Archives for March 2012


Free PDF download: Morihiro Saito’s step-by-step techniques — Magazine: Aiki News Number 32, 1978

Sensei said, “Come and strike me!” I went to strike him and tumbled over. “Come and kick me!” When I tired to kick him, I was gently overturned. “Come and grab me!” I was thrown without knowing how. My shirt sleeves and pants ripped!”

Access: Free through Wednesday, March 21


  • Editorial – “Attack Perception,” by Stanley Pranin
  • Interview with Morihiro Saito Sensei, by Stanley Pranin
  • Morihiro Saito Technical Notebook (1) — Katadori Dai-ikkyo omote waza, “Kihon” (Basic); Katadori Dai-ikkyo omote waza, “Ki no nagare” (Ki Flow); Katadori shihonage “Ki no Nagare,” by Morihiro Saito
  • Kawaridane Nihonjin (3): “Josei majie kibishii shugyo — Chikara ni tayoreba kanarazu makeru” (Japanese)
  • O-Sensei Biography — “Non-attachment to the Material” (Chapter 1, Part 3), by Kisshomaru Ueshiba
  • Aikido: Promotion Tests Film Advert

Click here for your free PDF download of Aiki News Number 32, 1978


“Will Aikido Survive?” by Nev Sagiba

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

“The influence of Aikido is unstoppable. It will continue to progress further than we can now see into the distant future.”
The history which led to the arrival of Aikido as we now know it, was a long one. Many hundreds of years.

But is there as much of a driving need for the physical survival attributes of the art now as then?

Is the art at risk of becoming a quasi religious cult replete with superstitious beliefs and myths about its history?

What has driven Aikido?

What are the forces that led to its phenomenal popularization following WW2?

Has the advent of Aikido made a difference in the world?

If so for the better or for worse?

Since the death of its Founder, Morihei Ueshiba, has Aikido improved the life of its practitioners and the world in general?

Some find it in their minds to criticize Aikido. Always a good sign. Envy has that tendency. Envy is a sign of success the complacent would like to acquire, but are too lazy to work sufficiently to earn!

What do the critics have to say?

That Aikido does not work in a fight is a myth propagated by some incompetent practitioners. Some of the best security personnel on the planet utilize Aikido daily with immense success in both harm reduction and successful arrests.

That the “philosophy” of Aikido is bogus? Which “philosophy? Aikido has no dogma (Thank God for that!), but is a path of personal discovery. It is notable that the philosophies of dedicated practitioners, whilst each unique, do have a measure of similitude in the practical application in augmenting social harmony.

Can that be an accident?

As for being a “martial” art, Aikijutsu techniques have been incorporated, quietly drilled and deployed in action by elite special forces in the military. More so than in “the ring.”
[Read more…]


Hiroshi Ikeda video: His Aikido is “Crazy Good!”

Video: Hiroshi Ikeda demonstrates at Aiki Expo 2005

Duration: 5:01 minutes
Access: Free through Tuesday, March 20

Hiroshi Ikeda, 7th dan, is the chief instructor of Boulder Aikikai in Boulder, Colorado. He is one of the top aikido instructors in the USA due to his incredible skill level and extensive travel schedule which has carried him all over the USA and many foreign nations. This video clip from Aiki Expo 2005 which took place in Los Angeles, California, features Ikeda Sensei’s entire demonstration at the event.

Ikeda Sensei’s performance is a study of efficient movement and relaxed, explosive power. One well-known kobudo teacher once described Ikeda Sensei’s aikido as “crazy good.” He maintains perfect balance and impeccable timing to control uke. Ikeda Sensei’s aikido is exemplary in all respects.

Click here to view Hiroshi Ikeda’s demonstration at Aiki Expo 2005


“Sleuthing in Search of O-Sensei,” by Stanley Pranin


“These old movies contain electric images of a true martial arts genius
who dominates the screen and speaks to us across the ages!”

My fascination with the life and martial art of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei has been the motivation for the existence of Aikido Journal and its predecessor, Aiki News. I have always enjoyed telling the epic story of the events of O-Sensei’s life to aikidoka all over the world.

One of the most powerful means of disseminating the Founder’s marvelous technique and timeless message is through the medium of film. From an old 3-minute reel that I received way back in 1965, to the several hours of footage professionally offered as DVDs, I have watched O-Sensei move on the screen thousands of times. Sometimes in slow motion, sometimes even frame-by-frame. For me, these films hold the secrets to O-Sensei’s genius and provide constant inspiration. I can play one of Morihei’s movies after a long hiatus, and make new discoveries of clues that have always been there, but have eluded me until that moment.

Locating these films over a period of nearly five decades has involved a series of meandering treasure hunts. This span has been marked by countless moments of frustration, punctuated by a few experiences of pure elation. The majority of these old films had been long gathering dust in private hands, their very existence hanging by a tenuous thread. Some of the most exciting moments of my life have involved the discovery of these elusive old O-Sensei movies. Let me tell you about a couple of those occasions.

I had known about the existence of the 1935 film of Morihei for a number of years. A few of the old-timers had actually seen the old Asahi News documentary, and spoke about it in terms that fired the imagination. Why was this precious document being withheld? Since the film was no longer shown and had been locked away, my only hope was to find an outside source; it was like looking for the veritable needle in the haystack. Nonetheless, I undertook the challenge of finding it. One day, a Japanese friend came up with a lead to something that sounded promising. There was a certain prewar film among thousands languishing in a Tokyo archive that appeared to contain some old jujutsu footage, It was titled simply “Budo.” Not much to go on, but perhaps an interesting find nonetheless.

[Read more…]


Video: The Systema Dilemma — “How Can Devastating Force Appear So Soft?”

Mikhai Ryabko demonstrates Systema at Aiki Expo 2005

Duration: 9:35
Access: Free through Saturday, March 17

The Russian art of Systema has had a tremendous impact on the martial arts scene in the last ten years. Its founder, Mikhail Ryabko is a short stout man who moves with a remarkable gracefulness while packing explosive power. In part due to the efforts of Aikido Journal, the aikido community has taken notice of the well-researched training methods of Systema and the undeniable similarity of movement between the two arts. Mikhail and his top student Vladimir Vasiliev both agreed to participate in Aiki Expo 2005 and came from Moscow, Russia and Toronto, Canada, respectively.

Mikhail’s demonstration at the Expo was highly anticipated and he certainly didn’t disappoint. The amazing fluidity with which he moves, and the many opportunities for delivering devastating effect he creates, serve as an object of study and inspiration for every martial artist. The dedicated aikidoka will definitely feel at home watching and analyzing the intricate and familiar movements of Systema as performed by its founder.

Click here to gain access to the video of Mikhail Ryabko’s Systema demonstration at Aiki Expo 2005”


Download Free PDF file of Videos available on Aikido Journal Members Site

Since the launch of the Aikido Journal Members Site in September of 2011, we have added hundreds of documents of interest to aikido practitioners. Among the most popular of the materials archived on the Members Site are the many videos available to subscribers.

We have put together a PDF file which contains a list of items currently available along with a short description of the contents of the videos. Please download the file and have a look at the wide variety of famous figures and subjects presented.

Click here to download the free PDF file containing a listing of all of the video archived on the Aikido Journal Members Site

Click here to visit the Aikido Journal Members Site and sign up for a free subscription


Historical photo: “Morihei at Death’s Door,” by Stanley Pranin

“Had this transpired, Morihei would likely have been imprisoned and tortured along with other leading church figures, and aikido would never have seen the light of day.”

This is a famous photo taken in 1924 in Tongliao (Payintala), Manchuria. Morihei appears with Onisaburo Deguchi and other members of their party in a Chinese prison, all in foot shackles. Morihei is third from the left with Onisaburo on his right. The story goes that the Chinese marched the Japanese prisoners outside of their cell and lined them up against the wall. All feared that there were about to be executed

The events leading up to Morihei’s near-death experience are very complex and difficult to sort out. The cover story for the journey of Onisaburo’s party to Mongolia via Manchuria was that he was on a divine mission to set up a utopian colony in this region that would be a safe haven for members of all religions living in harmony and mutual respect. Ever one to seek the limelight, Onisaburo arranged to be photographed as the party made its way forward, and several remarkable images remain including several in which Morihei appear. Behind this facade lay the maneuverings of rival Chinese armies and militia, the Kwantung Army, Japanese spies, secret societies, Russian interests, in short, a political and military ferment.

Click here to gain access to Stanley Pranin’s article titled “Morihei at Death’s Door”


Video: Hitohiro Saito demonstrates at Aiki Expo 2005 in Los Angeles, California

“The Extraordinarily Talented Son of
Morihiro Saito Displays his Remarkable Skills!”

Duration: 5:30 minutes
Access: Free through Thursday, March 15

Aiki Expo 2005 attracted some of the finest martial artists from Japan and the USA to Los Angeles, California where the event was held.. Among the famous aikido figures on hand was Hitohiro Saito, the son and successor of Morihiro Saito, who needs no introduction. Hitohiro Sensei was born in Iwama and trained at Morihei Ueshiba’s country dojo starting from a young age. He has many fond memories of O-Sensei from boyhood that still inspire him today.

Hitohiro Sensei learned from his father at an early age. Being of a strong disposition, extremely intelligent and hard-working, he mastered the vast array of technical skills of the Iwama curriculum under the tutelage of his father.

Following Morihiro Saito’s death in 2002, Hitohiro Sensei became independent of the Aikikai organization and founded the Iwama Shinshin Aiki Shurenkai. In recent years, he has continued his heavy schedule of foreign travel teaching the Iwama training curriculum and has an extensive network of dojos under his direction. He has continued refining and disseminating the taijutsu and weapons techniques devised by Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei and his father Morihiro Saito.

Click here to login and watch the demonstration of Hitohiro Saito Sensei at Aiki Expo 2005, free through Thursday, March 15


Magazine: Aiki News Number 71, June 1986

“Sokaku went into the kitchen and ladled out water for himself using a dipper, and then placed it in the flames of the fire. He put the tea leaves into the dipper and toasted them. I guess he was concerned that the tea might be poisoned.”

Access: Free through Wednesday, March 14


     ● Editorial – “Aikido and Daito-ryu: The Unacknowledged Symbiosis”, by Stanley Pranin
     ● Reminiscences of Minoru Mochizuki — Direct Disciple of Jigoro Kano and Morihei Ueshiba
     ● Heard in the Dojo
     ● Book Corner, by Koshu Masuda
     ● Tokimune Takeda: Conversation with the son of Sokaku Takeda, by Stanley Pranin
     ● O-Sensei Biography — “Passing On” (Chapter 7, Part 4), by Kisshomaru Ueshiba
     ● Morihiro Saito Technical Notebook — Sword Partner Practice III, by Morihiro Saito
     ● Aikido and Police Tactics (1), by John Lamont
     ● Groups interview featuring Yasuo Kobayashi, Mitsugi Saotome and Yoshio Kuroiwa, by Stanley Pranin
     ● Dojos of the World
     ● Letters to the Editor
     ● Aiki News Back Number Index
     ● Aiki News Video Catalog

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and download the PDF file of Aiki News Number 71

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!



“A Strategician’s Dream,” by Nev Sagiba

The first glimmer of a strategician’s dream of ultimate victory tactics first arose in the mind of a young man who had stopped to sit and drink tea.

The rays from the early morning sun shining through the trees glistening as they reflected gossamer threads, caught his eye, just like mine did this morning as I sat, also sipping tea on the back veranda. In noticing the almost perfect creation I reminisced about Yoshimitsu in those days long gone.

There it was, a perfect web shimmering delicately in the breeze. As the light caught it, it would coruscate alternating bright silver and then rainbow colours and back to silver. How could one miss noticing?

As my mind cast back again to Minamoto no Yoshimitsu (1036-1127), that famous warrior of the Kamakura period of feudal Japan, I had visions of many things in this pivotal human journey, as if passing through time itself.

Of course, he could not have been the first battlefield strategician to aspire to endless victory. There were many before him who had dreamed of finding better ways to defeat their enemies.

And there have always been people who begin their day with a cup of cha. And who notice nothing more than their own random thoughts chattering idly. If that.

What made this one man different?

Observing this perfectly woven circle of subtle but all powerful connectedness, he became inspired. No matter how a moth or any other insect entered the circle, it would never leave alive. No matter from which direction or approach, the spider was not bluffed by any change, and he would be difficult to attack at the hub of the in-depth backup of his web. Not even those considerably larger than the small spider who had woven that web could hope to reach him with ease. Resilient yet tenacious, the web did most of the work. The arachnid would simply sit at the centre and feel the messages transmitted along fine lines.

Minamoto no Yoshimitsu

Minamoto no Yoshimitsu

The spider did not waste energy. As he sat at the centre, he would allow the invader to entangle himself, until worn out, he would stop struggling. Once in, there was no way out. Then the spider would take action. In his or her time. Just like training practice and good strategy, the web was set up well in advance, in anticipation of the event.

In an instant, efficient and economical, having pre-spun and woven the almost non-existent pathways well understood, the conclusion would finalize with comparative ease. And yet, the power of these delicate nuances would hold fast and immutably so.

For some reason the recollection of this insight would stay with young Yoshimitsu. Often, on sleepless nights, sometimes after a battle or in between campaigns, he would wonder how he could have done things better, how he could apply this principle of effortlessness following advanced preparation to attain swift and decisive victory in both heiho and gunpo. No matter what the circumstance, skill in preparation, just like the arachnid, would augment favourable outcomes.

[Read more…]


Sokaku Takeda: “Is This Photo Faked?”, by Stanley Pranin

“A doctored photo? What do you think?”

Take a look at this highly unusual photo of Sokaku Takeda, disseminator of Daito-ryu jujutsu and teacher of Morihei Ueshiba. First, allow me to provide some background information. This photo was taken about 1939 in Osaka, probably at the Asahi News dojo, during the period when Sokaku was teaching Daito-ryu to employees of the newspaper.

The Asahi dojo had an interesting background. Its first instructor was none other than Morihei Ueshiba from 1933-1936, and then Sokaku Takeda from 1936-1939. Sokaku took over instruction duties at the Asahi dojo under rather strange circumstances which you can read more about here. Several of the few surviving photos of Sokaku were taken in Osaka because the trainees had access to the facilities and equipment of the newspaper, one of Japan’s largest.

Now let’s examine the photo itself. Sokaku has raised a student onto his shoulders prior to executing a twisting throw characteristic to Daito-ryu. The photo appears posed as Sokaku is stiff-legged and standing still. Also, notice that the body of the student appears to be supported by Sokaku’s outstretched arms. Sokaku’s extended right arm is clearly visible while his left hand seems to be supporting the student’s right leg. But perhaps the most condemning detail is the fact that the student is gazing leisurely into the camera and seems quite undistressed in this position. Believe me, if Sokaku were actually applying the technique, uke would be in extreme pain!

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and read the entire article on this unusual photo of Sokaku Takeda.

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Free video: “As Mikhail and Vladimir look on, Katsuyuki Kondo demonstrates Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu!”

“Video: Katsuyuki Kondo demonstrates at Aiki Expo 2005!”

Duration: 5:56 minutes
Access: Free through Monday, March 12

Aiki Expo 2005 was one of Aikido’s premiere events. 36 instructors of various aiki arts gathered together in Los Angeles, California to teach and demonstrate in a common venue. Many friendships and associations were forged during this extradordinary weekend. One of the highlights of Aiki Expo 2005 was certainly the Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu demonstration of Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei.

You will see the power and precision of Kondo Sensei’s approach to Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu. Key concepts from classical Japanese martial arts such as maai, metsuke, kokyu, atemi, zanshin, etc. will be evident in the execution of his techniques.

A close viewing of this video offers aikido practitioners an excellent opportunity to study the precursor forms of various aikido techniques. You will be able to discern both similarities and differences between the two arts. You will notice in particular the liberal use of atemi and the specialized pinning movements peculiar to Daito-ryu.

Kondo Sensei is one of the most highly regarded of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu masters. Having practiced for more than 50 years, he is the sole person to have received Menkyo Kaiden certification from Headmaster Tokimune Takeda, son of Sokaku Takeda. Kondo Sensei is an authority on the history of Daito-ryu and its intimate connection with the early stages of aikido. He has traveled extensively to America, Europe, and Australia conducting seminars from the late 1980s to the present. Also, literally hundreds of foreign students have gone to Japan to study at his Shimbukan Dojo in Tokyo.

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and view Katsuyuki Kondo’s Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu demonstration at Aiki Expo 2005

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!