Archives for June 2012


“Ki and The Cloud,” by Nev Sagiba

“Your thoughts precede you, ki leads, so be careful what you ask for.”

Do you hog data on your server and spend on more space and backup drives? Or do you run risks “out there” in “the cloud” where you could lose it all to malicious threats, accidents, a major virus or a crash?

Which is really more lasting and secure?

Today many of us are daily confronted with such choices. Does all this internet stuff resonate sympathetically with life itself? With money for example, how much to invest, how much to spend and how much to hold on to as it loses value daily?

How much is truly essential data and how much merely junk you are attached to?

Some of the most sophisticated systems can retrieve complete data from fragments. But they have to be the right fragments. How can this be? It appears to make no sense.

What are these key fragments?

What is the balance? Is the universe and nature similar?

The internet and computer servers are another analogy that reflects the universe. Nothing in the universe can depart from being bound to reflect attributes of its completeness.

What is the bridge that links us individually and collectively to the universe?

In navigating a balance, security is everything. Loss of information is kindred to dementia with the attendant loss of function.

Can you afford it? Where does nature keep the stored reference material? Undoubtedly in our genes but also in our predispositions, memes, sanskaras… call them what you will, these are habits of repetitive doing.

If so what can you “take with you” after that final breath certain to us all?

On Earth we don’t live in a vacuum. Time, gravity and opposites interplay constantly. Life’s journey is an opportunity, but it can also be a roller coaster. Even a storm.

In life as a sentient intelligence, depending on what we think and do, we unfurl some or many of a vast array of qualities and tendencies.

What happens to these subtle nuances of universal expression? Do they just dissolve? Do they travel? Do they keep coming back to unfold some more?

Nature’s great law: “Use it or lose it,” comes into play here. Our 4.6 billion year evolution solid as it appears is also fragile. Our life supporting systems exist in an operating system still in the making on a thin biosphere which is relatively recent.
[Read more…]


Ebook: “Koshinage” Technical Manual by Morihiro Saito — The most complete treatise ever compiled on aikido’s hip throws!

“A rare technical manual that teaches you everything
you need to know to master koshinage techniques!”

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.” Saito Sensei’s uke in these photos is Jason Yee of California who was an uchideshi in the Iwama Dojo at that time.

All together, two manuals were published, this one on koshinage, and an earlier volume presenting numerous techniques from katatedori grabs. The preparation of these manuals took the form of Saito Sensei tape-recording explanations for the respective techniques while viewing photo layouts. From this, a Japanese text version was created which was then translated into English.

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. Minor layout changes–mainly the alignment and centering of elements on the page–were made using photo editing software to enhance the final appearance of the ebook. Books like this in PDF format offer a number of advantages over of the printed medium, most notably the ability to zoom in on photo details, a great aid in the study of these techniques.
[Read more…]


“O-Sensei’s Spiritual Writings: Where did they really come from?” by Stanley Pranin

“The published books containing quotations attributed to Morihei Ueshiba available in various Western languages are based on “sanitized” Japanese versions of Morihei’s words.”

Recently, due to the publication of a series of books whose authorship has been attributed to Morihei Ueshiba, founder of aikido, I have felt compelled to weigh in on the subject of what O-Sensei actually did write during his career as a martial artist. The answer is in brief, “almost nothing.”

Works attributed to him–both before and after the war–were based on his spoken words and lectures rather than on texts that he had composed himself. They were transcribed and edited primarily by his son, Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and by several trusted students having varying degrees of literary skills. This is especially the case after World War II. Much of what we think of as the spiritual writings of Morihei is based on material published in the “Aikido Shimbun” of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo starting in 1959 and continuing following his passing in 1969. What was published in the “Aikido Shimbun” as “Doka” (Songs of the Way) were actually culled from heavily edited transcriptions of tape-recorded talks and lectures given by O-Sensei inside the dojo and elsewhere.

To understand the rationale for the editing of Morihei’s remarks, one must take into consideration the times and psychology of the Japanese during this period. World War II had recently ended, and much of the population were either direct participants, or deeply affected by the war and its outcome. Japan had acquired the stigma of a defeated nation, and many Japanese wished to distance themselves from all things associated with the conflict and those that had led the country into it.

During the early postwar period, subjects related to Japan’s military and political institutions, State Shinto, and the heavy destruction wrought upon the country were topics many Japanese chose to avoid due to the painful associations they held. Moreover, Morihei’s active role in teaching at numerous military installations during the 1930s and early 40s was a subject that the Aikikai chose to mention only in passing for understandable reasons.

Given Morihei’s tendency to speak using religious terminology and concepts, and the difficulty modern Japanese had in interpreting his meaning, the decision-makers at the Hombu Dojo chose to edit O-Sensei’s words in an attempt to make them more palatable to the postwar generation. Another important consideration in this decision was the fact that the effort to disseminate aikido on foreign soil was in full swing. It was thought that foreign enthusiasts of the art would be incapable of understanding such religious imagery anyway, and that some might take offense considering that many early practitioners abroad were themselves war veterans, or adversely affected by the war.
[Read more…]


Video download: “Morihiro Saito: Jodori – Jonage”

“The authoritative presentation of Jodori and Jonage
techniques by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan!”

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.

This video was shot inside the traditional Iwama Dojo where filming was normally not allowed. The occasion for the videotaping was the visit of a group of California aikidoka, led by Pat Hendricks and Bernice Tom, who join in training with the uchideshi of the day.

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.

Price: $3.99
Duration: 22:54
File size: 343 mb
Frame size: 720 x 480

This rare video will provide you with expert instruction in the advanced techniques of jodori and jonage under the tutelage of Morihiro Saito, 9th dan. You will be watching your video within minutes of your purchase. This video 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!

* Please log in before proceeding. After completing your purchase, go to “My Accounts” on the left sidebar where you will find the link allowing you to download your content.


“Aikido – 9 Tips to help you safely recover from injuries” by Dunken Francis

Photo credit -

“Both of these guys are very dedicated and are
already getting frustrated at missing regular training.”

These first 5 steps are taken from a neat little site “EHow” which seems to have advice on pretty much everything!

Step 1

Place a small strip of red tape on your uniform, over the injured area. A patch of red tape on your shoulder indicates that it’s still healing. Your partners appreciate this courtesy communication to take it easy.

Step 2

Attend the beginner’s class at your dojo, even if you are an intermediate or advanced practitioner of the art. Take this chance to focus on basic techniques at a slow pace to revive your muscle memory. Work joyfully with the people in class who really are just beginning. You carry valuable knowledge, and helping someone else will help you to remember how much you have learned.

Step 3

Take two classes a week for four weeks. Then, add a third class per week. If you like to train more than that, gradually add more classes. Even if you’ve been working hard in your recovery exercises, give your body time to get used to your return to Aikido.

Step 4

Write down on index cards the names and descriptions of attack and response techniques. Carry the cards with you and review them periodically through the week. Visualize your successful execution of these techniques. This will help you remember movements that may feel rusty and awkward.
[Read more…]


Morihei Ueshiba’s dynamic art at age 51… a wonder to behold!

“Quite Probably the Most Spectacular Aikido Video of All Time!”

Of all of the surviving documents of the prewar era, perhaps the most important is the 1935 film of Morihei shot at the Asahi News company in Osaka. This film was shot in sound in 16mm format and runs slightly over 14 minutes. Morihei demonstrates many suwariwaza, hanza handachi (hanmi handachi), tachiwaza, multiple attacks, and sword and juken techniques. His partners are Shigemi Yonekawa and Tsutomu Yukawa. There are brief appearances by Takuma Hisa and Rinjiro Shirata.

Most of the techniques preserved in this film are advanced and are performed in a flowing style building up to a spectacular multiple attack finale! One is struck by the modernity of many of the techniques and the “ki no nagare” like style of execution. The visual and sound impact of this film is tremendous and it provides a window in time to the wonderful techniques of Morihei from that era. The influence of Daito-ryu techniques in this film is much less obvious compared to the techniques contained in Budo Renshu and the Noma Dojo photos, the latter series being taken very close in time to the Asahi film.

[Read more…]


“Interview with Koichi Tohei — Part 2,” by Stanley Pranin

Koichi Tohei at Ki Society Headquarters in Tokyo, c. 1996

“Budo, by its very nature, does not involve competitive fighting. If you examine the Chinese characters you will find they mean “the way of stopping the weapon.”

Mind-Body Unification (Shin Shin Toitsu) and Ueshiba Sensei

Ueshiba Sensei was an individual who showed what it means to exist in a relaxed state, to possess true ki, and to have a unified mind and body. His posture was as solid as a rock and you couldn’t budge him no matter how you pushed or pulled; yet he would toss me effortlessly without ever letting me feel that he was using any strength at all. I was astounded that such a person should actually exist in the world.

More than anything, what Ueshiba Sensei taught me was that a relaxed state is the most powerful. He himself was living proof of that.

I don’t think there is anyone these days who can truly demonstrate this the way he could. This truly wonderful quality that he took such great pains to develop— not stories about him pulling pine trees out of the ground and other nonsense—is what we should try to leave to future generations.

Why Ueshiba Sensei forbade shiai (matches)

Ueshiba Sensei did not allow shiai. In a real shiai the goal is to deprive your opponent of his power utterly and completely; failing to do that, you can’t claim victory. On the other hand, modern shiai are governed by rules that have been established for the sake of safety and to preserve the lives of the combatants, and it is within these rules that victory and defeat are determined.

Such contests, however, are actually sports, and therefore are not really shiai in the true sense of the word. Judo, for example, has been designed so that players can get up off the mat after being thrown any number of times. This is possible only because judo is a sport; in reality such a thing would not occur.

In the past, shiai meant that you either tried to kill or severely injure your opponent, or at least render him incapable of further resistance. Otherwise, the match would be considered unfinished and without a victor.

Koichi Tohei assisted by Terry Dobson, Tokyo, 1962

Budo, by its very nature does not involve competitive fighting. If you examine the Chinese characters you will find that they literally mean “the way of stopping the weapon.” You lay down your own weapon, and at the same time make your enemy lay down his. In other words, defeating people is not the goal; rather true budo is the completion and perfection of your own self. This is what Ueshiba Sensei always said.

To maintain our safety and preserve our lives we have to establish rules. But deciding victory and defeat within those rules automatically places us in the realm of sports. And Ueshiba Sensei was adamant all his life that aikido is a budo, not a sport.

What Ueshiba Sensei taught

Click here to login and read this entire free interview of Koichi Tohei, 10th dan, on the Aikido Journal Members Site


Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu: Conversations with Daito-ryu Masters by Stanley Pranin

“These records provide convincing evidence of the extent of Takeda’s influence in prewar martial arts circles and the prominent social standing of many of his students.”

Sokaku Takeda was one of the outstanding figures of 20th century Japanese martial arts. For over fifty years he taught his art of Daito-ryu aikijujutsu to nearly thirty thousand students, including Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Today, Daito-ryu is perhaps the best known of the Japanese jujutsu styles, but there has been surprisingly little information in print in any language on this fascinating and complex art. Daito-ryu aikijujutsu: Conversations with Daito-ryu Masters is the first book in English to explore the life of Takeda, the history of his art, and the techniques that are practiced in Daito-ryu today.

The heart of this book consists of a series of interviews with the leading exponents of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu–including several direct students of Sokaku– featuring Tokimune Takeda, Yukiyoshi Sagawa, Chieko Horikawa, Yusuke Inoue, Takuma Hisa, Keisuke Sato, Katsuyuki Kondo, Hakaru Mori and Seigo Okamoto. Also, a rare newspaper article from 1930 that spotlights Sokaku is featured.

In addition, Conversations with Daito-ryu Masters includes an authoritative essay on the life of Sokaku Takeda and the history of the art by Aikido Journal Editor-in-chief Stanley Pranin.

An excerpt from “An Introduction to Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu”:

There is strong argument for considering Sokaku Takeda, the disseminator of Daito-ryu aikijujutsu, as the leading jujutsu exponent of twentieth-century Japan. The art he perfected and taught to some thirty thousand students remains today the most vigorous of Japan’s classical jujutsu schools. Moreover, the Daito-ryu system constitutes the technical basis for modern aikido. Despite its relative importance within a martial arts context where most of its historical brethren have long ago disappeared or been transformed into sports, Daito-ryu has remained little known to the general public. This stands in contrast to the popular success both in Japan and abroad of its derivative art, aikido, the creation of Morihei Ueshiba.

To date, no in-depth history of Daito-ryu aikijujutsu or Takeda has appeared even though Sokaku’s activities are among the best documented of the major martial artists of the first half of this century. Active as an instructor for more than fifty years, Takeda kept meticulous track of the participation and payments of his students in the form of enrollment books (eimeiroku) and payments received ledgers (shareiroku). These records provide convincing evidence of the extent of Takeda’s influence in prewar martial arts circles and the prominent social standing of many of his students.

Price: $7.99
Pages: 218
File size: 239 mb
Dimensions: 7″ x 10″


Stanley Pranin to give lecture in Paris on Aikido history

Stanley Pranin of Aikido Journal will be giving a lecture on Aikido history in Paris on June 23. He is being invited by Christian Tissier, 7th dan, and the FFAAA organization to participate in their “Fete de l’Aikido” event.

Click here for the flyer announcing the event


“Sokaku Takeda in Osaka,” by Tokimune Takeda

“Sokaku’s concern for Morihei was like a father for his son.”

Tokimune Takeda (1916-1993)

Here I would like to record the relationship between Sokaku Takeda and the city of Osaka. This relationship also has a deep connection with both Morihei Ueshiba and Takuma Hisa who were the most outstanding disciples of Sokaku Takeda. First, I would like to describe how it was that Sokaku came to teach Daito-ryu in Osaka.

In 1929, Admiral Isamu Takeshita, who studied Daito-ryu with Sokaku Takeda, published an article in the magazine entitled “The Story of the Bravery of Sokaku Takeda.” In this article, he described how Sokaku became a budo instructor serving in the capacity of a bodyguard for Marquis Tsugumichi Saigo, an army general, and how he performed acts of bravery in various places. This article came to the attention of the Tokyo Asahi Newspaper Company which sent a journalist to Hokkaido in 1930 to interview Sokaku who was travelling around the northern island teaching.

In 1930 Sokaku was teaching a number of prominent persons in the area of the town of Abashiri. In July of the same year, Sokaku, then 72 years old, went to Koshimizu village in Kitami no kuni accompanied by Taiso Horikawa where he taught Daito-ryu to various leading citizens. It was at this time that Yoichi Ozaka, a reporter of the Tokyo Asahi Newspaper Company followed Sokaku Takeda and went to the Daito-ryu master who was staying at an inn in Koshimizu for the purpose of interviewing the subject of the above-mentioned article written by Admiral Takeshita. He hoped to gather information on Daito-ryu techniques, famous disciples and materials concerning the art.

Sokaku prohibited Daito-ryu from being transmitted to the general public and taught it secretly as a police tactics method and self-defense techniques for prominent people. Consequently, Sokaku would turn away reporters commenting that the art was “not a show.” But this time Sokaku took into account the fact that the Tokyo Asahi newspaperman had come from a great distance to follow him around in order to see him, and the Daito-ryu master willingly agreed to be interviewed. Mr. Ozaka was very impressed by the list of names of top martial artists and noted personages recorded as students of Daito-ryu. As soon as he returned to his office he wrote an article entitled “Ima Bokuden” (reference to Bokuden Tsukahara (1489-1571), founder of Bokuden-ryu tactics and known as a great swordsman) about Sokaku that included a photo. This article became known to martial artists all over Japan and Sokaku’s fame spread far and wide.

Click here to login and read the entire free article on the Aikido Journal Members Site


Screencast: Focus on History — “Morihei Ueshiba’s Ill-starred Mongolian Expedition,” by Stanley Pranin

“The fact that this photo has survived is nothing less than a miracle!”

Transcript of screencast

Hi, I’m Stanley Pranin, and welcome to another episode of “Focus on History”

Today, we have a fascinating historical photo that many of you will seeing for the first time.

Let me give you some background. This photo was taken in 1924 in Mongolia. The man on the right is a 40-year-old Morihei Ueshiba. Do you recognize him?

The other man is Masazumi Matsumura. Matsumura was, incidentally, one of the scribes who helped to take dictations of Onisaburo Deguchi’s lengthy account of his spiritual experiences that was published under the title of “Reikai Monogatari.” This work consists of 81-volumes and is usually translated into English as “Tales of the Spiritual World.” This massive collection is considered one of the sacred texts of the Omoto religion. Morihei had a complete collection of Reikai Monogatari in his personal library and and is said to have read the entire text.

Now, back to our story of the photo.

Both Morihei and Matsumura were among Onisaburo’s party that secretly traveled to Mongolia with the stated objective of “fulfilling Omoto’s ultimate ideal of spiritually unifying the East Asian continent and then the rest of the world.” It was obviously a very grandiose scheme.

There was very much a political and military aspect to Onisaburo’s Mongolian Expedition and he had close ties with the Japanese Kwantung Army –sometimes referred to as the “Kanto Army” — which had a growing presence on the continent. It was this army group that played a major role in the establishment of the Manchukuo–the Japanese-controled puppet government of Manchuria, that lasted from 1931 to 1945. Puyi –known as the “Last Emperor”– was the titular head of the government…

Duration: 6:17 minutes
Access: free

Click here to view the free screencast of Morihei’s Expedition to Mongolia


Aiki Jinja Taisai 2012 – Demonstrations by Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu and Mitsuteru Ueshiba Wakasensei

Each year since the passing of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei on April 26, 1969, the Aikikai Hombu Dojo has held a ceremony in commemoration of the Aikido Founder at the Aiki Shrine in Iwama, Ibaragi Prefecture. Now, 43 years after Morihei Ueshiba left us, his grandson Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu, and his son, Mitsuteru Ueshiba Wakasensei oversee the ceremony.

Participation in the Taisai, as the event is called, has grown in recent years to the point that over 500 guests crowd the grounds of the Aiki Shrine for the ceremony, including many from foreign countries. Guillaume Erard has produced a beautiful video hosted on Youtube that captures scenes from the 2012 ceremony featuring the demonstrations of Doshu and his son.

Click here to view the demonstrations by Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu and his son, Mitsuteru Ueshiba Wakasensei