Aikido Stories and Anecdotes

Date: Sat, 23 Sep 1995 02:27:12 -0400
From: "David F. Bosco" <>
Subject: Re: Off to HOSPITAL...

On Fri, 22 Sep 1995, Mark Dennehy wrote:

> > Wonder if it wasn't surpressed with medication if I'd be doing Aikido moves > > while asleep. Sounds od...I it if you can.

> Ummm.. well, from what I understand of the dreaming mechanism, your > body releases a chemical that paralyses your muscular groups to > prevent you wandering about in your sleep. > So, I don't think the nurses have to worry about a sudden nikkyo > being applied by a snoring patient ;)

Or maybe not. A few years ago, waking up from general anaesthesia after out-patient surgery, I came to flat on my back and looking up at a nurse who had a rather puzzled and concerned look on her face. She and a few colleagues had been gently shaking me to bring me around, and I had unconsciously taken her wrist in a kotegaeshi grip and begun slowly to apply some pressure. Some louder voices from the nurses, however, alerted me to what I was doing. Fortunately I was too out of it to feel too embarased.

Perhaps there is such a thing as too much free style practice against wrist grabs with nage's eyes closed?


Date: Mon, 25 Sep 1995 16:27:15 PDT
From: Kevin Jones <>

Subject: Inspirational people

It occured to me that there are a number of people in my Aikido past who've had a marked effect on the direction my training has taken. Indeed without some of these people, I might not even be still practicing Aikido.

Now, it's no surprise to anyone, and in some sense uninteresting, when we say "my Aikido was inspired by {O Sensei, Tohei sensei, SaitO Sensei, Saotome sensei, ...}" because most of us know (or at least know of) these people and are quite conversant with their contribution to the art - even if we wouldn't always agree on all aspects of their worth :-).

What I'm thinking of are the "little people" that no one outside the local dojo is ever likely to have come across but who, in some way or another, have had a real effect on your practice. It seems to me that we have a number of people on this list, ranging from decades to days in the art, who cover a wide range of dojo, and that this is the only medium where this kind of "inspirational person" is ever likely to be discussed. I always find this hearing stories of this kind helps to stoke my flame, as it were, and maybe some others here feel the same [or maybe it's just that I'm not interested in Tattoos and am looking for more interesting reading material :-)].

For me personally, there are a number of people who fit into this category, so I'll give an example from my own experience to show you the kind of thing I had in mind.

#################################################################### Back in the dim and distant past [probably before some people reading this were *born* - even though my teacher still thinks I'm a young whipper-snapper and I *know* I'm younger than some of the folk here :-)], when I first began practicing in the adult Aikido class in my first dojo, there were a large number of yudansha at all levels of age and ability. Since I was 16 (and not completely sane :-)), I was quickly adopted as a "ukemi-puppy" by a number of the yudansha and took great delight in bouncing off the walls and seeing if I could get them tired of throwing me before I got tired from being thrown :-). In the times between ukemi, I'd try to throw my partner to the ground as as big a thud as I could arrange. All in all, just what you'd expect for "young athletic male beginner" Aikido.

There were a number of older people in the class too, but I have to admit that I tended to avoid them since I thought that they'd be too slow and frail to be interesting. They certainly didn't seem to be bouncing off the walls!

There was one particular gentleman, Mr. Bateman, who was at that time 86 years old. He'd taken up Aikido when he was ~75 and had achieved nidan. Although I didn't realize it at the time (what's the saying about "old heads and young shoulders not being compatible" :-)), this person was rather special in a number of ways: he was about 5 feet, and weighed maybe 100 lbs soaking wet but he obviously had a very strong mind. He'd drive 1 hour to get to class, in an MGB sports car, practice for a couple of hours, go up to the bar for one drink and then drive back home again. He did this for one or two classes every week and usually practiced with one of a small group of yudansha. I probably assumed they were all old and slow :-).

One day when I was about 5th Kyu, I was a little slow in grabbing a partner and found myself about to practice with Mr. Bateman. I thought "Oh well, make the best of it; take it easy on him and make sure it doesn't happen again. I'll be really careful to make sure I don't hurt him". About 10 mins later, I was thinking "I wonder if I'll survive to the end of class"!

Mr. Bateman was not very physically strong but his technique was extremely powerful. I was exhausted in a matter of minutes and in a way that I never was after an hour of full bore "blood, sweat and tears" practice with the young yudansha. He didn't take flying ukemi, but he did make dignified forward rolls - and that's all anyone could make him do, no matter what their intentions were! He was efficient enough to rest in the gaps during the movements, and so was able to keep going at the same pace all night. He asked me if I needed to rest a couple of times, I think. I was worn out, exhausted and battered (with the nicest feeling imaginable since this was clearly a gentle-man in all senses) long before the class ended and I finished in in something of a haze.

After we finished and thanked our partners, I sat in the dojo for a while, thinking about what had happened, and how blind I'd previously been. I think this was probably the moment when I first realized some small glimmer of the depth in Aikido, when I realized that an 80 year old really could be "better" than a 20 year old and that I could still be improving in my practice 70 years from that point! It certainly helped remove some of my arrogance and maybe helped change some of the stupidity too - I'd heard people talk about Ki before but now I saw that it really did mean some thing in actual practice. I didn't know what but it was obvious that some people had something that I didn't - and it wasn't bigger muscles :-).

This experience gave me a completely new approach to my practice: I still enjoyed bouncing off the walls just as much :-) but I began to see the differences between those who were just using force to "throw" and those who were (to whatever level) truly trying to practice Aikido, with all that entailed. After this, I went out of my way to practice with anyone, young or old, since I'd discovered that there were many different approaches to practice and, if I paid attention, I could benefit from any of them. I began to see the difference between just technique and Aikido; I began to see the difference between a "Do" and Self Defense. I began to get a clue about why I was spending 20+ hours each week wearing strange pajamas and where I could go if I continued. Oh, and I saw just how often I could insert myself into that group of "old, slow and frail" yudansha ...

Now maybe I would have found this out eventually anyway(?) but Mr. Bateman was such a graphic illustration of how wrong my thinking was, that I'm sure he saved me years at the very least. I'll always be very grateful for that and feel blessed that there was such a person available in the dojo and that I could be given this lesson in this way.

So this is an example of a person no one else on this list has ever heard of [and I can be pretty sure of that since at a recent Summer school, my teacher mentioned Mr. Bateman and I was one of only three people on the mat who remembered him - doesn't 20 years fly by :-)] but who had a great influence on my practice.

Mr. Bateman died in about 1978 and was practicing up until a few weeks before his death.

So, that gives you an idea of what I had in mind. Anybody else want to contribute some other folk, who may never have been Sensei but clearly were sensei for our collective inspiration?

Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 22:00:53 EST
From: Rick Clark <> Organization: Indiana State University

Subject: Re: Bowing Outside the Dojo (was: Excessive Bowing)

> >As an aside, anyone start to bow outside the dojo? While I don't > actually
> >BOW I do tend to sometimes give slightly aggresive nods of > confirmation whe
> >I really agree with what someone has to say. Perhaps they think I > have a
> >problem? Hehe

I have a great one:-) I was in Chinatown in Chicago, I opened a door for an old Chinese man, without thinking I bowed as he came in, he gave a short nod/bow and walked in real fast like. Wooppps, he stops dead in his tracks just after passing me and turns around and sees it's not a Chinese guy you should have seen the look in his face. Words can not describe his face:-) So much for the inscrutable (sp?) oriental:-) I had to walk about a block before I could let out a laugh........his face was great.

Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 02:23:11 -0600
From: Neil McKellar <>
Subject: Re: Inspirational people

I would like to mention two people, one from Aikido and one not:

First, John Van Doorn, a shodan at the UofA club. He was a constant at the dojo when I first started. His background was originally in judo and he came to Aikido much later on. He used to say about ukemi that every noise you make on the mat is a part of your body that will be injured on concrete. I still think about this every time I practice. He would also say, "You make your own breakfall." His favorite technique to show this on was koshinage. He would get someone to throw him (he had nearly silent breakfalls) and then he would point out, from the ground, what things were important (body position, etc.). Finally he would say, "And nage shouldn't bend over during the throw" and from the ground he would throw nage and apply an armlock. This always impressed me. It took me a long time to become comfortable with breakfalls, but John's comments and criticisms stay with me. (BTW, John still practices here sometimes. He just got a hip replacement and has started back to class as his body will allow. He's retired and likes to travel.)

Second, my karate teacher's teacher, Masaru Shintani. Although not directly related to Aikido, he was the first person I ever heard talk at length about tai sabaki. As a beginner, the mantra of any seminar with him seemed to be "Relax the shoulders. Use your hips. Extend the punch." Little did I know that this mantra would be repeated in Aikido with only moderate revision. :-) He also had the most amazing punch I have ever seen. When I first saw him conduct a seminar in 1985, he would perform two punches for each counter-technique. I could never quite manage to see these punches. You could hear a snap on each one as he reached his target, but the rest was just a blur. The last time I saw him in seminar was 1993. His punch was still fast. He called me up as uke during a class and I received one of those punches right to the chest. I heard the snap and realized for the first time that the sound was from _my_ gi and not his. His focus was so precise that the fabric of my gi would go rigid briefly at the contact of the punch. More to the point, even though I was moving, he only touched the gi to make this sound. Afterwards, I looked around at some of the people in class who were trying to make this sound by striking their partners hard enough. :-) I think of this when I do kata, and sometimes in Aikido when I see people throwing with all their might to try and make a loud noise like sensei. (BTW, Mr. Shintani still teaches karate in Canada. I believe he has a dojo in Hamilton, Ontario. As well, he travels a great deal conducting seminars like the ones held every year in Edmonton.) --
Neil McKellar (

Date: Wed, 4 Oct 1995 13:35:42 PDT
From: Kevin Jones <>
Subject: Re: You know you've been in the MA too long when.......

<I seem to be in story telling mode today! Feel free to tell me to shut up from time to time. I don't promise to actually shut up but at least I'll know who I'm annoying :-)>

I used to teach an Aikido class in space rented from a Jujutsu school. The mat was in the middle of the floor surrounded by weight machines and other sundries, with no delineated kamiza or shomen of any sort.

To preserve the feeling of a traditional class (we were a very new dojo and wanted as much familiar tradition as we could find), we constructed a "virtual kamiza" in our minds and started class as if it were there. This happened to be facing the changing rooms and bathrooms.

Back then, we used to read one of Tohei sensei's Shokushu (ki sayings/poems similar to doka) before the start of each class, and the tradition was that someone other than the teacher would do this reading. Partially because we were in an informal environment, we deliberately used the most elaborate of the acceptable etiquette patterns to do this. So, one would bow to the Kamiza, turn and bow to the class, read, bow to the class, turn bow to the Kamiza, turn and bow to the teacher.

One day, we decided it was time that a beginner who'd been practicing for a month took his turn at reading the shokushu. So we asked him if he knew the etiquette. He said "Sure. I bow to the toilet, turn, ..., bow to the toilet again, ...". He didn't understand why we were rolling on the floor laughing, wondering if he'd decided Aikido was a particularly strange form of toilet worship. I guess you had to be there!!

I'm embarrassed to admit that a couple of us lost it when he did actually start the shokushu by bowing, we assume, to the toilet!.

What can I say ...

Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 16:36:58 -0700
From: Roni Burrows <>
Subject: Re: Perceptive Differences (funny stories)

Krystal responded.
> My Sensei, Michael Friedl, was teaching a seminar somewhere, . . .forgot >his black belt, . . . put on his spare white belt, . . . (newbie) proceded to >tell Michael how to tie his belt! . . . He said the look on the guy's face as

he >saw the newbie he helped dress come out of the dressing room, everyone >stop and bow to him, and clap to get the class >to line up.

Similar story (not really Aikido related) - A colleague was invited to give a presentation at a chemical company. Entered the conference room, was asked by a Company engineer, who was early, to please get him some coffee, black. Imagine HIS surprise when 5 minutes later she was introduced as "our invited speaker, Dr. Kunz".

Another story - Aikido related. At a small Aikido group training at a Y, a stranger showed up, bowed politely, asked if he could train. The instructors asked his experience in Aikido. He claimed 6th dan. The instructors politely hid their skepticism, and were only moderately surprised when he came out of the locker room wearing a brand new gi, brand new black belt, and no hakama. The funny thing was, he wore his gi top right-over-left. When asked why he wore it that way, he responded that at 1st dan the gi is worn left over right, then at 2nd dan it's right over left, and so on. He trained, didn't get hurt (they thought he might have had 3 or 4 years experience. After the practice was over he left quickly. Folks who left later found, in the locker room, an abandoned brand new gi and black belt.

Ain't life funny?

Date: Fri, 10 Nov 1995 09:07:31 -0500
From: Ron Lavoie <>
Subject: Blending (story)

I try to do it every year. It's become a kind of Autumn ritual for me. When Thanksgiving is approaching, I make my plans and find my partner. We choose our food, pack our gear, and plan our route. Then we head for Kilarney Provincial Park for four days of the best canoeing anywhere. This year, however, would be different.

I had started studying Aikido about four months earlier. I thought it would be fairly easy to pick up because I had been training in Hapkido for about eight months. In University (more years ago than I care to admit), I had studied Hung Gar Kung Fu. Surely Aikido wouldn't be that different. My first class was a humbling experience. "Uke", "Nage", "Tenkan", "Ukemi", "oops", "no, the other shoulder." And so on. I felt like a total klutz. I soon realized that I had learned only to move my arms and legs, blocking, kicking, striking. I had not learned to move my body, my centre. The concept of blending seemed incomprehensible. After many more classes, I began to feel a bit less like a klutz, and I began to think that I just might, after years of practice, get some grasp of the basic concepts of Aikido. Then I went canoeing.

We slipped into the water, the kevlar canoe barely making a sound as it met the waves, and I thought, "Here, I'm not a klutz; here, I know what I'm doing." As we rounded the first bend in George Lake, the water got deeper, greener, and the quartz mountains of the La Cloche range rose up before us. I felt connected, at peace. Our paddles barely made a sound as we pushed the canoe forward. And then it hit me: blending.

With each stroke, the caonoe, the water, the paddles, the paddleres, all felt connected. Dan was a good canoeing partner: strong, skilled, and with a good sense of rhythmn and pacing. We were also blending. Our synchronized strokes made the canoe move forward in a straight line, not zig-zagging. Uke and Nage as one. When the wind picked up, we had to blend with it as well, adapting our course so that it offered minimum resistance. Blending.

When we started our first portage, I found blending again. I was to carry the canoe. If you don't know how to walk when you're wearing a canoe on your head, you get tired and sore very quickly. As you walk over uneven terrain, your centre generally goes up and down, and the bouncing of the canoe on your shoulders can really wear you down, and quite quickly. The trick is to wiggle your hips so that instead of bouncing up and down, you "bounce" from side to side. That way your centre stays at basically at the same height. The variations in the trail are absorbed by the side-to-side movement of your hips. You are at one with the Earth. Blending.

I didn't mention my insights to Dan, because he's not an Aikidoka, and I figured he wouldn't understand. I was wrong. When we set up camp the first night, I pitched the tent and prepared a dinner of tofu and noodles while Dan tried to build a fire. It had rained much of the day, and I knew that any wood he gathered would be wet. I didn't think he'd be able to get anything going. By the time I had our food ready, he had a damn good fire blazing and was drying his clothes. I asked him how he had done it. Without a moment's hesitation, he said, "I just let the fire tell me what to do." Blending.

That night as I tried to find a comfortable postion for sleeping on the bumpy ground, I thought about what had happened during the day. Partially because of the thoughts running around in my head, and partially because of the lumpy ground on which I had set up the tent, I had trouble getting to sleep. I finally realized that my best strategy was to conform my body to the bumps around me. Blending. In no time, I was asleep.

I thought many times about blending throughout the remaining days, and I believe that my canoeing actually got better. I don't know if I learned more about Aikido or about canoeing on that trip, but I know I learned much. Perhaps I learned most about myself.

Date: Wed, 13 Dec 1995 10:47:12 -0500
From: GaryPorter <>
Subject: Spirituality in Aikido

Now that it seems many folks are agreeing that there is nothing mystical in the use of ki or Aikido, but merely misunderstanding of terms:

"Suddenly the earth trembled. Golden vapor welled up from the ground and engulfed me. I felt transformed into a golden image, and my body seemed as light as a feather. All at once I understand the nature of creation: the Way of a Warrior is to manifest Divine Love, a spirit that embraces and nurtures all things. Tears of gratitude and joy streamed down my cheeks. I saw the entire earth as my home, and the sun, moon, and stars as my intimate friends. All attachment to material things vanished." O Sensei Ueshiba

Sounds mystical to me. Saotome Sensei has made public a similar experience that he had. Maybe I would ignore this kind of recollection if I was satisfied with physical exercise, scientific studies, and what is on the telly tonight.... but I'm not.

Since I rode out a hurricane last night, the quote from Tohei Sensei's "Ki Sayings Book" comes to mind: "When the willpower is focused and in harmony with the Universe, it can command the wind, rain, and thunder." An analogy? If he meant that literally I would call it at least paranormal. I'm still working on how to command the wind... but then I still have power at my house and no trees fell on me, like many places around me last night, so maybe I'm getting the hang of it! (Yeah, right)

Something that I have hesitated to mention, in anticipation of the smug and scathing replies I would receive:

Onchi Sensei always cautioned me to avoid talking about things that might be termed "religious" or "mystical" when leading an open class, because they can be off-putting to people who feel that you are threatening their beliefs or world view. Privately though, he is unashamedly open to the possibilities of "paranormal" abilities being within the range of human potential. He told me that Tohei Sensei was the same way. Even though he went to great lengths to use scientific explanations and terms in his teaching, Tohei Sensei also taught "Sending Ki" at a distance to other people as a form of Intoku (Good done in secret).

After Onchi Sensei got married, started a family, and stopped being a full-time Martial Arts instructor in favor of more lucrative pursuits, my time with him was lessened, and I might not see him for weeks or months. Often times, I would call him on the phone and he would say, "I'm glad you called... I want to talk to you." Or he would call me, I'd say "I was just thinking of you! How'd you know?" He'd say "You know." I dismissed it as coincidence, because that happens with some of my other close friends as well.

Four years ago, though, I got a call from my sister that my Father had a heart attack while hiking in the woods, did not get to the hospital for two hours after the pain started, was in critical condition and the prognosis was not good. My Father had always been vigorous and healthy, and until that time I did not fully appreciate how much I loved and depended on him.

I tried to get my self together for the 200 mile trip to the hospital. Telling myself "Stay calm" would help, then another wave of fear and grief would hit and I would break down. As I was thinking that I would not be able to drive, the phone rang. I said "Hello" and Onchi Sensei said "Gary. What's wrong?" He told me that I had suddenly stood out in his mind, so he called me. I told him what was going on, and he said "I can't go with you, but I will be with you." I felt calmed and grateful for his support. I drove to the hospital in Roseburg, and spent the night reassuring and calming my mother and sister.

I realize that this is anecdotal evidence and so has no place in scientific theory, but I have difficulty explaining how Onchi Sensei knew that I was so distressed from a great distance unless he had indeed developed a sensitivity to the "spirit waves" that Tohei Sensei has described, and a specific sensitivity to me as one of his diligent and loyal students.

I am not writing this to persuade those cynics and empiricists who ridicule anything that suggests there might be anything beyond the grasp of the five senses, but for those who still wonder what their limits truly are.

Date: Tue, 3 Dec 1996 09:33:22 -0700
From: Neil McKellar <>
Subject: Re: Elevators

Cady asks:
> Let me pose a slightly different question: How many sensei/shihan have had a > difficult time keeping a straight, serious, sensei-like face when one of > their students "let one rip" during a particularly sensitive and stressful > moment -- say, during his promotion test? >
> :-)

Ok. Once at a karate tournament, a group of children were competing in the kata division. So one of the kids is struggling mightily with his kata, and at just the moment when he should have given a loud kiai he let one rip instead. Then it was the judges' turn to struggle mightily. :-)

(Jeez, I've been telling more karate stories on this list than Aikido ones lately...gotta stop that.)

Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1997 11:31:53 -0600
From: Crazy <>
Subject: Re: black belt (shodan)

>Neil wrote:
>>I'm not talking about this from the standpoint of the new student >>looking for a dojo here, though. As a member of a dojo with local, >>provincial (read 'state' if in US), regional, national, and >>international ties, there are only a few legitimate ways to warn >>newcomers off of teachers you don't trust. >>
>>It doesn't look good to go around saying, "Stay away from Joe-Bob's >>House of Slam, that dojo is no good." Or to go spreading hard-luck >>stories about the training you've seen/heard/fantasized about. >>
>>*But* you can say, "Well, they aren't affiliated with any >>organization." (Or, better yet, "They aren't affiliated with anyone >>*anymore*.")
>Heh heh. Aikido people are so darned _civil_.

Uh... don't be rash with this conclusion.
True story follows: USAF Summer Camp, '96. A local third dan works out with a white belt. The third dan is a pain in the ass (habitual state, everone knows it, no surprises) so he starts giving grief to the white belt. White belt decides that the sempai is full of shit, so he decides to give him grief back. So far so good - nothing unusual, right? Happens all the time. Problem is, the sempai doesn't know how to handle it in an appropriate (aiki) manner, so he gets pissed. Before you know it, they start shoving each other. The shoving changes to punching and soon they are on the mat, rolling, wrestling, scratching, biting... whatever. What was that saying - all fights end to the ground (even in an Aikido dojo!) :-)) They're really going at it. So, few people rush to separate 'em. On the mat are Yamada, Kanai and Waka. They kinda pretend that nothing's happening and gingerly keep walking around. (Maybe they REALLY didn't see it happen, but I doubt it.) That's a second hand info. I wasn't there to witness it. Those of you who were there and witnessed something like this, feel free to give your versions.

I have discussed this particular incident with a good source of mine, with the purpose of learning what is shihan's take on such a happening. I'd think, he'd be very upset over it, since it "violates the spirit of Aikido" blah-blah, (fill in fruity talk in there). I'd think that he'd severely reprimend the sandan for being so foolish and so out of control. It hasn't even registered in the radar! :-)) Turns out, shihan like this sort of thing, once in awhile. They feel that it builds "warrior spirit" and brings intensity and sincerety into the practice. :-))) I kid you not. I was explained that this is one reason why trouble-makers (difficult people, assholes, etc.) are not only tolerated at a shihan's dojo, but actually encouraged to remain there. Their presence is supposedely good for everyone else's practice.

...Of course, stuff like that happens all the time. I personally witnessed Kanai Sensei witnessing :-)) a similar happening. Two yudansha (both of them big, strong, raunchy and full of themselves) start doing kokyu-dosa. Nobody wants to go down. So they start wrestling, trying to choke each other... it was the most ...creative kokyu-dosa I've ever seen. Kanai comes around, watches for awhile (they don't even see him) kindly smiles and just walks away. I was tripping.

In other words, civil my ass.

Date: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 14:56:15 EST
From: Fred Litle <> Organization: Columbia University Administrative Information Services
Subject: Re: Upcoming Aikido demo

Hmmm....well, Saotome Sensei was talking about Summer Camp this weekend. As with the last year or two, he's doing a weapons intensive. Anticipating a certain amount of grumbling (Only weapons? A whole week? Oh, Maaaaan!) He said, "I know, some people don't like that much weapons training. Everybody likes to have a steak, but nobody wants a potato." So later, in the dressing room, a question occurred to me and I muttered out loud: "If taijutsu is the steak, and weapons work is the potato, then what's the broccoli?"

My old friend Neil turned around and said: "You mean the green stuff that's good for you but nobody ever wants to eat? That's got to be the philosophy."

Date: Thu, 27 Feb 1997 14:10:09 -0600
From: George Gelman <>
Subject: Re: Teaching how to fall properly in school?

At 20:18 27/02/97 +0100, you wrote:
>I think falling on ice IS often a lot different than the falls >we practice. It is more like the high-falls, but still different. > I've heard of people that fell of of motorcycles or >bicycles and used ukemi to come out unscathed, but that IS more >like what we train with.

I am not sure about ice falling, because I left frozen lands more than 20 years ago and since then my only contact with ice is just when I open my refrigerator. But generally speaking I think it is useful to know the correct way to fall and even unconsciously it can help you. For example there is a guy in our dojo who had an accident 9 or 10 month ago. He fell from a window of 5th floor (+/- 12 m). The only explanation the doctors give that he is not dead, is that his body was trained in doing breakfalls (BTW I think it is a Guinness Record of Breakfalls). He only broke his wrist and had a contusion of his head, spending 2 or 3 days in coma. But he is not dead and we all expect he will begin to train with us very soon.

Date: Fri, 2 May 1997 15:53:21 -0500
From: Oaks Charles <>
Subject: Re: Aiki and guns

Our assistant instructor was helping the local police practice arrest techniques(no, this isn't a joke), using nonlethal ammunition and safety goggles.

Practicing officer had him get out of the car and get on his knees, the arresting officer was reaching for his wrist to start the handcuff procedure. So assistant instructor thinks `sawariwaza katate dori kotegaishi' and goes for it. Cop pulls trigger, planting a wax 9mm slug in assistant instructor's sternum. Both were surprised at the speed of the event.

Assistant instructor showed us this nice deadcenter, nicklesize bruise the next day in class.

Date: Mon, 26 May 1997 18:33:59 -1000
From: Christopher Li <>
Subject: "Today I saw your true self."

> After testing today sensei said, "today I saw your true self." Any ideas > what sensei meant by that statement?

Well, I like the explanation that Frank Hreha sensei used to give. It goes something like this:

Question: What do you get when you squeeze an orange? Answer: You get what's inside the orange!

That is, there may be orange juice inside, or there may be rocks, there's no way to know for sure until you try sqeezing it. Testing is supposed to squeeze you a little bit - hopefully Aikido comes out, but you never know :-).

Date: Fri, 27 Jun 1997 22:59:59 -0700
From: Jun Akiyama <>

Subject: Re: Wrist strengthening

On Sat, 28 Jun 1997, Dex Sinister wrote: > Thanh Tran wrote:
> > How do I improve my posture.
> I'm told that some visualize an, oh say, 600 foot long dinasaur tail > extending straight down into the earth as an extension of your spine. > OTOH, you could just keep your back straight, I suppose.

... or, as one of our yudansha said it quite eloquently to me:

"Do you see that jo over there? Imagine it being stuck all the way in you where the sun doesn't shine. _Now_, how would you move?"

(OK, OK. So I euphemised his second sentence. But you get my drift.)

Date: Thu, 10 Jul 1997 14:10:44 EST
From: D Grant <>
Subject: Re[2]: Pain

>> Could "atemi" be just that, to use the "possibility" of pain to move >>uke?
>> Jun

>Well put Jun....I wish that I could express this as well as you have! >Again Marital Intent is what is key to this! I like your concept of >Pain and what is and what it should be!

I have a funny story - well, maybe not so funny, but to the point...Not long ago, my sister was visiting my husband and I and we all went to DisneyWorld and stayed in this little cramped hotel room. At one point, I was trying to cross the room and my husband was in my way and obnoxiously refused to move (as only husband's can...). I came through with a quick atemi to his face which effectively caused him to move backwards and allowing me to pass. (what can I say, Aikido works in all sorts of situations). Anyway, my sis sees this and a few minutes later as she tries to get past him and he was refusing to move, she tries to atemi him (I should mention that she is not an Aikidoist and doesn't know what an atemi is...she was just mimicking my moves)....but he didn't budge. She says to me, "why didn't it work?". My answer was, "You didn't have any intent. He doesn't believe that you will hit him." She tried a couple more times, but always her atemi would stop just short of his face...about the 5th time, she got a strike in that forced him to move. My sister could probably care less, but it was a good lesson for me!

Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 10:59:38 +0200
From: Peter Matko <>
Subject: Mokuso was Re: Kristina and Iaido Training

On Mon, 24 Aug 1998, Kristina Morris wrote:

> #003 humbling training experience
> Whatever that little command is to start silent meditation etc.....when
> all the protocol bowing stuff has been done......
> Well, sensei asked another student to open class (for practice). So ,
> we are all having silent meditation and I am meditating real good and
> breathing quite well, and then I open my eyes. Egg on my face.
> Evidently I was so far gone meditating, I didn't hear the command to end
> meditation and everyone else was just sitting there staring at me
> waiting for me to snap back to reality. Duhhhhhhh Don't know how long
> they waited on me, but I'm peeking from now on.

A story from our dojo occured to me, that happened before I started there, so I just heard it:

A sempai from our federation came to us to hold a week-end seminar. He just arrived from abroad, he drove all night, so he was very tired. The training started, mokuso: the people from our dojo closed their eyes, meditated, and meditated, and meditated... And after a while some snoring noises sounded... They waited a little, and my club leader went up to the sleeping sempai, pushed gently "Sempai, please...", and woke up him. The seminar continued.

Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 13:46:48 -0500
From: Margo Ballou <>
Subject: what I found out

So, Sunday was the semiannual Aikido potluck. (I brought the kokyunage... I had actually intended to design chicken katatetori for the event, but I now live in a house where no meat is allowed, so I settled for pasta salad and a peach-almond torte.) There was a 6th dan at the party, and after all the stories had died down, I asked him what the name of my mystery throw was. Although he did verify that the throw _has_ some other name besides morotetori kokyunage, he couldn't remember the name either.

Then he made me grab his shoulder repeatedly while he demonstrated the art of redirecting my attention. :) I'm going to remember that trick! "The exact date of the formation of the Council of State under Alexander I? Here, grab my wrist."

Date: Mon, 21 Sep 1998 19:28:52 +1000
From: Exiled ones <>

Subject: Re: Aikido and Effectiveness

James Robert Acker wrote:

>Very interesting thread. Since, as you point out, people >can become blase about tanto, and then presumably could >also about unsharpened "real" knives, why not also take >the oppurtunity to try to do it right the first time, by >stressing beforehand that this will happen and see if >they can manage to avoid suddenly losing composure and >treating it any different than a tanto? > Because in a real situation where there is a LOT on the >line it might be the extra salming effect that helps?>

This is a little off topic but does stress the do it right the first time bit.
While I was assigned to an F-14 squadron (its a US Navy airplane) we got a lecture on aircraft carrier flight deck safety from a grizzled old Master Chief who had only 9 fingers. He told all about the "dangers" of working on the "roof" as he called it and how this and that could and would kill you. and the he explained the dangers of wearing jewelry around aircraft on the flight deck (You see ships don't have a ground) and 400hrz tri-phase loves jewelry especially wedding bands. He closed the lecture by pulling out a jar that contained his ring finger. You see he hadn't taken taken this lecture seriously when it was given to him and while plugging a power cord (supposedly not live) it an airplane the juice liked the path through his gold wedding band and him to the flightdeck more than into the aircraft. Hot gold cut his finger off in no time. He kept it to remind himself of just how fast things can go wrong if you don't take precautions and pay attention to what is going on around you (Zanshin).

Ok, that was a good sea story however it is true

Date: Wed, 18 Mar 1998 08:06:37 -0500
From: Cady Goldfield <>

Subject: Re: Women's Self Defense Course

> > >Put pocketbook strap on shoulder, never accross your head >
> I always found that if you have a shoulder bag you can let it drop to > you wrist grabbing the strap with your hand and then for Aikido people > or if you teach katatetori kotegaeshi when the hand with the bag is > grabbed they can use the bag during the technique to smack the attacker > in the face. (If it weighs anything like mine - full of things neeeded > in case of nuclear war - a hangover from Girls Scout days they are in > deep ......) I suggest strongly to women however that they carry only > backpacks whenever possible on buses, subways and in rough neighborhoods > because it leaves both hands free to defend yourself. It is also much > less likely to be a target for robbery. >
> Peace. JILL

I remember reading about a local woman who was attacked while bringing her collection of quarters (in $5 paper rolls) to the bank for deposit. She thunked the guy in the groin with her laden purse, then bonked him on the head with it. He was down for the count.


Date: Thu, 19 Mar 1998 12:31:49 -0500
From: Dennis Hooker <>
Subject: Re: Women's Self Defense Course -- FOOEY!! (Why = long)

A few years ago in Pensacola Fl. there was this martial arts demo. Aikido - karate - other various arts. Well one of the karate teachers (I use the word teacher very loosely here) ask for assistance. No one volunteered. He came over and ask my son Dennis II to assist him. I said OK get him boy. Well this guy brought out a 357, I quickly jumped in and checked the gun, it was unloaded and safe. He gave it to Denny and said to the crowd " he will put the gun to my head and pull the trigger" which Denny did immediately. As the sound of the hammer dropped the crowd began to laugh and the teacher said wait a minute let's do that again. To which Denny pulled the trigger again. The poor guy gave up his gun defense technique there after. After all Denny was only 15 and had trained with grown men since he was 8 and fast decisive action is all that kept him from constant harm. (for those of you that are going to jump in my stuff about me not teaching kind, well I don't. He wanted to train and I let him)

Date: Wed, 8 Apr 1998 13:05:43 -0400
From: Dennis Hooker <>
Subject: Re: Telephone Booth Aikido

I don't know when this thread started or what it's about but I got a cute little story about a Telephone book. A friend of mine, a Wing Chung instructor has this cute little 3 inch punch. Well it can flat knock you on your ass. He was with another friend at a biker bar a couple of years ago. Well our biker friend, a Toyama Ryu Teacher (boy this gets gooder and gooder don't it) told one of the other bikers about this little trick. Well of course the biker did not believe such a wild tale and immediately challenged the Wing Chung "boy" to prove it. Well the Wing Chung "boy" was taken by surprised and had no intention doing such a thing (especially in a biker bar). The biker persisted and finally Caril ("woops" I didn't mean to say that) gave in and went an got a yellow pages phone book. The biker ask what the phone book was for and the unknown Wing Chung "boy" said hold this over your chest I don't wish to injure you. Well as you can imagine the biker was incensed to say the least, and insisted on using nothing between him and the this little wimpy ass 3 inch punch. Well the Wing Chung "boy" knocks the biker flat on his ass with this little 3 inch punch. By the way if you ever saw this guy with his shirt off, or if you've ever worked on in close technique with him.,you would never ask him to hit you. Well the rest of the bikers see this and unbelieving lined up one by one to get knocked on their ass. Every one took it in good humor. Oh boy what fun!!!

Date: Sat, 2 May 1998 18:53:21 +0100
From: Spaceman <wothersp@ENTERNET.COM.AU>
Subject: Kiai

Hi all,

Just to add to the kiai discussion, a very good Tai-Chi friend of mine told me an interesting story.

He was walking along one side of the street to the crossing, when on the other side of the street, going the same way, was a person yelling and screaming with a crazy look in his eyes. He had a wooden stick and was taking swipes at people and the cars in traffic at the stop lights. People were moving out of the way. As my friend started walking over the crossing, this crazy guy crossed as well. The guy saw my friend and walked directly towards him. My friend was at a loss to know what to do as this guy approached, as they were going to meet in the middle of the intersection, in front of car loads of people, but when the guy was almost in reach, my friend unconsciously let out a huge yell, from the bottom of his stomach, and the guy completely froze, on the crossing.

My friend just kept walking to the other side of the road, and said he was completely bewildered with what he'd just done, but said it "felt really good".

Date: Fri, 8 May 1998 16:25:32 -0400
From: "" <>
Subject: Re: Martial Arts and Bullies

I remember an instructor once showing a defence against a mugger's hold.

It was a while ago, so I dont remember how we got to the situation, but at one point he had to coach uke on attacking with a realistic "yoke" (rear choke hold). He stopped the class and said something like ...thats the trouble with these self defence courses, we have to teach mugging so you can practice against it. THen he stopped, smiled evilly and said, "...well, at least nobody has to be late with tuition now!..."

Date: Tue, 9 Jun 1998 10:08:36 -0400
From: "" <>
Subject: Re: your mail

On Tue, 9 Jun 1998, Peter Rehse wrote:

> Beate wrote about Germany and titles: >
> I got married in Germany in 1990 and was asked to show my degree certificate. > When I asked what that had to do with getting married I was told that if I > wanted to my wife could obtain the same status. Now I love my wife dearly and > anything I have is hers EXCEPT for my degree. I worked bloody hard for that. >
> Hamburg was interesting. The bank and the hospital where my daughter was born > was quite insistent on using the correct titles. Since I was newly minted I > enjoyed it at the time. Gets stale though. >
> Peter R.

Dijkstra (the computer guru, for them as arent in the field) tells a story that when he was getting married (in Holland, I presume) he was asked his profession. This was in late 50's or early 60's as I misremember it. He said "programmer". The registrar never heard of such a thing. "No no !" says the registrar "you have to have a REAL profession."

Date: Fri, 3 Jan 1997 16:50:53 -5
From: Susan Shapiro <>
Subject: Re: How to choose a good dojo

Here is one person's way to choose a good dojo...

Several years ago at my first dojo - Kanai Sensei of New England Aikikai - I met a young woman who had just started practicing. I'm always interested in how people start Aikido and when I asked her she told me she'ld almost not started.

You see, her dad practiced at Yamada Sensei's dojo in NYC for years. When she was a little kid, she would get picked up at school by her dad, go to the dojo and watch him practice. This went on for years until she got old enough
to get around by herself. She got imprinted with the idea that the NYA dojo was the only "real Aikido dojo" around.

When she started college in Boston, she wanted to start Aikido, too, but she didn't want to practise at some second rate place. She was very concerned about finding a real dojo and learning the right way.

Reluctantly, she decided to visit NEA one warm September day. Just as she opened the door to the dojo, it hit her...the smell. Ah yes, the aroma she hadn't experienced since childhood. The bouquet of first rate Aikido!

With the force of a Proutian revelation she realized, this is it! With the certain knowledge of the ancient limbic brain, she knew!


She's still practicing, as far as I know...