Nov
10

Make Your Techniques Work! Stanley Pranin’s “Zone Theory of Aikido Course”!

Stanley Pranin’s “Zone Theory of Aikido Course”!

“Rethinking Aikido Training From The Bottom Up!”

stanley-pranin-encyHi, I’m Stanley Pranin here to tell you about my new online video course, the “Zone Theory of Aikido”.

You know I’ve been involved in Aikido for more than 50 years. To tell the truth, Aikido has been my life. I can’t think of a better discipline to train well-rounded, fit people with excellent self-defense skills.

That being said, I believe we still have a long way to go to develop more refined teaching methodologies to accelerate students’ advancement in the art.

What do I mean? Well, I travel frequently in Aikido circles and train with practitioners of many different styles. I’ve found similar training patterns regardless of the approach to Aikido. I consider one of the biggest hurdles to improving one’s skills is the almost universal tendency to resort to physical strength in attempting to make techniques work.

When aikido practitioners get stuck, they tense up and try to force their way through the technique. I see this everywhere I go. For many years, I experienced the same thing in my own training. Only recently, have I been able to discover ways of using the body as a unified structure when applying techniques. What a difference this has made!

This has been a liberating discovery that has allowed me to totally rethink my way of approaching the execution of techniques. My techniques work now, consistently, even against training partners of superior strength. This has never happened before!

In the “Zone Theory of Aikido” video course consisting of 25 lessons, I’m going to walk you through this innovative approach to doing aikido. I will show you ways of using your body more efficiently. I will explain the importance of positioning, balance-breaking… how to use atemi, kiai, and O-Sensei’s hitoemi stance to give you a tremendous advantage in practice. I look forward to sharing this whole new world of training principles and strategies with you.

Get it today and watch your progress accelerate!

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Nov
09

“Applying modern training methodologies to Aikido practice” by Peter Kelly

peter-kelly-throw

“Their movements lacked the integrity and focus that are precursors to understanding the physical space control necessary to dissipate or dissolve physical conflict.”

Peter Kelly submitted this message as a response to our recent article The Martial Artist’s Dilemma: “Traditionalism vs. Innovation,” by Charles Humphrey . We found Peter’s thoughts especially interesting and are posting it as a separate blog.

When I started Aikido I came directly from my last season playing sport as a professional athlete in Europe. I had had enough of life on the road and realised that my body was taking a beating that meant I may not walk well when I turned 50. I got off the plane and within a week was in my first Aikido class.

As a now former professional athlete, I threw myself into training, easily able to complete the 12 classes a week that my chosen dojo offered. (Professional athletes train 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, and also 4 weight sessions a week, plus recovery swimming sessions on Sundays).

You could say quite rightly that my entire life has been spent learning, interpreting and processing complex body movement, assimilating changes to those movements as fast as possible and also applying those movements in a dynamic and intense environment, where the cost of failure could ultimately affect your livelihood. Pressure to succeed was very real, and adaptability was the key to longevity.

The competition that I had been exposed to and the discipline that such competition gave me created a unique training etiquette that had previously not been seen in the dojo I was training in. I created a personal training program based around previously learnt physical movements and repetitive simple drills to assimilate a new set of body movements and create muscle memory, which in turn freed me to create relaxed dynamic movements.

While I respected my seniors, I was a little perplexed that these instructors struggled to relay to me what seemed on the surface to be quite simple body mechanics. Often questions were answered with obscure references to spiritual philosophy, not much help to a keen learner attempting to internalise simple movements to create muscle memory and body mechanics.
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Nov
07

How about in the dojo? Movement Practice – Just Playing Around featuring Ryan Hurst

This is a video featuring Ryan Hurst of Gold Medal Bodies (GMB) demonstrating some free form exercises in the park. I think it’s obvious that this combination of stretching and gymnastic exercises could play a useful role in keeping the body supple and agile. All one needs is the will and a free space with a soft surface. What better place than a dojo! It should be very easy to incorporate aikido stretching and rolling movements to put together a creative routine for enjoyment and better health…

Click here to watch video

Nov
07

Free hi-res download: “Morihei Ueshiba wielding the Nuboko”

We are pleased to offer readers an extraordinary action image of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba for your collection. This unusual photo shows O-Sensei performing a type of misogi purification practice that reflects his Omoto-inspired Shinto beliefs, the lens through which the Founder viewed the world, and his mission in creating and spreading aikido…

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Nov
07

Building blocks of the art… Quotable quotes from Morihiro Saito’s “Takemusu Aikido: Background & Basics”

“If you look at your partner even slightly, his body will separate from you and there will be too much space between you.”

“In ura techniques, parry the strike from the gyaku hanmi position. In this way, you will be able to execute a rapid and effective technique.”

“You must use an escape to free one of your hands in order to do the technique. One way to free your hand naturally is to open your fingers and turn your body strongly inward to unbalance your partner”…

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Nov
06

Yokomenuchi techniques… Seiichi Sugano Sensei teaching class at New York Aikikai in 2008

A short clip in which the late Seiichi Sugano Sensei demonstrates techniques against a yokomenuchi attack at the New York Aikikai in February 2008. Sugano Sensei was one of the last generation of uchideshi at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo starting in the late 1950s. His contemporaries include Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei, Mitsunari Kanai Sensei, Kazuo Chiba Sensei, among others…

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Nov
06

Responding to aggression… “Conversations with The Undertaker” by Tom Collings

The next day I asked the first student who walked in, “Have you ever heard of a wrestler called The Undertaker?” I quickly learned just who this guy was. What was most fascinating to me was his martial arts knowledge, and his depth of understanding. He had a unique point of view on so many things. When he watched the old films of O-Sensei, Mark Calaway did not see an old man with magical power tossing around helpless attackers, as most aikido students do. Neither did he not see a phony, choreographed performance with make believe attacks and guys just falling down – as some do…

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Nov
06

4 different versions published! The amazing chameleon photo of O-Sensei from 1922

Four versions? Yes, the Daito-ryu placard first disappears altogether in the first publication of the photo. Then it reappears with the “Daito-ryu” characters missing, leaving only the “Aikijujutsu” characters. What’s a poor aikido historian to do? Then, the original photo you see here appears for the first time. Next, some of the characters are again omitted, but not in the same way as the first altered photo. Finally and miraculously, the unretouched photo again resurfaces, hopefully to remain intact. Strange workings of the kamisama?…

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Nov
05

Torn by the positive and negative ramifications of competition: “Competition and Budo… Oil and Vinegar?” by Ken Teshima

[T]here were no tournaments in Aikido then, every practice was a challenge to get through, as there was a healthy “competitive” air in the dojo where no one got off easy. Attacks were sincere and without cooperation (but measured). And techniques had to work under these adverse conditions. This sort of training made us tough, both physically and mentally, and prepared us for life’s challenges outside of the dojo…

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Nov
05

Responding to aggression — Part 4: “Conversations with The Undertaker” by Tom Collings

“He saw O-Sensei through the eyes of a
professional athlete and masterful performer.”

tom-collings-150pxSitting alone in my dojo late one night, I received a call from a fellow named Mark. He said he was a professional wrestler looking for a new trainer. As a kid, I used to watch pro wrestlers all the time on TV, and even got my dad to take me to some arenas. Those guys seemed like big mindless hulks, but they sure put on a good show. When I got older, and learned it was “fake”, I lost interest and stopped watching it. The guy on the phone could not be one of those guys; he was bright, articulate, humble, and a real gentleman.

We talked for a long time about martial arts training. He was particularly interested in the skills of falling, avoiding injuries, and how to keep an aging body together. He asked a lot of questions about O-Sensei and martial arts masters I had trained with in Japan. Mark was fascinated by how good aikido black belts executed powerful joint techniques and dangerous throws without injuring their training partner. He clearly had great respect for that.

I still lived a little like a monk back then, and did not watch much TV. When he mentioned his stage name was “The Undertaker”, it meant nothing to me. I laughed and said, “that’s good, I like that.” I figured he was a martial artist contemplating a wrestling career, since his humility gave no clue who he was. I was completely ignorant of the fact he was already a legend, at the top of his game, and that he had turned “The Undertaker” into a multi-million dollar enterprise. Perhaps it was refreshing for him to speak with someone not star struck. Someone who did not want anything from him.

The next day I asked the first student who walked in, “Have you ever heard of a wrestler called The Undertaker?” I quickly learned just who this guy was. What was most fascinating to me was his martial arts knowledge, and his depth of understanding. He had a unique point of view on so many things. When he watched the old films of O-Sensei, Mark Calaway did not see an old man with magical power tossing around helpless attackers, as most aikido students do. Neither did he not see a phony, choreographed performance with make believe attacks and guys just falling down – as some do.

What he saw was an amazing interaction between people. He said he saw the tremendous concentration and energy, and how precisely attuned one was to the other’s every movement and nuance. Where others saw magic or collusion, Mark saw high level teamwork, and masterful coordination. He was thrilled to watch such excitement, energy, and drama – without injuries. He saw O’Sensei through the eyes of a professional athlete and masterful performer.
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Nov
05

Consistent drilling works best… The Martial Artist’s Dilemma: “Traditionalism vs. Innovation,” by Charles Humphrey

How many of you have consistently explored kotegaeshi in combination with GPP training for four to six weeks straight? Maybe some have. Most, I bet, have never spent more than one or two classes drilling one particular movement. Even when teachers try to impart the importance of consistent drilling, they undermine this by constantly shifting the focus of the class to new things. The best teacher I ever had in this sense at least tried to encourage us to stick to basics, but he couldn’t control himself, and would often then suddenly switch emphasis to something completely different, or use completely new training modalities or concepts that would just overwhelm us…

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Nov
05

Building basics… “Tai no henko: Foundation of stable hips and the execution of ura techniques”

Daily practice begins with tai no henko. First open your fingers. The basis of ura movements is footwork. Bring the toes of your left foot to meet the toes of your partner’s right foot. Turn in a circular movement into a position along your partner’s side. When pivoting, open your fingers fully and extend your ki. Learn to keep your hips stable regardless of whether your partner pushes or pulls. Uke: Daniel Toutain…

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