Archives for February 2012


Superlative Aikido with Morihei Ueshiba, Koichi Tohei, Morihiro Saito and Seigo Yamaguchi

“Get a glimpse of the terrifc content in store for you!”

Get 4-DVD Set at Special Price of $49.95… Look what’s included!

This Special Offer is an excellent opportunity for you to become well acquainted with four of the Aikido’s major figures, gifted teachers who are largely responsible for the way the art is practiced in modern times. This package includes: Aikido’s Founder Morihei Ueshiba, a man with no peer; Koichi Tohei, the person who introduced Aikido to the USA; Morihiro Saito, whose curriculum including both body and weapons techniques, has a worldwide following; and Seigo Yamaguchi, known for his martial, yet elegant style, who is highly regarded everywhere.

Deadline is tomorrow, February 18th!

Click here for your last chance to get the 4-DVD Set with the 4 Geniuses of Aikido: Morihei, Koichi Tohei, Morihiro Saito, Seigo Yamaguchi!


“I propose a compact for our mutual benefit… Onegaishimasu!

In the last six months since we opened the Aikido Journal Members Site, we have been testing different approaches to make this important part of Aikido Journal an indispensable tool for aikidoka. You may have noticed a flurry of activity, and an unending stream of new materials including videos, screencasts, historical photos, articles, PDFs, charts, and even Morihei Ueshiba’s name card!

What’s going on? Basically, I want to create a storehouse for my research legacy and an additional income stream based on digital delivery of our content. Fewer and fewer customers are opting for delivery of physical products. This is the trend all over the world. I, for one, would not shed a tear if we could minimize our trips to the post office, in favor of immediate, on-demand delivery of content over the Internet. This will allow us to reduce prices on our products, and allow you to receive your product within a few short minutes.

These days, the economy being what it is, many people are budgeting themselves very carefully, and have less discretionary income than in previous times. Even the cost of paying tuition at an aikido dojo comes under scrutiny. We know aikido training is a life-enriching activity and that we derive great benefit from it; nonetheless, it is yet another item in the budget subject to scrutiny.

So here is a short list of things I would like to propose you do that will benefit you personally and Aikido Journal as a servant of the aikido community… and doesn’t cost anything:

  • Click on the Facebook “Share” button on the upper right of this blog and any content you think worthy of being shared with your circle of friends. A trivial amount of time is required for this simple action, yet it allows us to reach many more folks with our message.
  • If you are receiving our emails, forward any interesting item to your aikido friends in case they’re unaware of our activities. Just hit the “forward” button in your email program and enter your friend’s address.
  • It is our wish to allow free subscribers to access most of our content when published. After testing out different methods, we have settled on a “free for a few days” approach to allow you to access new content. After that, the document goes into the “paid subscriber” archive for future access. So please act quickly to access new content, keeping in mind this approach and the rationale behind it.

I work seven days a week, have for years, and expect to do so for many more years, God willing. This is my life’s work, and you can expect this steady stream of content to continue until I finish the job… which will be NEVER!

In short, we’ll provide great content that is mostly free that you can’t get anywhere else. You invest a few seconds of your time to spread the word about our work. We can thus progress along the path together to our mutual benefit.

Just to give you an idea of the content we’ve been offering, have a look at the last 20 items uploaded to the Aikido Journal Members Site:

  • Video: Morihei Ueshiba, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Christian Tissier — French TV documentary, c.1983
  • Screencast: Focus on History — “Morihei and the Young Bucks of the Aikikai,” by Stanley Pranin”
  • A Biography of Rinjiro Shirata – Part 2, by Kozo Kaku
  • Do we know what Aikido truly is?, by Francis Takahashi
  • Magazine: Aiki News Number 49, 1982
  • Memoir of the Master, by Morihei Ueshiba with commentary by Stanley Pranin
  • Screencast: Focus on History — “Ueshiba Family Tree: The Line of Succession”
  • A Biography of Rinjiro Shirata – Part 1, by Kozo Kaku
  • Magazine: Aiki News Number 79, 1988
  • Video: Rinjiro Shirata — “1978 Yamagata TV Documentary — Part 1” (member video)
  • Video: Koichi Tohei teaches Ki Society Seminar in Osaka, 1983 — Part 3 (member-video)
  • Screencast: Focus on History — “The Old Aikikai Hombu Dojo: Inside and Out,” by Stanley Pranin
  • Screencast: Focus on History — “Morihei demonstrates jodori with his son, Kisshomaru”
  • Video: Koichi Tohei teaches Ki Society Seminar in Osaka, 1983 — Part 2
  • Screencast: Focus on History — “Morihei Ueshiba’s Ill-starred Mongolian Expedition,” by Stanley Pranin
  • Video: Koichi Tohei teaches Ki Society Seminar in Osaka, 1983 — Part 1
  • Screencast: Focus on History — “Morihei Ueshiba’s Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu Teaching Certification,” by Stanley Pranin
  • Historical photos: “The first person to introduce Aikido to the US revisited,” by Stanley Pranin
  • Magazine: Aikido Journal Number 108, 1996
  • Video: Tetsuzan Kuroda, Headmaster of Kuroda Family Bujutsu, at Aiki Expo 2003

I’ll be watching the counter on the Facebook “Share” button! :)

Thanks Folks… Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!


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!



Free video through February 19: Classic film with Morihei Ueshiba, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Christian Tissier

“The Founder, his son, and Europe’s top teacher!”

This is a marvelous video consisting of a segment of a French TV documentary made about 1983 dealing with Japanese martial arts. Featured in this section on aikido are the Founder Morihei Ueshiba, Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and well-known French instructor, Christian Tissier, then a 6th dan. There are scenes shot both at the old Aikikai Hombu Dojo, in Iwama, and in France. You will see Morihei performing warmup exercises and several techniques. Kisshomaru executes randoris against multiple attackers. There is a very well-done interview with Christian Tissier, a randori, and partnered jo sequences. Also appearing is Micheline Tissier who gives an excellent demonstration. This documentary was based on the research of French author Michel Random.

Morihei Ueshiba is the creator of aikido and the footage included here was taken late in his life, around 1965. His son, Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba, is shown in films taken in the mid-1970s. Christian Tissier is about 30 years old in this documentary, and at this point, has already firmly established himself in France and Europe as one of the art’s foremost teachers.

Since we have opened the Aikido Journal Members Site last fall, we have uploaded a multitude of historical materials consisting of videos, screencasts, books, PDF files, and various other documents. We are working hard to continue at this pace, and we have enough source materials to last for many years. One of our reasons for these efforts is to insure that the materials we have gathered over nearly four decades find a permanent home and that their survival for subsequent generations is assured.

As a practitioner of aikido or somewhat interested in the art, you now have an opportunity to access an immense volume of documentation that will challenge and educate you on this subject. Regular practice is of utmost importance, and the furthering of your knowledge about all aspects of aikido, its techniques, personalities, and history are required for those who wish to really excel.

Duration: 8:49 minutes
Access: Free through Sunday, Feb. 19th

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and view this wonderful video with Morihei Ueshiba, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and Christian Tissier

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!



Free Video thru Feb. 18 — “Morihei and the Young Bucks of the Aikikai,” by Stanley Pranin”

“Learn what happened to the early uchideshi system and why”

In this screencast, Stanley Pranin analyzes a rare historical photo in which a number of the junior Aikikai instructors from the 1960s appear formally with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. He talks about each individual, and the uchideshi system which was replaced by the modern apprentice system.

Duration: 9:18 minutes
Access: free through Saturday, February 18th

Hi, I’m Stanley Pranin, and welcome to another episode of “Focus on History”

Today we’ll look at another historical photo that tells a fascinating story with several parallel threads. This picture was taken inside the Aikikai Hombu Dojo about 1965. First, let’s mention who appears in the photo. They are, from left to right: Minoru Kurita, Kenji Shimizu, Mitsugi Saotome, Mitsunari Kanai, Akira Tohei, then Wakasensei Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Shuji Maruyama, and Nobuyuki Watanabe. In the center seated is, of course, Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

These young men were members of the Aikikai’s staff of junior instructors during this period. Four among them would later relocate abroad–all to the United States–and start a new phase of their careers as official representatives of the Hombu Dojo teaching in the USA..

This would be a good opportunity to mention something about the changeover at the Aikikai from the traditional uchideshi system to the modern apprentice system for developing professional instructors. This change took place around 1963. Formerly, the uchideshi or live-in students actually lived in the Hombu Dojo together with the Ueshiba family. Although it proved to be an effective system to develop skilled young aikido instructors, it was a huge burden on the Ueshiba family who bore most of the expenses and inconveniences of this communal life. The growing popularity of aikido made it impractical to continue in the traditional way, and thus the uchideshi system was abandoned.

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and view the screencast by Stanley Pranin of “Morihei Ueshiba and the Young Bucks of the Aikikai”

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!



Video: Morihei Ueshiba — “The Way of Harmony” DVD Trailer

MORIHEI UESHIBA — “The Way of Harmony”

“The Way of Harmony” DVD is a wonderful resource containing precious films of the Founder of Aikido from the period of 1958-1962. This is the time-frame when Morihei had come out of seclusion in Iwama and begun teaching in Tokyo and various locations in the Kansai area. His Aikido is at its epitome: the power, grace, and harmony of Morihei’s movements are remarkable! The Founder’s art was truly magical.

Even by watching the old films that preserve his movements, one is captivated by his commanding presence, joyful ebullience, and complete mastery of energy and space. Such a level of expertise could only be attained by one who has reached a state that many would hasten to call “enlightenment.” In any event, he without doubt transcended normal human consciousness and entered into a state of elevated alertness and sensitivity. This state of oneness is a goal that should stand as a shining example for aikidoka everywhere who are touched by his timeless message. Why should we settle for anything less in our own training?

Wait! Get this incredible DVD as part of this week’s
Special Offer only through Saturday, Feb. 18!


A Biography of Rinjiro Shirata – Part 2, by Kozo Kaku

“The Kobukan Prodigy” Wreaks Havoc!

“Hell Dojo” of the West

“I want to follow Sensei’s footsteps as my life path.” Shirata Rinjiro’s words delighted the Founder, Morihei Ueshiba. At that time, the Kobukan Dojo was inseparably linked to the Omoto religion, and one would often see Omoto believers training. On the other hand, there were also many highly ranked practitioners of arts like kendo and judo and among the trainees. Rinjiro, having perceived aikido [the art was actually know as “Aiki Budo” at this time] as a true martial art, was especially promising in Morihei’s eyes. In addition, you could say that Rinjiro was blessed with good timing.

The prewar golden era had just arrived for the Kobukan, which was nicknamed the “Hell Dojo.” Yoichiro Inoue, Hisao Kamada, Minoru Mochizuki, Kaoru Funahashi, Tsutomu Yukawa, Aritoshi Murashige, Kenji Tomiki, and other eminent people were the seniors. Zenzaburo Akazawa, and Tesshin Hoshi were uchideshi similar in status to Rinjiro. Among those regularly commuting to train was Gozo Shioda, who was equal to the uchideshi. Such people were always at the dojo. It could be said that Rinjiro was trained and brought up by these shining talents of aikido history.

For the five years from 1932 to 1937 when he departed for the front, literally the period of Rinjiro’s severe training, he always put into practice the saying “every day, life is training, every day, budo is life.”

The uchideshi rose in status from washing the entrance and cleaning the toilets to looking after things around the Founder to duties like serving as a travel companion. However, for a long time, Rinjiro carried out the role of attendant who offers water, tea and salt in front of the Shinto altar every morning. This was probably unrelated to Rinjiro’s father being a believer of the Omoto religion.

Every morning, Morihei went to the altar and offered Shinto prayers. There were uchideshi who disliked this, but it’s said that without realizing it, Rinjiro spontaneously learned the prayers. In any case, he did everything wholeheartedly.

Even though he started early in the morning, he continued training morning, noon and night, without stopping. And although there was time to wash the training clothes he wore continually, there wasn’t enough free time to dry them. As a result of these efforts, Rinjiro was allowed to participate in training outside the dojo after less than a year rather than the two or three years it was usually said to take…

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and read part 2 of the biography of Rinjiro Shirata

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!



“Do we know what Aikido truly is?”, by Francis Takahashi

It is mind boggling, and a bit disheartening for me to see the reams of questionable, and often grossly erroneous “facts” written about the Founder, his theories on Aiki, and on Aiki’s constant role in shaping his Aikido over the entire period of his lifetime. It is especially so because I can recognize very few “experts” with proven knowledge, training experience, and research credentials sufficient for the task.

Rather, I witness a boatload of suspect individuals who freely admit to having little or no respect for the history, tradition or values of the Founder’s true purpose, and of his welcoming spirit of openness to all who study his creation. It is equally appalling to me that such unwarranted and misguided drivel continues without an equally vociferous and reasoned rebuttal and counterpoint from the seemingly established and very senior group of mainstream Aikido leaders, who appear comfortable in remaining mute and aloof.

There are exceptions, of course, with stalwarts like George Ledyard, Peter Goldsbury, Nev Sagiba, David Lynch, and Stan Pranin, to mention a few, who have courageously, consistently and knowledgeably spoken out on Aikido principles, purpose and legitimacy as a genuine martial art and cultural phenomenon.
[Read more…]


FREE DOWNLOAD: “Sokaku came to visit in wooden clogs with a walking stick…” — Aiki News Number 49, 1982

“I owe my existence to god and to Ueshiba Sensei,
and I am always thankful to them both.”

Aiki News Number 49, 1982


     ● Editorial: “Criticism of O-Sensei”, by Stanley Pranin
     ● Interview with Hisao Kamata, by Stanley Pranin
     ● Morihiro Saito’s Technical Notebook — Ryotedori shihonage omote, by Morihiro Saito
     ● The Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, “Enlightenment at the Edge of Death, Chapter IV – Part 8(a), by Kisshomaru Ueshiba
     ● The Honorable Morihei Ueshiba — Part 2, from Kishu Seiji Keizai newspaper

Access: free through Tuesday, February 14th

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and download the PDF file of Aiki News Number 49

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!



“O-Sensei’s ‘Cultivation of Attraction’,” by Tom Collings

[These comments were posted today in response to the post titled “Memoir of the Master”. There is much food for thought and we would invite your comment on the subject.]

Recently I have been struck by how often here and in other talks O’Sensei refers to the “cultivation of attraction”….”drawing him to me”….”drawing him into me.” While his words convey spiritual and philosophical ideas, I believe the tactical teaching in his comments is less obvious and often ignored.

When a predator attacks – the time, place, and (planned) method of the attack is chosen by the attacker. All three dimensions of the encounter are under his control. This leaves the defender at a significant disadvantage, regardless of skill or training. In real world violence, things often happen suddenly and can go from bad to worse fast. By moving left, or right or forward with atemi – rather than waiting (passively) to see what is going to happen we alter the interaction unexpectedly for the attacker, even if slightly, to a time and place of OUR choosing. When the aggressor must alter his attack to react to us, his timing and balance is compromised, and aikido techniques seem to work more easily.

This feeling is one of taking control early rather than a feeling of “defending” against something. While it sounds aggressive, it does not feel violent to me when practiced or on the few occasions when performed outside the dojo. Can aikido be assertive, yet not violent? I think the Founder is saying it can. By taking control of the situation early, can greater violence be prevented? Perhaps it can.

Moving early, or first, is also the only way I have found (outside the choreography of the dojo) to avoid relying on speed, which the Founder implores us not to rely on.


Passing of Masafumi Sakanashi Sensei in Argentina

Masafumi Sakanashi Shihan, 7th dan (1954-2012)

We are saddened to pass along this news..

Verónica Lorena Labourie on Facebook writes:

“Masafumi Sakanashi Sensei was born in Japan in 1954. In search of a less violent martial art, practiced Tai Chi Chuan and found Aikido. His first instructor was Sensei Kuwamori, Yamaguchi Sensei disciple of Hombu Dojo. Since 1978 he settled in Argentina. Founded after the main center of Aikido practice in Argentina: “Center of diffusion the Aikido”, located in the heart of the city of Buenos Aires, with over fifty branches across the country. He died today at 2 am.

So we remember your practice.” Goodbye Shihan.”


“Eyes Wide Shut – Exercising Inner Vision,” by Nev Sagiba

“The aim is to unfight the attack to depletion and take charge to restore order.”

Exercising inner vision is in everyone’s grasp.

To find the file paths of optimum efficiency which is Aikido, we need to awaken our inner vision.

And learn to relax. In real fights, strength lasts about ten seconds then starts to wane. The more time passes the weaker you get as energy is burnt up exponentially. You will not have the luxury of fifteen rounds, a referee and a massage.

Time will be of the essence and you must deploy full strategic means before two seconds are up and finish the fight in less than ten.

A minute is too long although at times the situation may have a longer time span than is desirable. It depends on the vagaries of that particular circumstance.

Just realise that the longer it goes on, the higher the risk becomes.
[Read more…]


“Memoir of the Master,” by Morihei Ueshiba with commentary by Stanley Pranin

“I want considerate people to listen to the voice of Aikido. It is
not for correcting others; it is for correcting your own mind”

One of the first aikido books published in English appeared in 1963. It was authored by Morihei Ueshiba’s son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, who later became the Second Doshu. This book contained a short section titled “Memoir of the Master.” It is a collection of aphorisms attributed to Morihei that encapsulates the essence and principles of Aikido.

The text of “Memoir of the Master” was very influential among early aikidoka, being widely disseminated in the aikido community, and translated into many different languages. I recall a small printed booklet available in some aikido dojos that contained the “Memoir of the Master” text. Like my fellow practitioners, I read these maxims over and over again. They formed the basis of my early understanding of the philosophical principles underlying aikido.

I ran across the text again recently and slowly re-read the passages. Now, nearly 50 years later, I find that the impact of “Memoir of the Master” has not been diminished with time. With a lifetime of experiences behind me, I have a different level of understanding, but remain in total awe of the innovative thinking of the Founder.

I would like to share these wonderful passages to readers who may be encountering them for the first time. I have added some thoughts of my own which appear italicized in the text.

As ai (harmony) is common with ai (love), I decided to name my unique budo “Aikido,” although the word “aiki” is an old one. The word which was used by the warriors in the past is fundamentally different from that of mine.

Although Morihei did not actually choose the name “Aikido,” he embraced its use after the name was selected. He would refer to his art mostly as “Aiki” in conversation. The key distinction here is that Morihei was using the term in a different sense than that employed historically in a martial arts context. The older meaning of “aiki” relates to tactical matters of neutralizing and controling an opponent. Morihei expands the meaning of “aiki” to include a loving and harmonious mindset in applying Aikido’s techniques. This is an innovative concept.

Aiki is not a technique to fight with or defeat the enemy. It is the way to reconcile the world and make human beings one family.
[Read more…]