Mar
05

“DISTANCE (mai-ai), Aikido and Life,” by Nick Engelen

“Once in a while we focus on self-defense. Most of the classes focused on the practice of the martial arts and now and then we mixed both traditional martial arts teaching with practical applications. This was going to be one of those classes.

In the changing room we all changed quickly and most of seemed upbeat and excited apart from Tony whose mind seemed far away. Rob asked: ‘What’s up Tony? You seem quite…’”

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Mar
04

“The heart against the sword,” by André Nocquet

“This injunction of the Japanese Grandmaster Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, is incontestably relevant for men and women of the entire world. It is urgent to meditate about it at a moment when everywhere around us, violence extends its ravages. It savagely opposes peoples, ethnicities, religions and nations. After the horrors of two World Wars and the atrocities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, wars keep raging on, propagating never ending killings, child mutilations, tearing of families, senseless massacres, destruction and vandalizing. The worst of it all is that violence penetrates even up to schools where children kill and injure teachers, supervisors and even comrades for no reasons.”

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Mar
03

“Death and Dying in the Dojo,” by The Senior Samurai

“Japanese warrior folklore says that samurais were warriors who woke each morning saying, ‘Today is a good day to die.’ While they meant it literally, the rest of us might benefit from some sort of reminder to stay in our day. But in this culture, the recognition that any day could be our last is considered kind of a downer. We certainly don’t want to wake up thinking that this would be a good day to die. We seem to prefer things like, ‘Where’s the coffee?’ or ‘What do I need to do today’ or ‘Maybe I should call in sick.’”

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Mar
02

“Hard to fight what you’ve never seen,” by Sean Ingvard Ashby

“One of the greatest potential weaknesses of any martial art is the fact that it’s hard to fight what you’ve never seen before. The Gracie family proved that quite effectively when they took every kind of fighter who signed up for the UFC and took them to the ground. Virtually no other style ever spent time on the ground, so the jiu-jitsu folks had a field day once they got down there.

Aikido is like that. No ground game whatsoever. Our particular school or ryu or whatever has a supplementary system of very basic, self-defense ideas for aikidoka because our organization historically has also been involved with judo as well. It works pretty well against people without much training should things degrade to a ground fight. Against a trained grappler, however, you’re more or less toast.”

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Mar
01

“Uke for formal demonstrations,” by Patrick Parker

“In our club and many associated clubs, there is a mostly-unspoken rule that when someone does a rank demo, their uke should be about their same level or perhaps slightly lower in rank. Whenever possible, we tend to do rank demos with pairs of people advancing to the same rank. There are several potential benefits to this practice…

* It provides a preview of what is to come for the lower-ranked uke.
* It gives the students a sense of solidarity or comradere to have gone through a demonstration together.
* It might provide a more realistic demonstration to not have a super-uke jumping for the testee.”

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Feb
28

“Women in Aikido: A brief introduction,” from The Accidental Aikidoist

“Just this past Wednesday I had the honor of having the night’s class taught by Mary Heiny Sensei, 6th Dan. Her site can be viewed here. But as a brief introduction of her she is one of the few (if not the only) high ranking female instructor of Aikido in the world who studied with O’Sensei. She also studied extensively with Michio Hikisuchi, 10th Dan for a while after his passing.

I’m sure it is the same with other martial arts but it’s always interesting to see women instructors do their thing. Let me give you a short discussion on what I have noticed about women instructors – and women Aikidoka in general.”

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Feb
27

“One cut,” From The Martial Traveler

“There’s a famous quote from Musashi Miyamoto’s Book of Five Rings:

‘You can win with certainity with the spirit of one cut. It is difficult to attain this if you do not learn strategy well. If you train well in this Way, strategy will come from your heart and you will be able to win at will. You must train diligently.’

So, the question is, what does that mean? What is ‘one cut’? I asked my Sensei, and he gave me his interpretation, which I now give to you, filtered through my understanding (which is to say, any errors are mine and not his!)”

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Feb
26

“Why Learn Martal Arts? Hint… Fighting?,” by John W. Zimmer

“The more I have entered into this quasi social networking blogasphere I have come to realize that there are plenty of the more esoteric karateka that seemed to have divorced themselves from the notion that the end goal of any martial art is to ultimately defend oneself! I mean on the one hand it is good that one has the option to fight or not in today’s society but are we in danger of losing sight of the prize?”

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Feb
25

“Aikidoka’s Shugyo,” by Flo Li

“I saw a translation of the Tao Te Ching (道德經) naming the Tao (道) as the Great Integrity. In my engineering experience the word integrity means ability to withhold structural properties. The Cambridge dictionary definition of integrity refers to the quality of being whole and complete, or the state of being unimpaired. In mechanical engineering we also stress the importance of structural integrity. In any kind of construction, we combine materials together to complete a working whole. And this working whole must withstand outside stresses being applied. If the bridge you are standing on is unable to hold its structural integrity, the whole would break apart and the bridge might crack or worse collapse.”

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Feb
24

“Simple Mind,” by Fin Valino

“In 1994 a movie based on a 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom hit the big screens. The movie? Forrest Gump.

The main character in this movie, Forrest Gump, was a man whose intelligence was well below average. He grew up an only child who was raised by his mother (the movie never explained what happened to this father). The movie followed Forrest’s life from childhood to life as an adult raising his son as a single father.

What struck me about this movie and the character and what possessed me to write about it in my Aikido journal was how very Zen-like Forrest lived his life. Most people would attribute his willingness to accept his situation and whatever people threw his way to the fact that he was dumb or stupid. But the way I see it… He was simple minded. He had simple mind.”

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Feb
23

“The 36 Strategies, #36: Run Away,” by Rick Matz

“Next to The Art of War by Sun Tzu, The 36 Strategies is the most widely known Chinese book on strategy. Where AoW is almost a textbook like overview of the subject, The 36 Strategies attempts to teach the general concepts of strategy with six groups of six maxims each.

Before we examine the last of the 36 Strategies, let’s review what we’ve read so far:

The 36 Strategies, briefly translated by Thomas Cleary, in The Japanese Art of War.”

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Feb
22

“For Anonymous,” by Rory

“Not all the comments make it to the comment section. I personally only ever delete obvious spam, but occasionally I get an e-mail notice and the comment isn’t on the blog, so I assume the author deleted it.

A recent one wanted to share a criticism: that I focus mostly on ambush and he has felt it far more likely, for him, for things to get physical because he chose to intervene in a third-party situation.

First thing- I hope the comment wasn’t withdrawn out of fear of my reaction to criticism. Sure, I may go off into a dark room and cry a little, but that won’t come out on the blog. No one needs to know.”

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