AIKIDO, SAMURAI AND BUDO

__________

Aikido

Kodo - Ancient Ways is the book that connected me to my friend, Kensho Furuya. It is also the book that really helped me to understand the essence of the martial arts and how deeply they can influence your life. Whether you are interested in aikido or any of the other martial arts, it is a fabulous resource. Unfortunately it is no longer being published so getting a hold of a copy is getting increasingly difficult.

To learn more about aikido and its history I would highly recommend Aikido Journal. It started life as a print magazine established by Stanley Pranin. Stanley sadly died recently but the torch has been passed to Josh Gold who is doing a great job continuing Stanley's work. It also has subscription options to access high quality videos and courses.

AikiWeb - a vast resource of excellent (and some not so excellent!) online discussions and information. My favourite part is the column called 'It Had to be Felt' where people describe their first-hand training experience with the great aikido masters. You can also find an old poetry thread started by Kensho Furuya and two poems that he and I shared on page three of that thread from 2003.

Below are some aikido videos. The first one is the founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, also known as O'Sensei:

This video is of Morihiro Saito Sensei. This is the aikido that I was taught. Saito Sensei spent many decades living with O'Sensei at his home and farm in Iwama, Japan. This is the aikido that is closest to that of the founder.

In this video, Saito Sensei demonstrates the importance of atemi, or strikes, in aikido techniques. The narrator says that "atemi... accounts for 99% of the aikido requisite." I'm not entirely sure what "aikido requisite" means, but atemi are vital to the successful application of almost all aikido techniques. Unfortunately, most aikido taught today omits atemi entirely. This is a major oversight and leads to much of the criticism of aikido.

Shoji Nishio Sensei was an exceptional martial artist. He continued to develop aikido after O'Sensei died. Nishio Sensei said:

"They say that O'Sensei practiced the sword and staff, but he did so in the process of giving birth to modern Aikido. Even though we imitate him we will not be able to go beyond what he did. O'Sensei used to tell us, "This old man reached this stage, you should surpass me building on what I have left." However, we tend to imitate what he did and end up going backward. Ten years from now, we may be practicing the level of Aikido of O'Sensei as it was a number of years ago. After fifteen years, we may end up going back to the forms he practiced at an even earlier date. This is not right, he told us over and over again to go beyond what he did. People like us didn't understand what he meant."
Nishio Shoji, Aiki News 60, 1984

You can buy online access to Nishio Sensei's videos at Aikido Journal.

In the video below, Nishio Sensei demonstrates the importance of atemi.

If you search YouTube you will find many aikido videos. Some videos will be good, others not so good. Some dojos will be good, others not so good. You will also find a constant barrage of criticism of aikido. Some of the criticism is valid. A lot of the aikido as it is now taught is very far from the martial spirit of its origins. Ultimately aikido is to teach you not victory over others, but victory over yourself. Like any true martial art, it is a path to 'waking up.'

Samurai and Budo

Here are some of the better videos I have found on samurai, swords and budo:

This last video is a clip from the movie 'Agaru After the Rain.' In it the hero demonstrates the power of inaction and of connecting and controlling the opponent's ki, while refusing to fight. Then the scene moves on to some good old fashioned action where the opponents he cuts seem to have a blood system that runs at mega high pressure (at least 90psi I'd say) given the way the blood jets out of their bodies.