Archives for May 2012


Stanley Pranin’s Video Blog: “Should Weapons be a Part of Aikido Training?”

“Where did the Founder Morihei Ueshiba stand on this issue?”

Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin offers a video blog in which he discusses the issue of whether or not Aikido training should involve the practice of weapons. He provides some historical background and explains the reasoning for the two major viewpoints on this subject.

Finally, he discusses two DVDs by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, that present the Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo curriculum.

Click here for information on Morihiro Saito’s Aiki Ken video now in hi-res format

O-Sensei’s Weapons Legacy: Morihiro Saito: Aiki Ken, hi-res video

“The Aiki Ken legacy taught in Iwama in the postwar
years by the Founder Morihei Ueshiba”

This is the first of a two-DVD set covering most of the Iwama Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo curriculum expertly demonstrated by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan. These ken forms were compiled and refined by Saito Sensei based on his weapons training directly under Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in Iwama during the years immediately following World War II. This video provides detailed instruction on the Aiki Ken, as well as demonstrations of each sword movement in an easily-understood manner.


  • 7 ken suburi – solo basic sword striking, turning and thrusting movements.
  • Ki musubi no tachi – paired sword blending exercise.
  • 5 kumitachi – paired sword kata containing striking, blending and thrusting movements
  • Henka no tachi – paired practices with variations of the kumitachi

Sample explanations by Saito Sensei from the video:
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“Interview with Hiroshi Isoyama,” by Stanley Pranin

“It’s pointless to perform an atemi unless your strike
is the kind of strike that would have a real effect.”

Hiroshi Isoyama entered the Iwama Dojo of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba as a boy of 12. He is one of a few rare individuals—another being Morihiro Saito—to have been exposed to the founder during the period of maturation of modern aikido. Isoyama is passionate about his study of aikido and this dynamism is reflected in his explosive technique. Now retired after a long career in the Air Self Defence Force, Isoyama is devoting full time to his pursuit of training and teaching. He is becoming increasingly well-known internationally as well and has frequently traveled abroad in recent years.

Aikido in Iwama Following the War

Aikido Journal: Please tell us how you got your start in aikido.

Isoyama Sensei: It was back in 1949, which as you know was a very difficult time for Japan. My family ran an inn. Various kinds of people came to stay there, including members of the yakuza, and given that fact, I thought it would be foolish not to learn some kind of martial art. It happened that the local aiki dojo (it wasn’t called “aikido” yet, and the dojo would come to be called the “Aiki Shuren Dojo”) had just begun children’s classes, so I went with some other kids from the neighborhood to join. I was twelve at the time.

O-Sensei was still living in Iwama then?

Yes, it was only after about 1955 that he gradually started making trips away from Iwama. O-Sensei taught the evening children’s classes.

Was the instruction the same as that at the Hombu Dojo in Tokyo?

I don’t know what the instruction in Tokyo was like then, but he used to go up and take hold of the wrist of all of the students individually and teach them that way. He himself didn’t take ukemi, but he would do whatever the technique was -shomenuchi ikkyo for example—to each person on the mat individually while everybody watched. He never gave any particularly detailed explanations.

There were no tatami mats in that dojo, so the training could be quite painful. That was one reason it was difficult to get people to come train. After a number of years they finally did put tatami in the dojo, but we had been doing it on the wooden floor for so long that at first we had trouble adjusting. If you happened to smack your head on the wooden floor it would make a big noise, but the pain never seemed to penetrate your whole head. After we put the tatami in, though, the pain would hit you right to the core. Naturally, the way we took ukemi changed when we moved from the wooden floor to the tatami mats.

Who was at the dojo back then besides Saito Sensei?

Early photo taken in Iwama in mid-1950'sin front of Aiki Shrine. Isoyama is second from right while Morihiro Saito is second from left.

There were people the late Takeo Murata, Sakae Shimada (present Ibaraki Prefectural Federation chairman), and Sachio Yamane. In any case, as I said there were not many people training there at the time. Also, Kunio Oyama, who later became a student of professional wrestler Rikidozan, and people like that were there as uchideshi.

I understand that you eventually joined the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.

Yes, I joined the Air Self-Defense Forces and was sent to Chitose in 1958.

Did you form an aikido club there in Chitose?

Yes. At first my only students were members of the American military police, but eventually I was asked by the commander of the garrison to teach members of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces as well. I learned English then, too, out of necessity.

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“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 4 – Tsuki Gedan Gaeshi” by James Neiman


This is the 4th 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 Gedan Gaeshi

In this article we examine Tsuki Gedan Gaeshi, which is the 4th of the Aiki Jo Suburi in the series known as the Tsuki No Bu.

In summary, Tsuki Gedan Gaeshi is a forward thrust combined with a downward turn. It builds on Choku Tsuki and Ushiro Tsuki, and for the first time the practitioner encounters a suburi with turning dynamics. Tsuki Gedan Gaeshi is a complex movement that provides important perspectives on the role of atemi, the dynamic and fluid movement involving both uke and nage, and the kinetic chain involved in turning movements. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 4 major sections:

  1. Drop
  2. Thrust
  3. Gather energy
  4. Turn

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Magazine: Aikido Journal Number 119, Spring 2000 — Hiroshi Isoyama meets Steven Seagal

“How can someone like you, who can throw all of us so easily,
be thrown around like that by an old man?!”

Aikido Journal Number 119, Spring 2000

Hiroshi Isoyama with Steven Seagal, Los Angeles, 1998


     ● Editorial – Aikido: A Restatement of Universal Truths, by Stanley Pranin
     ● Letters and Threads
     ● Interview with Hiroshi Isoyama, 8th dan, by Stanley Pranin
     ● My Career in Yanagi-ryu Aiki Jiu Jitsu, by Don Angier
     ● Takemusu Aiki (4), by Morihei Ueshiba
     ● Interview with Mariye Takahashi (1), by Stanley Pranin
     ● Everything in Black and White, by David Lynch
     ● Interview with Walther von Krenner, by Stanley Pranin
     ● Aikido and Independence, by Peter Goldsbury
     ● Takemusu Aikido — Yokomenuchi yonkyo omotewaza, by Morihiro Saito
     ● Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu Takumakai — Hijinobashi Aiki, by Takeshi Kawabe & Hakaru Mori
     ● O-Sensei’s Songs of the Way, by Seiseki Abe
     ● Virtue of the Sword, by James Williams
     ● Heard in the Dojo

Price: $.99
Pages: 68
File size: 29.5 mb
Dimensions: 8.5″ x 11″

Note: The Table of Contents of this PDF file features clickable links. From the “Contents” page, simply click on the article title you would like to access to be taken immediately to the relevant page in the magazine.


“A Moral Paradox of Martial Training” by Charles W. Wright, Ph.D., Nidan Aikido

An essay presented to the Society for the Study of Philosophy and Martial Arts at the 2009 meeting of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Society.

Abstract: It is widely accepted by practitioners that at least one aim of martial training is moral development. It is equally well known that proficiency in a martial discipline often fosters egocentrism. I propose to examine this tension between the moral aspirations of martial discipline and the all too familiar failings of many advanced practitioners from the perspective of evolutionary biology and social psychology. First I will review the origins of what I call the moral imperative of Aikido and the role that perspective taking in Aikido training can play in opening the door to moral development. I’ll then consider how certain evolved propensities that organize human behavior – the pursuit of social status and in-group solidarity – can commandeer martial training that could be directed toward moral self-cultivation. The capacity of Aikido to support the development of empathic awareness of others will be, so to speak, bypassed while the discipline is pressed into the service of status seeking and in-group solidarity. I will conclude with some reflections on the significance of these evolved dispositions for the project of moral self cultivation.

I start with what I hope is a relatively uncontroversial claim, which is that responsible practitioners of traditional martial arts suppose that one aim of martial training is the cultivation of moral character. Needless to say, there is quite a lot packed into the qualifiers “responsible” and “traditional”. Implicit in them are claims to the effect that, for example, training in mixed martial arts as preparation for competition in the Ultimate Fighting Championships or some such will not share this goal. I could be wrong, though. Despite my prejudices, there could well be some kind of morally commendable development of character taking place in such training venues. Still, I don’t want to get bogged down just now in parsing the varieties of moral virtue that different martial forms and aspirations might or might not cultivate. So I shall simply and hopefully assert that some martial practitioners explicitly endorse the aspiration that their training should foster some kind of moral development. It is to this aspiration I want to turn my attention.

Let me now also quickly narrow the scope of my discussion to Aikido, because this is the martial art with which I have most extensive experience. It may be the case that the dynamic that I describe here is equally true of practitioners of other martial arts. I strongly suspect that it might be, but I have neither the experiential or evidentiary basis for making such claims.

I. The Moral Imperative of Aikido
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“Can you type Japanese or OCR Japanese text?” by Stanley Pranin

We are looking for Japanese volunteers for a very interesting and important historical translation project. In order to ease the work burden on the translators, we would like to get assistance from volunteers who can either type or perform OCR on clearly written Japanese text. A sample will be provided on request.

We have already successfully completed a test translation and would like to launch the full-scale project.

If you would like to become part of the team that will prepare text for the translators, please indicate your interest below and we will send more information.

Thank you!

Stanley Pranin


“Make Your Own Drugs,” by Nev Sagiba

I’m going to reveal a secret here. Something the authorities don’t want you to know; and more so drug peddlers, is that you can legally make your own drugs and there is nothing they can do to stop you.

What’s more its FREE! Well almost, there are some raw materials required and you need to care for the lab.

Now if Stan, dared publish this, I bet that by now I’ve got your attention.

How would you like to have access to a vast array of drugs of your choice including THE BEST HAPPY DRUGS IT IS POSSIBLE TO PRODUCE, strength drugs, yes even steroids of better quality than you can buy anywhere – and totally safe ones!

Don’t laugh. This is for real.

Included are energy drugs, sleep making drugs, waking up drugs, depression drugs, anti-depressant, pain killing drugs, personality drugs, potentials drugs, mood drugs, co-ordination drugs, skill drugs, health drugs, life extension drugs, quality of being drugs, feel-good drugs AND SO MUCH MORE..CHEMISTRY GALORE… AND ALL FREE!

Guaranteed no adverse side effects!

And totally undetectable as being in any way illegal, by any test known to man.

Athletes of the world line up.
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Ebook: “Aikido Densho” Technical Manual by Morihei Ueshiba’s Biographer!

Aikido Densho is an 80-page training manual featuring some 200 photos of
the techniques taught by Morihei Ueshiba during the Aiki Budo period”

We are pleased to announce the publication in ebook form of an almost totally unknown training manual compiled by Kanemoto Sunadomari, Morihei Ueshiba’s biographer. Kanemoto Sunadomari was from a family of devout Omoto believers and was the elder brother of Kanshu and Fukiko Sunadomari. He began his training in an earlier form of aikido in 1928 after observing a demonstration by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in Ayabe.

Kanemoto maintained a long relationship with Morihei that lasted until the end of the latter’s life. In 1969, he published the first biography of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei after having conducted research for many years and gathering documents with the assistance of his siblings. Kisshomaru Ueshiba cites passages from Sunadomari’s book in his later biography of his father published in 1977.

Aikido Densho is an 80-page training manual featuring some 200 photos of the techniques taught by Morihei Ueshiba during the Aiki Budo period starting from the the late 1920s through the 1930s. Given the time frame of Kanemoto’s study under Morihei Ueshiba, the techniques covered in this manual reflect an early stage in the development of Morihei’s art. As such, this technical volume warrants a thorough study along with such documents as the Noma Dojo photos series and the 1938 training manual “Budo.”
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“My Experience with Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei,” by William Gleason

“Yamaguchi Sensei’s movements were often so fast that even the high- ranking teachers sometimes had trouble taking his ukemi!”

Let me begin with the events that led up to my discovery of aikido and eventually to the meeting with my first teacher, Yamaguchi Seigo Sensei. By late 1960, after a competitive career as a champion gymnast, I had finished with high school or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that high school had finished with me. In any event, I left behind that entire minute society which claimed to be an accurate representation of the greater world outside. Fortunately I had friends from the university who were part of the greater bohemian society of “Dinkytown” in Minneapolis and I begin to spend time on the music scene of the university campus at a place called the Ten O’Clock Scholar. I would go in the evenings to listen to Bob Zimmerman (Dylan), Dave Ray, and Johnny Koerner and was so inspired by the music that I became a guitarist myself.

It was the time of the folk/blues revival, when black people like Big Joe Williams were first being allowed to play on campus. It was party time. The music, as well as the drinking, often went on until daylight. After the coffee houses and bars closed the musicians would gather at house parties, set up their instruments in different rooms, and provide free entertainment until the early hours of the morning. I identified with and even felt a spiritual connection to those wandering musicians who lived lives of freewheeling non-attachment and made enchanting music out of their difficulties and hardships.

One Sunday afternoon I was celebrating with friends at the Eloise Butler flower gardens in Minneapolis. We were relaxing, just hanging out in the grass when I suddenly felt a great sense of clarity. Somehow I knew that something in my consciousness had changed. I saw that there was a great perfection in everything and that everyone was a part of that perfection, even if we were unaware of it. I interpreted this great shift in my way of thinking as a genuine spiritual experience.

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Seigo Yamaguchi: A Seminar in Paris, 1987, Part 1, hi-res download… “He looked like a giant, his ki seemed to extend everywhere!”

“When he walked onto the mat he carried an undeniable authority which had nothing to do with rank or position”

Click here to access video in Aikido Journal Store

This is Part 1 of the first publicly available video featuring famous Aikikai Hombu Dojo instructor, Seigo Yamaguchi. The video was taken at a large seminar in Paris, France hosted by Christian Tissier in 1987. Yamaguchi Sensei, 8th dan, was one of the most important of the first generation of aikido instructors of the postwar era. He taught at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo for several decades until his passing in 1996. Having now become nearly a legend, Yamaguchi Sensei influenced several generations of practitioners within the Aikikai system during his career including many of today’s senior instructors of the Headquarters school.

Yamaguchi Sensei’s aikido had a unique flavor that was appealing to thousands of aikidoka who came into contact with him during his long teaching career. His style was characterized by a powerful, spontaneous technique adapted freely to rapidly changing circumstances. His movements ranging from soft to explosive must be seen to be appreciated. The present video represents a rare look at Yamaguchi Sensei in his prime during a seminar held in Paris, France in 1987. Now aikido practitioners everywhere will have an opportunity to experience his instruction and superlative technique for the first time ever!

This invaluable program is available with complete subtitles in English for greater accessibility to an international audience.
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Shoji Nishio: “Aikido’s Innovative Genius,” by Stanley Pranin

“If you stand naturally you can enter immediately when it appears that your
opponent is about to move. When your opponent moves you have already won.”

The young are often moved to action by heroic images. Like their heroes, they long to become strong and just. As they are young and inexperienced, the path most immediately obvious to them is that followed by their heroes before them. Uncritical imitation is the first step in the quest of the young to become like their heroes.

From time in memoriam, the warrior-soldier is the most likely candidate for a culture’s heroes in that most nations have armies and engage in warfare. In our modern world, where the actual battles now take place in third-world proxy nations, the martial artist has risen to the warrior-soldier level in the eyes of our young due mainly to the impact of the mass media.
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