Oct
26

“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 19 – Hidari Nagare Gaeshi Uchi” by James Neiman

Introduction

This is the 19th in a 27-part series on the Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi presented by James Neiman, Dojo Cho of Shugyo Aikido Dojo, where martial arts instruction in Union City, California is offered. All the articles are paired with YouTube video demonstrations of each of the Suburi (click here to subscribe to the channel, and click here to view all the articles in this series). These paired demonstrations and articles are offered to Aikidoka who would like to more fully understand the precise mechanics within each of the Suburi, how they can be practiced in both solo and partner settings, and how one can align the Suburi with taijutsu to develop increasing competence and precision with both basic and advanced technique.

Hidari Nagare Gaeshi Uchi

In this article we examine Hidari Nagare Gaeshi Uchi, which is the 19th of the Aiki Jo Suburi, and 1st in the series known as the Nagare No Bu. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this Suburi. In summary, Hidari Nagare Gaeshi Uchi is a combination techniques: it begins with Shomen Uchi Komi, followed by a left-oriented pivot into an overhead block and strike combination derived from Tsuki Jodan Gaeshi Uchi. Its purpose is to highlight for the student the possibility of combining multiple suburi into meaningful combinations of offensive and defensive movements with multiple ukes, in this case simply by virtue of introducing a basic grip change to transition between the basic techniques. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 3 major sections:

  1. Shomen Uchi Komi
  2. Pivot and Block
  3. Strike

 
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Oct
11

“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 18 – Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Harai” by James Neiman

Introduction

This is the 18th in a 27-part series on the Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi presented by James Neiman, Dojo Cho of Shugyo Aikido Dojo, where martial arts instruction in Union City, California is offered. All the articles are paired with YouTube video demonstrations of each of the Suburi (click here to subscribe to the channel, and click here to view all the articles in this series). These paired demonstrations and articles are offered to Aikidoka who would like to more fully understand the precise mechanics within each of the Suburi, how they can be practiced in both solo and partner settings, and how one can align the Suburi with taijutsu to develop increasing competence and precision with both basic and advanced technique.

Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Harai

In this article we examine Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Harai, which is the 5th and final suburi of the Aiki Jo Suburi in the series known as the Hasso No Bu. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this Suburi. In summary, Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Harai contains part of a figure-8 movement, resulting in a block followed by a turning, sweeping strike. This exercise continues the orientation toward multiple ukes in the Hasso No Bu. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 3 major sections:

  1. Initiate Rotation and Block
  2. Re-orient your body for movement in the rear direction
  3. Complete the sweeping strike

 
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Oct
04

“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 17 – Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Uchi” by James Neiman

Introduction

This is the 17th in a 27-part series on the Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi presented by James Neiman, Dojo Cho of Shugyo Aikido Dojo, where martial arts instruction in Union City, California is offered. All the articles are paired with YouTube video demonstrations of each of the Suburi (click here to subscribe to the channel, and click here to view all the articles in this series). These paired demonstrations and articles are offered to Aikidoka who would like to more fully understand the precise mechanics within each of the Suburi, how they can be practiced in both solo and partner settings, and how one can align the Suburi with taijutsu to develop increasing competence and precision with both basic and advanced technique.

Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Uchi

In this article we examine Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Uchi, which is the 4th of the Aiki Jo Suburi in the series known as the Hasso No Bu. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this Suburi. In summary, Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Uchi contains part of a figure-8 movement, resulting in a block followed by a strike in the rear direction. This exercise continues the orientation toward multiple ukes in the Hasso No Bu. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 3 major sections:

  1. Initiate Rotation and Block
  2. Re-orient your body for movement in the rear direction
  3. Complete the rear moving strike


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Sep
26

“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 16 – Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Tsuki” by James Neiman

Introduction

This is the 16th in a 27-part series on the Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi presented by James Neiman, Dojo Cho of Shugyo Aikido Dojo, where martial arts instruction in Union City, California is offered. All the articles are paired with YouTube video demonstrations of each of the Suburi (click here to subscribe to the channel, and click here to view all the articles in this series). These paired demonstrations and articles are offered to Aikidoka who would like to more fully understand the precise mechanics within each of the Suburi, how they can be practiced in both solo and partner settings, and how one can align the Suburi with taijutsu to develop increasing competence and precision with both basic and advanced technique.

Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Tsuki

In this article we examine Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Tsuki, which is the 3rd of the Aiki Jo Suburi in the series known as the Hasso No Bu. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this Suburi. In summary, Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Tsuki contains part of a figure-8 movement, resulting in a block followed by a rear moving thrust to another uke. This particular exercise is a transition point within the Hasso No Bu, in which a second uke is introduced. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 3 major sections:

  1. Initiate Rotation and Block
  2. Re-orient your body for movement in the rear direction
  3. Complete the rear moving thrust

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Sep
15

“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 15 – Hasso Gaeshi Tsuki” by James Neiman

Introduction

This is the 15th in a 27-part series on the Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi presented by James Neiman, Dojo Cho of Shugyo Aikido Dojo, where martial arts instruction in Union City, California is offered. All the articles are paired with YouTube video demonstrations of each of the Suburi (click here to subscribe to the channel, and click here to view all the articles in this series). These paired demonstrations and articles are offered to Aikidoka who would like to more fully understand the precise mechanics within each of the Suburi, how they can be practiced in both solo and partner settings, and how one can align the Suburi with taijutsu to develop increasing competence and precision with both basic and advanced technique.

Hasso Gaeshi Tsuki

In this article we examine Hasso Gaeshi Tsuki, which is the 2nd of the Aiki Jo Suburi in the series known as the Hasso No Bu. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this Suburi. In summary, Hasso Gaeshi Tsuki contains part of a figure-8 movement, resulting in a block followed by a forward thrust. The exercise is designed to help students learn to generate rotational dynamics through the hips, extending that energy through the hands, and following up with a forward moving counter thrust. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 3 major sections:

  1. Initiate Rotation and Block
  2. Tsuki
  3. Drop Back

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Sep
09

“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 14 – Hasso Gaeshi Uchi” by James Neiman

Introduction

This is the 14th in a 27-part series on the Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi presented by James Neiman, Dojo Cho of Shugyo Aikido Dojo, where martial arts instruction in Union City, California is offered. All the articles are paired with YouTube video demonstrations of each of the Suburi (click here to subscribe to the channel, and click here to view all the articles in this series). These paired demonstrations and articles are offered to Aikidoka who would like to more fully understand the precise mechanics within each of the Suburi, how they can be practiced in both solo and partner settings, and how one can align the Suburi with taijutsu to develop increasing competence and precision with both basic and advanced technique.

Hasso Gaeshi Uchi

In this article we examine Hasso Gaeshi Uchi, which is the 1st of the Aiki Jo Suburi in the series known as the Hasso No Bu. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this Suburi. In summary, Hasso Gaeshi Uchi contains part of a figure-8 movement, resulting in a block followed by a strike. The exercise is designed to help students learn to generate rotational dynamics through the hips, extending that energy through the hands, and following up with a forward moving counter strike. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 4 major sections:

  1. Initiate Rotation
  2. Block
  3. Drop Back
  4. Enter and Strike

[Read more...]

Sep
01

“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 13 – Katate Hachi Noji Gaeshi” by James Neiman

Introduction

This is the 13th in a 27-part series on the Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi presented by James Neiman, Dojo Cho of Shugyo Aikido Dojo, where martial arts instruction in Union City, California is offered. All the articles are paired with YouTube video demonstrations of each of the Suburi (click here to subscribe to the channel, and click here to view all the articles in this series). These paired demonstrations and articles are offered to Aikidoka who would like to more fully understand the precise mechanics within each of the Suburi, how they can be practiced in both solo and partner settings, and how one can align the Suburi with taijutsu to develop increasing competence and precision with both basic and advanced technique.

Katate Hachi Noji Gaeshi

In this article we examine Katate Hachi Noji Gaeshi, which is the 3rd of the Aiki Jo Suburi in the series known as the Katate No Bu. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this Suburi. In summary, Katate Hachi Noji Gaeshi is a wrist-centered, figure-8 combination of a strike and block. The exercise is designed to help students learn to transfer energy from the legs through the hips, and through proper use of the core muscles, extend that energy through their wrists and hands. It builds on Katate Gedan Gaeshi and Katate Toma Uchi, and provides students a glimpse of the upcoming Hasso No Bu series. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 3 major sections:

  1. Turn and Extend (Strike)
  2. Turn and Extend (Block)
  3. Drop Back

 
[Read more...]

Aug
22

“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 12 – Katate Toma Uchi” by James Neiman

Introduction

This is the 12th in a 27-part series on the Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi presented by James Neiman, Dojo Cho of Shugyo Aikido Dojo, where martial arts instruction in Union City, California is offered. All the articles are paired with YouTube video demonstrations of each of the Suburi (click here to subscribe to the channel, and click here to view all the articles in this series). These paired demonstrations and articles are offered to Aikidoka who would like to more fully understand the precise mechanics within each of the Suburi, how they can be practiced in both solo and partner settings, and how one can align the Suburi with taijutsu to develop increasing competence and precision with both basic and advanced technique.

Katate Toma Uchi

In this article we examine Katate Toma Uchi, which is the 2nd of the Aiki Jo Suburi in the series known as the Katate No Bu. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this Suburi. In summary, Katate Toma Uchi is a wrist-centered countertechnique that moves from a high to low position. It builds on Katate Gedan Gaeshi, transferring the energy in the turning dynamics to the point of contact with uke through the wrist. Katate Toma Uchi forms an essential basis in ki no nagare applications in which one drops into an uke’s center with a kinetic chain transferring energy from a hip rotation into a wrist-centered strike. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 3 major sections:

  1. Drop
  2. Turn
  3. Extend

 
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Aug
08

“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 11 – Katate Gedan Gaeshi” by James Neiman

Introduction

This is the 11th in a 27-part series on the Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi presented by James Neiman, Dojo Cho of Shugyo Aikido Dojo, where martial arts instruction in Union City, California is offered. All the articles are paired with YouTube video demonstrations of each of the Suburi (click here to subscribe to the channel, and click here to view all the articles in this series). These paired demonstrations and articles are offered to Aikidoka who would like to more fully understand the precise mechanics within each of the Suburi, how they can be practiced in both solo and partner settings, and how one can align the Suburi with taijutsu to develop increasing competence and precision with both basic and advanced technique.

Katate Gedan Gaeshi

In this article we examine Katate Gedan Gaeshi, which is the 1st of the Aiki Jo Suburi in the series known as the Katate No Bu. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this Suburi. In summary, Katate Gedan Gaeshi is a wrist-centered countertechnique that moves from a low to high position. It builds on Tsuki Gedan Gaeshi, transferring the energy in the turning dynamics to the point of contact with uke through the wrist. Katate Gedan Gaeshi forms an essential basis in ki no nagare applications in which one lifts uke’s center with a kinetic chain moving from the feet all the way to the wrists. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 3 major sections:

  1. Drop
  2. Turn
  3. Extend

The movement begins with the jo being held horizontally on the right side of the body while standing in hanmi with the left foot forward and angled slightly. Your right shoulder is back and relaxed. Sliding both your body and the jo diagonally back and to the right, drop your center by bending your knees while staying in an aligned posture, loading onto the ball of your right foot, coiling your right hip. As you complete this initial blend, both hands should be at the front tip of the jo, with the back tip of the jo extending back and to the right along the same diagonal of your initial movement. This completes the drop movement.

Begin pushing off the ball of your right foot, opening your right hip and slightly raising your dropped center of gravity. As your weight transfers forward, allow the hands to move upward in front of your center, until the jo is extended in front of you and is parallel to the ground. Keep your right elbow dropped, release your left hand from the jo, extending your energy through your right wrist in order to maintain the stability of the jo in this position. You must use this extension so your wrist can maintain its position while holding the weight of the jo. The jo has momentum at this point, and has partially completed an upward moving counterclockwise arc, representing the upward moving spiral in your hip turn. This completes the turn movement.

The final part of this suburi completes the motion you began with extension at the apex of the movement. Your weight is now mostly on your left foot. Continue the motion by pushing off the ball of your left foot, extending through your left leg and allowing your right foot to step in front of you. As you do this, allow the jo to continue its counterclockwise upward-moving arc. Catch the jo with your left hand as it arrives at a point diagonally to the left and behind you. Your left leg should be fully extended, and your right hand should be just to the left of your face. You have now completed the extension.

At this point there is opportunity to discuss the dynamics of this suburi: the drop leads you into a low to high movement that teaches you an important lesson about extension and kokyu. The movement that begins in your feet and hips and ends at the wrist provides you with a potent experience of moving from a grounded position. You will find that this suburi forms the beginning of many circular countertechniques. The ending of this suburi provides you with the extension and movement that allow you to take advantage of the relative position of your dropped center under uke’s unbalanced and raised center.

There are many potential enriching teaching and practice opportunities here: experiment with riai, exploring techniques such as tsuki ikkyo ura waza and low to high iriminage countertechniques. Allow yourself to move slowly with your partners, feeling how you use your partner’s attack  to become fully grounded, and transfer that energy into an extension that unbalances your partner and leads you into various techniques.

Jul
27

“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 10 – Gyaku Yokomen Ushiro Tsuki” by James Neiman

Introduction

This is the 10th in a 27-part series on the Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi presented by James Neiman, Dojo Cho of Shugyo Aikido Dojo, where martial arts instruction in Union City, California is offered. All the articles are paired with YouTube video demonstrations of each of the Suburi (click here to subscribe to the channel, and click here to view all the articles in this series). These paired demonstrations and articles are offered to Aikidoka who would like to more fully understand the precise mechanics within each of the Suburi, how they can be practiced in both solo and partner settings, and how one can align the Suburi with taijutsu to develop increasing competence and precision with both basic and advanced technique.

Gyaku Yokomen Uchi Ushiro Tsuki

In this article we examine Gyaku Yokomen Ushiro Tsuki, which is the 5th of the Aiki Jo Suburi in the series known as the Shomen No Bu. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this Suburi. In summary, Gyaku Yokomen Ushiro Tsuki is an reverse overhead strike combined with a rear moving thrust. It builds on the basic techniques you have learned in the Tsuki No Bu and Shomen No Bu series. Gyaku Yokomen Ushiro Tsuki is an advanced exercise in dealing with multiple attackers, using the basic combination of 2 attackers: one in front of you, and one behind you. In this case, the movements are preemptive. The basic body movements derived from this practice begin with a dynamic preemptive overhead strike from left hanmi, and continue with the kinetic chain involved in transitioning to a rear thrust movement. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 3 major sections:

  1. Enter and strike
  2. Re-orient your body for movement in the rear direction
  3. Complete the rear-moving thrust


[Read more...]

Jul
14

“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 9 – Shomen Uchi Ushiro Tsuki” by James Neiman

Introduction

This is the 9th in a 27-part series on the Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi presented by James Neiman, Dojo Cho of Shugyo Aikido Dojo, where martial arts instruction in Union City, California is offered. All the articles are paired with YouTube video demonstrations of each of the Suburi (click here to subscribe to the channel, and click here to view all the articles in this series). These paired demonstrations and articles are offered to Aikidoka who would like to more fully understand the precise mechanics within each of the Suburi, how they can be practiced in both solo and partner settings, and how one can align the Suburi with taijutsu to develop increasing competence and precision with both basic and advanced technique.

Shomen Uchi Ushiro Tsuki

In this article we examine Shomen Uchi Ushiro Tsuki, which is the 4th of the Aiki Jo Suburi in the series known as the Shomen No Bu. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this Suburi. In summary, Shomen Uchi Ushiro Tsuki is an overhead strike combined with a rear moving thrust. It builds on the basic techniques you have learned in the Tsuki No Bu and Shomen No Bu series. Shomen Uchi Ushiro Tsuki represents the prime purpose of Aikido: dealing with multiple attackers. This initial exercise approaches the basic combination of 2 attackers: one in front of you, and one behind you. The basic body movements derived from this practice begin with the dynamic and fluid movement involving both uke and nage, and continue with the kinetic chain involved in forward, backward, striking, and thrusting movements. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 4 major sections:

  1. Drop back
  2. Enter and strike
  3. Re-orient your body for movement in the rear direction
  4. Complete the rear-moving thrust

 
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Jul
10

“Training the Mind, Body, and Spirit in Aikido” – by James Neiman

O’Sensei was undoubtedly a person motivated by his spiritual ideals, and he spent a good deal of time engaging in meditation and prayer in addition to martial arts training. This has influenced countless Aikidoka ever since, and there have been many points of view offered with regard to the integration of character and spiritual development in martial arts training. I would like to offer my own perspectives on this, which are, by definition, one person’s experience and opinions.

I developed from a student into a teacher over many years, and can claim some expertise in martial arts training. So what does that qualify me to do as Sensei? Should I strictly limit my leadership to technique? Am I a mentor for character development? Am I a spiritual leader? How do I ensure that my students (and myself for that matter) become good citizens both within the Aikido community and within the larger community? Is that really my responsibility? What would qualify me to provide leadership in these areas?

What I Enjoy

I absolutely love going to seminars and, for a few hours or even an entire weekend, copying other experts to learn how they execute technique. Sometimes I retain what they have offered, thinking, this is really cool stuff! I have enjoyed many great books and articles on Aikido, especially those on the physio-mechanics of good technique and occasionally, some applications of Aikido toward interpersonal conflict resolution.

My Issue

I have attended uncountably many workshops and seminars, and have seen teaching ranging from pure technique, to religious chants, to praying to various gods and spirits, to spiritual breathing exercises, to offering religious certifications, etc. I have heard claims that one cannot possibly learn the true Aikido unless one engages in the same spiritual, meditative, and technical practices as O’Sensei’s. No offense to anybody, but if I want spiritual direction, I have my church priest, thank you very much. Personally, it makes me very uncomfortable to be in a seminar and be asked to engage in practices that violate the 1st Commandment in the Judeo-Christian tradition. As a matter of fact, it is a cause for silent disobedience on my part (which may even include an impatient or angry internal reaction), which is anathema to a person who has spent most of his life saying “Hai!” to his teachers. It raises in my mind this question: Does the Sensei leading the workshop think that a faithful follower of another belief system cannot be a true Aikidoka? Some have actually explicitly said so! This makes me very sad, because I cannot avoid opining that it is ultimately a divisive thing to say to people. It is a fact, though, that some students love these types of teachers and flock to them. But is this really what O’Sensei had in mind when he wanted for all people to be reconciled in love? Did he walk on water, raise the dead, and heal the sick, or even claim to? What would he have to say about all this?
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