Feb
05

Feather touch! Hiroshi Ikeda’s “Crazy Good” Aikido!

This is a promotional video clip with scenes taken from Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei’s Summer Camp in the Rockies in 2007. He demonstrates a very high level of aikido that practitioners would find extremely beneficial to study carefully. Notice Ikeda Sensei’s rock solid posture, the immediate unbalancing of uke, and the “feather touch” he uses through his techniques…

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Feb
05

Keep yourself in tip top shape! Morito Suganuma — “O-Sensei’s Warmups Alive and Well”

This is an outstanding video featuring Morito Suganuma Sensei, 8th dan, of Fukuoka, Japan. In it, he expertly performs the jumbi taiso or warmup exercises taught by O-Sensei in his later years. These exercises were taught in various forms and combinations at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in the 1950s and 60s. These are an important legacy and a reminder of the importance of throughly warming up the body prior to practice. Notice the outstanding physical condition of Suganuma Sensei, a man now 70 years old…

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Feb
05

Surviving training with seniors! “Morihiro Saito reels off one technique after another in a mind- boggling display of technical virtuosity!”

Among the handful of uchideshi during those poverty-stricken years were Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Koichi Tohei, and Tadashi Abe. The young Saito was given little encouragement initially and had to endure the intensive, often painful training silently. Saito Sensei recalls the early days when suwariwaza practice on the dojo’s hardwood floor would continue endlessly and leave his knees bloodied and festering. To make matters worse, as a junior member of the dojo he was on the receiving end of countless vigorous techniques from seniors such as Tohei and Abe…

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Feb
04

The World of Apollo Robbins: “Merging magic and self-defense,” by Stanley Pranin

Since most of our readers are martial artists, I’m sure they will immediately see parallels in their training with much of what Apollo is explaining during his show. After we learn basic aikido techniques and they become second nature, we see that there are additional, more advanced tools available to apply in a self-defense scenario to improve the odds of a favorable outcome…

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Feb
04

Aikido’s first 10th dan! Highlights of “Koichi Tohei: Aikido with Ki”

This widely-viewed video features highlights from a film documentary on Koichi Tohei Sensei, one of the most important figures of postwar aikido. Scenes from a 1974 California seminar, warmups and exercises from the 1960s, and excerpts from a biography of the famous 10th dan are included. Koichi Tohei Sensei needs no introduction. He is one of the most important figures in the postwar development of aikido, and was the first and only person to be officially promoted to 10th dan by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba…

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Feb
04

Morihei Ueshiba with Gozo Shioda! “Atemi and pressure point attacks that make your technique work!” by Stanley Pranin

In this obviously posed photo against a fan attack from shomenuchi, Morihei has entered to Shioda’s flank, executing atemi to the latter’s ribs, and attacked a pressure point under uke’s elbow. This movement is a classic defense against a knife attack…

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Feb
03

Wrist twisting! Christian Tissier Sensei demonstrates kotegaeshi

The well-known French Aikido Master Christian Tissier demonstrates kotegaeshi, the aikido wrist twist, one of the art’s basic techniques. Uke: Bruno Gonzalez…

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Feb
03

Free PDF download! Magazine — Aiki News # 88, Summer 1991

Contents
● Editorial – The Winds of Change, by Stanley Pranin
● Letters to the Editor
● Interview with Morihiro Saito, by Stanley Pranin
● Morihiro Saito Technical Notebook — Shomenuchi kotegaeshi, by Morihiro Saito
● Open Forum
● Daito-ryu Aiki Budo , by Takuma Hisa
● Aiki News Video Catalog
● Aiki Forum – Shindo Muso-ryu Jojutsu, Kenji Matsui
● Interview with Tokimune Takeda, by Stanley Pranin
● Yoshinkan Aikido Techniques: Iriminage applications, by Gozo Shioda
● Heard in the Dojo…

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Feb
03

Aikido and Daito-ryu in Osaka: The Unknown Connection between Takuma Hisa and Hirokazu Kobayashi

Hirokazu Kobayashi (1929–1998), little known Aikido master active in Osaka and Europe


Hirokazu Kobayashi (1929–1998), little known Aikido master active in Osaka and Europe

“It was easy to say that Hirokazu Kobayashi was doing Daito-ryu rather
than aikido, and delete him from the list of students of Morihei Ueshiba.”

The following is excerpted from a recent email I received from André Cognard Sensei of the Kokusai Aikido Kensukai Kobayashi Hirokazu Ryuha. It contains very interesting information about the close historical connection following the war between aikido and Daito-ryu in the Osaka region. After reading Cognard Sensei’s comments, it will become clearer why the name of Hirokazu Kobayashi, one of the truly outstanding aikido masters, is so poorly known. — Stanley Pranin

André Cognard


André Cognard

Dear Stanley,

During our meeting, I spoke to you about the fact that my teacher, Hirokazu Kobayashi Sensei, had been a Daito-ryu shihan active in the Kansai area.

You asked me if there were any links between him and the Takumakai. I was not able to clearly answer at that time, but I checked into the matter. I found the answer in an interview with Kiyohiro Kobayashi, Director of the Takumakai, conduced by Olivier Gaurin.

This is Kiyohiro Kobayashi Sensei’s comment:

The reason I was practicing Daito-ryu and aikido is that when I was a student I began a university club. It was in fact a group of clubs with branches in several universities in Osaka. These Kansai universities contacted us for a meeting because they wanted us to arrange for a permanent instructor. Hirokazu Kobayashi was chosen. He was a student of Morihei Ueshiba in the postwar period.

Our instructor, Takuma Hisa Sensei, had been a sumo wrestler and his knees were in bad condition, and he couldn’t take responsibility for the club. I thought that after I graduated the club might cease to exist, and therefore it might be better to join Ueshiba Sensei since he already had an aikido federation. So I proposed that we affiliate the club with the aikido federation, and Hisa Sensei accepted. Kisshomaru [Ueshiba] Sensei was in change of technical matters in the Kansai area while the club still remained under the supervision of Takuma Hisa as a matter of courtesy. Takuma Sensei asked Hirokazu Kobayashi to oversee the club since he had once been a close student of Takuma Sensei. So although the club was originally a Daito-ryu club, it became an aikido club under Kobayashi Sensei. Takuma told him he had done well and everything was arranged.

Takuma Hisa (1895-1980)


Takuma Hisa (1895-1980)

I was really surprised! Kobayashi Sensei had never talked to me about that even though he didn’t hide his affection for Daito-ryu. I think the Aikikai made every effort to erase Hirokazu Kobayashi from the history of aikido. Because the Aikikai officially recognized Kobayashi Sensei’s links to Takuma Hisa, it was easy to say that he was doing Daito-ryu rather than aikido, and delete him from the list of students of Morihei Ueshiba. This is why, after the death of Morihei Ueshiba, Kobayashi Sensei maintained that he had only studied with the Founder.

Recently, I gave classes at a seminar in which various schools participated including Takumakai students and the shihan of Daito-ryu in Europe. At the end of the seminar, they asked me how long I had practiced Daito-ryu since they saw their techniques in mine.

One day I would like to be able to talk to you about this again. I appreciate your courageous work to reveal the truth about aikido history.

André Cognard
Kokusai Aikido Kensukai Kobayashi Hirokazu Ryuha
Dai Nippon Butokukai

Translated by Stanley Pranin

Feb
02

Popular! “Yamaguchi Sensei had never had a foreign student and it seemed he didn’t particularly want one!” by William Gleason

One evening, I presented myself at the front door of the Ikenoue dojo with my letter of recommendation. Sensei was not at all pleased. He had never had a foreign student and it seemed he didn’t particularly want one. This dojo was for his chosen few. It had an atmosphere of secrecy, as though the essence of the art was to be found here alone. In addition, although Sensei could speak English, he refused to do so. He would talk to me using one of his students as an interpreter. To add to his chagrin, my own arrogance was completely obvious…

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Feb
02

Be the best with great lessons! The easy way to create professional pedagogical content for your students!

Think how useful it would be to be able to quickly navigate to a specific technique or a group of techniques to review Morihiro Saito Sensei’s videos and lessons. Think how it would be especially helpful when preparing to teach aikido classes. It’s always nice to refresh your memory on the fine points of techniques when working out a lesson plan, but looking at a bunch of videos and books just takes too much time. In this fast-paced world we live in, we seldom have the leisure to go to this much trouble. Stanley Pranin takes you on a tour of the “Complete Guide to Aikido” to learn how to use this amazing tool!…

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Feb
01

“Square, Circle, and Triangle” by Sakura Mai

morihei-ueshiba-demonstrating

“These three basic shapes are a visual aid and should
be understood as movements of the entire body”

sakura-maiAccording to John Stevens (in the Spanish-language “El Libro de Aikido”), the triangle represents Ki and Ryu, the production and flow of energy, and symbolizes the different trinities of existence: Heaven, Earth and Humanity; body, mind and spirit; man, woman and child; birth, maturity and death; truth, goodness and beauty. Technically, the triangle represents the triangular shape of the Aikido stance, initiative and entering. The circle is the principle of ju, flexibility and elasticity. A circle with a point in the center symbolizes perfect resolution, the harmony of all forces and continuous rotation. Physically, circular movements are the key to blending with the an opponent, and the source of unlimited techniques. The square represents kon, the diamond element: solid, stable, real and well proportioned. The square is the basis of total control necessary for the proper execution of the Aikido techniques.

According to oral tradition (kuden), and also mentioned by Saito Shihan in his books, O-Sensei used the principles of the three basic shapes (triangle, circle and square) so that his students would understand what they were practicing and to illustrate the different concepts of movements and techniques. These three basic shapes are a visual aid and should not be understood as a static position of the body, but rather as movements of the entire body (tai sabaki). Some forms are very evident in daily practice. Others are discovered as the aikidoka matures and becomes more sensitive to his surroundings and his attacker. It is said that the body should be triangular and the mind circular. The triangle represents the generation of energy and the most stable physical posture. A good stance may also be an example of a triangular stance (sankaku-tai). The circle in turn represents serenity and perfection. The square represents solidity, the basis of applied control.

aikido-stances
TRIANGLE (Sankaku): O-Sensei associated the shape of the triangle with the idea of flowing water (nagare). An example might be Irimi (entering). When a strike from a hand or foot or a cut with a bokken descends, the aikidoka advances simultaneously to one side to assume a defensive position. Sometimes, direct responses to an attack are effective to unbalance an opponent.

CIRCLE (Maru): In the case of a face-to-face attack, an opponent would have an opportunity to strike multiple times, and the energy waves are quite evident. After the initial attack, the aikidoka must escape the line of attack using a circular movement positioning himself to the side or behind the attacker. One should continue to move circularly only for a moment and in a controled manner. One’s actions should lead to a correct aikido technique before the attack has ended. In this manner, the circular movement neutralizes the attack because it is very difficult to strike someone to the rear and at a close distance. Thus, depending on the position of the aikidoka and the opponent’s balance, any technique may be executed both “inside” and “outside” of the opponent’s body (omote/ura). The circle is not stable while stationary as in the case of the square. However, it is stable in the sense that it never stops since it is in constant motion. An analogy is the principle of the gyroscope whose stability is based on its spinning.

circle-square-triangleSQUARE (Shikaku): The square is a very stable and strong shape or position. However, unlike the triangle and circle, it lacks movement. When O-Sensei “drew” a square, he would often write the character “Go” (強) which means strength. He would say that since a square is formed by four 90-degree angles, the most effective attack would also be at a 90-degree angle. One normally begins in a “squared” position, being calm and neutral. From this initial state, if an attack comes, one may be ready and move or change to a triangular stance and counter by entering (irimi), or may change to a circular movement to blend with the attack and separate from it.

Click here to read the original Spanish version of this article.

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The Morihei Ueshiba Founder’s Course is O-Sensei’s video legacy starting in 1935 and covering a span of 34 years until just before his passing in 1969. Besides the more than 30 films of the Founder, the course includes three rare audio interviews of O-Sensei with complete subtitles. These are wonderfully intimate conversations with the Founder that convey his bright personality, playfulness and sincerity. In addition, the course includes a series of video documentaries by Stanley Pranin on the life of the Founder and the spread of his art worldwide.