View Full Version : Preserving your Aikido

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11-13-2002, 08:27 PM
I've been reading people bemoaning the fact that the current group of top instructors are passing away. Since much of Aikido is learned from one-to-one contact, the loss of a Shihan can be doubly tragic. The organization not only loses a good person and leader, but it also loses it's baseline of Aikido techniques.

Some teachers like Saito Sensei, have well documented techniques through books and video tapes. For other teachers, the documentation is not that well-preserved or organized.

Books go in and out of print. Get a copy now. If you wait, you may find that the book your Shihan wrote is out-of-print and a rare collector's item.

Save hand-outs and other items concerning your style's techniques, exercises, etiquette and anything else. This information will normally disappear within a few months. Keep them organized and available for reference.

I've been in seminars where there are several amateur video cameras taping. Trade tapes and get names of people who have shot/collect them. Professionally made tapes like books, can go in and out of production. Build up your library now. Let others you're looking for tapes with Sensei in them.

Perhaps an oral history project on your Sensei/style might also be needed. Audio taped interviews of past and present students as well as you instructor can be a unique source of information. As always, make sure you note time, place and person in the interview. Give an audio background/documentation of the person with the interview, in case the paper documentation gets lost.

When you maintain all this information, you might want to cross-reference it and transfer the data to more permanent media. Papers, photos and audio tapes can be put on CD. Super 8mm film can be transfered to video and video can be transfered to DVD. Digital storage also makes copying and distributing easier.

If you don't want to or can't document your aikido style, make sure there is someone in the group who is doing this. Insure the person responsible for this is not secretive but open and will let almost anyone copy material. Don't let people borrow documentation, you may be holding the only source. Once it's lost, it's lost forever.

Of course you will always have your memories. However any police department will tell you how unreliable eyewitnesses are.

11-13-2002, 09:57 PM
Hi Ted;

Good point.

Just a thing about semantics. My Aikido is my own and if I worry about preserving it - it will never grow.

Preserving your teacher's Aikido on the other hand, through documentation or film, is laudable. To lose an excellent resource due to natural mortallity is a shame.

11-14-2002, 09:09 AM

IMHO, could not agree more. There is a wealth of information in many formats now. Record them and collect them.

I had a great experience at the Aiki Expo this year getting to train with people I had not been able to before.

So much to learn from so many gifted people.

I am working with my Sensei now to document his style.

Until again,


11-14-2002, 11:34 AM
While I agree that documentation is valuable, particularly for historical and study purposes, I'm not sure I get this preserving of your aikido thing.

I've played a lot of basketball. If we approached basketball in the same way many approach the martial arts, we'd have the George Mikan style, Bob Cousy style, Rick Barry style, etc., etc., etc. and etc. Of course, in that world, players who clung to set shots would have a lot less fun because the game has evolved past it. However, in the martial arts realm, we'd spend many hours practicing and shooting set shots because that's how so-and-so did it 50 years ago and we're a so-and-so stylist.

Again, I can see studying it, but duplicating it in your movement in the way so many see it will probably seem strange to me for however long I wander around this planet.