Haruo Matsuoka Sensei’s Aikido Journey: Part 8


“Now I have to continue to seek inspiration and knowledge from others, and to strengthen the mentor / disciple relationships I have with my students.”

Josh Gold: It was around 2004 that you were introduced to Kono Sensei, right?

Yoshinori Kono: Image via Google Images

Yoshinori Kono: Image via Google Images

Matsuoka Sensei: Yes, this was a turning point for me and my aikido. He is not an aikido teacher by the way; he’s a martial artist and researcher. He focuses on researching martial arts from the ancient times, how legendary masters moved and how they did techniques. I was so happy because he pointed out how much I did not understand. Hahaha!

At that point you had already been doing aikido for almost 30 years, right?

That’s right.

What did you get out of your first experience with Kono Sensei? What were your impressions?

It’s very interesting. He asked me to throw him using ikkyo from a shomenuchi attack. I’d never had the experience with how he responded when I did ikkyo. And realized how much I didn’t understand the technique. In aikido we typically follow certain rules and movement conventions. He didn’t respond within those rules and conventions. As you know, according to budo, there are no rules in a life or death situation. So seeing how he responded and countered my movements provided me with a new perspective.

Yes, that’s right. The practice customs and conventions we follow in aikido are useful, and even necessary, for proper learning and training. However, I can see how looking outside of those boundaries allows us to see some deficiencies or areas that can be improved that otherwise might go unnoticed.

That experience really helped me understand my movements better. I realized I was relying too much on one body part and that’s why he stopped me. In other words, if I use my whole body by coordinating everything, like teamwork, that’s ideal. Since then, my body movements and my thinking about body structure and coordination has been changing. That’s the direction I’ve been shifting towards with my aikido. This is why that year was a real transition.

I’ve really seen a big change in your movements since then.

Big change. Of course I didn’t only practice ikkyo with him that day. We practiced for seven hours. Seven hours! He’s a very busy man so I really appreciate the time he spent with me. I went to his dojo at 2pm and before I knew it, it was 9pm. It went by so fast, but at the same time it felt like I spent two or three months with him. It’s a contradiction. That time I spent with him was so special.

Now you see him once or twice a year, right? Almost every time you go back to Japan…

That’s right. I can get some inspiration. If I lose the seeking spirit, I’m as good as dead.

So from 2004 until 2011 you really took the opportunity to learn as much as you could from Abe Sensei, Kono Sensei, and other martial artists in different fields… But in 2011, Abe Sensei, your mentor, passed away.

It was very hard for me when Abe Sensei passed away. He wasn’t there anymore. I had no mentor and it was a really weird feeling. But not only did I lose my mentor, I also had concern for my students from an aikido standpoint. Later, a while after Abe Sensei passed away, I was able to meet with Doshu in Tokyo. We sat down talked for about an hour. Doshu promoted me to 6th dan and I was able to establish a good connection with Hombu Dojo at that time.

You must really miss Abe Sensei.

Definitely. In the last few years without him, I’ve really wanted to be able to talk to him, ask him questions, and he’s not there. I also really feel sorry for him because now I realize how many stupid questions I asked him before. Hahaha! But I guess it’s always like this…

So what’s it been like over the last 4 years without him?

Haruo Matsuoka with Seiseki Abe on his last trip to the US

Haruo Matsuoka with Seiseki Abe on his last trip to the US

More responsibility. And I really miss the mentor / disciple relationship I had with him. That’s one of the main pillars of an art like aikido. It’s not just about technique or self-defense. The mentor / disciple relationship brings something really unique to the art, and to our lives. It’s probably like this in other arts as well, like music or acting. Now I have to continue to seek inspiration and knowledge from others, and to strengthen the mentor / disciple relationships I have with my students. I’m not saying I’m a good mentor, but I’m always seeking ways to be better.

Well, I think you’ve definitely created an environment where we feel your commitment to growth and improvement. It inspires us to do the same; each of us in their own way.

Well, listen – I still don’t know what aikido is and I don’t know the best path. I just continue seeking and sharing.

Your technical transformation, the stuff you’ve been working on – it’s amazing. Very powerful. And I think it’s great to see how you receive insights and inspiration not only from aikido masters, but world class masters in other arts. In addition to spending time with Kono Sensei, I know you also have an ongoing exchange with Kenji Yamaki, a Kyokushin Karate world champion, and with Dan Inosanto, who was Bruce Lee’s top student and is a legendary martial artist.

Kenji Yamaki with Haruo Matsuoka

Kenji Yamaki with Haruo Matsuoka

I’m sure that it must be interesting to train with people at that level and exchange knowledge…

Definitely. How quickly they grasp concepts, and then incorporate them into their arts – it’s amazing.

This kind of exchange is very interesting. I really value my time and experience with masters like Dan Inosanto. So this way we can better confirm the things we are doing right, and we can also gain insight, maybe develop something new, a completely different way of approaching things we are familiar with. The power of cooperation is really profound.

Well, I’m glad we’ve been able to develop a solid group of instructors at Ikazuchi Dojo over the last few years that can support you, give you time to explore and research your aikido, and help transfer your knowledge to a growing group of our students.

Yes. It’s really great. We can all continue our journey together.

One other thing I find so interesting is that here we are in Orange County, California. Your first aikido teacher, Seagal Sensei, he started his aikido practice in Orange County when he was a teenager. Then he moved to Tokyo, and then Osaka, and then you met him there, and ended up back here.

Life is difficult to understand. What could happen is beyond your imagination.

Thank you so much for sharing your time and experience with us Sensei. We really appreciate it.

This concludes the eight-part interview with Haruo Matsuoka Sensei.

This interview originally appeared on the Ikazucho Dojo website and is reproduced here with the kind permission of Josh Gold.


Harold T. — “That’s Just How It Bends” by Tom Collings


“How these guys can run like the world’s fastest human, while handcuffed behind their backs and shoeless is beyond me”

tom-collings-150pxHAROLD was recently out of recruit class, so the boss told me to take him on his first hits. “Collings, do not let him get hurt or screw up,” ordered the chief. “Yes, sir, no problem,” I said. Hits are parole officer talk for grabbing a bunch of fugitive arrest warrants, getting a few POs together, then meeting at 5 am to track down some parole violators.

Convicts often jump parole when they are afraid we will do a drug test, or because they assume we know they are out there committing new crimes. Most of the time, we don’t know, but they assume we do. So, they stop showing up to their scheduled reports to us, and often move to another town or another state. When they cheat on their girlfriend, rip off a drug customer, or piss off their mama — I often get tipped off where they are hiding out.

The first hit of the day was at a Brownsville Housing Project, the rough Brooklyn neighborhood that produced brawlers like Mike Tyson. As we get to a fourth floor apartment, I could see Harold was nervous, partly because of the danger, but also because this was his chance to show the chief he could handle the job. He was impressed with how I sweet-talked my way right into the apartment, and how quickly we located our fugitive and cuffed him up — before he could hide, start fighting, or grab a weapon. It was all going smooth as silk as I grabbed some shoes for the guy, when the family suddenly went ballistic.

Now brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews, were coming at us from all sides. To them, we were not duly sworn officers of the law executing a legal arrest warrant, we were intruders who invaded their home, and were messing with their boy! When things are going smoothly, four officers seems like overkill. But, when the shit hits the fan, you wished you had ten more with you! I pushed Harold and our handcuffed prisoner down the hallway, and out the front door of the apartment. Then I ran back in to help the other guys fight their way out of there. When we got out, I looked around but there was no Harold, and no prisoner?

I ran down the hall to a window, just in time to see the backside of our prisoner running across the courtyard four floors below — no shirt, no shoes, and handcuffed behind his back. Zooming at full speed, with a fifty-yard lead on Harold! How these guys can run like the world’s fastest human, while handcuffed behind their backs and shoeless is beyond me.

When we got down to the street, Harold was a block away, and our ex-prisoner was just a speck in the distance, two blocks away. “Keep after him Harold!” I yelled, as I ran and got NYPD Central Dispatch on my radio:

“Parole 0714 requesting 10-85, assistance forthwith!.”
“What is your condition 0714?”
“In pursuit of male black wearing blue jeans,
  and running east on Linden Blvd.,
73 Precinct” … (I now prepared for the humiliation)…
  “no shirt — no shoes and cuffed behind his back.”
  …She tried to muffle it, but I heard somebody
  cracking up in the background.
“0714, you had one under and lost him?” (Great lady, rub
  it in — she was loving it)
“Affirmative Central.”…….. “OK, units on route 0714.”

As I ran, I yelled to Harold “I’m going to kill you, Harold,” but unfortunately he was too far away to hear me. Closing the distance, I fantasized about doing terrible things to Harold.

Eventually, all the broken glass and pot holes on Brownsville streets took their toll on our fugitive’s feet, slowing him down a bit. As we tackled him in a big garbage-filled vacant lot, three squad cars roared up, sirens and lights blazing. I hoped they assumed we had just made the arrest, but the big grins on their faces told me they heard the radio call. “Any more that got away, guys?” This crack was followed by several more jokes, before a merciful sergeant yelled over the laughter; “Forget about it, we all got two or three stories like this.” The sergeant’s comment didn’t help, I glared at Harold with great violence in my eyes. “You are doing all the paperwork on this! I will never let you forget this one, Harold!”

I never did let him forget it, cruel bastard that I am. Not 5 years later when he became my supervisor, and not 10 years later when he became a bureau chief. It became a kind of joke with us, I would bring it up whenever he reminded me of paperwork that was overdue. Unfortunately, the distraction rarely worked, and he always stayed on point. But, it is great fun to have something like that over a boss.

Harold was born and raised in a tough minority neighborhood of New York City, so it is not surprising that bad guys have attempted to rob him. Just like certain styles of dress and music, neighborhoods also have their own manner of speech. In Harold’s neighborhood the style of speaking was very slow, like old style jazz talk. Harold does not take drugs, but you would swear he was stoned if you were not used to his distinctive sloooowwww…Brooklyn-ese. But the day a bad guy pulled a gun on him, his slow talking proved very valuable.

There is a martial arts wrist-twisting technique called kotegaeshi. I have been studying it, and trying to perfect it for about four decades. It takes most students a few years before they can execute the technique well. So, Harold is confronted at gunpoint, and the guy is demanding money, screaming “What you got? Give it up! Now! Now!” But, Harold responds sooo slooowwllyyyy — wellll….I….doonnn’t….reeeaally…haavve…thaaat… The guy is in a big hurry to get something and run! He cannot handle how slow this thing is going! Out of desperation he makes a major error — he moves closer and sticks the gun right in Harold’s face. Harold then just reaches up and twists it out of the guy’s hand. Stunned, in shock, and humiliated; the bad guy runs off, possibly considering another line of work.

“Show me what move you did, Harold,” I ask.
“That is kotegaeshi, where did you learn that?”
“Which art do you study?”
“That is no art. I don’t know any martial artsy stuff,”
  he responds.
“So, where did you learn kotegaeshi?”
“Coat-a-guy what? I just turned his wrist like this.
  That’s just how it bends.”

A perfectly executed kotegaeshi technique, with no martial arts classes. Harold was obviously ignorant of the fact that it takes years to learn this technique. But, he did not perform a “technique.” He just turned the guy’s wrist “how it bends.” You can’t make this stuff up.


Through a simple interface, you’ll have the ability to quickly access over 500 empty-handed and weapons techniques via 1,100 links to videos and technical explanations in book format. This is the most extensive technical reference on aikido ever compiled!

Click here for information on Morihiro Saito's &ldquoComplete Guide to Aikido”


“Aikido’s lost book treasures and what to do about them” by Stanley Pranin


“How do we keep our precious heritage of books from being lost?”

In the past few months, I have been pondering a phenomenon that I don’t think most people in the aikido world are aware of.

If you have been around in the art as long as I have, you will remember numerous technical books on aikido from the 1960s and 70s. With the exception of “Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere”, perhaps one or two volumes of Morihiro Saito’s “Takemusu Aiki” series from the early 70s, and a couple of early volumes of Gozo Shioda on Yoshinkan Aikido, I can’t think of any aikido technical manuals from that era that remain in print. You are lucky if you can pick up copies from rare book dealers and hundreds of dollars each.

Coincidentally in recent years, we have witnessed the death of large book chains like Borders and Barnes & Noble in the USA reflecting the fact the people are reading less and less. We have seen the same trend in book publication here at Aikido Journal. We no longer offer any more print versions of our titles. They remain, however, available as digital books in pdf form.

Nonetheless, many books have survived in digital formats that are read on hand-held devices like Kindles and tablets. These are not like traditional printed books because you can adjust font sizes, add notes, etc. In fact, the number of pages of books in such formats are variable depending on how they are set up by reader. But with the transition to these digital formats, there are some special problems, especially for technical manual and books with a lot of photos that are specifically laid out. The use of photos in digital books is normally limited because their presence can play havoc with the page format.

So getting back to aikido technical manuals, I can think of no way to adapt them to modern digital formats other than to scan each page as an image and stitch together everything as a pdf book. This is precisely what we have done to keep these books in print. Our current library of ebooks can be found here. Also, go over and take a look at Clark Bateman’s wonderful bibliography resource and you’ll see the vast numbers of books on aikido that have been published, few of which remain in print.

Here is the problem I have been getting at in a nutshell:

  • People read less and less and printed books as a medium are slowly dying
  • Books consisting primarily of text and not dependent on specific layouts can be converted to digital formats
  • Books with many illustrations — like aikido technical manuals — do not lend themselves to being republished in digital formats
  • Although technical manuals can be scanned as images and “bound” together as pdf files, the small form factor of hand-held devices like cellular phones and even tablets make it cumbersome, if not impossible, to view the text and illustrations.
  • The end result is that few of the finest publications on aikido remain in print and the present generation has lost access to numerous excellent publications by many of aikido’s greatest figures.

Books are not like films and videos that can readily be adapted to digital formats. As such old moving pictures and films have flourished in the digital age.

Here is my challenge to you…  Please give me suggestions as to ways that these books filled with images can be preserved and made available one again in a format that will find a large enough market to warrant their republication.

Comments welcomed!


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“How Koichi Tohei intercepted Shomenuchi attacks” by David Misumi


“If nage can intercept the strike just at the moment prior to the body consolidating its forward momentum… the strike can be effectively negated.”

This blog was edited from the contents of a well-thought-out reply of David Masumi to the following two recent articles that we felt would be of interest to many of our readers:
“The Origins of Modern Aikido: The Shomenuchi Dilemma” by Stanley Pranin
Closing up the loose ends: “More on Aikido’s Shihonage Dilemma” by Stanley Pranin

I began my training with Tohei’s system in 1974 and I would occasionally attack my teacher full speed. The dynamics are such that if nage can intercept the strike just at the moment prior to the body consolidating its forward momentum with the downward trajectory of the arm, the strike can be effectively negated with not much “collision.” However, the uke’s body will continue forward and fly past his now secured striking arm, causing his body to rotate 180 degrees and for the most part be airborne

If nage tries to force the technique, uke will feel that and start to re-posture his body from an attacking attitude to a more self-protective one. In the strike uke is relaxed and elongated, but if he starts to experience or perceive an impending “collision,” he naturally tries to secure his joints and shortens his length, effectively killing any forward momentum.

You will not see this dynamic with anything less than a full-speed attack because there will not be enough momentum generated to result in what I just described. I attest to this occurring consistently and routinely. It is a startling fall to experience the first time because you are up-ended and you have to trust that your partner will not slam you to the mat while you are in the descent phase of your fall. (I never saw Tohei slam anyone to the floor though a few got slammed due relative to the intensity of their attack.)

Stan, you posted a video with Chuck Liddell’s (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqf42bsTXnY) overhand fist as being something you wouldn’t want to be passively standing in front of. That is true, but – Liddell’s power comes from the torque he develops by the thrust he initiates from his rear right leg with his left leg firmly planted. The speed of rotation of the hips and upper torso is what culminates in the power seen at the point of impact. It is similar to the mechanics of a baseball pitcher or a boxer’s right-cross. Although the strike comes from overhead, the body mechanics is more closely related to yokomenuchi

The impressiveness of Liddell’s strike is the impact point which pre-supposes his target being within the arc of the strike. What you don’t see is how he closed the distance to his target sufficiently such that he can strike with his rear hand. Though shomenuchi can be executed this way, it is more commonly performed with right hand/right foot forward, or vice versa, as in your photos above.

When the striking hand and foot are of the same side, it is like a boxer’s jab. It breeches distance with speed not power. Power is reserved for the rear hand, and that is the procuct of torque. There is minimal torque with a front foot/front hand strike.

(Regarding the above photos, #1 suggests that ukemi’s arm is in its up-swing phase as opposed to the downward as Tohei’s head is outside the arc of the strike. #2 shows ukemi has advanced one foot-stride closer with Tohei now within the arc of the strike.)

[Read more…]


“Kotegaeshi Challenge” answered by Christopher Hein!

Back on July 3, I published a blog titled “The Kotegaeshi Challenge”. In a nut shell, my article challenged readers to give their opinions on a potential vulnerability in the execution of kotegaeshi.

What is this potential vulnerability with kotegaeshi I mention above? Once again, I would refer you to the many images you will see resulting from your search for “kotegaeshi”. I would like you to focus on uke’s free hand just at the moment he is leaping into his high fall.

Following the publication of the blog, there were numerous opinions submitted on this site and on Facebook that commented on this issue.

Now Christopher Hein Sensei of Aikido of Fresno- Chushin Tani Aikidojo has come forward with a very well-thought-out video that addresses the issue I bring up and also show a number of alternatives to the execute of the traditional kotegaeshi.

 Christopher Hein Sensei executing kotegaeshi

Christopher Hein Sensei executing kotegaeshi

We welcome readers to continue providing their input on this important technical issue.

By the way, in his “Complete Guide to Aikido“, Morihiro Saito shows nearly 20 different kotegaeshi variations.


Morihiro Saito Sensei demonstrates Shomenuchi Ikkyo Omote from the “Complete Guide to Aikido”

“A true master introduces one of Aikido’s core techniques”

In the technical manual Budo, published by the founder in 1938, it is written that in shomenuchi ikkyo omote, the person throwing initiates the technique. “Advance one step with your right foot while striking your opponent’s face with your right tegatana…” (p. 11).

As you grab your partner’s wrist, move your hands and feet in unison. Your technique will not be powerful if you move them separately. Invite your partner to block by attacking with your right hand. Move your left hand at the same time as your right hand and simultaneously advance with your right foot to break your partner’s balance. Your hands and feet must act together in order to be effective against a partner who resists.

(1) Initiate the movement by advancing with your right foot while vigorously extending your right tegatana into your partner’s face.

(2) Your partner blocks with his right hand to protect his face. Grab his right elbow firmly with your left hand and push his wrist down with your tegatana.

(3)(4) Having unbalanced your partner by bringing his arm in front of your abdomen, take a large step diagonally forward with your left foot, moving his arm forward and down.

(5) Pin his arm at a right angle to his body.


The above video clip is a perfect example of the clarity and precision of Saito Sensei’s explanations of aikido techniques. If you wish to have access to hundreds more clips and technical explanations to improve your aikido level, please look at the extensive presentation of Saito Sensei’s curriculum described below.



Through a simple interface, you’ll have the ability to quickly access over 500 empty-handed and weapons techniques via 1,100 links to videos and technical explanations in book format. This is the most extensive technical reference on aikido ever compiled!

Click here for information on Morihiro Saito's “Complete Guide to Aikido”


Closing up the loose ends: “More on Aikido’s Shihonage Dilemma” by Stanley Pranin

Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba has overcome an overhand knife attack by initiating and delivering an atemi

Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba has overcome an overhand attack by initiating and delivering an atemi

“To overcome the thesis presented here, you must explain how a motionless person can recognize an attack, devise a plan, spring into action, and overcome a high-speed attack in less than a second.”

Yesterday’s blog on the “Shomenuchi Dilemma” generated a good deal of commentary among Aikido Journal readers, especially on Facebook. There were those who agreed with my thesis — actually points stressed by Morihei Ueshiba, Morihiro Saito, and Shoji Nishio in their aikido instruction.

Still there were those who sidestepped the main point. A powerful shomen attack by an uke does not allow nage who is standing still to respond in time. The window of opportunity to analyze, initiate a move, and execute a counter-movement is too limited. This argument was ignored altogether by many of those offering comments.

Some opined that the purpose of this exercise is to blend with the overhead attack. Yes ideally that would allow nage the possibility to gain control over the encounter. This ignores the fact that nage who is responding only after uke’s attack doesn’t have enough time to blend. Look again at the two photos: nage is motionless and uke is at the halfway point of delivering his shomenuchi attack.

Another viewpoint expressed was that nage is not clashing against uke’s shomenuchi but rather that his left hand is moving up to blend with uke and then control the movement. I would agree that in a slow motion scenario this might be possible. But we’re not talking about a slow motion scenario but rather a high-speed overhand attack.

Still another comment was that the arms of nage and uke were not on a collision course and that the photos, being static, gave a misleading impression. I granted that the photos were “posed” and therefore lacked the dynamism of a practice session, but read again Tohei Sensei’s explanation:

… it is easy for you to collide with his strength and difficult for you to force him down backward. The irimi here, therefore, consists of turning your partner’s strength against him…

Maintain a mighty outpouring of ki from your hands and swing your arms up…

This is of course the objective and theoretically possible, but only against an uke delivering a slow-speed attack. If uke attacks powerlully, with full intent, and nage stands waiting for uke to initiate, nage will be overcome by the overhand blow because he has too little time to respond. He has an impossible disadvantage to overcome.

This is why Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba — echoed by Morihiro Saito — stressed the importance of nage initiating against a shomenuchi attack rather than responding.

If you think you can overcome and reverse a powerful overhand attack starting from a motionless posture, please watch this video by UFC Champion Chuck Liddell:

And for a humorous look at the result of a powerfully delivered shomenuchi, check this out:



Now Mobile Friendly! Watch these videos for insights into
solving the technical problems that hold back your progress!

Click here for information on Stanley Pranin's “Zone Theory of Aikido” Course


“The Origins of Modern Aikido: The Shomenuchi Dilemma” by Stanley Pranin


“If you want to know how aikido techniques changed
after the war, here is a good place to start!”

stanley-pranin-thumbnailLast year I published an article that dealt in some detail with the Shomenuchi Ikkyo technique of the prewar era. It discussed an earlier approach to doing techniques from the the shomenuchi (overhand strike attack). Several examples consisting of photos of Morihei Ueshiba and Gozo Shioda were presented. The thrust of the article was that it was important that nage (the person applying the technique) initiate the encounter in order to preempt a high-speed attack by uke and avoid a collision, something decidedly against the principles of aikido, the “art of harmony”.

Now, please have a look at the two photos above that depict Koichi Tohei, 10th dan. These photos are the start of the Shomenuchi ikkyo technique described in Tohei Sensei’s technical volume “This is Aikido” published in 1968.

Let us make some observations about these two photos. First, in photo #1, Tohei Sensei (nage) is standing in hanmi awaiting the shomen attack. His uke — Seishiro Endo — has launched a shomenuchi attack. Allowing for the fact that the photos may be artificial in that they are posed, we must still deal with the reality that nage has only a minute time frame to respond to uke’s attack that is already in progress.

Next, look at photo #2. What is described as a blend could equally be construed as a collision between nage and uke as their arms traveling in direct opposition make contact. In fairness, let us quote part of the description of the beginning of this technique from the book which describes the thinking behind this approach:

Although you throw your partner with an ikkyo much as you do in the kata-tori ikkyo…., since, in this technique, his attempted strike moves downward, it is easy for you to collide with his strength and difficult for you to force him down backward. The irimi here, therefore, consists of turning your partner’s strength against him…

Maintain a mighty outpouring of ki from your hands and swing your arms up…

If you’ll take the trouble to read the earlier article I mention, you will realize that a totally different approach is used. Nage is proactive and initiates the movement thus effectively neutralizing uke’s shomenuchi attack altogether and eliminating the risk of collision alluded to above.
[Read more…]


Where do you stand? “The Kotegaeshi Challenge” by Stanley Pranin

“Can you prevent your attacker from striking you?”

Kotegaeshi, aikido’s wrist twist technique, is a special case among the art’s basic techniques. It can be seen performed in practically everything aikido demonstration, usually with the attacker taking a high fall when thrown. The technique is a crowd favorite as it appears spectacular, but at the same time it has a potential vulnerability.

Take a look at the above photo of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba performing kotegaeshi in a photo appearing in the Founder’s technical manual “Budo” from 1938. You will seldom see kotegaeshi executed this way today. What it unusual about this photo is that Morihei is positioned to uke’s blind spot; uke is off balanced to the rear, and his fist is balled up as kotegaeshi is applied.

An instructive exercise would be to do a Google search for “kotegaeshi” and observe the final stage of the technique. In virtually every case, you will see the attacker in the process of taking a high fall. However in the above photo of the Founder, uke cannot take such a high fall since he has lost his balance to the rear.

What is this potential vulnerability with kotegaeshi I mention above? Once again, I would refer you to the many images you will see resulting from your search for “kotegaeshi”. I would like you to focus on uke’s free hand just at the moment he is leaping into his high fall. This line drawing from “Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere” illustrates the problem.


Do you see where uke has an opportunity to strike nage with his free hand as he turns into the fall? This is often the case if you carefully study these photos. What happens typically is that the action is so fast that the average person cannot see what is occurring.
[Read more…]


Confusion abounds! What really happened with Koichi Tohei’s 10th dan promotion?

The unclear point has to do with the fact that an “Inauguration Party” for Tohei Sensei’s 10th dan was held on October 16, 1970, fully 18 months after the passing of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. What was the reason for the delay and did Morihei Ueshiba actually authorize Tohei Sensei’s 10th dan promotion?…

Click here to watch video


A way out of an apparent contradiction… “Morihei Ueshiba’s Aikido to the rescue!” by Stanley Pranin

So, if we wait to be sure that we are being attacked before defending ourselves to be legally in the right, we are likely to become victims and be injured or killed. If, on the other hand, we launch a preemptive attack to better the odds of our prevailing, but in the process injure our presumed attacker, we end up in hot water with the law. What to do? Enter Morihei Ueshiba’s aikido…

Click here to watch video


Aikido’s Greatest Figures! “In-depth testimonies of Morihei Ueshiba’s most talented students” by Stanley Pranin

In 2010, I published a book titled “Aikido Pioneers — Prewar Era” that contains 20 interviews with most of the important students of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei from the period when aikido was gradually separating from Sokaku Takeda’s Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu.

I think this is one of the most important historical works on aikido published thus far. You will gain a depth of understanding of the roots of aikido and the trials and tribulations of Morihei Ueshiba experienced in creating aikido.

“Aikido Pioneers” is also included in the THE AIKIDO LEGACY PACKAGE. We are certain that “Legacy Package” will become your go-to resource for all things related to aikido. Please click the link below and prepare to be blown away by the amount and quality of materials that await you! …

Click here to watch video