Aug
31

Morihei Ueshiba: “Pursuing personal training and ascetic activities with undistracted intensity”

Ueshiba was in his sixties and the possessor of a powerful physique resulting from decades of hard training. Freed for the first time in many years from heavy teaching responsibilities, the founder could at last pursue his personal training and ascetic activities with undistracted intensity. Although Ueshiba had taught tens of thousands of students prior to the war, the aftermath of the horrible conflict left him severed from all but a handful of his former disciples…

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Aug
31

Continuous connection! Seishiro Endo, 8th dan, at the 48th All-Japan Aikido Demonstration (2010)

This video features a demonstration by 8th dan Seishiro Endo Sensei of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Here he displays his soft approach to aikido and extreme sensitivity. This video clip offers a good opportunity to study his advanced approach to the art based on nearly 50 years of experience…

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Aug
30

Hand placement is important! Video: “Fine points of Shihonage”

In this video Stanley Pranin offers his views on some particulars of aikido’s Shihonage (four-corner throw). He discusses the generation of mechanical energy to disrupt uke’s balance through positioning, and arm and body movement, atemi, kiai, etc. Next, is a discussion of the positioning of the hands on uke’s arm to execute Shihonage. He proposes that a common hand placement used is ineffective and suggests using the teachings of Morihei Ueshiba and Morihiro Saito as models. Finally, a comparison of some differences in the execution of Shihonage omote and ura are presented…

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Aug
30

My friends got cold feet! Morihiro Saito: “Learning to fight for the benefit of society”

There was this old man doing strange techniques up in the mountains near Iwama. Some people said he did karate, while a judo teacher told me his art was called “Ueshiba-ryu judo.” It was frightening up there and I was afraid to go. I had a very strange feeling about the place. It was eerie, but some of my friends and I agreed to go up and have a look. However, my friends got cold feet and failed to show up. So I went alone…

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Aug
30

Killer Shihonage: “Escaping serious injury or even death!” by Stanley Pranin

dangerous-shihonage

“Shihonage as one of the techniques causing
numerous deaths in university clubs in Japan”

Aikido Journal Editor Stanley PraninMartial arts techniques are designed to damage the human body. Misuse or carelessness can result in serious injury or death. As a result, we have to take precautions during training to allow participants to practice safely.

Among the hundreds of techniques in aikido, there are several that are particularly dangerous. One of them is shihonage, “the four-direction throw.”

In his seminal article titled “Aikido and Injuries: A Special Report,” Waseda University professor Fumiaki Shishida implicates shihonage as one of the techniques causing numerous deaths in university clubs in Japan. Here is an excerpt:

As can be seen from the above cases, shihonage and iriminage stand out as techniques causing the accidents. In both techniques, it is easy to hit the back of one’s head with the inherent danger of a cranial hemorrhage. Let us first of all consider the case of shihonage. In this technique, the tori holds one hand of the uke and turning his body, causes the uke to fall backward. If the tori does this continously, it becomes increasingly likely for the uke to hit the back of his head depending on the speed, strength and point of release of the hand hold.

In these cases, it was repetitive head injuries in the university clubs where hazing is common that caused the deaths of the unfortunate students.

Morihei Ueshiba executing a "safe" shihonage that does not cause injury (1936)

Morihei Ueshiba executing a “safe” shihonage (1936)

Shihonage is the culprit in another kind of serious injury in aikido. Although not lethal, improper execution of shihonage has led to numerous serious shoulder, elbow and wrist injuries. The way this usually happens is when nage doesn’t make a complete turn when performing shihonage leaving uke’s arm hyper-extended and unprotected. Experienced ukes may avoid injury by taking a high fall to escape the intense pressure on the arm. However, practitioners who are less advanced may be overwhelmed by the pain caused and lack the skills to escape injury to the wrist, elbow or shoulder. In some cases, promising aikido careers have been ended as the victims have been left with chronic pain and loss of function in the injured areas.

In shihonage, it is important to fully pivot bringing uke’s arm back to his shoulder controlling the wrist. From here a safe back fall is possible. A rapid, incomplete pivot where uke’s arm is extended away from his body — as pictured in the color photo above — will leave him exposed to serious injury.

One other point I feel must be mentioned is the fact that there are are occasionally violent people who practice aikido. They train very hard pushing their uke to the limit and leave a trail of injuries in their wake. Some of these injuries are caused intentionally. Anyone who has practiced aikido for a long period of time has encountered such individuals in their careers and knows well what I am talking about here.

It is my personal belief that the dojo-cho is ultimately responsible for what goes on in the dojo and must be eternally vigilant to prevent this sort of dangerous activity under his watch.

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Aug
30

Morotedori kokyuho: “O-Sensei taught this technique without fail in every class!”

1 – From gyaku hanmi, your partner grabs your left hand with both his hands.
2 – Lower your elbow and hips while extending ki through your arm.
3 – Pivot in place, shifting to ai hanmi; look in the same direction as your partner.
4 – Raise your hands upward, pulling your partner off balance and enter behind him with your left foot.
5 – Shift your weight to your left foot and extend your arms towards your partner’s head to execute the throw. Be sure that your eyes continue to look forward to avoid a possible kicking counter…

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Aug
30

I needed a titanium pin… “A Low Impact Aikido Program — Aikido for Everyone” by Paul Rest

A number of years ago my right ankle broke during a Saturday morning class. It was a clean break that took me off the mat for many months. When I returned to training, I started first with very slow two steps and a few sit falls here and there. There was a titanium pin through my ankle which further limited my movements. I also wore an ankle guard for additional protection. Mostly I trained asking my partner to only break balance with me. After the pin was surgically removed, it took many more months before I was up to speed, rolling and falling as I had done before. During one class a couple of months later, my sensei said I had more mobility and flexibility than I did before my ankle broke. Apparently I had learned something important…

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Aug
29

Watch for shomenuchi iriminage! Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba demonstrates at the 30th anniversary of the Aikikai of Italy (1994)

In this video, Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba gives a demonstration on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Aikikai of Italy held in 1994. He executes shomenuchi iriminage in a couple of instances for those wishing to understand the basic Aikikai version of this important technique. This event took place toward the end of his life, but Kisshomaru Sensei’s techniques are well represented here…

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Aug
29

Morotedori kokyuho: “O-Sensei taught this technique without fail in every class!”

1 – From gyaku hanmi, your partner grabs your left hand with both his hands.
2 – Lower your elbow and hips while extending ki through your arm.
3 – Pivot in place, shifting to ai hanmi; look in the same direction as your partner.
4 – Raise your hands upward, pulling your partner off balance and enter behind him with your left foot.
5 – Shift your weight to your left foot and extend your arms towards your partner’s head to execute the throw. Be sure that your eyes continue to look forward to avoid a possible kicking counter…

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Aug
29

“Understanding our ‘obsession’ with O-Sensei,” by Stanley Pranin

morihei-ueshiba-arm-extended

“It is rather the teachings and works of a number of his students that have become regarded as today’s technical standards. O-Sensei is effectively left out of the discussion.”

Aikido Journal Editor Stanley PraninIn recent years, we often present aikido techniques the way they were taught by Founder Morihei Ueshiba and contrast them with later practices that have become the norm in modern schools of the art. Some readers have drawn the conclusion that our intent is to fix Morihei’s method of doing this or that technique as an absolute standard, and that any deviation from this form is incorrect and therefore to be summarily rejected.

This is not the purpose of these exercises at all. First, let me say once again that Morihei Ueshiba’s technical evolution has been poorly documented. It is rather the teachings and works of a number of his students that have become regarded as today’s technical standards. O-Sensei is effectively left out of the discussion.

Our source materials are photos, old films, testimonies of O-Sensei’s close students, and scattered fragments of information that by themselves would be meaningless. We end up having to meticulously assemble diverse bits of information and attempt to come up with intelligent observations that will be relevant to today’s practitioners. To that, add a lot of reflection and the input of readers who provide new insights that allow us to expand the conversation.

It is precisely because of the fact that Morihei’s techniques and methods are so little understood that we go to extra lengths to bring him into the spotlight when discussing the merits of doing aikido techniques in this or that way. Should not the genius who created the art become a genuine voice in today’s dialog on the execution and intent of aikido techniques? We think so. After all he was rather good at what he did!

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Aug
29

Morihei Ueshiba’s original method of iriminage is preserved in Iwama Aikido

We offer the photo above of Morihiro Saito executing his version of shomenuchi iriminage which preserves the method taught by Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei. Morihei’s original version is preserved primarily in Iwama Aikido and was disseminated through the efforts of Morihiro Saito during his active years until his passing in 2002.

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Aug
29

Koichi Tohei Sensei’s iriminage which he called a kokyunage

We present a photo of Koichi Tohei, the other main Aikikai teacher from this period, where he demonstrates his version, here called a “kokyunage.” Tohei leans forward while pressing at the base of uke’s neck to unbalance the latter, and then allows him to stand up before finishing the throw.

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