Sep
09

“Being meaningful, an Aiki perspective,” by Francis Takahashi

“Olympic athletes do not train to be in top shape, or to appear to be so. They train for the specific purpose of excelling in their event(s) of choice.”

Do you train meaningfully, or do you train with meaning? Small difference, huge difference, contingent on what these terms mean to you. There is no right or wrong label to be placed on the final choices made, or the results perceived. The great benefit of making personal choices, is that you need not justify them to anyone else.

Training meaningfully allows the student to focus, not on being meaningful, but on the fundamentals that then bring their own brands of meaning to the training, and its ultimate results. In this way, the added benefits of internalized commitment, effective muscle memory, and of proven habits honed from endless hours of effort, will naturally flow from those related movements, and be authenticated in the zanshin of the moment. No need to spend extra focus or narrow intent on making the training more meaningful, as the appropriate meanings are already included. Perhaps this approach may be called an “inclusive” method of training, where there is a clear and fundamental acceptance of whatever may finally result from the prolonged and fully committed effort. It is all good, being part of the mix of a balanced way of thinking, and of allowing of all components of one’s vision, and of one’s daily programming.

To train with meaning, however, requires a different set of commitments and mind sets, that allow for pursuing specific goals of training. Perhaps one truly wants to improve their ukemi to the extent of being unconcerned with who the nage is, or of any hidden agenda he may have. Or one may engage in a brutally intense regimen of conditioning, to outlast anyone else in a randori or marathon training experience. Olympic athletes, for example, do not train to be in top shape, or to appear to be so. They train for the specific purpose of excelling in their event(s) of choice, to the exclusion of just about any other reason for training. It is the purpose of being judged the best by others that counts for them, and not necessarily what they truly want for themselves, even after the glamour of the games is long ago finished and tarnished. Perhaps this approach may be called an “exclusive” method of training, where little else matters other than the specific goals defined and pursued. In the end, all effort is either justified and affirmed, or deemed unrealized and, unfortunately, an unmitigated failure and disaster, regardless of any other benefits that may have spun off from the amazing efforts and performances of the chase. All or nothing is this mind set.
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Sep
09

“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 14 – Hasso Gaeshi Uchi” by James Neiman

Introduction

This is the 14th 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 Uchi

In this article we examine Hasso Gaeshi Uchi, which is the 1st 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 Uchi contains part of a figure-8 movement, resulting in a block followed by a strike. The exercise is designed to help students learn to generate rotational dynamics through the hips, extending that energy through the hands, and following up with a forward moving counter strike. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 4 major sections:

  1. Initiate Rotation
  2. Block
  3. Drop Back
  4. Enter and Strike

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Sep
07

“The Heart And The Tempest,” by Nev Sagiba

“Physical combat and mental conflict are related. They can be
resolved through a conscious entity’s regular application to skill.”

Nothing is simply black or white, but rather shades of gold still unrecognized.

Aikido is refined brawling, chefs and generals are the same, war and cooking no different; and rearing children is the same as training elephants.

Preaching high discernment and then not living and demonstrating it, is hypocrisy.

You can’t build an app to stop a tsunami. You must lift your skirts and run like hell. Our focus as species is in the wrong places. We are not listening to nature and the universe.

In the Pythagorean school a candidate for initiation had to sweep floors and scrub toilets for four years before qualifying for acceptance. Real dojos are the same. It develops forward noticing.

To expect recognition from Sensei but never having turned up to scrub floors, clean and do service work, is a self defeating form of arrogance. Your few dollars mean nothing and cannot purchase either wisdom or skill.

Insatiably addicted to stimulating the senses with abject crap, we have become a species that have forgotten to listen to what matters. Natural disasters have begun to eat us as we bury ourselves in gadgets, excremental visual stimuli and blatant delusion. This is not any “god’s wrath,” rather OUR CHOICE to be blind to the obvious staring us in the face! Our focus is on distractions instead of actuality as it is.

If valid, the link between actual physical presence to a location and an inner, mental or spiritual reality can only occur through a conscious entity by personal, daily conscious application to skill in action.

Physical combat and mental conflict are related. They can be resolved through a conscious entity’s regular application to skill.

Aikido, when applied to survive is nothing more than refined brawling without concepts getting in the way. Or any other strategy of survival which notices what’s coming in advance and preemptively acts accordingly.
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Sep
06

Las Vegas Seminar: An event to reinvigorate your passion for Aikido!

“Your potential for personal growth through Aikido is far greater than you think!”

Sometimes we need a reminder about why we began aikido and where we are headed at this stage of our practice. We may have begun our journey to learn self-defense, improve health, find a good support group, or a variety of other reasons. Probably, our reasons have evolved over time and become more focused.

I would like to share with you the important parts of my personal odyssey in Aikido that began 50 years ago. The techniques and philosophy of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba have always been the guiding light of my own training, and I continue, still now, to draw inspiration from the Founder’s enlightened example.

Permit me to cordially invite you to join me on November 2-4 in Las Vegas, Nevada for a very special weekend. I will be conducting weekend seminars–the first of a kind–whose theme will be “Exploring Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei’s Aikido.” During the weekend, we will spend quality time together in a private dojo setting with a limited number of attendees. I would like to explore with you what I consider to be the central points of Morihei Ueshiba’s aikido that have been largely lost in today’s practice. If you wish to have a preview of what the seminar content will cover, I refer you to my article “Exploring the Founder’s Aikido” where I discuss my views and offer supporting documentation.

The Las Vegas seminar will be a special event with an intimate format. I look forward to spending many hours training and conversing with the participants and am sure that this experience will be life-changing for all of us. We are in a position to offer very affordable accommodations for most of the seminar participants to keep costs to a minimum. Since the dojo is limited in size, I would encourage you to reserve a place early if you are certain you would like to attend. When the seminars fill up, we will make an announcement to this effect on the website. The link to make your reservation is below.


Dates: October 5-7, 2012 (indicate your choice when registering)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Enrollment: $135.00 (Event Full)

Dates: November 2-4, 2012 (indicate your choice when registering)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Enrollment: $135.00

Theme: “Exploring Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei’s Aikido”
Instructor: Stanley Pranin

Limited participation on a first-come, first-served basis

Event Schedule (subject to change)

Friday:

  • Check-in – 6:00 pm
  • 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
  • Informal group chat

Saturday:

  • Morning Session: 9:30 am – 11:30 am
  • (Lunch break)
  • Afternoon Session: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
  • Q & A period: 4:00 pm – 4:45 pm
  • Dinner party: 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm

Sunday:

  • 9:30 am – 10:30am
  • 10:45 am – 11:45 am
  • Informal group chat
  • Pick-up gift pack / Departure

Stanley Pranin Bio

Stanley Pranin began aikido in 1962 in a Yoshinkan Aikido dojo. After a few months, he joined an Aikikai group learning from instructors trained by Koichi Tohei, from whom he received his shodan and nidan rankings. Pranin relocated to Japan in 1977 where he lived for 20 years. He studied in Iwama under Morihiro Saito for several years, and accompanied Saito Sensei during the 1980s as his interpreter to the USA, Canada, and numerous European countries.

In 1974, Pranin began a newsletter called “Aiki News,” which later was renamed as “Aikido Journal.” The successor of this publication continues today on the Internet as the “Aikido Journal” suite of websites. Pranin has published hundreds of articles, interviews, books, and videos during his career as an aikido journalist/historian. He is the organizer of the trail-blazing Aiki Expo events held in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Pranin brings with him 50 years of aikido training and teaching experience, and a vast knowledge of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba and the history of the art.

Suggested reading: “Exploring the Founder’s Aikido” by Stanley Pranin.

Those making reservations will be sent detailed information concerning the location of the event, optional accommodations for attendees, and notification of the deadline for payment of the balance of the seminar tuition.

Click here to make a non-refundable $25 deposit to
reserve a place at the seminar (Limited attendance)

Sep
05

Slideshow: Great stills of Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, in class teaching

[portfolio_slideshow trans=scrollHorz]

“Master Aikido’s Fine Points with Morihiro Saito as Your Guide!”

Morihiro Saito Sensei, 9th dan, was one of aikido’s premier instructors. A close student of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in Iwama, Saito Sensei learned his craft from O-Sensei, in many cases, on a one-to-one basis. A mastery of technical detail was the hallmark of his pedagogical method, and Saito Sensei had a reputation of producing strong, technically skilled students quickly.

Much has been written about his strong impact on the practice of aikido today. During his active years, Saito Sensei taught tens of thousands of students both in Japan and abroad. He also published a number of bilingual training manuals on aikido that sealed his reputation as one of aikido’s top authorities.

Saito Sensei passed away in 2002 at the age of 74. Those who never had a chance to study under Saito Sensei directly missed a rare opportunity. Fortunately, valuable film and video of this great teacher has survived. His wonderful legacy remains intact and easily accessible through the DVD seminars offered through Aikido Journal.

We would like to give away some DVDs…

Aikido Journal is very interested in promoting high-quality instruction and the development of first-rate aikidoka. Today’s aikido instructors are operating in a highly competitive market with many martial arts available to students. We want aikido to continue to grow and thrive! This will require legions of top-notch teachers.

We know that many of you out there knew and trained with Saito Sensei personally, or have direct experience with his teaching methodology. If you would like to win a free Lost Seminars DVD by Morihiro Saito Sensei, all you need do is leave a comment below this post telling us what you think about Saito Sensei’s instructional methods and how you would use this DVD in your own teaching.

Our 3 winners will not be drawn from a hat. We’ll choose them at our discretion based on the comments submitted because we want to know that these wonderful study materials will be used to their fullest potential. Well-thought out comments will get the most consideration, especially those submitted within the first 24 hours.

On Friday, September 7th, we will select 3 winners and announce them via email and here on the blog. You must submit your comment by Friday in order to be considered.

Also, remember that Aikido Journal offers the entire set of 7-DVDs of Saito Sensei’s authoritative “Lost Seminars” DVDs at a greatly reduced price. You will receive over 14 hours of expert instruction with complete English subtitles. Catch every word he is saying, and with a new, deeper understanding, be able to apply these lessons to your aikido!

Get Morihiro Saito’s “Lost Seminars” 7-DVD Set today. We await your comment!

Sep
04

Video: Run, Hide, Fight: Surviving an Active Shooter

“Can you survive a shooting in a public place?”

After the recent shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., the city of Houston has released a how-to video on surviving a shooter event. Run if a safe path is available. Always try and escape or evacuate even if others insist on staying. Encourage others to leave with you but don’t let the indecision of others slow down your own effort to escape. Once you are out of the line of fire, try to prevent others from walking into the danger zone and call 9-1-1. If you can’t get out safely, find a place to hide. When hiding, turn out lights, remember to lock doors and silence your ringer and vibration mode on your cell phone As a last resort, working together or alone, act with aggression, use improvised weapons and fight…

WATCH VIDEO

Sep
01

“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 13 – Katate Hachi Noji Gaeshi” by James Neiman

Introduction

This is the 13th 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.

Katate Hachi Noji Gaeshi

In this article we examine Katate Hachi Noji Gaeshi, which is the 3rd of the Aiki Jo Suburi in the series known as the Katate No Bu. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this Suburi. In summary, Katate Hachi Noji Gaeshi is a wrist-centered, figure-8 combination of a strike and block. The exercise is designed to help students learn to transfer energy from the legs through the hips, and through proper use of the core muscles, extend that energy through their wrists and hands. It builds on Katate Gedan Gaeshi and Katate Toma Uchi, and provides students a glimpse of the upcoming Hasso No Bu series. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 3 major sections:

  1. Turn and Extend (Strike)
  2. Turn and Extend (Block)
  3. Drop Back

 
[Read more...]

Sep
01

Reply to “Why Budo are not supposed to work in a real fight,” by Charles Warren

“With a certain degree of restraint in throwing and reasonably survivable ukemi, you
CAN train all your life. You DON’T become disabled by or before the age of 30.”

Charles Warren replies to Guillaume Erard’s article “Why Budo are not supposed to work in a real fight.”

The answer to this is extremely simple. A fight is by its nature spontaneous and dynamic. Applying a form to the situation may work if you’re quick enough and strong enough, but if that’s all you have, the odds are in favor of the fighter. OODA – Observe Orient Decide Act is the Boyd cycle. If you’re deciding and acting in a structured manner either in the absence of Observing and Orienting or behind the pace of a changing situation…

When you’ve mastered forms sufficiently the odds become more even. When they are so ingrained as to flow spontaneously, well, the spontaneity advantage of the fighter is nullified. The mechanical advantages of the proven techniques give an advantage. With enough practice comes an appreciation of intent and timing. That sensitivity completely reverses the situation. Musashi said, “Stop his cut at “c…” An expression in English is to “throw a spoke in the wheel”; a bit old fashioned – imagine a wooden wagon wheel with a loose wooden spoke tossed between those which support the rim.

“…in many cases, the efficacy of the techniques has been voluntarily diminished in order to reduce the risk of physical harm during training…”

The subtlety of aikido techniques, my opinion, lies in weaknesses, both static and dynamic, of the skeleto-muscular system. We all know that the application of strength is a skill in the use of the body. A logical and natural corollary is that there are weak spots proportionate and opposite to the strong ones. A really good aikido technique* affects the opponents’ balance with a bare minimum of effort. After that, “the force is with you”, that force being gravity. As good falling arts are poorly distributed among attackers, “the force” may be more than sufficient to control the situation and/or injure the opponent. Just again imo, it seems to me that taking the extra time or effort to injure a joint or anything else is simply taking extra time or effort. Time is what we live in and critical in a fighting situation.

A side effect, unintended consequence if you will, is that with a certain degree of restraint in throwing and reasonably survivable ukemi you CAN train all your life. You DON’T become disabled by or before the age of 30.

Another unintended consequence is that you will be acting ahead of your conscious mind. How your conscious mind interprets that… Well, it gets confused. The messages it captures, retains and conveys are likely to be, shall we say, outside ordinary reality.

Now, this sort of mastery takes time, years. If you’re going to war in 30 or 60 days, you need and will be trained in simple stuff. A butt slap to the chin with a rifle, unlike in the movies, is probably lethal.

http://www.charlesbwarren.com/

Sep
01

“Are Aikido’s combat skills enough alone?,” by Francis Takahashi

“Isn’t the complete legacy of the Founder that which we all seek, and freely acknowledge as the most purposeful and intriguing of challenges?”

The debate continues as to whether the exclusive study of Aikido’s proven combat techniques and martial legitimacy are enough by themselves to satisfy the wants and needs of a serious student of martial theory and application. Contrast this view to the philosophical viewpoint, that the Founder had a much broader brush to paint his vision of True Budo with, including non violent methods and principles for resolving conflict, and for the promotion of true brotherhood amongst nations. Wasn’t this the purpose for building his “Silver Bridge”? The applicable word here is “Diplomacy”, and the reason that we have encountered talented statesmen throughout human history, who have guided us to reap the benefits of peace, without first resorting to war.

Should Aikido really be a “stand alone” solution to any and all questions of survivability, for individual martial supremacy, or even for unquestioned technical excellence, to correctly function as a legitimate and traditional Budo? What part could and should be played by including a compassionate working philosophy for improved social and interpersonal interaction, using an enlightened form of mutual empathy towards forming a foundation for universal harmony?

The clear scope of such questions gets murkier when one digs deeper and finds a veritable cacophony of conflicting interpretations, vague personal epiphanies, privately defined enlightenments, and the apparent need by some “in the know” to have research findings justify or affirm their particular points of view and styles of training. There appears, at times, to be an “open season” by certain agenda driven individuals, who have no authentic provenance or history of serious training in Aikido, or of any legitimate record of doing the exhaustive research necessary, to arbitrarily and tragically reduce the overall discussion of Aikido’s merit to mere fighting efficacy. This unfortunate, unfair, yet persistent misunderstanding flies in the face of the Founder’s oft repeated admonitions to the contrary, that his Aikido was so much more. Doesn’t the world of aikido deserve no less than our combined and sincere commitment to follow his true and expansive vision, and to help complete his noble mission?

I have unfortunately found that most aikido practitioners are far too content to simply train in a dojo setting, sublimely unaware and shamefully indifferent to the actual quality of their training, and for any honest notions for the true pursuit of understanding Aiki Principles. In demanding proof of a history of extensive training with established and noted teachers, and for the actual and consistent demonstration of the necessary technical skills to be taken seriously, we can challenge the current spate of “experts” to elevate the quality of these discussions we are having, and to help effect significant improvements to the Aikido environment we live and train in. We can and should demand that our teachers and mentors appropriately treat currently debated Aikido related matters in a more open minded fashion, and to consistently behave in a more appropriate and respectful manner, and of tone, to new ideas of merit, and for newly emerging systems that appropriately challenge their current paradigms of understanding, and their levels of complacent comfort.
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