May
20

Stanley Pranin’s Video Blog: “Should Weapons be a Part of Aikido Training?”

“Where did the Founder Morihei Ueshiba stand on this issue?”

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 and explains the reasoning for the two major viewpoints on this subject.

Finally, he discusses two DVDs by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, that present the Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo curriculum.

Click here for information on Morihiro Saito’s Aiki Ken video now in hi-res format
May
12

“Another Yoga miracle story!,” by Stanley Pranin

Readers may remember I wrote a blog last year about my experience with yoga and how it has allowed me to manage chronic back pain and continue my aikido training at a reasonably vigorous level. I even recorded a video where I demonstrate how I have modified my aikido warmups to include yoga postures. It’s really become a mainstay of my aikido practice.

Today, a buddy of mine sent me a link to a video about a veteran who has gone from being obese and disabled to a healthy physical specimen. It’s one of the most inspiring videos I’ve even seen, and I wanted to share it with you!

Mar
27

Pat Hendricks: San Francisco Bay Area Mom, Aikido Master Reaches Highest Level

“Pat Hendricks has studied aikido for more than three decades. In May, the martial arts master and mother will achieve the highest level of black belt. Elizabeth Cook reports…”

So reads the byline of a video news special from CBS San Francisco about Pat Hendricks Sensei, newly awarded 7th dan by the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo.

From the Aikido of San Leandro website:

“Pat Hendricks started studying Aikido in 1974 with Stan Pranin and Mary Heiny. In 1976 she moved to Iwama, Japan, to study with Saito Sensei Shihan. For the next 30 years, she returned to Japan over 25 times of which 6 years were uchi-deshi. She holds a menkyo kaiden in weapons certification and was certified to test for the U.S. She served as Saito Sensei’s representative for the U.S. and runs the Iwama division in the California Aikido Association (CAA). Her own dojo, Aikido of San Leandro, attracts students from all over the world, including Japan.”

Click here to watch the special report on Pat Hendricks

Mar
16

Hiroshi Ikeda video: His Aikido is “Crazy Good!”

Video: Hiroshi Ikeda demonstrates at Aiki Expo 2005

Duration: 5:01 minutes
Access: Free through Tuesday, March 20

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 from Aiki Expo 2005 which took place in Los Angeles, California, features Ikeda Sensei’s entire demonstration at the event.

Ikeda Sensei’s performance is a study of efficient movement and relaxed, explosive power. One well-known kobudo teacher once described Ikeda Sensei’s aikido as “crazy good.” He maintains perfect balance and impeccable timing to control uke. Ikeda Sensei’s aikido is exemplary in all respects.

Click here to view Hiroshi Ikeda’s demonstration at Aiki Expo 2005

Mar
15

“Sleuthing in Search of O-Sensei,” by Stanley Pranin

morihei-ueshiba-os06-still

“These old movies contain electric images of a true martial arts genius
who dominates the screen and speaks to us across the ages!”

My fascination with the life and martial art of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei has been the motivation for the existence of Aikido Journal and its predecessor, Aiki News. I have always enjoyed telling the epic story of the events of O-Sensei’s life to aikidoka all over the world.

One of the most powerful means of disseminating the Founder’s marvelous technique and timeless message is through the medium of film. From an old 3-minute reel that I received way back in 1965, to the several hours of footage professionally offered as DVDs, I have watched O-Sensei move on the screen thousands of times. Sometimes in slow motion, sometimes even frame-by-frame. For me, these films hold the secrets to O-Sensei’s genius and provide constant inspiration. I can play one of Morihei’s movies after a long hiatus, and make new discoveries of clues that have always been there, but have eluded me until that moment.

Locating these films over a period of nearly five decades has involved a series of meandering treasure hunts. This span has been marked by countless moments of frustration, punctuated by a few experiences of pure elation. The majority of these old films had been long gathering dust in private hands, their very existence hanging by a tenuous thread. Some of the most exciting moments of my life have involved the discovery of these elusive old O-Sensei movies. Let me tell you about a couple of those occasions.

I had known about the existence of the 1935 film of Morihei for a number of years. A few of the old-timers had actually seen the old Asahi News documentary, and spoke about it in terms that fired the imagination. Why was this precious document being withheld? Since the film was no longer shown and had been locked away, my only hope was to find an outside source; it was like looking for the veritable needle in the haystack. Nonetheless, I undertook the challenge of finding it. One day, a Japanese friend came up with a lead to something that sounded promising. There was a certain prewar film among thousands languishing in a Tokyo archive that appeared to contain some old jujutsu footage, It was titled simply “Budo.” Not much to go on, but perhaps an interesting find nonetheless.

[Read more...]

Mar
14

Video: The Systema Dilemma — “How Can Devastating Force Appear So Soft?”

Mikhai Ryabko demonstrates Systema at Aiki Expo 2005

Duration: 9:35
Access: Free through Saturday, March 17

The Russian art of Systema has had a tremendous impact on the martial arts scene in the last ten years. Its founder, Mikhail Ryabko is a short stout man who moves with a remarkable gracefulness while packing explosive power. In part due to the efforts of Aikido Journal, the aikido community has taken notice of the well-researched training methods of Systema and the undeniable similarity of movement between the two arts. Mikhail and his top student Vladimir Vasiliev both agreed to participate in Aiki Expo 2005 and came from Moscow, Russia and Toronto, Canada, respectively.

Mikhail’s demonstration at the Expo was highly anticipated and he certainly didn’t disappoint. The amazing fluidity with which he moves, and the many opportunities for delivering devastating effect he creates, serve as an object of study and inspiration for every martial artist. The dedicated aikidoka will definitely feel at home watching and analyzing the intricate and familiar movements of Systema as performed by its founder.

Click here to gain access to the video of Mikhail Ryabko’s Systema demonstration at Aiki Expo 2005”

Mar
13

Download Free PDF file of Videos available on Aikido Journal Members Site

Since the launch of the Aikido Journal Members Site in September of 2011, we have added hundreds of documents of interest to aikido practitioners. Among the most popular of the materials archived on the Members Site are the many videos available to subscribers.

We have put together a PDF file which contains a list of items currently available along with a short description of the contents of the videos. Please download the file and have a look at the wide variety of famous figures and subjects presented.

Click here to download the free PDF file containing a listing of all of the video archived on the Aikido Journal Members Site

Click here to visit the Aikido Journal Members Site and sign up for a free subscription

Mar
12

Video: Hitohiro Saito demonstrates at Aiki Expo 2005 in Los Angeles, California

“The Extraordinarily Talented Son of
Morihiro Saito Displays his Remarkable Skills!”

Duration: 5:30 minutes
Access: Free through Thursday, March 15

Aiki Expo 2005 attracted some of the finest martial artists from Japan and the USA to Los Angeles, California where the event was held.. Among the famous aikido figures on hand was Hitohiro Saito, the son and successor of Morihiro Saito, who needs no introduction. Hitohiro Sensei was born in Iwama and trained at Morihei Ueshiba’s country dojo starting from a young age. He has many fond memories of O-Sensei from boyhood that still inspire him today.

Hitohiro Sensei learned from his father at an early age. Being of a strong disposition, extremely intelligent and hard-working, he mastered the vast array of technical skills of the Iwama curriculum under the tutelage of his father.

Following Morihiro Saito’s death in 2002, Hitohiro Sensei became independent of the Aikikai organization and founded the Iwama Shinshin Aiki Shurenkai. In recent years, he has continued his heavy schedule of foreign travel teaching the Iwama training curriculum and has an extensive network of dojos under his direction. He has continued refining and disseminating the taijutsu and weapons techniques devised by Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei and his father Morihiro Saito.

Click here to login and watch the demonstration of Hitohiro Saito Sensei at Aiki Expo 2005, free through Thursday, March 15

Mar
08

Free video: “As Mikhail and Vladimir look on, Katsuyuki Kondo demonstrates Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu!”

“Video: Katsuyuki Kondo demonstrates at Aiki Expo 2005!”

Duration: 5:56 minutes
Access: Free through Monday, March 12

Aiki Expo 2005 was one of Aikido’s premiere events. 36 instructors of various aiki arts gathered together in Los Angeles, California to teach and demonstrate in a common venue. Many friendships and associations were forged during this extradordinary weekend. One of the highlights of Aiki Expo 2005 was certainly the Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu demonstration of Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei.

You will see the power and precision of Kondo Sensei’s approach to Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu. Key concepts from classical Japanese martial arts such as maai, metsuke, kokyu, atemi, zanshin, etc. will be evident in the execution of his techniques.

A close viewing of this video offers aikido practitioners an excellent opportunity to study the precursor forms of various aikido techniques. You will be able to discern both similarities and differences between the two arts. You will notice in particular the liberal use of atemi and the specialized pinning movements peculiar to Daito-ryu.

Kondo Sensei is one of the most highly regarded of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu masters. Having practiced for more than 50 years, he is the sole person to have received Menkyo Kaiden certification from Headmaster Tokimune Takeda, son of Sokaku Takeda. Kondo Sensei is an authority on the history of Daito-ryu and its intimate connection with the early stages of aikido. He has traveled extensively to America, Europe, and Australia conducting seminars from the late 1980s to the present. Also, literally hundreds of foreign students have gone to Japan to study at his Shimbukan Dojo in Tokyo.

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and view Katsuyuki Kondo’s Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu demonstration at Aiki Expo 2005

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Mar
06

Video: Vladimir Vasiliev — Aiki Expo 2005 Demonstration (member video)

“Russian Systema: Aikido’s Kindred Martial Art”

Duration: 7:15 minutes
Access: Free through Saturday, March 10

This video presents the entire demonstration of Vladimir Vasiliev of Russian Systema at Aiki Expo 2005. The Expo featured both Vladimir Vasiliev and the art’s Founder, Mikhail Ryabko. Vladimir’s demonstration showcases the completely natural movements of Systema in dealing with a variety of empty-handed and weapons attacks. The relaxed and benevolent nature of dealing with attacks makes Systema something of a kindred art to aikido. You will notice many aikido-like movements being applied in the demonstration. At the Expo, a large number of aikidoka joined the Systema workshops to try out this discipline.

The antecedents of Systema go far back in Russian history and much of the credit for the preservation of these traditions is due to Russian Orthodox monasteries. Following the Russian Revolution the military coopted these fighting skills and taught them to elite troops. Mikhail states that he received his training from one of Stalin’s bodyguards starting from boyhood. He further refined the knowledge transmitted to him eventually developing Systema into its modern form.

The technical curriculum taught to the Spetsnaz forces is extremely rigorous and designed to eliminate the fear of death in the trainees. Many of the drills inflict tremendous pain and suffering among the men in an effort to harden them for the battlefield and dangerous special missions. The training develops the trainees’ intuition to a high degree and teaches them to act spontaneously when in harm’s way.

About Vladimir Vasiliev — Director and Chief Instructor of Systema Headquarters

Born in Russia, Vladimir received intense combative training and is the top student of Mikhail Ryabko. He spent some 10 years with a Special Operations Unit of the Russian Army Special Forces. Vladimir moved to Canada, and in 1993 founded the first school of Russian Martial Art outside Russia – Systema Headquarters. He has since personally trained and certified well over 500 qualified Russian Martial Art instructors and schools in 30 countries worldwide.

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and view the demonstration of Vladimir Vasiliev at Aiki Expo 2005

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Feb
29

Free Video: Rinjiro Shirata — Prewar “Aiki Ken”



“The Evolution of the Sword in Aikido!”

Duration: 34:07 minutes
Access: Free through Saturday, March 4

This video is a very important historical document in that Rinjiro Shirata demonstrates a lengthy series of Aiki Ken suburi and kata based on the prewar swordwork of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. The sword content in this video program follows Morihei Ueshiba’s sword in the 1935 Asahi News film. There is no other source of similar material as many of the uchideshi of the prewar era ceased training following World War II. This video was recorded in 1981 when Shirata Sensei was 69 years of age in Yamagata Prefecture in northern Japan. The sounds of all of his movements and breathing are clearly audible and this is an indispensable document for those interested in the evolution of the sword in aikido.

Born on March 29, 1912 in Yamagata Prefecture to a family of Omoto believers, Rinjiro Shirata was accepted into the Kobukan Dojo of aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba as an uchideshi in 1932. Known for his modest character and great physical strength, he quickly became one of the star pupils of the “Hell Dojo,” as the founder’s early school was called. Shirata later spent a short period teaching aiki budo in Osaka before being drafted into the Japanese Imperial Army. He spent the war years stationed in Burma until his repatriation.

Shirata’s training was interrupted for several years due to the war, but he began actively teaching again in Aomori in 1959. In 1962, he received the 8th dan rank from the founder. At this time, his teaching activities were concentrated in his native Yamagata. Shirata was awarded 9th dan in 1972 by Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba and is one of only a handful of people ever to have achieved this rank. Shirata was also active in the International Aikido Federation following its establishment in 1976. He occupied several high posts and served on the technical council. He traveled to Honolulu in 1978 in connection with the IAF and to Chicago in 1984 at the invitation of Akira Tohei Sensei. On both occasions, foreign practitioners responded enthusiastically to his skillful, yet gentle approach to teaching.

Devoted to the spread of aikido and one of the staunchest supporters of the Ueshiba family, Shirata was a regular participant over the years in major Aikikai-sponsored events such as the All-Japan Aikido Demonstration, the Iwama Taisai, and the Kagami Biraki New Year Celebration at the Tokyo Hombu Dojo.

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and watch the video of Rinjiro Shirata demonstrating the Aiki Ken

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Feb
23

Video: Rinjiro Shirata — “1978 Yamagata TV Documentary — Part 2″



“He was known as the ‘Kobukan Dojo Prodigy’!”

This video is part twp of a 80-minute tv documentary spotlighting Rinjiro Shirata, 9th dan, that was aired in 1978 in Yamagata Preference. This is an especially important historical document as it includes a rare interview with Shirata Sensei, historical photographs, plenty of aikido action, etc. This long-buried documentary contains essential information to give today’s aikidoka an intimate glimpse of the Shirata Sensei, one of the aikido’s greatest figures.

Born on March 29, 1912 in Yamagata Prefecture to a family of Omoto believers, Rinjiro Shirata was accepted into the Kobukan Dojo of aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba as an uchideshi in 1932. Known for his modest character and great physical strength, he quickly became one of the star pupils of the “Hell Dojo,” as the founder’s early school was called. Shirata later spent a short period teaching aiki budo in Osaka before being drafted into the Japanese Imperial Army. He spent the war years stationed in Burma until his repatriation.

Shirata’s training was interrupted for several years due to the war, but he began actively teaching again in Aomori in 1959. In 1962, he received the 8th dan rank from the founder. At this time, his teaching activities were concentrated in his native Yamagata. Shirata was awarded 9th dan in 1972 by Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba and is one of only a handful of people ever to have achieved this rank. Shirata was also active in the International Aikido Federation following its establishment in 1976. He occupied several high posts and served on the technical council. He traveled to Honolulu in 1978 in connection with the IAF and to Chicago in 1984 at the invitation of Akira Tohei Sensei. On both occasions foreign practitioners responded enthusiastically to his skillful, yet gentle approach to teaching.

Devoted to the spread of aikido and one of the staunchest supporters of the Ueshiba family, Shirata was a regular participant over the years in major Aikikai-sponsored events such as the All-Japan Aikido Demonstration, the Iwama Taisai, and the Kagami Biraki New Year Celebration at the Tokyo Hombu Dojo.

Duration: 20:29 minutes
Access: Free through Sunday, February 26

Aikido Journal Members Site subscribers: If you are already a subscriber, click here to login and view Part 2 of the 1978 TV documentary of Rinjiro Shirata Sensei

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