Viewing entries tagged
martial arts IQ

It can be hard, its supposed to be










The secret to success - Don't give up, just keep going.

Doesn't matter what we are doing or for what reason.  The only way to succeed is to never give up.  In Japanese this is called gaman (我慢).  To gaman is to patiently preserve in order to see something to its end.

It is sooo easy to quit when something become difficult or uncomfortable.  What people who quit don't know is that the obstacle is the path.  The obstacle sheds light on the real path and is there to teach us something about ourselves.  If we quit, then we miss that golden opportunity.

I know it can be hard, its supposed to be.  Only through the challenge can we truly change.



Martial Arts IQ: Fumio Demura Sensei

demuraWhen I think of Karate, I think of Fumio Demura Sensei.  I know there are many great Karate teachers and probably even more practitioners, but to me Demura Sensei epitomizes Karate.  We have all seen him but may not have recognized him.  He was Mr. Miyagi's stunt double in the Karate Kid movies.  I met Demura Sensei around 25 years ago when his dojo used to participate in martial arts demonstrations organized by Furuya Sensei.  Sensei wanted to show the public "real" martial artists so he would always use Demura Sensei to represent Karate.  He and Sensei enjoyed a wonderful friendship that I think began when Sensei worked at Inside Kung-fu Magazine, but I am not sure.  Many people might not know this but Sensei was a copy editor who helped to edit many books written by famous and influential martial arts teachers in the 70s and 80s.  Demura Sensei was someone I knew I could trust and I called several times after Sensei passed away for advice. My favorite Demura Sensei story happened backstage at the Aratani Japan America Theater in the early 1990s.  Sensei organized this huge event with famous martial artists from all over the world.  We represented Aikido and Iaido while Demura Sensei's group represented Karate.  We were all backstage waiting with Demura Sensei's group as they were about to go on.  Demura Sensei and Sensei chit-chatted for what seemed like a few seconds.  We stood behind Sensei and his students stood behind him like some sort of cliched scene from a campy martial arts movie.  Very discreetly Demura Sensei looked at one of his students and with a hushed toned he nodded, "chairs" and his students immediately ran off to get chairs.  Sensei noticed this and motioned the same for us.  It must have looked like a bunch of ants running around searching for chairs.  We all brought back chairs as fast as we could like it was some kind of budo race.  We all set them down and arranged them and motioned for the other students to sit down but nobody did except the senseis.  Sensei and Demura Sensei sat down for just a few seconds as we all stood trying to be humble and not wanting to break protocol trying to get the other students to sit.  A few seconds later they shook hands and parted ways.  Sensei commented after they went to the dressing room, "Man, his students are well trained" which is the greatest compliment anyone can give to another martial arts teacher.

We refer to Morihei Ueshiba as O Sensei not because he created Aikido or because he was good at Aikido. Morihei Ueshiba has the the title of O Sensei because of all the great teachers he created.  Demura Sensei is a true teacher and is someone who fits that criteria too.

Youtube is filled with Demura Sensei's videos.  His students recently made a documentary about his life (something I wish we have done) that is coming out soon.  Here is the trailer and another video about his life.


Martial arts IQ: Rare footage of Mochida Moriji Sensei

mochidaMochida Moriji is considered one of few great swordsman of the 20th century and was thus dubbed the "Master Swordsman of the Showa period" by many of his peers.  He was the last person to have ever been awarded the rank of 10th Dan.  Mochida Sensei was the Kendo teacher at the famed Noma Dojo that hosted so many famous martial artist over the years and even O Sensei demonstrated there. Mochida Sensei was well known for his kizeme which is one of the highest level techniques in martial arts where one uses ki to either lead or disrupt their opponents.

In the first video below you can see how strong Mochida Sensei is in Kendo.  In the second video you can see a little about Kendo and some quotes by him.


Martial Arts IQ: Karate

Here is a wonderful documentary on Karate done by NHK World.  NHK is the public broadcasting TV station in Japan.  They have many wonderful English language programs on Japan that are quite interesting. This documentary is an excellent overview of the way of Karate.  One can see not only the beauty, but the power of Karate.  At first glance, Karate might seem like a sport, but you can see by the practitioners in the documentary that it is a way of life.  All martial arts come from the same source and, while taking divergent paths, all eventually meet at the same top of the mountain.  From this documentary, one can see Aikido in Karate and Karate in Aikido.  Please don't judge.  Judging is not learning.  Please only observe and learn.

Martial Arts IQ: Kyudo

Here I have posted an interesting and through overview of Kyudo or Japanese archery.  Those who follow a way or do (道) will especially find this video interesting in that it touches on not only the physical but the mental aspect as well.

Martial arts IQ: Rare video of Tiger Mori Sensei

Tiger Mori (Mori Terao) is considered one of the greatest swordsman of the modern era.  Tiger Mori was 8th dan in Kendo and was a world class fencer.  He was also somehow related to the Noma Seiji of the famed Noma Kendo dojo.  O Sensei even demonstrated at Noma dojo.    Sensei was a Kendo and Iaido student of Tiger Mori's as a young boy growing up in the 1950s.  Sensei used to tell a story about Tiger Mori that he could thrust (tsuki) so quickly that he could hit the tip of the handle (tsuka) and knock it out of your hands as you were doing an overhead cut (kirioroshi). In a match in Manchuria Tiger Mori took on his teacher Seiji Mochida and attacked his teacher twice with such an unorthodox strike to win the points that famed Iaido teacher Nakayama Hakudo responded that those techniques could only have been born of a master with "real fighting experience."

There is almost little to no video footage of Tiger Mori and there is only a few articles and one book in Japanese written about him.  Below is a video I found of Tiger Mori doing a Kendo exhibition.  Notice  his poise and posture.  During the video they are basically demonstrating but there is a moment at 3:50 where Tiger Mori shows some interesting moves.

Tiger Mori is one name that in my mind is synonymous with Kendo.

Martial arts IQ: How a bow and arrow works

Why should we know or care how a bow and arrow works in the modern age?  It is not like we will be attacked by an archer and need to know something about their craft.  This is true, but knowing or having an understanding of something makes us more well rounded.  The man being interviewed in the video is a world famous long bow archer.  So it is not what we learn about archery that is important, but how a master views his craft as they explain how it works.  Miyamoto Musashi said, "To truly know one Way is to know all Ways."  The science is fun and interesting to me, but seeing the master Byron Ferguson is really what you should be focusing on.  Plus, if we call ourselves martial artists then we can never underestimate our opponents or the situation.  Remember, surprise the key to winning almost any battle.  So if someone pulls out a bow, you will hopefully know how to negotiate their advances.

Martial Arts IQ series: Mifune Kyuzo Sensei

I thought I would start an on-going series that would improve people's martial arts IQ.  We tend to get pigeon holed into our own styles and I hope that with this series people will be able to expand their horizons.  When I was a student, we were exposed to masters from many different martial art styles as they came by the dojo to talk shop with Sensei.  Sadly, some of those people have passed and I don't know any other teachers.  So I thought, from time to time, that I would  post videos, articles or other information on past masters of any style of martial arts so that people can learn and increase their knowledge about the martial arts.  I will retroactively go back and re-title some of my past posts under "Martial arts IQ" so that people will know how to search for them. Below is a video of Mifune Kyuzo who is considered to be one of the greatest judo technicians of all time.  It was said that he was, "more feared than loved" for his tenaciousness on the mat.  He was ranked 10th dan in Judo and passed away in 1965 at the age of 81.  He was Jigoro Kano's successor and the head of Kodokan judo.  He is credited with the creation of uki-otoshi (floating drop) and kuki-otoshi (air throw).  Both of these throws are advanced in execution because they require a high sense of balance and timing.  These two throws look surprisingly like Aikido throws and no doubt had an influence on some Aikido techniques because many judoists switched to Aikido later on in their careers during that time after meeting O Sensei.  Sensei, in his library, had several of Mifune Sensei's books like the Canon of Judo.  You can see his grace and knowledge of the techniques as he throws around younger and stronger judoist and circumvents their techniques with a sense of calmness and ease.

Martial arts IQ: Seigo Yamaguchi - One of the few true masters of Aikido

Seigo Yamaguchi can be argued as one of the most influential Aikido teachers of all time.  A majority of the Aikido done today can be traced back to his style.  One can see his influence all over Hombu Dojo.  Some his personal students are Endo Sensei, Tissier Sensei and Yasuno Sensei and all are considered masters today.

Martial arts IQ: Kisaburo Osawa - one of the great masters of Aikido

Kisaburo Osawa Sensei (1910-1991) was a great Aikidoist and one of O Sensei's most loyalist followers.  After O Sensei's passing, he could have run off and started his own organization or martial art and become wildly rich and famous.  Instead he chose to stay at Hombu Dojo and support, Nidai Doshu, Kisshomaru Ueshiba with his burden of carrying on Aikido after O Sensei's death.  Can you imagine just for a moment what that must have been like for not only the students of O Sensei, but for Kisshomaru Ueshiba too at that funeral?  It must have been a heavy burden as everyone expects you to either "be" O Sensei or that you will fail because you are not him.  I am completely sure that he felt a heavy burden and that load was made just a little bit lighter knowing that Osawa Sensei was going to stay and help you. Here is a great video showcasing Osawa Sensei's skill.  Sensei spent time with Osawa Sensei in 1969 in Japan just after O Sensei passed away.  Sensei credited Osawa Sensei as being one of his greatest inspirations and one of the main the reasons he became a priest.  You can also see from this video his enormous influence on Sensei's Aikido too.

Martial arts IQ: Interviews with a true master of Kung-fu







I believe that Sensei and Master Hsu met when they were both demonstrating at the same event in 1979.  I have had the good fortune to have met Master Hsu and participated in some of his workshops many times.  Master Hsu and Sensei shared their love of good food and martial arts.  He was one of the few people Sensei regarded as a true master and Sensei also helped him with two of his books and many of his articles.  I can say without a doubt that Master Hsu is a true teacher.  I stumbled upon a series of interviews with him.  I haven't watched all of them but I am sure they are full of good information regardless of the style of martial art you practice.  Enjoy!

Martial arts IQ: Takeshi Mitsuzuka Sensei

Here is a video of one of Sensei's iaido teachers.  His name is Takeshi Mitsuzuka.  Surprisingly, there are very few videos of him doing Iaido.  Sensei studied under him in the early 1980s and this video is right around the time.  Mitsuzuka Sensei was a student of Nakayama Hakudo who founded Muso Shinden Ryu Iaido. He passed away in 2008 at the age of 88 almost exactly one year after Sensei.



Martial arts IQ: Kanazawa Sensei - Violence is not the answer.

Every great martial art comes to the same conclusion at some time or another - violence is not the answer.  The difference between Aikido and other martial arts is that non-violence is something introduced in the beginning and not the end.  As Aikidoists, we understand that the person attacking us not in their right mind and as a result of is ignorant.  This lack of understanding or awareness is what brings them suffering because in the end they are only hurting themselves.  Knowing this, we try and use Aikido to resolve the conflict in a non-violent manner.  Kanazawa Sensei is a world renowned expert in Karate with 65 years of experience and has come to the same conclusion that violence is not the answer.  This video is the 2nd part  of four videos where Kanazawa Sensei talks about not only his history but his philosophies on life and Karate.