Jan
08

Founder’s Wisdom… Michio Hikitsuchi: “I Always Initiate!”

True Aikido happens in an instant! The minute he thinks to strike me, he is led to a place where he himself is struck…

Click here to watch video

Jan
08

Envelop uke to prevent his escape! “Morihiro Saito’s Morotedori Kokyuho”

Learn how to neutralize uke’s power with this blending move taught by O-Sensei during every class. “When your partner stands in right hanmi and grabs your left hand, move your left foot to your partner’s right foot and turn your hips to change from left to right hanmi. Do this movement with the feeling of dropping your shoulder, elbows, and hips slightly. Turn to a position beside your partner, looking in the same direction. This is basic for all kokyuho exercises. The spacing, or maai, between you and your partner will be wrong if you look at him…

Click here to watch video

Jan
07

Don’t become a physical wreck! “When will you no longer be able to touch your toes?” by Stanley Pranin

A few years ago, I was having a conversation with Frank Doran Sensei, one of the pioneers of aikido in northern California and one of my favorite people. Frank said to me, “Stan, I will always remember you saying that if you did stretching every day of your life and could touch your toes, on what day would you no longer be able to do so?” Truth be told, I had only the faintest memory of making that statement, but it sounded like something I might say and I was quite willing to take credit for it!…

Click here to read more

Jan
07

Direct 10th dan from Founder! Michio Hikitsuchi’s “Essential Teachings of Aikido”

Michio Hikitsuchi (1923 – 2004) was one of the closest disciples of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Hikitsuchi Sensei hailed from Shingu in Wakayama Prefecture near the birthplace of the Founder in Tanabe. He started his training under Ueshiba before the war as a teenager, and later built the Shingu Kumano Juku Dojo at the Founder’s behest in 1953. Hikitsuchi Sensei continued as the chief instructor of the Shingu Dojo for 50 years until his passing in 2004..

Hikitsuchi Sensei is a very important historical figure because of his extensive contact and training with Morihei Ueshiba during the latter’s frequent visits to Shingu. He was also an ordained Shinto priest and had the ability to comprehend Ueshiba’s often arcane manner of speaking. A devoted follower of the Founder, Hikitsuchi was capable of faithfully reproducing the speeches and technical explanations of Ueshiba with uncanny accuracy during his long teaching career in Shingu…

Click here to watch video

Jan
06

“Kiai” by Sakura Mai

Morihei Ueshiba and Morihiro Saito practicing the Aiki Ken in the fields of Iwama c. 1957


Morihei Ueshiba and Morihiro Saito practicing the Aiki Ken in the fields of Iwama c. 1957

“In order to practice Kiai correctly, we must keep in mind two concepts: our energetic center and abdominal breathing”

sakura-maiIts characters are the same as those of Aiki (Ki = Energy, mind, will / Ai = Union). From a purely physical viewpoint, Kiai is the art of knowing how to breathe deeply and slowly. The power of Aiki is silent, while that of the Kiai is a power vector that greatly develops the physical aspect. The Kiai is one of those elements inherent in Bujutsu that produces a notable increase of efficiency in combat movements.

Traditionally, Kiaijutsu is the result of the working of internal energy, and is called “Nei Kung” in Chinese and “Haragei” (stomach art), in Japanese. It is through the concentration of energy in the abdominal region (hara) that Bushi (warriors) were said to be capable of paralyzing, killing, or curing at will using the most universal form of Kiai, the “Kensei”, or abdominal shout. It is often considered erroneously that the Kiai is merely a shout.

The shout is a vibratory expression of the Kiai, a vocal Haragei, that is, a concentration of internal energy in the abdominal region through a contraction of the diaphragm and the production of a mudra (symbolic or ritual gesture in Hinduism and Buddhism) using the vocal cords. It is a sound emanating from the stomach, that is, it does not proceed from the throat, which would convert it into something completely negative, but rather from the tanden (Hara) which transforms it into something totally positive. At very high levels, the Kiai may be inaudible to the human ear.

kiai-kanji
The Kiai is also used by different religious movements in Japan such as the Shingon sect, which is based on the teaching of Kiai in the Taki Shugyo rite, a type of meditation under the icy waters of a waterfall.
[Read more...]

Jan
06

Body flexibility a must! “Progressive approach to aikido ukemi”

A progressive demonstration of aikido ukemi by Maung Thant of Myanmar Aikido performed inside the Iwama Dojo. Several of the ukemi shown are done in unusual ways not common in aikido dojos. Some of the ukemi would not be practical from aikido techniques but the flexibility and agility acquired from such falling exercises would certainly be beneficial to training…

Click here to watch video

Jan
06

Centered on Kisshomaru and Tohei… “The spread of aikido abroad in a nutshell,” by Stanley Pranin

What is perhaps less understood is the importance of these influential figures in the early growth of aikido beyond the shores of Japan. With the exception of Minoru Mochizuki who was the first to teach aikido in France starting in 1951, the dispatch of Aikikai instructors to foreign lands was also overseen by Kisshomaru — first and foremost — and Tohei whose focus was Hawaii and the continental USA…

Click here to watch video

Jan
06

Spotlight on 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. At one time the founder executed tai no henko with a single hand, but in his later years he used both hands. Pivot around and bring the fingers of both hands to the same level…

Click here to watch video

Jan
05

Soft and agile! Yoko Okamoto — Master of “Soft Touch” Aikido

Soft and agile! Yoko Okamoto — Master of “Soft Touch” Aikido — This is Yoko Okamoto Sensei who springs from the Seigo Yamaguchi / Christian Tissier lineage. This exceptional teacher is exemplary for having totally set aside the use of physical force, a rarity in today’s aikido. Watch how she blends with uke maintaining a continuous connection from the outset. This stands in stark contrast to most aikido which begins with a disconnect where uke initiates and nage responds. Okamoto Sensei’s aikido is beautiful to watch. Uke is always unbalanced at the moment of physical contact…

Click here to watch video

Jan
05

8th dan Aikikai Shihan… The Aikido of Mitsunari Kanai

O-Sensei would throw the uchideshi, (live-in disciples), with very little in the way of explanation and we would grasp what we could of the feeling of the technique while we were flying through the air. We were budo people, so I think that’s the way it should be. Without trying to keep everything very rigid in our minds, like “1 plus 1 is 2”, we learned and progressed on our own by being thrown by the master and feeling his technique…

Click here to read more

Jan
05

Ken to the end! Morihei Ueshiba demonstrating Aiki Ken at Aikikai Hombu Dojo in 1968 — Part 2

This film is a fascinating document in that it includes scenes of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba teaching at the Hombu Dojo in Tokyo toward the end of his life. Lo and behold, there are several clips that show O-Sensei demonstrating paired movements of the Aiki Ken right inside the headquarters dojo…

Click here to watch video

Jan
02

Flowing counter techniques: Aikido Kobayashi Hirokazu Kaeshiwaza (11 Techniques)

An interesting video showing an exercise of chaining aikido techniques based on kaeshiwaza (counter techniques) to produce a flow of movement between two partners… studying complex sequences, with several techniques, makes sense, where one needs to work on the fluidity and sensitiveness, “feeling” the partner in a smooth continuum…

Click here to watch video