Nov
17

You have only your left arm to use… “Interview with Aikikai Shihan Seishiro Endo”

Anyway, that’s how I began my “squishy” approach to training. I took extreme care to avoid getting frustrated, because I knew that doing so would send me right back to relying on strength. When I was taking ukemi for Yamaguchi Sensei he would murmur things under his breath like, “The more you let go of your strength, the more your ki will concentrate,” and “Focus your strength in your lower abdomen…

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Nov
17

Mastering the art of relaxing! “Interview with Koichi Tohei (1)”, by Stanley Pranin

Decisive action is born of an understanding of that which is in accord with the principles of Heaven and Earth. A lack of this understanding leads to “unreasonable effort,” or muri, the literal meaning of which is “lack of principle,” and should be avoided. This has always been my way of thinking and the reason I have scrupulously avoided acting in ways that involve unreasonable effort or that go against these principles…

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Nov
17

When you are grabbed two hands on one… Lessons from Zone Theory of Aikido — Morotedori Kokyunage When you are grabbed two hands on one… Lessons from “Zone Theory of Aikido” — Morotedori Kokyunage

Hi, I’m Stanley Pranin. If you study the history of the technical development of aikido, you’ll find that Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba would always practice 3 special exercises in his classes. It’s clear from this that he attached great importance to the lessons that each exercise imparted. The 3 exercises are tai no henko, morotedori kokyuho, and suwariwaza kokyuho.

In today’s video from my “Zone Theory of Aikido” course, I focus on several important points of the morotedori kokyuho exercise. This practice teaches you how to deal with a situation where you are grabbed with 2 hands on one and your Uke has seized the initiative.

In this scenario, you must overcome the initial disadvantage to blend and fully control your partner. As in all techniques, knowing how to unify your body and unbalance uke are the keys to creating a favorable outcome.

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Nov
14

Knowing O-Sensei at Hombu in the 1960s: “Interview with Henry Kono” by Norm Ibuki

If he was in the back of the dojo he might come out every day. If he was away, you might not see him for three weeks. If he was there, he might come out for five or ten minutes then go back in. I saw him about 300 times in four years. He never explained what he did, he just did it! This is what I mean by magician. He did it and if you couldn’t discern what he did, there was no way to figure it out. He never explained anything but he left hints which were very difficult to discern because of the way he stated his ideas in very short phrases that no one could understand…

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Nov
14

Minimum and precise! “Highlights of a Seminar with Hiroshi Ikeda, 7th dan, at Aiki Expo 2002

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…

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Nov
14

Move to uke’s flank! Stanley Pranin’s Video Blog: “The Zone Theory of Aikido”

In this video, Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin introduces a model describing the interaction between nage (defender) and uke (attacker) called “The Zone Theory of Aikido.” He explains how it is dangerous for nage to remain in front of uke when attempting to counter an attack and why the attacker has the advantage in this situation. By contrast, moving to the side or rear of uke, into his “dead zone” or “blind spot,” makes it extremely easy for nage to safely execute an aikido technique…

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Nov
13

The losers inherited the earth… “Ai-Ki, The Balance of Nature,” by Nev Sagiba

The basis of the universe is one pure essence differentiating into opposites, followed by friction and then the reconciliation of opposites returning to the source. This externally and internally. Winning and losing are relative concepts not founded in actuality but illusion. They “winners” of history are now dust. Aggressors in the end burn themselves out. The so called “losers” inherited the earth…

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Nov
13

The Kobukan Prodigy… A Biography of Rinjiro Shirata – Part 1, by Kozo Kaku

At the same time, Morihei attracted young men from all over the country who came to the Kobukan in an effort to meet him. But Morihei wasn’t trying to spread his personal budo across the world. Instead, his efforts were directed toward further progress and the refinement of his personal technique. He didn’t say it was a nuisance; he just did not have much interest in having many students, especially uchideshi, or throwing his doors wide open. It could be said that, for this reason, he never admitted an aspiring student who asked to join without a proper introduction from a sponsor, and this reinforced a mystique that covered the private confines of the Kobukan like a veil…

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Nov
13

The little book still suppressed in Japan… “Trying to disseminate old wisdom to a modern generation of Aikidoka” by Stanley Pranin

Last year I conducted an aikido seminar together with Pat Hendricks Sensei in Las Vegas. One of the recurring themes of my presentation was the importance of the lessons presented in Morihei Ueshiba’s 1938 “Budo” manual.

At first glance, this little technical manual may appear to be merely a curiosity, of interest to those studying the minutiae of aikido’s technical evolution. Yet a closer inspection will reveal the emergence of much of the core of the Takemusu Aiki curriculum developed by the Founder in Iwama in the postwar years.

The image above is a perfect example of the completion point of O-Sensei’s genial iriminage throw. I stress the importance of this and other aspects of the “Budo” manual in my “Zone Theory of Aikido” course as you will see in the video excerpts below…

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Nov
12

Now 84 years of age! Hiroshi Tada Sensei, 9th dan, in Switerland

This video contains scenes from a demonstration given by Hiroshi Tada Sensei in Russia. He is one of the last active members of the early postwar generation of instructors formed at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo. Tada Sensei is noted for his fluid, dynamic aikido and his approach readily evident in this clip…

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Nov
12

Building blocks of the art… Quotable quotes from Morihiro Saito’s “Takemusu Aikido: Background & Basics”

“If you look at your partner even slightly, his body will separate from you and there will be too much space between you.”

“In ura techniques, parry the strike from the gyaku hanmi position. In this way, you will be able to execute a rapid and effective technique.”

“You must use an escape to free one of your hands in order to do the technique. One way to free your hand naturally is to open your fingers and turn your body strongly inward to unbalance your partner”…

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Nov
12

Incontrovertible proof from O-Sensei! “Nage should initiate for shomenuchi techniques”

Morihei Ueshiba stresses in his 1938 technical manual titled “Budo” that in the shomenuchi iriminage technique, nage should seize the initiative and begin an entering movement in contrast to the norm in aikido practice where uke acts first. The rationale behind this seemingly odd manner of treating this technique is complex enough to demand special treatment as it has far-reaching implications…

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