Video: Nobuyuki Watanabe, 8th dan – Fake or real? You be the judge!…

Nobuyuki Watanabe is an 8th dan instructor at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo, Japan appears in this video clips from the 1987 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration. He is known for his soft, no-touch style of aikido that leaves viewers scratching their heads about his technique. Watanabe Sensei’s unique aikido has come under close scrutiny and many deride his approach.

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  1. Thanks for posting this beautiful video. Clearly someone is trying to stir the pot by posting these suggestive comments and questions. I’ll take the bait — and play angel’s advocate, for what it’s worth. In this kind of case, it is hard not to deride the so-called or alleged deriders. It is tempting just to ignore these kinds of low-level, mean-spirited leading questions. Anyway, I have not met Watanabe Sensei, nor have I had the good fortune of taking a class from him or of feeling his divine techniques. Of course, I have heard of him. You can clearly see his mastery in this video. He looks a lot like O Sensei in his techniques. Quad errat demonstratum (nuff said).

    I also want to mention that it’s not easy taking ukemi like that — you have to have a high degree of flexibility and be able to connect and blend at a high level with nage and have very fast reflexes and a high degree of confidence. It’s an exceptional skill develop over many years. Some might think that uke should stand his or her ground and get battered and bruised to prove their “toughness.” Others might think that nage should pound and slam their ukes to prove that their techniques “work.” There are so many levels of understanding and character development. Those at the early or more primitive levels will predictably dismiss the exhibitions of those at the higher levels as ineffective. That would be like someone criticizing the hockey great, Wayne Gretske because he didn’t fight. Ha, ha. The common man passes by a glorious sunset without a second look. What else is new. The common man is the first to lose his temper and point the finger at someone else. How easy and good it feels to criticize others to save one‘s own face, apparently.

    When A throws a left jab at B’s nose and B ducks out of the way, thereby rendering A’s punch harmless, that also is a no-touch technique, which hardly shows either that the punch was ineffective or that B was acting or complicit in some kind of staged magic show. Go ahead and stand there and see what it feels like to take the jab in the face and then see if you want to come back for seconds, or will you instead learn to move to blend with the attack? The same goes with standing there without adjustment while nage deploys a kokyuho or iriminage. You will only do that once. The audience may not understand. What a surprise, as they sit their in their comfortable chair, drink in hand, leveling incongruent comments left and right.

    Anyway, enough said. For my part, I understand that Watanabe sensei could throw “hard” any day of the week but, fortunately, has transcended the standpoint where he has to hurt someone in order to feel superior. Similarly, uke does not have to challenge nage to show nage how tough he is or in this case to show disrespect to his teacher when he already knows that his teacher could pound and slam him or her at will if they sunk to that level of disrespect for their partners. Imagine being married to such a person. Avert! Thank goodness for evolution, however painfully slow it is unfolding. Hopefully, there is still some small glimmer of hope for our race. Keep going aikido-ists.

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