“Colorizing the World of O-Sensei” by Stanley Pranin


“A world of new possibilities for bringing the Founder, his times
and genius alive for practitioners of today is upon us!”

stan-pranin-closeupLet me share something that has been happening in the background with you.

A few days ago, I posted a colorized photo of Albert Einstein as a sample. I asked for graphic designers with a knowledge of photo colorization techniques to contact me. I had something very specific in mind that I have wanted to do for many years.

One very talented graphic artist from Greece responded to me with samples of his work. I was thrilled at the quality of what he showed me, and the potential for application to the project I am envisioning.

I provided Nikos with a black & white photo of a young O-Sensei from the Noma Dojo collection. Some among our readers absolutely love these photos. He started work on colorizing it. In his first effort, he had chosen a green color for the tatami mats, a natural assumption for someone practicing aikido today. However, the Noma Dojo photo of O-Sensei in question was taken in 1936. Such tatami did not yet exist. The tatami used in those days were made of straw. I sent Nikos samples of what the tatami were like in those days so that he could get an idea of the color hues we needed.

In his second attempt, he corrected the tatami color and the photo suddenly began to jump out from the screen! It was very exciting to see O-Sensei from the prewar era come alive before my very eyes!

The next task was to find a skin color hue that would differentiate O-Sensei and his uke from the mats and background. Nikos went back to work and sent me another sample with the changes I requested. The results were even better! You can see the stage we are at now by looking at the inset photo next to Dr. Einstein.

In a few days, I am convinced we will have something magnificent to show you. A world of new possibilities for bringing the Founder, his times and genius alive for practitioners of today is upon us!


  1. Great! Does it mean, colourized photos of Osensei for the tokonoma will become avaible?

  2. John Litchen says:

    Hi Stan,
    I think the photo looks brilliant in colour. Mostly these photos have been published on poor quality paper and always look dull and lacking in contrast. A great pity since they are so important as a reference.
    To see them come alive in colour is fabulous.
    Keep up the good work.
    John Litchen
    (Aikido – Basic and Intermediate Studies)

  3. Rick Triplett says:


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