Apr
16

Memorial Service for Carla Simmons, co-founder of Hikari Dojo

Much beloved Carla Simmons, 3rd Dan, co-founder and Dojo Cho of Hikari Dojo, passed away on April 3rd. A memorial service will be held in her honor on Saturday, April 21st, from 2:00 pm until 5:30 pm at Hikari Dojo, 4861 Sunrise Drive, Unit 102, Martinez, CA, 94553

Biography of Carla Simmons retrieved form Hikari Dojo website:

Carla Jumonville 3rd Dan Aikikai, Senior Instructor of Hikari Dojo has been training in Aikido since 1992. After receiving the rank of Shodan under Pat Hendricks Sensei in 1998 at Aikido of San Leandro, she began assisting and teaching at the Pleasant Hill Adult Education Center, and also has taught classes through the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park Center. In 2002, Carla co-founded Hikari Dojo.

She has trained with many of Northern CA Senior Sensei’s including: Frank Doran Shihan, Robert Nadeau Shihan, and Pat Hendricks Shihan. Training at both Division I gasshukus, and the week long Aikido summer camp, she has worked on refining and broadening her understanding of the principles of Aikido. In 2005, Carla traveled to Japan on pilgrimage to pay homage to the Aiki Shrine and she was also uchi deshi to Hitohiro Saito Sensei at the Tanrenkan Dojo in Iwama, Japan.

Her teaching emphasizes the principle of blending with an opponent and transforming aggression into a harmonious outcome. Focusing on student development and growth in both the principles and techniques of Aikido, Carla’s aim is to empower students to integrate these teachings into a balanced lifestyle of family, friends, community, and the promotion of peace.

Apr
16

Magazine: Aiki News Number 34, May 1979

“I am what I am because I trained hard style for 60 years. What can you do?”

Access: free through April 19

Contents

  • “Doshu Seriously Ill”
  • Editorial – “The Generation Gap,” by Stanley Pranin
  • Interview with Morihiro Saito (3), by Stanley Pranin
  • Morihiro Saito Technical Notebook (3) — Katatedori Dai-sankyo omote waza, Katatedori Dai-sankyo omote waza, by Morihiro Saito
  • Kawaridane Nihonjin (3): “Bokuto ni shinken, no hikari” (Japanese, translation appears in Aiki News Number 5), by Kazuhiko Ikeda
  • The Founder of Aikido: “Family Background in Tanabe, Kii Province” (Chapter 2, Part 1), by Kisshomaru Ueshiba


Click here to download the PDF file of Aiki News Number 34 free through April 19

Apr
15

Downloadable Books & Videos

“Check out our ebooks and videos to enhance your collection”

Among the technical volumes authored by Morihiro Saito, certainly the most unique must be his publication of “Takemusu Aikido – Special Edition.” This 176-page book is an exhaustive analysis of the famous 1938 technical manual published by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in 1938. This prewar volume is a landmark document that provides the missing link to understanding the technical evolution of aikido from its Daito-ryu jujutsu origins to the modern form of the art.

Now for the first time, Aikido Journal is offering Saito Sensei’s wonderful treatise on Morihei’s technique in ebook format. This PDF publication is extremely high-quality and affords readers the opportunity of being able to zoom in to inspect details of the images of Saito Sensei performing each technique. This is a tremendous advantage in that fine points such as hand and foot position become easily discernible, something not always possible in the print edition.

The 50 techniques covered include preparatory exercises, basic techniques, knife (tantodori), and sword-taking techniques (tachidori), sword vs. sword forms (ken tai ken), mock-bayonet (juken) techniques, and finishing exercises (shumatsu dosa).

Click here for more information and to purchase this ebook

This rare seminar filmed in the Iwama Dojo in 1988 captures the seldom-taught jo taking and throwing techniques (jodori / jonage) of aikido. Morihiro Saito Sensei offers detailed explanations and demonstrations of each of the jo techniques from multiple angles. He taught these specialized weapons techniques only occasionally, and we are fortunate to have had this videotape survive.

Those who were lucky enough to attend a seminar conducted by Saito Sensei, or have viewed videos of seminars taught by this great master, will appreciate his unique ability to present the fine points of technique at all levels, from basic to advanced. In this video, Saito Sensei takes great pain to stress important details necessary to be able to successfully execute these advanced jo techniques. He also describes the common errors that many practitioners commit, and explain why such methods don’t work and precisely what does.
For the first time, we are offering this video in high-resolution for download to your hard disk. What this means is that you will have a clear video image that can be watched on a large screen or your handheld device. And remember, you will have continuing access to this video saved “on the cloud” for your convenience.

Click here for more information and to purchase this downloadable video

This is the first of two technical volumes produced by Morihiro Saito Sensei in collaboration with Aiki News (precursor of Aikido Journal) based on a series of several hundred black and white photos shot inside the Iwama Dojo. “Takemusu Aiki: Katatedori” was published in 1979 and contains 22 techniques, all from katatedori, the single-hand grab. The text explaining the technical photos is produced both in English and Japanese to allow access to the widest possible reading audience of aikidoka.

Given the time frame in which the photos were taken (1978-79) and the available technology, Saito Sensei would stop his movements at key points in the movement to allow the photo to be taken. Because of this, the natural flow of movement is lacking in these images, a trait characteristic of technical manuals of this sort. By contrast, the pausing of a movement at critical points allows the reader’s eye to focus on essential details for deeper understanding.

At the time this photo series was taken, many foreign aikido students were coming to the Iwama dojo to spend varying periods of time as uchideshi, or live-in students. Saito Sensei’s reputation was growing steadily largely due to the publication of a series of five technical volumes titled Traditional Aikido appearing in the mid-1970s. Like this manual, these books had English and Japanese text, and were must-reading among serious practitioners of aikido in Japan and abroad.

Click here for more information and to purchase this ebook

This ebook consists of a rare technical manual originally published in 1981 containing a detailed treatise on the koshinage techniques of aikido. A total of 26 koshinage–hip-throw techniques–are presented with sequential photos accompanied by both English and Japanese explanations. This volume is the most complete compendium available on this portion of the aikido curriculum by one of the art’s most famous masters.

At the time of the publication of “Takemusu Aiki: Koshinage,” Saito Sensei was 50 years old and in his physical prime. His mastery of technique and ability to organize and explain aikido’s vast curriculum are legendary. Saito Sensei’s skills and great attention to detail will be readily apparent to readers of this volume.
This manual is based on photos taken in the late 1970s inside the Iwama Dojo that record many aikido techniques, both basic and advanced. Some of the technical sequences from this collection of photos were published during this time frame in bilingual format in “Aiki News.”

Only about 200 or 300 copies of this “Koshinage” manual were printed. Most of these were sold within a relatively short time. The booklet eventually went out of print. High-resolution scans from an original copy of “Takemusu Aiki: Koshinage” were made to produce this ebook

Click here for more information and to purchase this ebook

Apr
13

“Learn and Forget!”, by Nev Sagiba

“Intellectual remembering is not the purpose of Budo training. Indeed, in the thick of it you will be hard pressed to “think” of anything at all.”

I think we’ve fallen a long way behind those ancients, who at least regards combat, had half a clue about what they were doing.

Some people think they have to intellectually “learn techniques” and others like to imagine that untrained simplification will be sufficient. Then we have the academic masters of opinions and also the sports contest specialists.

Sporty mindsets will not save you in real combat. I’m not talking about some little old lady or someone half your size raising their voice, but real and deadly attack outside the cozily predictable protection of “the ring” with its single and unarmed opponent. The paradigm of sport is riddled with the bending of context. We all know what these fake constructs are. If you don’t, I can’t help you. Find out while there is still time for you.

Theories are wonderful, but only if they portray the result of experience in a meaningful way. Even then, conveying this with mere words is a hit and miss affair. It has to be actively practiced regularly. Otherwise it’s merely warming the air with waffle.

Of untrained simplification there is nothing to be said, except: find out the hard way.

This leaves us with why we have to “learn techniques.”

Who said anything about “learning” anything?

We REPEAT techniques! We EXPLORE techniques! We EXTRAPOLATE techniques! We EXPERIENCE VARIABLES! And we DISCOVER POSSIBILITIES!
[Read more...]

Apr
11

Daito-ryu Master: “Recalling Kodo Horikawa,” by Katsumi Yonezawa

“Seeing the sharp effect of his techniques with Aiki which were different from those of Judo, I, who had been feeling the limits of my physical power, found them ideal.”

Kodo Horikawa (1894-1980)

Background of Horikawa Sensei

Taiso, the father of Horikawa Sensei, received a teaching license (kyoju dairi) in 1913 and Horikawa Sensei studied jujutsu with him. Horikawa Sensei started his training of Daito-ryu on May 12, 1914 while in his 21st year. He officially became an elementary school teacher in 1917 and later was on the staff of various elementary schools in northern Hokkaido. Sokaku Sensei visited the school Horikawa Sensei was working at and remained there for several days transmitting to him the secrets of Daito-ryu.

He received three scrolls of the inner mysteries (okugi) from Sokaku Sensei in 1931 at age 37. They were: the Hiden mokuroku, transmission scroll of secret arts in January; the Hiden Okugi Mokuroku, transmission scroll of mysteries of the art in June; and the Hiden Aiki Okugi Mokuroku, a transmission scroll of Aiki mysteries in October. In September of 1937 he completed the 84 techniques of Daito-ryu Nito-ryu Hiden (jo, chu, ge).

He also received the “Eisei Meijin” award for his long, distinguished service in the martial arts. Horikawa Sensei established the Kodokai in 1950 and became its president. In spite of his advanced age he remained hale and hearty while teaching Aiki Jujutsu in Sapporo, Muroran, Takigawa, Yubetsu and Kitami.

First Meeting with Horikawa Sensei

It was in 1965 that I first met Horikawa Sensei when he was traveling about Hokkaido teaching. The place was the Hokubukan in Muroran City.

I was teaching Judo there and heard that a Daito-ryu master was coming. I observed Horikawa Sensei’s instruction out of idle curiosity. I was expecting a fierce, muscular budo master and so the appearance of an old man only about 4 feet, 11 inches tall surprised me. My curiosity was excited and I felt that he was someone extraordinary.

Click here to read the entire article on Daito-ryu Master Kodo Horikawa

Apr
10

New ebook from Morihiro Saito: “Takemusu Aiki: Katatedori”

“A technical tour de force by Morihiro Saito that will open the eyes of aikido practitioners to the magnificence of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei’s art!”

This is the first of two technical volumes produced by Morihiro Saito Sensei in collaboration with Aiki News (precursor of Aikido Journal) based on a series of several hundred black and white photos shot inside the Iwama Dojo. “Takemusu Aiki: Katatedori” was published in 1979 and contains 22 techniques, all from katatedori, the single-hand grab. The text explaining the technical photos is produced both in English and Japanese to allow access to the widest possible reading audience of aikidoka.

Saito Sensei was known for his ability to organize and breakdown techniques into easily learnable components. This skill is readily evident in this manual as he guides readers step by step through the execution of techniques. For several of the techniques, the basic movement is accompanied by a progression to henkawaza (variations), and oyowaza (applied techniques).

Given the time frame in which the photos were taken (1978-79) and the available technology, Saito Sensei would stop his movements at key points in the movement to allow the photo to be taken. Because of this, the natural flow of movement is lacking in these images, a trait characteristic of technical manuals of this sort. By contrast, the pausing of a movement at critical points allows the reader’s eye to focus on essential details for deeper understanding.

"Takemusu Aiki" -- Morihiro Saito

At the time this photo series was taken, many foreign aikido students were coming to the Iwama dojo to spend varying periods of time as uchideshi, or live-in students. Saito Sensei’s reputation was growing steadily largely due to the publication of a series of five technical volumes titled Traditional Aikido appearing in the mid-1970s. Like this manual, these books had English and Japanese text, and were must-reading among serious practitioners of aikido in Japan and abroad. This widespread exposure to the Iwama aikido training curriculum created a strong demand for Saito Sensei to travel to foreign countries to conduct seminars. He received many invitations to teach abroad, the USA, Europe, Scandanavia, and Australia being his major destinations.

Saito Sensei was almost single-handedly responsible for the kindling of interest in the practice of the Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo. This aiki weapons’ repertoire was developed by Saito Sensei based on training patterns he learned from Founder Morihei Ueshiba during his intensive period of training in Iwama in the late 1940s and 50s. Therefore, readers should keep in mind that the empty-handed techniques shown in “Takemusu Aiki: Katatedori” are part of a vast curriculum that includes hundreds of taijutsu techniques as well as the rich technical content of ken and jo practices, all tied together as a cohesive whole.

Saito Sensei would mention many times both privately and in public that he was not free to develop his own style of aikido. This was due to his devotion to the Founder, and his roles as the dojo-cho of the Iwama Dojo and guardian of the nearby Aiki Shrine. Rather, he viewed his mission as dedicating his life to the preservation and faithful dissemination of the Founder’s aikido as he learned it in Iwama. Saito Sensei’s innate genius, tireless energy and herculean efforts to travel all over Japan and to foreign lands, and his many publications have assured his position as one of the most important and influential disciples of Morihei Ueshiba.

Morihiro Saito Sensei demonstrating kokyunage oyo technique from "Takemusu Aiki: Katatedori"

It is our pleasure to offer this rare training manual, “Takemusu Aiki: Katatedori,” in ebook form for the first time since its original publication in 1979. Readers will be able to download their PDF file within minutes of their purchase. This ebook is affordably priced at only $3.99. It is no longer necessary to pay for shipping, customs charges, or lost packages. Nor is there any need to wait! You can view the PDF book on your mobile device for portability and convenience. The “Katatedori” manual will be an invaluable learning aid for you in your aikido practice!

Click here to order Morihiro Saito’s ebook “Takemusu Aiki: Katatedori”
Apr
09

“More Morihiro Saito upcoming on the menu…,” by Stanley Pranin

We have been working at a fast pace to ready another ebook for you in quick succession. This is the other technical manual by Morihiro Saito Sensei alluded to in our advert on “Takemusu Aiki — Koshinage.” Saito Sensei’s other unknown manual from 1979 has a similar title: “Takemusu Aiki — Katatedori.” We think you’ll be pleased with the excellent technical content. I plan to have the new manual up tomorrow later in the day.

You literally gobbled up the first volume launched over the weekend, so we’re shifting priorities to allot a large part of our energies to producing such useful documents for aikidoka. One of the nice things about the ebook format is that people have been stepping forward from all over the world to get their hands — figuratively speaking — on this material.

I’m in a hurry now with class about to start. In any event, watch this space tomorrow for the new announcement. You won’t be disappointed!

Apr
09

“How a martial artist develops the mind, body, and spirit,” by James Neiman

“With all the skills they may have to protect themselves, it is ironic that some people are inflicting more damage to themselves than anyone else could possibly ever do to them.”

The subject of how a martial artist develops the mind, body, and spirit has received attention for thousands of years, and the promise of achievement in those areas is often a significant factor in the decisions of millions of people who pursue martial arts. How one maintains the body for success in martial arts is a subject deserving of serious attention, especially in these times.

At this point, we have access to incredible amounts of great information, miraculous athletic technology, and outstanding food sources such as never seen before in mankind’s history. This means that it is easier than ever to develop and maintain an ideal physique and health, at any age.

We also have access to some of the most dangerous “foods” and other substances ever invented, and are surrounded by technology and creature comforts that make it possible for people to become complacent in how they treat their bodies. A tragically high number of people can and do destroy their own bodies, in very short order, at every age.

So how are we to approach the subject of physical health with martial arts students? They need compelling reasons to overcome the momentum of their lives and make serious and permanent changes for the better. This is no easy task. I know many people involved in martial arts, some of them with high ranks, who still have not made such changes. With all the skills they may have to protect themselves, it is ironic that some people are inflicting more damage to themselves than anyone else could possibly ever do to them.
[Read more...]

Apr
09

“Aikido and Self-defense on the New York Subway,” by Grasshopper

Prior to moving to Manhattan, I used to live in Brooklyn, not too far from the Sheepshead Bay area. It used to be a safer neighbourhood, where you could walk home after 11pm and not run into any trouble. It has changed in the past few years as gangs moved in and crime appeared on the streets. As far as I can recollect, I only ran into a situation where I needed to protect myself in 1997 close to Coney Island Hospital. Since then it has been pretty safe.

A few weeks ago, I visited a friend who has lived close to Sheepshead Bay train station for almost fifteen years. We spent most of the day together, and it was time for me to go home. I walked a short distance to the train station, and as I was swiping my metrocard, I checked the electronic billboard for the next train to Manhattan. It hadn’t arrived yet, so I followed a teenage girl to the platform.

There were stairs to my right and left, she went left and I, assuming there were more people, went in the same direction. I was wrong. There she was with a teenage boy. They were talking. They seemed to know each other. As I got closer, I overheard a conversation and became slightly alarmed. The girl was trying to dissuade the boy she was talking to from continuing the conversation. I politely inquired if there was a problem and if she knew him. She told me he wasn’t leaving her alone. I turned towards the boy and asked him what was going on. He replied that she was playing around and that she knew him. The girl refused to acknowledge knowing him.

At last, I turned towards the boy and told him I was former self defense instructor, and it was in his best interest to walk away. The girl immediately jumped into a starting discussion and told him that I was going to make him pay for his actions and disturbance. I remember being extremely calm, the way I feel in Aikido classes most of the time.

As the train appeared in the distance, the boy turned and ran away towards the end of the train, away from both of us. I suggested to the girl that we walk to a car farther away just in case. As we boarded the train she moved further into the car and sat. I started thinking about entire incident. This was the first time in over twenty years that I helped to resolve self defense situation without actually getting into a fight or angry discussion.

After the train crossed the bridge and the doors closed at Chinatown train station, I got up and walked towards the girl I helped. I told her since she travels late at night she may want to learn something about self defense because the next time I won’t be there to help her. She mentioned her interest in boxing as one of the possible choices in self defense learning. My response was supportive of this idea.

I know how much Aikido has improved my life, but this incident stayed with me as it has shown me how much remaining calm is important in all sorts of situations and circumstances.

Apr
08

“Morihiro Saito’s Teachings Go Viral!” by Stanley Pranin

“The foot comes in the middle. Do atemi here. Your feet
form a “T” with your partner’s feet. Then extend your arm…”

As many of you know, yesterday we launched our very first ebook. It’s a rare technical manual entitled “Takemusu Aiki — Koshinage,” by Morihiro Saito Sensei.

I was really amazed and heartened by your enthusiastic response! Readers from over 20 countries around the world have purchased their digital ebooks in the first 24 hours, and had this wonderful manual saved on their computer hard drives within 5 minutes! How times have changed since I started doing this business 38 years ago.

The subject of koshinage–aikido’s hip-throws–made me recall the fact that Saito Sensei covers these techniques in some detail on a couple of the DVDs in our catalog, Lost Seminars, Volume 6 and Volume 7 to be precise. I decided to look through the subtitle files and found this little section where Saito Sensei describes and demonstrates koshinage basics.

I believe those of you who have just ordered the ebook will find Saito Sensei’s comments below fascinating to read since you will get an idea of how it was to train “live” with Morihiro Saito Sensei at one of his seminars:

Now we’ll turn to koshinage. First we’ll start from katatedori.
Starting from katatedori which is the easiest to do.

The main points of all koshinage are the same as this one.

I would like to have you start learning with this simple koshinage.

The foot comes in the middle. Do atemi here.

Your feet form a “T” with your partner’s feet. Then extend your arm. Point in that direction.

Then bring the small of your back to your partner’s stomach. Then look downward.

You must load him correctly since you won’t be able to throw him if he’s heavy.

1… 2…

If I talk for a long time, please sit comfortably.

There was a prestigious girls high school. The students were all smart.

There were some koshinage techniques on their tests. They were helping each other by jumping on their high falls.

I told them that was not right.

“You have to stop and completely load your partner on your back,” I said.

But they couldn’t do that. They all would jump when taking their falls.

I told them to load their partners on their backs but they couldn’t do it. They were all unstable.

So in order to learn correct koshinage, first don’t throw but practice loading your partner on your back.

If you can lightly load your partner you are doing well. If your partner feels heavy you need more practice.

Even if the load is heavy, some people will just go ahead and take the fall. So it’s better to stop there.

Here you look down, and if your partner feels light, there is no problem.

Let me explain from a katatedori grip. This is the variation where you put your head through.

This is the variation where you don’t put your head through.

This variation is done in the manner of shihonage.

All of these variations are different. Please learn the distinctions among them…

I’m very excited about what all of this means in terms of the direction of our research and publications from here forward. You have spoken loud and clear about what you materials you want and in what form you want them. We are listening… and we will deliver. It’s full steam ahead, 24/7!

Apr
06

“I Am The Universe!” by Nev Sagiba

A newborn is simple and lives in the moment unattached to the convoluted trivia the confused wrestle with. He or she embodies the whole Universe in each breath.

“Unless ye become as little children… the kingdom of harmony will evade you..”

A very old person about to die becomes as that child again.

How would it be to capture that simplicity whilst in our prime instead of having to lose our faculties before we can do so? The clarity of direct perception every Zen and other aspirant of illumined consciousness seeks. I AM THE UNIVERSE!

I am the Universe..

What did Morihei Ueshiba mean? What was he alluding to?

Recently I heard a goon with megalomaniac tendencies take exception at Ueshiba’s statement and disparage it.

Much like the grain of sand in the oyster, that got me working on making pearls out of the irritation.

The critic felt threatened by Ueshiba’s, “I am the Universe!” statement reaching for the ultimate. Yet, this individual is quite happy to make preposterous egotistic claims that don’t reach the ultimate, rather he flings about wild and unprovable claims to be the incarnation of the biggest and best of history. Once, the lunatic asylums were full of these bogus “reincarnations” claimants.

Ueshiba made the assertion: I AM THE UNIVERSE! Not Leonardo da Vinci returned or Genghis Khan or Napoleon and the like. Notice how no one ever claims to be a reincarnation of one of the millions of beggars, outcasts, criminals, disenfranchised or seven billion unknowns. The nutters always claim famous historical figures to bolster their present insecure frailty. Does it really matter if or who you were in a past life, if indeed such a thing exists as the rather blunt beliefs imply? If so, more so what you did with that experience. What lessons did you extract from the experience that make you a better contributor today. More important are your actions of today, right now. How you contribute usefully to adding value, nurturing and protecting life in the time you find yourself. Your footsteps not your words. The fruit of your actions are what count.

Famous characters of past history are long dead and gone. Forever. Dust. In some cases, their contributions remain. The Universe is not only eternal but also perennial and all the time right here now fully available free of charge. Well, there is a price, but that takes the form of misogi and shugyo, personal disciplines which clarify the body-mind connection. And perhaps how we measurably serve the world, the planet and all life for the greater betterment. To name just a few, Morihei, was responsible for preserving and protecting the Kumano region national parks*, developing Hokkaido, protecting fishermen’s right and numerous socially beneficial and uplifting reforms now nationally accepted in Japan. And of course he has beneficially influenced the world with the advent of Aikido. Posthumously, Ueshiba was honoured as a National Treasure! Not that he would care. He simply did what he knew to be right and had the courage to do so, in many cases in the face of a certain measure of personal risk.
[Read more...]

Apr
05

“Is My Martial Art Effective?” by James Neiman

So much has been written on the merits of each martial art: there are countless opinions on why one martial art is effective or another is not. Certainly many people have had their attention consumed by technical analyses and comparisons of various martial arts.

I have been teaching martial arts for many years and have trained in several, and over the decades have had a chance to explore numerous areas and put together an image of what it takes to be a complete martial artist. There are no shortcuts, and the path requires great dedication and long-term commitment.

When I hear questions like “Does this work?” or “Is this practical on the street?” in their various forms, I often also witness a form of distraction on the part of the student. I believe this distraction is a misdirection of the student’s attention on the particular technique rather than their own development.

It is tempting to go into a deep dive into the context in which a technique might be used, along with a variety of “what if” caveats, such as “what if the attacker is shorter /taller /stronger /faster/…?” The analysis at this point can be endless, and in my opinion, meaningless. In the intensity of conflict, all that discussion goes out the window, and what is left is one’s training: pure and simple.

I suggest an alternative approach: let’s not get distracted about which art is the best (for whatever purpose the student has in mind). Let’s assume that most of the martial arts out there are excellent for whatever their purposes are. After all, many very talented people dedicated their lives to ensuring those arts would be very good indeed, and can offer countless examples as proof. Let’s instead assume that each person is attracted to a particular martial art because of the complex variations in their humanity and personal history, and leave it at that. My assertion is that it doesn’t matter which art one chooses: it matters a great deal what one does with the training.
[Read more...]