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The Aikido of Master Gozo Shioda

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While watching Asai Sensei and his amazing demonstration of waza in my last note, I was reminded of another master whose movements I admired many decades ago.  No, he wasn’t another karate sensei – he was a long-time instructor in a certain flavor of Aikido.  Previously, I’ve shared links to video of Aikido Founder Ueshiba and one of his top disciples, Tohei Sensei.  They taught what could be called more classical Aikido, which was what I trained in as a teenager.  However, we young students were aware of another Aikido system with a reputation for being a faster, more dynamic version of the art that included atemi (striking technique).  The creator and chief instructor were one of the Founder’s earliest and highest-ranking disciples, Gozo Shioda. His movements (spinning, ducking low, side-stepping) during the randori (multiple-attacker drills) were quick, spontaneous, and often initiated with a strike to the opponent’s neck or temple.  Some of you may note a similarity to Asai Sensei’s movements.  There was a sense of realism in Shioda Sensei’s form of Aikido.  He was also an alumnus of Takushoku University where so many of the JKA pioneers matriculated.  At the very least, you might enjoy the rousing soundtrack [...]

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The Lingua Franca of Karate (Video of Asai Sensei Teaching in Russia)

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Well, I’ve now been working from home for a month.  This is also the longest I’ve been away from the dojo in over thirty years.  Anyways, I pray that everyone is doing well, staying healthy and safe.  We’re all probably spending more time than ever on our televisions, iPhones, iPads, and computers, eh?  So here’s a short (12 minute) video of my karate idol, the late Tetsuhiko Asai.  If you take a few minutes to watch it, I suspect everyone will learn at least one new thing about the art and perhaps gain some appreciation for his amazing abilities and teaching personality.  In my last note, I mentioned that Mori Sensei always emphasized basics, basics, basics.  Asai Sensei’s teaching style would seamlessly demonstrate the different layers of meaning hidden in every basic move. We are so fortunate that both masters were the teachers of our sensei, Kenneth Funakoshi. This video of Asai Sensei was taken in 1997 (he was around 62 then) of a seminar he gave in Russia.  In the first several exchanges, you get a chance to see how quick he was and the excellent timing and control he possessed.  Although the basis of his techniques came from [...]

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Sensei Masataka Mori

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Well, it’s been several weeks of hunkering down and I’m sure that many of you are beginning to feel rather stifled, being stuck in your homes. Me too! Although I’m teleworking from home which means that I do have required work activities from home, it’s not the same as driving in heavy traffic to and from work each weekday. And without karate on Saturdays and church on Sundays, I lose many of the markers that define my usual week. The days are beginning to blend from one into another. I pray that each of you is doing well and staying healthy. In the past, I’ve written and talked about the foundations of our karate club. While Sensei’s Peter, Wayne, Trish and I were direct students of Sensei Kenneth Funakoshi, he, in turn, was the direct student of two Shotokan legends, Sensei’s Kanazawa and Asai. As you know, they were both All-JKA champions and later led large global karate organizations of their own. I have written about them before. There was, however, a third JKA pillar of Shotokan in Hawaii that I have rarely ever mentioned. Sensei Masataka Mori took charge of the KAH after Sensei Kanazawa left and taught our [...]