Archives for May 2014

May
27

“Aikido Street tactics,” by Charles Warren

horse-stance

“If somebody grabs or attempts to grab you, they are giving
you a gift of one of their limbs and kinetic energy.”

One of the advantages of horse stance is to make irimi difficult. Unfortunately it is also a static posture. The macro image is a castle or fortification, difficult to attack but easy to avoid. In a multiple person situation the smart attackers put their “castle” in position to block escape or maybe to stop advance. That works best, obviously, if the flanks are protected by natural features, walls in the classic “dark alley”. More usually one of the “walls” is a street, possibly lined with parked cars.

A street is worth some detailed consideration. If you step into the street you are obviously at risk of being hit by a passing car. But that’s just a risk and it’s mitigated by the fact that the driver of the car, unless he or she is a complicit assassin, doesn’t actually want to hit or hurt you. The sidewalk is presumably full of attackers who do. The other thing is that entering the street is a risk for the attackers, if they choose to follow, as much as it is to you. Is it worth it to them?

There are two interesting tactics for streets. One is to use the gap between two parked cars as a defensible space. Occupying that you become the castle. Anybody trying to flank by vaulting over the hood or trunk of one of the cars is playing into our game. They’re giving us unbalanced motion and kinetic energy. They may not fall for a kokyu throw, but they probably will be projected out into traffic. Flanker attacks from further down the line of parked cars can be met by the second tactic, a retreat toward the center of the street. Attackers have to consider your moat, the traffic, in forming their advance. The normal prudent thing in a situation like this is to leave, but consider the possibility that your attackers may intend to herd you into a less defensible situation. And, of course, the last thing street attackers expect is a counter attack against the odds. We do that all the time. Do I have to remind anybody of the advantage of taking and using weapons?
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May
26

“The course of organizations from beginning to end,” by Stanley Pranin

Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969)

“Where is Aikido headed as a cultural phenomenon?”

stan-pranin-closeupI recently read an article that purports to describe the general course of organizations from founding to dissolution. Here are the 19 steps:

1. A charismatic founder establishes a small, dedicated organization.
2. He builds it in terms of a vision.
3. He dies.
4. His subordinates battle for control.
5. Losers depart.
6. The new leader is an intellectual lightweight — an infighter, not a visionary.
7. He re-focuses the organization.
8. The donors are mostly well-meaning simple people — joiners, not thinkers.
9. They are committed to the organization, not the founder’s vision.
10. They are oblivious to the changes at the top.
11. They will not tolerate criticism of the organization.
12. They get old.
13. They die.
14. They are not replaced.
15. The organization shrivels.
16. There are more coups.
17. No one cares any more.
18. The organization limps along.
19. It becomes a trivia question: “What ever happened to….?

In your experience, is this an accurate description of what normally occurs to organizations? In your opinion, have aikido organizations followed a similar pattern?

I submit this to your collective wisdom for discussion.

May
25

Lessons from “Zone Theory of Aikido” — Morotedori Kokyunage

Stanley Pranin’s “Zone Theory of Aikido Course”
Available Until Midnight Tonight!

Hi, I’m Stanley Pranin. If you study the history of the technical development of aikido, you’ll find that Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba would always practice 3 special exercises in his classes. It’s clear from this that he attached great importance to the lessons that each exercise imparted. The 3 exercises are tai no henko, morotedori kokyuho, and suwariwaza kokyuho.

In today’s video from my “Zone Theory of Aikido” course, I focus on several important points of the morotedori kokyuho exercise. This practice teaches you how to deal with a situation where you are grabbed with 2 hands on one and your Uke has seized the initiative.

In this scenario, you must overcome the initial disadvantage to blend and fully control your partner. As in all techniques, knowing how to unify your body and unbalance uke are the keys to creating a favorable outcome.

May
23

Halve your strength! “How Do You Get Radar?,” by Nev Sagiba

Training too softly simply fails to get off the ground and falls into rote dancing and happy delusion. Until crunch time at least. Then it has been known to be the most unhappy of circumstances and the cruelest awakening. The secret is learn to NOTICE and FEEL before mounting the pace. Escalate intensity G-R-A-D-U-A-L-L-Y…

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May
23

Ethics & martial arts: “Morihei applies a powerful sankyo to the wrist of a young Koichi Tohei”

Saito Sensei said that this film was made for Tohei Sensei to take to Hawaii on his first visit in 1953… This is a most unusual hanmihandachi technique with Naritoki Hirano, an early student of the Founder from his hometown of Tanabe… This is an amazing still that captures Morihei in mid-air having executed a two-fisted thrust downward. Look at the width and muscularity of his back. In this film from 1955, Morihei leads the class in a series of seldom seen warmups…

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May
23

Stanley Pranin’s “Zone Theory of Aikido” Course: Introducing the Principle of Confusion

When practicing aikido — katadori ikkyo in this case — using an atemi strike is often very effective. One of the results of being struck is that uke’s attack is neutralized. This is accomplished by introducing an element of confusion where uke’s focus is disrupted by your atemi strike thereby sapping the power from his attack…

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May
22

Knowing O-Sensei at Hombu in the 1960s: “Interview with Henry Kono” by Norm Ibuki

If he was in the back of the dojo he might come out every day. If he was away, you might not see him for three weeks. If he was there, he might come out for five or ten minutes then go back in. I saw him about 300 times in four years. He never explained what he did, he just did it! This is what I mean by magician. He did it and if you couldn’t discern what he did, there was no way to figure it out. He never explained anything but he left hints which were very difficult to discern because of the way he stated his ideas in very short phrases that no one could understand…

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May
22

Minimum and precise! “Highlights of a Seminar with Hiroshi Ikeda, 7th dan, at Aiki Expo 2002

This video clip taken at Aiki Expo 2002 which took place in Las Vegas, Nevada, captures highlights from classes he conducted at that event. Ikeda Sensei’s aikido is minimal and elegant at the same time. He has mastered the use of precise movements to quickly unbalance his uke and exert control with almost no physical effort. You will see his uncanny skill as you view this video clip…

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May
22

Move to uke’s flank! Stanley Pranin’s Video Blog: “The Zone Theory of Aikido”

In this video, Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin introduces a model describing the interaction between nage (defender) and uke (attacker) called “The Zone Theory of Aikido.” He explains how it is dangerous for nage to remain in front of uke when attempting to counter an attack and why the attacker has the advantage in this situation. By contrast, moving to the side or rear of uke, into his “dead zone” or “blind spot,” makes it extremely easy for nage to safely execute an aikido technique…

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May
21

The losers inherited the earth… “Ai-Ki, The Balance of Nature,” by Nev Sagiba

The basis of the universe is one pure essence differentiating into opposites, followed by friction and then the reconciliation of opposites returning to the source. This externally and internally. Winning and losing are relative concepts not founded in actuality but illusion. They “winners” of history are now dust. Aggressors in the end burn themselves out. The so called “losers” inherited the earth…

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May
21

The Kobukan Prodigy… A Biography of Rinjiro Shirata – Part 1, by Kozo Kaku

At the same time, Morihei attracted young men from all over the country who came to the Kobukan in an effort to meet him. But Morihei wasn’t trying to spread his personal budo across the world. Instead, his efforts were directed toward further progress and the refinement of his personal technique. He didn’t say it was a nuisance; he just did not have much interest in having many students, especially uchideshi, or throwing his doors wide open. It could be said that, for this reason, he never admitted an aspiring student who asked to join without a proper introduction from a sponsor, and this reinforced a mystique that covered the private confines of the Kobukan like a veil…

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May
21

The little book still suppressed in Japan… “Trying to disseminate old wisdom to a modern generation of Aikidoka” by Stanley Pranin

Last year I conducted an aikido seminar together with Pat Hendricks Sensei in Las Vegas. One of the recurring themes of my presentation was the importance of the lessons presented in Morihei Ueshiba’s 1938 “Budo” manual.

At first glance, this little technical manual may appear to be merely a curiosity, of interest to those studying the minutiae of aikido’s technical evolution. Yet a closer inspection will reveal the emergence of much of the core of the Takemusu Aiki curriculum developed by the Founder in Iwama in the postwar years.

The image above is a perfect example of the completion point of O-Sensei’s genial iriminage throw. I stress the importance of this and other aspects of the “Budo” manual in my “Zone Theory of Aikido” course as you will see in the video excerpts below…

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