Jul
07

Magical! An artistic look at the Aikido of Christian Tissier by Mattheiu Lemaire

This is an incredibly well edited clip featuring professional footage of Christian Tissier Sensei of France and Bruno Gonzalez Sensei. The work of videographer Matthieu Lemaire in editing this clip is every bit as impressive as the spectacular technique of Christian Tissier…

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Jul
07

We who have forgotten!. “An Overview of Koichi Tohei’s Early Aikido Career”

Who is Koichi Tohei and why is he so important to an understanding of the development of aikido? Should he be unceremoniously deleted from aikido history due to past grievances or should he be given due credit for his role in the shaping of the art of aikido?…

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Jul
07

Technical mastery! Morihiro Saito Sensei performs ushirowaza

Morihiro Saito Sensei performs numerous ushirowaza (rear techniques) in this amazing video. He provides the name and then proceeds to demonstrate each technique in term in an incredible display of technical mastery. This video will give you an understanding of what is meant when it is said that Morihiro Saito Sensei had an encyclopedic memory!…

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Jul
04

NY Aikikai Chief Instructor… Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei’s Life Story trailer

This video is the trailer for a film documentary telling the life story of the New York Aikikai’s Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei, 8th dan. His life in aikido is a fascinating tale and this video promises to document his story in a beautifully artistic manner…

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Jul
04

It’s not rocket science! Morihiro Saito: “Steps to make kotegaeshi work”

In this video taken from “Morihiro Saito: Lost Seminars, Volume 7,” Saito Sensei explains in detail the fine points of Aikido’s kotegaeshi or “wrist twist” techniques. It’s easy to see why he is regarded as such a gifted teacher because of his ability to focus on essential concepts and explain them in an easily intelligible manner…

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Jul
04

Take the opponent’s mind! “Shoji Nishio’s dilemma… and his solution!”

Shoji Nishio began his aikido training at the end of 1951 when there was little activity at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Koichi Tohei, and a small cadre of relatively inexperienced instructors conducted classes. Although Nishio Sensei was captivated by aikido and the art of Founder Morihei Ueshiba, he felt disillusioned at the lack of martiality and weapons training at the central dojo. Being unable to get satisfactory answers to his questions, and absent weapons training, Nishio Sensei set out to crosstrain in other martial arts to fill the gaps…

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Jul
03

Circle, triangle and square: “O-Sensei often had me draw a circle, triangle and a square.”

He rarely came down from Iwama. It was half a year after I joined the dojo that I saw his face for the first time. Until then, I only knew about him by hearsay. There weren’t any pictures of him like we have now. When he smiled, his eyes disappeared. But when you just caught a glance of him, the impression was really strong. When he looked at something for a second, his face disappeared into his eyes. (Laughter) O-Sensei used to tell us a story. We were really cheeky. For the most part, people did not approach O-Sensei… Whenever I had a question I went up to O-Sensei and asked, “O-Sensei, there was something I didn’t understand of what you said a little while ago.” Sensei would say, “Oh, good you noticed that.” O-Sensei often had me draw a circle, triangle and a square and would say, “Keep it with you and bring it to me when I need it…

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Jul
03

Simple and straightforward… Daniel Toutain Sensei on Kotegaeshi

This is an excellent video in which Daniel Toutain Sensei of France demonstrates and explains kotegaeshi, one of aikido’s wrist twisting throws. Toutain Sensei was a student of Morihiro Saito Sensei and his presentation follows in this tradition. Notice how he first unbalances uke by moving to the side in an ura movement. From there, the kotegaeshi throw is executed by moving uke’s arm to the rear to complete the throw…

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Jul
03

“Ukemi waza: Beyond Falling” by Charles Warren

morotedori-kokyuho-dvd29

“From nage’s point of view, a grab is the gift of an arm
and hand which might otherwise be striking.”

charleswarrenUkemi is vital to aikido. Falling is only part of it. Yes, it’s important. Do it badly and it will hurt. But if your attack isn’t serious, why should anybody take the trouble to throw you? Right. In my mind I remember Bob Nadeau, “I’ll tank for you. You tank for me. We’ll call it harmony.” There was a touch of disgust in his voice and he’s possibly the most tolerant of the Northern California “founders”.

Atemi have been dealt with on a number of occasions. From a dojo ukemi point of view it shouldn’t be too hard to learn to do tsuki. I encourage you to learn how to put power in the last few inches of your moves. Without power, speed will only allow you to tap your target. From the point of view of nage, that may be sufficient. I recommend the makiwara for developing power. Heavy bag is also fine, especially for learning the difference between a tap and a punch. Shomen and yokomen uchi owe a lot to sword. Funny thing about that. Heavy bag might be the best training tool. As for other strikes and kicks, have fun. They’re all good exercise. And never know when some might come in handy. Also good to know your limitations. I should never try to kick for effect above waist level. I’m not built for it. There’s a lot of power in leg muscles. You can trash your joints. Kicking air is probably more physically sustainable than anything more solid, especially if you’re over 30.

What I really wanted to talk about is grabs. Atemi are pretty obviously aggressive. Grabs, like most joint manipulation techniques are more subtle, at least if done well. From nage’s point of view, a grab is the gift of an arm and hand which might otherwise be striking. We do so many techniques from grabs. A person might be inclined to wonder why anybody would be so dumb. Well, a lot depends on how dumb their grab is. The dumbest grab is the “You can’t move me or do the technique. Nyah-nyah-nyah.” Almost invariably a fancy technique is unnecessary for those. Outside a dojo such an uke can hang on as long as they can take the abuse of nage’s atemi. When they loosen up, techniques become available. There are other options for dealing with rigidity, depending on how much attention it actually requires.

So, let’s move on to smarter grabs. How about morote dori? Done astutely morote dori is a species of old style ikkyo; sword grip, elbow joint locked straight, shoulder thereby controlled. Fine, the shoulder is immobilized. So what? Well, pretty obviously a move is to pin the shoulder down. Game over. There are lots of other possibilities. I recently came up with transition to a pretty conventional transport technique involving a hammer lock and a strangle. Interestingly that came from a real encounter which started with a kotegaeshi. Long story.

The theme I would like to propose is, “Give up no hand and arm without gaining an advantage thereby.” Morote dori gives a rapid and decisive advantage. How? Joint lock. So, consider how to grab with one hand to achieve that. Katate dori is pretty easy, one handed sword locking the elbow and affecting the shoulder. Hiji dori is harder. Surprisingly, kata dori is harder yet. Ushiro kata dori is a bit easier, placing the hand just behind the armpit and taking control of the shoulder blade with your tegatana. Self protection is an important element in any of these. Mostly I keep the person grabbed at a distance from which it’s inconvenient to strike. Now, aikido has no monopoly on ways to struggle out of a grab. Except for morote dori which has the possibility of instant success, I like to think of grabs as “place holders” which give you time to do something which will be decisive. Gyakute tori, for instance, is a convenient transition to a wide variety of ushiro grabs, or, more decisively, strangles. As nage I think of atemi as place holders too.

http://www.charlesbwarren.com/

Jul
02

A look into his character’s head… Hiroyuki Sanada: Interview with star of “Tasogare Seibei” and “The Last Samurai”

This video consists of an interview in English with Hiroyuki Sanada, star of “Tasogare Seibei” (The Twilight Samurai) about his impressions and experiences of filming this classic samurai film. Sanada also had a prominent role in “The Last Samurai” starring Tom Cruise as the latter’s rival in swordsmanship…

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Jul
02

Shoji Nishio interviewed: Morihei Ueshiba’s philosophy served as a beacon for Shoji Nishio’s thinking in developing his unique aikido.”

I always say that if a teacher of Aikido takes up the ken, he can re-apply his knowledge to the ken. And the same is the case for the jo. (When I was a beginner) I asked how they applied the body techniques to the ken, but no one showed me. Since there was nothing to be done about the situation, I began practicing the ken in 1955 soon after I began Aikido training. What else could I do? Nobody taught me!…

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Jul
02

Morihiro Saito Shihan: “The Undiscovered World of Atemi”

This is an early film published in conjunction with Morihiro Saito Sensei’s “Traditional Aikido” books in the mid-1970s. It is a fascinating compilation that shows a rich variety of atemi, many of which are seldom seen in aikido practice today. The addition of these tools to one’s training would raise one’s technical level considerably. They are extremely useful in unbalancing uke which makes the subsequent application of techniques quite easy. This video is worthy of study over and over…

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