Jun
21

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Morihei Ueshiba’s 1938 “Budo” is one of the most important historical documents on the evolution of aikido technique and is very relevant to contemporary students of aikido.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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Jun
21

Budo: “Iriminage — Aikido’s crown jewel!”

Iriminage is a technique that Morihei began adopting in the late 1930s. It is a highly sophisticated blending technique that requires little physical strength, but that can produce very powerful throws. In the photos above, first notice how Morihei lines us his feet to match uke in aihanmi. His hips are turned to the outward. In the next photo, you can see clearly Morihei’s body positioning and grab of uke’s collar. In the final stage, Morihei pivots his hips in preparation for stepping thow. Note that uke is completely unbalanced.

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Jun
21

“Budo” offers numerous insights into the prewar martial art of Morihei Ueshiba

It provides a capsule view of those techniques that Ueshiba considered the basics and the way they were executed in the mid-1930s. The technical descriptions offered are succinct and highly instructive. As Budo was published in 1938, the techniques covered represent a transition phase between the Daito-ryu aikijujutsu Ueshiba learned from Sokaku Takeda and modern aikido. Several basic techniques covered in the manual — for example, ikkyo, iriminage, and shihonage — already bear a close similarity to those taught by the Founder in the postwar period in Iwama…

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Jun
21

At the Hombu Dojo in the 1950s: Interview with André Nocquet, 8th Dan

This is an audio interview — supplemented by many wonderful historical photos — of André Nocquet. Nocquet was the first foreign aikido student to live and train at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo in the mid-1950s. He learned directly from Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba and the senior instructors at the Aikikai. Nocquet describes his stay in Japanese and experiences at the Hombu Dojo and his recollections of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei…

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Jun
20

A thorny issue! “Can Competition Enhance O-Sensei’s Aikido?” by Stanley Pranin

Another of the most frequently advocated solutions to this thorny issue is the introduction of competition to add a realistic dimension and provide a quantifiable way of measuring one’s skills against an opponent. The argument is often framed in such a way that the measure of a martial system is based on how exponents fare, or presumably would fare, in a match situation…

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Jun
20

Morihei’s 1938 Training Manual: “A study of techniques that is highly relevant to modern aikido”

Here, I would like to offer a few comments about the manual titled simply “Budo,” and point out some aspects of its technical significance. One of the immediate obvious characteristics of “Budo” is the frequent appearance of “atemi” or combative strikes used by Morihei during the setup and execution of techniques. In the postwar era, the use of atemi became less frequent and was downright discouraged within the Aikikai system as being excessively violent and counter to the harmonious nature of aikido.

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Jun
20

Aikido’s first 10th dan! Highlights of “Koichi Tohei: Aikido with Ki”

This widely-viewed video clips features highlights from a film documentary on Koichi Tohei Sensei, one of the most important figures of postwar aikido. Scenes from a 1974 California seminar, warmups and exercises from the 1960s, and excerpts from a biography of the famous 10th dan are included…

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Jun
20

Amazing display of technical virtuosity! Morihiro Saito demonstrates Shihonage techniques

Morihiro Saito demonstrates scores of aikido’s shomenuchi arts in an amazing display of technical virtuosity. Morihiro Saito was one of the closest students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. He learned directly from Morihei O-Sensei, oftentimes on a one-on-one basis, during more than 20 years in Iwama…

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Jun
20

Budo: “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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Jun
20

Satsujinken and Katsujinken, by Dane S. Harden

He told the story of his own extensive injuries from World War II. He detailed how guilty he felt over the last fifty years that he had never been able to tell the medics who evacuated him his own “thank you,” and so he was taking this opportunity to thank me for caring for his grandson, and also in a way, he was thanking the medics from that war fought more then half a century before for his own life, the fruit it had obviously borne. Only a soldier truly realizes the price of freedom, and the cost of wielding those damned swords!…

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Jun
19

Budo: “Large number of weapons techniques reflect the tenor of the times”

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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Jun
19

Budo: “Atemi everywhere!”

One of the immediate obvious characteristics of “Budo” is the frequent appearance of “atemi” or combative strikes used by Morihei during the setup and execution of techniques. In the postwar era, the use of atemi became less frequent and was downright discouraged within the Aikikai system as being excessively violent and counter to the harmonious nature of aikido. In retrospect, it seems ironic because, not only was Morihei using atemi heavily in the prewar period, but he can be seen applying atemi strikes right up to the end of his life in his surviving films…

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