Archives for May 2012


“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 5 – Tsuki Jodan Gaeshi Uchi” by James Neiman


This is the 5th in a 27-part series on the Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi presented by James Neiman, Dojo Cho of Shugyo Aikido Dojo, where martial arts instruction in Union City, California is offered. All the articles are paired with YouTube video demonstrations of each of the Suburi (click here to subscribe to the channel, and click here to view all the articles in this series). These paired demonstrations and articles are offered to Aikidoka who would like to more fully understand the precise mechanics within each of the Suburi, how they can be practiced in both solo and partner settings, and how one can align the Suburi with taijutsu to develop increasing competence and precision with both basic and advanced technique.

Tsuki Jodan Gaeshi Uchi

In this article we examine Tsuki Jodan Gaeshi Uchi, which is the 5th of the Aiki Jo Suburi in the series known as the Tsuki No Bu. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this Suburi. Tsuki Jodan Gaeshi Uchi is a forward thrust combined with a overhead block and strike. It builds on many of the same body dynamics as Choku Tsuki and Ushiro Tsuki, with an overhead deflecting block combined with a shomen strike. Tsuki Jodan Gaeshi Uchi is a complex movement that provides important perspectives on the most important core principles of Aikido: namely, getting off the line of attack, deflecting an attack, and counterattacking. The basic body movements from the Tsuki No Bu series are brought to maturity in this practice, combining atemi, the dynamic and fluid movement involving both uke and nage, and the kinetic chain involved in forward, backward, lateral, and turning movements. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 4 major sections:

  1. Drop
  2. Thrust
  3. Block
  4. Strike

The movement begins with the jo being held horizontally on the right side of the body while standing in hanmi with the left foot forward and angled slightly. Your right shoulder is back and relaxed. Drop your center by bending your knees while staying in an aligned posture, loading onto the ball of your right foot and coiling your right hip. This completes the drop movement.

[Read more…]


“Modern Aikido: Moves and Meaning,” by Tom Koch

One of our readers was kind enough to forward the following link that many will find of interest:

“Forget the politics that have divided the founder Morihei Ueshiba’s aikido into a half-dozen communities, all calling themselves aikido. There are, in truth, only two aikido camps today: one mostly hidden, some say forgotten, and the other ascendant.

The first is a fearsome martial art cobbled together from older Japanese styles, resulting in a pattern of off-balancing entries, devastating throws and effective joint locks. That was the system Morihei Ueshiba, also known as O-Sensei, used in 70 matches when adepts from other styles came by to ask for a “lesson.”

The second is a noncombat-related practice in which aikido moves are taught to advance Morihei Ueshiba’s social philosophy, one in which effectiveness is at best secondary to goals of personal balance and communal harmony. That is hombu aikido today, the discipline that’s advanced by the founder’s grandson, Moriteru Ueshiba, the current head, or doshu, of the style. That doesn’t mean the aikido moves he teaches are ineffective, only that martial excellence is, for him, a secondary concern….”

Click here to read the entire article on the Black Belt magazine website

Hi-res videos of Morihei Ueshiba unavailable elsewhere


Unlock the secrets to Aikido’s origins… The first and best technical book on Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu

“Find out what techniques Morihei Ueshiba learned from Sokaku Takeda!”

This 236-page volume is the first book in English to introduce the technical curriculum of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu as originally taught by Sokaku Takeda. Menkyo Kaiden Katsuyuki Kondo explains and demonstrates the 31 techniques of the ikkajo series of the Hiden Mokuroku, the first level of study in Daito-ryu.

The arts of Daito-ryu form the basis for most of the techniques of modern aikido, the martial art created by Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei. The international success of aikido has in turn rekindled great interest in Daito-ryu and the legendary figure of Sokaku Takeda.

This volume also features an historical essay by Aikido Journal Editor-in-chief Stanley Pranin on the life of Sokaku Takeda, his son the late Headmaster Tokimune Takeda, Menkyo Kaiden-holder Katsuyuki Kondo, and the present status of Daito-ryu.

The author, Katsuyuki Kondo, was born in Tokyo in 1945. He began his training in Daito-ryu aikijujutsu as a teenager under Tsunejiro Hosono and later Kotaro Yoshida, a friend and senior in Daito-ryu to Morihei Ueshiba. With an introduction from Yoshida, Kondo made periodic visits to Hokkaido starting in 1961 to practice under Tokimune Takeda Sensei. He continued his training under the Daito-ryu headmaster for 32 years.
[Read more…]


“Morihiro Saito, Keeper of the Flame,” by Stanley Pranin

“O-Sensei, free from the distractions of city life, engaged in extensive experimentation, and made tremendous strides both technically and spiritually.”

Morihiro Saito Sensei always emphasized his role as the preserver of O-Sensei’s postwar technique of the Iwama years, comprising the period of about 1945-1955. It was during this time frame that the Founder formulated his concept of “Takemusu Aiki,” that is, the spontaneous execution of unlimited technique perfectly attuned to a given set of circumstances.

O-Sensei’s art underwent a dramatic transformation during these years, discarding much of the rigidity and harshness of prewar technique in favor of the flowing, yet powerful techniques of the Iwama period. It was this stage of the Founder’s development that is identified with modern aikido.

Morihiro Saito at his last USA seminar in 2000

Iwama was O-Sensei’s laboratory. It was in this environment, free from the distractions of city life, that he engaged in extensive experimentation, and made tremendous strides both technically and spiritually. The technical repertoire of the Iwama years was especially rich. It included hundreds of taijutsu techniques, weighed equally with the regular practice of the aiki ken and jo.

Much of this technical content fell into disuse after the Founder’s passing. In fact, many of today’s practitioners have never been exposed to these techniques. The reason that the number of techniques practiced today is relatively small compared to the Iwama years has to do mainly with historical circumstances. Please have a look at my essay titled “Is O-Sensei Really the Father of Modern Aikido?” for more on this subject.
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Morihiro Saito shows you all the jo essentials: “Aiki weapons give you the edge in your training!”

“Aiki weapons practice strengthens the entire body, enhances hip
stability, and an understanding of maai.”

This is the first of two videos by Morihiro Saito covering all of the basics of the Jo curriculum as practiced in Iwama, Japan. These jo forms were compiled and refined by Saito Sensei based on his weapons training directly under Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. These videos were shot specifically for the serious practitioner interested in learning the Aiki Ken and Jo and include detailed explanations and different angle shots to facilitate understanding of important details.

Aiki Jo — Part 1 includes:

[Read more…]


Aikido Nippon Kan General Headquarters 2012 Summer Uchideshi (live-in student) Program

What is an uchideshi program?

The word uchideshi translates in English to mean “live-in student.” A student who joins in an uchideshi program lives at a dojo not only to train—every part of his or her daily life becomes part of the training as well. Traditionally in Japan, this kind of training the martial arts has been available only to those students who were earnest about dedicating their time for serious practice.

Nippon Kan’s uchideshi program has been in existence since its doors opened in 1978. At Nippon Kan, uchideshi students practice Aikido daily—usually two classes per day plus special practices. Uchideshi training does not end on the mat, however, and live-in students also participate daily in various duties from dojo maintenance (including cooking and cleaning) to assisting in dojo operations and special projects. Presently, there are on-site accommodations to house up to ten uchideshi.

Location: Nippon Kan General Headquarters, Denver, Colorado USA

Dates: August 1st — 31st, 2012


  • Aikido rank of Shodan or above
  • 18-30 years of age
  • Both male and female applicants accepted
  • Affiliation not a criteria-all affiliations or non affiliates welcome (Enrollment is confidential to avoid any association conflicts)

Purpose: International exchange and communication in a team Aikido practice-living environment. Nippon Kan General Headquarter dojo also has regular students of all ages and backgrounds which provides a rich environment for learning about many aspects of life in Denver.

Training Focus: Intensive Aikido bokken and jo to taijustsu relationship training; a training curriculum that you will be able to take back to your home dojo. Study of criteria and programs for successful independent dojo operations, including how to encourage positive interaction between your home dojo and your local community. How to encourage growth and stability in your home dojo through community involvement and support. 1st hand testimony on the history of Aikido from the time just before the passing of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba to present day by Gaku Homma, Nippon Kan Kancho and analysis of Aikido in our world today from his experience teaching in over 50 countries world-wide.

Benefits Provided:
By Nippon Kan:

  • All lodging and boarding
  • free of charge
  • Meals-lunch and dinner (except for Sundays): free of charge
  • All class fees: free of charge

Student Responsibilities:

    • $500.00 deposit that will be refunded upon successful completion of the course.
    • Personal daily hygiene and miscellaneous expenses
    • Round trip travel expenses (passport, visas, airline or ground travel tickets, insurance etc.)

How to apply: Submit resume, including photo and short explanation of why you want to join the program to Subject line: Summer 2012 Uchideshi Intensive Program Enrollment

Deadline for submission: June 30, 2012

Click here for full details and signup information


Koichi Tohei: Aikikai Hombu Dojo – 1962 featuring Terry Dobson, hi-res video

“Aikido’s first 10th dan puts on spendid demonstration featuring Terry Dobson!”

This film is a compilation of footage featuring the famous Koichi Tohei, then chief instructor of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. This is some of the best surviving footage of Koichi Tohei, especially considering its early date of 1962. Tohei Sensei conducts an aikido class performing a number of “ki” exercises as well as demonstrating free-style and multiple-attack defenses. Also appearing are Seiichi Sugano, Mitsunari Kanai, Nobuyoshi Tamura, Mitsugi Saotome, and American aikido pioneer Terry Dobson. This is Koichi Tohei at his best!

This rare film was shot by an American film-making team at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo, Japan in 1962. The planned documentary on aikido was never completed, and the 16mm footage remained in storage until its discovery by Stanley Pranin in California in 1985.

Tohei Sensei was one of the most influential figures in the international dissemination of aikido and later went on to establish a separate aikido organization with an emphasis on ki. He authored many books on aikido in Japanese and English in the 1960s and 70s. Technically and philosophically, his theories, curriculum, and pedagogy were central to the early development of aikido.

Koichi Tohei was born in 1920 and began his study of Aiki Budo in 1940. After World War II, he resumed is training in the art then called “aikido.” By 1952, Tohei had been awarded the 8th dan. For the next 10 years, he alternated between the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo and teaching in Hawaii, where he had established a successful aikido network. Tohei was the chief instructor of the Hombu Dojo for many years until his resignation from the Aikikai in 1974. He created his own independent organization the Ki no Kenkyukai and referred to his art as Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido, that is, aikido with mind and body coordinated. He taught actively until his final years and passed away in 2011 at the age of 91.

Duration: 9:16
File size: 137 mb
Frame size: 720 x 480


“Off to Paris in June,” by Stanley Pranin

I have been invited to give a lecture in Paris the third weekend of June by ChristianTissier Sensei. I have prepared an essay titled “How War and Religion Shaped Modern Aikido” as the subject of my presentation on this occasion. Since the audience will consist of French speakers, I will be giving my lecture in French.

I have just completed the English text and would like to invite two French translators to take on the task of translating the text, each doing one half of the work, about 6-8 pages. I would be happy to work out an arrangement with each translator for compensation for the work.

If you are a native French speaker experienced in translation, knowledgeable about aikido, and would be interested in doing this work, please contact me here.

I will publish the English version of this essay on Aikido Journal after the event.

Thank you very much for your assistance.

Stan Pranin


Magazine: Aikido Journal Number 102, 1995

“Even if you cut off my head, it has no more effect than stroking the spring breeze that whispers now across these fields.”

[Read more…]


Quotable quotes from Morihiro Saito’s “Takemusu Aikido: Background & Basics”


“O-Sensei taught tai no henko, morotedori kokyuho,
and suwariwaza kokyuho in every practice!”

“Daily practice begins with tai no henko. First, open your fingers. The basis of ura movements is footwork.”

“If you look at your partner even slightly, his body will separate from you and there will be too much space between you.”

“In ura techniques, parry the strike from the gyaku hanmi position. In this way, you will be able to execute a rapid and effective technique.”

“You must use an escape to free one of your hands in order to do the technique. One way to free your hand naturally is to open your fingers and turn your body strongly inward to unbalance your partner.”

“O-Sensei said: ‘After breaking your partner’s balance, step in with your left foot with the feeling of knocking your opponent over and draw your right foot up behind your left.’”

“… as stated in ‘Budo’, “When pinning your opponent to the ground it is essential that his arm be at a right angle to his body'”

“Bring him down with a feeling of circular pushing and turning. O-Sensei said: “Don’t merely twist your partner’s arm.’”

“The method of parrying a yokomenuchi attack is described in the section on yokomenuchi training in ‘Budo’, “Invite your opponent’s yokomen strike with your ki. Advance with your right foot while striking the left side of your opponent’s head with your right tegatana.'”

“In shomenuchi ikkyo omote, the person throwing initiates the technique.”


“You will sometimes find it impossible to grab the wrist from above if you parry it too close to the hand. Many people fail in the execution of this technique because they are careless in parrying the strike.”

“As in ikkyo omote, thrust your left foot forward in a large motion to unbalance your partner for the pin.”

“When executing omote, or entering techniques from ryotedori, begin from ai hanmi with you and your partner in the same stance with the same foot forward. Ura, or turning movements, begin from gyaku hanmi, with both of you in a stance with your opposite foot forward.”


Aikido Journal now on Twitter!

I set up a Twitter account today, belatedly. The nature of my work flow is such that the Twitter model is very convenient in that a lot goes on that I don’t blog about it, but saying something succinct in 160 characters is very doable.

Having said that, I would invite you to follow us @AikidoJournal to stay abreast of the latest goings on.




Morihiro Saito: Takemusu Aikido, Volume 4 — Kokyunage… “The most important techniques of Aikido!”

“Kokyunage are the most numerous and important techniques of Aikido!”

Takemusu Aikido, Volume 4: Kokyunage is the fourth volume of a comprehensive technical series covering the aikido of the Founder Morihei Ueshiba, as taught in Iwama, Ibaragi Prefecture following World War II. This manual presents some 80 variations of kokyunage, among the most important techniques in the aikido curriculum. Bilingual, Japanese and English.

Volume 4 is profusely illustrated with more than 450 photos and includes step-by-step explanations of each technique. The contents of this volume include kokyunage techniques executed from the following attacks:

78 techniques: shomenuchi (5 techniques), yokomenuchi (7 techniques), katatedori (11 techniques), ryotedori (8 techniques), morotedori (6 techniques), sodeguchidori (3 techniques), sodedori (2 techniques), munadori (5 techniques), katadori (2 techniques), tsuki (9 techniques), kosadori (3 techniques), ryoerijime (3 techniques), ushiro attacks (14 techniques)

From Preface:

I have been planning to publish a volume dealing with kokyunage for some time. Kokyunage are the most numerous and important techniques in aikido, hence my decision to devote an entire volume to the subject. If kokyunage techniques were to be removed from the art, it would no longer be worthy of being called aikido. — Morihiro Saito

Pages: 204
File size: 145 mb
Dimensions: 7″ x 10″