Hello, Scottn and everyone else here:
Ken Ota was one of my original Aikido teachers and you can find much more information on him at:
Also, Aikido Today Magazine (www.aiki.com
) of Claremont, Calif, USA, was kind enough to publish an article written by me about Ken Ota's teaching and his methods. Look for the March/April 2000 issue for that extensive interview.
Ken was my one of my original teachers and I was fortunate to spend an entire summer with him as uchideshi during 1998. His major Aikido influence was Koichi Tohei (during the late 1960's and early 1970's). My personal characterization of his style is 'early Ki Society', i.e. a large emphasis on effortless power, rhythm, timing. His video tapes illustrate this to a great degree. You can see some superb technique, especially by his son Steve Ota, on the videotapes.
I offer that Ken differs from most Ki Society dojos, and for that matter most Aikido dojos, in that he has a unique emphasis on speed, rhythm, and timing. What makes him unique is the speed and advanced ukemi that all his students can go; in my experience, his students reach these speed and grace levels much earlier than most. This is due to his creativity in using adapted modern gymnastics technology to teach beginning and advanced ukemi; his adapted ballroom dancing backleading to teach beginning students (Ota is a champion ballroom dancer); his emphasis on a safe yet quite high speed of innovative drills in addition to just basic waza. The drills emphasize rhythm, timing, centrifugal force, and build a very high level of practice and repetitions in the students. .
His most unique aspect is that the above methods have allowed his 10, 11, 12 year old children Aikido students to do 8 basic Aikido techniques at full speed with adult ukes, effectively, allowed by the fact that these youngsters and the adult students are generally all capable of safe breakfalls.