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Doka of the Day - November 29, 2020
Even when a single enemy has called you out,
Be on your best guard.
An entire host of the foe
Is on your left, right, in front and behind.

                              - Morihei Ueshiba

AikiWeb Aikido News
It Had to Be Felt #71: Yamada Yoshimitsu
Posted 7/12/2020 8:49pm [from Jun Akiyama]

Here is the latest It Had to Be Felt essay, this time on Yamada Yoshimitsu of the New York Aikikai. This essay was written by David Ross. From the essay: "For those who have never trained under the direction of Yamada Sensei, he is noted for his big and expansive techniques. His emphasis is on the ability to develop kokyu - breath power and extension - but when you grab him it feels like grabbing nothing until he starts his movement. Then things change. He brings his uke into accord with his movement. Technically, this is often referred to as the power of attraction - inryoku. I have often heard him say: 'Aikido has two directions up and down - so Relax!'"

Solidarity with Black Lives Matter Movement
Posted 6/03/2020 8:20am [from Jun Akiyama]

AikiWeb wishes to express our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and protests taking place all across the world. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are but the latest names of countless Black people killed due to systemic racism. Our hearts go out to their families and their communities who are rightfully feeling grief, anger, and more. Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba expressed wishes that his art be used to reconcile the world and to make all human beings one family. And, as Zen teacher Zenju Earthlyn Manuel wrote, “awareness of oneness in life includes difference.” AikiWeb believes this requires speaking up against injustice in all of its forms and is reminded of Desmond Tutu’s quote, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” The Aikido community is not immune to these unjust dynamics. We can always do more and continuously improve ourselves. Please join the movement to bring about a more equitable world through donations, engagement, and advocacy. Thank you.

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Obituary: Hiroshi Somemiya Shihan (1932-2020)
Posted 9/21/2020 7:51am [from Michael Leung]

It is with great sorrow and deep regret that we have to announce Hiroshi Somemiya Shihan, 7th Dan Aikikai, passed away peacefully at home on 11th September at the age of 88. Somemiya Shihan is the Patron of our Dojo, Hong Kong Aikido Kan, a role he kindly took on following the passing of his close friend Kenneth Cottier Shihan in June 2008. He was also the former General Secretary of the International Aikido Federation (IAF) and Head of Overseas Department at Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Somemiya Shihan contributed greatly to the development of Aikido across the world, especially in Hong Kong and in other countries in Asia. [More details in forum thread]

Patty Saotome Sensei Passes Away
Posted 9/20/2020 11:17am [from Jun Akiyama]

I have received news that Patty Saotome (7th dan shihan, Aikido Schools of Ueshiba) has passed away. She was a longtime student of Mitsugi Saotome (8th dan) since 1975 and taught at various dojo including the Sarasota Aikikai Dojo, Aikido Shobukan (Washington DC), Chicago Budokan, and the ASU Aiki Shrine (Myakka City, FL). She was instrumental in translating her husband’s work into English including for his book “Aikido and the Harmony of Nature” for which she also edited and did the photographic work. My condolences go out to her family, friends, students, and loved ones.

Blog Article: Interview with Former New York Aikikai Instructor Ruth Peyser
Posted 9/07/2020 3:26pm [from Jun Akiyama]

Here is a recently published interview entitled "Interview with Former New York Aikikai Instructor Ruth Peyser: Supporting Gender Equity and the Independent Coalition of USAF Women’s Petition" that discusses Peyser's signing of a petition calling for gender equality in the United States Aikido Federation and her being subsequently "expelled" from New York Aikikai. From the interview: "My first meeting with Yamada Sensei lasted less than a minute. He told me he was very angry that I had signed and shared the petition, and he didn’t want me teaching at his dojo. I taught at New York Aikikai for about thirty-three years. Obviously, I was extremely upset, and I wanted to talk to him about it. As I opened my mouth to say something, he told me that he didn’t want to hear a word I had to say and left the room. The following week, I received an email expelling me from the dojo."

Linda Lee Vecchio Passes Away
Posted 8/23/2020 9:54pm [from Jun Akiyama]

I just got word that Linda Lee Vecchio (7th dan) has passed away. Vecchio received her shodan in 1969 and continued to train and teach aikido for over 45 years. She was a long time student of Yoshimitsu Yamada. From this GoFundMe page to help fund her funeral, her family writes, “She lived her life only to do better, be better, and show the world a woman can be strong and handle any task a man can do. She loved to prove that point.  She never turned away from anybody asking for help.  Not only did she teach martial arts, she taught how to live life; how to be strong in mind not just body.“ My condolences go out to her family, friends, students, and loved ones.

USAF "A Message from Yamada Sensei 2020_08_09"
Posted 8/12/2020 5:33pm [from Jun Akiyama]

Yoshimitsu Yamada has posted a message in response to the "complaints on social media by aikido practitioners about how women have been treated unfairly" on the USAF website: "A Message from Yamada Sensei 2020_08_09". From the posting: "Gender discrimination in aikido is something I never believed in. I have tried to remain fair and open minded in my aikido career. I consider people’s rank, experience and integrity to be very important. I personally view my students, women and men, the same and have given equal opportunities to all of them, on the mat, for promotions, to teach class and to open their own dojos. [...] We all should thank Doshu for giving us an opportunity to enjoy aikido equally. I want all of you to concentrate only on practice, not other stuff; just feel lucky to be a part of aikido society."

RIP Peter Gardiner of Iwama Dojo and Scotland
Posted 8/12/2020 5:33pm [from Steve Mallon]

Just heard of Peter's passing at his apartment in Kuramae Tokyo. Condolences have been noted by some fellow students on his Facebook Page. A committed student who settled in Japan in 1984 and kept up his practice until just a few years ago. His second wife Miwa was also an Aikidoka at Iwama

Article: "Great Aikido - Aikido Greats" by Ellis Amdur
Posted 5/27/2020 12:10pm [from Jun Akiyama]

Here is a lovely article from Ellis Amdur on his thoughts on what components constitute a "great" practitioner of classical aikido. From the article: “I wish to tease out the components that I have observed among those who were able to – and did – protect their training hall against dojo breakers or people who challenged them on the mat, striving to embarrass them or worse; those who handled taryujiai; and those who had or have a particular brilliance that has garnered them true respect, not only among other aikidoka, but among practitioners of other martial arts as well. I am making as clear a distinction as I can between the excellent aikido practitioner, whatever their rank and true virtuosos.”

Article: "Moving Off the Line" by Ruth Peyser (6th dan, shidoin)
Posted 4/30/2020 9:50pm [from Jun Akiyama]

Here is an article entitled “Moving Off the Line” from Ruth Peyser (6th dan, shidoin)—her account of what happened to her after she supported a petition “requesting that the governing body of the United States Aikido Federation (USAF) address issues of gender equality in the organization.” From her article: “I’m trying to move on but it’s hard. It’s like losing a loved one. New York Aikikai was a major part of my life for four decades. A friend got my things from New York Aikikai, met me on the northwest corner of Union Square outside Petco and handed me a bag with my hakama, belt and kneepads. And then it was over.” The initial petition and subsequent timeline may be found on Facebook here: Independent Coalition of USAF Women.

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