Oct
28

Aikido’s first 10th dan! “Interview with Koichi Tohei,” by Stanley Pranin

I began studying aikido because I saw that Ueshiba Sensei had truly mastered the art of relaxing. It was because he was relaxed, in fact, that he could generate so much power. I became his student with the intention of learning that from him. To be honest, I never really listened to most of the other things he said…

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Oct
28

Early Morihei in action! “Channeling the Power of the Gods,” by Stanley Pranin

I began collecting films of the Founder Morihei Ueshiba at a young age, probably about 18 or 19, when my first teacher Isao Takahashi lent me a copy of the 1953 film taken in Wakayama Preference. It was very enjoyable watching this powerful, old man throw around much younger students with ease.

More than anything else, it was a curiosity, an item of interest to be shown on special occasions. Our model at that time was Koichi Tohei Sensei, and our teachers modeled themselves after him

Over the years, I collected a few more films, and began translating articles about the Founder’s life from the Japanese. Then later, I moved to Japan and started interviewing O-Sensei’s students one by one. Little by little, I got a clearer picture of how the Founder’s aikido was, and what made it so special.

Many of the old-timers spoke of some kind of extraordinary power that O-Sensei possessed beyond the dimension of physical strength. Some said that it seemed as though the Founder were enveloped by some kind of impenetrable energy barrier. They said his body was as hard as steel, and that they were defeated before they could physically attack…

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Oct
26

Aikido watered down… “Going to the source to find Aikido’s essence,” by Luke

I think that one should begin their method by looking at what Morihei did, or perhaps even what the extant Daito Ryu schools are doing, given our common heritage. From there, of course we evolve and create our own aikido. However, without that groundwork upon which to create one’s own aikido, that aikido is bound to be fraught with problems insofar as martial efficacy is concerned. And also potentially the safety of one’s uke if one attempts to go into all of this fast nagare waza without that solid foundation…

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Oct
25

O-Sensei’s uke from the 1950s and early 60s! Nobuyoshi Tamura, 8th dan, demonstrates on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the FFAB

The late Nobuyoshi Tamura, 8th dan, gives an outstanding display of technical virtuosity, performing both empty-handed and sword techniques, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the FFAB…

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Oct
25

Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu: “Lifting the veil of mystery surrounding Aikido’s roots”

One of the highlights of the 3rd Aikido Friendship Demo held back in 1987 was the Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu demonstration given by Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei and members of his Tokyo-based Shimbukan Dojo. This demonstration was particularly significant because the aikido public was not very aware of the connection between aikido and Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu at this stage. Thus, there were a lot of curious onlookers wanting to find out exactly what this old art that supposedly influenced aikido was really about…

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Oct
25

Misinformation becomes cited fact! “Common Misconceptions about Aikido History,” by Stanley Pranin

Many of the common mistakes made by historians have been perpetuated in print for decades. Unfortunately, they are here to stay. This is especially true for works written in Western languages which, in almost all cases, draw on secondary sources. Although Aikido Journal has a broad readership built up over 37 years of publication, we do not represent the mainstream of thought in the aikido world on historical matters…

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Oct
25

“Going to the source to find Aikido’s essence,” by Luke

“Aikido has a very powerful martial efficacy when trained properly. It’s simply been trained out by certain groups or teachers over the years as it was watered down.”

aikido-obi-generic-150The text below was submitted as a comment in reply to a video blog title “Iriminage — O-Sensei Style”. The author brings up a number of salient point that I think will be of interest to many of our readers. – Editor

I’m glad to see continued attention paid to Morihei’s methods, and using the sources available, from Budo to Saito, to show the actual facts of the matter. It’s interesting what I’ve heard people say over the years, from intermediate students to shihans, about various techniques. It seems everyone claims to be doing the “best thing that Morihei perfected,” because they practiced with such-and-such teacher who was, of course, Morihei’s most trusted, experienced student. I never knew there were so many masters out there, so many super-long time, super-close students! He must’ve had uchideshi piled in his lap. It annoys me when people try to basically lie to their students about a given teacher’s time under Morihei. It’s not like time under Morihei equals a master; he trained tons of students who probably weren’t that great, and at the same time, plenty of people have come out of that era of the Aikikai with superb aikido and almost no time at all (some none at all) with teaching from Morihei. It’s just a status thing, and until you put forth the evidence for people to draw their own conclusions, it was easy to get away with saying that stuff. Thankfully, no more.

Seriously, though, this video and the others like it are fantastic. I’m glad the more controversial aspects are being addressed head on. It’s about time to begin setting the record straight. A thesis supported by raw fact is what I see in your videos and articles like this. Of course, the reader can draw his or her own conclusion, but one cannot deny facts and photo/video evidence. The photos and video available to us has allowed us a very big and important glimpse into Morihei’s personal method of doing his techniques.

This has proven invaluable to me in my own study, as I’d rather go to the source or something close to the source (such as Saito) than to people who changed things later on. I think those people are still wonderful and they inspire me every day; people like Nishio, Yamaguchi, Osawa, and on and on. However, I think that one should begin their method by looking at what Morihei did, or perhaps even what the extant Daito Ryu schools are doing, given our common heritage. From there, of course we evolve and create our own aikido. However, without that groundwork upon which to create one’s own aikido, that aikido is bound to be fraught with problems insofar as martial efficacy is concerned. And also potentially the safety of one’s uke if one attempts to go into all of this fast nagare waza without that solid foundation. Of course, Morihei and even Daito Ryu aren’t the only sources for developing a solid foundation, but what draws me in is that I’m doing aikido here, so why would I want to look elsewhere when we have so much material from Morihei and Saito to study?

I hope you will continue to be more vocal and draw emphasis to these things. I’m entirely on board with a mission to bring aikido closer to the Founder and, perhaps more importantly for some people, show that aikido has a very powerful martial efficacy when trained properly. It’s simply been trained out by certain groups or teachers over the years as it was watered down, and much of it with good intentions in mind, I’m sure, but, well, results are results.. One could argue the reasons, but those are meaningless because results are what count. If your technique fails, it doesn’t matter what Kisshomaru or someone did to change aikido. It matters that you study up and figure out what’s wrong with yourself, you know? I think Morihei’s legacy is a damn fine place to look for those solutions, but that’s just me.

Oct
24

3.8 million views! Real Samurai Sword – Cutting BB Gun pellet by Isao Machii

Japanese sword expert Isao Machii cuts a white BB shot at him with a slice of his katana. Is this a trick or an amazing demonstration of skill? You be the judge…

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Oct
24

As the Aikido world was being ripped asunder! Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba’s 1974 Demo in Los Angeles

The fact that Doshu had traveled from Japan to lead this demonstration was certainly special. However, a great deal was going on behind the scenes and, in many ways, this event was truly historic. This is exactly the point in time when the resignation of Koichi Tohei from the Aikikai Hombu Dojo had become imminent. In fact, Koichi Tohei was in Los Angeles at the very same time to give a demonstration and seminar! Aikido in the USA was in a state of upheaval…

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Oct
24

Don’t dance around in a circle! Yoshimitsu Yamada explains kosadori iriminage at Montreal seminar (2010)

Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei, 8th dan, of the New York Aikikai, demonstrates kosadori iriminage at a seminar held in Montreal, Canada in 2010. During his demonstration, he explains the alignment of nage with uke’s body in iriminage, and also mimicks jokingly this technique performed where nage dances around in a circle, a commonly seen but ineffective way of executing iriminage…

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Oct
24

Stanley Pranin Video Blog: “Iriminage — O-Sensei Style”

Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin describes the origin and execution of Aikido’s iriminage technique as conceived by Founder Morihei Ueshiba. He explains how this essential technique has its origins in prewar Japan and was further refined in Iwama after World War II. Iriminage today is practiced in many different ways, but O-Sensei’s method, though well documented, is not widely known…

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Oct
22

What exactly is going on here? “Morihei meets Sokaku — The Untold Story” by Stanley Pranin

The story of the association between Morihei Ueshiba and Sokaku Takeda as retold by Kisshomaru Ueshiba in various of his publications is seriously deficient in terms of historical accuracy.

Early on, Sokaku Takeda, the disseminator of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, the main technical influence on aikido, was portrayed as an evil, money-hungry martial artist who had actually killed people in sword fights! Also, the extent of Morihei’s study under Sokaku was greatly distorted and described as “only a couple of months,” or even less in certain instances.

Kisshomaru Ueshiba went to great lengths to minimize the influence of Daito-ryu on Morihei stating boldly the this art was only one of several studied by the Founder, and implying that the Daito-ryu’s role on modern aikido should not be overemphasized.

I have amply demonstrated through extensive research that this is certainly not the case. However, those interested in this fascinating topic should draw their own conclusions based on available materials.

This article is one of many I have published to advance my thesis that Morihei Ueshiba studied Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu in great depth, was one of its most outstanding exponents, and that, in technical terms, modern aikido consists largely of modified Daito-ryu techniques.

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