I ran across this 6 – part Documentary and found it vastly interesting. Being that I think of Nihon Goshin more in the Daito Ryu sense anyways I thought this had something of value to pass along….ENJOY!
This excerpt was borrowed from www.ngaexperience.com
Nihon Goshin Aikido and it genealogy is often criticized by Hombu Aikido-ka as not being relevant or even a true Aiki martial art or system. In fact if you study it’s past you will find that it comes from the very same knowledge center as Hombu it just stayed a little more truer to the Aikijutsu side of things. Not to say this is true across the board. I’ve come across some Hombu based Aiki schools and arts that have deviated back to the more combat oriented Aikijutsu. One other aspect that cannot be said by any other Aikido system is the deep integration of other arts such as Judo, Karate and Kobudo since it’s origin. Because NGA has a deeply rooted aspect of integration I have found it very open to the integration of other arts without upsetting its foundation and stability as an Aiki art.
One aspect of the art that separates the “Derivative Traditional” (NGA) from “Main-line Modern” etc., is the presence of the Kata (our Classical Technique). I for one agree with the separation of the “Kata” from their respective applications and the emphasis of technical understanding of each technique before introducing it’s use common applications (ex. common attacks). This allows for a more structured initial approach which ensures the practitioner understands the spirit of the technique.
The Aikijutsu and Aikido Family Tree
- Shinka Saburo Yoshimitsu, 12th Century, Daito-ryu
- Saigo Chikamasa, 1829-1905, Oshikiuchi
- Takeda Sokaku, 1858-1943, *Yoshiro Kotaro* Correctly spelled ~ (sometimes spelled “Yoshido Kotaro”) Shodo Morita’s instructor, Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu
- Yong Sul Choi, Hapkido, Derivative Traditional
- Shodo Morita, 1946-1962, Nihon Goshin Aikido, Derivative Traditional
- Richard A. Bowe, “Americanized” Nihon Goshin Aikido teaching curriculum. First American Dojo opened: 12 September 1963
- Matsuda Hosaku
- Okuyama Yoshiji, Hakko-ryu Jujutsu, Derivative Traditional
- Nakano Michiomi, Shorinji Kempo Derivative Traditional
- Yamashita Minoru, Shindo-ryu Jujutsu
- Yamada Saburo, 1926-1976, Yamate-ryu Jujutsu Derivative Traditional
- Takeda Tokimune, 1925-, Daito-ryu Aikibudo, Aikibudo, Main-line Traditional
- Ueshiba Morihei, 1883-1969, (with Ueshiba Kisshomaru), Aikido, Derivative Modern
- Tanaka Setaro, Shinriaku Heiho
- Noguchi Senryuken, Shindo Rokugo-ryu
- Fukui Harunosuke, Yae-ryu
- Otsuki Yutaka, Otsuki-ryu
- Inoue Noriaki, Shin’ei/Shinwa Taido
- Hoshi Tetsuomi, Hoshi-ryu Kobujutsu
- Hirai Minoru, Korindo
- Mochizuki Minoru, Yoseikan Budo
- Shioda Gozo, Yoshinkan Aikido
- Tomiki Kenji, Tomiki-ryu Aikido
- Tohei Koichi, Ki no Kenkyukai/Shinshin Toitsu Aikido
- Ueshiba Kisshomaru, 1921-1999, (with Ueshiba Morihei), AikikaiAikido, Main-Line Modern
Saigo Chikamasa,1829-1905, Oshikiuchi
Chikamasa’s martial art known as “Oshikiuchi”was a set of martial arts techniques specialized for use by Samurai in formal situations where the wearing of weapons is restricted, such as the palace of one’s lord. If true, Saigo Chikamasa was most likely one of the last Samurai class members.
Takeda Sōkaku, the modern founder of Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu, claimed that it was Saigo’s secret martial art passed down through members of his family in the Aizu domain, and that he combined in some way with his family’s martial arts, which he eventually taught publicly as Daitō-ryū.
Takeda Sōkaku’s assistant, Yoshiro Kotaro was Shodo Morita’s Daitō-ryū instructor. An interesting secondary footnote is that it was also Yoshiro Kotaro who introduced Ueshiba Morihei, to Takeda Sōkaku.
Tradition and formalities in a “DOJO” can take many forms which greatly depend on the head instructor, his/her training, personal outlooks and chosen martial path. Formality in my opinion should serve a purpose and not exist simply to exist. When we enter a Dojo one’s mindset should automatically shift from whatever “mode” it was in prior to crossing the threshold to one of simplicity. In this mindset of simplicity one should not have to worry about how to act, present themselves or what they should or should not say. Formality and what is expected of us as students should take over to allow for a precise, simple and “ego-less” mindset to prepare to receive instruction for that day. What are these traditions and formalities as they pertain to Nihon Goshin Aikido and our Dojo?
Upon entering the school the student should begin the mental exercise of not bringing the outside world in. This is a difficult task but it you focus and make it an exercise of the mind it becomes easier and positively impacts your training and progress. Your mind cannot be truly and 100% focused on learning the art when your thinking about paying the bills, the phone calls you have to return, the argument with your spouse and the thousand other things that occupy our mind daily. All that stuff will be waiting for you in an hour and a half after class..what can you do about it while your in the Dojo? So one can easily reason that if you cannot do anything about it, why think or worry about it. When your in your uniform and on the mat, nothing else should exist, period.
Take care and treat with reverence the little details. Shoes should be put in place in a neat row with the front facing away from the mats, socks (if any) neatly rolled up and inside. Upon entering the mat area, bow at the threshold to the kamiza and pay respect to the area upon which your entering. A little thought about bowing in to the kamiza…I always used this as mental exercise to mentally “lock” away all my worries in a box as I bow (I actually visualize a box with pieces of paper and the lid closing!) When I bow out, unfortunately I have to unlock the box but I should be a little bit more ready to face what is in the box because of my training.
Once you have entered the dojo proper a student should continue the mental exercise of preparing for class. When getting dressed make sure hang up your clothes neatly and enter the mat area with a focused mind. Begin stretching on your own and engage in quiet conversation with your fellow students. If the dojo seems like it needs some upkeep it should not be considered beneath you to wipe the mirrors, mats and participate in the general order of the school. This is expected of all students regardless of rank. To this day when I (still and forever a student) visit my instructors school in Arizona I go into student mode, helping with whatever needs to be done. I consider this an honor and responsibility, this is what sets us apart and it is of the upmost importance.
Now that your on the mat your mind must be focused and ready to receive instruction. Questions should be asked by all means but not in the middle of the instructors initial explanation. When addressing the instructor they should always be addressed as Mr./Mrs. or Sensei whatever makes you more comfortable. Remember Sensei means “One Who Has Come Before” , it has nothing to do with age. If you have a question in the middle of an assigned task then continue to try and feel your way through it until your instructor comes over to help, you’ll be surprised how much you can self-discover if you allow yourself to work through something without frustration. Sometimes a good instructor will purposely allow students to self discover and is not purposely ignoring the student. Train in a safe manner and if you ever have a particular challenge an issue working with a certain student then that should be addressed with Sensei in private. When you have been given a task to work on then WORK ON IT without too much discussion. Too much talk clouds the mind….it takes approximately 5,000 “correct” repetitions to teach your body/mind the correct way to do a technique, don’t waste too much time with discussion.
One final thought….the more tired you get in training the more KI comes out in technique..this is FACT. Allow yourself to get to this point so you can feel what KI flow feels like. Towards the end of class is when this typically happens, look for it, work up to it and cherish this feeling as it’s fleeting and forever just a few steps ahead of us. How can you get to this point? For the answer to this question re-read this article.
The Aikido Dojo holds special challenges for the beginner and seasoned student alike. Follow these rules and you will increase your chances of having an injury free experience while training:
1. ALWAYS..ALWAYS..tap at the appropriate time when doing “pain” techniques. I have heard some question that fact that we “tap” during technique practice…I usually laugh at this..can you imagine NOT tapping on say a Jacket Grab or First Wrist Technique? This would be a very short practice! Tapping at the pain level is too late. You should focus on the technique at hand and when you feel “pressure”, not “pain” , then you should tap. It is not considered less “warrior-like” to tap at that point, it’s considered smart. The longevity of your training will increase with this practice as will your understanding of where the pain threshold of a particular technique lies.
2. Do not practice techniques that you have not been formally taught by your instructor. There are several nuances to technique that make it effective and dangerous at the same time if not practiced correctly. Not only are you taught the “correct” way to practice the technique but you are instructed on the safest way to “fall” as an UKE. Even though you are itching to learn new things and think you got it…always wait for the proper instruction before embarking on anything new this will ensure that proper practice is had all the way around. I don’t mind telling you that I personally broke this rule ONCE as a purple belt and broke my ankle. Some lessons are learned the hard way, had I waited to learn a particular escape from an advanced technique the “correct” way from my instructor then I would of saved my self some pain and sitting on the bench for a month. LESSON LEARNED.
3. DO NOT ignore the UKEMI portion of the training. You will be surprised to hear that being an UKE is just as important if not more important than being the NAGE. You learn a great deal about the lead, pain and leverage of a technique by being spot on with your Ukemi. Also if you do not develop your Ukemi at the same level as your technique then you fail at providing a good training experience with your partner. We all have a responsibility to our training partners to give it 100% at all times.
4. Do not fail to report any injuries to your instructor and your training partner. I would prefer that you repeat yourself throughout the class than not saying anything. It is not considered a weakness to “nurse” an injury. I cannot remember a time when I stepped on the mat when something did NOT hurt but I always worked around it. You CAN workaround most any injury. Do not miss class because of an injury, you don’t always have to take a fall to be productive in class. You can use one hand, no hands, work on strikes, etc. I WILL ALWAYS find something for you to do. Even if you have to watch you WILL learn something.
5. Do unto others…..train at your partners level and treat your UKE as you would like to be treated when being thrown. This is generally good rule of thumb to keep everyone safe and productive. Most profess to like to “train hard” until of course someone does it back to them. There’s a time and a place to start training harder, faster and at combat speeds but it must be worked “up” to.
What is expected of a New Student?
Part 1 – Trust & Challenges
Congraulations! You’ve succeeded in taking the first step…walking through the door and signing up. That was the easy part, what follows is a lifetime of constant challenge, undeniable reward and internal satisfaction. This is the first part of a series of articles on what from my perspective a new student should expect in their early days of training as well as seasoned students who are looking to make it to the next phase of their training.
Dojos are unique environments. New students, especially in an art like Aikido & Aiki-Jujitsu, have multiple obstacles to face in the beginning of their training. Conversely, students who have been around for a while for example a purple/brown belt face new challenges in staying on the path which are of a different paradigm and I will address in a future article.
New Students must begin each class with an open mind and put trust in their instructors intentions and ability. Questions about the validity to a certain technique even though abound in their mind should not at this point be voiced. Remember your instructor has a difficult job to do in teaching any martial art. It is very challenging to safely teach a technique that when executed at “battle speed” in most cases will cause some type of injury to the intended. My job as instructor is to impart the information in a safe manner which many times in the beginning seem to temper the technique somewhat, not in every case of course, but in many. If one is to “truly” be a student of the art, then you must surrender yourself to the process and TRUST that your instructor will bring you along the path in a timely manner. I promise you this..one day the proverbial lightbulb will alight above your head and it will come together and just like that a whole new path will become visible to you. The other side of this coin is that when that path becomes visible and the next step in your training becomes available, the murkiness of that “deeper” water envelopes you and the journey starts all over again. I will liken it to climbing a great summit, peaking over the last rock thinking you have finally made it only to be confronted with a larger mountain and on and on it goes. This to me was the lifetime of challenge I always looked for, in fact yearned for and has kept me going all these years. You will be asked and pushed in an area that your not entirely comfortable with, THIS IS A GOOD THING! Frustration sets in, doubt creeps and stress fogs our mind. This is natural! If this circle of training did not exist then training in the martial arts would be meaningless. It’s not easy, nor do I ever pretend it to be, but your training should at some point become a cornerstone, anchor of your sanity and a definition of you and your character, this I TRULY believe and live by.
My single piece of advice I can offer at this point is to walk through the threshold of the dojo as if it’s your first every single time. Be ready to accept whatever challenge is put in front of you. It could be an intricate movement in a technique, it could be a whole new set of techniques and applications. It could be a strike or counter strike aspect..it doesn’t matter. It is up to you to find renewed spirit and challenge in every single aspect no matter how vast or seemingly insignificant..that is the challenge I set forth to you…the STUDENT.