Apr
10

Surrounded by opponents… Breaking away from Daito-ryu: “Morihei’s technical Tour de Force still amazes after 78 Years!”

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…

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Apr
10

Haruo Matsuoka Sensei’s Aikido Journey: Part 3

 Haruo Matsuoka Sensei


Haruo Matsuoka Sensei

“The emergence of an aikido style with the impact to
captivate hundreds of millions on the big screen…”

This is part three of a multi-part interview. You can find part 2 here.

Josh Gold: Sensei, a lot of the hand movements and throws we’ve practiced over the years – I’d not really seen them anywhere else, so were they developed around this time?

Matsuoka Sensei: Yes. Seagal Sensei applied sword technique very clearly. He met one Kenjutsu master and was inspired by him, so since then he changed. At the beginning when I joined his dojo in 1976, we were doing a lot of Ki Society types of exercise.

 Matsuoka Sensei and Steven Seagal Sensei


Matsuoka Sensei and Steven Seagal Sensei

Wow. Really?

Yes. Like unbendable arm and those kinds of things. And then so quickly we changed and added more realism and application to the movements. Gradually ukenagashi became famous here because of Above the Law. And I became the chief instructor around that time, and then Sensei stopped coming to the dojo often. So I taught ukenagashi many times.

So there was a huge transformational change in the technique from when you started until you moved to America…

Yes, that’s right.

So did you like the changes that the style went through?

Yes. I believe adapting to that is why I have a more flexible brain now than before. You have to be physically flexible to take the ukemi and mentally flexible at the same time to pick up and learn a new technique immediately. I could do that because I was young.

After you would take ukemi for Seagal Sensei during class or a demonstration, were you totally exhausted?

steven-seagal-throwExhausted. After we moved to America, he was really only teaching variations of a small number of techniques. It didn’t matter if there was a black belt there from another dojo, or white belts. It would always be the same. And then he would throw me so fast. Afterwards, people would always look at each other like, “What should we do?”

Didn’t you have your nidan test around 1980?

It was actually before I came to this country so I’m not sure exactly. It was probably in 1981. And Abe Sensei was there.

So was that a lot of pressure? You had a 10th dan sitting there watching your test?

Yes, I felt very pressured with the two of them sitting, watching, and staring.

 Matsuoka Sensei's nidan test


Matsuoka Sensei’s nidan test

And how was this test? Do you remember anything from this one or was it the same as your shodan test?

Very similar. I do remember that someone tore my hakama during randori. This I remember, and that’s all…

And your test was held at the dojo?

Yes. Ten Shin Dojo. It was a big dojo. Maybe 80 tatami. It was very unusual to have such a big dojo in the city of Juso.

There’re some videos we found from the early 1980s. You’re teaching class, I think, and there are many people on the mat.

I think 1983, right before I came to America. My father came and shot that video. Some of the films with Seagal Sensei in Japan, they were filmed by my father.

I see. And then, the year after this, Seagal Sensei moved to America, right?

To Be Continued: In part four of the interview, Sensei talks about his move to the United States to join Seagal Sensei in Los Angeles.

This interview originally appeared on the Ikazucho Dojo website and is reproduced here with the kind permission of Josh Gold.

Apr
09

Exquisite aikido! Daniel Toutain Sensei at FAA Auray Summer Camp of 2013

This is a compilation of scenes from the FAA Auray Summer Camp of 2013 conducted by Daniel Toutain Sensei in Auray, France. This video is beautifully edited and showcases the exquiste aikido of Toutain Sensei, a direct disciple of Morihiro Saito Shihan…

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Apr
09

Powerful and precise! Christian Tissier at Suginami Aikikai (2007)

A beautiful compilation of techniques from Christian Tissier Sensei’s seminars at the San Francisco Aikido Project in 2007. Tissier Sensei is noted for his powerful, flowing style of aikido. Many of the technical sequences also appear in slow motion…

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Apr
09

THE AIKI WARRIOR WAY… “EXTRACTING A BLOODIED VICTIM FROM A TRAIN IN JAPAN”

I don’t remember thinking about anything, but I reacted without hesitation and grabbed the arm of the victim and started quickly leading him away from the scene of the fight. He offered no resistance to what I was doing. I frankly doubt that he could even think coherently in the sad state he was in. I moved him quickly out the other end of the car and walked him down further about three cars away from the scene of the fight. I wanted to get far enough away in case the other man tried to follow…

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Apr
08

The wicked wrist twist! Aikidoka takes down robber with kotegaeshi”

Is it just a coincidence or a quirk of fate that we have this news report of an employee of a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream store successfully defending himself with aikido? Gabe Sutherland of Portland, Oregon – after having studied aikido for only three months – managed to apply a kotegaeshi on a masked robber who pointed a gun close to his side. Sutherland says, “Instinct just kicked in.” He succeeded in wresting the gun from the assailant’s hand and the man fled the store…

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Apr
08

The main focus is Doshu… “Looking Back at the All-Japan Aikido Demonstration” by Stanley Pranin

All of this being said, the main focus of the event is on the Doshu. In O-Sensei’s time, his presence was largely symbolic. He would give a brief speech to open the event and then retire to a back room before reappearing for the finale. During the Second Doshu’s active years, Kisshomaru Sensei would give a lecture demonstration in which he articulated his vision of aikido with an emphasis on the importance of center and the circular nature of aikido movements. The present Doshu’s approach is by comparison short on words. Instead, he lets his techniques speak volumes. He is among the best I have ever seen at suwariwaza. Moriteru Sensei’s demonstrations are always precise, quick-paced, and beautiful to watch…

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Apr
08

One’s ability is the substance of the technique… “A Common Sense Look at Aikido by Yoshio Kuroiwa

In training we practice many techniques but they are all variations of a single stance. Therefore, ikkyo, shihonage and other techniques are the same. The reason they appear different is only because their outer appearance is seen. Kata are the expression of a number of variations through movements from a single stance and are nothing more than a tool for training the body to move freely. The idea that one is all and all are one is not just a spiritual matter. It is true for our bodies as well…

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Apr
07

Blend? You must be kidding! “How Does Aikido change us?” by Lynn Seiser

The physical practice of Aikido follows different strategies and patterns of movement than most martial arts. Coming from a bashing background, it was initially very hard to get my body to move according to the principles and concepts of Aikido. Blend rather than resist? You have to be kidding. Move in a circular motion rather than a linear direction? I did not even do that when I danced. The body did not want to do it and the mind did not understand it. The body and the mind were not fighting each other, they were fighting Aikido…

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Apr
07

Pinnacle of classic Japanese martial arts! Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu Documentary

This is Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu – Japan’s oldest and most traditional sword school – considered the pinnacle of classic Japanese martial arts. This clip features part of a rare interview with Otake Risuke, the school’s instructor. See the full clip as part of the feature length movie, “Art of the Japanese Sword.” Produced by Empty Mind Films…

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Apr
07

Morihiro Saito explains… “Where did the 31-jo kata come from?”

By the time I learned it, the 31-jo kata was already complete, but when Koichi Tohei Sensei came to practice in Iwama it had not yet been perfected. What he learned was different from what I learned, probably because O-Sensei’s way of instructing was not yet fully developed. When I learned under O-Sensei his teachings included all of the weapons techniques including the kumitachi. At one stage, there was no one left in Iwama except me, so I trained with O-Sensei by myself. His teaching gradually became more elaborate…

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Apr
06

Target acquisition and lock-on… “Setting up an Aikido throw” by Charles Warren

I know many folks go to other arts for, say, strikes and kicks. I wouldn’t ascribe that to a deficiency in Aikido as much as a deficiency in the style they studied. I grant that I know no Aikido technique that relies on a knockout punch or kick. But even in striking arts, knockouts are regarded as having a large element of luck. Many boxing matches are decided on points. Few MMA matches end with knockouts. Lots of people in daily life get concussions falling down. Especially as I get older I’m not too proud to let gravity (may The Force be with you) do the hard work…

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