Mar
27

Hidden before our eyes: “Decoding Morihei Ueshiba’s Technical Evolution,” by Stanley Pranin

Anyone attending a seminar conducted by Morihiro Saito Sensei during his active years will have noted him frequently referring to a small illustrated manual. In fact, Saito Sensei would often open this booklet to the page illustrative of his teaching point and walk from student to student showing the technique in question for a brief moment. He would repeat over and over, “O-Sensei! O-Sensei!,” as if to validate his technical explanation with the stamp of approval of the ultimate authority—Morihei Ueshiba, the Founder of aikido. What is this modest technical compendium that Saito Sensei consulted constantly and held in such high regard?

Click here to read the entire article

Nov
21

“Morihiro Saito reels off one technique after another in a mind-boggling display of technical virtuosity!”

Morihiro Saito’s “Lost Seminars” Video Collection

lost-seminars-setThe “Lost Seminars” video set captures the contents of many of the seminars conducted by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, during his foreign travels in the period of 1985-1994. A study of these excellent materials will provide aikido aficionados an in-depth glimpse of the teaching methodology of this great instructor, one of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba’s closest disciples. These 7 videos include more than 14 hours of seminar footage and literally hundreds of techniques. Each video contains complete English subtitles allowing viewers to closely follow Saito Sensei’s instruction.

Below is a list of the numerous techniques covered in the 7-video “Lost Seminars” set. A working knowledge of the Iwama Aikido curriculum will improve your skills in basics through more advanced techniques. There is no better aikido technical reference source available today!

Seminars in Turin, Italy — February 3-5, 1985 / Osimo, Italy – February 8-10, 1985

Tai no henko ▪ Morotedori kokyuho plus variations ▪ Shomenuchi ikkyo omote ▪ Shomenuchi kotegaeshi ▪ Shomenuchi nikyo ▪ Katatedori shomenuchi ▪ Happogiri ▪ Kumitachi ▪ Ki musubi no tachi ▪ Shomenuchi iriminage ▪ Koshinage introduction ▪ Jo awase ▪ 20 jo suburi ▪ Public demo (jiyu waza, jodori, kumijo)
Seminar in Osimo, Italy — June 1986

20 jo suburi ▪ 31 jo kata ▪ 31 jo kumijo ▪ Koshinage (numerous variations from multiple attacks) ▪ Kokyunage (numerous variations from mulitple attacks)

Seminar in Osimo, Italy – May 25-26, 1985

Tai no henko ▪ Morotedori kokyuho ▪ Morotedori sankyo ▪ Suwariwaza kokyuho ▪ Morotedori ikkyo ▪ Morotedori nikyo ▪ Shomenuchi ikkyo ▪ Yokomen tanren ▪ Yokomenuchi kotegaeshi ▪ Yokomenuchi iriminage and variations ▪ Yokomenuchi sankyo and henka ▪ Aiki Ken – ichi no suburi ▪ Ni no suburi ▪ San no suburi ▪ Kumitachi – ichi no tachi ▪ Ichi no tachi oyowaza ▪ 31 jo kata


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Sep
09

1st Aikido Friendship Demo: “A bright idea turns into a nightmare followed by a narrow escape!” by Stanley Pranin

1st-demo-group-02

“A Gaijin in Japan Ruffles a Few Feathers!”

Back in 1985 while living in Japan, I had a bright idea, or so I thought. The idea was to invite top aikido instructors from different organizations to appear together on the same stage to explain and demonstrate their approach to the art. Others had had similar ideas in the past, but no one had taken on the challenge of turning this concept into reality. I could never have imagined what would happen next.

The first step was to draw up a list of invitees, and assess the likelihood that each person might accept our proposal. Another consideration was how comfortable a given individual might feel in the presence of certain others. It was like a jigsaw puzzle. I can’t remember everyone’s name, but I can assure you the list read like a “Who’s Who” of top teachers in the aikido world. Naturally, at the head of the list was Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba. If he would agree to participate, then others might be more inclined to do so.

Consequently, we arranged a meeting with Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei, and one of my staff members and I visited his home on December 4, 1984. Our purpose was to explain the concept of the “Aikido Friendship Demonstration,” and to extend to him a personal invitation to attend. Doshu listened attentively to our proposal, and was keenly interested in knowing who else we were planning to invite. It would later become apparent that his interest was more than simple curiosity. As it turned out, Kisshomaru Sensei declined our invitation to participate citing some vague reasons which I don’t recall. To be quite honest, we anticipated this. In Japan, etiquette is everything, and what was important was to inform him and invite him first.

We published a short notice of the fact that we had met with Doshu to discuss the Friendship Demonstration in the December 1984 issue of “Aiki News.” I sensed it was important to have a written record of this fact, and my intuition proved correct. In any event, Doshu was later kind enough to write a greeting for the program we prepared for the demonstration.

A few weeks later after much scurrying about, the following six senseis had all agreed to appear: Yasuo Kobayashi, Mitsugi Saotome, Yoshio Kuroiwa, Kanshu Sunadomari, Shoji Nishio, and Morihiro Saito. Gozo Shioda, the founder of Yoshinkan Aikido, had initially accepted our invitation, but later withdrew for reasons I may write about someday. (He did, however, send me a formal letter of apology, and appeared in the Friendship Demonstration the following year.)

What happened later, only a few short weeks before the demonstration, proved a nightmare. It turned out that pressure had been applied behind the scenes to convince several of the teachers to withdraw from the event. This was successful in the case of Shioda Sensei as mentioned above. In addition, four of the six participants informed us of their intention to withdraw after becoming nervous about participating. Everything about the event was done outside normal organizational channels. This was the main bone of contention, and some invitees were uncomfortable with the fact. Had these teachers actually withdrawn, it would have sunk the event and resulted in a catastrophic financial loss. We, as the organizers of the Friendship Demonstration, were fully committed by then.

The person who stepped in to save the day was Yasuo Kobayashi Sensei. He adamantly refused to yield to the pressure, and insisted on honoring his promise. Kobayashi Sensei’s act of courage while under a lot of peer pressure earned my eternal gratitude. One by one, I and my staff made phone calls to the teachers who were thinking of bowing out. Our means of persuasion was to point to Kobayashi Sensei’s courage as a budoka, and the importance of being able to rise above political considerations to display a public spirit of friendship and cooperation.

Fortunately, everything somehow worked itself out, and we succeeded in weathering the storm. This was a sobering experience to say the least, and I learned a great deal about Japanese culture and the politics of large organizations.

The First Aikido Friendship Demonstration drew over 900 people and was a resounding success. We went on to sponsor three more events in subsequent years, the last taking place in 1988. The Aikido Friendship Demonstrations were among my most unforgettable experiences in Japan. Thankfully, the video record of these events remains as a testimony to the skills and willingness of the participating instructors to share the stage in a spirit of harmony. I think the Founder, Morihei O-Sensei, would have been pleased.

———————————————

THIS WEEK’S SPECIAL FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

Aikido Journal is now offering a “Collector’s Edition of videos of the Aikido Friendship Demonstrations,” historic events that took place in 1985, 1986, and 1987 in Tokyo, Japan. A total of 6 videos in DVD or downloadable format — your choice! — are included in the package which includes over 9 hours of rare footage. The following experts and martial arts appear: Saito, Shioda, Mochizuki, Nishio, Kondo, Kobayashi, Saotome, Sunadomari, Kuroiwa, Shimizu, Sugino, Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, Katori Shinto-ryu, Kashima Shinto-ryu, Yagyu Shingan-ryu.

This special offer is available through Saturday, April 6, for the special price of $89.95 for the 6-DVD set or $49.95 for the same set in downloadable format.

frdemo-6-video-collection

buy-dvd-setbuy-downloadable-set

Aug
28

“Takemusu Aiki — O-Sensei’s Crowning Creation — Conceived in Iwama”

Morihei Ueshiba lived, farmed, and practiced his aikido with great intensity in Iwama after the war left Japan in a poverty-stricken state. For the first time in years, he was able to concentrate his efforts on the perfecting of his martial techniques and spiritual development. This period is generally regarded as the birth of aikido as recorded by Morihei’s son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba. O-Sensei used the term “Takemusu Aiki” to refer to his art at this stage…

Click here to watch video

Aug
12

Video: Shoji Nishio: “Inside Nishio Aikido”

Nishio also felt dissatisfied by the relatively few throwing techniques of aikido that included mainly iriminage, shihonage, and kotegaeshi. Little by little, he developed his own innovative repertoire of techniques that included aikido hip-throws (koshiwaza) based on his background in judo. In a like manner, he systematically incorporated atemi modeled on sword movements to facilitate the setup and execution—“tsukuri” and “kuzushi”—of techniques. He also devised sword and staff counterparts to empty-handed techniques drawn from his extensive weapons background.

Click here to watch the video

Jul
14

Video: “Does weapons practice really belong in Aikido Training?” by Stanley Pranin

Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin offers a video blog in which he discusses the issue of whether or not Aikido training should involve the practice of weapons. He provides some historical background on Morihei Ueshiba’s study of weapons, and explains the reasoning for the two major viewpoints on this subject.

Click here to view the video on pros and cons of weapons training in aikido

Jul
02

“Mining O-Sensei’s Old Films for Gold,” by Stanley Pranin

The hyperawareness, sharpness, and unbridled exuberance displayed by the Founder while demonstrating his art can hardly be seen anywhere. In a similar vein, the Founder’s religious perspective and view of himself as an instrument of the “kami” whose purpose is to realize peace and brotherhood on earth is too grandiose a vision for most aikido teachers who see themselves mainly as providing self-defense and exercise training for the public.

Click here to read the entire article on O-Sensei’s films

May
06

Video: “Morihei Ueshiba and Sokaku Takeda” by Stanley Pranin

Let me begin by stating categorically that the major technical influence on the development of aikido is Daito-ryu jujutsu. This art, which is said to be the continuation of a martial tradition of the Aizu Clan dating back several hundred years, was propagated in many areas of Japan during the Meiji, Taisho, and early Showa periods by the famous martial artist, Sokaku Takeda. Known equally for his martial prowess and severity of character, Takeda had used his skills in life-and-death encounters on more than one occasion.

Click here to view the video on Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu

Nov
05

Morihiro Saito’s “Lost Seminar” DVDs: The Keys to Your Aikido Training Success…

Unbelievable offer of $97.95 for 7-DVD Set! Top-level instruction!

How does a devoted aikidoka go about exploring all of aikido’s core techniques in detail? You would have to find a skilled teacher with an extensive background who would breakdown aikido’s techniques into categories and explain the nuts and bolts of the execution of each in turn. You would also want the teacher to point out common mistakes and show how to eliminate bad habits. Such a teacher would also place the techniques in historical context and show how they fit into the curriculum devised by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

Does such a teacher even exist? Is there really a resource that covers hundreds of techniques that would enable you to jump to the next level in your training?

The “Lost Seminars” DVD set captures the contents of many of the seminars conducted by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, during his foreign travels in the period of 1985-1994. A study of these excellent materials will provide aikido aficionados an in-depth glimpse of the teaching methodology of this great instructor, one of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba’s closest disciples. These 7 DVDs include more than 14 hours of seminar footage and literally hundreds of techniques. Each DVD contains complete English subtitles allowing viewers to closely follow Saito Sensei’s instruction.

Below is a list of the numerous techniques covered in the 7-DVD “Lost Seminars” set. A working knowledge of the Iwama Aikido curriculum will improve your skills in basics through more advanced techniques. There is no better aikido technical reference source available today!

Seminars in Turin, Italy — February 3-5, 1985 / Osimo, Italy – February 8-10, 1985

Tai no henko ▪ Morotedori kokyuho plus variations ▪ Shomenuchi ikkyo omote ▪ Shomenuchi kotegaeshi ▪ Shomenuchi nikyo ▪ Katatedori shomenuchi ▪ Happogiri ▪ Kumitachi ▪ Ki musubi no tachi ▪ Shomenuchi iriminage ▪ Koshinage introduction ▪ Jo awase ▪ 20 jo suburi ▪ Public demo (jiyu waza, jodori, kumijo)
Seminar in Osimo, Italy — June 1986

20 jo suburi ▪ 31 jo kata ▪ 31 jo kumijo ▪ Koshinage (numerous variations from multiple attacks) ▪ Kokyunage (numerous variations from mulitple attacks)
[Read more...]

Nov
02

Watch Video of Morihei O-Sensei’s Aikido: “Powerful, fluid, and dynamic”

“You are sure to find how powerfully these images will affect your aikido now, and in the future whenever you again view the Master in action.”

Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba is one of the most famous of Japanese martial artists. His unique art is of a sophistication seldom seen. Though thousands were inspired by his art and personality, few had the opportunity to learn from him extensively in the postwar era due to his spontaneous lifestyle and frequent travels. Fortunately for today’s practitioners, there are a number of surviving films of Morihei that capture the sheer magic of his aikido.

Aikido Journal has edited and made available an outstanding collection of Six DVDs that cover the evolution of Morihei Ueshiba’s art from 1935 through shortly before his passing in 1969. There are some truly amazing moments in this film legacy that today’s technology permits us to share with a worldwide audience. We have even captured the Founder’s voice and provided meticulous translations to allow you to catch a glimpse of his charismatic personality.

This week we are offering these precious films together as a 6-DVD set available at $89.95, heavily discounted from the retail price. You are sure to find how powerfully these images will affect your aikido now, and at future intervals whenever you again view the Master in action.

Click here for the inspiring set of videos with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba!

Oct
14

“Pat Hendrick’s Incredible Aikido Odyssey,” by Stanley Pranin

The early days

Back in 1975, an attractive young blond woman joined my aikido class in Monterey, California. From the very start, she attended class religiously and displayed an uncommon enthusiasm toward training. I immediately noticed she was very athletic and quick to pick up techniques and falling skills. She insisted on being treated on a par with male students, was afraid of nothing, and approached practice with a laser determination. I wondered how far she would go along the aikido path. I had seen enthusiastic students before, some who continued training for years, only to slowly drift away from the art. I needn’t have worried, for this was Pat Hendricks.

Pat dedicated herself over the next couple of years to improving her martial skills and participated in classes and workshops all over northern California. Women in aikido were just coming into their own at this stage, and Pat forged many friendships with some of the top female instructors in the area that continue to this day.

First trip to Iwama

Uke for Morihiro Saito in Iwama Dojo c. 1988

By the summer of 1977, I had relocated to Japan and immersed myself in training at the Iwama Dojo under the tutelage of Morihiro Saito Sensei. For her part, Pat was pursuing her practice at the Oakland Institute, also learning the Iwama style of aikido. One day, later in that same year and to my great surprise, Pat strolled down the path leading to the Iwama Dojo. She had taken a tremendous leap of faith deciding to leave her life in the States and journey to the source of aikido, O-Sensei’s country dojo in Iwama.

Possessing virtually no Japanese language skills, but full of determination, Pat immersed herself into Japanese life as an uchideshi of Saito Sensei. Typical of her character, she threw herself headlong into her training, and quickly earned a reputation as a promising up-and-comer and a favorite uke of Saito Sensei. Almost daily, Pat could be seen inside the Iwama Dojo taking impressive high falls, her blond hair tied up in a pony tail whipping from side to side. The dojo was full of strong young foreign students and practice was vigorous.
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Oct
11

Welcome to the Aikido Journal Members Site!

— Welcome to the Aikido Journal Members Site —

For nearly 40 years, we have been researching and documenting every aspect of aikido…

Get it right here, right now! Subscribe today and you will receive a free downloadable book or video with your membership!

What is Aikido Journal?
Aikido Journal is the outgrowth of an aikido newsletter begun by Stanley Pranin in 1974. It has been published continuously, first as a print publication, and then online, for over 38 years! The Aikido Journal resources consist of thousands of articles, interviews, photos, videos, and other reference sources.

What products do you offer?
Aikido Journal has a large selection of DVDs, books, posters in our catalog, as well as subscriptions to the Aikido Journal Members Site.

Who are your readers?
Aikido Journal counts readers from all over the world among its visitors with especially large concentrations in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

Featured Aikido Masters…

  • Morihei Ueshiba, Aikido Founder
  • Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Second Doshu, Aikikai Hombu Dojo
  • Koichi Tohei, Ki Society
  • Morihiro Saito, Iwama Aikido
  • Gozo Shioda, Yoshinkan Aikido
  • Kenji Tomiki, Tomiki Aikido
  • Minoru Mochizuki, 10th dan
  • Seigo Yamaguchi, 8th dan
  • Shoji Nishio, Nishio Aikido
  • Noriaki Inoue, Shinei Taido
  • Christian Tissier, 7th dan
  • Shizuo Imaizumi, Shin Budo Kai
  • Kenji Shimizu, Tendokan Aikido
  • Katsuyuki Kondo, Daito-ryu
  • Seigo Okamoto, Roppokai

and many more!
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