Archives for September 2012


Download entire magazine in PDF: Aikido Journal Number 119, Spring 2000

“There is no enemy on the Way of true budo. True budo is the work of Love. It is the action of giving birth to and nurturing everything in nature, and not of killing or fighting.” – Morihei Ueshiba

Aikido Journal Number 119, Spring 2000


     ● 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

Click here to download the PDF file of Aikido Journal #119 free through October 10


Add Morihei Ueshiba’s Name Card to Your Collection of Aikido Memorabilia

“For those who believe that Morihei’s association with the Omoto religion became distant after the Second Omoto Incident of December 1935, this simple name card speaks volumes…”

For those who have come to believe that Morihei’s association with the Omoto religion became distant after the devastating consequences of the Second Omoto Incident of December 1935, this simple name card speaks volumes. This “meishi” was used by Morihei toward the end of his life and he is listed as the “President” of one of the Omoto religion’s most active arms. Historically speaking, the truth is that Morihei continued regular association with the Omoto after the war and, even visited Onisaburo Deguchi in Kameoka shortly before his death in 1948…

Click here to read the entire article and download a hi-res version of Morihei Ueshiba’s actual name card to your computer


“Why a Lifetime Study of Kuzushi?” by Nev Sagiba

From time to time I am beset with the realization at what a wonder of nature it is that a handful of dust, only a few litres of water and mostly air has been able to evolve and combine into an instrument of consciousness, sentience and mobility with warmth, feelings, understanding, the ability to be variously creative, make decisions and engage actions that lead to outcomes and consequences both wonderful and also stupid, self defeating and destructive as well.

That this could happen with four supportive posts is which may also provide better balance as well as mobility is easier to understand. Even easier to understand is those which crawl, slither or get about in various levels of aquatic environments.

But upright! Vertically balanced! Now that is some feat!

Learning to walk takes immense persistence for a human being. A process of alternating balancing and unbalancing to provide forward motion which speed may be modulated from a walk to a run. Every single one of us have been through this apprenticeship of a hundred thousand steps and falls before attaining the goal sought: Mobility. Then we spend the bulk of our waking life walking. Some more than others. Once having attained this skill we take mobility for granted and go through life variously useful or otherwise utilizing this ability to convey a head that hopefully thinks with some modicum of clarity balanced on a thin neck on a body most of us fail to care for as well as we devote to the four wheel buckets of rust, plastic and toxic fumes we too often use to convey this marvel of creation. We all too often neglect, abuse and misuse our primary vehicle. This body contains the navigation system – the five senses. The senses are the navigation system for that small portion of the surface of a planet we are privy to. The senses are limited windows having adapted from the Original full spectrum vibratory range (Kotodama) which whilst it embraces the Universe, we are mostly not conscious of, but which enables us to sustain a vast array of functions which allow life; body temperature, breath, sleep and other essentials for life suitable to this fragile surface environment.

Appreciation for this temporary gift is mostly attained by those who lose it. Remember the Big Yellow Taxi song?

In dotage, the reminder then returns like a nemesis, “From dust thou came and to dust thou shalt return.” This skill of balancing upright then becomes a burden and Nature begins to reclaim Her own, landed to us mostly unappreciated as we again begin to meet the Great Earth Mother with regularity. In life were too busy with “me” and other mindless roller coaster rides to care when it was possible to do so safely and to practice this skill as a personal discipline that will serve us in times to come: Ukemi. Time and gravity, the great juggernauts bring about our judgement during our seeming departure.
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Rare video: Morihiro Saito demonstrates outdoors in Iwama in 1964

“The Early Phase of Iwama Aikido Technique”

This rare film captures Morihiro Saito Sensei performing taijutsu, and basic Aiki Ken and Jo movements outdoors in the fields of Iwama. Saito Sensei is a young 36 years old, and this film represents some of the earliest surviving footage of this master. Saito Sensei’s performance of various basic techniques is somewhat different from that of his later years. The same can be said of his Aiki Ken and Jo suburi and kata, which predate the sharpness and sophistication of his later technique. Interestingly, you will notice that the 31-jo kata has a different ending in this film!

Click here to view the video Morihiro Saito demonstrating taijutsu and Aiki Ken and Jo techniques in 1964 in Iwama


Video: Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba demonstrates Shomenuchi Kotegaeshi

Aikido Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba demonstrates the Shomenuchi Kotegaeshi technique at normal speed and in slow motion. The present Doshu is the grandson of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, and son of the Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba. He is the family heir to the art of aikido and head of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo organization…

Click here to view the video of Moriteru Ueshiba teaching shomenuchi kotegaeshi


“Performing the usual under unusual circumstances,” by Matt Hill and Miriam Zacarelli

Does Aikido work outside the dojo? What do we mean by this? Are we talking purely about combat effectiveness or are we also talking about the development of a character which enables us to blend with and stay focused and balanced in the midst of stressful situations? The concept of the Aiki Woodlands courses came about during some reflection on making training real and stretching in unfamiliar environments.

The following account was written by an attendee on a ‘Woodlands Aiki’ course and I think illustrates very well just how important psyche, fear management and grounding are to our effectiveness in aikido and life. Whilst we all know the benefits that can be gained from training on a tatami, occasional outdoor training can bring certain elements of our aikido into sharp focus (think how much training Saito Sensei and O’Sensei did in the woods around Iwama). During outdoor training you can practice all of your normal training techniques and exercises on unfamiliar, uneven and unexpected terrain – performing the usual under unusual circumstances as the saying goes. This provides us with instant feedback and looks at our movement and especially our psyche through a different lens. You will notice as you read the article how little technique is mentioned and how much import is placed on ‘state’ or fear management. As an instructor this was quite enlightening. Have I been putting the focus in the right areas during most of my teaching?

Gradual exposure of students to controlled stressful situations, and giving them the tools to deal with these situations is essential to a holistic approach to martial arts teaching. This doesn’t have to be a sparring situation; real stress comes on unexpectedly and in an infinite variety of situations. During this article I refer to a wooded environment, but alleyways, buildings, streets etc. are also great locations to practice in.

Nature though, has a calming and energising effect that cities don’t seem to have. Many of the world’s oldest myths and fairy tales or parables have one getting lost in the wilderness, stumbling around, finding your way home and finding something out about yourself in the process. Turning the outdoor session into a two-day trip can have a magical effect. It can be physically demanding at times, but that is not the aim. Only the bare essentials are taken, so it is a chance to return, albeit for a short time, to a simpler way of life. A way of life that was, until very recently in our history, the way that we all lived. A way where we are interested only in the essentials of knowing where we are, where we want to get to, getting something hearty to eat, somewhere comfortable to sleep and learning new skills. Along the way people get a deeper understanding of the real spirit of the martial arts: A way to bring people together in serious, earnest endeavour and to really help each other to develop and grow in body mind and spirit.

As you read Miriam’s account it is easy to put yourself in her shoes (she has a gift for writing that I don’t have). It is also easy to pull out the training that was going on for the duration of the whole trip and not just the sessions devoted to ‘teaching’. In this way, I think that an extended outdoor session or course can be worth months of training at an hour long class. I hope that you enjoy Miriam’s account:
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Zen and Aikido: Penn State Students… and You Too! — Week 2 Assignments

“Zen training was part of the Samurai’s daily training and is
sewn into the fabric of Japanese culture and daily life”

Hello Aikido students. This week your assignment is to:

1. Download the book “Zen and Aikido” and read the Introduction and first chapter.

2. Watch the video “An Introduction to Aikido” by Yoshimitsu Yamada.

3. Watch the video “Yoga Warm-ups for Aikido” by Stan Pranin Sensei.

1. Zen training was part of the Samurai’s daily training and is sewn into the fabric of Japanese culture and daily life. Before each class we line our shoes up, enter and sit a certain way, and perform “Mokuso”. This is a beginning to understand Zen and the concept of “Awase” – to blend. In class we first learn to blend with ourselves and our surroundings through sitting and light exercises that include general fitness, Yoga and Aikido warm-up exercises. Then we graduate to blending with other people and the environment through Aikido techniques. Reading “Zen and Aikido” will help you to understand the role of Zen in martial arts and how “sitting Aikido” and “moving Zen” can teach you the essential Aikido concept of Awase. This reading is essential for the serious student studying any Japanese martial art and downloading it for free alone is worth the price of a 1-year membership to Aikido Journal! During the Penn State summer study abroad course Aikido in Japan that I teach with Mark Larson Sensei, one of the experiences you have is to stay as “Uchideshi” at Umezawa Sensei’s Genshin Zen Temple Dojo in Iwama. Umezawa Sensei studied Aikido directly with the Founder as well as with Morihiro Saito Shihan and is a Zen Priest as well as Aikido Master. When you sit for 50 minutes twice a day, you really appreciate the concept of “fighting with yourself” as mentioned in Zen and Aikido!
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The Fat Man Always Slaps Twice: “Adventures in Arthroplasty, Physical Therapy, Fear, and Ukemi,” by Mark Hauer

“I ‘awoke’ with 72 staples
in my right butt cheek!”

If you visit the Shin Do Kan dojo in Madison, Alabama you might notice a chubby, middle-aged gentleman wearing a green belt, rolling up and down the length of the dojo.

This is hardly a remarkable sight. People a little older and people much younger are doing the same thing-searching for the perfect mae ukemi .

Ideally, with the perfect forward roll, the only sound you should hear is the whisper of cotton fabric brushing across the tatami surface, that and the gentle exhalation of breath. Our middle-aged gentleman, more often than not, thumps and wheezes.

He is the antithesis of silence. If he were a ninja, he would be chosen only for missions that required a noisy distraction. Well, he’d be chosen for one mission, I guess. But he would be fondly remembered.

“Don’t forget to breathe out and relax.” This bit of encouragement is from our head instructor Hudson Harris, 3rd Dan Yoseikan Budo, 4th Dan Yoshinkan. As always, his mae ukemi appears effortless as does the rolling technique of the rest of the instructors, and more than a few lower belts.

But not that middle-aged green belt! While not quite as noisy as a tumbling box filled with rocks, he does make his presence known. But he’s game. He endures. He groans through ushiro ukemi, sweats through the breakfalls, even performs an occasional ratchet fall (although it clearly makes him nervous).

Each class he’s a little better. Sometimes his rolls actually approach the definition of smooth. Not often, and only sometimes. But it makes the hard work worth it. Especially if Harris sensei or Mike Morris sensei (Hudson’s second-in-command) can see ANY improvement at all. “Not bad” is a sought after accolade. By the way, that middle-aged green belt is me. My name’s Mark Hauer. I’m 52. I’ve had both hips replaced and still do Aikido. I’m not crazy. I’m not self-destructive. I’ve simply taken advantage of modern medical technology.
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Free PDF download Aiki News #60, 1984: “This old man reached this stage, you should surpass me!”

Aiki News Number 60, March 1984


     ● Editorial – Blueprint for the standardization of aikido testing, by Stanley Pranin
     ● Shoji Nishio Interview, by Stanley Pranin
     ● Morihiro Saito Technical Notebook — Tsuki iriminage, by Morihiro Saito
     ● Heard in the Dojo
     ● O-Sensei Biography — “The Kobukan Hell Dojo Period,” by Kisshomaru Ueshiba
     ● Letters to the Editor

Morihei Ueshiba with Shoji Nishio and students in front of Aikikai, February 1969

Click here to download PDF of Aiki News #64 free through October 5


Samural video: “Ame Agaru” Fight in the Forest

“A model of sword-fighting skills in movies!!”

An incredibly well-choreographed fight in the forest from the film “Ame Agaru” (After the Rain). The setting is Japan, during the Kyoho Era (1716-1735). Following torrential rains, a group of travelers are stuck in a country inn by flooding. Among them is a certain Ishei Misawa, a ronin, a masterless samurai with outstanding fighting skills. After he intervenes to prevent a duel between two young samurai, Ishei is noticed by Lord Shigeaki, who invites him to become the master of arms of his fief.

Click here to watch the forest fight scene… Incredible!


“The High Cost of Externalizing “Internal” Energy,” by Nev Sagiba

“As with money, ki is easiest to direct when it has been earned and when it resides in your own account.. You can waste years searching for the ki that does not exist, or you can daily make your acquaintance with real ki, as it is, and explore its nuances in the dojo daily.”

The grand delusion of all time is the superstition of unnatural “magic,” this being something which it is imagined, can happen outside of the simplicity that forms the fabric of nature, as it is. The illusion of “power” is often sought instead of the refinement of common-sense.

Presenting the impossible as if plausible is the realm of con men and cheats. The lure of a facile means to achieve more than is possible without work appeals to infantile greedy fantasies. Ockham’s Razor is a good yardstick: If it sounds too good to be true then it is unlikely to be true. Notwithstanding the fact that we all well understand the nature of dishonesty and fraud, people still go back for more. The lure of the lottery is strongest in the complacent who continue to subsidize those who exploit. I don’t know if anyone has noticed yet, but our “economies” have come to resemble little more than Ponzi schemes and humanity is not better off for it.

Similarly with the concept of “internal energy.” The presupposition of some kind of short cut which will enable the avoidance of necessary work, has done no-one any favors. As the attached video clip below reveals, many even succeed in deceiving themselves! (Ki Master or Deluded – The Litmus Test?) “There’s magic out there in them thar hills, I got some, and for a special price, only today, just for you I’ll give away my secrets. And you will be powerful above others!” But that’s not the way it pans out in the end, is it? Predictable irrationality may well be the science of cheating, and it can be milked for a breif while, but it always has severe repercussions.
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“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 16 – Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Tsuki” by James Neiman


This is the 16th 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.

Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Tsuki

In this article we examine Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Tsuki, which is the 3rd of the Aiki Jo Suburi in the series known as the Hasso No Bu. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this Suburi. In summary, Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Tsuki contains part of a figure-8 movement, resulting in a block followed by a rear moving thrust to another uke. This particular exercise is a transition point within the Hasso No Bu, in which a second uke is introduced. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 3 major sections:

  1. Initiate Rotation and Block
  2. Re-orient your body for movement in the rear direction
  3. Complete the rear moving thrust

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