Aug
07

Harold T. — “That’s Just How It Bends” by Tom Collings

kotegaeshi

“How these guys can run like the world’s fastest human, while handcuffed behind their backs and shoeless is beyond me”

tom-collings-150pxHAROLD was recently out of recruit class, so the boss told me to take him on his first hits. “Collings, do not let him get hurt or screw up,” ordered the chief. “Yes, sir, no problem,” I said. Hits are parole officer talk for grabbing a bunch of fugitive arrest warrants, getting a few POs together, then meeting at 5 am to track down some parole violators.

Convicts often jump parole when they are afraid we will do a drug test, or because they assume we know they are out there committing new crimes. Most of the time, we don’t know, but they assume we do. So, they stop showing up to their scheduled reports to us, and often move to another town or another state. When they cheat on their girlfriend, rip off a drug customer, or piss off their mama — I often get tipped off where they are hiding out.

The first hit of the day was at a Brownsville Housing Project, the rough Brooklyn neighborhood that produced brawlers like Mike Tyson. As we get to a fourth floor apartment, I could see Harold was nervous, partly because of the danger, but also because this was his chance to show the chief he could handle the job. He was impressed with how I sweet-talked my way right into the apartment, and how quickly we located our fugitive and cuffed him up — before he could hide, start fighting, or grab a weapon. It was all going smooth as silk as I grabbed some shoes for the guy, when the family suddenly went ballistic.

Now brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews, were coming at us from all sides. To them, we were not duly sworn officers of the law executing a legal arrest warrant, we were intruders who invaded their home, and were messing with their boy! When things are going smoothly, four officers seems like overkill. But, when the shit hits the fan, you wished you had ten more with you! I pushed Harold and our handcuffed prisoner down the hallway, and out the front door of the apartment. Then I ran back in to help the other guys fight their way out of there. When we got out, I looked around but there was no Harold, and no prisoner?

I ran down the hall to a window, just in time to see the backside of our prisoner running across the courtyard four floors below — no shirt, no shoes, and handcuffed behind his back. Zooming at full speed, with a fifty-yard lead on Harold! How these guys can run like the world’s fastest human, while handcuffed behind their backs and shoeless is beyond me.

When we got down to the street, Harold was a block away, and our ex-prisoner was just a speck in the distance, two blocks away. “Keep after him Harold!” I yelled, as I ran and got NYPD Central Dispatch on my radio:

“Parole 0714 requesting 10-85, assistance forthwith!.”
“What is your condition 0714?”
“In pursuit of male black wearing blue jeans,
  and running east on Linden Blvd.,
73 Precinct” … (I now prepared for the humiliation)…
  “no shirt — no shoes and cuffed behind his back.”
  …She tried to muffle it, but I heard somebody
  cracking up in the background.
“0714, you had one under and lost him?” (Great lady, rub
  it in — she was loving it)
“Affirmative Central.”…….. “OK, units on route 0714.”

As I ran, I yelled to Harold “I’m going to kill you, Harold,” but unfortunately he was too far away to hear me. Closing the distance, I fantasized about doing terrible things to Harold.

Eventually, all the broken glass and pot holes on Brownsville streets took their toll on our fugitive’s feet, slowing him down a bit. As we tackled him in a big garbage-filled vacant lot, three squad cars roared up, sirens and lights blazing. I hoped they assumed we had just made the arrest, but the big grins on their faces told me they heard the radio call. “Any more that got away, guys?” This crack was followed by several more jokes, before a merciful sergeant yelled over the laughter; “Forget about it, we all got two or three stories like this.” The sergeant’s comment didn’t help, I glared at Harold with great violence in my eyes. “You are doing all the paperwork on this! I will never let you forget this one, Harold!”

I never did let him forget it, cruel bastard that I am. Not 5 years later when he became my supervisor, and not 10 years later when he became a bureau chief. It became a kind of joke with us, I would bring it up whenever he reminded me of paperwork that was overdue. Unfortunately, the distraction rarely worked, and he always stayed on point. But, it is great fun to have something like that over a boss.

Harold was born and raised in a tough minority neighborhood of New York City, so it is not surprising that bad guys have attempted to rob him. Just like certain styles of dress and music, neighborhoods also have their own manner of speech. In Harold’s neighborhood the style of speaking was very slow, like old style jazz talk. Harold does not take drugs, but you would swear he was stoned if you were not used to his distinctive sloooowwww…Brooklyn-ese. But the day a bad guy pulled a gun on him, his slow talking proved very valuable.

There is a martial arts wrist-twisting technique called kotegaeshi. I have been studying it, and trying to perfect it for about four decades. It takes most students a few years before they can execute the technique well. So, Harold is confronted at gunpoint, and the guy is demanding money, screaming “What you got? Give it up! Now! Now!” But, Harold responds sooo slooowwllyyyy — wellll….I….doonnn’t….reeeaally…haavve…thaaat… The guy is in a big hurry to get something and run! He cannot handle how slow this thing is going! Out of desperation he makes a major error — he moves closer and sticks the gun right in Harold’s face. Harold then just reaches up and twists it out of the guy’s hand. Stunned, in shock, and humiliated; the bad guy runs off, possibly considering another line of work.

“Show me what move you did, Harold,” I ask.
“That is kotegaeshi, where did you learn that?”
“Which art do you study?”
“That is no art. I don’t know any martial artsy stuff,”
  he responds.
“So, where did you learn kotegaeshi?”
“Coat-a-guy what? I just turned his wrist like this.
  That’s just how it bends.”

A perfectly executed kotegaeshi technique, with no martial arts classes. Harold was obviously ignorant of the fact that it takes years to learn this technique. But, he did not perform a “technique.” He just turned the guy’s wrist “how it bends.” You can’t make this stuff up.

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Through a simple interface, you’ll have the ability to quickly access over 500 empty-handed and weapons techniques via 1,100 links to videos and technical explanations in book format. This is the most extensive technical reference on aikido ever compiled!

Click here for information on Morihiro Saito's &ldquoComplete Guide to Aikido”

Aug
06

“Aikido’s lost book treasures and what to do about them” by Stanley Pranin

aikido-books

“How do we keep our precious heritage of books from being lost?”

In the past few months, I have been pondering a phenomenon that I don’t think most people in the aikido world are aware of.

If you have been around in the art as long as I have, you will remember numerous technical books on aikido from the 1960s and 70s. With the exception of “Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere”, perhaps one or two volumes of Morihiro Saito’s “Takemusu Aiki” series from the early 70s, and a couple of early volumes of Gozo Shioda on Yoshinkan Aikido, I can’t think of any aikido technical manuals from that era that remain in print. You are lucky if you can pick up copies from rare book dealers and hundreds of dollars each.

Coincidentally in recent years, we have witnessed the death of large book chains like Borders and Barnes & Noble in the USA reflecting the fact the people are reading less and less. We have seen the same trend in book publication here at Aikido Journal. We no longer offer any more print versions of our titles. They remain, however, available as digital books in pdf form.

Nonetheless, many books have survived in digital formats that are read on hand-held devices like Kindles and tablets. These are not like traditional printed books because you can adjust font sizes, add notes, etc. In fact, the number of pages of books in such formats are variable depending on how they are set up by reader. But with the transition to these digital formats, there are some special problems, especially for technical manual and books with a lot of photos that are specifically laid out. The use of photos in digital books is normally limited because their presence can play havoc with the page format.

So getting back to aikido technical manuals, I can think of no way to adapt them to modern digital formats other than to scan each page as an image and stitch together everything as a pdf book. This is precisely what we have done to keep these books in print. Our current library of ebooks can be found here. Also, go over and take a look at Clark Bateman’s wonderful bibliography resource and you’ll see the vast numbers of books on aikido that have been published, few of which remain in print.

Here is the problem I have been getting at in a nutshell:

  • People read less and less and printed books as a medium are slowly dying
  • Books consisting primarily of text and not dependent on specific layouts can be converted to digital formats
  • Books with many illustrations — like aikido technical manuals — do not lend themselves to being republished in digital formats
  • Although technical manuals can be scanned as images and “bound” together as pdf files, the small form factor of hand-held devices like cellular phones and even tablets make it cumbersome, if not impossible, to view the text and illustrations.
  • The end result is that few of the finest publications on aikido remain in print and the present generation has lost access to numerous excellent publications by many of aikido’s greatest figures.

Books are not like films and videos that can readily be adapted to digital formats. As such old moving pictures and films have flourished in the digital age.

Here is my challenge to you…  Please give me suggestions as to ways that these books filled with images can be preserved and made available one again in a format that will find a large enough market to warrant their republication.

Comments welcomed!

—————————————————–

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Aug
05

“How Koichi Tohei intercepted Shomenuchi attacks” by David Misumi

koichi-tohei-shomenuchi

“If nage can intercept the strike just at the moment prior to the body consolidating its forward momentum… the strike can be effectively negated.”

This blog was edited from the contents of a well-thought-out reply of David Masumi to the following two recent articles that we felt would be of interest to many of our readers:
“The Origins of Modern Aikido: The Shomenuchi Dilemma” by Stanley Pranin
Closing up the loose ends: “More on Aikido’s Shihonage Dilemma” by Stanley Pranin

I began my training with Tohei’s system in 1974 and I would occasionally attack my teacher full speed. The dynamics are such that if nage can intercept the strike just at the moment prior to the body consolidating its forward momentum with the downward trajectory of the arm, the strike can be effectively negated with not much “collision.” However, the uke’s body will continue forward and fly past his now secured striking arm, causing his body to rotate 180 degrees and for the most part be airborne

If nage tries to force the technique, uke will feel that and start to re-posture his body from an attacking attitude to a more self-protective one. In the strike uke is relaxed and elongated, but if he starts to experience or perceive an impending “collision,” he naturally tries to secure his joints and shortens his length, effectively killing any forward momentum.

You will not see this dynamic with anything less than a full-speed attack because there will not be enough momentum generated to result in what I just described. I attest to this occurring consistently and routinely. It is a startling fall to experience the first time because you are up-ended and you have to trust that your partner will not slam you to the mat while you are in the descent phase of your fall. (I never saw Tohei slam anyone to the floor though a few got slammed due relative to the intensity of their attack.)

Stan, you posted a video with Chuck Liddell’s (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqf42bsTXnY) overhand fist as being something you wouldn’t want to be passively standing in front of. That is true, but – Liddell’s power comes from the torque he develops by the thrust he initiates from his rear right leg with his left leg firmly planted. The speed of rotation of the hips and upper torso is what culminates in the power seen at the point of impact. It is similar to the mechanics of a baseball pitcher or a boxer’s right-cross. Although the strike comes from overhead, the body mechanics is more closely related to yokomenuchi

The impressiveness of Liddell’s strike is the impact point which pre-supposes his target being within the arc of the strike. What you don’t see is how he closed the distance to his target sufficiently such that he can strike with his rear hand. Though shomenuchi can be executed this way, it is more commonly performed with right hand/right foot forward, or vice versa, as in your photos above.

When the striking hand and foot are of the same side, it is like a boxer’s jab. It breeches distance with speed not power. Power is reserved for the rear hand, and that is the procuct of torque. There is minimal torque with a front foot/front hand strike.

(Regarding the above photos, #1 suggests that ukemi’s arm is in its up-swing phase as opposed to the downward as Tohei’s head is outside the arc of the strike. #2 shows ukemi has advanced one foot-stride closer with Tohei now within the arc of the strike.)

[Read more…]

Aug
03

“Kotegaeshi Challenge” answered by Christopher Hein!

Back on July 3, I published a blog titled “The Kotegaeshi Challenge”. In a nut shell, my article challenged readers to give their opinions on a potential vulnerability in the execution of kotegaeshi.

What is this potential vulnerability with kotegaeshi I mention above? Once again, I would refer you to the many images you will see resulting from your search for “kotegaeshi”. I would like you to focus on uke’s free hand just at the moment he is leaping into his high fall.

Following the publication of the blog, there were numerous opinions submitted on this site and on Facebook that commented on this issue.

Now Christopher Hein Sensei of Aikido of Fresno- Chushin Tani Aikidojo has come forward with a very well-thought-out video that addresses the issue I bring up and also show a number of alternatives to the execute of the traditional kotegaeshi.

 Christopher Hein Sensei executing kotegaeshi


Christopher Hein Sensei executing kotegaeshi

We welcome readers to continue providing their input on this important technical issue.

By the way, in his “Complete Guide to Aikido“, Morihiro Saito shows nearly 20 different kotegaeshi variations.

Aug
02

Morihiro Saito Sensei demonstrates Shomenuchi Ikkyo Omote from the “Complete Guide to Aikido”

“A true master introduces one of Aikido’s core techniques”

In the technical manual Budo, published by the founder in 1938, it is written that in shomenuchi ikkyo omote, the person throwing initiates the technique. “Advance one step with your right foot while striking your opponent’s face with your right tegatana…” (p. 11).

As you grab your partner’s wrist, move your hands and feet in unison. Your technique will not be powerful if you move them separately. Invite your partner to block by attacking with your right hand. Move your left hand at the same time as your right hand and simultaneously advance with your right foot to break your partner’s balance. Your hands and feet must act together in order to be effective against a partner who resists.

(1) Initiate the movement by advancing with your right foot while vigorously extending your right tegatana into your partner’s face.

(2) Your partner blocks with his right hand to protect his face. Grab his right elbow firmly with your left hand and push his wrist down with your tegatana.

(3)(4) Having unbalanced your partner by bringing his arm in front of your abdomen, take a large step diagonally forward with your left foot, moving his arm forward and down.

(5) Pin his arm at a right angle to his body.

shomenuchi-ikkyo-take-down

The above video clip is a perfect example of the clarity and precision of Saito Sensei’s explanations of aikido techniques. If you wish to have access to hundreds more clips and technical explanations to improve your aikido level, please look at the extensive presentation of Saito Sensei’s curriculum described below.

—————————————————–

 

Through a simple interface, you’ll have the ability to quickly access over 500 empty-handed and weapons techniques via 1,100 links to videos and technical explanations in book format. This is the most extensive technical reference on aikido ever compiled!

Click here for information on Morihiro Saito's “Complete Guide to Aikido”

Jul
31

“Shihonage: Show vs. Realism” by Stanley Pranin

Morihei Ueshiba demonstrating shihonage from his 1938 training manual Budo


Morihei Ueshiba demonstrating a perfectly executed shihonage from his 1938 training manual Budo

Shihonage is known as aikido’s “four-corner throw”. It involves twisting a partner’s wrist, a rapid pivot resulting in a powerful control of his wrist, followed by a throw.

 Shihonage performed in practice with a single hand controlling the opponent


Shihonage performed in practice with a single hand controlling the opponent

 Present Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba performing a one handed shihonage during demo


Present Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba performing a one handed shihonage during demo

But like anything else in aikido, there are a variety of different styles of performing the technique. Although the basic technique calls for holding your partner’s hand firmly with two hands, it is customary in many dojos to finish the technique holding your partner’s wrist with only one hand.

This can often be seen in aikido demonstrations where an attacker is quickly dispatched with a shihonage controled through a single hand. Often this will be accompanied with the opponent performing a spectacular high fall which never fails to impress an audience.

I think that we often forget the mechanics of basic techniques like shihonage and gravitate toward executing throws in a more spectacular fashion which leaves a strong impression in the eyes of the beholder. It is important to keep in mind that there is a strong element of collusion at play in a demonstration context.

What happens in the dojo when strong basics are emphasized may be less impressive but is far more effective and martial.

 Morihiro Saito executing a shihonage with full control over the opponent seen from a different angle


Morihiro Saito executing a shihonage with full control over the opponent seen from a different angle

What if we consider shihonage as a powerful tool to allow us to subdue and control an opponent? What would the technique look like then? Here are some examples where shihonage is applied with both hands controlling the opponent. Uke is locked in a backward falling position with no change to escape or execute a counterattack.

 The author executing shihonage where its off-balancing effect on the opponent is clearly visible


The author executing shihonage where the technique’s off-balancing effect on the opponent is clearly visible

—————————————————–

 

Now Mobile Friendly! Watch these videos for insights into
solving the technical problems that hold back your progress!

Click here for information on Stanley Pranin's “Zone Theory of Aikido” Course

Jul
30

Closing up the loose ends: “More on Aikido’s Shihonage Dilemma” by Stanley Pranin

Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba has overcome an overhand knife attack by initiating and delivering an atemi


Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba has overcome an overhand attack by initiating and delivering an atemi

“To overcome the thesis presented here, you must explain how a motionless person can recognize an attack, devise a plan, spring into action, and overcome a high-speed attack in less than a second.”

Yesterday’s blog on the “Shomenuchi Dilemma” generated a good deal of commentary among Aikido Journal readers, especially on Facebook. There were those who agreed with my thesis — actually points stressed by Morihei Ueshiba, Morihiro Saito, and Shoji Nishio in their aikido instruction.

Still there were those who sidestepped the main point. A powerful shomen attack by an uke does not allow nage who is standing still to respond in time. The window of opportunity to analyze, initiate a move, and execute a counter-movement is too limited. This argument was ignored altogether by many of those offering comments.

Some opined that the purpose of this exercise is to blend with the overhead attack. Yes ideally that would allow nage the possibility to gain control over the encounter. This ignores the fact that nage who is responding only after uke’s attack doesn’t have enough time to blend. Look again at the two photos: nage is motionless and uke is at the halfway point of delivering his shomenuchi attack.

Another viewpoint expressed was that nage is not clashing against uke’s shomenuchi but rather that his left hand is moving up to blend with uke and then control the movement. I would agree that in a slow motion scenario this might be possible. But we’re not talking about a slow motion scenario but rather a high-speed overhand attack.

Still another comment was that the arms of nage and uke were not on a collision course and that the photos, being static, gave a misleading impression. I granted that the photos were “posed” and therefore lacked the dynamism of a practice session, but read again Tohei Sensei’s explanation:

… it is easy for you to collide with his strength and difficult for you to force him down backward. The irimi here, therefore, consists of turning your partner’s strength against him…

Maintain a mighty outpouring of ki from your hands and swing your arms up…

This is of course the objective and theoretically possible, but only against an uke delivering a slow-speed attack. If uke attacks powerlully, with full intent, and nage stands waiting for uke to initiate, nage will be overcome by the overhand blow because he has too little time to respond. He has an impossible disadvantage to overcome.

This is why Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba — echoed by Morihiro Saito — stressed the importance of nage initiating against a shomenuchi attack rather than responding.

If you think you can overcome and reverse a powerful overhand attack starting from a motionless posture, please watch this video by UFC Champion Chuck Liddell:

And for a humorous look at the result of a powerfully delivered shomenuchi, check this out:

shomenuchi-devastating-blow

—————————————————–

Now Mobile Friendly! Watch these videos for insights into
solving the technical problems that hold back your progress!

Click here for information on Stanley Pranin's “Zone Theory of Aikido” Course

Jul
29

“The Origins of Modern Aikido: The Shomenuchi Dilemma” by Stanley Pranin

shomenuchi-by-koichi-tohei

“If you want to know how aikido techniques changed
after the war, here is a good place to start!”

stanley-pranin-thumbnailLast year I published an article that dealt in some detail with the Shomenuchi Ikkyo technique of the prewar era. It discussed an earlier approach to doing techniques from the the shomenuchi (overhand strike attack). Several examples consisting of photos of Morihei Ueshiba and Gozo Shioda were presented. The thrust of the article was that it was important that nage (the person applying the technique) initiate the encounter in order to preempt a high-speed attack by uke and avoid a collision, something decidedly against the principles of aikido, the “art of harmony”.

Now, please have a look at the two photos above that depict Koichi Tohei, 10th dan. These photos are the start of the Shomenuchi ikkyo technique described in Tohei Sensei’s technical volume “This is Aikido” published in 1968.

Let us make some observations about these two photos. First, in photo #1, Tohei Sensei (nage) is standing in hanmi awaiting the shomen attack. His uke — Seishiro Endo — has launched a shomenuchi attack. Allowing for the fact that the photos may be artificial in that they are posed, we must still deal with the reality that nage has only a minute time frame to respond to uke’s attack that is already in progress.

Next, look at photo #2. What is described as a blend could equally be construed as a collision between nage and uke as their arms traveling in direct opposition make contact. In fairness, let us quote part of the description of the beginning of this technique from the book which describes the thinking behind this approach:

Although you throw your partner with an ikkyo much as you do in the kata-tori ikkyo…., since, in this technique, his attempted strike moves downward, it is easy for you to collide with his strength and difficult for you to force him down backward. The irimi here, therefore, consists of turning your partner’s strength against him…

Maintain a mighty outpouring of ki from your hands and swing your arms up…

If you’ll take the trouble to read the earlier article I mention, you will realize that a totally different approach is used. Nage is proactive and initiates the movement thus effectively neutralizing uke’s shomenuchi attack altogether and eliminating the risk of collision alluded to above.
[Read more…]

Jul
03

Where do you stand? “The Kotegaeshi Challenge” by Stanley Pranin

“Can you prevent your attacker from striking you?”

Kotegaeshi, aikido’s wrist twist technique, is a special case among the art’s basic techniques. It can be seen performed in practically everything aikido demonstration, usually with the attacker taking a high fall when thrown. The technique is a crowd favorite as it appears spectacular, but at the same time it has a potential vulnerability.

Take a look at the above photo of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba performing kotegaeshi in a photo appearing in the Founder’s technical manual “Budo” from 1938. You will seldom see kotegaeshi executed this way today. What it unusual about this photo is that Morihei is positioned to uke’s blind spot; uke is off balanced to the rear, and his fist is balled up as kotegaeshi is applied.

An instructive exercise would be to do a Google search for “kotegaeshi” and observe the final stage of the technique. In virtually every case, you will see the attacker in the process of taking a high fall. However in the above photo of the Founder, uke cannot take such a high fall since he has lost his balance to the rear.

What is this potential vulnerability with kotegaeshi I mention above? Once again, I would refer you to the many images you will see resulting from your search for “kotegaeshi”. I would like you to focus on uke’s free hand just at the moment he is leaping into his high fall. This line drawing from “Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere” illustrates the problem.

kotegaeshi-line-drawing

Do you see where uke has an opportunity to strike nage with his free hand as he turns into the fall? This is often the case if you carefully study these photos. What happens typically is that the action is so fast that the average person cannot see what is occurring.
[Read more…]

Jun
25

Confusion abounds! What really happened with Koichi Tohei’s 10th dan promotion?

The unclear point has to do with the fact that an “Inauguration Party” for Tohei Sensei’s 10th dan was held on October 16, 1970, fully 18 months after the passing of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. What was the reason for the delay and did Morihei Ueshiba actually authorize Tohei Sensei’s 10th dan promotion?…

Click here to watch video

Jun
25

A way out of an apparent contradiction… “Morihei Ueshiba’s Aikido to the rescue!” by Stanley Pranin

So, if we wait to be sure that we are being attacked before defending ourselves to be legally in the right, we are likely to become victims and be injured or killed. If, on the other hand, we launch a preemptive attack to better the odds of our prevailing, but in the process injure our presumed attacker, we end up in hot water with the law. What to do? Enter Morihei Ueshiba’s aikido…

Click here to watch video

Jun
25

Aikido’s Greatest Figures! “In-depth testimonies of Morihei Ueshiba’s most talented students” by Stanley Pranin

In 2010, I published a book titled “Aikido Pioneers — Prewar Era” that contains 20 interviews with most of the important students of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei from the period when aikido was gradually separating from Sokaku Takeda’s Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu.

I think this is one of the most important historical works on aikido published thus far. You will gain a depth of understanding of the roots of aikido and the trials and tribulations of Morihei Ueshiba experienced in creating aikido.

“Aikido Pioneers” is also included in the THE AIKIDO LEGACY PACKAGE. We are certain that “Legacy Package” will become your go-to resource for all things related to aikido. Please click the link below and prepare to be blown away by the amount and quality of materials that await you! …

Click here to watch video