What it isn’t….

I quite often find myself in deep contemplation regarding Sensei’s teachings. About the essence of the study of Budo, but more importantly, the essence of the study of Yuishinkai.

I have decided I hate the word Aikido attached to what we do, or the essence of what we do. Just hear me out. Strange that an Aikido teacher doesn’t like the word Aikido. 

It’s not the art, the collection of techniques that form the basis of any school of Aikido, I love and have loved practicing these techniques. 

The problem is human nature. Attachment to what the expectation of what Aikido is, and that being great at Aikido is about some technical proficiency in a particular set of predetermined movements. Unfortunately this is compounded when you attach a school name to the word Aikido that forms further prejudices, an image of how the technical aspects are executed and how this defines them in reference to other schools that don’t do technique like them. 

It creates prejudices and arrogance, a sense of betterment over others based on personal likes. Aikido should be martial and hard, aikido is love and should be flowing and collusive, aikido is spiritual and should be reverential and traditional. All attachments – all typical human nature.

People tend to hear what they think. Let that sink in. 

How we relate to things is how we see them. Aikido is whatever we think it is.

Yuishinkai is the school of the essence of mind. Even saying this causes people to create a relationship to what they THINK this is.

All martial systems are just the form of things passed down through generations, Aikido is no different, but Yuishinkai should be, as the essence of mind is formless, and at its core remains nothing that can be passed down from one person to another. 

It’s not technical proficiency or hidden teachings that the masters say had to be stolen from them, but the very essence of what is. 

The founder spoke of these levels many times, trying to discover the secrets of the masters of old through forging the body.

The difficulty lies in understanding that originally what is passed on as form had its origin in formlessness. The true essence of Budo is not technique. 

And the truly difficult thing for the student to understand – it is something that cannot be taught.

Form follows its function. When chasing form all that can be passed on is form, as the form is all that has existed in the way that can be transferred in a conscious logical and analytical mind, ie, a school with a syllabus that teaches this system of competence all the while talking of transcending such a level of consciousness. It’s a paradox that cannot be unbroken, created through attempting to escape the form that created it.

When sensei tells people the essence of Aikido is not technique, he doesn’t just understand this, he knows it as an absence of the form of things that could be, but only he can know this. 

His job has never been to teach Aikido, but an attempt to pass on things as he experienced them and anyone else can inherit these experiences if they set their heart to experience them for themselves. 

The teacher is the blueprint to this journey. TO DO WHAT THEY DO, TO KNOW WHAT THEY KNOW, YOU MUST DO WHAT THEY DID. There are no shortcuts, no fast track to know what is not known. 

Stuck in form stays in form. An attempt to analyse what isn’t through what is will result in disappointment and traps us in the cycle where form follows form follows form. 

But I don’t own it, and sensei doesn’t own it either. It doesn’t exist as a thing that is transmitted, as it’s impossible to lay claim to ownership of something that cannot be owned. 

Base human emotions such as jealousy, greed, fear, stubbornness, arrogance and self righteousness block a pathway to this understanding.

It makes me think of the Bible quote “many are called, but few are chosen”.

We each understand according to our level, whatever that may be.

And because the essence of Yuishinkai is here , now and nowhere, any time a thought arises that you understand what that essence is, it instantly isn’t that at all.

What you seek is seeking you, but not the you you see, the you that doesn’t know the you that is you. Confused yet?

And so it is so. 

Stuck in form stays in form.

What the master wants “stolen” remains something untaught. Not stolen from them, but stolen THROUGH them.

The attached want the mantle that doesn’t exist, the initiated exist free of such cloaks.

Yuishinkai exists – Aikido does not.

Aikido exists – Yuishinkai does not.

Simple, yet infinitely unattainable.

My uncle Earnest

This paradox of training in Aikido is a difficult one. Over the years I have met all types of people that train for many different types of reasons. Health, spirituality, martial prowess or just to attempt to find that thing missing in their lives.

We are told Aikido has two dimensions, spiritual and physical.

Just as studying religion or theology implies the study of a higher power or deity, so to the study of budo or a martial art implies the accumulation of the knowledge on how to fight or defend oneself.

 What are you studying and teaching, a religious philosophy, or a martial art?

The practice of one degrades the art to little more than a synchronised dance, beautiful but martially ineffective. It implies a higher level of spiritual awakening exists without physical adversity as a precursor to this realisation. It becomes “intellectualised spiritualism”, as though a destination can be arrived at before a journey has begun…..

The second puts the study of the martial aspect above the philosophical. Learning practical application for defence purposes and physical responses to aggressive encounters as the correct martial journey.

But my question is do these two paths need to be exclusive of the other?

In most people’s approach, these two training methodologies cannot be taught as a cohesive co dependant theology.

The pacifist and the warrior struggle to coexist in a world whose history has hoped for one, but always relied on the other. Paradox indeed…….

In my personal journey, I didn’t get into Aikido for philosophical reasons, I wanted to study budo.

I went to Japan because of the flowery training that I perceived in the majority of practitioners within my own country. This is not every person’s journey, but my own.

The path to understanding the philosophy of Aikido didn’t came through preconceived ideology on the subject of love, peace and harmony or any random (and rather egocentric) idea that my actions or thoughts would influence an entire world, but rather through the training of the body, and a lot of hard won introspection.

Spiritual awakening through physical adversity, if you like….

The journey is fraught with difficulty, and it is impossible to pass on your personal sparks of wisdom along your journey, what I would like to ask though is, has your path been filled with honesty and sincerity?

Sunao-the Japanese term for these English words is integral to the study of budo. Have we been honest and sincere in the way we have trained and studied or the reasons why? Or have we allowed preconceived notions that come from ego to distort our reality about what we are doing in the dojo?

Have we become zealots or acolytes whose vision is clouded by our own ideology?

Most that know me understand how I feel in regards to indoctrination, how it stifles the mind and traps the spirit. Any path that can offer(or at least pretend to)a way to spiritual growth, also gives us the potential for creating a trap for the very thing it professes to set free – the spirit.

Love, peace and harmony are great virtues. Actually, the highest level of aspiration for human development I believe is benevolence, but the journey to this destination, if we tread along the path of Budo, must be Shinken shobu – training in dead earnest.

 A constant battle to the death between the ego self and the true self.

Every moment a chance at introspection, every moment a look into the self, into the basic practices that define the art, firstly as it was intended – as a martial practice that, through the process of overcoming these preconceived ideas transforms the heart of the person in the conflict.

Understanding death and rebirth, facing fears and overcoming, facing prejudice and overcoming, facing adversity and overcoming, facing the self and overcoming, facing egotistical ideas and overcoming.

Shoshin is the mind of the beginner.

It is the very essence of the study of budo.

It is ever the mind of the student, open to change, willing to listen, humble and inquisitive.

One person’s spiritual journey can be another person’s purgatory. We cannot pretend to understand the storm without standing in the hurricane. The founder once said “the conflict has to be experienced to be understood.”

The journey is within, the struggles personal and the destination unknown.

Teaching others is one of life’s greatest privileges. 

Learning to teach the self one of life’s greatest victories.

This truth is found on the mat, if we allow ourselves to be challenged enough find it.

This is Tanren, within the heart of the forge is the greatest heat. 

But for one to be tempered one first has to allow the process to happen. Metamorphosis is Tanren, and implies change through heat and pressure. Change can only materialise if we believe change is necessary. Surrendering our beliefs to the flames creates freedom.

This was the wish of the founder, That training in the art of Aikido replaces the need for other forms of spiritual purification, when done correctly Aikido becomes this very ritual, Misogi Harai, a spiritual cleansing, through hard martial practice, and lots of ukemi. Our own self righteousness doesn’t allow this change, it prevents it.

I believe Aikido can create a path to understanding true benevolence, if we just do one thing……

Surrender to the flames of the forge……….

Comprehension is Competence

I was discussing today with another instructor about an old video that I had posted regarding ukemi. He commented that he had never heard anyone explain what I was demonstrating in the way that I explained it. I get this a lot in my teaching. I am different to everyone else, no one talks about the importance of feet as much as you, no one emphasises position like you, no one emphasis weight distribution as much as you, and so on and so on….I worked hard to develop a way to do my basic technique without ever compromising principles that I had come to believe were intrinsic to the art, core fundamentals that had been handed down to me from my teachers.
I took these fundamentals to be absolutes in all relationships in the art and applied them this way.
Centre is fundamental. Centre pole is fundamental. The heart chakra is fundamental to centre to centre connection. It can be esoteric, it’s basis is in ukemi, not in the stars…
When I receive I keep the centre of my sternum at the centre of my partner until I can no longer, I never ever turn away and even if the movement requires I must, I seek to reconcile this connection above all else. It is for this ver reason my ukemi looks different.

Ki is fundamental. Ki is energy. Energy cannot be destroyed, energy never retreats, never contracts and never gives up. Therefore in my ukemi I will continue to move my centre forward at all times until I can no longer maintain stability due to outside influence. This extension to my partner makes ukemi look different to the norm, as uke is no longer just about falling.

Preservation of life is fundamental. I am aware of my vulnerabilities in relation to my partner and move myself accordingly. I am also aware of my partners strengths and vulnerabilities at any given moment. This is a martial mind a Budo mind. This is not a fighting mind. Passive aggressive people with huge egos have fighting mind. Fighting people have self preservation mind. Understanding the differences in these two approaches is essential to the art. It helps develop awareness and an innate ability to perceive threat, thereby avoiding it. Just avoiding threat creates complacency, this complacency is the opposite of what true Budo is about. Uke moves differently when they understand this relationship, and act according to their awareness.

Being is fundamental. This moment is all that exists. I poor my essence into the eternal now without thought to future or past. I fulfil my role without anticipation of outcome, without thought to technique or preservation of self. In all that I do I give my utmost understanding that this is the true essence of being. Mindful of each action and each breath. Uke then can receive the true teaching, the heart teaching true transmission is only passed through true “being”.

Relaxation is fundamental. Relaxation can be surrender. Holding tension can be a defeat. A relaxed body is adaptable, a stiff body is rigid and easily broken. A relaxed body is a conduit for transmission of the partners intent, constantly relaying messages through subtle bio feedback that happens through the point of connection. An uke that knows this can even close their eyes and always end up in the same position.
In all my decades of aikido all around the world whilst training I have only ever met one person that was truly relaxed – relaxation is both in mind and body, but is easily discerned when watching ukemi, even the very act of thinking that you are relaxed means you are not, knowing this is also fundamental.

Body of stone is fundamental. Being immovable both in mind and body is the essence of Budo. No matter how much static testing you have done, if you haven’t sorted your feet and your centre pole you absolutely cannot be stable in motion no matter how much you dream you can. If your motion “pitches” your centre pole you are not stable. If your technique shifts your gravity centre unknowingly you are not stable. If your weight shits to the outside of your feet in motion you are not stable. If you over extend and lift your heels you are not stable. If you bounce your centre without knowing reason your are unstable. If you are airborne you are not stable. All these aspects must be analysed and addressed to grasp the essence of this fundamental. It is intrinsically linked to maintaining one point, but it is no use talking of the latter until all the former are understood, a good uke would know this and work towards addressing these in their movements.

Shoshin is fundamental.
Sensei’s first lesson to me is the last lesson anyone should ever need.
In my country, of the hundreds that attended that fateful first Yuishinkai seminar 2 decades ago only 2 of us remain. Sensei spoke first of Shoshin before any bodies were even moved, of the need to free the mind of any preconceived idea about what aikido was, what style was and open both heart and mind to explore with him, the true message of the founder.
No one can learn what they think they already know, and sensei has evolved each day and each moment since I have met him. We are what we repeatedly do. The pursuit of excellence is the pursuit of the Devine in all of us, it’s in our actions not in our words, it’s the fundamental essence of the nature of the universe- undying and absolute love.


Yesterday I was re-reading the founders book that was written as a technical guide. I haven’t actually had this book in my possession for many years as it was on loan.
Anyway I was just thinking about 2003. This should have been a pivotal year for many in Yuishinkai as it was the year sensei introduced “moon shadow foot” and “lizard leg”, very profoundly deep concepts from ancient Japanese kenjutsu.
As with most great teachers, a brief and simple explanation of these movements was provided. For myself at the time, I was lucky to spend considerable time as senseis uke for these explanations, as the concepts had come about as a result of him meeting me the year before.
One concept in particular nagged at my subconscious. I had heard the term before suigetsu- the shadow of the moon on the water. Sensei said this was a major concept in shinkage-Ryu Japanese kenjutsu.

The founder of Aikido puts great emphasis on this concept in his written discourse regarding yokomen attacks in the introduction of his book. He talks about it in regards to ken-po (the first or ultimate teaching of the sword). I had forgotten this reference as it had been such a long time since I had underlined it in my book. I remember when it happened. After this seminar I spent a year trying to learn as much as I could about this “moon shadow” concept. I bought every book on shinkage-Ryu I could find. The best one though was not the highly recommended translation by Thomas Cleary (which wasn’t recommended until 2014, and remained unread by other very very senior Yuishinkai “masters” until after this recommendation – WTF……..)(https://greatoceanaikido.com/category/william-reed/), but rather one by Hiroaki Sato, I have had this paperback lesser known volume silence 2003, it’s pages turning a slight brown colour now.

In it, not only is the book of family values( this is the shinkage-Ryu family written technical book) explained by just one of the three great masters of the family(muneyoshi, munenori, hidetsuna) but all of them of the period of their experience give their own personal experiences unravelling these concepts in actual practical settings. I found Yagyu Jubei’s explanations to be especially helpful.

Internalising these concepts through changing your physical training as well as your philosophical viewpoint will alter your perceptions of Aikido irreversibly.
There are 2 main parts to this but also many other concepts that are co-related to them.

I remember the 2004 seminar when sensei spoke of the concept of “soft eyes”, of looking but not seeing. He explained how Japanese “No” actors utilised soft eyes and a trained “sixth sense” awareness to move about the stage whilst in full costume and mask. I remember spending entire sessions with eyes half closed trying to walk forward and backward around the dojo. Why? Did it relate to the concepts taught(but very obviously ignored) the year before. How does how we “see” relate to suigetsu? What does the shadow of the moon and the feet have to do with how we use the eyes?

I heard that it was professed recently by a former student that sensei didn’t start teaching important internal “aiki” concepts until after he reunited with Okajima sensei and had his Daito Ryu connections. What was actually being stated was that being spoon fed concepts by a teacher rather than doing self investigation was more prevalent after years of frustration on senseis side at the fact his senior instructors weren’t doing the work he expected after he introduced Okajima, than before this time.

But I digress, where were we …the concept of the moon shadow. The place where the mind resides, and the importance of leaving this place undisturbed in motion. First BS concept that had to be destroyed – physically leading “ki” by having uke chase your hand around the orbit of your body like a dog chasing a piece of string. If the mind of the attacker resides in the hand of the attacker(that’s where the intent lies ie, if I want to grab you my mind is in the hand that would grab) and this place MUST remain undisturbed, I cannot move in the old way. Nor can I think in this way. If I have INTENT TO LEAD and the attacker has INTENT to attack, surely this is aiuchi(mutual death). If his mind is full, and it’s physical realisation is in the hand in motion, I must do my utmost in my motion to keep the mind trapped at this very point/line of intention(line of intention being sternum driven NOT hand driven, whoops the rabbit hole deepens….) and not create intended deviation of the attackers mind thereby altering his intent and breaking his concentration cycle.

This is where the feet come in. How can I move in relation to this line keeping my attackers target in the perceived line of attackers whilst simultaneously allowing myself to avoid getting hit? My lower sternum/ solar plexus region must remain aligned with this region of their body. Sensei calls this the heart chakra or heart to heart connection. I cannot overstate it’s importance. The study of suigetsu is the study of this point in relation to movement in a martial context.

Without first establishing this most important of connections understanding “internals” will escape everyone.

Why is this area of the body so deeply related to Budo?
Why is it talked about by the founder as the essence or first teaching?
Why was this concept the first related by sensei when he established Yuishinkai?
Why was how to look ( have soft eyes)the second concept related by sensei and how did it relate to the first? If the opponent is the moon and we are the water, what is the relationship between these two points?
How does this relationship allow the water to “read”(reflect) the moon?

The true study of Budo is about breaking down often long held beliefs that bind us to our “dogma”. Ignorance stifles learning. In Yuishinkai since day one sensei has encouraged beginners mind. Beginners mind means a thirst for understanding a concept beyond the small morsels that fall from the senseis table.
Free yourself to learn. Never the teacher always the student. Learn to truly be a student, to remove ignorance and self importance.
Non of these teachings were ever hidden by sensei, they were openly taught at a basic level of understanding from the very beginning in a hope that someone – anyone would be hungry enough to seek out the recipe from the taste of the crumbs on the floor.
Alas the truth is most believed the already feasted at the same table a the master, and understood the recipe from the same perspective as him.
We are what we repeatedly do. Let’s us focus what we repeatedly do on changing ourselves to be better at being the beginner.
Ask hard questions and face hard truths. The one at fault is usually the one looking back at you in the mirror…..

Out of the frying pan, into the fire………

Where’s the Dog, Ma? A way to fix the current Aiki Crisis

Ueshiba sensei said, “Aikido is 95% perspiration and 5% philosophy.” By saying that, I have said everything.” (A. NOCQUET)

It has happened to the art that I love. I suppose that it has happened for quite a while now, but it took a lot of time to actually understand how this came about. I was raised in a strict Pentecostal household, attending church 7 times a week, I have seen first hand the transformative and zealous fervour created by attachment to dogma. I have unfortunately also seen the negative effects that such zealots can have on those that don’t share the same values and ideals proposed by the self imposed leader of such cults. Passive aggressive inference means that non compliance leads to ostracisation, ridicule and bullying. Love is replaced by revenge, peace by psychological violence, harmony with discord and so on.

The art of Aikido has been overtaken by the zealots, and the Experience of Aikido has been replaced by intellect.

Dogma and ideology appeal because it is easier to attach to the philosophy than it is to do the work to become the philosophy. The art was supposed to be about the self, about understanding that self by experience, by working through breaking down the ego self during the experience.

When the art becomes more than the action,
Aikido becomes the institution that the training was supposed to destroy.

“Aikido isn’t a religion, it completes all religions” (O’Sensei) because the experience of aiki replaces dogma and ideology.

True experience rejects all forms of dogma.

Dogma provides a shield for the weaknesses of the ego to thrive – fear, ignorance, arrogance and deception are the actual virtues propagated by such an approach, though those propagating will tell you exactly the opposite of this.

In this paradigm, charisma and intellect define mastery rather than actual ability. We only need to look back 80 years or so to see how devastating an effect a good orator can have on the collective minds of a nation for evidence.

In history those with actual ability have existed on the fringes of society, the face they put forward to the world doesn’t possess the mask that the dogmatic hide behind.
The dogmatic approach creates acolytes that pay homage to the dogma rather than having an environment where the experience can instill in the student their own realisation.

The method becomes the training, and words replace actions. Intellectualising what Aikido is without experiencing what aikido could be is a sickness of the mind.
Dualistic rationality becomes par for the course.

Analogy and metaphors infer a state of subjective understanding that, within their very nature, promote a segmented detached reality of understanding.

“ I can relate to that”…. but the “that” that is relatable isn’t the experience it relates to, which is only truly comprehended by the one that has had the experience.

What “isn’t” is superimposed over what “is” and taken for fact, but the experience can never be separated from the one experiencing, it is a formed symbiosis, a type of communion or agreement that isn’t shareable in any measurable way with someone that hasn’t had the experience for themselves.

I can describe water to someone that has never seen it, but to truly understand the “wetness” of water, one has to experience that for themselves.

Those that don’t understand the experience defend with extraordinary passive aggressiveness their right to institutionalisation. They claim, through references to obscure passages – written or spoken, then taken out of context – to be passing on the one truth of Aikido – their truth.

They claim without any evidence that training in Aikido can create such absurdities as world peace(never happened in the known history of the planet), harmonious society, harmonious relationships, great business relationships, love of all beings, reconciliation of man and many more ideological socially acceptable current trends. Aikido in business, Aikido principles for life, Aiki philosophy for de escalation of violence usually having never truly experienced violence, these are the catchphrases and pitfalls that now exist to detract the trainee on their journey through the Aikido world.

They start society’s, groups and fan clubs, positioning themselves to prove they can enhance current acceptable social values such as emotional intelligence or mindfulness, using catch phrases like collaboration, integration, exploration and harmonisation to lure new acolytes to the path of their perceived wisdom. they can nearly always validate their dogma by making sure that many speaking on important subjects have the intellectual equivalent of a Shihan level, a PHD.

This PHD adds strength to the positions that they take on their interpretation of how Aikido is to be done. I would argue anyone that has dedicated their lives to the experience of Aikido to the level of mastery hasn’t had time in their life to get a PHD on any other subject, because mastery of the art of Aiki through experience takes great time and great sacrifice.

They claim a traditional martial art yet reject as outdated the very training methods traditions and social environments that created the great teachers of the past whose pictures hang on their walls, and whose quotes they throw around to justify their standing. Just as religious zealots justify violence in opposition to dogma, they are the very hypocrites that use such things as a shield to hide behind their lack of actual experience.

They reject the experience that these people had and replace it with the knowledge these people gleaned from the experience as the actual experience.

The Confucian ideology that all Japanese were grounded in had absolutely nothing to do with harmony of all fellow humans (what size ego do we have to have to believe that such a concept, unrealised by any great spiritual master in history, can actually be accomplished through the art of Aikido), but rather the change of oneself.

The change in oneself, the family, the city, the region, then the country was what the aim was supposed to be. Aikido is about harmony for sure, but of the self, the first step, learnt in the experience of Aiki, in the experience of the true role of uke and how that role then leads to the accumulation of the wisdom of how to do Aiki.

Your dogma will not change the world, just as the dogma of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and any other religious practice you care to name hasnt managed to bring peace to the world. Instead of helping create a better world, you have done the opposite by creating another dogmatic attachment then bolstering your position by inviting others of mediocre understanding to validate a position that should never have existed separate from the experience.

On the mat, in teaching and in training talking has replaced hard work. Great orators love the sound of their own voice, love to share their wisdom, and gladly tell you how long they have trained in the art to assure their place at the top of the pile.

How can anyone argue with such a font of wisdom accumulated over many years of training?

Fortunately those in the know realise in no human endeavour ever – does time equate to ability – except, extraordinarily and uniquely, they will insure you, in the art of Aikido.

No one needs to have their training in Aikido justified by adding philosophical/religious/spiritual connections.

The act is, and of itself alone, enough to justify the doing.

When experienced the way the founder intended, through Misogi(ukemi), through tanren(heat and pressure), through Shugyo(arduous repeated training and diligent effort) aikido doesn’t need dogma and institutionalisation, it frees itself totally from the need for such base human attachments. At one time or another all practitioners will be given this choice, given an invitation to join the zealots or be ostracised, to make do with the experience, or to give up on it entirely.

In the current world the internet has become the platform from which these zealots ply their trade, a pulpit from which they reach out to a global audience with beautifully edited videos, workshops and group expert panel discussions on any dogma deemed appropriate in current social circles.

As human beings with any moral virtues, love, peace, understanding, goodness, meekness, righteousness and gratitude should occupy space in our lives. These are not what Aikido brings to the world, but what it hopes to enhance in you. In rejecting the current trend towards a more philosophical pseudo-intellectual, dogmatic Aikido the art can be preserved for future generations to have and live in the experience. Supporting current trends means the art morphs to become an anti- art, and I propose the opposite of what the founder intended when he himself proposed the experience.

Stand strong in the face of increasing opposition, resolute in commitment to define the self through the experience of the art, and not fall before the false Gods on the way to your promised land….

Future, Past, present

I have been away with the kids up the north east and have had far too much time on my hands walking on beaches thinking about Aikido, and more importantly, thinking about my role and the future of the art.

Now inevitably, thinking about the future of the art brings us to a point where we start to contemplate the history of the art.

You have the founder, a giant in the martial arts world, and a group of prewar students that also were considered martial arts giants. These men were famously told by the founder to “turn away no challenger”, these were the times of hell dojo, times when feats of martial prowess were matched by feats of physical strength and endurance.

Saito Shihan was famously told by the founder that he was too weak and needed to build up some muscle to improve his Aikido training…….build up some muscle to improve your Aikido.

I wondered to myself how often those words were whispered away from Iwama after the war, or if anyone ever heard them echo through the halls of the head dojo in Tokyo.

There are many stories of the legendary strength of the founders physical body, yet there are just as many stories of the founders students physical abilities as well. For reference you should read Stanley Pranins “prewar students of Aikido”, a famous quote from which is made by Shirata Shihan, 

“I think young people had better train hard while they are young, especially those who
intend to become instructors. Then they can become soft gradually. Being soft from the beginning is also worthwhile because, if you cause young people to train hard, some may give up aikido. In this respect, soft training has some merit. 

However, those who want to become instructors cannot reach that level unless they train hard. 

This type of training should include the mind. Unless the training is severe, you can’t reach that level. The reason Ueshiba Sensei reached that level was due not only to his natural talent, but also to the fact that he engaged in severe training.”……..

Severe training, body aching, mind numbing arduous physical training. How many instructors can say they have endured such? Not many I would say based on my experience. Maruyama sensei told me that when the art of Aikido began to be propagated to the west, that hard repetitive training was one aspect of the art rejected by those instructors as being ”Japanese” and not necessary for western people to grasp the essence of the art……

How many people still follow such instructors as being representative of an art that they never truly fully and wholeheartedly embraced. And how many more have been handed on the same prejudices from one generation to another. Is the art doomed for a descent into anonymity. To be relegated to an obscure form of active yoga, or moving Zen?

Thinking back on this, and giving some thought to the difference between the Iwama kihon – build an aiki body version of training to the physically aerobic but rather power flaccid version that has been propagated outside that arena. I think very early on I stuck my flag firmly in the former camp, as a former professional athlete it made total sense to me that I had to “build a foundation” of good strong basic structure upon which I could improvise and improve upon later.

I recall seminars where Saito stated that the reason for repetition of certain techniques was to build hip and leg strength and flexibility required to be able to do Aikido as the founder intended, not that this was Aikido – as in the technical version of the art, but rather that these “techniques” represented the building blocks of the very foundation that eventually the art would be built upon.

Then there was the repetition of AIKI weapons, the use and management of which had nothing to do with kenjutsu, and everything to do with being able to understand and do the art of Aikido to which these weapons techniques were linked. Even Shirata Shihan attended Saito senseis weapons classes even though he was by far the senior instructor, and part of his Tandokudosa (solo body training exercises) included the use of suburito (weighted bokken cuts) done repetitively to understand better the art that Aikido was suppose to be.

I recall a story regarding Saito sensei and a group of European instructors in Iwama where saito was asked why they didn’t have “warm ups” in Iwama Aikido. Saito paused for a while and then replied “we do, everything we do in the dojo is just a warm up so that one day you will be able to do Aikido”…. So all that Kihon, all those techniques that he so meticulously preserved in deference to his master, none of them were Aikido at all.

So that begs the question what is Aikido, or, more importantly, what is the path to Aikido.

I was then thinking about later days when my master was training at Hombu dojo. I was thinking about the stories about him saying that Tohei would drill the instructors so hard that after a session they couldn’t walk up the stairs to change out of their sweat soaked Gi.

They also were expected to attend classes taught by a variety of teachers, Saito, Yamaguchi, Tohei, Kisshamaru, Osawa, and visiting instructors like Shirata and Mochizuki.

It struck me that these teachers that we call our current masters, these instructors didn’t choose who they would learn from, didn’t carry bias, didn’t not train for petty reasons, they learnt their art through training in all styles under all instructors.

And then after all that training they would still have the founder come in and tell them quite frequently that they way they were training wasn’t Aikido at all……

I was personally trainined up in a similar vein. I studied multiple styles of Aikido, from the harder and more militant Yoshinkan and Iwama styles, to obscure prewar styles to flowing Akikai styles and to semi Ki society styles. My Aikido is an eclectic mixture of many teachers and many lessons. 

I never rejected any version of training, from the severe to the almost ethereal. 

I also learnt to be able to do ukemi from the rough and tumble of break falls and pins to the collusion required of more flowing styles, nothing was rejected in my mind as not Aikido, not what I was about and not what I did. Everything contributed to building understanding in the art, both through physical suffering, and constant introspection.

Unfortunately for myself as a teacher I am usually surrounded by those that were the exact opposite of this. 

These people have come to training with an expectation of how they want to train, of the style of Aikido that appeals to them, to there philosophy of what martial arts should be, of what Aikido should be.

In this day and age that is usually defined by something they have seen on youtube rather than something they have experienced first hand in the dojo.

This then becomes the expectation of what they want to do in the dojo. That’s fine, but how can you discount the journey that the master took to be able to represent Aikido in the way that you find so appealing?

All of the Ki society masters that trained with the founder started their journey in the way that I described earlier in the article, as did I.

So giving thought to the future, what do I do as an instructor?

Do I teach basic kihon , basic structure to those that desperately need to build leg strength and power to be able to even get close to being able to do Aikido?

Do I ignore these trail of facts entirely and let trainees do flowing connected but martially invalid “AIKIDO” techniques, because it is more important that trainees live an illusion of doing a martial art based form of callisthenic exercises, rather than following the path to understanding Aikido prescribed by the founder –

“Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment.”

Maruyama Sensei presented to everyone that attended the 20th anniversary of Yuishinkai the calligraphy for the character “Tanren” This is to forge. 

It is descriptive of the process of heat treatment and hammering that a piece of metal goes through in a forge to transform something raw and ugly into something pure and beautiful. Its also a word that the founder used to describe Aikido training, a process of physical transformation that has spiritual effects. 

The important aspect to this transformation is in Ukemi. There is no such thing as incorrect ukemi, there is just an obstinate belief that ukemi is only done in one way, and in a select range of motion and attitude. To understand this is to understand the very secret of the art……

Train the body – elevate the spirit.

Right body, right mind, right spirit – leave nothing to chance, embrace all – transcend all, this is the spirit of Aikido, my hope for the future of the art….

Ainuke, yeah……maybe not

There are very deep philosophical principles hidden in the art of Aikido. These principles aren’t discovered by the Ancient Greek version of philosophical debate, but rather discovered in the forging of the physical body, through hard work and tenacity.

Anyone can endorse a Japanese philosophical idea, anyone can claim to have a Japanese sword master hero whose philosophical ideas they uphold.

But to understand, and I mean understand as in have these philosophies enter your very essence, you have to have walked through the fire that these masters walked.

Take Yamaoka Tesshu for example. For his students to reach the level of understanding he believed necessary, he devised an arduous training regime of one thousand matches a day, beginning at one day, then three then seven. These were designed to “test the metal and elevate the spirit” of anyone accepting the challenge. Very few did…..

You cannot know his truths without entering his gate.

In Aikido, this is done as Uke. 

When I say uke, I don’t mean falling around a little on the mat, I mean actually training to a point where the line between life and death are blurred together. 

What does a master see in one student that they don’t see in others when they “test” their ukes? What is the measure of a man? (or woman)

Concepts that are deeply rooted in the essence of Aikido can only be understood from the perspective of one who has sacrificed themselves entirely in the furnace of ukemi. This understanding is in their bones, it isn’t just in their soul, it becomes their soul. 

Concepts like Ai-nuke, like fudoshin, like Mushin, like zanshin, these are just pretty words that have absolutely zero meaning to the person saying them if they haven’t been grasped in the physicality of arduous training. 

This is tanren. 

This isn’t a debate of an intellectual nature, this is being thrown in the forge, and passing through to the other side.

I will give you an example.

2006, Brisbane Australia. It’s been 40 degrees Celsius for 4 days, we are in a room with a low ceiling and there are 70 people in a room where the capacity really should have been 50. 

We are four days into a 5 day seminar, training 5 hours a day. I have been the uke for sensei for virtually the entire seminar. There was no breeze coming through the windows at all, and if there were, the room has only got windows on one side. 

It’s so very hot. 

I am from Tasmania, the day before I go to Brisbane it is still snowing. I have no time to acclimatise to this new heat and humidity.

I am sitting in seiza next to sensei, it’s the afternoon session, and he has just finished throwing me and is discussing a point about technique. 

I feel a strange sensation, my body has pins and needles all over and I start to feel my consciousness slip away, my vision tunnels and begins to go dark…. Am I fainting? 

I wonder, am I dying? 

Having a stroke? What is this strange sensation? I am calm, I remember thinking, if I go now, if this is the end, then there cannot have been a better end. I have given all there was to give…..

Luckily, sensei talks for a while, and this sensation slowly passes. I have no recollection of what he has said as my consciousness drifts between here and there.

He calls me again out of seiza, from my daze. I respond. He throws me again and again. I feel like vomiting, I feel heavy, I feel nothing…..

It ends and I bow to sensei. I need water. 

I stumble to my feet and in a trancelike state make my way to the back left corner of the room. My mind is still not with me. I am suddenly awakened by the beautiful voice of Yasuko san, it’s sensei’s wife.

In Japanese, she asks me – am I ok, and tells me I look terrible. 

Apparently my face is white, my complection having left my body completely. “Daijoubu”, I respond, I am ok. 

I need water. 

She fills my drink bottle whilst I take her seat, I drink my fill, she has a concerned look on her face for me, but sensei’s hands clap and shatter the respite. 

I am up again, and heading to the front once more. 

As I walk to him I glance to my right and out the door. On the balcony is a set of abou 8-10 chairs, and sitting on these chairs, in the shade with gi tops pulled open is every other senior instructor that was at the seminar, no time to digest this, I am asked to dive into the fire once again. 

“Hai” – Yes, sensei, I am there…….

When we ask ourselves why we failed to grasp the essence of the teaching, (if we ever do) why one is held above others at the reckoning, it’s quite simple.

When the time of testing the metal for the blade that was to be forged was at hand, the metal hasn’t been tested, and therefore wasn’t worth the time in the masters hand.

This is the essence of Tesshu’s philosophy, understood through great sacrifice.

This is the essence of Aikido Shugyo, – of tanren.

And this is the very heart of Ai-nuke.

Words! – There essence as hollow as a cry for help shouted through an empty valley.

Let’s train to understand true Aikido, and share a coffee ….after the mat time is done…

Sing a “SONG”

How many times have we heard this said by any senior on the mat while we have been in the midst of trying to just work out the neurological signals necessary to just perform effective movement? And how many have said this word without actually having any understanding of what it is they are asking?
                                          In the Chinese classics the word for “relax” is SONG.
Song isn’t as shallow a word as to just describe what is happening to the muscles of the body, no SONG is a release, of tension, of the pathway from the point of contact to the root source of all power, a release of the want to enter the conflict, a release of the body, mind and spirit. It implies that the basic connections for release are already established. That the body is grounded and balanced in all directions, that the mind free of the desire to move another is able to move itself at will.
Another important aspect of SONG is that it is relative. Relative to the one experiencing it, relative to the interaction between the two entities. I may feel relaxed, but the one that is more relaxed will always feel they have the upper hand. The way to achieve this isn’t to resist, but rather to let go. When you feel vulnerable release, when you feel compromised release. Learn that the most important aspect in your training – no – in your life, is to let go.
Master Koichi Tohei famously said that the only thing of lasting value that he learnt from the founder of Aikido was how to truly become SONG. Giving up the point of contact is SONG, movement free of hesitation is SONG, a compact stance is SONG, mountain echo is SONG, Ki Gata is SONG, “Forging the power of attraction” is SONG, Ai-Nuke is SONG, Life is SONG and therefore “love” is SONG.
Unfortunately, unless we can experience this for ourselves relaxation just is another word tossed around the dojo to make people that don’t really understand it sound like they know what they are talking about. SONG takes hard work, it takes years of TANREN, years of ukemi, years of tai subaki and ashi subaki, and millions of tanrenuchi cuts to experience.
So in this we see, the first step to releasing, to relaxing is the release of the perceptions and ideologies that hold us back from our own learning. Never ask yourself if the training needs to be done. Do as those before you did to elevate their level. To those of you that exist in this world of entitlement I have bad news for you, there are no shortcuts.
                                                                      The training is the secret.
The path to SONG lies in the heart of the one attempting to achieve it. The excuses stop today. Experience the essence of life and live your SONG……..

Ai-nuke and Aikido

“To become poisoned by secret teachings is something that occurs in Aikido as well. Instead of looking at their feet (“The feet reveal the secrets of the universe.”Morihei Ueshiba), people look up and imitate sophisticated movements in a pretentious, empty manner. That is called “to be poisoned by secret teachings”. This is quite rife in Aikido.”

Hiroshi Tada Shihan.


There is a huge push on the fringe of the Aikido community in regards to the founders Aiki and internal power. Now, before I go any further I want to state that I believe in many of the concepts that have been suggested, including those(especially those) relating to body connection and relaxation. I have also read with great interest in regards to those Shihan that may have inherited this “Aiki”. One that is put forward and validated by those that knew him was Koichi Tohei, 10th Dan and heir apparent to the technical Aiki of the founder.


I have no doubt that Tohei was amazingly connected as a martial artist, but I have a different theory as to what it was that gave Tohei his amazing ability, this theory has been built up through transmissions from his senior student, instructor and one time heir, Koretoshi Maruyama, who coincidentally was a student of the founder of Aikido for 13 years.

I posted the above quote for a particular reason, because hidden in plain sight secrets like Aiki have been promoted by men that have a vested interest in convincing you that what they do is what Ueshiba did(without actually knowing him by the way), and constantly accuse those that don’t possess what they have(or do) as not doing the founders Aiki.


There is much evidence to say that, over time, the founders idea of Aikido changed. Shirata Rinjiro (who by the way, is a champion of the “Aiki”/IP crowd) stated in his interview with the late Stan Pranin of Aikido Journal that the founders Aikido changed after the war, as did Michio Hikitsuchi, 10th Dan.


The founder himself left this cherry for us to chew on.


“As Ai harmony is common with Ai love, I decided to name my unique budo Aikido. Although the word Aiki is an old one. the word which was used by warriors in the past is fundamentally different to that of mine.
Aiki is not a technique to fight with or destroy an enemy. It is a way to reconcile the world and make human beings one family.”


I know this one has also been deflected by those who never actually knew the founder, but, it’s pretty clear what is being stated here. He has a new version of Aiki, one that doesn’t involve overcoming an opponent, one for not fighting, one that doesn’t destroy.


I struggled with this concept for a while, until Maruyama Sensei (and I have since found out he is not the only Shihan giving value to this concept), mentioned the highest level of shinken shobu was represented by the concept of “ai-nuke”, mutual passing through, a fight to the death, where both combatants life was spared. Slowly the threads started to fall into place.


I have stated elsewhere I am a student of history, it was my major in Uni, and has been a passion of mine my entire life. Now, the study of history is about creating, or recreating an idea by finding the common thread, looking at the evidence objectively from both, or all points of view, this if you will was my final piece of the puzzle to state my case for Aikido beyond all duality, based on the sword as the founder intended, and not on some ancient internal body function designed to defeat an opponent.


“If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth” – Spock


The concept of ai-nuke comes from Mujushin Ryu(the sword school of no abiding mind) kenjutsu, who’s founder, Sekiun Goroemon Harigaya came to understand that the study of the sword for any violent purpose opposed the order of the universe, and so developed a sword style that had as its sole purpose, discovering, or more importantly, rediscovering the truth of no man, no sword, no opponent. Kenjutsu in the Mujuu style is not at all about winning and losing, beating or being beaten, in fact is not about conflict at all: it’s a flowing movement of breath, spirit and power. (Does this concept sound at all familiar).

At its ultimate level, the study of the sword was about the study of the spirit of man, not about overcoming an adversary, but about overcoming ourselves(masakatsu agatsu, katsu hayahi…..Morihei Ueshiba).


A few hundred years into the future, and after the demise of the mujuu style of swordsmanship after just a few generations(not a practical sword style for battle hardened Japanese samurai), and we have to look at another great swordsman of peace that trained and followed the ancient ways of sword, Yamaoka Tesshu. Without going into his life story, a student of Itto Ryu(same sword school as Sokaku Takeda, O-Sensei’s teacher) came to the realisation, without ever having killed an opponent, that there existed under heaven no sword, no man, no enemy, and named his sword school muto ryu. In a way, bringing back to the world the study of the sword that gives life(katsujinken) in the same style and philosophy as Mujushin Ryu;


“the basis of true training is to forge the spirit(seishin no shugyo).
Our primary purpose is to face our opponents without the slightest openings.
Openings means: wishing to do technique on an opponent while avoiding their technique.
Such a state of mind is delusional..
When confronting an opponent, thoughts of striking or being struck indicate ignorance and illusion…
Maintain the principle of “no-mind” and you will lack nothing.
This is a natural, marvelous principle.
To not use discriminatory thought will result in absolute victory.

Swordsmanship consists of utilizing no-form within form to achieve true victory”

Tesshu Yamaoka


Few were able also to follow the severe training(Shugyo) traditions layed down by Tesshu, including many of his students, but one, wishing to continue passing on the essence of what Tesshu had rediscovered in his sword school, but realising most normal men couldn’t endure such physical hardship, founded instead an organisation that became synonymous with Aikido Shihan, the ichikukai.


Here is where this theory really starts to gather traction. Famously, 10th Dan in Aikido, and apparent exponent of Aiki didn’t study Daito Ryu secret techniques at all, but rather, forged his mind at the crucible of Tesshu Yamaoka, and apparently also found within himself something of the concept of no me, no sword and no enemy, the concept that the founder of the ichikukai so desperately wanted to hand on to his students. The problem we have here is we are not talking about physical technique that can be taught to overcome an opponent, but rather, elevation of the spirit, so that one can begin to understand the unity of all things, Kiriotoshi the most important concept  in itto ryu has as its foundation exactly this principle, one is all, all is one.


Now, I know there will be those that will argue the point here, sure, no worries. But there are stories of Tesshu, who never studied Daito Ryu at all displaying easily such concepts as body of stone, or fudoshin body- immovable body, so there was some concept he gleaned from his years of arduous training that gave him such a power. I would say that no man, no sword no enemy gives one such an understanding.


During the most recent seminar, when sensei spoke of these concepts such as ai-nuke, Sensei said it’s no good just to work on the spirit side of things, but that a warrior, a true warrior had to balance equal parts technical ability, and spiritual awareness, that these things were mutually complementing, not mutually exclusive, that training the body(tanren) and training the spirit were two sides of the same coin – according to the founder;

(…) The work of the internal divinity, making the body an organ of creation will realize misogi by the body. — Takemusu Aiki, Volume II

To unite the world of light, a body of flesh is given.
— Takemusu Aiki, Volume II

Me, Ueshiba, I need to train more. (…) I can not show the way to people if I do not stand on the Floating Bridge of Heaven. I can only teach through practice.
— Takemusu Aiki, Volume III


So we work on technique to elevate and become aware of spirit. Body and spirit together as a path to understanding and fulfilling our purpose as human beings, the very definition of unconditional love.

Coming back to our concept of ai-nuke, it became a very important concept in Zen, so much so that Omori Roshi, under guidance from Daisetz SUZUKI spoke these words.


“Harigaya Sekiun created the term Ai-nuke to describe his condition attained through sword. It is the world of ABSOLUTE PEACE THAT TRANSCENDS WINNING AND LOSING.(sound familiar again……). It is a different dimension from aiuchi.

WE SHOULD CONSIDER IT A CRUCIAL TREASURE LEFT BY A MAN OF ANCIENT TIMES………………….you must transcend dualism and enter into the realm of Ai-nuke.

But there is a problem.

It is no good just to INTELLECTUALISE the concept of Ai-nuke.

This is a very important point.

If you do not have the background and strength of aiuchi, you cannot enter the realm of Ai-nuke…………if you have not mastered aiuchi, it is impossible to learn Ai-nuke”


So here comes the difficult part. Training. The founder stated:


“You have to be willing to accept 99% of the attackers force before the mysteries of AIKI can be revealed”   And also “To train in the basics is to practice the very secrets of the art.”


There are also concepts that these interactions are suppose to teach us, if as trainees we are able to fulfil our roles seriously, with sunao, earnest respect, such as what kotodama represents in the concept of the founders Aikido, and why it was important,


“Kotodama is mistakenly thought to be sounds, but in Aikido, kotodama is yamabiko no michi (the way of the mountain echo), it is the resonance of ki that precedes the emergence of sound. Subtle changes in these echoes become the mysteries of all creation. When two forms of Ki combine it becomes kokyu.”
                             Shihan Shirata Rinjiro


Here we have mountain echo, another IP concept, reimagined by Shirata as a ki concept, so we start to get an idea of another of the founders concepts, ki-gata.

Here we go again, this quote tying a lot together in what I am saying in this post,


“The aikido which I am doing now is a path that builds people A WAY OF FORGING AND TEMPERING THE BODY AND SPIRIT (this is TANREN).

It is not a way that injures others, nor is it one that wields against them the evil sword of death.


I humbly ask that you, too, give deep thought to these considerations.


The training in Aiki concerns itself most with the practicing of KI-GATA(the forms and movement of Ki) and the method of perfecting them.


The most important element in true Ki-gata is the quality of shinken shobu(quite literally a fight to the death with real swords – it implies a certain seriousness of your attitude whilst training).”


Morihei Ueshiba

Hard training in basic waza leads us to building an Aiki body. Study of the basic movement of the sword teaches us about our spirit, study and continuous practice of ukemi teaches us about death and rebirth, and also gives us a vehicle to misogi harai. All of these together, practiced daily, as the founder intended are tanren, the forging of the spirit through the body. And continuing these basics, such as suburi, kokyu ho and funekogi will lead you to a deep awareness of ai-nuke. Not one concept forsaken, not one moment wasted, a lifetime devoted to overcoming self.

So let’s summarise . O-Sensei, a spiritual and martial giant studied many ancient forms of fighting and came to the conclusion that Aikido was a way to achieve spiritual awareness through hard physical training, this is backed up by another martial giant, Yamaoka Tesshu who came to exactly the same realisation.

O Sensei was as deeply spiritual a person as his violent teacher sokaku Takeda was not. O Sensei and his Aikido were profoundly influenced by his spiritual practice, omoto kyo. O Sensei having studied Aiki under Takeda rejects his Aiki as just another way of fighting to defeat an opponent, and with sword in hand, hides himself away in Iwama, and discovers like Tesshu and Harigaya before him that the spirit of true budo is that of love, of oneness with the universe, of no me, no sword and no enemy. This realisation elevates his ability beyond Aiki. He chooses as his successor a man that also has been drilled in this concept, Tohei Sensei, who learnt these very concepts at the foot of the student of Yamaoka Tesshu at the ichikukai. That true Aikido is Ai-nuke, not fighting but passing through, not avoiding the conflict, but with the universe as his ally, controlling space and time, and conflict outside physical parameters.

But that coming to such a realisation takes great work and sacrifice, death even, a willingness to sacrifice all to find this way.


As I stated earlier, I do not reject the ideas that internal power brings to Aikido, the coordination of body that it takes to understand how these things work brings a strong understanding of how we function on a physiological level as efficient human beings, but I would argue that the concept of Aikido that the founder saw in his latter days had more to do with the concept of the spirit than that of an efficient body.


I leave the argument now. In my heart there is no argument, I leave with a quote from Tesshu Yamaoka’s master,

“No man can defeat another of superior virtue”


Thanks for your time


“In the past martial artists were serious, their resolution was absolutely sincere, they worked soundly on technique and where neither daunted nor lazy.

Such men believed what their instructors passed on to them, made great efforts day-and-night, tested their techniques, spoke with their friends about their doubts, mastered what they studied and awaken themselves to principles.

For this reason what they acquired penetrated deeply within them.

At first their instructors would teach them techniques but say nothing of the principles that were hidden within them.

They only waited for the students to uncover those principles by themselves.

This is called drawing the bow, but not releasing the arrow.(teaching the way to achieve their own understanding, not the actual understanding)

And it’s not that they spoke grudgingly they simply wanted this students to use their minds and to master what they were studying in the interval.

Disciples would thoroughly exert their minds and make great efforts.

If there was something they understood on their own they would still go and confront the teacher; and he would acknowledge their understanding when their minds were in accord.

If the teacher released the arrow nothing would be learned and this was not just in the martial arts. (I.e. The understanding had to come from the student, not be taught to the student)

Confucius said
“I am not going to go on with the fellow who does not respond my lifting up 3 corners when I have already lifted up one”(this means the teacher should only impart one quarter of the puzzle, the student then exerts themselves to discover the other three quarters)(steal the technique)

This was the teaching method of the men of old.

In this way the students were sure to be serious whether in scholarship or in martial arts.

Now a days people are shallow and their resolution is not in earnest.

They dislike the strenuous and love the easy from the time they are young.

When they see something vaguely clever they want to learn it right away; but if taught in the manner of the old ways, they think it not worth learning.

Now days, the way is revealed by the instructor, the deepest principles are taught even to beginners, the end result is set right out in front and the student is led along by the hand.

Even with methods like these students become bored and many of them quit.

In this way, talking about principles takes the high seat, the men of old are considered inadequate, mastery becomes watered down and students only make effort in things that might have them “climb to new heights”.

this is again the spirit of The Times ………….”

Issai Chonzanshi (1659-1741)


********* I would like to acknowledge a few reference materials, first and foremost the writings of Ellis Amdur, who’s rewritten copy of Hidden in plain sight constantly nagged at my subconscious,

Also the truth of the ancient ways, by Anshan Anatoliy

Omori Sogen,the art of a zen master




Aikido Masters – Prewar Students of Morihei Ueshiba, by Stanley Pranin