May
18

Concentration of energy in the abdomen… “Kiai” by Sakura Mai

In order to practice Kiai correctly, we must keep in mind two concepts: our energetic center and abdominal breathing. An advanced student of any school should begin by occupying himself with finding his vital center, Kikai Tanden or Saika Tanden, in the abdominal region (Hara). This is usually located two or three inches below the navel. In Japan, mastery of the Hara was fundamental since it was the factor that determined power, calm or serenity…

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May
18

A unique elbow lock from Katadori! Steven Seagal seminar from 1990

We are pleased to continue with this series of video clips featuring movie action star Steven Seagal taken at a seminar in San Jose, California in 1990. This seminar took place just at the time of the ascent of his movie career, and as such is a rare event. Seagal Sensei is in fine form, his teaching style dynamic, and technical explanations direct and to the point. In this series of video clips, his main uke is Haruo Matsuoka Sensei. For the period, the video quality of the seminar is excellent with clear audio. As such, viewers will gain insight into the reasons why so many people were captured by his skills and charisma both on the mat and on the movie screen which contributed greatly to his rise to fame…

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May
18

If he looked at you suddenly, you were frozen! Interview with Michio Hikitsuchi Sensei, Aikido 10th Dan

“In those days, O-Sensei had an amazing body. He looked like an old style Japanese partition screen, wider than it is tall. He was 53 years old, weighed about 200 pounds, about five feet tall, and very broadly built. His body had strong joints and bones, and he was full of vigor. His gaze was very kind, but his eyes also had a fierce light in them, as though they were glowing. It could be intimidating! If he looked at you suddenly, you were frozen — unable to move…”

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May
15

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…

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May
15

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…

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May
15

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!…

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May
14

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…

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May
14

A forgotten era… “Morihei’s Ueshiba Juku, Launchpad of a Martial Arts Career,” by Stanley Pranin

Early in my career as a researcher into the life of Morihei Ueshiba, I was misled by two prevailing myths concerning the history of aikido. The first was that Daito-ryu jujutsu was merely one of a number of older martial arts that influenced the technical development of aikido. This proved to be a misrepresentation of historical fact in that Daito-ryu was, technically speaking, by far the predominant influence on aikido. The second myth was that Morihei Ueshiba had something akin to a “star” status within the Omoto religion that placed him almost on a par with Onisaburo Deguchi, and that he was somehow a “non-member” member of the sect…

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May
14

Do you use it in your aikido? Morihiro Saito: “If you remove kokyu from Aikido, it is no longer Aikido!”

For most of his first 25 years of involvement in aikido, Morihiro Saito was almost unknown outside of Japan. All of that changed beginning in the early 1970s when he began publishing a series of five technical volumes on aikido in a Japanese-English format. His books were followed by the first of many teaching tours abroad in 1974 where Saito Sensei’s clear and precise teaching methods were immediately embraced by foreign aikidoka. This led to literally thousands of aikido students from abroad travelling to Iwama during a 30-year period to study with the master until his passing in 2002…

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May
13

Relaxation is the secret… “What I most wanted to learn from O-Sensei”

In any case, I began studying aikido because I saw that Ueshiba Sensei had truly mastered the art of relaxing. It was because he was relaxed, in fact, that he could generate so much power. I became his student with the intention of learning that from him. To be honest, I never really listened to most of the other things he said…

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May
13

Smothering Uke like O-Sensei did! “An analysis of the Founder’s technique through film”

One of the characteristics of Morihei Ueshiba’s technique is his unique ability to seize the initiative from the start of the encounter. In other words, it is Morihei’s action as nage that triggers uke to react. The result is that uke’s response is weak and cannot really be considered an attack at all…

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May
13

Commemorating the 13th Anniversary of the Passing of One of Aikido’s Greatest Figures… “Remembering Morihiro Saito Sensei” by Stanley Pranin

I have on many occasions over the years written articles about my aikido teacher, Morihiro Saito, that have been published in Aiki News and Aikido Journal. During that entire period, however, I had the psychological assurance that this giant of a man was busy with his teaching and caretaking duties in Iwama or off to some far flung part of the globe sharing his encylopedic knowledge of aikido with his foreign students. He was always there. Now it is the time to again take up the task of writing about Sensei knowing that he is no longer with us to lead and instruct us, but that we must now use the lessons he taught us and our collective memories as sources of guidance…

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