Category Archives: Articles

A change of optic:

Aikido is a gem of many facets – sometimes it seems that every one of O’Sensei’s students remembered a different teacher, and of course, many, many different styles have been preserved and developed – but here is one facet that clicked into focus for me recently:

what if O’Sensei spent his time away from Iwama and Tokyo coherently pursuing what he felt to be his “mission in life”?…

what if he spent his time away from Iwama and Tokyo creating and nurturing a network of dojos run by Omoto-Kyo, ex-Omoto-Kyo and Ko-Shinto believers ( hand-picked deshi,  some of them raised, almost, as members of his family) – - – and ex-Kamikaze pilots, too (!) – often with his own name on the sign -  in places – and close to shrines…

read more:

…late in 1942…

“….On August 7, after consultations with the appropriate judges, [Judge Takano] released [Onasiburo, Sumiko and Isao] on bail, and they appeared in the outside world for the first time in six years and eight months….

“My cousin Yasuaki Deguchi…writes in ‘Founder of a New Religion’….’To the followers who came to see him, he would say with emphasis, “There will be no divine help in this war,” “This war is a war between devils, so do not get involved”….’

“….even now he did not hold back from his outspoken remarks. ‘On the day I left prison, Japan’s defeat in the war began,’ he said.

“On August 7, 1942, the day Onisaburo was released, American forces landed on Guadalcanal, and the first naval battle of the Solomon Islands began….

“He would say, ‘They did all this to Omoto and don’t even come to apologize. So Japan will be attacked by the foreign enemy and will be beaten.’….’God dislikes killing. Omoto will not cooperate in the war.’

“….Telling soldiers leaving for service overseas, ‘Fire your guns into the air,’ he would give them advice according to their respective destinations….To troops leaving for the front, Onisaburo issued special amulets on which were written the words, ‘Victory to the Enemy’….

- – - – from The Great Onisaburo Deguchi,  Kyotaro Deguchi,  tr. Charles Rowe, publ. Aiki News, pp. 285-9

…earlier in 1942…

“…by 1942, [the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai] became literally a part of government organization and it was managed under the direct and joint supervision of ministry of education, ministry of health, ministry of navy, ministry of army and ministry of interior. The headquarters of DNBK located in Heian Shrine was moved to the ministry of health. As a result of this governmental authority, DNBK controlled All Student Soldier Physical Education Promotion Association, Kodokan, Nippon Kobudo Association, All Japan Kendo Federation…

read more:

…1942-1948 – Ubuya…

“It may be that, at the time, we [this young people's class in Iwama] were the only existing Aikido class in Japan – perhaps even in the world.”
- – - Kazuaki Tanahashi,   Aikiweb interview

“In 1946 when I was admitted into Aikido, the site of the Iwama Dojo with an area of more than 20,000 tsubo was just a forest of Japanese oak trees, dotted with the Aiki Shrine,  Dojo,  and a farm. The location of the Dojo almost eluded detection. The local neighbors had not the foggiest idea of what was going on inside the Dojo and would not dare approach it.”
- – - Morihiro Saito Shihan,  Traditional Aikido,  vol.5,  p.20

“For seven years, Ueshiba O’Sensei hid away in the mountains, and said not a word: he was silent. But by his silence he was teaching, making something very great, by saying nothing.”
- – - André Nocquet Shihan, Maître Morihei Ueshiba: présence et message  p.97


So what is happening here?…


So what is happening here? Is the dancer spinning clockwise or counter-clockwise?

Depends which side of the brain you are using.

Left side: logical, language, methodic, concepts, like a serial processor
Right side: creative, emotion, direct experience, like a parallel processor

Can you get it to switch at will?
- by doing math in your head?
- by imaginging you are about to look at your hand?

read more…


Since ancient times
Art and the Martial Way
and the good, hard
practice of both
have made the Body-Mind – - – wake up!!!

- – - O’Sensei

“At the very bottom is the question, ‘how do you prepare your mind to become a singer…

read more…

A Lesson from my Karate Master (1)…


- – - by Jolene Starr

Hanshi ​ Isao Ichikawa,​ a Japanese man who founded Karatedo Doshinkan in the 1960′s, was only about 5’6” tall, but he had a huge presence.​​  ​

When he walked into a room, you  ​did not have to be coached.  You ​​automatically stood up.  ​ ​My first training with him was in June 1980.

He died in 1996 when he was in his 60′s, but until death took him away, he  looked vibrant and full of life. His face shone and his skin glowed. I ha​ve​
a picture of him in a hot tub holding a large goblet of beer; he  ​is​  luminous, almost a halo around him. In another picture, taken by a friend of mine in a dark gymnasium without the use of a flash, he fairly radiate​s​  light…
read more:

…ki-gata: movement and shape of ki-flow…

O’Sensei said that the two most important things for practising aiki are: “ki kata” and “tanren-ho“.  We think we know what tanren-ho is:  at its simplest it’s the repeated  striking at a bundle of wood with a bokken,  just as in those iconic pictures of O’Sensei and Saito Shihan in the fields at Iwama.   But “ki kata“?   Does that mean “kokyu-waza” (“aiki-waza” ) ?  Or is it possible that O’Sensei is thinking of kata not as physical forms…  but as ki-flow?  The shape and movement of ki-flow?  That, in fact, O’Sensei saw kata primarily as ki-flow – and maybe  he wasn’t watching physical form at all?

One thinks of Zeami’s remark that the highest form of singing in Noh theatre is the “singing of no singing” – where the performer is so focused on what they are doing to the audience – on the emotion that they are creating – that they are not consciously aware of  the sound of their own voice.

The more one translates O’Sensei’s words and thought, the more it becomes obvious that,  for him,  what happens in the mind is primary..

read more:


“…I had many opportunities to accompany [O'Sensei] and during those times I would analyse intently  the pace and movement of his feet as I followed along behind him. I was interested in where he held his center of gravity and just how he transformed it as he moved along…”
- – - Gozo Shioda Sensei,  Aikido Shugyo  p.82

“…I was mostly focused on [Takeda Sokaku] Sensei’s footwork. I took notes on which foot came first or what he did to immobilize me – these are the points that I paid attention to and took down carefully in my notes. You students today…your attention is diverted by the form and how it looks overall.”
- – - Sagawa Yukiyoshi Sensei,  Transparent Power,  p.129

read more…


All physical activity in the dojo tends to rewire the circuits in one’s head -  but none more so than the investigation of “kyo” :   the trajectory through air that feels like the path of least resistance for a staff or sword, and in particular the places where gravity and momentum are perfectly balanced so that the weapon seems to float.

The term “kyo” is a buddhist term – it’s one of the Japanese words for  “emptiness” in “emptiness is form, form is emptiness”.  And the experience of it is  profoundly counter-cultural.  Our culture, more than any previous  culture, surrounds us with a plethora of objects and leads us to interact more
with objects than with other human beings. Thus, we are entrained to  pay attention to the moment of grasping the object…

read more: