Jun
16

Stanley Pranin Video Blog… “Iriminage — O-Sensei Style”

Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin describes the origin and execution of Aikido’s iriminage technique as conceived by Founder Morihei Ueshiba. He explains how this essential technique has its origins in prewar Japan and was further refined in Iwama after World War II. Iriminage today is practiced in many different ways, but O-Sensei’s method, though well documented, is not widely known…

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Jun
15

Spectacular Ukemi performances! “Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba in Paris (1980) featuring Moriteru Ueshiba, Hayato Osawa, and Christian Tissier”

The demonstration of Second Aikido Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba during the 3rd Congress of the International Aikido Federation in Paris, 1980. Ukes are Moriteru Ueshiba Waka Sensei, Hayato Osawa Sensei, and Christian Tissier Sensei…

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Jun
15

Aikido began here… “Iwama: Birthplace of Aikido,” by Stanley Pranin”

If asked, many aikido practitioners could not explain how aikido came into being. At best they would mutter words to the effect that Morihei Ueshiba was the founder of aikido, and that he created the art either before or after the war, depending on whatever story they have heard.

Of course, from a historical standpoint, aikido evolved over a period of many years. The more well-known organizations describe the process differently, usually in terms of their own creation.

A very strong argument — also espoused by Morihei’s son Kisshomaru Ueshiba — can be developed that aikido was created during and immediately following World War II in Iwama. It was here that the Founder had time to concentrate fully on his personal endeavors that included farming, meditation, and aikido practice.

This article goes into the subject of how Morihei ended up in the country town of Iwama and the daily life and activities of Morihei Ueshiba with emphasis on the period of 1942-1955. This time frame was crucial to the development of modern aikido.

Be sure to read through this article as it is well documented, and will almost certainly contain new information for those wishing to better understand the fascinating process of how aikido was born!…

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Jun
15

O-Sensei’s Shomenuchi Ikkyo… “The old way… or the right way? by Stanley Pranin”

This photo has enormous significance as a technical reference. Taken in 1938, it shows a much younger Morihei Ueshiba beginning to execute what we would today call shomenuchi ikkyo omotewaza. What will appear odd to many present-day aikidoka is the fact that the Founder is initiating the technique.

For most practitioners, common sense dictates that uke will initiate the encounter, with tori (= nage) responding. Yet if we consult O-Sensei’s 1938 Budo manual, we find the following description of the commencement of this technique…

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Jun
12

Feather touch! Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei demonstrates katatedori techniques in Australia

This video contains a number of unusual techniques from katatedori demonstrated by Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei, 8th dan, of the New York Aikikai. Some of them you will probably be seeing for the first time…

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Jun
12

Rediscovering prewar techniques! Christopher Hein reconstructs techniques from Morihei Ueshiba’s 1934 manual titled “Budo Renshu”

I have been working with the techniques from Budo Renshuu, the 1933 Kobukan Aiki Budo training manual. These are the techniques that eventually became what we know today as modern Aikido. There are 166 techniques in this manual, here are techniques 50-60…

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Jun
12

Hint… It’s not gentle! Katsuyuki Kondo, Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu Menkyo Kaiden, demonstrates Shihonage

In this video, Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei, Menkyo Kaiden in Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, demonstrates the art’s shihonage technique both with and without the sword. In Daito-ryu, the concept of “Aiki” is very important and Kondo Sensei gives some examples in his demonstration…

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Jun
11

Keep yourself in tip top shape! Morito Suganuma — “O-Sensei’s Warmups Alive and Well”

This is an outstanding video featuring Morito Suganuma Sensei, 8th dan, of Fukuoka, Japan. In it, he expertly performs the jumbi taiso or warmup exercises taught by O-Sensei in his later years. These exercises were taught in various forms and combinations at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in the 1950s and 60s. These are an important legacy and a reminder of the importance of throughly warming up the body prior to practice. Notice the outstanding physical condition of Suganuma Sensei, a man now 70 years old…

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Jun
11

O-Sensei ensconced in Iwama… Is O-Sensei Really the Father of Modern Aikido?, by Stanley Pranin

What does all of this mean? It means that the common view of the spread of aikido following the war taking place under the direct tutelage of the Founder is fundamentally in error. Tohei and the present Doshu deserve the lion’s share of the credit, not the Founder. It means further that O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba was not seriously involved in the instruction or administration of aikido in the postwar years…

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Jun
11

Stable base, powerful extension, total focus! Historical photo from 1974: Morihiro Saito brings Iwama Aikido to America!

There was a particular episode from this trip that I will never forget. Sensei was teaching a class at Aikido of San Francisco and was demonstrating a kokyunage technique, if I remember correctly. His uke was David Alexander. Sensei threw David horizontally but misjudged the amount of space he had free. Right in the middle of the throw when it had become apparent that David would crash into the people who had crowded in close to better observe, Sensei stuck out his left arm and caught David in mid-air thus preventing a collision…

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Jun
10

Flashback to 1927! “Morihei Ueshiba captivates budo aficionados among Tokyo’s elite” by Stanley Pranin”

The photo below is one of only a few that survive from Morihei Ueshiba’s early years in Tokyo. Here in a single image that tells a story with many threads, we see a 43-year-old martial arts phenomenon at the outset of his illustrious career. Some names you will recognize, others are essentially lost to history, but several of the individuals appearing here played important roles in Morihei’s early success in Tokyo…

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Jun
10

RIP (1940-2015)… “Kazuo Chiba — Ruthless Awareness” by Tom Collings

The grand finale of each week for me in Tokyo was Chiba Sensei’s Friday afternoon class. The term “battleground” comes to mind, a battleground of emotion. The emotional intensity, and range of emotions in that class was amazing — terror, fearlessness, vulnerability, and invincibility. He was known for his ferocity, and the extraordinary intensity of those classes; an atmosphere of life and death. In contrast to attendance at most classes at the Hombu, attendance at his was sparse. I felt this group of students to be very special, a small elite group in the sea of martial artists in Tokyo. To most students at Hombu Dojo we were just crazy…

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