Nov
18

Essentials skills for sword mastery: “Ken suburi and kumitachi”

The basics of the Aiki Ken are centered on the suburi and kumitachi. Familiarity with these fundamentals leads to an ability to acquire more advanced sword skills such as tachidori or “sword taking” techniques as shown above…

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Nov
18

“Target acquisition and lock-on… Setting up an Aikido throw” by Charles Warren

bulls-eye

“Aikido has an elegance as a strategy which is rare in the realm of conflict.”

This blog was originally written as a comment in reply to The Martial Artist’s Dilemma: “Traditionalism vs. Innovation,” by Charles Humphrey . I found it to have several valuable perspectives and thus worthy to stand on its own.

“Ueshiba did this, why can’t you?…” The man had a powerful physique in his youth. He wasn’t born doing this quasi-no-touch stuff. He went through a whole process to that eventual end. You must do the same. Be traditional, but be smart, use your traditional curriculum as a tool, and use that tool in accordance with what we know to work well when learning skills. Read up on neuroplasticity and various ways of working the memory and nerve growth and body maps and all the wonderful research out there. It beats the pants off this fuzzy mysticism we often get trapped into because we’re afraid of being limited by the state of current scientific knowledge (and I’m guilty of this as much as the next guy.) Yes, science can’t explain everything. Yes, if you stick to a scientistic point of view, which is inherently limited by the state of progress and the limits of specialization, you will become just as calcified as you would by sticking to the mystical traditionalist approach. But scientific research combined with personal experience can be a springboard of immense value that can launch you into a realm of understanding well beyond the limits of mystical dogma AND scientific rigidity. All it takes is a bit of courage, common sense and a desire to be the best you can be…”

Couldn’t have said it better. Techniques don’t work, at least if you think of them as techniques. Techniques work (nearly) perfectly if they are ingrained into your body as, say, touch typing. Go for a walk in the Sierra foothills. If you aren’t following a deer trail or something similar, you’re working too hard. Go ahead. Bush-whack your way up crag and down canyon. I give you maybe half a day if you’re really stubborn to stop “innovating” and “go with nature”. In aikido we’re blessed with such trails. They’re called techniques. Once you learn how to follow trails you also become better at finding them. I haven’t been very many places, really, but it is no trouble for me to find trails in new ones. Variations of techniques are similar. Deer trails have parameters of slope and size of obstacle which can be a bit challenging to us bipeds, but generally much easier than the alternatives. I would propose the same for Aikido. I have no problem with other martial arts. If they didn’t work, they would only survive in environments where they are athletic recreation. I happen to have spent a long time with Aikido. At least the way I visualize it, it’s comprehensive.
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Nov
17

You have only your left arm to use… “Interview with Aikikai Shihan Seishiro Endo”

Anyway, that’s how I began my “squishy” approach to training. I took extreme care to avoid getting frustrated, because I knew that doing so would send me right back to relying on strength. When I was taking ukemi for Yamaguchi Sensei he would murmur things under his breath like, “The more you let go of your strength, the more your ki will concentrate,” and “Focus your strength in your lower abdomen…

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Nov
17

Mastering the art of relaxing! “Interview with Koichi Tohei (1)”, by Stanley Pranin

Decisive action is born of an understanding of that which is in accord with the principles of Heaven and Earth. A lack of this understanding leads to “unreasonable effort,” or muri, the literal meaning of which is “lack of principle,” and should be avoided. This has always been my way of thinking and the reason I have scrupulously avoided acting in ways that involve unreasonable effort or that go against these principles…

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Nov
17

When you are grabbed two hands on one… Lessons from Zone Theory of Aikido — Morotedori Kokyunage When you are grabbed two hands on one… Lessons from “Zone Theory of Aikido” — Morotedori Kokyunage

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.

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Nov
14

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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Nov
14

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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Nov
14

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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Nov
13

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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Nov
13

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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Nov
13

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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Nov
12

Now 84 years of age! Hiroshi Tada Sensei, 9th dan, in Switerland

This video contains scenes from a demonstration given by Hiroshi Tada Sensei in Russia. He is one of the last active members of the early postwar generation of instructors formed at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo. Tada Sensei is noted for his fluid, dynamic aikido and his approach readily evident in this clip…

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