Jun
30

“Have you thought through the implications of defining aikido as a ‘self-defense art?’” by Stanley Pranin

“The aikidoka would have no chance against a rapid attack
because the time window to respond is too small.”

Aikido Journal Editor Stanley PraninI can’t count the number of times I have read that aikido is a “self-defense art,” or that “aikido doesn’t initiate the attack.” These sorts of utterances are commonplace when one attempts to define the essential characteristics of the art to the general public. I must confess that for many years early in my career, I parroted the same statements reflexively without carefully analyzing the implications.

Consider one of the obvious — at least to me — implications of such statements. Taken at face value, this implies that an underlying principle of aikido is “go no sen,” that is, a situation where the attacker seizes the initiative and the aikidoka responds in self-defense.

If you pause for a moment and think, you might see some problems in operating on this basis.

If the attacker seizes the initiative, the defender has a greatly reduced amount of time to respond. The defender must attempt to get off the line of attack, unbalance the attacker, and execute a counterattack in fractions of a second. Given the compressed time frame available to the defender to respond, this is a tall order indeed!

There are some further implications of thinking of aikido in such terms.

If the attacker has gained the initiative, the aikidoka has been caught unaware of the impending attack. This would suggest a lack of situational awareness.

Assuming a scenario where the attacker has the initiative, the attack must be executed slowly in order to practice. The aikidoka would have no chance against a rapid attack because the time window to respond is too small.

Practicing slow attacks leads to “no attacks” in the sense that the attack is devoid of intent and commitment. It is difficult to apply aikido techniques on an uncommitted uke due to the absence of attacking energy to animate a counterattack.

The consequences of thinking of aikido in these terms are far reaching. I would suggest to you that Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba viewed the art he created in an entirely different manner. Take a look at this video and see if you think that Morihei Ueshiba’s ukes have seized the initiative and the Founder is responding after the fact.

I look forward to your comments!

Click here for information on the complete collection of Morihei Ueshiba films in downloadable format

Jun
29

Greatest teachers the art has known! “Youtube and Aikido – Is it really worth it?” by Sam Street

The desire to attack itself and to cause harm, comes from a predatorial warp of consciousness, an imbalance that believes the so called “silver rule” as some call it, is to “get them before they get you, just in case they might want to.” It is a left-over from the less than mythical bygone ages of ancestral cannibalism based on paranoia. It is most often in error, and by initiating aggression preemptively, in fact crosses the line that determines criminal activity…

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Jun
29

Look at the way Morihei does it! “People still get the hand position wrong on this basic technique!”

It seems surprising that a key technical point of one of aikido’s most important basics escapes the attention of many aikido practitioners.

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Jun
28

Performance standard of mainstream aikido: Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba at 2010 Aiki Taisai in Iwama

This video captures the demonstration given by 3rd Aikido Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba in Iwama at the 2010 Aiki Taisai in commemoration of the passing of Founder Morihei Ueshiba. The Doshu’s aikido exemplifies the soft, fluid style of the art taught at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo and considered the standard of performance in mainstream aikido…

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Jun
28

Take a close look and learn! “Budo — Gateway to the techniques of modern aikido”

Several of the techniques presented in Morihei’s 1938 “Budo” training manual were continuously refined by Morihei in the postwar period in Iwama.

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Jun
28

Hidden unmentionables… “Why can’t the aikido world get together?” by Stanley Pranin

This is where the journalist/historian comes in. Such people conduct research, write down facts and opinions, and publish their findings. They have their supporters and detractors. The journalist/historian often appears as an academic type, perhaps having the outward demeanor of a mere fly on the wall. Such persons are, however, potentially very dangerous to the established order, as they have the power to strip the players in the political drama of their outer facade by using their insider knowledge…

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Jun
28

A Guide to Technical Excellence! “Morihei Ueshiba’s 1938 Training Manual”

Video footage and iconic images from the Founder’s prewar treatise of Aiki Budo techniques as explained and demonstrated by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan. This training manual holds the key to understanding the evolution of the art culminating in the Takemusu Aiki, the Founder’s highest achievement…

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Jun
28

These two books and a video explore “Budo” in-depth and expose its secret teachings”

In addition to this seminal video, Saito Sensei later wrote a technical volume titled Takemusu Aikido Special Edition: “Budo.” This work expands upon the contents of O-Sensei’s “Budo” manual, covering the same material in book form. Saito Sensei’s manual takes you through the execution of O-Sensei’s techniques in detail with notes describing the evolution of the Founder’s thinking from the prewar to the postwar era. “Budo” the book, contains hundreds of photos of both O-Sensei and Saito Sensei that aid in understanding the technical material….

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Jun
27

Fluid and athletic! Masamichi Noro of Kinomichi demonstrates Jo Kata in late 1970s

This is a splendid jo demonstration by Masamichi Noro Sensei, the founder of Kinomichi, taken in the late 1970s. His movements are fluid, athletic, and unlike anything you may have seen. The influence of Noro Sensei’s exposure to dance is readily evident. Masamichi Noro entered the Aikikai Hombu Dojo as an uchideshi in 1955. He was dispatched to France in 1961 as a 5th dan rising to 6th dan in 1963. Noro Sensei later separated from the Aikikai Hombu organization. In 1979 established Kinomichi (The Way of Ki), which consists of aiki-like movements done in a slow-motion manner…

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Jun
27

The pitfalls of history by omission: “Morihei in Tanabe,” by Stanley Pranin

Unlike other periods in the life of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, his early years in Tanabe and family circumstances are not well documented. Our principal sources of information on this period of Morihei’s life are the biography of Morihei Ueshiba published by his son Kisshomaru in 1977, later interviews and conversations with the author, and a few pages from the first biography of the Founder written by Kanemoto Sunadomari in 1969. To this can be added the recollections of members and relatives of the Ueshiba and Inoue families…

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Jun
27

Powerful, precise and effective… Katsuyuki Kondo demonstrates at Aiki Expo 2005

A close viewing of this video offers aikido practitioners an excellent opportunity to study the precursor forms of various aikido techniques. You will be able to discern both similarities and differences between the two arts. You will notice in particular the liberal use of atemi and the specialized pinning movements peculiar to Daito-ryu…

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Jun
27

“O-Sensei continued refining these techniques from the late 1930s through the Iwama years after World War II”

“Budo” presents an historical overview of the Founder’s aikido techniques from the time of the mid-1930s through the Iwama period following World War II. It is based on technical material contained in the manual entitled “Budo” published in 1938 by Morihei Ueshiba supplemented by detailed commentary by Morihiro Saito Shihan. The technical material in this volume includes preparatory exercises, basic techniques, knife (tantodori), and sword-taking techniques (tachidori), sword vs. sword forms (ken tai ken), mock-bayonet (juken) techniques, and finishing exercises (shumatsu dosa)…

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