Archives for September 2012


Daito-ryu video: “How to emit ‘Aiki’ energy and break the opponent’s balance”

“Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei explains the basic principles of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu”

This video offers a brief historical introduction to Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu tracing the art’s lineage from Sokaku Takeda down to Katsuyuki Kondo, Menkyo Kaiden. Kondo Sensei explains the basic principles of Daito-ryu: Rei, Metsuke, Maai, Kokyu, Kuzushi, Zanshin, and Kiai. This clip is excerpted from the Aikido Journal DVD set titled “Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu – Hiden Mokuroku.”

Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, the major technical influence on modern aikido, was a martial art taught in the first part of twentieth century Japan by the famous Sokaku Takeda of the Aizu clan, a certified martial arts’ genius. Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba met Sokaku in 1915, and immediately became engrossed in training. Daito-ryu, in Morihei’s words, “opened his eyes to budo.”

Click here to view the video of Katsuyuki Kondo video


“Ethics, an Aiki perspective,” by Francis Takahashi

Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba practices the Aiki Ken with his son Kisshomaru Ueshiba in Iwama c. 1957

“The Founder’s admonition is that Aikido is True Budo, with the obligation to protect all of life, and to be in harmonious co-existence with our environment and all its elements.”

Per Wikipedia, Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior.

Major areas of study in ethics may be divided into 3 operational areas: Meta-ethics, about the theoretical meaning and reference of moral propositions and how their truth values (if any) may be determined; Normative ethics, about the practical means of determining a moral course of action; Applied ethics, about how moral outcomes can be achieved in specific situations.

Each of these areas include many further sub-fields of study.

Which begs the question, are there identifiable and quantifiable elements of both morality and ethics in the art form we call Aikido? Is the subject field we refer to as martial arts itself subject to independent scrutiny using these two lenses of human discrimination and of societal evaluation? If so, how do we then objectively and subjectively begin to analyze, scrutinize, qualify, quantify and otherwise identify those elements of Aikido philosophy and application that may be honestly and appropriately vetted for us to wisely consider, and to incorporate into our daily activities?

For this article, we are focusing on what role that ethics can and should play, if any, in evaluating, and more accurately determining and defining the benefits that the study of Aiki and of Aikido actually promises to the committed student, and to the seeker of truth and for personal achievement. Further, we definitely need to research how best to introduce more discussion, debate, and planning, to effectively bring true awareness and applicability of ethics and morality into our teachings, our training of instructors, and to our overall goal of appropriately introducing Aiki Principles to the rest of the world. In the real world, things are not bought or simply sold. Rather, it is the benefits of using these things that actually convince the buyer into following through with the transaction. Let us then focus on demonstrating the benefits of Aiki thinking, of Aiki Principles, and of Aikido training. We must learn to do so in the context of what the world acknowledges and accepts as ethical and moral gospel.
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Video: Bruce Bookman demonstrates Ushiro Kubishime

“Bruce Bookman explains and demonstrates ushiro kubishime and kotegaeshi!”

My aikido practice includes early influences of Yoshimitsu Yamada, and later practice under Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and other prominent teachers in Japan at the Aikikai Headquarters such as Osawa, Yamaguchi, Arikawa, and Tada Senseis. I spent 16 years practicing under T.K. Chiba Sensei, who was a very close disciple of Morihei Uyeshiba, the Founder of Aikido. I have done extensive cross training in other martial arts including 12 years of Brazilian Jiu jitsu, 10 years of Iai-do (2 of those years studying with Takeishi Mitsuzuka Sensei in Tokyo), 2 years of Judo, 2 years of western boxing and 2 years of tea kwon do. I have practiced yoga on and off since childhood…

Click here to view the video of Bruce Bookman Sensei demonstrating Ushiro Kubishime


The Dynamic Christian Tissier of France in action

“Tissier brought back a new kind of Aikido that soon
captured the imagination of the European aikido scene”

This is a particularly nice action shot of famous French instructor Christian Tissier Sensei, 7th dan, executing an aikido technique. Having begun Aikido as a boy in France in 1962, Tissier spent eight years in Japan at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo training with many of the art’s top masters such as Seigo Yamaguchi, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Kisaburo Osawa, Mitsugi Saotome, and others. This was an era in which foreign aikidoka were just beginning to train in numbers at the World Headquarters school in Tokyo.

On his return to his native France, Tissier brought back a new kind of Aikido that soon captured the imagination of the European aikido scene, especially in his country. He is at present the leading figure in the FFAAA organization, one of France’s two large Aikido associations, and travels extensively worldwide conducting seminars. Tissier was the first foreign instructor to have taught at the International Aikido World Congress.

Tissier is also the subject of a fascinating documentary titled “Christian Tissier: ‘An Aikido Odyssey'”

Retrieved from Facebook posted by Aikido Para Compartir


“What Is Aikido, Really?” by Nev Sagiba

“The essence that endures is more real than mere paint, but intangible..”

For me, Aikido is not a watered down, collusional pretence of a dance. Not at all.

It must never be forgotten that Aikido has its origins in valid battlefield combat jujutsu of the most virulent kind. Aikido’s forte lies in the fact that the aikijutsu arts continued to refine jujutsu and pare away the excrescences to reveal core principles that optimize efficiency, leverage and economy of motion to their best. And perhaps more.

When practiced with martial integrity, that is, unmitigated honesty, Aikido purges mental clutter and entanglements, to produce clear thinking. This is a never ending process.

Because it maintains an honest body-mind connection this produces a unique synergy that opens up a Way and enables clarity of perception.

Why does it enable?

Nature creates by overcoming challenges, not as in slapping paint on a canvas then expecting it to last. Nature is constantly reworking and changing. The essence that endures is more real than mere paint, but intangible.

When you are going home from the dojo, where is ikkyo? Where is iriminage? Where are.. the things you just practiced?

Much like a more dynamic form of sand art, everything changes and disappears into impermanency, yet the essence remains. Whilst invisible it is more real than the appearances that are swept away.

What remains, albeit unseen by many, are the predispositions which are keys to all Creation. These open up an entirely different view to existence to enable an harmonious and debt free way to negotiate life.

However this awakening attitude must be maintained vigilantly and constantly fine tuned for optimal performance, just like any engine.

Daily training becomes the Way.

“There is no enemy of love.. There is no time and space before Ueshiba of Aikido.. only the universe as it is..” Morihei Ueshiba

Creation of a sand mandala

Nev Sagiba


“The Broken Sword,” by Dane Harden

“Past teachers and the lessons they have imparted may also have left us, sometimes feeling sad and surprised at their early departures…”

The old bokken had many battle scars and was darkened from heavy use and sweat. The student who owned the sword looked down at the floor; the other half of his old sword just lay there. His face was both sad and surprised. The old sword that lay in front of him was broken and rendered useless-or, perhaps not. This event actually happened at our very recent Wounded Warrior Expo, a unique annual martial arts event designed to raise money for this most worthy of causes. Events that have happened since that moment make the sword story all the more poignant.

The broken sword now rests in a position of honor, perched high on our kamiza at the front of our dojo. It stands as a reminder to everyone of the value of things past that have, and will forever be, a part of our lives, imparting their lessons to those who choose to listen. Past teachers and the lessons they have imparted may also have left us, sometimes feeling sad and surprised at their early departures, just like what my young student might have been feeling about his old sword? But there is much to gained by retained the memory of what those teachers and their lessons taught us. One of these most important lessons is assuredly learning to honor the past in order to preserve the future.

I am told that the more correct meaning for the word sensei-most often taken to mean teacher-is “one who has come before.” Just as the old sword was a conduit for my student’s training, understanding, and hard earned expertise, the sword had imparted some of its spirit, and perhaps, some of its wisdom, much the same way as our teachers had imparted some of their spirit and wisdom upon us. Often the value of these lessons came to us at a heavy price, paid for in the blood, sweat, and bruises we have endured to master our arts. It is these lessons and the heavy price paid by our veterans of yesterday and today that we seek to honor in some small way.

Soldiers pay the heaviest price for our freedom, and like the old sword, they carry our burden and the lessons that warfare has exacted from them. To truly honor our warriors we need to learn to recognize the lessons their experiences teach us. Lessons like perseverance, duty, and honor-perhaps that is when they are the most meaningful. Just like the broken sword, they should be placed in positions of honor and respect. After all they have sacrificed for us and will forever teach us. They have earned the honor, and we should take pride in their many lessons learned through their blood and sacrifice.

Joe Lewis (1944-2012)

Our recent event was a wonderful success in every way, with one painful exception. This year Grand Master Joe Lewis was not able to attend because, at the time, Joe was battling cancer. He strongly supported what we were trying to do, “a martial arts event that was unifying and benefited the most worthy of causes, the Wounded Warrior Project.” Joe taught kickboxing at our first event in Annapolis and, as expected, he was the star of the show. Even before the event was done he told me, “Let’s do it again next year!” We, of course, accepted his generous offer on the spot. Unfortunately, fate-and an insidious illness-would conspire against us.

Master Dennis Nackord forwarded me a note that Joe wrote prior to our event. “Doc – what you are doing is very budo. Helping raise awareness and revenue for such a worthy cause is a reflection of the true meaning of the word honor. I am very sorry that my current condition is such that I will not be able to attend this year. I wish you all the best. I was proud to be part of the event, particularly in its very first year.
Much success in the future! Semper Fi! Lewis”

The broken sword is a lesson from the past and what it has taught us…the broken sword is a lesson for the future and what it can teach us…if we listen to the echo of the broken sword we can be stronger, wiser, and deserving of such lessons. Our warriors make such sacrifices on our behalf every day. We should honor them always.

To a teacher, a friend, and so much more…rest in peace.

Dane S. Harden
Wounded Warrior Expo – 2012


Here’s your Aikido study assignment straight from Penn State University!

We have recently welcomed a group of Penn State University students who are practicing aikido as part of their physical education studies. Their teacher is Jim Sullivan, a high-ranking aikidok. Jim has given his students a study assignment. I think some of Aikido Journal readers will be interested in following along. – Editor

Hello Aikido students,

This week your assignment is to:

Read the article “Sleuthing in Search of O-Sensei, by Stanley Pranin” and watch the three short embedded videos on the Founder of Aikido.

Watch the short video of Morihiro Saito Shihan performing your first technique, Tai-no henko.

The first article and videos will begin to give you some insight into this person we call the “Founder of Aikido”, Morihei Ueshiba, or “O-Sensei”. Since the Founder lived in a time when martial arts were still secretively taught and video and books were almost non-existent, it is difficult to truly understand who this mysterious man was and what he left us called “Aikido”. Thanks to invaluable work and effort by Stan Pranin Sensei we can today watch numerous videos and read articles of and about the Founder, as well as his primary students. Foremost amongst the students of the Founder was Morihiro Saito, who trained nearly 24 years with the founder. The Founder decreed that upon his death, Saito Shihan would be in charge of caring for the Aiki shrine and his Iwama Dojo, which he did for the next 33 years until he passed in 2002. Unfortunately you as students today cannot have the opportunity to train with the Founder or Saito Shihan. However, you can learn from and train with direct students of Saito Shihan, including Pranin Sensei, Mark Larson Sensei, and myself.

In your last video you will see your first technique, Tai no henko, performed by Morihiro Saito Shihan. The Founder of Aikido wrote six “Training Principles” of Aikido. One of these principles states that “Daily training begins with Tai-no henko”. This statement has been directly translated by Mark Larson Sensei of Minnesota Aiki-shuren Dojo directly from documents of Morihiro Saito Sensei. Mark Sensei spent over 10 years training in Japan, and spent everyday of the last five years of Saito Shihan’s life by his side. This semester in October you will have the chance to meet and train with Mark Sensei!


Jim Sullivan, Ph.D.
Instructor of Kinesiology
Penn State University
266 Rec Hall
University Park, PA 16823


Wounded Warrior Expo 2012 a success

Group Shot: Commander Pete Marghella (Third Dan TKD), Kyoshi Kevin Blok (8th Dan – Yoshinkan Aikido), Shihan Dana Abbott (Seventh Dan – Samurai Sword), Bill “Superfoot” Wallace (Kick Boxing World Champion, 10th Dan), COL. Dane Harden (Yoshinkan Aikido: Sandan, TKD: Seventh Dan, Sword: Nidan)

Our Wounded Warrior Expo 2012 event was a big success for 2012! In 2011 we had a total of forty-two people on the mat training. This year between the days training sessions, evening dinner, and the Sunday survival session we had over two hundred and fifty attendees! Our morning session covered percussion arts with Bill “Superfoot” Wallace and yours truly. Our Budo afternoon included Kyoshi Kevin Blok head of the Chudokai Aikido Federation (my instructor) and Black Belt Hall of Fame swordsman…Shihan Dana Abbott (my sword instructor)…the day was a wonderful success and everyone had a great time! We started our day off with a prayer for Joe Lewis and then went right into training!

Our Sunday morning training session with land navigation was taught by US Army Rangers! We rotated between three lanes for training and participants got to spend an hour in the water with a water survival and SERE graduate…an Old Army Colonel (me), and then they learned how to survive the “unexpected night out” which was taught by my good friend Dr. Mark Overbay. (Mark studies aikido at our dojo here in Abingdon)

We are already set to do the event again on October 5-6, 2013!


Video: Satoru Tsuchiya of Shodokan (Tomiki) Aikido in France

“Satoru Tsuchiya is the representative in France of the Shokan Aikido school founded by Kenji Tomiki, student of Jigoro Kano and subsequently Morihei Ueshiba. This school is unique is that it introduced a system of competition while at the same time preserving the fundamental principles of Aikido and the modern spirit of Judo”… WATCH VIDEO


“How to find anything you want on Aikido Journal in seconds!” by Stanley Pranin

“We’ve just saved a ton of time to find exactly what we’re looking for!”

Readers of Aikido Journal already know that the suite of websites we offer contain an incredible amount of information on aikido and related subjects. It’s almost too much in the sense that no one could ever consume all of it. There are literally thousands of articles, interviews, photos, videos, audio recordings, screencasts, and an assortment of miscellaneous documents such as charts and drawings.

Believe it or not, I have faced this exact dilemma constantly when attempting to locate some specific bit of information for a particular task. The problem is that you need to search more than one Aikido Journal website — admittedly cumbersome — if you want to be sure you haven’t missed something of importance. Think how much time you could save if you could search all of our websites in one go! Let me show you how to do just that.

Let’s take the following example. Say you are writing a school paper or article about aikido and you think it would be interesting to focus on Admiral Isamu Takeshita, the famous naval officer who was a student and patron of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. You know Aikido Journal has published a lot of information on this fascinating historical character and you want to do some quick fact-checking.

You would do a google search and enter the following: “Isamu Takeshita” (without quotes)

Dead simple and straightforward… But by doing this you would have searched all of our sites at once, almost instantly! This includes,,,, and

As I did this search just now, I came up with 112 hits that span all of our sites with results prioritized according to google’s relevancy algorithms. We’ve just saved a ton of time to find exactly what we’re looking for!

I have tested this with both google and bing search engines and the syntax for constructing a search works exactly the same. I assume that this would be the case for the other major search engines. You can do a lot more fancy and complicated things if you want to learn more about searching. If interested, start here:

In some cases, your search at Aikido Journal will yield a link to content that is reserved for subscribers. This is especially the case for the Aikido Journal Members Site (, the largest of our websites. Here you have a couple of options. You can sign up for a free subscription on the spot and gain access to about 1/3 of the site content for free. Even when the content is reserved for subscribers, you’ll be able to read the first few paragraphs or an excerpt to determine if the article has the information you need.

The best solution would be to invest in a subscription to the Aikido Journal Members Site which gives you full access to a vast world of aikido documents unequalled anywhere else. This is the way to become fully informed about all areas of the art and push your aikido to new heights!


Historical photo: Onisaburo Deguchi dictating his “Tales of the Spirit World”

Onisaburo Deguchi dictating an episode of his “Tales of the Spirit World” to his scribes c. 1922

“Morihei had a complete collection of “Reikai Monogatari” in his personal library and and is said to have read the entire text.”

The Reikai Monogatari was considered a sacred text by Omoto believers. Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba was a high-ranking member of the sect beginning in 1920 until its suppression by the Japanese government in 1935.

Morihei Ueshiba was living in the Omoto community when Onisaburo began work on this expansive work. This 81-volume narrative work was begun in 1921 after Onisaburo had been released from jail following the first Omoto suppression. He dictated its contents in the morning before arising while still reclined in his futon. A team of scribes would transcribe Onisaburo’s speech and then edit the text based on Deguchi’s corrections. The Reikai Monogatari is an eclectic work detailing Onisaburo’s spiritual experiences and contains novelesque passages, poems and essays. It is considered a sacred text of the Omoto religion and offers as well a great deal of social commentary and prophecies.


“The Elusive Chinese Influence on Aikido,” by Stanley Pranin


“Proponents of the theory of Aikido’s Chinese origin must provide proof.”

I received an email this morning asking my opinion of the remarks of a gentleman who states that he trained with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in the late 1960s. He makes the claim that Morihei’s aikido was directly influenced by “bagua zhang,” a Chinese internal art. Here is a quote from his article:

“The entering, turning and leading of one’s opponent, as well as the hundreds of subtle energy projections of aikido are fundamental bagua techniques that existed long before Ueshiba’s birth. Because of this, I believe that Ueshiba learned bagua while he was in Manchuria, China.”

This author’s thesis is based on his personal observation of Morihei’s art at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo during the late 1960s, the author’s analysis of “old films” of Morihei and the perceived similiarities in Ueshiba’s technique to various Chinese martial arts, and the fact that O-Sensei spent time in Manchuria during his lifetime.

I have heard this and similar theories about an “obvious” and unacknowledged Chinese connection that influenced the development of aikido repeatedly for the last 30 years or so. You will notice that that above-mentioned author provides no specifics to support his claim. In my experience, this is always the case when such a theory is advanced. Let’s take a closer look at this subject using our knowledge of Morihei’s life to consider the feasibility of such a theory.

Morihei Ueshiba did indeed spent time in Manchuria on three occasions during his life: as an infantryman during the Russo-Japanese in the 1904-1905 period; as a bodyguard to Onisaburo Deguchi on an ill-fated expedition through Manchuria and possibly Mongolia over a half-year period in 1924; as a visiting martial arts instructor during short stays in Japanese-controlled Manchukuo in 1939, 1940, and 1942.
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