O’ Sensei as Super Hero

            I’ve been thinking about writing a children’s book about O’Sensei. When I teach the kids, I delight in telling them how his eyes lit up like crystals; he believed all of us in the world were one big family. He’s a perfect children’s book warrior hero and an apt model for today’s youth. He’s easily as compelling as our current super heroes, Spiderman or Captain America. It’s murmured by some that the Star Wars Master of the Force, Yoda, was modeled after O’Sensei.



Introductory Class at Two Cranes Aikido 2005: Aikido is self-correction

            When I watch people who’ve been training a long time, Aikido looks like it would be a simple to learn.  That’s just it, it is simple.  But we are complex human beings and skillful at complicating things.  The depth of our emotional experience is grand and the richness of our neurosis, extensive.  The Aikido movements we study are natural and graceful. We want to flow like a clear water creek or float across the mat like puffy cumulus clouds.  The redwood trees stand so tall. We would like to feel that unwavering uprightness in our bodies.


The Most Valuable teachings I Have Learned from Saotome Sensei

For over a decade I have traveled to Missoula, Montana to witness Saotome Sensei teach at Rosso Hultgren Sensei’s vibrant dojo, Aikido of Missoula. As I reflect on the teachings I have embraced from these trainings over the years, some just land deep in my psyche: I hear them in my head. They are as alive to me now as the moment I first listened.  Too many times did Sensei remind me:  “Don’t space out!” and “Aikido has no style”.  Below are the teachings that have had a deep impact on my practice.  I have immense gratitude for these jewels of aiki wisdom.


The Power of Contemplative Practice

I suspect if you’ve been practicing Aikido for a few months or a many years, you have experienced the challenge of describing what it is.  Perhaps you have found that it’s not so easy to explain the value of ‘Aikido’ to a person who knows little about the art.   Over the years when I have been posed with the question, ‘what is Aikido?’ I used to say “Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art and….”.


The Essential Teachings of Hikitsuchi Sensei

Recently I have focused my attention on an online study course offered by Aiki Journal:  “The Essential Teachings of Aikido”. This material elucidates the essential principles of Aikido as perceived by Hikitsuchi Sensei, an important historical figure who had intimate contact and training with Morihei Ueshiba during the latter’s frequent visits to Shingu in the Kumano region of Japan.  A devoted follower of the Founder, Hikitsuchi Sensei was capable of faithfully reproducing the speeches and technical explanations of Ueshiba with sharp accuracy during his long teaching career.


Reflections on Dan Ranking in Aikido

‘What is your ranking system and how long does it take to get a black belt?’

Over the years I have heard newcomers to aikido ask this question many times. Perhaps my favorite tongue in cheek answer is this: it takes as long as a car ride to the local martial arts store where you can purchase one.

Mary Heiny Sensei says that when Mitsugi Saotome Sensei was asked to offer his reflections on the meaning of the dan ranks: shodan, nidan, and sandan, at a seminar years ago, he drew a little stick figure and traced a circle around it.



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