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Old 07-06-2011, 08:02 PM   #1
graham christian
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Learning from other arts?

It seems to me lately that a lot of generalized statements about getting out and learning other arts is a solution to something. It's like the latest fad.

Quotes about O'Sensei and this one and that one....Phew.

Perspective is needed in my opinion.

Learning something from another field is normal not only in martial arts but in all walks of life. So why the emphasis?

It doesn't necessarily mean go and train in that one and this one will improve, no one in their right mind would believe that. That to me is usually a sign of a bad student.

When looking back over history I suggest you look from this viewpoint: A person usually goes to learn a specific principle or two that they could see could benefit their own art. A subtle difference but a major one.

Now when talking about a stellar figure like O'Sensei you have to differentiate even further. This man was on a path, a lifelong path, searching for something he believed he could find in martial arts and when he found it thus was borne Aikido.

A different level of character and purpose so using him as an example is not comparing like with like I'm afraid.

Note that thereafter it wasn't a matter of him going to other arts but more a matter of him developing his own and hundreds if not thousands coming to him, drawn like magnets to these new principles that he could demonstrate yet they couldn't understand. A new learning.

Now let's come to present time for all of you with any long term experience. How many people have come to your Aikido from other arts and what for?

In my experience going back to when I was a beginner I have seen many. I have seen a kung fu master who runs a school full time and very highly regarded come to learn one principle. I have seen taekwondo people do the same. Judoka, etc.

On the other hand I have seen some come to learn Aikido after giving up their other art and happily staying with it saying this is what they were always looking for.

But never have I met or seen a person who thought doing this would improve that.

The point overall therefore is that there are some on a general Martial arts or budo path that end up 4th dan in this and 6th dan in that. Then there are others who go elsewhere just to learn a principle they feel will assist their chosen one.

This rules out the view of mixing practices in order to improve as a bland statement.

Thoughts?
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Old 07-06-2011, 10:51 PM   #2
Falc
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Re: Learning from other arts?

When I was first starting out, I was spending a lot of time with Gil Johnson, Ronnie Pohnel, Alvin Prouder, and sometimes Bill Wallace -- all hardstyle international champions and experts. Gil was also involved with Kali arts, of course (having ghost-penned most of Danny Inosanto's earlier books.) I was picking up Escrima from him as well.

So I start attending at the TenShin Dojo in N. Hollywood. (Mark Maketa was also there for a while, an Inosanto disciple, and Taka Sensei was just dating Kelly.) I started learning about concepts like Taking Center, raising the sword... tenkan... basics. And I started trying to incorporate those into my Wednesday night black belt sparring with those hard style legends, because Gil and I had been talking so much about how Bruce Lee didn't see JKD as a style so much as a philosophy of using what works for you and your body, taking it from wherever it may be found.

It was an abysmal failure. I remember Ronnie telling me one night that I better stop trying that Aikido crap, that I was going to get my teeth kicked in if I kept on trying to do that stuff. Of course, the implication was that Aikido didn't work, and I was quick to defend that AIKIDO works, that it was my use of it that was failing. I was sure if Matsuoka Sempai or Seagal Sensei or even an uchideshi were there in my place, they'd see how it's SUPPOSED to work.

While that was true, the problem wasn't just my ability to perform the technique. It was a very fundamental incompatibility. In hard style, we were ALWAYS over-extending, giving away our balance in a (semi) controlled fashion. This is in direct conflict with the idea of keeping one's Center. Of course the two concepts could not exist in the same person at the same time.

So far, the only thing I've found that is not inherently incompatible with Aikido (as a whole integrated art) is Escrima. I suppose that's because much of the stick work is deflection, a form of tenkan. What is not reminds me much of irimi... Or maybe it's just me, the practitioner, who is able to see the two (Aikido and Escrima) as similiar in my own heart and mind.

In any case, one must be able to unite the fragments and techniques inside oneself -- without conflict or opposition -- for them to work together. It can be done. Irimi seems to be at odds with tenkan, and yet one can enter, then smoothly switch to tenkan as one takes the attacker harmlessly to the ground. Perhaps this is another indication of the genius of O-Sensei, that he integrated these seeming opposites into one balanced art.

What do you think?
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Old 07-07-2011, 01:09 AM   #3
graham christian
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Hi John.
Nice post.

On the last paragraph I agree. Only by seeing the principles of what your doing and how they relate to natural phenomena in life, as you say to 'unite the fragments and techniques in oneself' can it finally become natural to you.

One motion naturally leading to another ie: irimi to tenkan, is based not on body mechanics but on natural non-resistive pathways of energy motion. So of course they can naturally flow into each other.

Personally I wouldn't let students practice things like kaeshi waza or nagashi waza until they thoroughly understood the above.

Regards.G.
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Old 07-07-2011, 02:49 AM   #4
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Re: Learning from other arts?

I suppose when you identify the principle you study it in your own art, so what would be the benefit to go and practise elsewhere to study a principle? Confirmation? Refinement?

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
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Old 07-07-2011, 11:23 AM   #5
Don Nordin
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Good Post Graham,

In my humble opinion you are correct. As a relative beginner (2 years with Aikido) I think in most cases trying any other art would only confuse me. The possible exception in my case might be Jodo, but I have chosen to wait to start that until I am more comfortable with Aikido.
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Old 07-07-2011, 11:41 AM   #6
Richard Stevens
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Re: Learning from other arts?

"It doesn't necessarily mean go and train in that one and this one will improve, no one in their right mind would believe that. That to me is usually a sign of a bad student."

I completely disagree. Cross-training in another art is bound to bring improvement to your "main" art even if you aren't consciously trying to incorporate principles into it. It can be totally organic.

Becoming proficient in a striking art would improve atemi in Aikido. Training in Judo would improve your grip, explosiveness, hip throws, strangulations, etc.

Having Judo experience has made it far easier for me to pick up on certain aspects of Jujutsu, and if I still studied Judo actively I'm certain that my Judo would improve simply from cross-training.
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Old 07-07-2011, 04:15 PM   #7
graham christian
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Quote:
Tim Ruijs wrote: View Post
I suppose when you identify the principle you study it in your own art, so what would be the benefit to go and practise elsewhere to study a principle? Confirmation? Refinement?
Hi Tim. Examples: 1) The kung fu teacher became aware via a japanese student that the way we used tha principle of centre was different to his and would be useful to him. He came and trained for one month in that one principle.

2) My Godson was readying himself for the national under 16s praying mantis championships and through practicing on me was confused how I got to him. On finding out it was based on tai sabake he wanted to learn that so he came for three weeks training on that. By the way he won Gold.

3) A taekwondo practitioner trying to get into the olympic team came specific principles, he got in the team.

Three different examples of what I mean.

Regards.G.
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Old 07-07-2011, 04:26 PM   #8
graham christian
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Thanks for the reply Don.

Richard. I said it doesn't necessarily mean, you say it undoubtedly does.

O.K. What if the two arts are incompatible?

Secondly, did the whole of Judo lead to what you say or certain parts? Did the whole of a striking art lead to improved ateme or a specific part.

Add to that which parts of that 'other' training did you find you automatically did in Aikido which in fact you shouldn't of. In other words it got in the way 'by accident'
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Old 07-08-2011, 08:27 AM   #9
Richard Stevens
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
Richard. I said it doesn't necessarily mean, you say it undoubtedly does.

O.K. What if the two arts are incompatible?

Secondly, did the whole of Judo lead to what you say or certain parts? Did the whole of a striking art lead to improved ateme or a specific part.

Add to that which parts of that 'other' training did you find you automatically did in Aikido which in fact you shouldn't of. In other words it got in the way 'by accident'
What I'm taking from your comments is you think that another art can get in the way of Aikido or people may not be capable of applying skills gained in other arts to Aikido without damaging it. Was that a bad inference on my part?

Out of curiousity, what art would you say is incompatible with Aikido? Would it be one based on starkly different principles? Maybe I'm naive to think that any art would help develop skills (even if they are just body skills) that would improve someone's Aikido.

Obviously, there are arts that compliment Aikido like Judo, Daito-Ryu, and Iaido, which utilize similar principles. However, I would argue training in a very different system, like western boxing or wrestling, would result in improvements in one's Aikido.

The main argument against this idea seems to be the possibility of one becoming confused and trying to apply incompatible principles from one art to another. However, I tend to believe that people are capable of discerning what works and what doesn't. There will be stumbling points, but that's all a part of learning.

With similar arts, like Judo and Jujutsu, I think you can directly apply principles and techniques. I study Hakko-Ryu and certain Jujutsu techniques were second nature to me because I had learned something similar in Judo. Taking Shotokan Karate as a youth was beneficial to Jujutsu related atemi.

With dissimilar arts, like the boxing or wrestling previously mentioned, there may be principle incompatibility and you may not be able to incorporate specific techniques into Aikido without altering to the point it is no longer Aikido. However, even if those principles and techniques are not brought in, the body skills gained from those arts would greatly benefit an Aikidoka. The way boxers are wrestlers train, an Aikidoka is bound to gain improvements in hand and foot speed, explosiveness, and strength.

The biggest issue I see in regard to cross-training in other arts is not dedicating enough time to either art. Unless you are training frequently, it may be questionable to expect to excel at both arts.

One of the biggest benefits I can see in cross-training in another art is an element which I've always thought is missing in many styles of Aikido as well as Hakko-Ryu, sparring. I think it's hard to argue that the mental benefits gained from being in a pressure situation would have a positive effect on one's Aikido. It also gives on an opportunity to try to apply certain Aikido/Jujutsu techniques on a highly resisting opponent in a pressure situation. I've had the opportunity to roll with a judoka and a few BJJ practitioners a few times recently, and it was enlightening to say the least.
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Old 07-08-2011, 10:37 AM   #10
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Re: Learning from other arts?

IMHO, there is nothing new or special about learning from other arts or cross training.

Some people never do it.

Some of us always have.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:24 AM   #11
graham christian
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Hi Richard.
Certain sayings and advisory statements are reminding you of a principle or thing to watch out for. For instance 'don't mix practices'

So first you could look at time. If someone wants to learn Aikido your way then it will take them a certain amount of time to get get enough stable understanding. Prior to that time training in another art to improve Aikido would be counter productive.

Cross training it'self is not based on 'do that and it will improve this'

Cross training is based on a person noting down what type of skills they want and going to the places specifically for those skills.

One way is sensible the other not so.

You want to build a 'flexible frame' or learn some i/s then go there for that purpose. You want to learn kicks then go to the appropriate place. But know precisely in each case what you are doing it for.

It's so obvious to me I fail to see what the confusion is. For me when it comes to Aikido and let's say Judo or even Iaido it's a no brainer. Iwould do Judo because I want to learn Judo, I would do Iaido because I want to learn Iaido. Neither would as a whole improve my Aikido. On the other hand certain aspects of them no doubt would compliment it and no doubt certain things I already know in Aikido would help me understand those Arts better.

However, unless I can leave Aikido at the door then certain habits would interfere with the other art. Obviously.

The same rules apply to learning anything no? Try learning five languages at the same time. Many footballers go to boxing gyms to build upper body strength etc. but they don't go there to learn football do they? It's not you can be a boxer in order to improve your football.

It's all cross training, it's nothing new.

It only gets funky when A group of successful footballers who do boxing training turns into some boxing trainer saying we hold the core to football. duh.....Boxers are now the experts on football.

Regards.G.
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:30 AM   #12
graham christian
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
IMHO, there is nothing new or special about learning from other arts or cross training.

Some people never do it.

Some of us always have.
Exactly. I suppose in the world of the richer sports the outside world is brought in nowadays by sports coaches. Theyre cross training without even knowing it.

Regards G.
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Old 07-08-2011, 12:15 PM   #13
Richard Stevens
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Let's agree to disagree.
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Old 07-08-2011, 03:50 PM   #14
graham christian
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Quote:
Richard Stevens wrote: View Post
Let's agree to disagree.
O.k. Agreed.
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Old 07-08-2011, 03:57 PM   #15
graham christian
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Just thought, I'm still waiting to hear stories from people who have had someone from another art come to them for help via Aikido.

It seems to go strangely quiet whenever I ask this.

Regards.G.
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Old 07-08-2011, 05:30 PM   #16
Cady Goldfield
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
Just thought, I'm still waiting to hear stories from people who have had someone from another art come to them for help via Aikido.

It seems to go strangely quiet whenever I ask this.
It won't be surprising if this starts to happen when more aikido teachers have reclaimed IP/aiki skills back into their art, and they have attained the skill levels that people from other arts will notice and want for their own.
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Old 07-08-2011, 06:01 PM   #17
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
Just thought, I'm still waiting to hear stories from people who have had someone from another art come to them for help via Aikido.
i came to aikido hoping to wear a skirt and still get respect. i don't know if that count.

personally, i went to other arts to learn stuffs to improve me. for example, after losing bokken speed contest with George Ledyard, i was determined to beat him next time. so i went to train with the Systema guys to learn how to move in a really relax manner without telegraph and in lots of uncomfortable situation. of course, those guys beat the living day light out of me, but i did learn how to move fast. then George went and lose a bunch of weight which made him quicker than before. so now i have to be sneaky and offer him a large B-B-Q sandwich before the match.

i went to study taekwondo to learn how to do scissor split kick with a punch so i can kill 3 people at the same time. it would come in handy dealing with them ninja. i watched the movie Shinobi, and those buggers were nasty, except for the girl which you could die for (which the other guy did....oooppps didn't mean to give away the plot...sorry sorry so sorry).

i went to study okinawan karate because the gi snapping when you do the unsu kata impress the heck out of the lady. good way to get a date or friction burn.

i went to study judo so i could learn the north-south lock so i could improve the love aspect of aikido, since the north-south lock also known as the 69 waza in kamasutra-do. i can assure you that you can get a lot of love out of that.

i went to study ground fighting to improve my rolling in the hay. i can tell you that the rubber guard has a whole new meaning in Troy.

i encouraged folks to follow my path. and if folks want to come and learn from me, then i can declare myself the next O'sensei.

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Old 07-08-2011, 06:20 PM   #18
Janet Rosen
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
i came to aikido hoping to wear a skirt and still get respect. i don't know if that count.......[snip of all the really funny stuff]
i encouraged folks to follow my path. and if folks want to come and learn from me, then i can declare myself the next O'sensei.
I'm gonna have to mark you down...

Janet Rosen
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Old 07-08-2011, 06:26 PM   #19
graham christian
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Mmmm. Still waiting.....
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Old 07-08-2011, 09:55 PM   #20
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
Mmmm. Still waiting.....
We have a Karate 7th Dan master studying Ki and Aikido with us. We also have a bunch of guys from other Aikido schools studying Ki with us, does it count?
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Old 07-08-2011, 10:18 PM   #21
graham christian
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Quote:
Ting Piao wrote: View Post
We have a Karate 7th Dan master studying Ki and Aikido with us. We also have a bunch of guys from other Aikido schools studying Ki with us, does it count?
Yes. Brilliant. I expected lots from people and I made a specific thread for it once with little response.

To me it should be natural for this to happen and so I expected to see lots of responses and thus a true promotion of Aikido. Instead all I was seeing was the opposite.

Surely the scene out there can't be that bad?

Regards.G.
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Old 07-08-2011, 10:26 PM   #22
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
Just thought, I'm still waiting to hear stories from people who have had someone from another art come to them for help via Aikido.

It seems to go strangely quiet whenever I ask this.

Regards.G.
I am routinely asked by a non-Aikido practice group to share Aikido insights into their practices. I routinely take away from their practices as well.

It's not my teaching Aikido; rather, it's "given my years of Aikido, here's a different perspective, a modification or adjustment, an alternative, an opening to exploit, a way to make that more effortless or more painful, ... If it works, keep it and work it in to what you already do."

No big deal.

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Old 07-08-2011, 10:34 PM   #23
graham christian
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Quote:
Joe McParland wrote: View Post
I am routinely asked by a non-Aikido practice group to share Aikido insights into their practices. I routinely take away from their practices as well.

It's not my teaching Aikido; rather, it's "given my years of Aikido, here's a different perspective, a modification or adjustment, an alternative, an opening to exploit, a way to make that more effortless or more painful, ... If it works, keep it and work it in to what you already do."

No big deal.
On the contrary. That's good and therefore it is a big deal.
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:41 PM   #24
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Re: Learning from other arts?

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
Now when talking about a stellar figure like O'Sensei you have to differentiate even further. This man was on a path, a lifelong path, searching for something he believed he could find in martial arts and when he found it thus was borne Aikido.

A different level of character and purpose so using him as an example is not comparing like with like I'm afraid.

Note that thereafter it wasn't a matter of him going to other arts but more a matter of him developing his own and hundreds if not thousands coming to him, drawn like magnets to these new principles that he could demonstrate yet they couldn't understand. A new learning.

This rules out the view of mixing practices in order to improve as a bland statement.

Thoughts?
Pure rubbish and an incomplete thought process from the start.
None of what you say is factually correct or even logical to anyone who has the slightest knowledge of Ueshiba's training experiences and research. Your founder did everything you are railing against; it was exactly his going out to other arts in order to develop his own. He continued to research and continued to develop.

You see his art as a finished product, and that he knew best for you... he obviously never thought that way or even took on that role. He encouraged people to develop their individual way of aiki.
Were I you, I would consider that genius is not stagnant. Followers of visionaries rarely do as well. They lag behind and never catch the original fire. He knew it and tried to break his own mold for others to catch on.
The majority of followers are not visionaries, instead they opt for a pallid substitute and sadly think it is all they are personally capable of and keep pointing to the past to validate their present state. It's easy not to excell when you convince yourself that you can't exceed the model you placed before you.
Aikido can be so much more than it has turned into. It can be one of finest arts the world has known, but it needs a serious shift in focus to do so.
Dan
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Old 07-09-2011, 06:47 AM   #25
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Re: Learning from other arts?

IMHO, many people identify with a specific art/box and do not venture outside that art/box.

Others identify with being martial artists which includes all arts/boxes.

Sorta depends what you identify with.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
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