Apr
24

Popular! Video: Koichi Tohei, 10th dan: “Pioneer of Aikido in the USA”

Koichi Tohei Sensei was one of the first Aikikai shihan to disseminate aikido in the USA. His first trip abroad was to Hawaii in 1953 where he remained for a year. He set up a large network of dojos in the islands, and visited made other times subsequently. Tohei Sensei’s first trip to the mainland USA took place in August 1965. He remained very active as the chief instructor of the Aikikai until his resignation in 1974. Tohei Sensei founded the Shinshin Toitsu Aikido at this time, and taught this style of aikido that combined ki aikido techniques and a ki pressure healing system called “Kiatsu” thereafter…

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Apr
23

Morihei’s Ueshiba Juku, Launchpad of a Martial Arts Career, by Stanley Pranin

Early in my career as a researcher into the life of Morihei Ueshiba, I was misled by two prevailing myths concerning the history of aikido. The first was that Daito-ryu jujutsu was merely one of a number of older martial arts that influenced the technical development of aikido. This proved to be a misrepresentation of historical fact in that Daito-ryu was, technically speaking, by far the predominant influence on aikido. The second myth was that Morihei Ueshiba had something akin to a “star” status within the Omoto religion that placed him almost on a par with Onisaburo Deguchi, and that he was somehow a “non-member” member of the sect…

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Apr
23

Morihei in 1935: “The Tenor of the Times Reflected in the Weapons Demonstrated…”

The weapon being used in the above photo is the juken, sometimes called a mokuju, which means a mock or replica rifle with bayonet. Morihei would teach many techniques using this weapon in his courses at the various military institutions where he taught martial arts and tactics in the prewar period…

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Apr
23

Morihei at 51: “The Moment of Discovery of the Rarest of All Aikido Documents!”

A private showing was arranged for me back in 1979. I sat down in the viewing room while the operator threaded the film into the 16mm projector. Then the lights were dimmed and the projector started rolling making a loud clattering sound. The titles flickered across the screen accompanied by rather grandiose music, and I settled into my seat holding my breath. Then a short, muscular man with a balding head walked briskly onto the mat and bowed to his students. I felt the tears well up in my eyes because at that moment I realized I was watching Morihei at 51 years of age!

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Apr
23

Breaking away from Daito-ryu: “Morihei’s technical Tour de Force still amazes after 78 Years!”

I had known about the existence of the 1935 film of Morihei for a number of years. A few of the old-timers had actually seen the old Asahi News documentary, and spoke about it in terms that fired the imagination. Why was this precious document being withheld? Since the film was no longer shown and had been locked away, my only hope was to find an outside source; it was like looking for the veritable needle in the haystack…

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Apr
23

“A Smile and a Friendly word…,” by Nev Sagiba

“No matter how bad people seem, I always treat them with the utmost respect possible. They feel that and usually reciprocate.”

Some of my Aikido students have worked in security related professions. One in particular stands out. I’ll call him D… to protect his professional anonymity.

Where it is possible to do so, he quietly approaches the suspect and says, “You’ve been caught..” speaks quietly with them. At least 60% of the time they follow him in quietly. No physical contact is required. D…’s Zanshin is sharp. Recently when walking to an embukai together, I was getting a running commentary on who was walking out which store with what, which thieves were professional or amateur and other details of the profession which must remain classified. “Put it down, D…” I said; “You’re off duty now.” I learnt to put it down years ago, I still notice, but I let it go. Even superman would get tired being on the case full time but D… still enjoys the job. Anyway after quite a few years D.. recently got promoted to an administrative position. Well earned, I might add, and as a result we might see him back at training soon.

D… does not look ‘tough’. As with most of the better security personnel I have had the privilege to know, you could not pick him. In fact, when there’s a movie star in town and the bodyguards are short staffed he always gets assigned because he has the looks and blends in nicely. He enjoys these rare occasions and the reprieve from the violence of the store floor and street on such assignments.

D… is a quiet, modest and gentle soul who prefers ‘the easy way’. Over time, there’s been knife, gun, syringe, armed gang attacks.. you name it. When the other security staff run in fear, they call out: “Where’s D…?” and always he resolves it and brings in the suspects. And yet he’s the only staff member who consistently, over many years, has never sustained any injury in the job. Even on the occasions he had to rescue several police from very vicious attacks in holding cells.

I could go on. War stories can be both fun and educational, but become trite in the face of such consummate skill at de-escalation and notwithstanding, good record of successful task performance.

What is it this guy has got the others don’t? I mean they do some stupid things because most of them do not train and become confused by their own fear. And there are many badly handled incidents. For example, one of the ex-senior staff is being sued for wrestling a 50 year old lady to the floor, tearing her clothes off and injuring her. On mere suspicion!! How do you spell stupid? The other staff have sustained numerous injuries and even been hospitalised in the aftermath of brutal attacks and reprisals. And yet when things go really bad they always call for D…. He trains Aikido. The Japanese police require Aikido training as mandatory. Good move.

Many security guards do not have a clue. Worse so, some have sociopathic tendencies and hide behind the role so they can get an opportunity to hurt people. Happens regularly, a mere arrest turns into a murder. It’s a disgrace and a black mark against the industry. Thugs and cowboys belong on the other side of the metal bars.

Anyhow what is it D…’s got?

After quite a few years, he does not train at the dojo now, though everyone wants him back,  (Now in training, with D… this pure soul if you don’t do the technique right, nothing happens, yet he brings the same gentle power and respect into the dojo).

“What do you put your success down to?” I recently asked him.

Invariably the reply is: “Aikido training and the fact no matter how bad people seem, I always treat them with the utmost respect possible. They feel that and usually reciprocate. They must have their own inner struggles. Just because I’m arresting them does not mean I have a right to misbehave. Nor does it make me in any way superior to them.”

“What, even when laying on of hands?”

“Yep, I see it as a form of healing,” he says. “They seldom do struggle to the point of a break, really small percentage, but notwithstanding Aiki heals the mind of violent tendencies.”

D… can back up his gentleness with thunder when called for. But D… does not hold people’s foibles against them, rather behaves with compassion even in the midst of violent necessity. He says, “My job is not to judge anyone or to mete out any punishment. That’s for the courts. I’m just helping minimise crime in the best way I know how. It’s just a job.”

And in making it easy for others he makes life easier for himself too.

D… genuinely loves people and he takes charge of situations with an attitude of quiet respect, a smile and a friendly word and only uses ‘backup’ if and when necessary.

Now that, as far as I can see, is good practical Aikido at many levels.

Nev Sagiba
aikiblue.com

 

Apr
23

Morihei Ueshiba’s Aikido: “Did you know that Sokaku Takeda certified Morihei Ueshiba in the Yagyu-Shinkage-ryu sword?”

The Founder showed a great interest in the sword throughout his martial arts career. He even received a Yagyu Shinkage-ryu sword certification from Sokaku Takeda in 1922 although the exact content of his sword training under Sokaku is not known. Later in 1937, he officially joined the Kashima Shinto-ryu classical school which had an influence on his experimentation with the sword especially during the Iwama years from 1942 to about 1960.

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Apr
23

Video: Seigo Yamaguchi, 8th dan, conducting class in Tokyo in hardwood floor dojo

A most unusual video of Seigo Yamaguchi, 8th dan, conducting class in Tokyo on a hardwood floor. An excellent glimpse of Yamaguchi Sensei’s teaching methodology and his care of his students by having them feel first hand the subtleties of his technique…

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Apr
23

Video: Christopher Hein reconstructs techniques from Morihei Ueshiba’s 1934 manual titled “Budo Renshu”

I have been working with the techniques from Budo Renshuu, the 1933 Kobukan Aiki Budo training manual. These are the techniques that eventually became what we know today as modern Aikido. There are 166 techniques in this manual, here are techniques 50-60…

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Apr
22

Video: Minoru Mochizuki’s “Sacrifice Techniques” performed by Terumi Washizu

This is a beautiful video clip depicting a series of orginal sutemiwaza (sacrifice techniques) devised by Minoru Mochizuki, the creator of Yoseikan Budo and a student of both Morihei Ueshiba and Jigoro Kano. Terumi Washizu Sensei performs the techniques in this video…

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Apr
22

On Atemi: “Would Morihei have scolded his students for using atemi?… Au contraire!”

The Founder can be seen applying atemi or “preemptive strikes” right up until the end of his life. But today, atemi have fallen into disuse in aikido. I believe this is due to a misunderstanding of its purpose. Atemi is an action used to preempt uke’s aggressive intent through a distractionary manuever in the form of a strike. The use of atemi is not for the purpose of hitting or “softening up” uke prior to performing a technique. Its role is similar to that of the kiai in that it disrupts uke’s concentration.

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Apr
22

Morihei Ueshiba’s Aikido: “Founder’s perfect posture when executing techniques”

To begin with, when viewing footage of the Founder one is struck by his excellent posture at all times. Good posture is, of course, common sense in martial arts and nearly any physical or sporting activity one can mention. Practice of the sword develops good posture and we have written elsewhere about the Founder’s keen interest in the sword that dates from the mid-1930s.

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