanabe and Nishinotani village councils from 1892 to1910. Morihei’s mother, Yuki, was from the Itogawa family of Tanabe and was born in 1850. Interestingly enough, Morihei’s later bride, Hatsu, belonged to the same Itogawa family.

Yoroku and Yuki probably married in the late 1860s and their union produced a total of five children. Morihei was the only son and was born on December 14, 1883. His three older sisters were Tame, Hisano, and Chiyo. The last of the Ueshiba children was a daughter named Kiku…

Access: Free through Thursday, February 23

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and read Stanley Pranin’s article titled “Morihei in Tanabe.”

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!

Name:
Email:

Feb
18

FREE DOWNLOAD: “This old man reached this stage, you should surpass me…!” — Aiki News Number 60, March 1984




Aiki News Number 60, March 1984

Contents

     ● Editorial – Blueprint for the standardization of aikido testing, by Stanley Pranin
     ● Shoji Nishio Interview, by Stanley Pranin
     ● Morihiro Saito Technical Notebook — Tsuki iriminage, by Morihiro Saito
     ● Heard in the Dojo
     ● O-Sensei Biography — “The Kobukan Hell Dojo Period”, by Kisshomaru Ueshiba
     ● Letters to the Editor

Morihei Ueshiba with Shoji Nishio and students in front of Aikikai, February 1969

Access: free through Tuesday, February 21

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and download the PDF file of Aiki News Number 60

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!

Name:
Email:

Feb
18

Spiritual Maintenance

Over the years, I’ve witnessed some great individuals, great to the point of having lived heroic lives to the point of being mythical, let themselves go and become ordinary, weak, ill, and some even vice riddled.

Others, perhaps some not even of such great stature, continued to practice, eat well, maintain good habits in every way they knew and to give good things to the world.

These sustained and continued to improve to the very end. So did their immediate and often also far reaching associations.

Spiritual Maintenance involves the body-mind connection, therefore if you are not moving, you are merely fantasizing.

Aikido is not only one such valid method, but a paramount method, as it also addresses the key critical component of life, that of consciously addressing adversity and the harmonising of it. What could strengthen your caliber more?

Serving others and improving yourself, no matter how modest you think your efforts may be, does in fact make immense differences in the world, and is the basis for spiritual maintenance, both personal, and that of the world.

Nev Sagiba

aikiblue.com

“Now an e-book:
FOUR DIAMONDS 1024 – Basic Transitions and Counters of Aikido

by Nev Sagiba