Mercy does not exists without more severe options

I certainly don’t doubt for a minute that O Sensei could have devastated his training partners. Their ukemi demonstrate their respect for that potential. But I’m told that Saito Sensei opined that without mercy, ukemi is impossible. Certainly that is not to imply that practicing severe forms and injuring people has a place in the dojo. Practicing the severe forms short of injury, however, may be fundamental. Without that, how can you personally claim to be merciful? You, whatever your mental state or intentions, would be constrained by your limited technical knowledge.

~ Charles Warren


Do NOT go gently into that good night

We may not all achieve a high level of technical mastery enabling us to ward off the attacks of a skilled and aggressive opponent, even after many years of training. But, at the very least, we should be able to maintain a healthy life-style and keep our bodies flexible and well-conditioned even into advanced age. This is within the capacity of everyone and does not require any special genetic predisposition or extraordinary athletic skills. When many of us reach instructor level after a certain period of training, we gradually turn into passive supervisors rather than vigorous participants.

~ Stan Pranin

That link takes you into the “members only” area of the Aikido Journal web site. If you are an Aikido student, you should immediately join — the fee is minimal and supports Stan’s great work. If you are not an Aikido student, but really want to read this, let me know… I can make you a copy from the Aikido Journal issue.


The Evolution of Classical Jojutsu

When one considers it is really only a short, round stick of wood, it is even more intriguing to ponder what an elemental gap the hardwood jo has filled in the history and evolution of the martial disciplines of Japan…
~ Dave Lowry, The Evolution of Classical Jojutsu

There are also some apropos comments on weapons by Kanai Sensei in Aikido News issue 36:

[O-Sensei] would throw the uchideshi, (live-in disciples), with very little in the way of explanation and we would grasp what we could of the feeling of the technique while we were flying through the air…
~ Aikido Journal, Interview with Mitsunari Kanai Sensei


No this. No that. No delay.

“As a 6th kyu, I have spent very little time, and have very little skill at sensing the timing of a coming attack. Though my teacher has worked on this with us, I find I am slow at learning to ‘read’ my attacker, and rely on knowing what is coming and the very slow attacks of training. Have you any specific techniques for this?”
~name withheld

I do have specific things you can practice. But first, I’m going to wander very far afield…


About Koichi Tohei, Sensei (1/1920 to 5/2011)

Koichi Tohei (藤平光一, Tōhei Kōichi) (born January 1920, died May 2011) was a 10th Dan aikidoka and founder of the Ki Society and its style of aikido, officially Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido (literally “aikido with mind and body unified”), but commonly known as Ki-Aikido.

Our friends over at the Bryn Mawr dojo of Kinokawa Aikido have an article providing a survey of the basic information about Sensei Tohei.

Unfortunately, I never saw Sensei Tohei in person. Today, the closest one can get is any of the myriad of videos which remain. One can find a great deal on YouTube. However, a much better place to go is to Aikido Journal (AJ). If you’re an aikidoka, you should go over to AJ immediately and join. There is an enormous amount of information available in general, and about Sensei Tohei in particular.

In particular from AJ, you can find books, DVDs and ebooks for download that are specifically about, or written by, Sensei Tohei. Log into the members site and search for ‘koichi tohei’. You’ll find interviews of Sensei Tohei conducted by Stanley Pranin, details of Sensei Tohei’s split from the Aikikai (including his resignation letter), and much more.

As for Kinokawa’s relation to Sensei Tohei, remembering his soft and flowing style is something to which we continuously pay attention. Sensei Wirth provides some more details related to Kinokawa’s history:

The grace and power I witnessed in those first few hours at the Dojo drew me into the way of Aikido.

In those early days we spoke little and trained very hard. There were only a few students who endured for long.

Maruyama Sensei was a student of Koichi Tohei Sensei and O’Sensei. By 1971, two years after O’Sensei’s death, divisions of viewpoint regarding who was to lead Aikido and how it was to be conveyed and directed lead to a split between Tohei and Kisshomaru Ueshiba, the Founder’s son. Maruyama Sensei aligned himself with Sensei Tohei, and so it was that our practice in the 1970’s reflected both the early style and training of O’Sensei as preserved and conveyed by Aikikai and the flowing late life Aikido of O’Sensei presented by Tohei.

~ Sensei Wirth, from ‘A History of Kinokawa ryu Aikido’