Takemusu

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Focusing on the syllabus too much can actually slow down the learning process

This article is a continuation from the piece ‘Adaptation‘ which I wrote following our Spring Seminar

JOSEPH KENNEDY

This month we held our week long Summer School with Sensei Simone Chierchini at various locations in the south east.
If there was a theme for the week , it would have to be Takemusu. First I try to explain what that means. ‘Take’ is usually understood to mean the same as bu in bujutsu or budo. ‘Musu’ is to give birth too. So Takemusu Aikido is too spontaneously adapt to the changing circumstances of life through limitless creativity and expression.

One of the things I appreciate very much about how Simone teaches is that he tends not to teach a lot of techniques at a time. Instead he seems to prefer a focus on principle. It is very common in Martial Arts in general for people to get bogged down with learning techniques. With the sheer scope of Aikido this can get frustrating very quickly. Focusing on the syllabus too much can actually slow down the learning process.

However to delve into Takemusu it is necessary to have solid ground to work from. Study the basics enough, then move on, adapt, experiment and return again to the basics, the kihon. Constantly ensuring that training is still grounded in good principle and a Budo mindset. This kind of training would take many forms. Whether weapons practice, Taijutsu or Kokyu the idea is too free up the mind and see what has been truly understood by the body.

Take Jiyu Waza for example. Jiyu Waza is a free style practice common to most Aikido Dojo, usually one person acting as Tori and one or more as Uke. Regardless of the level of a student it is possible to see how well they have absorbed the training. A fixation on technique will quickly land the student in difficulty as their reaction time will be too slow. I would say to my students doing this exercise it is better to repeat the same technique 10 times than to pause in thought of what to do. Better still is is clear the mind and continuously move forwards absorbing the attacks before their at full strength. Stepping back should be only be done strategically.

To better enable a student to respond to changing circumstances, Simone had us practice at 3 different timings. One where Tori initiates the attack, another where we meet in the middle and the third waiting a moment and extending the attack. These timings are important to practice. Each equal in their own right. To practice just one of these would take training in far too specific a direction. For example by only focusing on the third of waiting and then extending the attack the important principle of moving forward would be lacking. Likewise by focusing on the first, a student may become too forward in their training and perhaps forget the softer side of training. For the concept of Takemusu to be explored, a student must first possess the correct reflexes in order to continually adapt.

This is in a way a goal of Kata, to instill these reflexes into the mind of a student. Adding a more free form of practice beside this and you see that has been absorbed. The student becoming one with the training can than start with Takemusu.

Freely moving the mind can become clear and enter into the moment, unconcerned for tomorrow or yesterday. In this way Aikido can be a way for people to become free of mental constraints and preconceptions.

 

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More Famous Aikido Challenges

Roy Suenaka and Morihei Ueshiba were involved in several Aikido challenges

Roy Suenaka and Morihei Ueshiba were involved in several Aikido challenges

Second part of a well received article dealing with a not so advertised facet of Aikido history: here we have famous Aikido teachers launching or accepting challenges just the way any of us would

by SIMONE CHIERCHINI

Read 10 Famous Aikido Challenges

1. MORIHEI UESHIBA vs SOKAKU TAKEDA

FRANCE CULTURE
You mentioned the Zen in Aikido, can summarize the personal and spiritual journey of Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido?

ANDRE’ NOCQUET
Master Ueshiba was a man who could not walk until he was seven years old, he was very frail. So he wanted to become strong, because he was also quite small. I’m not a very tall man but he was still ten centimeters shorter than me, he was about 1m55, no more. Gradually, through certain movements, he became stronger and stronger. In order to learn dodging, some students used to throw stones at him or beets, and he was trying to avoid all that. This is how Tai Sabaki was born. But the way of Ueshiba, not the spiritual route, but the physical one, was that he met many masters.

FRANCE CULTURE
In Hokkaido, for example?

ANDRE’ NOCQUET
Yes, Hokkaido, but before he went to many dojos. We wandered around and when he saw a master at work, immediately, he asked for a test to see if he could beat him. He beat a lot of them and he said, I have nothing to learn from people I beat. One day in Hokkaido, he met a teacher named Takeda. It was behind an inn, in a small room, he saw the master and was very surprised to see he was doing a lot of dodging.

FRANCE CULTURE
How could he know that it was a master?

ANDRE’ NOCQUET
He was told that it was master Takeda, coming from such school. He saw his work and asked him immediately if he could fight against him. There, something extraordinary happened, the small body of Ueshiba was thrown around sixty times in a few minutes. He had found his master and began to work with him. Takeda took him as student, but he taught him only 5 minutes a day, not even that. The rest of the day, he had to wash his master and prepare his meals. That is Japan, you do not pay, but you have to give of yourself to the master. It does not happen in Europe.

Source: http://www.guillaumeerard.com/aikido/interviews/interview-with-andre-nocquet-8th-dan-pioneer-of-aikido-in-europe


2. T.K. CHIBA vs GANGSTERS

CHIBA
“Well a gangster attacked me with a knife once in Japan. He lunged for my belly, so I blocked him with Gedan Barai, and broke his arm with Kata Katamae. On another occasion I was in Paris with Noro Sensei, and we visited a night club together. I was having a drink in one room and Noro Sensei was sitting in another room playing cards, or something. Suddenly there was a terrible commotion from where Noro was, so I went in to see what was happening. It was a fight. An old gentleman was lying on the floor and a young man was kicking him. It was terrible there was a lot of blood on the floor. I think he would have killed him, so Noro Sensei said to me “Chiba, sort that out!” He did not want to get involved. (Laughter). I took hold of this man, and stopping his attack, I asked him what he thought he was doing. He spoke to me in French, so neither of us understood and so I pulled him outside… then something happened. My body reacted and I threw him down with Osoto Gari, the judo technique. He hit the ground very hard and I heard a clatter of metal. It was then I realized that he had pulled a knife. My awareness had been such that I reacted to the situation from my subconscious. This guy was a gangster from the Pigalle area and that was why no one stopped him. He was well known apparently . . . but not to me! It made no difference who he was”.

Source: http://www.aikidosphere.com/kc-e-challenges


3. MORIHEI UESHIBA vs NAVAL OFFICER

KISSHOMARU UESHIBA
“One day a naval officer visiting Ayabe decided to challenge Morihei to a kendo match. Morihei consented, but remained unarmed. The officer, a high-ranking swordsman, was naturally offended at this affront to his ability and lashed out at Morihei furiously. Morihei easily escaped the officer’s repeated blows and thrusts. When the exhausted officer finally conceded defeat, he asked Morihei his secret. “Just prior to your attacks, a beam of light flashed before my eyes, revealing the intended direction.”

Source: Ueshiba, Kisshomaru, Aikido (1985), Tokyo, Hozansha Publications


4. ROY SUENAKA vs OKINAWAN PUNK

SUENAKA
“There was this one local guy who came in, wearing street clothes and said he studied Kobayashi-ryu, which I was familiar with, because it was a system founded by Chihana Chosin, who was a very great teacher. That‘s all he said, ‘I study Kobayashi-ryu’. He didn’t even give his name. So I said, “Well, okay . . . what are you trying to tell me?” Then he showed me a big cut on his hand.

OKINAWAN PUNK
“We punch rock, stick our hands in glass… that’s how I got this cut”.

SUENAKA
“That’s really stupid, you know? There’s other ways to get tough”.

OKINAWAN PUNK
“Well, then, what’s this? This doesn’t look like it works. You guys move like you are dancing”.

SUENAKA
“Well, we can take care of you if we have to”.

OKINAWAN PUNK
“You mind showing me?”

SUENAKA
It was an outright challenge, and you don’t walk into a dojo and do that, not at that time. So I said, “What do you want me to show you?”. I was ready to just blast him then, but he was a fairly young guy, maybe just a little older than me, and he looked pretty crisp, pretty sharp.

OKINAWAN PUNK
“Why don’t I punch you and see what you can do?”

SUENAKA
I knew my ma-ai… he came in with a punch and kicked at me, real fast, and I pivoted out of the way and boom! I hit his face, broke his nose, and grabbed his hand, executed kote-gaeshi and broke his wrist. So he got up and I said, ‘What would you like to see now?”

Source: Roy Suenaka, Complete Aikido: Aikido Kyohan -The Definitive Guide to the Way of Harmony, 1997, Tuttle Publishing


5. MORIHEI UESHIBA vs 6 MARKSMEN

SHIODA
Talking about weird things, let me talk about an extremely strange event. This is also something I actually witnessed with my own eyes. One time an official from the munitions department of the army, together with 9 military personnel, came to visit the Ueshiba Dojo. They came to watch the wonderful art of Aikido that they had heard about. These people were arms inspectors. They tested new weapons and judged whether the sights were accurate or not. Their shooting ability was Olympic level, and I noticed that they hit the target every time.
Ueshiba Sensei, who had done a demonstration before these people that day, had claimed “Bullets cannot reach me.” I had, of course, previously heard that when he was in Mongolia he had avoided the bullets of horse-mounted brigands, but this was quite different.
The inspectors’ pride was hurt and they were quite angry.
“You’re sure that the bullets won’t touch you?”, they asked.
“Oh, no, they won’t.”
“Then would you like to try?”
“Sure.”
They took him at his word and promptly arranged the date that they were to meet at the Okubo Army Shooting Center. Before the date, they made Ueshiba Sensei write officially that he had agreed to become a living target for the army officers and got him to place his fingerprint on the document. As a further precaution and verification, they took the document to the army court. Therefore, even if Sensei was shot and killed, nobody could lodge a complaint. The appointed day arrived, and a military car came to pick Sensei up to take him to the shooting area in Okubo. Mr. Yukawa and myself accompanied him. Naturally, Sensei’s wife was very anxious and beseeched him to change his mind. but Sensei kept replying light-heatedly, “It’s all right, they will never hit their target”.
Mr. Yukawa and myself were also very concerned; to the point where we were wondering if it wouldn’t be wise to make funeral preparations. When we reached the shooting area, another surprise was waiting for us. I was expecting only one gun to be aimed at Sensei, but we discovered that six men would be firing pistols at him. The best range for pistols was 25 meters and, normally, a target in the shape of a human is placed at this distance. This time, however, Ueshiba Sensei was standing there in place of the doll. The six men then positioned themselves, aiming at Ueshiba Sensei. While staring at him, I kept thinking helplessly that twenty-five meters is a considerable distance, and was wondering what on earth Sensei could do from there.
One, two, three. The six revolvers fired at the same time and a cloud of dust whirled around us. Then, suddenly, one of the six marksmen was flying through the air! What had happened? Before we could figure it out, Sensei was standing behind the six men, laughing into his beard.
We all were bewildered. I really and truly could not understand what had happened. Not just me, but everyone present was so stunned that we could not find words to express our shock. The six inspectors were not yet convinced and asked if Sensei could do it again. “All right” he answered indifferently.
Once again, the six barrels were aimed at Ueshiba Sensei and were fired. This time the inspector at the edge of the group flew into the air. In exactly the same way as before, Ueshiba Sensei was standing behind the six inspectors before we knew what was happening. I was dumbfounded. That time I had promised myself to watch carefully in order to see exactly what Sensei was doing. But even though I had tried very hard, I was completely unable to see how he had moved.
Facing Ueshiba Sensei were the barrels of the six revolvers which had been fired. This far I could remember clearly, but the next stage, where Sensei had moved the distance of 25 meters and thrown one of the six marksmen, I simply could not understand. I couldn’t find any explanation for other than “God techniques.”
On our way back I asked, “Sensei, how could you do such a thing?”, and I received the following answer.
“Before the explosion, as the trigger is pulled, a flash like a golden ball flies off. The actual bullet of the revolver comes later, therefore it is easy to avoid”.

Source: http://www.aikidofaq.com/history/story.html


6. MORIHEI UESHIBA vs MASTER HUNTER

SHIODA
One of my acquaintances, Mr. Sadajiro Sato, was a hunter from Yamanashi Prefecture. He was known as a master of gun hunting. For example, hunters usually aim at and shoot pheasants when they are descending to the ground. At this moment it is said that their flying speed is around 200 kilometers per hour. If the pheasant is shot in the head it will drop straight to the ground, but if the bullet hits the body it will fall a long way away. Accordingly, hunters would try to aim for the head, which is not an easy target to hit. The point is the Mr. Sato would hit the head every time he shot – he was the master of masters.
One day I told Mr. Sato the story of Ueshiba Sensei avoiding the six revolvers. “Even if he did that I am sure he won’t be able to avoid mine,” said Mr. Sato confidently. “A human head is much bigger than that of the birds that I am used to shooting. I cannot imagine missing that.” Having said that, Mr. Sato came down out of the mountains to challenge Ueshiba Sensei. I accompanied him to the Ueshiba dojo and told Sensei that Mr. Sato wished to challenge him. Sensei accepted the proposal.
I watched carefully, and a bit anxiously, as Sensei sat down in seiza at the far end of the dojo while Mr. Sato took distance and aimed. And then just as he was on the verge of pulling the trigger, Sensei dropped his head in recognition and said, “Wait! Your bullet will hit me! Your thoughts are undistorted, and clearly you want to hit me. From the beginning you’ve known that you are going to hit your target. I cannot avoid the gun of such a man, you are a true master!”
Mr. Sato returned happily to his mountains.

Source: http://www.aikidofaq.com/history/story.html


7. JASON DELUCIA vs STEVEN SEAGAL

DELUCIA
From the time I was very young I always wanted to study it, but where I was from the best I could do were books, and Aiki-jujitsu which a great number of policemen had to use. The first very intense exposure I had to the traditional Aikido environment was due to an open invitational challenge which Steven Seagal had published in Black Belt magazine in which he stated, ‘Anyone who wants to fight me come to my dojo and be prepared to fight to the death!’
In 1992 I answered that challenge. I drove 3000 miles to LA, got an apartment, and straightaway went to his dojo with a copy of the magazine and a written reply as well as my physical presence. His chief instructor Matsuoka Harua had to answer for it in his stead.
My assertion was that if he was going to make statements like that to bolster his popularity then he should back it up. He never did. So every morning and every evening for about six months I observed his classes. I learned a lot that way. No question of honor that Matsuoka Harua had given me more technical knowledge and politely tolerated my presence at every single class he taught.”

Source: http://www.mixedmartialarts.com/thread/1944580/Jason-DeLucia-almost-kicked-Steven-Seagals-ass/?page=1


8. T.K. CHIBA vs SERIAL CHALLENGER

CHIBA
When I returned to Japan from England, in 1978, a man issued a challenge to us. But Hombu Dojo refused it, despite his persistence.
(…) As I said he was persistent, and every few weeks he would return to challenge us. Each time I had to explain that we could not accept. I think that the man was not quite “right” in the head. Anyway, eventually I personally had enough of him and accepted his challenge. We arranged to meet and sort it out. I insisted that we agree not to press charges in the event of serious injury and we exchanged letters to that effect. I told him as a martial arts teacher I was prepared to die if need be. Well we met and I initiated with offence, moving directly to him and I struck him first. This threw him back against the wall and as I came to him he jumped on me: he was like a tiger. I then finished him with Nikkyo. He had had enough by then. There was much blood and he was on the floor screaming. That was the last challenge he offered us – it seems that he did not expect an Aikidoist to initiate an attack.

Source: http://www.aikidosphere.com/kc-e-challenges


9. FUMYO TOYODA vs CAR ROBBER

HAWKINS
“Toyoda sensei was attacked while driving. A man came up and stuck a knife into his partially opened window to threaten him. He relaxed completely, kept one-point, kept weight underside, extended ki, rolled up the electric window on uke’s arm, and drove down the street. I would have liked to have seen the pin”.

Source: http://www.aikidofaq.com/stories/real_life.html

Copyright Simone Chierchini ©2015 Simone Chierchini
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Chiba Sensei and the Sad Fate of O’Sensei’s Dog

T.K. Chiba as a young man

T.K. Chiba as a young man

There are lots of amazing stories about the founder of Aikido Morihei Ueshiba, some really incredible and bordering with folklore – O’Sensei moving faster than light, O’Sensei pulling pine trees from the ground and similar. Therefore we thought to add another metropolitan legend to the saga, relaying to you the presumed story of Chiba Sensei and the sad fate of O Sensei’s dog

by SIMONE CHIERCHINI

—> Scorrere in basso per la Versione Italiana <—

It is the typical story of a man who told another man that another man had done such and such, so take it for what it is: a funny story. Apparently Morihiro Saito let it slip with one of his students after a serious sake session, and this man then told the same to a student of his, probably during another pub night.

The story goes that O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba was ready to leave Iwama to go on one of his teaching trips. He was going to be away for a while, therefore Morihiro Saito and T.K. Chiba were left in charge of the Iwama dojo.

The fact is that at the time O Sensei enjoyed the company of a little lively dog – a shih tzu it would seem – which Chiba hated with all his guts. Shortly after O Sensei left, the dog ran up to Chiba and started yapping and making a fuss around him, which was really driving Chiba insane. So what does he do? He took hold of a boken that someone had left against the wall and hit the dog in the head.

Unfortunately the dog decided to die! Morihiro Saito was totaly freaked out: Chiba had killed O Sensei’s dog! Ueshiba was going to be 100% angry about it, throwing one of those tantrums he was famous for.

A solution had to be found! So the future founders of Iwama Ryu and Birankai crawled under the dojo, and buried the dog in a shallow grave. Eventually O Sensei returned from his teaching trip, saw that the shih tzu wasn’t around and asked the two boys about his dog. Chiba told his teacher that he had been sick worried for days, because the dog ran off the day after O Sensei had left…

Supposedly O Sensei’s dog is still buried under the Iwama dojo!


In circolazione ci sono un sacco di storie incredibili sul fondatore dell’Aikido Morihei Ueshiba, alcune delle quali davvero pazzesche e parte del folklore aikidoistico – O’Sensei che si muove più veloce della luce, O’Sensei che strappa abeti dal terreno con tutte le radici e roba simile. Pertanto abbiamo pensato di aggiungere un’altra leggenda metropolitana alla saga, passandovi la presunta storia di Chiba Sensei e la triste sorte del cane di O Sensei

di SIMONE CHIERCHINI

Questa è la tipica storia di un uomo che dice ad un altro uomo che un altro uomo ha fatto questo e quello; per cui prendetela per quello che è, un’innocua storiella divertente…

Sembrerebbe che Morihiro Saito se la sia lasciata scappare con uno dei suoi allievi dopo una sessione di sakè finita fuori controllo, e costui poi l’avrebbe raccontata ad un suo studente, probabilmente durante un’altrettanto seria serata al pub.

La storia comunque racconta che O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba era in procinto di lasciare Iwama per uno dei suoi viaggi di insegnamento. Ueshiba sarebbe mancato per diversi giorni, quindi avrebbe lasciato a Morihiro Saito e T.K. Chiba la responsabilità di prendersi cura del dojo di Iwama.

Il fatto è che a quel tempo O Sensei godeva della compagnia di un vivace cagnolino – uno Shitzu parrebbe – che Chiba invece odiava con tutte le sue forze. Poco dopo che O Sensei era partito il cane corse da Chiba e iniziò ad abbaiargli e ringhiare contro, facendo diventare Chiba del tutto matto. Così che cosa fa il nostro? Prende un boken che qualcuno aveva lasciato contro il muro lì vicino e lo picchia sul cranio del cagnetto!

Purtroppo però il cane decise di passare a miglior vita! Morihiro Saito quasi se la fece sotto: Chiba aveva ucciso il cane di O Sensei! Ueshiba si sarebbe arrabbiato come una iena, esplodendo in uno di quegli attacchi di ira per cui era diventato famoso.

Dovevano assolutamente trovare una soluzione! Così i futuri fondatori di Iwama Ryu and Birankai strisciarono sotto il dojo, scavarono una buchetta e ci infilarono l’infelice cagnolino. Qualche giorno dopo O Sensei ritornò dal suo viaggio di insegnamento, e avendo notato che lo shitzu non era in giro, chiese ai due ragazzoni che cosa ne fosse stato del suo cane. Chiba rispose al suo maestro che lui era stato preoccupato da morire per giorni, perché il cane era scappato il giorno dopo che O Sensei se ne era andato…

C’è da pensare quindi che il cane di O Sensei sia ancora sepolto sotto il dojo di Iwama!

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10 Famous Aikido Challenges

The sumotori Tenryu (centre) became students of Morihei Ueshiba after being defeated by him

The sumotori Tenryu (centre) became student of Ueshiba after being defeated by him

A less known side of Aikido history: famous Aikido teachers taking challenges and often fighting the way any common mortal would

by SIMONE CHIERCHINI

1. MORIHEI UESHIBA vs TENRYU

UESHIBA
“You are probably thinking that we cannot possibly do these techniques without some sort of collusion between us. Since you are all martial arts practitioners, if there is a man among you, come and test this old man.”

TENRYU
However, no one stepped forward. At 35 I was the youngest among them. I had recently arrived in Manchuria and several government officials were observing the demonstration. I thought that I should test my own ability and said, “Yes, I will try”.

UESHIBA
“You are Mr. Tenryu, aren’t you? You too are probably imagining that an old man like me won’t be able to throw you very well. However, budo is much more than what you think it is. He offered his left hand saying it was weaker than his right and continued: “You must be quite strong physically. I am not putting strength into my arm so you can do anything you want with it. Try!”.

TENRYU
I thought that this old man was speaking nonsense and slapped his hand down as I grabbed it. But the moment I touched him I was startled. I felt as if I had taken hold of an iron bar. Of course, I knew very well from my experience in Sumo that it would be useless to struggle against him. I immediately knew I had been defeated. However, I couldn’t just leave things like that and attempted to twist his arm up and out. He didn’t move an inch. I tried again with both hands using all my might. But he used my strength against me and I fell down.

PRANIN
What technique did he use on you then?

TENRYU
It was kokyunage. I didn’t have any particular problem with the fall since we take ukemi in Sumo too. But I was really amazed to know that such an art existed. That night I visited the lodging house where Ueshiba Sensei was staying and asked permission to become his student. He told me to come to his dojo in Ushigome in Tokyo. He said that three months of practice would be enough for me. I then requested official leave from the Minister of Manchuria who had also observed the demonstration. I entered the dojo in Wakamatsu-cho in April 1939 and stayed through June.

Source: http://members.aikidojournal.com/public/mr-saburo-wakuta-sumo-champion-tenryu-and-morihei-ueshiba/


2. KOICHI TOHEI vs ARGENTINIAN WRESTLERS

LOCKYEAR
What about Master Koichi Tohei of the Ki Society?

CHIBA
Yes, Tohei Sensei is very good. He is small but very powerful. I saw him take a challenge from a wrestler once.

LOCKYEAR
Sumotori or Western style?

CHIBA
Western style. Two brothers – Germans I think from Argentina – and they were enormous! They had to bend over to avoid hitting their heads on the gatepost of the Hombu. This was the only time that O-Sensei accepted a challenge for Hombu. These people were travelling the world with a film crew and were challenging different martial arts masters. They had been to the Kodokan, (Judo HQ), but the Judo men had not been able to handle them. So they challenged the Aikido Hombu. When they arrived I met them and brought them in. Inside the dojo were O-Sensei, Kisshomaru Sensei, and Tohei Sensei, who was then the Chief Instructor to the Aikido Foundation. O-Sensei nominated Tohei to go first, as he was so strong. So the wrestler crouched in a low posture with his hands out stretched in front of him, and just moved in a circle around Tohei Sensei for a long time. Tohei Sensei was very relaxed and just followed his movement, and eventually cornered him. Just as the wrestler began to move Tohei leapt upon him, threw him to the floor, and bounced his head for him. Tohei Sensei then pinned him down with his hand blade extension, which, as you may have heard, is very powerful. This guy could not move, and his brother declined to try Tohei for himself, so that was that. Apparently at the Kodokan the Judo men advised them not to make a grab for an Aikido master. That is why he circled Tohei Sensei for so long.

Source: http://www.aikidosphere.com/kc-e-challenges


3. MORIHEI UESHIBA vs MILITARY INSTRUCTORS

UESHIBA
Several captains who were instructors at the Toyama School invited me to test my strength against theirs. They all prided themselves in their abilities, saying things like: “I was able to lift such-and-such a weight,” or “I broke a log so many inches in diameter”. I explained to them, “I don’t have strength like yours, but I can fell people like you with my little finger alone. I feel sorry for you if I throw you, so let’s do this instead.” I extended my right arm and rested the tip of my index finger on the end of a desk and invited them to lay across my arm on their stomachs. One, two, then three officers by themselves over my arm, and by that time everyone became wide-eyed. I continued until six men lay over my arm and then asked the officer standing near me for a glass of water. As I was drinking the water with my left hand everyone was quiet and exchanging glances.

http://www.aikidofaq.com/interviews/interviews.html


4. KAZUO CHIBA vs Mr. WANG

LOCKYEAR
As we are talking about challenges would you mind telling me about your confrontation with Mr. Wang, the Tai Chi master from China?

CHIBA
(…) I was in a big demonstration of martial arts in Tokyo in the early 1960s, and Tai Chi Chuan was being shown by Mr. Wang. He was from Taiwan and he was very big indeed. He became quite famous later in Japan. Well, at the end of his display he had a number of Karateka line up in front of him, and each of them punched him in the belly. It had no effect on him. I was not impressed. I would have done something else (Sensei demonstrated a groin kick and face punch whilst saying this). So, anyway two of my private students were also studying Tai Chi under Mr. Wang, and they were very impressed with him. They invited me to come along and see him. Eventually I accepted and went to watch his class. At the Dojo my students introduced us, and he politely asked me to show some Aikido. Even though his words were warm it was still a challenge! Well, we faced each other, and Master Wang made something like a Sumo posture with his hands outstretched. I stood and waited for an opening. This went on for some minutes until he moved forward to push me. So I met him, made Tai Sabaki (body evasion) and took his wrist with Kote Gaeshi, (wrist crush/reversal) … his wrist made a loud snapping noise as I applied it. Even though I applied Kote Gaeshi strongly and injured him, he did not go down. Master Wang snatched his wrist from me, and challenged me immediately. So this time he pushed me with both hands in the belly, and threw me quite a distance across the room. I landed, but I also did not go down. It was an amazing throw. My students then came between us, and that was that.

Source: http://www.aikidosphere.com/kc-e-interview-pt-3


5. MORIHEI UESHIBA vs KENSHIRO ABBE

While travelling on a train Abbe noticed an older man staring at him who then asked if he was a 5th Dan Judo. Abbe replied “Why yes, how did you know that?”. “Because you have the build of a 5th Dan. So who are you?“ Kenshiro replied: “Everyone knows who I am, I am Kenshiro Abbe, Judo champion of all Japan! “ Yes, I can see that.“ the old man replied. The old man continued to talk to Kenshiro much to his annoyance as he wanted to get some sleep. Eventually, the old man put a finger in Kenshiro’s face, “You are so powerful, break my finger!”. Kenshiro was only too happy to oblige. He took the finger, expecting to snap it like a twig, and wham! He found himself on the carriage floor under the full control of the old man. The old man allowed Kenshiro to get back into his seat. “Who are you?” Kenshiro Abbe asked. “I am Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido.” Kenshiro Abbe was astounded at the technique of the old man and requested that he become his student. Ueshiba agreed, and Kenshiro Abbe studied with Ueshiba for 10 years.

Source: http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=694


6. KAZUO CHIBA vs SAILORMAN

LOCKYEAR
On your voyage from Japan I believe there was an incident…?

CHIBA
Ah yes, we had a party on the ship when we crossed the equator, and I was asked to demonstrate. So I agreed, however there was no-one on board with any Aikido experience to act as my partner. (…) So one of the ship’s crew was asked to assist me, and he attacked me with a knife. At Hombu Dojo, in knife work, we made a positive attack with a Tanto (a dagger). But this guy was crouched low, moving around me, changing the knife from hand to hand. This was difficult, as when he made his attack I would not know which hand had held the weapon. So when he came at me I made Gedan Barai (the low sweeping block) with both arms, and I was able to deflect his attack. The point of his blade actually went through my Obi (belt) and just touched my flesh. From Gedan Barai I moved to a counter technique and broke his arm.
http://www.aikidosphere.com/kc-e-challenges


7. MORIHEI UESHIBA vs JUNICHI HAGA

TAMURA
“Haga Sensei was an All-Japan champion in Kendo when he was around 24 or 25 years old. At that time, I understand that he was a Kendo instructor of the Imperial Guard. He often visited the Aikikai and was invited to meals by O-Sensei. He said that he thought O-Sensei must have been a phony because he was hospitable to a young man like himself. It seems that there was a time when he decided to make the rounds drinking in Shinjuku late one night and even asked Mrs. Ueshiba to lend him O-Sensei’s clothes since it would have been inappropriate for him to go out in his Imperial Guard uniform. At the time, he was to be transferred to a police department in Korea, and he thought he would force O-Sensei to show his real ability before leaving Japan. So he challenged O-Sensei to a match. O-Sensei immediately accepted his challenge and both of them went into the dojo. O-Sensei said to him, ‘Take any wooden sword and come to strike me.’ Then O-Sensei is supposed to have begun to walk around the dojo. Haga Sensei was said to have tried to strike him but was totally unable to succeed and finally gave up. He laughed when describing this incident and said that he regretted then not to have learned anything after a year and a half of practice. He finally realized who O-Sensei really was after it was too late.”

Source: http://members.aikidojournal.com/public/interview-with-nobuyoshi-tamura-1/


8. ROY SUENAKA vs OKINAWA KARATEKAS

As a result, those who came to the Okinawa Aikikai expecting to put
another notch in their belts were dealt with harshly:
“These two guys came in… almost all of the challangesges began the same way. They’d walk in, crossed-arms… most of the time they were trying to intimidate me or impress me, with black belts, red belts. red-and-white belts. Very few came in street clothes. I was standing in the corner. and one of these guys was standing in the doorway, the other was standing beside it. The guy in the doorway said something like, “I think you guys are all sissies.“ And I said, ‘Oh, you do? That’s good. Thank you. Good-bye.” But he wouldn’t leave, he said, “No, I think I’ll beat you all up tonight.” just like that, matter-of-fact.
He had moved in and was standing really close to the wall, so I moved in fast, irimi, and hit him in the temple and his head hit the wall, and I grabbed his head and turned it and smashed his face into the wall a second time. It was rough concrete. and his face scraped down it . . . oh, he was a mess. Of course, by that time he was out cold and the other guy jumped out of the dojo into the middle of the street. We had a benjo ditch, an open sewage ditch, which ran right in front of the building along the street—it was covered with concrete in front of the door so you could walk over it, but to either side it was open. I picked up the guy from inside the dojo and deposited him into the ditch, then I turned to the other guy and said. ‘Take him and get out. Tell everybody about this, will you?”

Source: Roy Suenaka, Complete Aikido: Aikido Kyohan -The Definitive Guide to the Way of Harmony, 1997, Tuttle Publishing


9. STEVEN SEAGAL vs GENE LEBELL

GOKOR
Well Seagal was being a dick to the stuntmen, but that is his normal behavior according to them. Well he is talking about how bad he is and the stuntment says “Yeah, well we got this old guy back here who could choke you out!” and Seagal stated that nobody could get close to him to choke him out; he also had never heard of Judo Gene LeBell before that encounter. Well Gene came over and said that he could choke him out and Segal said that he couldn’t it, so Gene grabbed him real quick and started to choke him. Seagal tapped and said that that wasn’t fair: he was talking and wasn’t ready for Gene.
So Uncle Gene waited for Seagal to get “ready” and when he said that he was, Gene grabbed him and started to choke him out and Seagal couldn’t do nothing with the old guy. Well Gene was pissed off because Seagal was being very rough for no reason on the stunt guys when doing the fight scenes with them, and was upset because Seagal said he wasn’t ready and wouldn’t admit that Gene hooked him. So as Uncle Gene would put it “there is 2 ways to choke a person out, one way they go out nice and wake up ok, the other is they go out quick and they piss and crap on themselves” Gene did the latter! Then he dragged Segal over to a closet and put him in there uncouncious.

Source: https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080328210959AA0GXH7


10. MORIHEI UESHIBA vs HIDEO OHBA

It was Hideo Ohba who took ukemi for Ueshiba for the demonstration. He later talked about this event as follows: “Since the Emperor of Manchuria was in an exalted position at that time like the Emperor of Japan, I thought I should not take ukemi for Ueshiba in the way I usually did. If Ueshiba Sensei were a true master, he could freely handle a true punch, thrust or grab. Therefore, I decided to attack him seriously. When we stood on the platform, I saw many martial arts masters present in the large dojo of the Shimbuden. When I glanced at Ueshiba Sensei, his beard was sticking out towards me, his hair was standing on end and his eyes were glittering. I thought to myself that he was indeed a true master. Then I concentrated on taking ukemi for him, thinking how different it was to face a master. After the demonstration, we bowed and sat in the corner of the dojo and were supposed to walk over to the seats where the masters were sitting. However, I heard someone thunder, ‘You idiot!’ Ueshiba Sensei was short-tempered. He couldn’t wait until we returned to our seats. He shouted at me in that way in front of everyone. Until then, I thought he was a wonderful and truly great master, but his shout made my spirit pop like a bubble. We sat down. Ueshiba Sensei didn’t even smile. He was in a bad mood. So I felt tiny.

Source: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22584

Copyright Simone Chierchini ©2015 Simone Chierchini
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Did Kisshomaru Actually Invent Morihei’s Aikido World Harmony Dream?

Hombu Dojo, 1959: right to left Morihei Ueshiba, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Nobuyoshi Tamura, Masamichi Noro, Yoshio Kuroiwa, Kazuo Chiba

Hombu Dojo, 1959: right to left Morihei Ueshiba, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Nobuyoshi Tamura, Masamichi Noro, Yoshio Kuroiwa, Kazuo Chiba

The following excerpt from An Interview with T. K. Chiba Shihan by Peter Bernath & David Halprin (2000) sheds a very interesting light on the genesis of Aikido philosophy. Apparently we have a lot to thank Kisshomaru Ueshiba for having it…

—> SCORRI IN BASSO PER LA VERSIONE ITALIANA <—

(…)

BERNATH-HALPRIN
How would you characterize the work that Second Doshu, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, did to develop Aikido?

CHIBA
I think the most valuable work he did was the popularization of Aikido throughout the world through disciples he cultivated.
To begin with, this was against O-Sensei’s will. He finally accepted Kisshomaru Sensei’s wish to introduce Aikido to the public. As I have said earlier, again, as a martial artist, O-Sensei was not interested in the popularization of the art.
He was very much interested in his own art, and passing it on to a small number of people, sort of elected people. That was how he did it before the war. So I think Second Doshu had great difficulty to persuade O-Sensei, to make him understand the importance of popularization of the art after the war, and he succeeded.

BERNATH-HALPRIN
Sensei, did that start with the university clubs that you were talking about?

CHIBA
Well, to begin with, the first public demonstration held in Japan, that was what, 1953? O-Sensei strongly objected to it.

BERNATH-HALPRIN
By the time that yourself and the other uchideshi (now the Shihankai senseis) were going to go overseas, at that time O-Sensei had accepted the idea that you were going to be…

CHIBA
Yes, yes.

BERNATH-HALPRIN
And he supported it?

CHIBA
Yes. Well, you see, to begin with, a martial art is something very personal, sort of a deep love affair. There are a lot of sacrifices and pains, studies and so forth, you know; it’s not an ordinary life. You have to have dedication, commitment, and faith in what you do. And you don’t talk about it to anybody! It’s something very personal. I understand the feeling of doing demonstrations as really shameful, it seems to me. I feel that way. I don’t even talk…I hate talking about Aikido to anybody! It’s very difficult for me when I’m asked what my profession is, you know, if somebody asks, “I am an Aikido teacher professionally?” It’s very, very tricky for me. I want to be nobody.
Mainly O-Sensei was very pleased when we were going out overseas because his religious belief was world peace, and through Aikido he dreamed to realize, to cultivate this dream to be realized.
I believe that martial arts should not be exposed to society openly. In many ways I think martial art is a dark corner of human society. It’s a killing art, don’t forget. It can be very destructive. That’s my feeling, my personal feeling.
If there’s one thing I disagree with, not necessarily related only to Aikido alone, but including martial arts as a whole, it’s become so professional; it’s become so…so popular. Everywhere you go. It’s like a handgun issue. You don’t carry around a handgun in front of me in public, do you? It has to be hidden away, under control. That’s how I feel.

BERNATH-HALPRIN
So, O-Sensei had two ideas: he didn’t want to expose Aikido to the public, but he thought it was a way to realize his dream of world peace.

CHIBA
That realization had much to do with Second Doshu’s efforts to talk his father into it.

BERNATH-HALPRIN
Did O-Sensei shift over more to that in the end?

CHIBA
Yes.

_____________________________________________

Il seguente estratto da Un’Intervista con T. K. Chiba Shihan di Peter Bernath & David Halprin (2000) mostra la genesi della filosofia dell’Aikido da un veramente interessante punto di vista. Sembrerebbe infatti che dobbiamo ringraziare parecchio Kisshomaru Ueshiba per il fatto di averla…

(…)

BERNATH-HALPRIN
In che modo caratterizzerebbe il lavoro che il Secondo Doshu, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, svolse per sviluppare l’Aikido?

CHIBA
Ritengo che il lavoro più prezioso da lui compiuto fu la popolarizzazione dell’Aikido nel mondo grazie agli allievi che lui aveva cresciuto.
All’inizio questo era contro il volere di O-Sensei. Alla fine accettò il desiderio di Kisshomaru Sensei di introdurre l’Aikido al pubblico. Come ho detto in precedenza, da tipico artista marziale O-Sensei non era interessato alla popolarizzazione dell’arte.
Era molto interessato alla sua arte, e voleva passarla a un piccolo numero di persone, una sorta di élite. Questo era quello che aveva fatto prima della guerra. Pertanto io credo che il Secondo Doshu incontrò molte difficoltà nel persuadere O-Sensei, per fargli capire l’importanza della popolarizzazione dell’arte nel dopoguerra, ma ci riuscì.

BERNATH-HALPRIN
Sensei, questo ebbe inizio con i club universitari di cui ci stava parlando?

CHIBA
Ebbene, per cominciare, la prima dimostrazione pubblica svolta in Giappone si tenne, mi pare, nel 1953. O-Sensei vi si oppose con forza.

BERNATH-HALPRIN
Quando lei e gli altri uchideshi iniziaste ad andare a stare all’estero, a quel punto O-Sensei aveva accettato l’idea che lo avreste fatto…

CHIBA
Sì, sì.

BERNATH-HALPRIN
E l’appoggiava?

CHIBA
Sì. Beh, vedete, al’inizio un’arte marziale è qualcosa di molto personale, una specie di profonda storia d’amore. Comporta un sacco di sacrifici e di dolore, studio e via discorrendo; vivere le arti marziali non è una vita ordinaria.  Ci vuole dedizione, impegno e fede in quello che si fa. E uno non ne parla con nessuno! E’ qualcosa di estremamente personale. Capisco come la sensazione di andare a fare una dimostrazione sia fonte di vergogna, lo capisco bene. Io neppure parlo… Odio parlare di Aikido con chiunque! Quando mi chiedono quale sia la mia professione, per me è veramente difficile rispondere, tipo se qualcuno mi chiede se faccio Aikido professionalmente. Per me è molto complicato. Io non voglio essere nessuno.
Per lo più O-Sensei era molto contento del fatto che andassimo all’estero, perché il suo credo religioso era quello della pace nel mondo, e attraverso l’Aikido sognava di realizzarla, di coltivare questo sogno per realizzarla.
Personalmente ritengo che le arti marziali non andrebbero esposte apertamente in società. Per parecchi aspetti credo che esse rappresentino un lato oscuro della società umana. Sono sistemi per uccidere, non ce lo scordiamo, e possono essere molto distruttive. Questa è la mia opinione personale.
Se c’è una cosa con cui sono in disaccordo – non necessariamente relativa al solo Aikido, ma includendo le arti marziali nel loro insieme – è il fatto che sia diventato così professionale; è diventato così… così popolare. Dovunque si vada. E’ lo stesso problema con le pistole: non si portano pistole in pubblico, giusto? Devono essere tenute nascoste, sotto controllo. Io la penso così.

BERNATH-HALPRIN
Allora, O-Sensei aveva due idee: non voleva esporre l’Aikido al pubblico, ma pensava che fosse un modo per realizzare il suo sogno di pace nel mondo.

CHIBA
Quel tipo di consapevolezza ebbe molto a che fare con gli sforzi che il Secondo Doshu fece per cercar di convincere il padre in quella direzione.

BERNATH-HALPRIN
Alla fine O-Sensei si spostò su quelle posizioni?

CHIBA
Sì.

Source: An Interview with T. K. Chiba Shihan by Peter Bernath & David Halprin (2000)

Copyright Simone Chierchini ©2015 Simone Chierchini
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Adaptation

Adapt or be exinct!

Adapt or be exinct!

Written in collaboration with my Aikido teacher and friend, Sensei Simone Chierchini, Head Instructor of the International Aikido Academy which I represent in Ireland. Other Dojo in Italy, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia

by JOSEPH KENNEDY

Adaptability was a theme of our Aikido Spring Course. Sensei Simone stressed the importance of retaining flexibility of mind. For this to sink in, it is important to keep calm, centered, and not to fixate on technique. It is easy of course to fall into the trap of applying techniques against the will of an attacker\partner, but in terms of learning Aiki its pointless. Moving from the centre, an attack must be led to its logical conclusion, without resorting to brunt strength or with aggression.

The ability to adapt to different situations and people is at the heart of Aikido. In particular this touches the meaning of Takemusu Aiki. For Simone Takemusu Aikido is not defined by techniques but by the idea of Takemusu. With the study of natural movement and principles, the expression of Aikido should sprout spontaneously, like water from a well. Therefore his teaching is centered around encouraging this in others. In his words ‘My vision of training in Aikido is that of looking for the authentic and individual spark that we all have and to be able to manifest it, at least to some degree.‘ Kata and Kihon exercises are extremely useful insofar as instilling martial principles and correct body habits. But the more dynamic, fluid and expressive aspect of Aikido must be explored as well. ‘Any kind of training I propose, even the army style ones, with rigid forms and no freedom, is actually intended to evolve into an increasingly wider degree of freedom of movement and expression. Aikido for me means to gain access to tools of self enlightenment.

Also when training with these things in mind, it becomes easier for the body to absorb the underlying principles. For example for some beginning students, the temptation is to studying the technique, to understand it at an intellectual level. This is useful to the extent of learning footwork but litte further. To truly begin to train we must learn to switch off the head and begin to study with body and mind integrated. When the student has absorbed the basics, it should become possible to explore Takemusu Aiki. Breaking free of restraints and moving freely.

When not focused on technique, we can relax our minds and hopefully the underlining principles of Aiki can start to seep in. How may this be helpful in general life? For example, when faced with confrontation, it is easier to hold to our own fixed view – inflexible and unable to comprehend the reality of what may be going on. If we are able to apply the ideas of Takemusu into daily life, we should gain a greater understanding of ourselves and others.

Besides from Ireland, Sensei Simone is also teaching in Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and of course Italy. The week before coming to Ireland he had been in Iran. Between teaching he was able to do a lot of site seeing and to immerse himself into this fascinating culture. He found the Iranian people to be wonderfully warm, open and joyous. This contradicts the impression of the European mainstream and perhaps suggests that many of our preconceived notions may be off center if not completely incorrect. We often hold so true to our own ideas and beliefs that we cant see the wood for the trees.

Bringing this idea full circle and back to training. We train together as a Dojo.

We are all training with the same aim. To know who we are.

Copyright Joseph Kennedy ©2015 DSC_1151-001
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