Aiki Stories

Stories about Aikido, Zen and the practice at the old Iwama Dojo.

Moving off the line is the 1st principle of Aikido as sometimes the bear needs poking

The 1st principle of Aikido is moving off the line – here is why. Sensei Saw It… Sempai Heard It… Uke Wore It!   Most times I fail to move off the line completely and then wonder why I have trouble completing the technique. The prerequisite of being off the line isn’t there so the […]

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Three Kinds of Disciples

A story from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones (compiled by Paul Reps):  When Zen master, Gasan was studying under Tekisui, his teacher was very severe.  Sometimes he even beat Gasan. Other pupils would not stand this type of teaching and quit. Gasan remained, saying: A poor disciple utilises a teacher’s influence. A fair disciple admires a

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Ouch, Sensei that hurts!

Many people when starting Aikido, find the techniques extremely painful. Techniques like Nikkyo, Sankyo and Yonkyo apply pressure directly into the nervous system. They cause submission through pain compliance. But what if it is the teacher who is applying these painful techniques to the student? The sensei’s role is to ensure that every student is

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Saito Sensei Quotes

Stanley Pranin of Aikido Journal, has published a series of quotations by  the late Saito Sensei about his teacher, the Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba.  They are worth repeating. The Takemusu Aiki Association are the inheritors of the teaching from O’Sensei’s dojo in Iwama.  We work to keep the memory of O’Sensei’s insight alive through

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Thief at the Dojo

I had heard about this story before, but never from someone who was there.  Stanley Pranin of Aikido Journal, recently re-published an interview with Shoji Nishio Sensei from 1983. He told this story about Koichi Tohei Sensei training at the Iwama Dojo: “Mr. Tohei went to Hawaii in 1953. On his return, he brought back

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Learning Aikido by “stealing the technique”

The following article is copied from Stanley Pranin’s Aikido Journal website. You can find the full article and accompaying slideshow here: One of the things that stood out to me during my years of practicing aikido in Japan was the fact that the majority of Japanese instructors — including some of the most famous names

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Use of Weapons in Aikido

There is a current “debate” as to the value/need for weapon training in Aikido and its importance. Our dojo follows the training curriculum from O’sensei’s personal dojo in Iwama, Japan as laid out by his longest serving student, the late Morihiro Saito Sensei, and as taught and continued by Saito’s student, Saburo Takayasu Sensei, 7th

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Sayonara Nikkyo

The departure of Frédéric and his family back to France occasioned the need for a party and a sayonara-nikkyo. David Alexander Sensei tells the story of this practice from the Ibaraki Iwama Dojo at his Iwama Monogatari website: Introduction To Iwama I first went to Iwama and met Saito-sensei in the spring of 1972. I was training at the Aikikai

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Doing Ukemi

David Alexander Sensei was a foundation student at the Iwama Ibaraki Dojo and his stories are legendary. Here is one of my favourites from his Iwama Monogatari website: Introduction To Iwama I first went to Iwama and met Saito-sensei in the spring of 1972. I was training at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo at

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Levels of Training

David Alexander Sensei spent over 10 years training in Iwama under Saito Sensei, in the old days when understanding was obtained from vigorous and rigorous practice. In an article he explains the four levels of technique in Aikido training: 1. KATAI (rigid) Also known as Kihon (basic) it is what builds the foundation of tai-sabaki

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Elegance in Aikido

David Alexander Sensei was my sempai when I trained at Iwama in 1980. He had the rare experience of spending over 10 years training under Saito Sensei, in Iwama while Saito Sensei was in his prime. He also gave me my “sayonara nikkyo”, when I returned home. He explains his idea of elegance in Aikido

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Relax when you Throw

Some years ago, when struggling to gain insight into how to powerfully perform morote dori kokyu nage (the basic form practised at the start of every keiko) I cam across an article by Koichi Tohei in Aikido Journal (Vol. 24, No. 2 1997). Tohei Sensei 10th dan, the previous dojo-cho of the Aikikai Honbu Dojo and founder

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Why sweat the small stuff

Students often say, “why is it important to do the technique ‘precisely’ surely everyone is different – we can do it in our own way”,  or particularly for westerens “near-enough is good enough”. Saito Sensei commented in his “Dos and Don’ts while training” (Volume 5 – Training Works Wonders page 41): Perform Exercises Accurately There

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