“Bypassing Father Time,” by Stanley Pranin

“Your Role in Preserving Aikido’s Heritage”

I remember many years ago being very surprised to learn that only a small percentage of the films from the silent screen era–perhaps less than 10%–had been preserved. This had to do partially with film studios wanting to reclaim expensive storage space, and throwing away movies thought to be of no further commercial value. Another reason was because the silver nitrate film used was subject to deterioration, not to mention being dangerous leading to many fires.

I actually saw a cannister of 16 mm film from the 1930s of Admiral Isamu Takeshita that had turned to a gooey substance due to the passage of time and improper storage. It was heart-breaking to witness this loss first-hand.

In recent months, I have touched upon the theme of the importance of preserving as much as possible of our aikido heritage in the form of films, video, photos, books, etc. It was my original idea that the Aikido Journal Members Site would serve as the platform for hosting this vast collection of valuable documents. After working with the membership software and learning its ins and outs, I think it will indeed serve this purpose, but not in the way I originally thought.

Let me explain. Our recent offerings of high-resolution downloadable ebooks and videos has demonstrated unequivocally that readers would rather pick and choose the items that interest them, and purchase them separately. In other words, they are less interested in a subscription-based model and would prefer to build their own tailor-made collection of aikido-related materials. This was a revelation to me and totally unexpected. We are perfectly willing to offer our customers the fare they prefer in their preferred format. The digital revolution now in progress and dramatically falling storage and bandwidth costs has made this possible.

Look at some of the advantages this approach offers. Your purchases provide a source of funding for our preservation efforts. Due to the low prices of digital goods, a worldwide market has opened up which was formerly restricted because of much higher production and shipping costs.

There are other significant advantages for the consumer. Since the digital files are stored on our servers “in the cloud,” customers can download files to any of their devices at their convenience. Since the files are located remotely, they are automatically backed up. They are also backed up locally in our facility.

Here is the best part. Over time, with several tens of thousand high-resolution copies dispersed throughout the world on countless devices, this wonderful treasure of aikido’s history will surely survive far into the future, and with a little luck, be there for many generations to come, to benefit from and enjoy.

For this reason, I would like to thank each and everyone of those of you who have and continue to support our efforts. Be aware of the fact that your individual role is very important, and that you play an indispensable part in realizing a noble goal that has eluded every generation that has preceded ours.

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