Oct
21

“How Aikido changed my life,” by Daniel Brasse

Daniel Brasse in front of the Aiki Shrine in Iwama

Daniel Brasse in front of the Aiki Shrine in Iwama

“Saito Sensei did not disappoint and I knew right away
that I needed to experience life at the dojo in Iwama!”

As I sat quietly in seiza next to Saito Sensei’s bed, with Rie-san translating his words, a mixture of emotions ran through me. How could it be that Saito Sensei, a mountain of a man who seemed so indestructible, be so ill and stuck in bed? He will somehow beat this cancer and come back on the mat to teach, I thought.

As Sensei spoke, I could see Rie-san out of the corner of my eye fighting back tears. We had heavy hearts, but Sensei did not complain – he was more concerned about what was practiced during morning keiko (class), and he seemed pleased to hear the report. He looked at me and said, “Daniel san, suburi, suburi, suburi.” Even from his bed, Sensei was still giving directions on the chores to be done around the dojo. I took this to heart, and today I still stress the same point to my students.

I remember thinking how privileged I was to be there, one-on-one with Saito Sensei, in this very personal and private moment. Even though cancer had ravaged his body and caused paralysis from the waist down, Sensei still radiated that unique energy and looked amazingly strong.

He also insisted that I share some juicy red strawberries with him. Tatoian Sensei had brought boxes of strawberries all the way from California; Sensei really enjoyed those strawberries! I was tasked with helping Rie-san, who was head uchi-deshi at the time, to refill the kerosene heaters at Sensei’s house. One day as we were refilling the heaters, I heard Sensei querying who was there – Rie responded, “I am here with Daniel san”, and that’s when Sensei said “bring him inside!”

How did I come to be here, worlds away from my tiny island home of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean? Essentially, I arrived in Iwama through a zigzag of adventures and misadventures; I guess you could say I took the fast track to adulthood by becoming a father at the age of 18. Although parenthood was the result of an impulsive and irresponsible moment in time, it set me on a challenging course to be a responsible father and provide for my family. My ex-wife’s family had migrated to Melbourne, Australia, and they convinced us to join them in the ‘promised land’ to provide a brighter future for our family. Armed with a high school diploma and no formal college education, we arrived in Melbourne in the heart of winter with fifty bucks in my pocket. Three days later, I was on the 5am train to my first ‘grown-up’ job working 12-hour shifts in a Toyota factory. The factory was dark and cold, and during my 15-minute breaks, I would nestle up to the nearest fluorescent wall light to absorb some heat. Occasionally, I would close my eyes and think of my teenage friends and brothers and sisters back in Mauritius, soaking up the sun.
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Oct
19

Sadateru Arikawa, 9th dan: “He was talkative, tireless, severe yet cheerful, fearsome on the mat, and fiercely loyal to the Ueshiba family”

My staff would dread these visits by Sensei because it would interrupt their work flow. Also, no one other than me had such an unquenchable interest in aikido history that I shared with Arikawa Sensei. Besides, many people found it difficult to understand his speech, myself included, because he talked in a scarcely audible, raspy voice. I never could figure out why Sensei talked in this way until much later when he told me the story…

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Oct
18

Must watch… Rumiko Hayes — “More Martial Magic of the Diminutive Ninja Lady!”

This video presents another inspiring display of this incredible martial artist. Rumiko Hayes’ perfectly timed soft-style manuevers take advantage of positional and anatomical weaknesses to control her opponent. These movements are beyond style and much martial wisdom awaits the careful observer!…

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Oct
18

Did you miss out? What was it like to attend a Morihiro Saito Seminar in person?

11 years have now elapsed since the passing of one of aikido’s greatest teachers… Morihiro Saito. The reality is that there are many aikido practitioners who have never had an opportunity of learning directly from this gifted teacher. For that, we are left with his legacy for guidance. Fortunately, there are literally hundreds of teachers who did study directly under Saito Sensei who are active and offer excellent instruction.

Even more fortunately, Saito Sensei was one of the best documented aikido instructors of his generation… the aikido greats of the immediate postwar era who left a powerful imprint on today’s aikido. There are thousands of video clips of varying quality recording different aspects of his long career. Among the very best of these materials are the 14 hours of lovingly subtitled videos comprising the “Aikido Masters Course,” available for 3 more days.

Take a look at the images above to get an idea of what it was like to be present at one of Saito Sensei’s seminars. He was kind, precise, humorous, dynamic… and best of all, he freely teaches you the aikido left by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in Iwama in the years after the war. Saito Sensei’s classes are full of detailed explanations. Everything is clear and… “steal-able!”

So you have within your reach 7 full seminars, a total of more than 14 hours of instruction, plus 8 invaluable technical manuals written by Saito Sensei. The video below will provide you with full details of the “Aikido Masters Course” for your thoughtful consideration. 3 days are left…

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Oct
18

What is a pacifist… really? Shindo Yoshin Ryu: “Interview with Yukiyoshi Takamura”

Some aikido teachers talk a lot about non-violence, but fail to understand this truth. A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence. He chooses peace. He must be able to make a choice. He must have the genuine ability to destroy his enemy and then choose not to…

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Oct
17

Seishiro Endo Sensei explains and demonstrates absolute relaxation (Toulouse, 2008)

This is a fascinating video of Aikikai Shihan Seishiro Endo. In it, Endo Sensei executes numerous techniques in a go no sen scenario while in front of uke. Under these difficult conditions, he displays a totally relaxed posture while handily manipulating his partner. Watch this several times!

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Oct
17

Is Morihiro Saito’s Aikido the perfect model for everyone? Certainly not… but you should absolutely be familiar with his curriculum! Here’s why…

Probably most of you are familiar with Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, one of the closest and most skilled students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Saito Sensei was unique in aikido history because he just happened to live and train in Iwama, the small town where Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei resided and built his private dojo.

Serendipitously, Saito Sensei worked for the Japan Railways on a 24-hours on, 24-hours off schedule. What this meant in practical terms is that he alone was able to spend lengthy hours at the side of Morihei assisting the Founder in his daily life, and most importantly, receiving a great deal of personal instruction. This being the period immediately after the war, other students in Iwama were struggling to make ends meet and had regular daily work schedules that limited the amount of time they had to practice the art.

As a result of this unique set of circumstances, Saito Sensei was able to master the vast curriculum bequeathed by Morihei Ueshiba, including the Aiki Ken and Jo practices that the Founder invested so much energy into developing.

Saito Sensei always stated that he was not free to develop his own personal aikido as were others, but that his mission was to faithfully preserve the wonderful Takemusu Aiki he learned from Morihei Ueshiba in Iwama.

So in the “Aikido Masters Course” you will get exactly that… a faithful presentation of the techniques of the Founder… the very foundation of modern aikido!

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Oct
16

*You can’t learn from a video… but I won’t let you film me because my techniques will be stolen!*

*You can’t learn from a video… but I won’t let you film me because my techniques will be stolen!*

No kidding! I once heard a famous martial arts instructor voice these two viewpoints within a single conversation.

Of course, you can’t learn without a good instructor by watching videos alone. But what about someone who has considerable training experience… and is highly motivated? Someone like you!

It is indeed possible to learn a great deal from watching a video over and over again. This is why thousands and thousands of martial arts videos have been produced and sold now for decades! Why would people waste their money if there were nothing to be gained from viewing videos?

Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido was the type of person who could “steal” techniques by simply observing the demonstration of an expert martial artist. He had an “eye” for good technique. Why not you!

The 14 hours of video of Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, comprising the “Aikido Masters Course” we are now offering are filled with techniques that are designed to help you “steal” them! What a concept!

We have carefully edited this invaluable seminar footage and added subtitles so that you don’t miss a word of explanation. And you can go back and review the same scene over and over and imprint the correct execution of a technique until you make it your own.

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Oct
15

The Iwama Aikido Curriculum from Morihiro Saito, 9th dan

There are literally hundreds of aikido techniques handed down from Morihei Ueshiba’s years in Iwama following World War II. They form the core techniques of modern aikido.

The problem for aikido practitioners is to find a way access this vast body of material in an efficient manner. Morihiro Saito Sensei was one of the closest students of the Founder and spent many years at his side in Iwama. Saito Sensei left many books and videos explaining in detail this wonderful curriculum. The pedagocial resources left by Saito Sensei provide an elegant answer to every aikidoka’s dilemma.

Aikido Journal has assembled 7 lengthy subtitled videos and 8 training manuals that cover in great depth the technical legacy. We have called this set of 15 study aids “The Aikido Masters Course.” This material is a dream come true for many aikido practitioners wishing to get a solid grasp of this vast aikido curriculum. This offer ends Sunday, October 20th.

Oct
15

Peak performance! “Sensen no Sen: Taking Performance to the Next Level,” by David Shaner

Peak performance requires calmness under stress, which yields expanded awareness, which feeds the ability to clearly focus on the right “stuff.” This enables you to perform with confidence at a higher level. When you learn to practice with confidence in the daily pursuit of continuous improvement, for example in the martial arts or in a lean enterprise, anyone (or organization) can plan to take their game to the next level…

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Oct
14

Putting out fires… Historical photo: “Kisaburo Osawa, 9th dan — Aikido’s éminence grise”

Beginning from the time when Morihei was still alive up until shortly before his death, Osawa Sensei was called in to solve problems of a delicate nature behind the scenes. Over the years, I again and again heard first-hand accounts of Osawa Sensei’s unseen role in “putting out fires” that Kisshomaru Ueshiba as Doshu preferred not to become publicly involved in…

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Oct
14

How did Morihiro Saito get so good? “The Iwama Aikido Conundrum,” by Stanley Pranin

What then are the possibilities as to the origin of Iwama Aikido? As I see things, they are three: (1) Morihei Ueshiba did teach a technically rich system including weapons in Iwama over a protracted period of time with Morihiro Saito as his leading student. Saito passed on the Founder’s teaching methods essentially intact, changing or adding little; (2) Saito took the loosely-organized aikido basics he learned from the Founder and devised an elaborate curriculum of his own without outside input that is substantially different from what the Founder taught. (3) Saito acquired a deep knowledge of aikido from his long association with the Founder and systemized this body of information into a modern, pedagogically sound system…

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