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Old 11-14-2006, 08:36 AM   #1
markwalsh
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Different from O Sensei?

In which ways does your training differ from that taught or recommended by O Sensei? Or, what do you do differently from what you understand to be what he taught?

What sparked this was I found looking into my partner's eyes helped my aikido this morning (more connection - person not object) even though I have read this explicitly prohibited by O Sensei. Another example might be training outdoors which I believe O Sensei recommended, but few of us do regularly.

There's always a "true inheritor" argument going on, but I want to hear the other side of the coin. I value traditional aikido highly, as I have been taught it through the Aikikai lineage, so am not asking for criticism of the founder, only honesty as to our own practices.
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Old 11-14-2006, 09:45 AM   #2
MikeLogan
 
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

I'm no pro, but looking into your training partner's eyes is fine as they are not out to kill you. They will not use their eyes in a feint. Some people may try to train with this in mind, personally I try for a soft focus around my partner's chin / upper torso, once things start to move. I can't say I've seen it in while training, (haven't looked for it particularly) but I know for myself that my reflexes kick in quicker for stimuli received peripherally, rather than through fixed focus.

I know this does not directly answer your question, but as I don't have a lot of exposure to the culture O Sensei trained and taught in, I don't know what I am actually doing differently.

michael.
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Old 11-14-2006, 10:12 AM   #3
Esaemann
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

I seem to recall ... don't look in your opponents eyes as they may be able to steal your spirit. However, this did not apply to O'Sensei, because he did the stealing of his opponents spirit. Funny I remember these things, but not where I read it.

Anyway, I do a soft focus on partner's chest when I'm thinking about it. Seems easier to know where they will move by seeing the whole torso move first. One of O'Sensei's sayings from doka of the day (paraphrase) ... don't look at the sword, but the waist as it will tell you where the strike is going.
When I actually do practice this, I seem to have more time to react to the strike.
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Old 11-14-2006, 11:07 AM   #4
Jonathan Guzzo
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

In It's a Lot Like Dancing, Terry Dobson talks about this--I'm paraphrasing, but he says that, if you're the kind of person who is sensitive to the beauty of others, you risk falling in love with your attacker. It is an interesting (and very Dobsonian) perspective.

Personally, I also soft-focus on uke's neck and torso. Time seems to expand and open up when I do that, so I'm moving in a much more spacious field. When I focus on the attacking hand or the eyes, time seems to narrow and contract.

What's interesting to me, though, is that I start with this soft focus, open feeling, but as the technique progresses, my focus contracts, and then expands again in the throw. I've only been training for three years, so what do I know? But I seem to be noticing a lot of expand/contract/expand patterns in aikido. Again, though, what do I know?

J
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Old 11-14-2006, 11:30 AM   #5
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

This whole "eyes thing" has been misunderstood for a long time in Aikido. You have to look at the context to understand what O-sensei was talking about, he told his deshi (young men just learning Aikido) nmot to look into the opponent's eyes because the opponent could "steal your spirit".

This is true if that opponent is capable of creating fear in you because he is physically stronger or has stronger "intention". So when confronted by an enemy one has to decide if one can keep ones attention projecting outwards under threat. If one has greater skill and therefore probably has more confidence and can maintain fudoshin then it is ok to project that energy out at the opponent through the eyes. If one is at all frightened, then it is better not to allow the opponent to do this to you. By not looking in the eyes one can cut off the flow of the mental enegy the attacker is projecting out at you.

O-Sensei, of course, looked his opponents right in the eyes and "stole their spirits". I believe that in training the students should be taught how to look at their partners and project their intention. Eventually, that will result in the ability to maintain their own energy field, even under great threat. For actual self defense situations they should be aware that they might not wish to do this if they think the other fellow might be better at it than they are.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 11-14-2006, 12:32 PM   #6
jxa127
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

Quote:
Mark Walsh wrote:
In which ways does your training differ from that taught or recommended by O Sensei?
Oh boy, there are so many differences, I'm not sure where to start.

The biggest difference is that I don't train nearly as often, nor as intensely as O' Sensei and his direct students did.

I'll be 33 next month, I'm overweight, diabetic, I work full time, go to grad school part time, have a 1-year-old son, and travel 40 minutes each way to my dojo. With all of that, my biggest challenge is simply to keep training.

So far, I've managed to keep training for more than seven years, but I struggle with the fact that I really want to make it to class three times a week but have to do much less right now. Daily training seems like a dream to me right now.

For the founder, aikido was a way of life and central to his understanding of the universe. For me, it's a profound and enjoyable hobby with practical applications.

But, I'm still relatively new to aikido. Ask me how I feel in 30 years.

Regards,

----
-Drew Ames
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Old 11-14-2006, 02:53 PM   #7
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

Very Important Post George.

Thanks,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 11-14-2006, 06:42 PM   #8
Qatana
 
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

My sensei is working on training the eye thing out of me.In regular waza I'm fine, noce soft focus but get me into any kind of freestyle and i turn into a deer in the headlights and this causes hesitation in my entry...sure will miss jiyuwaza practice after tests on Saturday

Personally, I'm not one for going out in the winter in the dark of dawn and standing under a waterfall...

Q
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Old 11-14-2006, 09:26 PM   #9
Fred Little
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

Quote:
Jo Adell wrote:
Personally, I'm not one for going out in the winter in the dark of dawn and standing under a waterfall...
Late autumn, three or four hours after dawn:

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Old 11-14-2006, 09:35 PM   #10
xuzen
 
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

Quote:
Mark Walsh wrote:
In which ways does your training differ from that taught or recommended by O Sensei? Or, what do you do differently from what you understand to be what he taught?

What sparked this was I found looking into my partner's eyes helped my aikido this morning (more connection - person not object) even though I have read this explicitly prohibited by O Sensei. Another example might be training outdoors which I believe O Sensei recommended, but few of us do regularly.

There's always a "true inheritor" argument going on, but I want to hear the other side of the coin. I value traditional aikido highly, as I have been taught it through the Aikikai lineage, so am not asking for criticism of the founder, only honesty as to our own practices.
My difference:
1) O'Sensei mix Budo with Religion (Omoto-kyo); I don't
2) O'Sensei did Koryu stuff (spear, sword etc); I didn't
3) To him, it was shugyo or a way of life; to me it is a social activity like going to gym after work.

I don't look at opponents eyes. If I do, then he can also look at mine... and I am afraid he may be able to see my emotion and intention.

I however look at my opponent's overall body posture, distance and reaction; if it makes any sense, I try to see what is near as far and what is far as near.

Boon.

SHOMEN-ATE (TM), the solution to 90% of aikido and life's problems.
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Old 11-15-2006, 01:33 AM   #11
RoyK
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

In relation to Neil Mick's thread A personal moment with O Sensei, before class starts when I look at his picture I can't help but wonder if what I'm going to do today has any relation to what he did in the past beyond the technical aspect.

I'm also intrigued at the kind of outdoor, solitary training he engaged himself in, and how come many dojos don't build a curriculum for self training.
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Old 11-15-2006, 05:33 AM   #12
ian
 
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

Quote:
Mark Walsh wrote:
In which ways does your training differ from that taught or recommended by O Sensei? Or, what do you do differently from what you understand to be what he taught?

What sparked this was I found looking into my partner's eyes helped my aikido this morning (more connection - person not object) even though I have read this explicitly prohibited by O Sensei. Another example might be training outdoors which I believe O Sensei recommended, but few of us do regularly...
I've trained in quite a few different clubs over the years and found it frustrating how people say you must do it this way or that way as if the technical aspects are set in stone. Ueshiba is known to have not been so prescriptive and I believe the reason is this: all unarmed martial arts, at a high level, are extremely similar (e.g. a good BJJ practioner will be relaxed, use timing, and could ven use similar techniques - albeit on the ground). What I believe Ueshiba was teaching was an understanding of yin and yang, using the aikido techniques (or more appropriately, paired practise) as a framework or teaching method.

Now, that I'm teaching myself I had bought all the video footage I could get on Ueshiba and studied it sincerely. What I realised is that there are many falacies about what is said about Ueshiba e.g. I have seen him use a kick, I've seen him do what would be considered a 'sweep', I've seen him struggling with a technique (though he tries to hide it for the camera).

The ikkyo we currently do in our club was altered based on me watching the video footage of Ueshiba and I've never seen any other club do it in this way.

The problem with aikido is that, as a beginner you see entirely different things in a throw to an advanced student. If you just take the memory of Ueshiba, you only understand Ueshiba at the level at which you were training. We have a large advantage over many other martial arts in that we can see the founder actually performing in video, and despite the myths that grow up around the founder, we can pretty much judge the video footage to be a relatively fair representation.

Thus I think we should continually study Ueshiba. That is not to say we can't improve on it, but if you don't understand why you would do it differently, that isn't an improvement, it's just a difference.

On another note, I think it is beneficial to know several versions or ways of doing a technique, so you can alter it in response to uke - so there is no 'right way' there are only ways that work better at the time and ways that don't (and blaming uke for not falling correctly is not a better way!)

Ian

P.S. we are lucky enough to live near the coast, so on occasion we have done weapon work on the beach (which is great because you can see the trail of footprints!) I have myself gone into the local woods as well to bash a few dead trees, as have some of my students (independently). Also did some Misogi under a freezing waterfall (in just my underwear) unfortuantely a large group of hikers walked past and thought I was weird, but it was too late so I just stayed there!

Last edited by ian : 11-15-2006 at 05:38 AM.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 11-15-2006, 05:41 AM   #13
ian
 
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

P.S. Philip Goutarde loves this eye contact stuff - even during the throw uke and nage are looking at each other. Does promote connection, but I think in real attacks it is the hatred in the attackers eyes that produces a negative fear response in yourself.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 11-15-2006, 06:39 AM   #14
Dazzler
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

Quote:
Mark Walsh wrote:
In which ways does your training differ from that taught or recommended by O Sensei? Or, what do you do differently from what you understand to be what he taught?
Following on from some of the excellent points made by Ian about Aikido not being prescriptive (which could also be added to the kotagaeshi variations thread), I'll also muddy the waters by saying "taught by O'Sensei - When?".

As he aged, and as his experience grew, I believe O'sensei changed the way he worked and produced Aikido.

Hence the wide variety between the aikido produced by those that trained with him at different stages in his life.

We have groups of Aikidoka that diligently attempt to replicate the moves taught by their original instructors many many years ago.

To me this misses the point that Aikido is a set of principles that must be applied individually.

It also makes the rather rash assumption that these pioneers had all the answers and takes responsibility off current teachers to take the art forward - a recipe for stagnation I feel.

My Aikido is the right application of aikido principles to my age, physique and character. (or my best attempt at it).

Those principles need to be applied differently to the Aikido of someone who doesn't posess my slendid physique, youthful vigour, good looks, modesty and highly expensive toupee.

Muse over.

Regards

D
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Old 11-15-2006, 06:58 AM   #15
RampantWolf
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
I've trained in quite a few different clubs over the years and found it frustrating how people say you must do it this way or that way as if the technical aspects are set in stone.
<snip>
Exactly! In the front pages of Total Aikido there is a quote from Gozo Shioda.

'The basics are only a guiding principle. Your strongest posture is the one that fits your constitution. That cannot be taught to you, you have to find it for yourself. It is not a question of widening your stance or narrowing it, if the truth be told.'

Edit: found the page I was referring to and my memory of it was way off, but this is the section that I was referring to.

Last edited by RampantWolf : 11-15-2006 at 07:05 AM.

If it's stupid but works, it isn't stupid.
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Old 11-15-2006, 07:46 AM   #16
Dazzler
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
This whole "eyes thing" has been misunderstood for a long time in Aikido. You have to look at the context to understand what O-sensei was talking about, he told his deshi (young men just learning Aikido) nmot to look into the opponent's eyes because the opponent could "steal your spirit".

This is true if that opponent is capable of creating fear in you because he is physically stronger or has stronger "intention". So when confronted by an enemy one has to decide if one can keep ones attention projecting outwards under threat. If one has greater skill and therefore probably has more confidence and can maintain fudoshin then it is ok to project that energy out at the opponent through the eyes. If one is at all frightened, then it is better not to allow the opponent to do this to you. By not looking in the eyes one can cut off the flow of the mental enegy the attacker is projecting out at you.

O-Sensei, of course, looked his opponents right in the eyes and "stole their spirits". I believe that in training the students should be taught how to look at their partners and project their intention. Eventually, that will result in the ability to maintain their own energy field, even under great threat. For actual self defense situations they should be aware that they might not wish to do this if they think the other fellow might be better at it than they are.
this talk of eye contact takes me back to when I was very young and stupid...I've grown out of one of those at least now I'm sure,

I remember how as teenagers I, and my associates would stare at everyone.

We thought it made us hard.

Occasionally someone would catch our eyes and if they look away we would claim some sort of victory - "I stared him out" kind of thing.

Often someone would meet the gaze and I would feel the fear. I had bitten off more than I could chew and I knew it. The challenge now was to disengage without losing face.

We'd nod or say "rite?" or something like this to retain face and back out.

Sometimes there was no backing out. Both parties felt superior and would not back down.The only option was to be first and consequently I developed an extremely short fuse and indulged in a number of what were really assaults rather than fights.

In first, overwhelm before the defences were up and away before anyone could intervene.


Theres no excuse - its just the way I was then and to be honest I loved the post fight adrenaline to a point where I was hooked.

Life and friends, experience, change of location etc have all come along to educate me and make me realise what an arse I, and others like me were.

In my jujitsu days we even trained using exactly the sort of dialogue that followed these early situations. I found it interesting that very few of my classmates had behaved in the way I had, using the dialogue in training was no problem for me - it was just a case of winding the clock back.

Well - these days I'm happy to say I've very much moved on, but living in a city I regularly pass young people in the street behaving exactly as I did.

I'm sure that some are just innocent but many will experience that false sense of victory that I was hooked upon, as I never concede my eyes to anyone these days unless they are a trusted friend or the situation is safe.

Fortunately time has shown me that the victory is just imaginary.

I thank my lucky stars that when I was younger I didn't meet someone with a shorter fuse to give me the panning I probably deserved.

Confessional ended..Thank you for reading.

D

Last edited by Dazzler : 11-15-2006 at 07:49 AM.
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Old 11-15-2006, 08:50 AM   #17
MikeLogan
 
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

Nice post, Daren. If our paths cross may we duke it out. Whoever blinks first, buys the beer.
Quote:
O-Sensei, of course, looked his opponents right in the eyes and "stole their spirits". I believe that in training the students should be taught how to look at their partners and project their intention. Eventually, that will result in the ability to maintain their own energy field, even under great threat. For actual self defense situations they should be aware that they might not wish to do this if they think the other fellow might be better at it than they are.
Pardon the potential threadjack, but I wondered about this. I think part of my question is based on the definition of intention. Intention to enact an effect on someone, intention to not harm an opponent, or complete lack of intention (fear).
If O Sensei's deshi were told to not look into the eyes of a mentally stronger opponent, is this somehow based on perhaps the prime motivation (aka intention) of aikido, that being the protection of all involved in a conflict? What would such an intention look like? It is easier to imagine, to a limited degree, what an angry/ violent intention looks like, but what is in the eyes of an aikidoka? I'm sure it isn't blank, and I'm sure that at the onset of violence a reasonable person's reflexes will do something. Not to mention a person with training. I can appreciate the fact that O Sensei did peer straight into his uke's eyes, but was it to cow them, or was it part of a whole? Was he manipulating their eyes in the same sense that he might manipulate their joints, or balance?

For some reason the story of the man (or beast? called the Kanon?) with a thousand arms, and a thousand eyes comes to mind. Putting my focus on the eyes of my enemy takes focus away from the rest of my body. Not constraining focus, I will act naturally in my defense, and two arms, or one thousand, I'll move them correctly. Being distracted and attracted to those eyes steals my spirit, my ability to enact my will, and physical death may quickly follow. Easy to say it, hard to do it.

michael.
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Old 11-15-2006, 08:59 AM   #18
Dazzler
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

I'll buy the first one Mike.

Thats one vice I'm far from shedding.

Cheers

D
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Old 11-15-2006, 09:50 AM   #19
markwalsh
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

Taught by O Sensei as YOU understand it.

IE - not asking what he taught, asking what you do that is different from what you think he taught.
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Old 11-15-2006, 10:37 AM   #20
ian
 
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

Quote:
Mike Logan wrote:
... Pardon the potential threadjack, but I wondered about this. I think part of my question is based on the definition of intention. Intention to enact an effect on someone, intention to not harm an opponent, or complete lack of intention (fear).
I love John Stevens book 'Teshu - Sword of No Sword' which talks a bit about intention and projecting it.

This may sounds gross, but I prefer to treat people like a piece of attacking meat. They are neither good nor bad; you are just defending youself (and there is no necessity to 'punish' a piece of meat, you just don't get hurt by it). I admit, showing a strong intention probably has a great effect, but I don't think I've quite got that yet (at least in real fights), so I have to stick with the piece of meat method (no eye contact).

When someone did try to intimidate me recently by leaning in and staring at me it brought on an instinctive reaction to poke him right in the eye - not sure if it caused any permanent damage, there was a bit of blood coming out of it and he couldn't open it.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 11-15-2006, 10:49 AM   #21
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote:
Occasionally someone would catch our eyes and if they look away we would claim some sort of victory - "I stared him out" kind of thing.

Often someone would meet the gaze and I would feel the fear. I had bitten off more than I could chew and I knew it. The challenge now was to disengage without losing face.
Did anyone ever smile back at you? Or did that just never happen?

I sometimes like to smile, or at least look with a friendly look, at posturing teenagers... sometimes it gets me obscene comments, but sometimes you can see that they really don't know what to do with that response.

kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 11-16-2006, 02:45 AM   #22
Dazzler
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

Quote:
Pauliina Lievonen wrote:
Did anyone ever smile back at you? Or did that just never happen?

I sometimes like to smile, or at least look with a friendly look, at posturing teenagers... sometimes it gets me obscene comments, but sometimes you can see that they really don't know what to do with that response.

kvaak
Pauliina
Sure... I got all sort of responses. And some would completely disarm me, I suspect yours would have too.

I was pretty selective though. There was no kyudos in beating up girls and grandparents.

It was a really narrow selection really - other men that looked up for it. Anyone that didn't lock on to the eye contact didn't get chosen.

Thats why I pretend to be oblivious to it these days ...but try to appear switched on enough to deter real criminals rather than wannabee scrappers which is probably my old category.

It really was a long time ago - perhaps a bit too much personal info for a thread about differences from O'Sensei. (sorry Mark).

Cheers

D
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Old 11-16-2006, 04:59 AM   #23
markwalsh
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Re: Different from O Sensei?

Quote:
When someone did try to intimidate me recently by leaning in and staring at me it brought on an instinctive reaction to poke him right in the eye - not sure if it caused any permanent damage, there was a bit of blood coming out of it and he couldn't open it.
Ian - remind me NEVER to stare at your pint man :-)
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