Oct
10

Ukemi guide: Excellent video demonstrating aikido falling skills by Luc Sanselme

This is a well-organized and innovative video presenting various falls used in aikido, and different exercises that can be practiced to master these ukemi. These exercises are designed to prepare the body to fall skillfully and safely…

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Oct
10

Preempting the attack… Morihei Ueshiba: “Leading and directing,” by Stanley Pranin

The Founder made frequent use of arm extensions and circular hand movements as a prelude to physical contact with his uke. Such leads served the same effect as the body shifting movements described above. The attacker’s attention would be drawn to the Founder’s hand and arm motions and any impulse on his part to attack was preempted. These leads when carried to completion would result in spiral and up-and-down movements that would be a prelude to a throwing technique or joint manipulation and pin…

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Oct
10

Historical photos: Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei and Morihiro Saito at Self-Defense Force demonstration c. 1955

Here are three rare photos from the personal collection of Morihiro Saito taken c. 1955. Morihei is aged 71 years and Saito Sensei is about 27 years old. Also of note is the fact Morihei is demonstrating with the bokken with Saito Sensei as his partner. Well before the advent of the war, Morihei was keenly interested in both the ken and jo and would practice these weapons regularly in Iwama in addition to taijutsu training in the dojo…

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Oct
10

Bridging Heaven and Earth… “Exploring the Founder’s Aikido,” by Stanley Pranin

One of the realizations I came to fairly early in my career of researching the origins of aikido is the fact that few teachers of aikido today are aware of the specifics of the Founder’s art. More so than Morihei Ueshiba, aikido pioneers in the postwar era such as Kenji Tomiki, Gozo Shioda, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Koichi Tohei, Morihiro Saito, Seigo Yamaguchi, Michio Hikitsuchi and others are the key figures that have left the strongest imprint on the way the art is practiced today…

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Oct
10

How the Founder executed techniques… “Do you know the proper hand grab to perform shihonage?”

This video features a beautiful demonstration by Seishiro Endo, 8th dan, at the 2004 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration. Endo Sensei moves with grace while remaining centered and eschews the use of any physical strength while executing techniques. Seishiro Endo was one of the last generation of Aikikai instructors to have received training from Morihei Ueshiba and the senior instructors of the headquarters dojo in Tokyo beginning in the 1960s…

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Oct
10

Remote throwing! Yoshinobu Takeda Sensei, 8th dan, “physically liberating” aikido demonstration

This is a fascinating demonstration that will leave many scratching their heads. Yoshinobu Takeda Sensei follows in the lineage of Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei, and is seen by many as the latter’s successor. His demonstration is full of “remote throwing” exercises that some will regard as completely fake and others as revealing aikido on the highest level. Watch and see!…

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Oct
09

On the occasion of his promotion to 7th dan: Steven Seagal at 1995 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration

This video clip is from the 1995 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration and Steven performs in the center mat in deference to his celebrity status to an appreciative audience. On this visit to Japan, he was also awarded 7th dan ranking by Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba.Steven Seagal is a well-known action movie star who has showcased aikido in many of his films. Early in Steven’s movie career, there was somewhat of an “aikido boom” due to the popularity of his movies. He was instrumental in familiarizing millions of people with his dynamic aikido technique, which was often portrayed in a brutal manner in his films…

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Oct
09

Popular! Shoji Nishio’s Superlative Weapons demonstration in Russia!

This is a demonstration performed by Shoji Nishio, 8th dan, in Kiev in 1999. Nishio Sensei shows a variety of empty-handed techniques illustrating their application through the demonstration of paired ken and jo kata. Shoji Nishio Sensei was one of aikido’s most innovative teachers incorporating elements from his extensive experience in judo, karate, iaido, and jojutsu in his martial-oriented interpretation of aikido…

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Oct
09

How the Founder executed techniques… “Atemi everywhere in Morihei Ueshiba’s 1938 ‘Budo’ technical manual!”

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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Oct
09

The Founder’s technical secrets revealed… “Look Inside Morihei’s Revolutionary Training Manual,” by Stanley Pranin

When I discovered Morihei’s little 1938 training manual during an interview in 1981, little did I realize how important a find it was. I immediately showed it to my teacher Morihiro Saito who had no idea that such a document existed. Saito Sensei was delighted at the discovery because “Budo” contained irrefutable evidence that his way of teaching in Iwama was faithful to the Founder’s curriculum as he had learned it after the war directly from Morihei…

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Oct
09

Moving to Iwama: “Choosing Morihiro Saito as my Sensei!”

The overriding reason for chosing Iwama was the irresistible pull of Sensei’s aikido. The man was a gifted teacher and a technical wizard. Every class he taught was organized around easy-to-understand themes. His movements were very precise and his explanations logical. He would also frequently mention his teacher Morihei Ueshiba and offer a litany of “kuden” from O-Sensei to remind us of key technical points. Reminders of the fact that this was the founder’s private dojo were abundant everywhere. A great deal of O-Sensei’s personal belongings could still be found in his home which was physically attached to the dojo. There was also the serene Aiki Shrine situated nearby of which Saito Sensei was the guardian. Classes in the aiki ken and jo took place in front of the shrine nearly everyday…

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Oct
09

Exquisite action! Samural video: “Ame Agaru” Fight in the Forest

An incredibly well choreographed fight in the forest from the film “Ame Agaru” (After the Rain). The setting is Japan, during the Kyoho Era (1716-1735). Following torrential rains, a group of travelers are stuck in a country inn by flooding. Among them is a certain Ihei Misawa, a ronin, a masterless samurai with outstanding fighting skills. After he intervenes to prevent a duel between two young samurai, Ihei is noticed by Lord Shigeaki, who invites him to become the master of arms of his fief…

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