Mar
31

Video: TV documentary: Inside the Iwama Dojo with Morihiro Saito, 9th dan

This is an excellent Japanese tv clip from 1992 featuring Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, in the Iwama Dojo and outdoors in the Aiki Shrine. Saito Sensei gives an excellent demonstration as does his son, Hitohiro Saito. There is an interesting split-screen section where ken and taijutsu variations of techniques are shown at the same time. In addition, Saito Sensei and Hitohiro Sensei are interviewed close-up, and viewers will gain a good glimpse of their respective personalities…

Click here to watch video

Mar
31

Yoichiro Inoue: “One of Aikido’s most important figures deleted from history”

The name of Yoichiro Inoue is mentioned only occasionally as one of Morihei’s early students who also happened to be his nephew. That such an important contributor to the development of the art has been given such short shrift in aikido histories is an inexcusable omission and one that I hope to right through the article that follows…”

Click here to read entire article

Mar
30

Morihiro Saito: “I saw nothing but the real thing for 23 years!”

“It is a big mistake to think that there is no ki no nagare practiced at Iwama. The ki no nagare techniques of Iwama are executed faithfully as O-Sensei taught them. People tend to train in a jerky way. And when people do soft training they do it in a lifeless way. Soft movements should be filled with the strongest “ki.” People can’t grasp the meaning of hard and soft because they didn’t have contact with O-Sensei…”

Click here to read the entire article

Mar
30

“Challenges Are Steppingstones,” by Nev Sagiba

“To convert aggression, violence, attack, indeed any challenge into a steppingstone is the prize..”

What makes Aikido different? How did it come about? Yes, yes, we all think we know because we’ve read something, but let’s assume for a moment that all writings and the opinions and biases that come with them suddenly did not exist and you stepped into a time machine and got sent back in time.

How would you arrive at something like this? And why? How would Aikido emerge naturally from attrition.

Did Aikido come about because of an opinion or because of real die hard necessity?

Opinions are not worth much. In the final analysis, what works, works because it does, not because someone’s ego thinks it should. That is why governments, hyper cerebral academics and anyone disconnected from the actual, without on-the-ground hard experience generally make so many faux pas.

I’ll give an example. Ever watched a movie and in a few minutes an apprentice to a master becomes a master himself and wins the battle and having identified with the protagonist hero you walk out thinking you are too. Until you trip or walk into something. Then you wake up from the dream.

The movie was trying to portray the passing of many years of grueling, regular, hard discipline. Instant gratification generally leads to decay. Work, regular work is the price demanded by existence, innate in the nature of the universe to achieve a goal.

Aikido, began in the killing fields. I venture a guess that some tired, older, more experienced dudes were set upon by younger, fitter, fresher men and yet they still survived using the principles of efficiency to win with economy of motion, pivotal leverage and doing less to achieve more. Necessarily, even if surprised at the outcome, the clearer thinkers would have sought to study and refine this. Over time it was researched, reworked, refined and so jujitsu, or aiki evolved.

Interestingly for the hundredth monkey, at about the same time that the jujutsus were unfurling in the East, in the West such notables as Newton were unlocking the scientific principles of physics, efficiency, gravity and all the other attributes which comprise and compose quality jujutsu.

An attitude of mind arose around this that can and does lead to personal mastery. And it is this. Whilst many whine and acrimoniously excuse themselves as victims of those who steal resources to hold power over others, this natural principle of aiki, innate in the very nature of the Universe totally steps outside the all-lose bully-victim pathology by simply tapping the energy generated by the attack to one’s own advantage. And it can devolve into all areas of life, inner and outer, social and physical, mental and spiritual. Why struggle? You risk losing. Resistance is futile. So is surrender. Where is the advantage hidden in the situation? Challenges can be made into steppingstones by a shift of attitude, which opens the mind to myriad other possibilities and potentials missed by the fixated, stuck, entangled mind.

Nature does not yield her secrets too easily. To say this is easy and while the principle is simple, it has to be consciously addressed to be earned and a lot of letting go of erroneous opinions are required to step outside of the matrix. We are species that tend to cling to older methods with a, “better-the-devil-I-know..” attitude. Once freed from our own entrenched self-hypnotism, biases, prejudices, opinions and fixations that we make into self-fulfilling prophecies, the freedom of ki flow, we give rise to the Takemusu that makes anything possible. The authentic freedom can control appearances without force, fakery or manipulation. They have to be worked and we needs-be surrender our prejudices of mind, body, attitude and spirit.

To convert aggression, violence, attack, indeed any challenge into a steppingstone is the prize that Aikido, the universal Kannagara no Michi yields to the serious practitioner. It cannot be faked. Aikido, to be real requires a measurably really challenge, for in a challenge resides stored energy that can then be tapped.

Let the attacker go for it. Let the attacker wear himself out. Let him spend the money. Learn to get out of the way with skill and if necessary, at the proper moment, you can capture the moment to lead the energy to resolution. The attack will dissipate.

Challenges are steppingstones. It is possible to develop the skills to see how and to better navigate life.

Aikido is the physical art that teaches the mind to embrace, understand and deploy this principle of aiki in all things. A worthy way of life.

Without this principle at the core of our intentions, if we still want to do things the hard way, if we still seek struggle, clumsiness and loss of integrity, ulterior motives or any other sideline that’s not in accord with the Great Harmony of the Universe, Aikido would be a futile pursuit which will fail to yield its secrets.

Aikido is not yet another calcified, casehardened set of opinions about “style”, but rather the most refined way to do anything and everything. Indeed the best research is to be found in the worst attrition under life and death pressure. (Many more discoveries are made during war than peacetime.)

And it’s a perennial work in progress. As the Founder said, “Aikido is the discovery of the universe and its possibilities. It is a vast path without end..”

The challenge principle is at the foundation of the weaving of the universe itself. Challenges are designed to be steppingstones. Find out how and everything changes.

Nev Sagiba
aikiblue.com

Mar
30

“Elements of Aiki Weapons Partner Practices Part 2: Brush Block with the Jo” by James Neiman

Introduction

O’Sensei’s development of practices involving the Aiki Ken and Jo were passed on to successive generations in the Iwama tradition, and have, to this day, continued to be developed as partner practices often referred to as the Ken Tai Jo, Kumi Jo, and Kumi Tachi. Based on the skills and movements inherent to the Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi, Morihiro Saito Shihan and Hitohiro Saito Shihan have continued to build and refine the weapons partner practices so that it is possible to practice fluid dynamics using both offensive and defensive tactics. From these practices Aikidoka can extend the ideas to develop precise technique in relationship to one or more attackers with both empty-handed taijutsu and more general weapons partner practices. The basis for the utility of the practices is the usage of large external objects that increase visibility and awareness of all aspects of Aikido technique, as well as distancing, movement, energy extension and absorption, and timing.

At Shugyo Aikido Dojo we teach the Suburi, Ken Tai Jo, Kumi Jo, and Kumi Tachi to all students as part of a standardized curriculum in the traditions passed to us through our lineage with Morihiro Saito Shihan, Hitohiro Saito Shihan, and Pat Hendricks Shihan, and we encourage advanced students to continue exploring variations on the standard repertoire and identify connections with empty-handed partner practices.

Because of the continuous evolution of the partner practices, and out of respect for the leaders of our style, this series focuses on generally applicable elements of the partner practices, rather than laying out entire sequences that are subject to change. This approach will help ensure that the skills discussed will never become obsolete, as opposed to the practice sequences, which can and do change often. For example, at this moment in time, the 1st Ken Tai Jo involves parries as part of a lengthy series of interactions between two partners. Instead of attempting to describe the entire 1st Ken Tai Jo, the more limited and productive goal in a given paired article and video would be to describe only a parry, which is involved in several other partner practices as well. It is much more empowering to practice and master one individual movement at a time, because this allows the Aikidoka to use those movements in any way desired, and easily mimic any contemporary sequences.

This is the 2nd in a multi-part series on the elements of the Ken Tai Jo, Kumi Jo, and Kumi Tachi. All articles in the series are paired with YouTube video demonstrations of each of the partner practice elements (click here to subscribe to the channel). These paired demonstrations and articles are offered to Aikidoka who would like to more fully understand the precise mechanics within each of the weapons partner practices, how they can be practiced in both solo and partner settings, and how one can align the practices with taijutsu to develop increasing competence and precision with both basic and advanced technique.

Note: all the practices described in these articles assume a ki no nagare relationship, meaning that the attacks and defenses occur simultaneously.

Brush Block with the Jo

In this initial article on the Aiki weapons partner practices, we examine the skill of using a brush block against an attack using your jo. The attack may come in the form of a thrust or strike with a jo or bokken, and the goal is to absorb and deflect the attack while stepping back, using a brush block motion. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this partner practice. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 3 major sections:

  1. Drop and connect
  2. Transfer momentum backward
  3. Anchor and block

 
[Read more...]

Mar
30

Video: Nick Lowry on aikido and judo chokes

A useful series of choking holds as extensions of aikido techniques to expand your repertoire. These underused techniques are clearly demonstrated and explained by Nick Lowry of the Windsong Dojo in Oklahoma City…

Click here to watch video

Mar
29

Morihiro Saito: “The method of parrying yokomenuchi”

“The method of parrying a yokomenuchi attack is described in the section on yokomenuchi training in ‘Budo’, “Invite your opponent’s yokomen strike with your ki. Advance with your left foot while striking the left side of your opponent’s head with your right tegatana.’”

Click here to read the article

Mar
29

Seigo Yamaguchi instructing at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo c. 1975

This is a color 8mm film of Seigo Yamaguchi, 8th dan, shot by Alain Guerrier during a class at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo c. 1975. The quality is quite good considering the early date of this video. Yamaguchi Sensei was one of the most important of the first generation of aikido instructors of the postwar era. He taught at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo for several decades until his passing in 1996…

Click here to watch video

Mar
29

Quotable quotes from Morihiro Saito’s “Takemusu Aikido: Background & Basics”

“When executing omote, or entering techniques from ryotedori, begin from ai hanmi with you and your partner in the same stance with the same foot forward. Ura, or turning movements, begin from gyaku hanmi, with both of you in a stance with your opposite foot forward…”

Click here to read more

Mar
29

“Daily Shugyo,” by Francis Takahashi

“Good decisions result from applying wisdom, and
that wisdom itself is the result of bad decisions”

Shugyo, in Japanese, basically refers to the concept of training in a discipline of choice. It can also connote “ascetic” training, which means to “lead a life of discipline and self denial, especially for spiritual purposes.”

This second description appears to be more commonly held as pertaining to the core of martial arts training and personal development. Yet, the vast majority of those who participate in martial arts training at almost all levels do not exhibit this level of intensity of purpose, or dedication to real mastery of their chosen art form. It seems enough to simply be a part of the process of practicing principles and techniques, without any sense of urgency or special results or goals in mind. This is not meant to impugn their characters or to denigrate their decisions. It simply is what is normally encountered in the world of martial arts practice and accepted as such.

If one seriously wants to take it to increasingly higher and more severe levels, there is no shortage of opportunities or outlets to follow such urges. One does need to be wary, however, of the many seemingly legitimate and “proven” schools and instructors who promise to deliver such environments and teachings. “Caveat emptor” certainly applies, where the “buyer” must always “be aware”. The sad realization is that, often enough, good decisions result from applying wisdom, and that wisdom itself is the result of bad decisions. Commit yourself to exploring fully each possibility, and trust your inner self to make the best decision. If you err, do not hesitate to learn from your mistakes, and to make immediate changes accordingly.

Does one really need a guru, a special teacher, or a proven system to follow in order to attain significant results from pursuing one’s dreams? Not necessarily. After all, the most important teacher you will ever encounter in life is the one that looks back at you in the mirror. Surround and support this essential teacher with all the best assistant teachers you can find, but do not despair if this is not always possible. Look deep within yourself and you will surely discover that all the elements for making good decisions, and the capacity to act on them, are there, and have always been there. This is the secret of the masters, which is no secret, as they have always been cajoling us to do that very thing. The Founder of Aikido, constantly and consistently reminded us to have faith in ourselves, and to create our very own form of aikido. It is up to us to decide to begin, and to continue.

In summary then, “shugyo” is what we want to make it to mean for ourselves. It can be as hard and excessive as we choose, or we can take it day by day, allowing the fabric of our daily lives to guide us in our choices. There is neither a correct nor an incorrect answer to the question of which is best. It only matters that you find and keep the one that is best for you and your well thought out goals of training, and of living. The one trait that any choice has in common with the others, is that it must be a daily discipline, fueled by the desire to achieve, and led by the uncompromising will to settle for nothing less.

Contact Aikido Academy USA

Mar
29

Video tutorial: Learn to navigate the Aikido Journal Members Site

Stanley Pranin, Editor of Aikido Journal, gives you a walk-through of the content of the Aikido Journal Members Site, which is the largest archive of aikido-related materials in existence. There are literally thousands of pages of content with over 1,700 documents, more than 10 thousand photos, over 100 videos, audio recordings, and an assortment of other items. This tutorial video will give you an overview of the vast amount of material contained in this site that you can consult to improve your skill and knowledge of aikido…

Click here to watch video

Mar
29

“Daily Shugyo,” by Francis Takahashi

This is the secret of the masters, which is no secret, as they have always been cajoling us to do that very thing. The Founder of Aikido, constantly and consistently reminded us to have faith in ourselves, and to create our very own form of aikido. It is up to us to decide to begin, and to continue…

Click here to read more