Apr
04

Morihei Ueshiba’s heir apparent! Interview with Swordmaster Kiyoshi Nakakura (1) by Hideo Yamanaka and Stanley Pranin

“I had the feeling that no one could beat me. I had rarely lost a match before, and I absolutely did not want to be defeated especially by people in Tokyo.” A product of old-style pre-war Kendo training, top student of Swordmaster Hakudo Nakayama and former adopted son of Morihei Ueshiba, 78-year old Kiyoshi Nakakura Sensei is one of Japan’s top swordsmen…

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Apr
04

First and only time: “Mochizuki, Shioda, Saito, Sugino, Shimizu pool their collective expertise!”

One of the highlights of the 3rd Aikido Friendship Demo held back in 1987 was the Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu demonstration given by Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei and members of his Tokyo-based Shimbukan Dojo. This demonstration was particularly significant because the aikido public was not very aware of the connection between aikido and Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu at this stage. Thus, there were a lot of curious onlookers wanting to find out exactly what this old art that supposedly influenced aikido was really about…

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Apr
03

O-Sensei’s uke from the 1950s and early 60s! Nobuyoshi Tamura, 8th dan, demonstrates on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the FFAB

The late Nobuyoshi Tamura, 8th dan, gives an outstanding display of technical virtuosity, performing both empty-handed and sword techniques, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the FFAB…

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Apr
03

Aikido watered down… “Going to the source to find Aikido’s essence,” by Luke

I think that one should begin their method by looking at what Morihei did, or perhaps even what the extant Daito Ryu schools are doing, given our common heritage. From there, of course we evolve and create our own aikido. However, without that groundwork upon which to create one’s own aikido, that aikido is bound to be fraught with problems insofar as martial efficacy is concerned. And also potentially the safety of one’s uke if one attempts to go into all of this fast nagare waza without that solid foundation…

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Apr
03

Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu: “Lifting the veil of mystery surrounding Aikido’s roots”

One of the highlights of the 3rd Aikido Friendship Demo held back in 1987 was the Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu demonstration given by Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei and members of his Tokyo-based Shimbukan Dojo. This demonstration was particularly significant because the aikido public was not very aware of the connection between aikido and Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu at this stage. Thus, there were a lot of curious onlookers wanting to find out exactly what this old art that supposedly influenced aikido was really about…

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Apr
03

“Why Brute Force is Self-Defeating,” by Stanley Pranin

“A unified mind-body is capable of complex, cascading
movements that remain concealed from your opponent.”

stan-pranin-closeupIf resorting to brute force produced effective technique, we could all hit the weight room, build powerful bodies, and become aikido masters! How simple it would be! Helas, it doesn’t work that way… but inquiring minds want to know why.

Why is it that we can’t just make up for poor aikido skills by adding a dash of muscle power to our techniques? What are the mechanisms at play that render this approach self-defeating? Put simply, tell me why using physical strength doesn’t work!

I have a theory about this. Let me explain. Imagine you are on the receiving end of a powerful attack. You get off the line of attack, and now it is your turn to seize the initiative. You grab hold of your non-cooperative opponent with the full intention of letting him know who’s in charge! You inhale quickly, and on your out-breath, let him feel your full power… You’re stopped dead in your tracks!

Here’s what I think has happened. For you to apply a technique on someone, you must have a physical connection. If follows that there are a number of points where your body touches your opponent’s. At each of these points of contact, there are body sensors that receive impulses from the brain that control our nerves and muscle structures. But the interesting thing is that your opponent, who is also in contact with your body, can pick up on these same brain signals that precede your action. In other words, your opponent is “intercepting” information about your plan of action before the fact.
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Apr
02

3.8 million views! Real Samurai Sword – Cutting BB Gun pellet by Isao Machii

Japanese sword expert Isao Machii cuts a white BB shot at him with a slice of his katana. Is this a trick or an amazing demonstration of skill? You be the judge…

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Apr
02

Don’t dance around in a circle! Yoshimitsu Yamada explains kosadori iriminage at Montreal seminar (2010)

Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei, 8th dan, of the New York Aikikai, demonstrates kosadori iriminage at a seminar held in Montreal, Canada in 2010. During his demonstration, he explains the alignment of nage with uke’s body in iriminage, and also mimicks jokingly this technique performed where nage dances around in a circle, a commonly seen but ineffective way of executing iriminage…

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Apr
02

Stanley Pranin Video Blog: “Iriminage — O-Sensei Style”

Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin describes the origin and execution of Aikido’s iriminage technique as conceived by Founder Morihei Ueshiba. He explains how this essential technique has its origins in prewar Japan and was further refined in Iwama after World War II. Iriminage today is practiced in many different ways, but O-Sensei’s method, though well documented, is not widely known…

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Apr
02

“Aikido and the Taming of the Reptilian Brain” by Stanley Pranin

t-rex_vintage

“Our reptilian brains kick in triggering the use of force,
and mucking up our techniques in the process!”

There is something that has long mystified me about practitioners of aikido. It is a phenomenon that I have witnessed across all styles of the art. Few aikidoka transcend this fundament limitation. What am I talking about? The default use of physical strength when applying a technique.

During my career in aikido, I can’t count the number of times I have heard an instructor admonish students to “relax” when executing techniques. Most students translate this as “use less power.” So they don’t use as much strength in their quixotic effort to make a technique work. Occasionally, a student will really try to relax by totally draining out the power from his body. This results in a “limp” state which, of course, does nothing to improve the student’s ability to succeed in the execution of a technique.

What’s going on here? As a layman, I have a simple theory about this. It has to do with the “flight or fight” instinct that we all are born with. Some would regard this adrenalin-charged state as a manifestation of our ancient reptilian brains. Scientists tell us that we share this anatomical structure and its functions with our more primitive ancestors. It is a type of instinctual behavior encoded in our DNA that seems impossible to overcome.

So how does this play out on the aikido mat? Let’s say you are grabbed by a strong person. It doesn’t matter whether you are practicing a basic or ki no nagare technique. Your attempt to move your partner meets with physical resistence. What do you do? Almost everyone will try to muscle their way through the technique. They may be successful depending on their technical level, degree of strength, and the amount of cooperation of one’s uke. This notwithstanding, their use of physical force is obvious to both parties.
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Apr
01

Henkawaza… Patrick Augé Sensei demonstrates an application of shihonage as a follow up to someone escaping tenbinnage

This is a video prepared in response to Stanley Pranin’s article on injuries in the practice of Aikido in which Patrick Augé Sensei demonstrates an application of shihonage as a follow up to someone escaping tenbinnage…

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Apr
01

Free pdf download: Aikido Journal #108, 1996 — “In Memoriam Seigo Yamaguchi (1924-1996)”

Contents
● Editorial – Aikido & Weapons: The Last Word?, by Stanley Pranin
● Journal News, by Diane Skoss
● Letters to the Editor
● Seigo Yamaguchi: In Memoriam
● On Writing Zen Combat, by Jay Gluck
● Interview with Fumio Toyoda, by Mark Binder
● Improvisations, by Ellis Amdur
● In My Own Way, by David Lynch
● Takemusu Aikido — Yokomenuchi Iriminage Kihon, by Morihiro Saito
● The Omoto Religion and Aikido, by Yasuaki Deguchi
● Kicks & Aikido, by Roger D’Onofrio & Hans Goto
● Famous Swordsmen of Japan: Toru Shirai, by Takefumi Hiiragi
● Heard in the Dojo
● Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu: Kubi Hineri, by Takeshi Kawabe as transmitted by the Takumakai
● Events & Announcements
● The Book Page
● Our Contributors

Click here to download free pdf