Mar
24

Historical photos: “Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei performing the misogi jo, c. 1965,” by Stanley Pranin


This series of photos shows Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei performing misogi jo movements inside the old Aikikai Hombu Dojo, c. 1965. If you look closely, you will see that he is actually using two separate weapons. One is the familiar jo-a stick a little over four feet long-, and the other a pointed weapon of similar length called the “nuboko.” Mention of this nuboko, literally the “swamp spear,” will be new to many aikidoka…

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Mar
24

In this video, Bruce Bookman of Tenzan Aikido in Seattle discusses the importance of maintaining a connection with one’s partner using katatedori ikkyo as an example…

I asked how they applied the body techniques to the ken, but no one showed me. Since there was nothing to be done about the situation, I began practicing the ken in 1955 soon after I began Aikido training. What else could I do? Nobody taught me! O-Sensei did sword techniques at lightning speed and would say, “That’s how you do it,” and then disappeared from the dojo. I tried in vain to understand what he was doing and the next moment he was gone.

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Mar
24

POPULAR! Video: “The Magic of Hiroshi Ikeda’s Aikido!”

Hiroshi Ikeda, 7th dan, is the chief instructor of Boulder Aikikai in Boulder, Colorado. He is one of the top aikido instructors in the USA due to his incredible skill level and extensive travel schedule which has carried him all over the USA and many foreign nations. This video clip taken at Aiki Expo 2002 which took place in Las Vegas, Nevada, captures highlights from classes he conducted at that event…

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Mar
23

“Nishio Aikido is an amalgamation of elements drawn from judo, karate, iaido, and jojutsu built on the aikido technical framework and philosophy”

Nishio also felt dissatisfied by the relatively few throwing techniques of aikido that included mainly iriminage, shihonage, and kotegaeshi. Little by little, he developed his own innovative repertoire of techniques that included aikido hip-throws (koshiwaza) based on his background in judo. In a like manner, he systematically incorporated atemi modeled on sword movements to facilitate the setup and execution—“tsukuri” and “kuzushi”—of techniques. He also devised sword and staff counterparts to empty-handed techniques drawn from his extensive weapons background.

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Mar
23

Morihiro Saito: “Following the Founder Into History,” by Gaku Homma

I would like to share what I know about a side of Saito Shihan that has not often been written about; the more private side of the man who is known publicly world-wide as the great martial artist that he was…

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Mar
23

Shoji Nishio: “The highly complex and sophisticated techniques of Aikido”

“Certain people in the world of Japanese martial arts began to doubt that aikido was a martial art. This doubt concerning the martial nature of aikido is often voiced both in Japan and abroad. We have done our best to convey the words of O-Sensei to present-day practitioners and exemplify these principles in our own practice…”

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Mar
23

A physiotherapist’s view: “Aikido and Injuries,” by Bartłomiej Gajowiec

aikido-injuiries

“Warm-ups are not just a waste of time. They are absolutely necessary
during class in order to prepare your body and mind for a good practice.”

I would like to believe that all injuries in dojos are caused by accidental events like catching toes between mats, bad falls, or strikes that reach their mark. I’m afraid the truth is that this is just wishful thinking.

I have a number of observations on the subjects of injuries that follow:

Lack of proper warm-ups

The first and most serious is the lack of proper warm-ups. Warm-ups are not just a waste of time, nor can they be replaced merely by training. Warm-ups are absolutely necessary during class in order to prepare your body and mind for a good practice. Warm-ups that engage the entire body are necessary for everyone regardless of how skilled they may be. Good warm-ups include aerobic exercises mixed with stretches and endurance training. A moment of silence while seated in seiza to aid in concentration is often skipped over. We should leave behind all of the cares and worries of everyday life that can spoil our training in the dojo. Breathing exercises should be regarded as essential.

Forceful application of techniques

The next reason for injuries is the forceful application of techniques. This affects all of us in different ways. Some of us use force more than others, but there is always the temptation to solve a problem with force if the technique is not performed correctly. This coupled with a lack of warm-ups leaves us wide open to injury. By the forceful application of technique, I mean forcing uke’s joints beyond their normal range of movement. This limits their capacity to bear pressure and results in pain. If the body tissues cannot bear the pressure, injury is the result. I would like to sternly warn against such reckless and egotistical behavior in the dojo.

Past and current injuries

Prior and current injuries and illnesses should not be ignored. Our physical and mental history determines our behavior in the dojo. Our agility, skills, degree of caution, and tissue memory of past injuries all affect our practice. Our body contains many areas that are naturally less resistant to mechanical loads. With time, their number increases. This greatly weakens our “mechanical” bodies.

Accidents and injuries

Accidents are the most frequent causes of injuries. Bad falls can result in shoulder and wrist dislocations, and ligament and muscle strains. Twisting can produce knee strains, and ankle and wrist injuries. Falls can also sometimes result in fractures.

I am absolutely certain that all of these kinds of accidents are avoidable. I have pointed out the need for warm-ups above. Logic, analysis, and intent can enable us to avoid injuries. Concentration during training, avoiding a party-like atmosphere while training, and finally an understanding of human anatomy, the mechanics of the locomotor system and physiology can assure a safe and pain-free class. Your body deserves this!

This article is reproduced with the kind permission of the author. Read the original text here.

Mar
23

Video: Penny Bernath Sensei demonstrates Yokomenuchi Kotegaeshi

Penny Bernath Sensei, 6th dan, of the Florida Aikikai, demonstrates Yokomenuchi Kotegaeshi. She enters close to uke’s frontal side thus “jamming” him before applying kotegaeshi. Uke: Jorge Del Castillo…”

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Mar
23

The Last Swordsman: The Yoshio Sugino Story, by Tsukasa Matsuzaki

His friend Minoru Mochizuki (present head of the Yoseikan) once commented about his judo skills: “Sugino? That guy has the kami [divine] in him!” One of Sugino’s favorite judo techniques was utsurigoshi (hip shift), a somewhat acrobatic technique in which the opponent’s throwing power is taken advantage of to throw him instead. He was also fond of urawaza (rear techniques) and kaeshiwaza (reversals) and always exploited openings left by opponents who carelessly underestimated him because of his small size…

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Mar
22

POPULAR! Video: Shaolin Monk’s Super Speed: “Any Lessons for Aikidoka Here?” — Over 18 million Views!

This is a fascinating clip of a highly skilled Shaolin Monk literally toying with his opponent. Aikidoka will see movements here and there that are familiar. Videos such as these can provide many good clues about improvements that can be made in our own martial arts study, a sort of “visual crosstraining…

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Mar
22

Shoji Nishio: “An Innovative Aikido Based On Martial Integrity”

“Certain people in the world of Japanese martial arts began to doubt that aikido was a martial art. This doubt concerning the martial nature of aikido is often voiced both in Japan and abroad. We have done our best to convey the words of O-Sensei to present-day practitioners and exemplify these principles in our own practice…”

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Mar
22

“The secret to performing tai no henko against two uke,” by Stanley Pranin

“Notice in particular how Saito Sensei’s grabbed hand
hardly moves at all when he performs tai no henko”

This photo is from a recent seminar I gave in Las Vegas jointly with Pat Hendricks Sensei. Here I am just completing a tai no henko throw against two uke. There are some interesting things about this photo that illustrate important points about tai no henko.

First, some background. This is a simple exercise anyone can try where two uke grab nage strongly. If nage attempts to use physical strength, he will be easily overwhelmed by the combined power of two people grabbing. In such a situation, nage must relax and attempt to blend.

Nage has the ability to move his wrist because he is grabbed on his forearm. Nage can also adjust his hips and move to a certain extent as long as he does not oppose the power of the ukes. Try this: nage curls his wrist towards his center without disturbing the grabs of the ukes. Nage then moves his center to his curled hand and joins it to his body structure and pivots as in tai no henko. If nage does this without power, the mechanics of the movement will tend to bring the torsos of the ukes forward and downward.

Then an interesting thing happens. Both ukes are brought together and clash against one another. Their body structures are unbalanced which greatly weakens their ability to grab. Their power is thus neutralized. Since nage has harmonized with the two ukes and remains stable while the ukes are unbalanced, he can control the situation without a great amount of exertion.

This brings us to the place shown in the above photo where both ukes are unbalanced and nage is able to throw without strain or having resorted to the use of force. Nage’s extended arm across the first uke’s chest is very heavy because it has the weight of the second uke added to it.

Below is a classic video clip of my teacher Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, explaining and demonstrating tai no henko. Notice in particular how Saito Sensei’s grabbed hand hardly moves at all when he performs the basic tai no henko. For this reason, he is not resisting uke’s grab. Uke does not sense how Sensei will move because his grab is not challenged. Sensei then blends, executes an ura pivot thereby unbalancing uke, while his posture remains rock solid.

Photo courtesy of Li Li of Aikido of Irvine

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