Aug
19

Rare photo! “Steven Seagal can’t lift Koichi Tohei!”

Although Koichi Tohei is treated by many Aikido practitioners as someone who does “a different brand” (or some other minmization), Tohei had some innovative ideas that I think the other styles would do well to borrow, particularly in light of the recent (and very late) realization that many of the “ki” things Tohei speaks of are substantive and they are essential components of Aikido techniques…

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Aug
19

Common Sense Look at Aikido: “Yoshio Kuroiwa Sensei at 1st Friendship Demonstration”

Yoshio Kuroiwa Sensei one of aikido’s least known but finest innovators participated in the 1st Aikido Friendship Demonstration. On that occasion, he gave a fascinating demonstration which displayed his technical virtuosity. Kuroiwa Sensei was also a fine writer whose original thinking is clearly evident in this article titled “A Common Sense Look at Aikido”…

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Aug
18

Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu: “Is there really a strong influence of Sokaku Takeda in Aikido?”

One of the highlights of the 3rd Aikido Friendship Demo held back in 1987 was the Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu demonstration given by Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei and members of his Tokyo-based Shimbukan Dojo. This demonstration was particularly significant because the aikido public was not very aware of the connection between aikido and Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu at this stage. Thus, there were a lot of curious onlookers wanting to find out exactly what this old art that supposedly influenced aikido was really about…

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Aug
18

Swamp spear! “Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei performing the misogi jo, c. 1965,” by Stanley Pranin

This series of photos shows Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei performing misogi jo movements inside the old Aikikai Hombu Dojo, c. 1965. If you look closely, you will see that he is actually using two separate weapons. One is the familiar jo, a stick a little over four feet long, and the other a pointed weapon of similar length called the “nuboko.” Mention of this nuboko, literally the “swamp spear”, will be new to many aikidoka…

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Aug
18

Deep, powerful strikes… Morihiro Saito demonstrates ken suburi and tanren uchi in 1974

This is a rare early video of Morihiro Saito demonstrating ken suburi and tanren uchi in 1974. It will be obvious to those exposed to Saito Sensei’s swordwork later in life that he is bending his knees and crouching down more prominently here. As time went by, Saito Sensei maintained a more upright posture when performing the suburi. Here his suburi form more closely resembles tanren uchi where he is striking the tire…

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Aug
17

“Colorizing the World of O-Sensei” by Stanley Pranin

albert-einstein-noma-dojo-575

“A world of new possibilities for bringing the Founder, his times
and genius alive for practitioners of today is upon us!”

stan-pranin-closeupLet me share something that has been happening in the background with you.

A few days ago, I posted a colorized photo of Albert Einstein as a sample. I asked for graphic designers with a knowledge of photo colorization techniques to contact me. I had something very specific in mind that I have wanted to do for many years.

One very talented graphic artist from Greece responded to me with samples of his work. I was thrilled at the quality of what he showed me, and the potential for application to the project I am envisioning.

I provided Nikos with a black & white photo of a young O-Sensei from the Noma Dojo collection. Some among our readers absolutely love these photos. He started work on colorizing it. In his first effort, he had chosen a green color for the tatami mats, a natural assumption for someone practicing aikido today. However, the Noma Dojo photo of O-Sensei in question was taken in 1936. Such tatami did not yet exist. The tatami used in those days were made of straw. I sent Nikos samples of what the tatami were like in those days so that he could get an idea of the color hues we needed.

In his second attempt, he corrected the tatami color and the photo suddenly began to jump out from the screen! It was very exciting to see O-Sensei from the prewar era come alive before my very eyes!

The next task was to find a skin color hue that would differentiate O-Sensei and his uke from the mats and background. Nikos went back to work and sent me another sample with the changes I requested. The results were even better! You can see the stage we are at now by looking at the inset photo next to Dr. Einstein.

In a few days, I am convinced we will have something magnificent to show you. A world of new possibilities for bringing the Founder, his times and genius alive for practitioners of today is upon us!

Aug
15

Student of Kisaburo Osawa! Katsuyuki Shimamoto, 8th Dan Aikikai, in Holland (2011)

Katsuyuki Shimamoto Sensei, an 8th dan Aikikai shihan, is also a practicing Soto Zen-Buddhist Priest. A student of late Kisaburo Osawa Sensei, he practices a style of Aikido that is sometimes soft and fluid, and sometimes very sharp and direct…

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Aug
15

I tell them to “pulverize” my wrist ! “Honest attacks vs. straw man attacks,” by Stanley Pranin

As I see it, uke should present a strong resistance when initiating his attack. This means that uke should be honest or “sunao” in his attack and act with a pure mind. In other words, uke should understand the nature of the attack he is supposed to be executing. A grab is a strong “pure” grab in the sense that uke does not preplan to block the movement that he knows nage will attempt. When striking, uke strikes with vigor to the target he is aiming for without purposely deviating to one side or the other merely to prevent nage from executing his technique…

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Aug
15

Split-screen view! Tv documentary: Inside the Iwama Dojo with Morihiro Saito, 9th dan

This is an excellent Japanese tv clip from 1992 featuring Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, in the Iwama Dojo and outdoors in the Aiki Shrine. Saito Sensei gives an excellent demonstration as does his son, Hitohiro Saito. There is an interesting split-screen section where ken and taijutsu variations of techniques are shown at the same time. In addition, Saito Sensei and Hitohiro Sensei are interviewed close-up, and viewers will gain a good glimpse of their respective personalities…

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Aug
14

Relaxed but not limp! Interview with Minoru Akuzawa of the Aunkai

“I was really impressed when I saw O-Sensei in the film. He had young students attack him for that long a time and he threw them all. He would never lose his balance even if he practiced for one hour. It is really amazing. I doubt that you can do the same in Kendo. I think that his techniques are those of a kami…

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Aug
14

Stop that stupid training! “Sunao — Being honest in training,” by Stanley Pranin

Let’s assume that we are practicing tai no henko. I know that uke will be pivoting to the outside while extending his arms in front of his center. Instead of merely grabbing his hand firmly, I lift it up forcibly to prevent him from turning and executing the technique. What I have done is simply to take advantage of the prearranged nature of practice to thwart uke’s attempt to perform the technique. I am not being “sunao” or honest in my training…

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Aug
14

Kashima Shinto-ryu: “Absolute Proof of the Roots of Morihei’s Aiki Ken!”

Of special interest is the first section of footage in the Kashima Shinto-ryu clip as it contains a demonstration of the first kumitachi of this school that was later incorporated by Morihei Ueshiba into his Aiki Ken. This and many other weapons techniques form part of the Iwama Aikido weapons curriculum disseminated by Morihiro Saito Sensei, 9th dan, from the 1970s forward…

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