Aug
21

Creative use of atemi! Systema with Martin Wheeler: “Structure breaking using strikes”

This is a video shot in Dublin, Ireland, in February 2013, in which Systema instructor Martin Wheeler demonstrates how to break his opponent’s body structure through targeted strikes to key muscle groups of the body. These sorts of approaches may easily be incorporated into aikido techniques. Notice the varied effects and targets of the applied strikes to aid in balance breaking…

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Aug
20

Staying glued to uke: “Seigo Yamaguchi instructing in Osaka (1986)”

This is a rare video of the late Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei, 8th dan, instructing a class in Osaka in 1986. Yamaguchi Sensei displays an incredible ability to stay “glued” to his uke and continuously adjust his posture and contact to keep his partner unbalanced. Very sophisticated aikido by one of the art’s greats!…

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Aug
20

Don’t oppose your opponent! Shoji Nishio: “An Innovative Aikido Based On Martial Integrity”

Particular points to watch for are Nishio Sensei’s initial set up movements, often accompanied by atemi strikes, rapidity and precision during application of techniques, and final controling movements and pins. In this system, for the most part, empty-handed techniques (taijutsu) have corresponding movements using the ken and jo..

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Aug
20

Founder forgotten! “De-emphasizing the Martial Pedigree of Aikido”

Given the art’s core principles as set forth by Morihei, the introduction of competition was of course not an option in the case of aikido. What was done instead within the Aikikai system was to de-emphasize the martial pedigree of aikido’s techniques, and eschew practice conditions that led to the cultivation of a strong martial spirit. Some 60 years later, a large number of practitioners within the Aikikai system are still being formed using this teaching approach, which is not martial in nature and does not reflect the vision of aikido conceived by the art’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei…

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Aug
19

Superb weapon skills! “Katori Shinto-ryu with Risuke Otake Sensei”

This is a wonderful old video on Katori Shinto-ryu featuring Headmaster Risuke Otake Sensei. This is Japan’s oldest classical martial arts school. Otake Sensei, his son, and senior practitioners put on a superb demonstration of sections of the vast weapons curriculum of the school. The skill level displayed is quite extraordinary. Kata using the bokken, iaito, bo, naginata, etc. are shown. The live blade forms demonstrated by Otake Sensei at the 9:40 mark are amazing to behold!…

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Aug
19

We who have forgotten! “An Overview of Koichi Tohei’s Early Aikido Career”

Who is Koichi Tohei and why is he so important to an understanding of the development of aikido? Should he be unceremoniously deleted from aikido history due to past grievances or should he be given due credit for his role in the shaping of the art of aikido?…

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Aug
19

Shoji Nishio’s reflections: “Doubters of aikido’s martiality”

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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Aug
19

A forgotten era: “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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Aug
17

“Brilliant intervention strategy saves man’s life,” by Stanley Pranin

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“The group of guys quickly got in their vehicle and drove off.”

In a response to my blog of yesterday titled “What if you have to intervene? What are your options?,” Jennifer Smith wrote the following on Facebook that I found particularly interesting:

I drove past a group of men beating another man on the street. It was 1am and I was alone. But I KNEW to my bones that guy wouldn’t survive.

What did I do? I made a U-turn, pointed my car at them from across the way, shined my brights and blasted my horn until all of the lights in the neighbors windows went on. The group of guys quickly got in their vehicle and drove off.

The man on the ground survived. It had been a racial hate crime.

So, that’s what I did…

Reading this reminded me that intervention to subdue violence make take many different forms. It can sometimes be accomplished without touching anyone, and in this case, at a distance. Thanks to Jennifer and the many others who offered their insightful comments on Facebook and on our blog site.

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Aug
16

What if you have to intervene? What are your options? by Stanley Pranin

“Is your only option to ‘attack the attacker’?”

intervene-in-a-fightYesterday’s blog on the consequences of waiting to respond to an attack struck a chord with readers.

To further explore this topic, l would like to extend the discussion by positing the following scenario. You come across a dangerous situation that you perceive requires you to intervene to help someone, perhaps a loved one, or even a stranger. You personally are not being attacked. Your immediate judgement is that someone will die or be severely injured if you do not act.

How does your dojo training prepare you to deal with such a situation? Has your teacher ever discussed the matter? Have you ever given the topic any serious thought?

I have been faced with such a situation and describe what happened here.

Many will react to this line of questioning by adopting the assumption that they have to “attack the attacker” in order to save someone in danger. Is this really our only option?

Our readers represent a huge pool of life experience. I would like to tap your collective knowledge to engage in an intelligent dialog on this important topic, something we may quite possibly have to face during our lifetimes.

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Aug
16

Shoji Nishio: “The karate teacher couldn’t strike O-Sensei!”

He came up to me and said: “I met someone who is like a ‘phantom’. I couldn’t strike him even once.” I was amazed that there was someone that even Sodeyama Sensei couldn’t strike. It was O-Sensei. Sodeyama Sensei came back to Japan after the war. Since he did not have anywhere to go he came to Konishi Sensei. Then he was told to come to Hombu. Sodeyama Sensei laughed to himself thinking that this Aikido was being performed by such an old man. O-Sensei felt that the Karate sensei was making light of him and said: “You are thinking that you can strike me, aren’t you?” Sodeyama answered: “Yes.” O-Sensei then responded: “I see. I see. Strike me. I’ll just walk around. If you can, strike me.”

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Aug
15

A look into his character’s head… Hiroyuki Sanada: Interview with star of “Tasogare Seibei” and “The Last Samurai”

This video consists of an interview in English with Hiroyuki Sanada, star of “Tasogare Seibei” (The Twilight Samurai) about his impressions and experiences of filming this classic samurai film. Sanada also had a prominent role in “The Last Samurai” starring Tom Cruise as the latter’s rival in swordsmanship…

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