Feb
22

A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training (Revised) by Ellis Amdur

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…

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Feb
21

Spectacular Ukemi performances! Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba in Paris (1980) featuring Moriteru Ueshiba, Hayato Osawa, and Christian Tissier

The demonstration of Second Aikido Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba during the 3rd Congress of the International Aikido Federation in Paris, 1980. Ukes are Moriteru Ueshiba Waka Sensei, Hayato Osawa Sensei, and Christian Tissier Sensei…

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Feb
21

The Making of Morihiro Saito’s Commentary on “Budo”

This photo was taken in May 1998 in Iwama when the Aikido Journal staff was shooting the technical sequences for Morihiro Saito Sensei’s Commentary on “Budo,” Morihei Ueshiba’s 1938 training manual. During the photo shoot, Saito Sensei offered many insights about how the techniques were executed and how they evolved later in the postwar period.

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Feb
20

“Aikido Teaching Styles… Evolutionary or Decadent?, by Charles Warren

In favor of evolutionary a commentator could say, “O-Sensei didn’t teach that way at Hombu in his old age, nor did his son, who managed during his lifetime and led after his passing. Besides, that old style is arcane, choppy, and borders on being dangerous to all involved. Flow is more compassionate and suitable for the modern world. We aren’t a militaristic society. We aspire to peace…”

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Feb
20

Video: Nearly 4 million views! Aikido vs Taekwondo 合気道とテコンドーで闘ってみました

A video clip showing a demonstration between an aikidoka and a tae kwon do practitioner wearing protective gear that has garnered nearly 4 million views on youtube. What is your reaction?…

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Feb
19

Morihei Ueshiba in “Budo”: “Could this be the beginning of Aikido’s Kokyu?”

This is a fascinating photo from Morihei Ueshiba’s 1938 book “Budo” in which he is executing a movement that bears more than a passing resemblance to what later became known as “Kokyu power” in postwar aikido. This was a unique way of rotating his hands in unison to transmit mechanical power to uke to break his balance. Morihei’s art was always evolving, especially during the Iwama period after the war when he had ample free time to devote to his personal studies.

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Feb
19

Video: Bruno Gonzalez and Pascal Guillemin, instructors under Christian Tissier

An excellent video featuring teaching snippets of Bruno Gonzalez and Pascal Guillemin, instructors at the Cercle Tissier during the 2012 Summer Course…

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Feb
19

Let’s get technical! “An Irrefutable Photo Record of Morihei’s Prewar Aiki Budo”

Morihei Ueshiba’s 1938 “Budo” is one of the most important historical documents on the evolution of aikido technique and is very relevant to contemporary students of aikido. We are indebted to the Founder and to Morihiro Saito Sensei for having created these wonderful resources. Here is a video trailer that will give you a good look at Morihiro Saito Sensei’s approach to an analysis of O-Sensei’s old training manual.

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Feb
19

“Aikido Teaching Styles… Evolutionary or Decadent?, by Charles Warren

“One motivation to learn a martial art is to have
some response to that beyond accepting victimhood.”

In favor of evolutionary a commentator could say, “O-Sensei didn’t teach that way at Hombu in his old age, nor did his son, who managed during his lifetime and led after his passing. Besides, that old style is arcane, choppy, and borders on being dangerous to all involved. Flow is more compassionate and suitable for the modern world. We aren’t a militaristic society. We aspire to peace. After all, didn’t the Founder say something about love? What’s loving about a poke in the face or breaking somebody’s bones?”

In favor of decadent, I could reply, “O-Sensei didn’t teach much at Hombu. His appearances were more in the way of demonstrations. It is true that ‘Hombu style’ defines aikido today in that the Doshu presides and teaches at Hombu. Hombu awards certificates of rank and sets standards. However in the Founder’s time, as today, Hombu style is not the unique interpretation of the art. At the Founder’s passing, even before, there were teachers who branched off to promote their personal interpretations of what they learned from O-Sensei, or through aikido practice. Saito Sensei, for many reasons, kept a divergent style affiliated with Hombu and the Ueshiba family. Iwama style is generally associated with kihon waza, which can justly be accused of rigidity. That’s its role. Iwama style is not limited to kihon waza. Sufficient knowledge of kihon waza allows progression to ki no nagare, which has a great resemblance to Hombu Style. As for danger, America, despite the mockery of its detractors is not a particularly militaristic society, at least not in the same sense as prewar Japan. It is, however, a randomly dangerous and violent place. One motivation to learn a martial art is to have some response to that beyond accepting victimhood. There are two kinds of peace which can come from conflict. One is internal a serenity of being associated, almost tangentially, with either victory or defeat and possibly associated with the sense of Shiva’s dance. The other peace, of course, is the resolution of whatever conflict was involved. Watch this: “Somebody picked the wrong girl!”
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Feb
19

“Shihonage: Aikido’s four-corner throw that most get wrong!”

When I first began studying aikido under Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, one of the things I most clearly remember was Saito Sensei’s insistence on a very important detail of shihonage. I had always felt uncomfortable with this technique, especially the part where one steps in front of uke to raise the hand above his head and pivot. Often, uke would pull his arm back to his body to “jam” my shihonage. I did the same thing to stop nage sometimes when I felt my balance had not been taken. I never liked the technique and found it ineffective.

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Feb
19

“Morihei Ueshiba used atemi… Why do we neglect to use it in our training?”

Atemi are desirable and often necessary for the successful setup of aikido techniques, especially in “go no sen” situations, where uke has seized the attacking initiative. Nage must overcome this disadvantage by disturbing uke’s concentration and breaking his physical structure so that he can apply a technique effectively. The photo sequence above shows examples of Morihei’s use of atemi from “Budo.”

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Feb
18

Video: Stanley Pranin on sankyo — “Seize the initiative, unbalance uke, and apply sankyo”

Stanley Pranin explains and demonstrates his approach to the shomenuchi sankyo technique in detail. Unlike static grabbing techniques, nage initiates the technique to seize the initiative, unbalance uke, and allow the sankyo pressure to be applied…

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