Feb
11

Flexibility of a young man! Hung Kuen Master Leung Daiyau at 90 years of age, performs the rare Snake guiding the Crane set!

An extraordinary video featuring Master Leung Daiyau, a 90 year old Hung Kuen master. Here he performs the rare Snake guiding the Crane set. Even at this advanced age, he has the energy, spring, and flexibility of an athletically toned young man!…

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Feb
11

Don’t dance around in a circle! Yoshimitsu Yamada explains kosadori iriminage at Montreal seminar (2010)

Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei, 8th dan, of the New York Aikikai, demonstrates kosadori iriminage at a seminar held in Montreal, Canada in 2010. During his demonstration, he explains the alignment of nage with uke’s body in iriminage, and also mimicks jokingly this technique performed where nage dances around in a circle, a commonly seen but ineffective way of executing iriminage…

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Feb
11

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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Feb
10

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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Feb
10

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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Feb
10

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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Feb
09

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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Feb
09

Historical photos: Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei and Morihiro Saito at Self-Defense Force demonstration c. 1955

Here are three rare photos from the personal collection of Morihiro Saito taken c. 1955. Morihei is aged 71 years and Saito Sensei is about 27 years old. Also of note is the fact Morihei is demonstrating with the bokken with Saito Sensei as his partner. Well before the advent of the war, Morihei was keenly interested in both the ken and jo and would practice these weapons regularly in Iwama in addition to taijutsu training in the dojo…

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Feb
09

Stealing the Founder’s secrets: “Katatedori balance-breaking at the moment of contact” by Stanley Pranin

morihei-ueshiba-unbalancing

“This stops the information feed to uke because there is no
longer tension in nage’s hand. Uke is left out of the loop…”

Aikido’s katatedori grab presents a thorny problem. I refer to the fact that uke grabs nage. As a result of this contact — uke’s hand and fingers holding nage’s wrist — an energy connection between nage and uke is created. Uke’s fingers enclose nage’s wrist and uke can feel nage’s movements through the tactile sensations he receives. This is especially the case if nage tenses in opposition to uke’s grab.

When you employ physical strength, you isolate the body parts where the muscular effort is being directed. Uke senses this through the feedback transmitted by your hand and arm, and can easily oppose you because he feels your intent. It is much more effective to conceal your intent by letting your hips power your movements. This stops the information feed to uke because there is no longer tension in nage’s hand. Uke is left out of the loop, and can no longer mount a strong opposition.

I believe the above photo of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei from his 1938 training manual “Budo” clearly illustrates these points. Please take a close look at what is happening.

This image along with a great deal of experimentation allowed me to resolve a recurring problem I was having in executing techniques against a powerful grab. My efforts to resort to power were futile against a strong opponent. By learning to disturb uke’s balance at the moment of first contact by letting my hips, not my arm, do the work, I gradually became able to overcome this limitation in my training.

Aikido practitioners today can look in many places to find technical inspiration. Although the surviving documentation is sparse, many surprising discoveries await those who scrutinize the details of the Founder’s techniques for the tremendous insights they offer.

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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

Feb
06

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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Feb
06

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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Feb
06

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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