Jul
24

50 techniques that Morihei Ueshiba taught that we know about with certainty

Morihiro Saito presents “Budo,” O-Sensei’s 1938 Technical Manual!

This week’s special includes two treasures for those interested in studying directly the techniques taught by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. The first item is a fascinating DVD titled “Budo: Commentary on the 1938 Training Manual of Morihei Ueshiba” by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, that is a recreation of all of the 50 techniques of Morihei Ueshiba’s 1938 training manual “Budo.” This video is a gold mine for aikidoka desiring to go to the source and familiarize themselves with the actual techniques executed by the Founder, rather than the various derivative forms seen today.


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Jul
20

Seishiro Endo at the 2010 All-Japan Demo at the Budokan in Tokyo

This is another fine demonstration by Seishiro Endo, 8th dan, at the 2010 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration in Tokyo. This is very high-level aikido. Notice how Endo Sensei is very relaxed and blending very subtly with excellent balance and posture. An exemplary performance!

For those interested in more background information on Seishiro Endo Sensei, please read this interview conducted by Stanley Pranin

Jul
18

Masatoshi Yasuno Shihan – 50th All Japan Aikido Demo (2012)

This is a well-done demonstration by Masatoshi Yasuno one of the leading students of Seigo Yamaguchi, 8th dan. He is also a contemporary of Christian Tissier Sensei of France. Yasuno Sensei’s demonstration is a fascinating study of blending in some unusual ways. He executes throws in a truly unique manner. An excellent study!

Jul
14

“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 9 – Shomen Uchi Ushiro Tsuki” by James Neiman

Introduction

This is the 9th in a 27-part series on the Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi presented by James Neiman, Dojo Cho of Shugyo Aikido Dojo, where martial arts instruction in Union City, California is offered. All the articles are paired with YouTube video demonstrations of each of the Suburi (click here to subscribe to the channel, and click here to view all the articles in this series). These paired demonstrations and articles are offered to Aikidoka who would like to more fully understand the precise mechanics within each of the Suburi, how they can be practiced in both solo and partner settings, and how one can align the Suburi with taijutsu to develop increasing competence and precision with both basic and advanced technique.

Shomen Uchi Ushiro Tsuki

In this article we examine Shomen Uchi Ushiro Tsuki, which is the 4th of the Aiki Jo Suburi in the series known as the Shomen No Bu. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this Suburi. In summary, Shomen Uchi Ushiro Tsuki is an overhead strike combined with a rear moving thrust. It builds on the basic techniques you have learned in the Tsuki No Bu and Shomen No Bu series. Shomen Uchi Ushiro Tsuki represents the prime purpose of Aikido: dealing with multiple attackers. This initial exercise approaches the basic combination of 2 attackers: one in front of you, and one behind you. The basic body movements derived from this practice begin with the dynamic and fluid movement involving both uke and nage, and continue with the kinetic chain involved in forward, backward, striking, and thrusting movements. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 4 major sections:

  1. Drop back
  2. Enter and strike
  3. Re-orient your body for movement in the rear direction
  4. Complete the rear-moving thrust

 
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Jul
14

“Nishio Aikido: Yasuhiko Takemori teaching in Berlin,” by Thomas Huffman

I stumbled onto this video of Yasuhiko Takemori Sensei teaching a seminar in Berlin. Takemori Sensei was one of Nishio Sensei’s top students. He taught at the Fukaya Dojo. about 6 stops from Yokohama on the line going to Yamato and past Atsugi NAF. Nishio Sensei taught there on Thursday nights and Takemori taught on Sunday nights.

Takemori Sensei would follow Nishio Sensei around too, so I practiced a lot with him. When the Fukaya Dojo closed, we moved to the Okamoto Dojo (can’t tell you where it was anymore, I forget). When I left Japan Takemori Sensei gave me 5 boken and 5 jo donated by the Okamoto Dojo for starting a dojo. You still see me with those bokken and jo.

When Nishio Sensei traveled abroad, there were others teaching while he was gone. They were all Nishio Style, but a little different. Takemori Sensei was the most consistent and faithful to Nishio Sensei’s techniques. When you watch him you are pretty much watching Nishio Sensei.

Check this out, it’s about 45 minutes long.

Shoji Nishio’s “Yurusu Budo” — the only book he ever published — is available in downloadable format here

Jul
13

Shoji Nishio: Dazzling action stills of a martial art genius

“Dazzling as the Founder’s technique was, Ueshiba offered
no real explanation of what he was doing.”

When Shoji Nishio joined the Aikikai, the founder Ueshiba O-Sensei was spending most of his time in Iwama in Ibaragi Prefecture. It was a full year and a half before Nishio saw the imposing figure of the founder in action for the first time. What particularly impressed Nishio about Ueshiba’s technique was his lightning fast handling of the sword. Dazzling as his technique was, Ueshiba offered no real explanation of what he was doing. For example, when Nishio inquired of his seniors about the use and importance of the sword in aikido, no satisfactory answer was forthcoming, so he decided to take matters in his own hands.

Nisho was convinced that aikido was the true martial path for him. At the same time, he found shortcomings in its practice methods, especially after watching Ueshiba’s incredible sword work and noting the lack of inclusion of sword techniques in the art’s curriculum. To remedy things, as he had done before, Nishio took up the study of iaido (Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu) with 10th dan Shigenori Sano in 1955, and then jodo (Shindo Muso-ryu) with the famous Takaji Shimizu (1896-1978). Each of these arts contributed to his knowledge of the use of weapons and, in turn, complemented his aikido training. Not everyone was pleased with Nishio’s forays into other arts as his aikido began to take on a unique flavor….

Martial arts common sense

Quotes from Shoji Nishio Sensei:

Aikido is a ‘budo’, a ‘martial way’, and therefore inextricably rooted in ‘jujutsu’ or ‘martial technique’. Yet when I look at the aikido world today, I see very little ‘budo-ness’ being expressed in technique, and I wonder if people haven’t begun to forget these important roots.

Budo must always reflect its surroundings. If it isn’t newer and stronger, it isn’t valid.

As the goal of my training I have always strived to realize even one of the Founder’s teachings. He taught, for example, about a certain universality inherent in aikido: With a sword this technique becomes a sword technique; with a jo it becomes a jo technique; it can become all things.

We don’t disrupt the opponent’s breathing because, in the aikido way, the opponent changes his breathing and we adjust our breathing accordingly.

I regard atemi as the soul of Japanese martial arts. Atemi temporarily neutralize the opponent’s fighting ability and allow him to correct his attitude and return to his previous condition.

We have an outstanding set of 4 instructional DVDs by Shoji Nishio Sensei that merit your attention

Jul
12

HD Trailer: Aikido — “The Ascent to Beauty” featuring Seishiro Endo and Christian Tissier

This film documentary is a beautiful documentary in high definition featuring Seishiro Endo Sensei and Christian Tissier Sensei. There are some fascinating randori scenes in slow motion. The production values are very high and English subtitles are included. It was directed by Manuel Radons.

Jun
16

Screencast: “Time Travel Back to the Old Aikikai Hombu Dojo and Prepare to Train!”

“Enter inside the old Aikikai Hombu Dojo and prepare to train!”

In this screencast, Stanley Pranin presents a detailed layout of the old Aikikai Hombu Dojo as drawn by Mariye Takahashi. Also, shown are several fascinating photos from the 1950s and 60s taken inside the dojo. In this episode, you will actually have a chance to enter the dojo and prepare for training. We will guide you every step of the way!

Duration: 8:14 minutes
Access: free

Transcript of screencast

Hi, I’m Stanley Pranin, and welcome to another episode of “Focus on History”

I first arrived in Japan in June of 1969. By that time, the old Hombu Dojo–also known as the Kobukan Dojo in the prewar period–was no more. It was of course this first dojo in which much of early aikido history unfolded.

I have seen a large number of photos of the interior of this legendary dojo, especially taken after the war. Sadateru Arikawa, the late 9th dan sensei, even took the trouble to draw a rough sketch of the layout of Morihei’s old dojo and the Ueshiba family residence. This sketch, which we published a few weeks ago, gives only an approximation of the relative sizes and locations of the dojo and the interior rooms, and I still had trouble visualizing the actual layout.

Fortunately for all of us, my long-time friend, Mariye Takahashi, has at last created a drawing which brings the old dojo back to life in bold relief. Look at what she has drawn… entirely from memory! Mariye was a student at the old dojo from 1961 to 1963. Although she commuted to the Hombu Dojo while a university student, she was very regular in her attendance, and knew the Ueshiba family and the uchideshi of the time very well. Mariye also had a fair amount of contact with Morihei Ueshiba, experiences which she treasures to this day.

Based on her drawing, I started searching out old photographs and could finally imagine quite clearly what the dojo looked and felt like. “Oh, there is the tokonoma in the dojo, there are the fusuma (sliding doors), the windows, the weapons rack, the dressing room, the water closets, the wash basins, etc.” Suddenly, the interior of the dojo took on a familiar look. It’s very exciting, after all these years, to have a clear vision of the look and layout of this historic dojo. I would like to share this with you in this episode…

Click here to watch Stanley Pranin’s screencast about the old Aikikai Hombu Dojo

Jun
14

Aiki Expo 2005: Free Video of Highlights of Seminars of Top Martial Arts Instructors

This video features highlights from seminars given at Aiki Expo 2005 by the following instructors from aikido and related arts: Christian Tissier, Hiroshi Ikeda, Vladimir Vasiliev, Kenji Ushiro, Bruce Bookman, James Williams, Toby Threadgill.

On May 27-29, 2005, one of the most significant martial arts events of our time was held in Los Angeles, California. Aiki Expo 2005 featured a stellar lineup of 36 top instructors from aikido, Daito-ryu aikijujutsu, traditional karate, Russian Systema, and several classical Japanese martial arts. Over 500 practitioners were in attendance for this memorable weekend. All practitioners of these and other arts will find a treasure trove of valuable material in these seminars captured live on video.

Watch this free video of Aiki Expo 2005 here

Jun
13

Free video: The incredible skills of Hiroshi Ikeda, 7th dan, at Aiki Expo 2002

Hiroshi Ikeda, 7th dan, is the chief instructor of Boulder Aikikai in Boulder, Colorado. He is one of the top aikido instructors in the USA due to his incredible skill level and extensive travel schedule which has carried him all over the USA and many foreign nations. This video clip taken at Aiki Expo 2002 which took place in Las Vegas, Nevada, captures highlights from classes he conducted at that event.

Ikeda Sensei’s aikido is minimal and elegant at the same time. He has mastered the use of precise movements to quickly unbalance his uke and exert control with almost no physical effort. You will see his uncanny skill as you view this video clip.

Born in 1950, Hiroshi Ikeda began aikido training under Mitsugi Saotome while a student in the aikido club of Kokugakuin Univesity. He entered Saotome’s Reimeijuku dojo in 1970. In 1976, he relocated to Sarasota, Florida where he taught from 1978-79. Ikeda Sensei moved to Boulder, Colorado in 1980 and established the Boulder Aikikai. He travels extensively throughout the USA and abroad conducting seminars.

Duration: 11:40 minutes
Access: free

Click here to view the free video of highlights of the seminar taught by Hiroshi Ikeda, 7th dan, at Aiki Expo 2002

Jun
03

Screencast: Focus on History — “Morihei Ueshiba’s Ill-starred Mongolian Expedition,” by Stanley Pranin

“The fact that this photo has survived is nothing less than a miracle!”

Transcript of screencast

Hi, I’m Stanley Pranin, and welcome to another episode of “Focus on History”

Today, we have a fascinating historical photo that many of you will seeing for the first time.

Let me give you some background. This photo was taken in 1924 in Mongolia. The man on the right is a 40-year-old Morihei Ueshiba. Do you recognize him?

The other man is Masazumi Matsumura. Matsumura was, incidentally, one of the scribes who helped to take dictations of Onisaburo Deguchi’s lengthy account of his spiritual experiences that was published under the title of “Reikai Monogatari.” This work consists of 81-volumes and is usually translated into English as “Tales of the Spiritual World.” This massive collection is considered one of the sacred texts of the Omoto religion. Morihei had a complete collection of Reikai Monogatari in his personal library and and is said to have read the entire text.

Now, back to our story of the photo.

Both Morihei and Matsumura were among Onisaburo’s party that secretly traveled to Mongolia with the stated objective of “fulfilling Omoto’s ultimate ideal of spiritually unifying the East Asian continent and then the rest of the world.” It was obviously a very grandiose scheme.

There was very much a political and military aspect to Onisaburo’s Mongolian Expedition and he had close ties with the Japanese Kwantung Army –sometimes referred to as the “Kanto Army” — which had a growing presence on the continent. It was this army group that played a major role in the establishment of the Manchukuo–the Japanese-controled puppet government of Manchuria, that lasted from 1931 to 1945. Puyi –known as the “Last Emperor”– was the titular head of the government…

Duration: 6:17 minutes
Access: free

Click here to view the free screencast of Morihei’s Expedition to Mongolia

Jun
02

Aiki Jinja Taisai 2012 – Demonstrations by Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu and Mitsuteru Ueshiba Wakasensei

Each year since the passing of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei on April 26, 1969, the Aikikai Hombu Dojo has held a ceremony in commemoration of the Aikido Founder at the Aiki Shrine in Iwama, Ibaragi Prefecture. Now, 43 years after Morihei Ueshiba left us, his grandson Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu, and his son, Mitsuteru Ueshiba Wakasensei oversee the ceremony.

Participation in the Taisai, as the event is called, has grown in recent years to the point that over 500 guests crowd the grounds of the Aiki Shrine for the ceremony, including many from foreign countries. Guillaume Erard has produced a beautiful video hosted on Youtube that captures scenes from the 2012 ceremony featuring the demonstrations of Doshu and his son.

Click here to view the demonstrations by Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu and his son, Mitsuteru Ueshiba Wakasensei