Jun
03

Gamblers scattered with a wet towel! “Sokaku Takeda: Bodyguard in Hokkaido,” by Tokimune Takeda

Under cover of darkness, Sokaku, carrying his cherished sword, went directly to the house of Tsunekichi Morita, the head of the Mo group, instead of the headquarters of the mobsters set up at the inn, for a fight to the finish. There are said to have been three people at the front door when he arrived. When one of them saw Sokaku’s face, he said: “You must be Takeda Sensei…

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Jun
03

Aikido 7th dan: “Pat Hendrick’s Incredible Aikido Odyssey,” by Stanley Pranin

Back in 1975, an attractive young blond woman joined my aikido class in Monterey, California. From the very start, she attended class religiously and displayed an uncommon enthusiasm toward training. I immediately noticed she was very athletic and quick to pick up techniques and falling skills. She insisted on being treated on a par with male students, was afraid of nothing, and approached practice with a laser determination. I wondered how far she would go along the aikido path. I had seen enthusiastic students before, some who continued training for years, only to slowly drift away from the art. I needn’t have worried, for this was Pat Hendricks…

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Jun
02

How to stop the fakes! “Dan Rankings” by Stanley Pranin

What is fascinating is the seemingly universal need to justify one’s present standing even by going to the extreme of weaving a false past. At least a half dozen names immediately spring to mind, several of them with successful dojos and scores of students, the latter training in blissful ignorance of the fact that the individuals in whom they have placed their trust and confidence have been untruthful to them…

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Jun
02

Inspirational inscription! Free download: Beautiful Morihei Ueshiba Portrait Wallpaper

It is our pleasure to offer you a a beautiful and inspiring wallpaper of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. This image is from one of the most famous photo portraits of Morihei Ueshiba. It was shot c. 1957 when the Founder was approximately 73 years of age. Morihei is seated facing forward, his gaze directly into the camera. His countenance reveals a man of great spiritual depth and worldly experience tinged with kindness. Included on the wallpaper is an inspirational saying of O-Sensei which reads as follows: “Aiki is not a technique to fight with or defeat the enemy. It is the way to reconcile the world and make human beings one family”…

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Jun
02

Taijutsu, ken, jo all the same… Morihiro Saito: “I saw nothing but the real thing for 23 years!”

“Many shihan create new techniques and I think this is a wonderful thing, but after analyzing these techniques I am still convinced no one can surpass O-Sensei. I think it is best to follow the forms he left us.These days people are inclined to go their own way, but as long as I am involved, I will continue to do the techniques and forms O-Sensei left us…”

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May
31

Koichi Tohei, 10th dan, stresses a key principle of the “Zone Theory of Aikido” by Stanley Pranin

Going forward in time, just this morning I was looking at an old technical volume by Koichi Tohei Sensei, the former chief instructor of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. On pages 174-75, Tohei Sensei offers the following descriptive text concerning the arrest technique being presented:

You are now facing a man whom you want to arrest. If you move directly toward him, in an attempt to seize him, he could easily make use of whatever weapon he has concealed on his person. You should, instead, stand in the left hanmi and, swinging your left hand upward to a point in front of his face, stop his motion with your flow of ki. You need not actually strike his face.

Although, since your left hand comes straight toward him, he will think you are going to attack him from the front, you must actually move to the left as you advance in order to get your body out of his line of attack. In the next instant, move rapidly to his left rear and, following the procedure in Arrest Technique 2, seize his elbow and apply a sankyo hold…

The reason for the upward movement of the left hand stems from the principle that the spirit controls the body. By suddenly thrusting your hand in front of your partner’s face you instantaneously stop his spiritual current and, as a result, his physical action.

This coincides perfectly with several of the central points I stress in the “Zone Theory of Aikido”. With regard this particular point, I feel I am in good company with Morihiro Saito, Morihei Ueshiba, and Koichi Tohei emphasizing these same principles. I discuss and demonstrate this principle using shomenuchi shihonage in this video.

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Watch these videos for insights into solving the
technical problems that hold back your progress!

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May
29

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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May
29

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

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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May
29

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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May
28

Strong martial spirit! Hayato Osawa demonstrates his powerful style of aikido

In this video, Hayato Osawa, son of the late 9th dan Kisaburo Osawa, displays his style of strong, precise aikido. His techniques are characterized by a strong martial spirit and physicality even though he is of a small stature. He demonstrates suwariwaza, hanmi handachi, and standing techniques on this occasion. Osawa Sensei is one of the senior instructors at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo…

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May
28

Now 85 years of age! Hiroshi Tada Sensei, 9th dan, in Switzerland

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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May
28

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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