Jun
23

Sokaku polishes his art… “Traveling the length and breadth of Japan to test his mettle”

Sokaku Sensei traveled all over, from Hokkaido in the north all the way to Okinawa in the south. It is also remarkable that he taught not only in police departments of one particular region, but throughout the entire country. I believe that if his technique was fake or ineffective, he would have been considered useless because police departments could easily exchange such information. The case would have been the same with the military. He also taught at many military establishments. It is sometimes said that Sokaku Sensei’s relationship with the military was limited and only through the Omoto religion and the connection with Morihei Ueshiba Sensei. In fact, however, Sokaku Takeda Sensei had direct connections to the military. This is clear from the enrollment books he kept…

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Jun
23

In the shadow of World War II… “Morihei the powerhouse!”

During the Kobukan period, Morihei Ueshiba rubbed shoulders with the elite of Japanese society associating with luminaries from military, political, business and religious circles. Though not politically motivated himself, Morihei taught and interacted with many of the leading figures of the times, men who had deep respect for his incredible martial skills and who would shape Japan’s destiny as it hurtled toward war on the continent and in the Pacific…

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Jun
22

Colorizing history! “Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba”

One of the interesting aspects of my work is the abundance of technology I must use to produce the materials we publish. Since we deal with a lot of historical material, most of the images and videos we have preserved are black and white. To give an example, look at the inset photo from this image of Morihei Ueshiba. The portrait was taken around 1957, naturally in black and white. I have always been fascinated by the process of colorization and recently for the first time asked a professional graphic artist to work on this photo to see what could be achieved…

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Jun
22

We never heard of them… “Former Aikikai Employees” by Stanley Pranin

Then we have Koichi Tohei. Perhaps we’re zeroing in on your target, no? His ranking was of course the first 10th dan issued by the Aikikai. He filled the position of Shihan Bucho — chief instructor — of the Aikikai for many years. He was the leading light of the Aikikai, a charismatic teacher, an author, the pioneer of aikido in Hawaii and USA. But… I’m sure he DID receive money from the Aikikai. That must be the Aikikai employee you mean! Well, he wasn’t fired, he actually resigned. And I suppose you could say he set up a competing organization. We have finally found an employee among the list…

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Jun
22

Massaging of history… “Six giants who were axed!”

A futile attempt is being made at this very moment to erase my personal teacher, Morihiro Saito Sensei, from the annals of the Iwama Dojo since his passing in 2002. These attempts to rewrite history have motivated me to devote a great deal of attention to these historical figures. Except for Sokaku Takeda, I personally knew and interviewed all of the names I mentioned…

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Jun
19

From cripple to athlete… Arthur Boorman’s Yoga Miracle Story with nearly 19 million views!

Arthur Boorman was a disabled veteran of the Gulf War for 15 years, and was told by his doctors that he would never be able to walk on his own, ever again. He stumbled upon an article about Diamond Dallas Page doing Yoga and decided to give it a try — he couldn’t do traditional, higher impact exercise, so he tried yoga and sent an email to Dallas telling him his story. Dallas was so moved by his story, he began emailing and speaking on the phone with Arthur throughout his journey – he encouraged Arthur to keep going and to believe that anything was possible…

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Jun
19

The dainty lady who lit up Morihei Ueshiba’s Kobukan Dojo… “Interview with Takako Kunigoshi” by Stanley Pranin

Morihei Ueshiba’s Kobukan Dojo was the base for O-Sensei’s professional teaching career. In the 1930s, it was bustling with activity and many youngsters and oldsters trained side by side. The dojo attracted primarily well-to-do persons from the elite of Japanese society. But there were exceptions too… One of these was a young lady who attending art school who developed a passion for Aiki Budo. For several years, she trained regularly alongside the young, strong uchideshi being groomed by Morihei as instructors. Takako Kunigoshi made a tremendous contribution during this time frame that provides first-hand evidence of the techniques being taught by the Founder at this stage of his career…

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Jun
19

Zoning in on uke… “How the Founder O-Sensei would set up techniques to execute throws”

Despite the fact that Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei is revered as the Founder of Aikido, few practitioners today understand his philosophy or the specifics of his techniques. As we are several generations removed from the source of our art, it might be a useful exercise to go back and analyze how the Founder would approach the set up of aikido techniques. Stanley Pranin presents his thoughts on the matter. Some surprises await you!…

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Jun
18

Dojo enforcers… “The Pitbulls of Aikido,” by Autrelle Holland

When pit bulls are given status as an instructor, or even a high dan ranking, they often serve the role of the enforcer. These enforcers pit bulls do just that – enforce. Often, these pit bulls are used as a rook, in some sort of a chess game. The rook is a powerful piece, but it is not the most important piece. I have seen pit bulls in schools that have weak aikido. The school, overall, lacks martial effectiveness, but somehow, one of the members is a pit bull, a capable martial artist…

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Jun
18

High-energy action! Christian Tissier’s Dynamic Iriminage

This video is an excellent compilation of iriminage techniques performance by Christian Tissier Sensei, 7th dan, culled from many different demonstrations. Tissier Sensei’s exuberance and precision are apparent throughout…

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Jun
18

Kisshomaru Ueshiba, John Stevens, and Kodansha… “Shapers of the Image of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei,” by Stanley Pranin

The main sources of information on Morihei Ueshiba in the English language are books written by his son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and American author John Stevens. Both have written a series of books dealing with Morihei and his writings that have been widely distributed in English and translated into several European languages. A large percentage of these books have been published through the Kodansha Limited Company, Japan’s largest book publisher. Parenthetically, there is a historical relationship between Morihei Ueshiba and Seiji Noma, the founder of Kodansha…

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Jun
17

Well executed, unusual techniques! Women’s Self-Defense (1947): “Keep Your Hands Off Me, Mister!”

This rare video shot in 1947 presents Mary Parker and Lon Leonard in a demonstration of women’s self-defense that is obviously mostly jujutsu. There are a lot of unusual techniques that are well executed. Great fun to watch!…

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