Feb
24

“How to count that actual number of techniques in Aikido,” by Charles Warren

I count the number of techniques in “Budo” to be fewer than 50, but there are so many variations of each it’s hard to calculate. Plus we’ve lost all the leg pins and some of the more obscure arm pins from the normal training repertory…

Click here to read more

Feb
24

Video: Old School Jiu-Jitsu Self Defense

“These techniques have been around a long time!” — This is a rare old film of Viking Cronholm, physiotherapist, boxer and elite-sportsman, is the man who introduced Ju-jitsu in Sweden in 1908. He learned his art, likely Kano Jiu-jitsu, in South Africa. Cronholm authored a book titled “Jiu-Jitsu Tricks” in 1908, and taught jiu-jitsu until the 1950″s in Sweden…

Click here to watch video

Feb
23

“Decoding Morihei Ueshiba’s Technical Evolution,” by Stanley Pranin

Anyone attending a seminar conducted by Morihiro Saito Sensei during his active years will have noted him frequently referring to a small illustrated manual. In fact, Saito Sensei would often open this booklet to the page illustrative of his teaching point and walk from student to student showing the technique in question for a brief moment. He would repeat over and over, “O-Sensei! O-Sensei!,” as if to validate his technical explanation with the stamp of approval of the ultimate authority–Morihei Ueshiba…

Click here to read more

Feb
23

Aikido Journal Podcast #2 featuring Stanley Pranin and Pat Hendricks in Questions & Answers Session

The second episode of the Aikido Journal Podcast hosted by Stanley Pranin features guest Pat Hendricks, 7th dan, of Aikido of San Leandro. In Part 2, Pat and Stan answer five questions submitted by readers on various aikido-related subjects. Pat Hendricks and Stanley Pranin will conduct a joint aikido seminar in Las Vegas March 9-10, 2013…

Click here to watch podcast

Feb
23

“How to count that actual number of techniques in Aikido,” by Charles Warren

I count the number of techniques in “Budo” to be fewer than 50, but there are so many variations of each it’s hard to calculate. Plus we’ve lost all the leg pins and some of the more obscure arm pins from the normal training repertory.

Numbered (pinning) techniques

Ikkyo – gokkyo (5, 6 if you count “reverse ikkyo” also named by Saito Sensei as a shihonage variation. Both irimi & tenkan versions of each.)

Named techniques (a baker’s dozen)

Irimi nage (MANY variations, at least one old & obscure)
Kokyu nage
(sometimes considered a (very large!) set of koshinage variations)
Koshinage
Ganseki-otoshi (variations include the rarely performed over the shoulder sideways carry-over from Daito-ryu. I’ve had that occur naturally once with a particularly long, lean and strange uke.)
Kokyuho
Tenchi-nage
Kaiten-nage
Sumi-otoshi
Shihonage
Juji-nage
Kotegaeshi (includes reverse kotegaeshi)
Kokyu dosa (suwariwaza kokyuho)

Of course, my naming system is “Iwama style”. Other schools call things differently.
[Read more...]

Feb
23

“Ranking, an Aiki Perspective,” by Francis Takahashi

“What is the almost visceral attraction of being handed progressively higher
grades for members of those organizations in the greater Aikido community?”

Why is there such an apparent fascination with having ranks, certifications, and the special status that often attends the highest numbers in the realm of Aikido, and of other martial arts systems as well? What is the almost visceral attraction of being handed progressively higher grades for members of those organizations in the greater Aikido community, that are based, not on any mutual developed standards of established merit, but rather on the seemingly simple exercise of their self held rights, capacity and license to do so, regardless of outside approval? And finally, is such ranking any true indication of proven prowess, acquired knowledge, and for a legitimate license to then freely transmit such knowledge and traditions to interested others?

Some cynics may point out that grading, while arbitrary, and not necessarily conforming to any universally established or accepted standards, is an excellent method of acquiring and keeping students who pay the bills. This viewpoint may especially be applicable on reviewing how children and youth programs are administered, and have successfully been run. Opinions do vary, but it is no secret that there are both benefits and consequences to such a business oriented philosophy of instructing traditional martial arts, and spreading its reach to many. Only in such a context can a comprehensively thorough and fair review be accomplished.

Anecdotes about the Founder of Aikido giving out ranks without forethought abound, with an apparent frequency and arbitrary serendipity that baffles the credulity of any outside observer. O Sensei never felt constrained by notions of organizational standards or of building consensus of support for consistent ranking. His childlike glee in shocking people was only matched by the indifference he had to ranking itself. Michio Hikitsuchi Sensei, from the Wakayama Prefecture, comes to mind as someone who admits that he was given his 10th dan directly from the Founder. I have as yet to receive confirmation from Aikikai Foundation that this gift was formally recognized and recorded. I do know of others who were offered direct promotions, but were quietly dissuaded by Hombu officials from advertising that information.
[Read more...]

Feb
22

“50 techniques that Morihei Ueshiba taught that we know about with certainty”

I am of the opinion that no martial art is better than another, but not for the reasons some might think. Some martial arts are clearly, undeniably, better for fighting, at least in certain contexts, and some martial arts are far more adaptable when moved to a different context. Each martial art is good for what its good for, and whatever it is good for is what it is made for. Consider this: in prewar Japan, professional sumo players were, on average, probably the toughest, most fearsome empty-handed fighters around. During the Second World War, they were primarily used as draft animals, like donkeys or other beasts, to haul heavy objects up hills…

Click here to read more

Feb
22

“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”

Given the art’s core principles as set forth by Morihei, the introduction of competition was of course not an option in the case of aikido. What was done instead within the Aikikai system was to de-emphasize the martial pedigree of aikido’s techniques, and eschew practice conditions that led to the cultivation of a strong martial spirit…

Click here to read more

Feb
22

Pat Hendricks: “On becoming a 7th dan Shihan under the mentorship of Morihiro Saito Sensei”

Possessing virtually no Japanese language skills, but full of determination, Pat immersed herself into Japanese life as an uchideshi of Saito Sensei. Typical of her character, she threw herself headlong into her training, and quickly earned a reputation as a promising up-and-comer and a favorite uke of Saito Sensei. Almost daily, Pat could be seen inside the Iwama Dojo taking impressive high falls, her blond hair tied up in a pony tail whipping from side to side…

Click here to read more

Feb
22

Video: Jason Wotherspoon — “An Aikidoka cross trains in knife combat”

Every movement in the form has a functional purpose, even if it may not be readily apparent. There are no aesthetic or non-functional movements in the form. Explanation of the movements and their applications will become clear with oral instruction. The instructor, Jason Wotherspoon, has over 25 years of formal and informal training in various martial arts, including Shotokan Karate, Iwama style Aikido, Hatsumi-den Ninjutsu, Yang style Tai Chi Chuan, Kali and Escrima knife fighting, Silat and Shuriken-jutsu…

Click here to watch video

Feb
22

“Babe Ruth and the Prince!”

Morihei Ueshiba maintained his connection with Prince Kaya after the war. As mentioned above, the Prince was fond of Japanese martial arts, and served as the honorary chairmain of the Kokusai Budo Renmei (International Martial Arts Federation) during the 1950s. He was also an avid baseball fan and met Babe Ruth in 1934 during a tour of the USA. There is even a photo of the Prince with the “Bambino” that has survived. The Prince was a strong supporter of Japanese baseball throughout his lifetime…

Click here to read more

Feb
22

Video: The Way of the Warrior : Katori Shinto Ryu with Risuke Otake

“The Way of the Warrior” was a documentary shot by the BBC which aired in the 80s. The last part of the series was called: “The Samurai Way.” It was never to be released on DVD and has become rare collectors footage for martial artists all over the world. A young(er) Risuke Otake explains and demonstrates the finer techniques and philosophies of Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu. An must-see documentary for everyone who is interested in the way of the samurai…

Click here to watch video