Archives for October 2012


“Tsukuri, an aiki perspective,” by Francis Takahashi

“The master martial artist would perform “tsukuri” to convincingly communicate to the opponent the futility of continuing with his attack”

The Japanese verb “tsukuru” may mean to make, create, or to invent. It can also mean to manufacture, design, organize or to establish. In a martial arts context, the noun “tsukuri” may refer to the principle of “setting up” your opponent, maneuvering or forcing him into a position vulnerable to your next set of moves and techniques.

Each system of martial arts approaches the concept and utility of “tsukuri” a bit differently, and much depends on what the next series of moves and manipulations are intended to achieve. If the purpose is to strike and finish the opponent, then all that is needed is a viable opening. If the purpose is then to perform kuzushi preparatory to a throw or a take down, then the successful creation of such an opportunity is paramount. Perhaps at a somewhat higher level, the master martial artist would perform “tsukuri” to convincingly communicate to the opponent the futility of continuing with his attack. This can be, and is often accomplished without physical contact, and without injury or worse to either party.

Which one of the above best describes an “aiki” solution to the problem of being under attack? I venture to say, all of them, as each martial artist would feel justified in being guided by his own unique sense of “aiki”, and of remaining genuine to his training, and to the effective and appropriate use of his acquired skills. Only wisdom acquired from real life experiences, and the inner discipline forged by intense and purposeful training can begin to predict which one of the above best represents that person’s value system. We must be slow to judge the intent, behavior and rationale used by the martial artist, simply by the apparent results, and especially if we were not present.

In Aikido training, we need to place a nonnegotiable priority on studying the principle of, and the various options of applying “tsukuri” to our practice. By improving our conditioning, sense of ma ai, positioning for the “blind angle” , and the more skillful manipulation of our hands prior to, and at initial contact, we would greatly increase our success in managing to achieve “tsukuri” on a more consistent basis.

The concept of “sen”, to be adequately considered and treated at another time, needs to be mentioned in passing. Taking the “initiative” mentally, allows us to “see with our minds”, prior to tsukuri, kuzushi, sabaki and kake.

The rest, as they say, is practice, practice, practice.

Contact Aikido Academy USA


“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 18 – Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Harai” by James Neiman


This is the 18th 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 Harai

In this article we examine Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Harai, which is the 5th and final suburi 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 Harai contains part of a figure-8 movement, resulting in a block followed by a turning, sweeping strike. This exercise continues the orientation toward multiple ukes in the Hasso No Bu. 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 sweeping strike

[Read more…]


Welcome to the Aikido Journal Members Site!

— Welcome to the Aikido Journal Members Site —

For nearly 40 years, we have been researching and documenting every aspect of aikido…

Get it right here, right now! Subscribe today and you will receive a free downloadable book or video with your membership!

What is Aikido Journal?
Aikido Journal is the outgrowth of an aikido newsletter begun by Stanley Pranin in 1974. It has been published continuously, first as a print publication, and then online, for over 38 years! The Aikido Journal resources consist of thousands of articles, interviews, photos, videos, and other reference sources.

What products do you offer?
Aikido Journal has a large selection of DVDs, books, posters in our catalog, as well as subscriptions to the Aikido Journal Members Site.

Who are your readers?
Aikido Journal counts readers from all over the world among its visitors with especially large concentrations in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

Featured Aikido Masters…

  • Morihei Ueshiba, Aikido Founder
  • Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Second Doshu, Aikikai Hombu Dojo
  • Koichi Tohei, Ki Society
  • Morihiro Saito, Iwama Aikido
  • Gozo Shioda, Yoshinkan Aikido
  • Kenji Tomiki, Tomiki Aikido
  • Minoru Mochizuki, 10th dan
  • Seigo Yamaguchi, 8th dan
  • Shoji Nishio, Nishio Aikido
  • Noriaki Inoue, Shinei Taido
  • Christian Tissier, 7th dan
  • Shizuo Imaizumi, Shin Budo Kai
  • Kenji Shimizu, Tendokan Aikido
  • Katsuyuki Kondo, Daito-ryu
  • Seigo Okamoto, Roppokai

and many more!
[Read more…]


“Why Harmony? – Sword and Explosives – Enlightenment is Dangerous,” by Nev Sagiba


 ” “Why did Ueshiba state that his Budo of Aiki, whilst not a religion, can lead religion to completion? Was it arrogant or simply pointing to a vital universal principle that enables the addressing of violence by converting it into harmony instead of contending?”

Why Harmony?

When fighting to restore a compromised harmony it’s not all sweetness and light but can get downright ugly. The wisdom of balance is in knowing when to stop and not become addicted to “action” thereby falling into the dark side and becoming the very problem we sought to solve. That is the risk the warrior protector faces. And yet the Universe tests us all in the front line, in circumstances of life itself, within ourselves, if not the very battlefield.

So, why harmony? Why not any which way?

After all, there have been times when the fittest and cruelest took the day. And everything else they wanted. Then built an empire, after which it became extinct. Nothing was learned and this pattern has been repeating since the first humans.


Why is it that empires invariably fail to “get it” and then destroy themselves. Aside from the fact that the foundations were rotten to begin with.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see that we are an integrated part of a whole. This is not, “deep philosophy” simply common sense. Both science and religion confirm it again and again. Any organism cannot operate against its own integrity and hope to sustain.

This concept of so called “enlightenment” is often portrayed as to be so that when one person’s opinions somehow “get enlightened” they will somehow be separated in a, “better class of beings,” and be able to look down their nose at everyone else. Then that can purchase some extra special cloud real estate in a rest home called Nirvana. Somehow they won’t go mad with boredom. Such thinking is infantile and regressive.
[Read more…]


Slideshow and video: Aikido Seminar in Las Vegas with Stanley Pranin

[portfolio_slideshow trans=scrollHorz]

“When you leave here, you’ll have a toolbox to
improve your techniques, and health and fitness!”

Here is a collection of nice images that will give you a feel for the seminar conducted by Stanley Pranin held October 5-7 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event was limited to a small number of participants who spent the weekend training together, brainstorming, and exchanging ideas. All of the participants were yudansha and most were active teachers and dojo operators.

The focus of the seminar was the principles of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei’s aikido as they apply to techniques. Stanley Pranin often injected historical background the helped explained how aikido came to be in its present state.

Stanley Pranin will be conducting a similar event in Las Vegas, November 2-4 addressing the same theme. Three spots are left, so if any one is interested in joining us, we would be happy to welcome you on a first-come, first-served basis. Detailed information is available here.

Click here to make a non-refundable $25 deposit to
reserve a place at the November 2-4 seminar (Only 3 places left!)


“Penn State Aikido Lesson Plan for Week 4,” by Jim Sullivan

Gozo Shioda, founder of Yoshinkan Aikido, applying nikyo from 1958 film

“It is important for those who wish to become experts or perfect
their aikido to acquire a total mastery of basics! — Gozo Shioda”

Penn State University is currently conducting an aikido course and part of the course materials are period by Aikido Journal. We invite our readers to follow along with these well-designed assignments.

Hello Aikido students,

This week your assignment is to:

Watch the video of Morihiro Saito Shihan demonstrating outdoors in Iwama

Read article: An Aikido Life (01) by Gozo Shioda

You have already seen film of Morihiro Saito Shihan in the video “Aikido Classics 1: Postwar Greats” shown in class. This video you will watch is of Morihiro Saito Shihan performing a number of essential Aikido techniques outdoors in Iwama. Many of these techniques you have already done or will do soon. Next week you will hear and see many references to Morihiro Saito Shihan and Iwama when Mark Larson Sensei comes to Penn State.

At this point in the semester as you are learning Aikido common questions pop up such as “Is this a real martial art?”, “why don’t we have sparring or competitions?”, “Why are we supposed to have a level of cooperation and ‘agreements’ when practicing?”, “Why do we have to keep repeating techniques like tai no henko and morotedori kokyho?”, and the most common question, “Would this stuff really work in a real situation?”

These questions are addressed in class and best answered over time through training. However, in one succinct article Gozo Shioda Sensei perfectly address all of these and many other questions that plague the beginning Aikido student – and often teachers! Shioda Sensei was one of the premier students of the Founder (also featured in the “Aikido Classics 1: Postwar Greats” shown in class and in the documentary “Budo” that you will see soon. In addition to answering these classic questions examine the differences between Shioda Sensei and his friend, the situation in which they found themselves, how they got there and the outcome. When you look closely there are some very interesting additional insights about Aikido methods and philosophy that are pertinent to students and instructors alike. On a side note, last summer during our class when we visited the Dojo behind Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Mark Larson Sensei told us an interesting story involving the Founder and Gozo Shioda Sensei – ask him about it next week!

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


“The Power of Shodo,” by Josh Gold

“How can we make the spirit and wisdom of the great
martial arts masters accessible to more people?”

Some of us have been fortunate enough to learn from a great martial arts master. We may have experienced something profound through a magical moment in practice. We may have the opportunity to study continuously under a mentor. Some may have even had the rare experience of training as an uchi-deshi (live-in student).

Being published in Aikido Journal, many of the people that read this article have had these experiences, and know the profound, positive impact they can have on our lives. But these experiences are extremely rare, almost legendary, when viewed broadly across our society.

How can we make the spirit and wisdom of the great martial arts masters accessible to more people? How can we receive inspiration, and even gain personal knowledge of a mentor after his or her death? There’s no single answer but we can look to two exceptional masters for one insight.

O-Sensei loved shodo (Way of the brush). Uniquely, he began his practice when close to 70 years or age, under one of his aikido students, Seiseki Abe. Abe Sensei (10th dan) had a unique relationship with the founder of aikido. For over fifteen years, the master of aikido and the master of shodo followed each other as teacher and student in their respective arts. The humble, seeking spirit of these two great men can inspire us all.

Beyond the insight we can gain from the wisdom of the principles reflected in the calligraphy, both O-Sensei, and Abe Sensei believed that through shodo, one can directly experience the ki of the artist. They believed the essence and spirit of the artist is channeled through the art.  I believe it too.

I have the privilege of viewing great original shodo pieces every day. Their visual power and underlying meaning serve as daily inspiration. Having exposure to these great works creates mindfulness of the principles embodied in the art, and serves as a reminder to actualize the principles in daily life.
[Read more…]


Video: Hayato Osawa demonstrates his powerful style of aikido

In this video, Hayato Osawa, son of the late 9th dan Kisaburo Osawa, displays his style of strong, precise aikido. His techniques are characterized by a strong martial spirit and physicality even though he is of a small stature. He demonstrates suwariwaza, hanmi handachi, and standing techniques on this occasion. Osawa Sensei is one of the senior instructors at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo.

Click here to view the video of Hayato Osawa demonstrating aikido techniques


Video: Morihei Ueshiba — “The Founder of Aikido,” highlights of rare film documentary

“Watch for O-Sensei’s incredible ability to perceive his partner’s intent before the attack even starts!”

The Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, remains an enigmatic figure for many practitioners of aikido. This is related to the fact that a significant part of his martial arts’ odyssey, and many pivotal events in the development of aikido took place before World War II. In the post war period, Morihei spent a great deal of time in Iwama until the mid-1950s. By the time O-Sensei started to appear with some regularity at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, he was already in his 70s and considered by most to be in retirement. “The Founder of Aikido” is an important visual document that gives today’s practitioners a window into this phase of the life of Morihei Ueshiba. Scene by scene, we gain a glimpse at his incredible technique, his home and family life in Iwama, and his presence at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo…

Click here to view the video of highlights from “The Founder of Aikido


Las Vegas Seminar: “An unforgettable aikido weekend among peers,” by Stanley Pranin

Front row kneeling left to right: Mike Sverdlov, Alan Morton, Stanley Pranin, Francis Takahashi, Patrick Augé, Alan Kerr, Jay Guerin. Back row left to right: Robert Kordoski, Craig Constantine, John Driscoll, Tom Collings, Scott Santarpio, Matt de Heras, Joshua Kuntzman, Jim Clark, Ricky Tam. Not pictured is Kambiz Sakhai.

“Training, sharing, and polishing technique!”

We just finished yesterday our weekend seminar here in Las Vegas consisting of a special group of 16 top aikido instructors. The theme of the event was “Exploring Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei’s Aikido,” that concept being the central thread of the workshop.

We drew several ideas from Morihei Ueshiba’s 1938 training manual “Budo” and applied them to our training. I also explained various historical events that affected the course of the development of aikido. Over the course of the weekend, we practiced numerous techniques analyzing them each in turn in light of a theoretical model that I have been formulating based on one of O-Sensei’s key principles.

In coming days, we will be posting a number of photos and videos from the seminar which will give you a good feel for the content, setting, and participants.

I will be conducting a similar event in Las Vegas, November 2-4 addressing the same theme. Three spots are left, so if any one is interested in joining us, we would be happy to welcome you on a first-come, first-served basis. Click here for information.


Gallery of Screenshots from Morihei Ueshiba’s 1935 Asahi News Film

“30 magnificent stills from Morihei Ueshiba’s Film Masterpiece!”

We have posted on Facebook an exciting series of screenshots from the famous 1935 “Aiki Budo” film, the only surviving film document from the prewar era. This video featuring Morihei at the age of 51 years was shot in Osaka at the Asahi News Dojo. One is struck by the modernity of many of the techniques and the “ki no nagare” like style of execution.

Morihei demonstrates numerous suwariwaza, hanza handachi (hanmi handachi), tachiwaza, multiple attacks, and sword and bayonet techniques. His partners are Shigemi Yonekawa and Tsutomu Yukawa. There are also brief appearances by Takuma Hisa and Rinjiro Shirata. Most of the techniques are advanced and performed in a flowing style building up to a spectacular multiple attack finale!

Click here to view the screenshots from “Aiki Budo” on our Facebook page.

Morihei Ueshiba’s 1935 film on DVD

Morihei Ueshiba’s 1935 film as a downloadable video


Screencast: Focus on History — “Morihei Ueshiba’s Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu Teaching Certification,” by Stanley Pranin

“At the Center of the Rift between Morihei and Sokaku Takeda”

This is the first of a series of screencasts titled “Focus on History” by Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin. This video provides detailed information on the “kyoju dairi,” or teaching certification, awarded to Morihei Ueshiba by Sokaku Takeda in Ayabe in 1922. This award was made during a six-month long visit of Sokaku to Morihei’s “Ueshiba Juku” located near the headquarters of the Omoto religion.

The Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu "kyoju dairi" teaching certification awarded to Morihei Ueshiba by Sokaku Takeda

The actual photo of the kyoju dairi entry in Sokaku Takeda’s eimeiroku (enrollment book) is shown and explained. The nature of the conditions imposed on Morihei as a certified Daito-ryu instructor, and the vagueness of the financial arrangement specified was a major cause of the eventual split between the two men dramatically altering the course of aikido history.

Duration: 10:47 minutes
Access: free through October 16

Click here to view the Stanley Pranin’s screencast on Morihei Ueshiba’s teaching certification