Nov
16

Shoji Nishio: “We practice aikido because we have fallen in love with something none of the other martial arts offer”

In Aikido, one step means to accept the attack of the opponent. It shouldn’t be one step which ignores people. I wish people would recognize and help each other and complement each other. Our “one step” means “irimi” which has great content. It is to lead the partner. We should face the partner. If you turn away, he will turn away too. We can express humanistic traits through striking, kicking and use of the ken and jo in Aikido as budo…

Click here to read the entire interview of Shoji Nishio, 8th dan

Nov
16

“Connection, an Aiki perspective,” by Francis Takahashi

“If we truly wanted the most reliable directions to any destination,
wouldn’t we first attempt to find the person who actually made the trek?”

If we truly wanted the most reliable directions to any destination, wouldn’t we first attempt to find the person who actually made the trek, and returned to share his findings? Perhaps the second choice would be to read the first hand accounts of that journey, and glean all that we could from interpreting the words, and poring over any maps or directions available. Entertaining a third option, would we really choose to put a lot of faith in the secondary reconstruction of allegedly original documents and sketches, by a person or persons whose measurable skills are mainly limited to translating and deciphering language, with little or no extended experience and measurable success in making a journey akin to the original one of interest, or without personally experiencing and surviving the challenges and obstacles normally encountered on the way to places unknown and unfound? And what of the actual journey back, which constitutes fully another dimension of skills, acumen and appropriate use of finite resources. Again, based on what verifiable data, genuine proofs, or acceptance of the claims by legitimate authority should our confidence be sensibly placed or even justified?

Similarly, if we wanted to go back in time on a historical quest for factual data and as close as possible to any and all first hand experiences dutifully recorded by reputable and acknowledged authorities in that field, wouldn’t we want the connection of the dots to be as narrow and as close as possible? Wouldn’t we need and want to isolate and verify each factor for authentication, independent of any other factor or claim? The spoken word is not worth the paper it is written on, is a classic and sage business admonition, and we should be as skeptical here as well, or be willing to absorb the cost of being proved regrettably irresponsible, foolish and naïve.

I am reading seemingly authoritative sounding accounts by various individuals, trying to make a “connection” of the various discoveries of Morihei Ueshiba’s complex life, his sparse amount of writings, and often arguably unclear records of his teachings. None of these researchers actually had personal, hands on contact with the Founder, nor learned directly from his hand or his voice over an extended period of time. Despite YouTube videos and a scratchy recording here and there, our actual store of irrefutably clear evidence of the Founder’s real intentions, clearly defined vision, or of a well documented history of his achievements remains elusive, to say the least.
[Read more...]

Nov
15

PDF File: Koichi Tohei’s 1974 Letter of Resignation from Aikikai Hombu Dojo

In May, 1974, an event occurred that shook the roots of the aikido world to its very foundations. It was then that Koichi Tohei, the chief instructor of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, resigned from his post and left the headquarters organization to form his own school. Many aikido associations, dojos, instructors, and students, particularly in Japan and the U.S.A., were compelled to make a choice of whether to stay within the Aikikai system or join Tohei’s newly-created Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido organization.

Click here to download Koichi Tohei’s Letter of Resignation FREE THROUGH NOVEMBER 24

Nov
15

Shoji Nishio Interview: “Martial integrity is fundamental to aikido”

There was a big difference between O-Sensei’s and Mifune Sensei’s words. One was saying he would catch him even if he was killed and take him to the police. The other was saying that the thief took it because he wanted it and that he should be let to have it, that it was the person who was robbed that was at fault. There was a world of difference between the two spirits. I thought that even though one practiced Judo all of his life, he could only reach this staqe. On the other hand, I thought that the depth of Aikido as budo was great…

Click here to read the entire interview with Shoji Nishio, 8th dan

Nov
15

Yoshimitsu Yamada: An insider’s look at Aikikai Hombu Dojo in the late 1950s

Koichi Tohei Sensei throwing Robert Bugh in Arizona in 1972. Photo credit: Robert Bugh Sensei

Koichi Tohei Sensei throwing Robert Bugh in Arizona in 1972. Photo credit: Robert Bugh Sensei


The text below is excerpted from the “Biography of Yoshimitsu Yamada” appearing on the Aikido Sansuikai website, Sensei Yamada’s Official Website for Europe.

The Aikikai Hombu Dojo was at that time a completely different place compared to nowadays. The Ueshiba family house was attached to the dojo, and Morihei himself quite often, although irregularly, appeared on the mat. O’Sensei represented the ultimate authority for all of the uchi-deshi. Through his demeanor, he personified all of the qualities a young Japanese used to strive for at the time.

Yoshimitsu Yamada c. 1957

Training was demanding, and life the dojo almost ascetic in nature. This was related to the difficult economic situation in the country after II World War. The Hombu Dojo did not especially stand out from life in general in Japan. The building was not heated, so the temperature dropped below zero degrees in winter, and the summer heat was suffocating. The uchideshi did not have their own quarters or many personal items. Their life was subject to the rhythm of dojo life, and any private moments were very rare. Each of the uchi-deshi had to perform certain tasks and take active part in private lessons.

Yoshimitsu Yamada remembers the schedule from that time even today. The first training, conducted by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, started at 6:30, another one, at 8:00, was taught by Koichi Tohei or Kisaburo Osawa, whom once a week were replaced by Kenji Tomiki. Hiroshi Tada or Seigo Yamaguchi conducted classes at 15:00, practices at 16:00 and 18:30 were run by various other teachers. Koichi Tohei was an idol of many trainees and was impressive for his character and technical skills. Many uchideshi regretted the fact that he was increasingly involving himself in the operation of a school in Hawaii, and that he visited Tokyo rarely. Over time, the number of uchideshi grew, and Yasuo Kabayashi, Kazuo Chiba, Mitsunari Kanai and Seichi Sugano joined the dojo becoming a tightly knit group of friends together with Yoshimitsu.

[The above text has been edited for language and clarity. - Editor]

We invite readers to refer to Stanley Pranin’s article titled “Is O-Sensei Really the Father of Modern Aikido?” for more information on this subject.

Nov
14

Shoji Nishio: “Stand naturally so you can enter immediately when your opponent is about to move.”

In the annals of aikido, there are perhaps ten or so teachers who have commanded universal respect for their high level of skill and major contributions to the spread of aikido. Among this elite list of exceptional figures who have left an indelible impression on today’s aikido, Shoji Nishio stands out as one of the foremost technical innovators and strongest proponents of the founder’s philosophy…

Click here to read the article “Shoji Nishio: Aikido’s Innvoative Genius”

Nov
13

“A young blond woman on center stage with Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, at the Nippon Budokan”

This is a classic demonstration of ken-tai-jo forms by Morihiro Saito Shihan and Pat Hendricks at the 1994 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration held at the Nippon Budokan. It was unusual for any high-ranked Japanese instructor to use a foreign uke in a demonstration. That Pat Hendricks was chosen on this occasion is a reflection of her long devotion towards her teacher, and Saito Sensei’s high regard for her efforts. Now many years later, Pat Hendricks has come to be regarded as one of aikido’s finest instructors in her own right…

Click here to view the video of Morihiro Saito and Pat Hendricks demonstrating ken-tai-jo at the All-Japan Aikido Demonstration in 1994

Nov
12

Video: The remarkable Christian Tissier, 7th dan Aikikai, at Aiki Expo

In this demonstration, Tissier first offers a series of exciting Kashima Shin-ryu kata. Following the sword demonstration, Tissier Sensei demonstrates many elegant and dynamic taijutsu forms in his own inimitable style. He reveals a very high level of aikido that has attracted literally tens of thousands of students the world over.

Click here to view the video of Christian Tissier, 7th dan, at the Aiki Expo

Nov
12

Spotlight on Stanley Pranin’s “Nasty Nikyo!”

“I think of applying the pressure on the fingers right back at
uke’s center. Uke is bent over and completely destabilized.”

Last week, we posted a video with a demonstration and explanation of an especially effective nikyo shown by Stanley Pranin. Uke will usually fall backward. Many people have commented on nikyo done in this manner and have been experimenting with it in their dojos. Stanley Pranin explains this nikyo further in a closeup video that will give you a better view of the mechanics of this technique…

Click here to view the video of Stanley Pranin’s “Nasty Nikyo”

Nov
11

Video: “The World of Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo… the Missing Link of O-Sensei’s Takemusu Aiki”

“Morihiro Saito demonstrates the Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo at the Aiki Shrine in 1979″

In discussions of the evolution of Morihei Ueshiba’s art, the Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo may be considered the “missing link” to an understanding of the Founder’s “Takemusu Aiki.” The latter term refers to Morihei’s aikido during his intensive period of study in Iwama during the war and the years immediately following. Many consider this the actual birth of modern aikido and the epitome of Morihei’s art. Mainstream aikido knows little of this period, and only some schools of aikido regard the practice of the ken and jo as important.

Click here to view the video of Morihiro Saito demonstrating Aiki Ken and Jo techniques in Iwama in 1979

Nov
11

Great pic! Ellis Amdur and Bruce Bookman practicing

“I discovered this photo in my files from Feb of 2011 of Ellis and me practicing. This was taken by a friend of Ellis during a practice session. The shot is not staged. I remember asking Ellis if I could share this with you and AJ and he gave me permission. — Bruce Bookman”

Videos featuring Bruce Bookman
Martial arts study with Ellis Amdur

Nov
10

Real relationship between O-Sensei and Morihiro Saito: “Why did the Iwama country folk flee from O-Sensei, except for one?”

O-Sensei was still young then and did a lot of the work himself, but he also had his students help out… When it came harvest time, though, O-Sensei couldn’t wait for the rest to finish harvesting their own farms, so he was pretty persistent in asking them to come help. For that reason, it was very difficult for some people to continue practicing aikido, and many gave up and stopped coming…

Click here to read the article about the real relationship between Morihei Ueshiba and Morihiro Saito