Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shomen Ate Reloaded

I have been playing around with the renzoku concept of continuous attack that Lowry Sensei implanted in my brain. The I used techniques and kuzushi strategies from Hussey, Matl and Juhl Senseis to reformulate my relationship with shomen ate.

I explore different entries, continuous attack, elbow connections, and leg grabs.

Here are some random video notes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

What does real aiki feel like?

So working out in judo and aikido class I have been noticing more and more the differences between kata work and randori application. Traditional kata work is easier in my mind, with less variables, while techniques in randori and shiai get to be complicated puzzles. With some of my teachers I can feel aiki - each move has a counter- move counter, move counter then the game finishes. Rarely amongst advanced players is it the one kata like move and the bad guy goes over.

So I downloaded a chess application for my smart phone. I have been blown away how much chess feels like aiki to me. Every move has a devious counter - until a critical junction is met and the game is finished.

Reading the encounter and shifting into every changing positions of structural dysfunction with my opponent - this is what aiki feels like. It is a chess game. Simple technique exercises where one person practices and another takes falls has its place, but I think it is just training wheels for the deeper game to come. It is merely learning how the pieces move on the board, but the strategy of the game transcends the piece's movements. The strategy of the aiki chess game transcends the single technique. Instead every technique should be viewed as a strategic move leading closer to the final goal.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Miyagi Says...

I am not a huge fan of the belt system, but it works for some. Remember though....

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Surprising words from Aikido Journal

I am happy in the aikido organizations I have chosen to join. I think many people feel confined and strangled by theirs. I know there are a great many teachers and organizations I simply could not fit with. Indeed I sympathize with others in their quest for artistic freedom. I just spent today writing a new friend about the merits of forging his own path in his budo studies.

I then checked out an article by Stanley Pranin the Godfather of Aikido Journal. Much to my surprise he concluded his article with...

"Don’t look to Japan or any organization for leadership in aikido or any other field of endeavor. This world of dizzying technological advancement has left these bloated dinosaurs panting in the dust. In today’s networked world, any visionary and hard-working individual can produce prodigious results at lightning speed. The shaping of aikido’s future lies in our hands. Let’s get crackin’!"

I totally agree.

The Full Article

Monday, July 19, 2010

Principle - Musubi 結び

This week I find myself exploring deeply the idea of musubi 結び. I believe musubi 結び is a vital key to higher level aikido and judo exploration.

Aikido Journal defines Musubi 結び as - Knot; tie. The concept of a link between the attacker and defender permitting the smooth execution of techniques.

Before an engagement the aikidoda and the attacker are separate bodies in motion hurling together in a potentially devasting clash of matter and energy trying to occupy the same space. The skillful aikidoka however connects to and blends with the energy hurling towards him. The two individual structures of the human being now become more unified, the two people become one four legged structure. The aikidoka can cause his opponent to need to lean on him for support, so as the aiki man moves, his opponent must follow. The two people often lose their individual centers of gravity and gain a common or shared one. This joining together of the centers is what I consider to be musubi 結び.

Have you ever been working out and someone asks why the attackers in aikido don't just let go? Why do they continue to hold on? The answer friends is the principle of musubi.

As my regular readers may know, I am fond of words and looking at them closely to find deeper meaning.

Here is the modern simplified Chinese form of the character and the ancient form.

to tie / to knot / to weave / a knot / to unite / to join / to connect / to congeal / coagulation / to form / to found / to constitute / to bear fruit / a result / an outcome / to pay, or settle ( as an account, etc. ) / a node

The modern Japanese form has the character with a phonetic kana suffix for "bi".


do up hair;

The word musubi used in many different sentences

友情が彼らを結びつけた。 Friendship bound them together.

ロープを木に結び付けなさい。 Fasten the rope to the tree.

彼は二つの考えを一つに結び付けた。 He combined two ideas into one.

Here is Mike and I working on the connection aspects of musubi. We go real slow and methodical on this. I hope this illustrates what musubi is to those in search for it.

In Tai Chi we see it too. In this example by Master Ma Yu Liang we see it, but very subtly.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The faces of I-35 Texas/Oklahoma Tomiki Aikido

I had the great privilege of having the opportunity to do a dojo tour up the I-35 corridor and meet and train with just a few of the variety of great teachers coming from the Tomiki Aikido lineage. I found it interesting that every person I touched had a remarkably different interpretation of the form. Typically you could feel the personality of the person through their expression of technique.

Jeff Duncan, 3rd dan - aikido mechanic and one of my best friends.

Russell Waddell, 6th dan - my first teacher. I love this man.

Jack Beiler, 7th dan - The only man who has changed my walking kata in years. He has keen observations and a beautiful dojo.

Tim Vought 9th dan - Old policeman who gave me some critical strategies on restraints. He is fun and talented. He has a magic punch -seriously. I didn't believe it till I saw it.

Bob Rea, one of the best judo players I have ever felt. His teaching style is amazing. This guy is a true budo man.

Nick Lowry, 8th dan - He is becoming one of my best friends and inspirations. I have a deep respect for this man and his work.

Lou Fernbaugh, a fun and informative teacher. I look forward to getting to know him better in the future.

Jim Ellison is insightful and thought provoking. I have only trained with him twice but I am looking forward to more play in the future.

Greg Ables is one of the finest human beings I have ever met. Miraculous artist and the type of person you have to love.

J.W. Bode was my biggest surprise find of the trip. He is nice as can be and funny as hell. His aikido is freaking brilliant and efficient. After 10 minutes I saw his undeniable genius. Likely he will be a giant influence on my aikido in the upcoming years.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Conflict Resolution in Teaching

Early in my aikido career I was largely unknown in the dojo. I was the college kid who came stumbling in with dirty hair and smelling like coffee and cigarettes. I found the practice very interesting, but then one of the senior instructors noticed me and took me under his wing. He spent a lot of time training me, encouraging me and inviting me to walk with him down the path. I felt like I was getting more out of my practice than I was getting out of school. This instructor spun my world around, gave me the gift of drive and motivation. He helped me fall in love with training and the path. I learned that the basis of practice is relationships with people. I found a mentor.

A good teacher fosters relationships. A good teacher discovers teachable moments that can turn around a student’s thinking. A good teacher can quite literally be a guide and a positive life changing force in a student’s life.

That is the power of a good teacher.

After several years of training, I made my way into the dojo on a spring afternoon. We were working on the Koryi Dai San Kata bokken work. The instructor was obviously agitated about something. Perhaps he had a bad day at the office? Who knows? Anyways, I either missed or misheard an instruction that he gave the class. All I know is that I looked up and he was staring at me red faced. He exploded in a tirade. He yelled and screamed at me in front of the class for several straight minutes. While I write this now, 15 years later, I can feel the bite of shame in my stomach, and my cheeks are getting red. This one incident was a violation of the relationship we had, and his power as a teacher. I felt terrible. The dojo became a hostile place.

I stopped training for a long while. His one bad day derailed one of his students training for several years. I avoided his classes when I returned. The magic of the practice was gone for me.

Bad teaching, even for a moment can shatter relationships. A moment of bad teaching can limit a student and push them away from study forever. A single bad moment in teaching can be a negative stain and a negative influence forever in a student’s life.

This is the power of bad teaching.

I have been in education for the past 15 years now. I have taught in Japanese public schools. I have taught residential programs with Houston’s tough gang teens. I have taught some students who have some of the toughest behavioral challenges in the state. I have been stabbed in classes, I have been bit. I once found myself being violently attacked by four 18 year olds because I found their stash of drugs. I have had students disrupt my classes and insult me.

But you know what? I have never yelled at a student, not once. It violates the strategic principles of aikido conflict resolution as it has been taught to me. It is adding speed and energy to a conflict to overpower an opponent. Yelling shames people. Yelling asserts dominance and is a harsh way to control. It is counterproductive and shows a lack of self control. It is a short term fix to a problem while not addressing the reasons behind the problem. It points to a failure in the fundamental core principle in teaching and aikido. Teaching and aikido both are based on relationships.

Of course I have made mistakes while teaching. But you know what I ALWAYS try to do? I try to heal the relationship. I am never afraid to say I am sorry, or that my choices were not the best. Even when my choices were justified, letting a student stew in negativity is a failure in teaching. Reestablishing the relationship is the job of the teacher because we are the ones invested with power.

So teachers treat your students well. I implore you to learn gentle teaching and learn good relationship skills. If we do not then we are doing a grave injustice to the people that invest in us. The students are the reason you are there. If you are not building them up, if you are not leading your students down a positive path you are failing in your career and services. One bad moment of teaching can derail a student on their path forever.

If one of your students sits down in fifteen years to write a blog post and still feels shamed and angry, was it a successful lesson?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Walking the Earth

That's right, I have a month to kill. I am loading up the truck and preparing for a walk about. If you want me to stop by your dojo on my journey, let me know. I will even let you feed me!

At this point I will be in Dallas through the weekend and in Oklahoma next week. I might head up to Indiana after that, but I am not really sure yet.

Let me know -

Is Tomiki's lineage a Ryu 流?

In the 30 years since Kenji Tomiki Sensei's death his lineage of Aikido has spread over the world. There seems to be a concentration of his schools in the United States, Europe..especially Britain. Many organizations have split but continue to use the curriculum of Kenji Tomiki's design. Collectively we tend to call the lineage 'Tomiki Aikido', or 'Tomiki Ryu'

On the Kaze Uta Budo Kai boards and on the Mokuren Dojo Blog there has been some discussion about whether to use the words 'Tomiki Ryu' or not. From what i have heard Tomiki Sensei did not like the use of this title. To him it was Shodokan or just Aikido. Plus the style has evolved radically in the past thirty years. There are the rough and tumble sport aikido guys, and there are the super soft and light touch tai chi like guys coming from other divisions of the lineages. Some have even taken to using their own name plus the word 'ryu' to distinguish their own style branching from Tomiki's lineage. Is saying Tomiki Ryu appropriate? Was it ever?

A opinion against the use of ryu is on I will introduce Wayne Muromoto at the Koryu site to enlighten us with his opinion. He says no, it is not correct. .

To Ryu or not to Ryu....I myself don't really care either way. Language is what it is. Whether he intended his name to be used or not, we did use it and likely will continue to do so. We also stuck ryu 流 on it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Independence weekend thoughts....

Much of the world is driven by politics, whether it be countries or martial arts systems. Sometimes it is good to gather with our fellows, sometimes it is time to separate. Here is an excellent example of what to say when it comes time to go out on your own.

"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

Sunday, July 4, 2010

New Kid On the Block

Until now the KyuRyu AikiBudo blog has been the premeire Tomiki Aikido blog on the net!

Yeah I guess there is that guy at Mokuren Dojo Blog, and Northern Wind Blog. But who reads those? Just because they are cranking out informative and interesting information that get constantly published on Aikido Journal, that doesn't mean anything. After all I have the cool electric yin ying logo. Yeah electric yin yang!

Now that I think about it though, that Mokuren guy has a pretty sweet art too. I wonder who made it?

Anyhow boys, there is an up and comer, hungry for the title. Please check him out when you get a chance and give some support. He has some great articles so far.

Physics of Aiki Blog


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tomiki Aikido - Junana Hon Kata (17) In Japanese

Here is the list of the Kenji Tomiki's 17 kata in Japanese. Often I wish to research the characters and they can be hard to find. As the KyuRyu AikiBudo blog develops I plan on doing in depth translations of all the technique names and explanations of the characters.

For you non Japanese folks this list might come up on your computer as a bunch of question marks, or some sort of scrambled eggs. You have to mess with your settings somehow.


・正面当て ・相構え当て ・逆構え当て ・下段当て ・後ろ当て

・押し倒し ・腕返し ・引き倒し ・腕捻り ・脇固め

・小手捻り ・小手返し ・転回小手捻り ・転回小手返し

・前落とし ・隅落とし ・引き落とし

From the Shodokan website