Jan
31

Morihei Ueshiba’s weapons background: “Did this classical school influence the Founder’s later Aikido? Kisshomaru Ueshiba thought so…”

A bojutsu demonstration by members of the Yagyu Shingan-ryu school. Morihei studied this ryuha while in the army starting around 1904 and occasionally after his discharge.

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Jan
31

Video: 3rd Friendship Demonstration Highlights: “Absolute Proof of the Roots of Morihei’s Aiki Ken!”

This video features clips from the Kashima Shinto-ryu and Yagyu Shingan-ryu demonstrations which were part of the 3rd Aikido Friendship Demonstration. This event was sponsored by Aiki News and took place in September 1987 in Tokyo. Morihei Ueshiba studied these two classical schools prior to the establishment of aikido…

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Jan
31

Kanshu Sunadomari: ” He had a peculiar way of using his wrist and forearm to break uke’s balance with impeccable timing.”

It turns out we needn’t have worried because Sunadomari Sensei gave one of the most unusual and polished performances I had ever seen. His aikido was totally different from any other. Kanshu Sensei’s technique was dynamic and flowing with a great emphasis on the principle of kokyu. He had a peculiar way of using his wrist and forearm to break uke’s balance with impeccable timing. Kanshu was a small man, but it was obvious he had discovered some subtle ways of generating power that no one had seen before. He also showed bokken and jo kata that were completely original. Kanshu capped off his demonstration with several spectacular multiple-attack defenses that were superbly executed. When Sunadomari Sensei’s performance had concluded, he and his students received a resounding round of applause. I am very thankful that we captured his unforgettable performance along with those of the other teachers that day 27 years ago. It is even more gratifying to know that aikidoka today can witness for themselves what happened on that special spring day long ago.

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Jan
31

Ebook: Morihiro Saito Commentary on Morihei’s 1938 “Budo” Technical Manual

This 176-page book is an exhaustive analysis of the famous 1938 technical manual published by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in 1938. This prewar volume is a landmark document that provides the missing link to understanding the technical evolution of aikido from its Daito-ryu jujutsu origins to the modern form of the art…

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Jan
30

Kanshu Sunadomari: “The 10th dan you never heard about!”

It turns out we needn’t have worried because Sunadomari Sensei gave one of the most unusual and polished performances I had ever seen. His aikido was totally different from any other. Kanshu Sensei’s technique was dynamic and flowing with a great emphasis on the principle of kokyu. He had a peculiar way of using his wrist and forearm to break uke’s balance with impeccable timing. Kanshu was a small man, but it was obvious he had discovered some subtle ways of generating power that no one had seen before. He also showed bokken and jo kata that were completely original. Kanshu capped off his demonstration with several spectacular multiple-attack defenses that were superbly executed. When Sunadomari Sensei’s performance had concluded, he and his students received a resounding round of applause.

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Jan
30

Video: Christian Tissier, Bruce Bookman, James Friedman, Clovis Silva: Highlights of the 2009 San Francisco Aikido Project

Highlights from the San Francisco Aikido Project held in June 2009 at the Suginami Aikikai. Featured are the following top Aikido and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructors, namely, Christian Tissier, James Friedman, Bruce Bookman, and Clovis Silva.

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Jan
30

“Kanshu Sunadomari’s mind-blowing performance at the 1st Friendship Demonstration,” by Stanley Pranin

Kanshu Sensei seemed like an excellent candidate for the 1st Friendship Demonstration and Fukiko was keen on the idea that we invite him. There were a couple of problems, one being that he had separated himself from the Aikikai shortly after Morihei’s passing in 1969. There was consequently a tension between him and his organization and the Aikikai. This made some of the other teachers somewhat nervous about Kanshu and how the Aikikai might react to his participation. It turned out that their fears were well founded. I have addressed that part of the story elsewhere…

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Jan
30

“Towards A Reform of Aikido Technique (1): Background” by Stanley Pranin

In fairness, one must remember the circumstances in which aikido took its first, tentative steps in Japan and began to be exported to foreign lands. Japanese society rejected the militaristic spirit and radical nationalism that propelled the nation into a suicidal war. Therefore, anything associated with prewar nationalism and militarism, which of course included martial arts, was met with broad societal disapproval. Morihei’s students who revived the art after the war had to keep a low profile, and deal with rampant poverty, occupation forces, and negative public opinion. This was true of all martial arts. One of the ways some arts attempted to overcome these limiting circumstances was to emphasize or introduce a competitive component. It could then be claimed that these arts had become sports, and were therefore not destined to be used for war propaganda as was the case prior to and during the war.

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Jan
30

Kisshomaru Ueshiba, John Stevens, and Kodansha: “Shapers of the Image of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei,” by Stanley Pranin

The main sources of information on Morihei Ueshiba in the English language are books written by his son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and American author John Stevens. Both have written a series of books dealing with Morihei and his writings that have been widely distributed in English and translated into several European languages. A large percentage of these books have been published through the Kodansha Limited Company, Japan’s largest book publisher. Parenthetically, there is a historical relationship between Morihei Ueshiba and Seiji Noma, the founder of Kodansha…

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Jan
29

Kanshu Sunadomari: “The Diminutive Magician from Kyushu”

The next participant, Kanshu Sunadomari has, up until now, been little known outside of his native Kyushu. Together with 12 of his students, he made the trek from Kumamoto to perform in this demonstration. This was the longest demonstration of the day lasting about one hour and fifteen minutes. Several of Sunadomari Sensei’s students gave individual performances including two skillfully choreographed prior to the demonstration by the head of the Manseikan Dojo. Sunadomari Sensei himself lectured at length about the goals of Aikido and his personal theories concerning the art and then proceeded to give a well-received presentation of his highly unusual approach by showing numerous techniques. Especially fascinating were his handling of group attacks.

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Jan
29

Video: Pat Hendricks, 7th dan, in action… One of the highest ranking female aikido instructors in the world!

This video presents highlights from a seminar Pat Hendricks gave in New Zealand and will give viewers a feel for her clear and precise teaching style. Pat Hendricks Sensei of Aikido of San Leandro, one of the world’s top- ranking female aikido instructors, will be conducting a joint aikido seminar with Aikido Journal founder Stanley Pranin in Las Vegas, March 9-10, 2013. This is Iwama Aikido at its best. Join Pat Hendricks & Stanley Pranin in Las Vegas!…”

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Jan
29

Review of “Aikido: My Spiritual Journey by Gozo Shioda” by Robert Noha

Review by Robert Noha

Introduction

Books by the early generations of Aikido teachers are getting rarer as these teachers, regrettably, continue to pass from the scene. A book by one of the early pioneers, who had in-depth personal experience with Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba, is even rarer.

Like some of Kodansha’s previous books on Aikido (Budo 1991; The Essence of Aikido 1993; The Secret Teachings of Aikido 2007; A Life in Aikido 2008; The Heart of Aikido 2010 and Stanley Pranin’s Aikido Pioneers –Prewar Era 2010) this book offers a picture of the early part of Aikido history; its practitioners and its founder.

Aikido My Spiritual Journey is by Yoshinkan Aikido founder Gozo Shioda. It is a compilation of two books he wrote in Japanese: Aikido Shugyo 1991; Aikido Jinsei 1985, the Afterword comes from Kokyuryoku de Jinsei ni Katsu by Yasuhisa Shioda 1996. Aikido Shugyo and Aikido Jinsei were also published in English in 2002 and 2011 by Shindokan Books and had the same translators as the current book. Parts of it were also translated in the Aikido Journal. You can check their excellent index for the dates.

The book contains fascinating stories from Shioda Sensei’s life. It also has detailed and helpful insights on Aikido training and many stories of his time with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. There are many well displayed historical and training photographs. Kodansha has done its usual good job of high quality book design.

It is both an autobiography and instructional book on Aikido practice. The instructional part goes beyond describing how to do specific techniques. It offers very deep approaches to training that are the result of Shioda Sensei’s lifetime of dedicated training and teaching. He also shares his views and experiences on the spiritual aspects of Aikido practice on and off the mat.
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