NGAExperience® Nihon Goshin Aikido

This Week In Nihon Goshin Aikido ~ #13

June 25, 2014

Greetings Nihon Goshin Aikido Aficionado!

I hope all is well with you at your end of the great blue aikido mat today.

Aikido Thought Of The Week:  “If you have to do it hard to get it to work, you are not doing it correctly!”  

In a cross training venue last night, I worked with a lady (who had some kind of jujitsu type martial arts training) and loved “trying to do” the Spin Around.  It was an interesting practice session as she tried to pull my head off my shoulders over and over again as she did the reversal.  It got to the point where one of the other students in the class said, “You’ve got to let go of his head so he can fall.” ~ To which she replied, “I’m used to black belts being able to roll out of it just like this.” As she tried to “reverse headlock throw and otherwise injure or wrestle me to the ground by force” all I can say is that it wasn’t aikido.  I should probably add that I kept thinking about biting her arm while she was trying her level best to pinch my head off though (Which reminds me of the Uruguay v. Italy World Cup Soccer Match for some reason ~ but I’m a recovering life long soccer player and coach so we won’t go there....  Serenity now!  Serenity now!).

Moving Forward:  ~ that is the secret of movement in Aikido isn’t it?  

As we deal with single attackers and multiple attackers, it invariably seems that moving slightly off line and forward seems to have devastating consequences for uke.  Even with a tenkan blend it you step in slightly, the circle gets tighter ~ and uke is even more easily off balanced.  In the words of Musashi, “You should make great efforts in this.”

Speaking of Miyamoto Musashi, When Is the Last Time You Read “The Book of Five Rings?”  So much of our martial roots lie in the principles of this book ~ it must be considered.  

I’ve taken the liberty to copy a significant portion of the book’s text, as it relates to our art, here:

“The Lesson of the Stance-No-Stance”

The so-called Stance-No-Stance calls for no stance at all to be taken with your sword.  However, as I place this within the Five Stances, there is a stance here.....This is the principle in which there is and there is not, a stance.  At its heart this is first taking up the sword and then cutting down your opponent no matter what is done or how it happens.  Whether you parry, slap, strike, hold back, or touch your opponent’s cutting sword, you must understand that all of these are opportunities to cut him down.  To think, “I’ll parry” or “I’ll slap” or I’ll hit, hold, or touch” will be insufficient for cutting him down.  It is essential to think that anything at all is an opportunity to cut him down.  You should investigate this thoroughly.”

(The Book of Five Rings” by Miyamoto Musashi   Translated by William Scott Wilson  page 42)

A couple of points ~ I think it is from here that we take our flat stance position ~ to defend from where we find ourselves when the attack comes; and from that stance, we cut, apply technique, etc..  Another thing you might notice is that immediately upon taking a certain stance you rule out some techniques.  Imagine yourself in right hamni.  If uke attacks you with a straight punch with his right hand, your ability to execute a Wheel Throw will be out of the question.  Of course, if you were in a flat stance (like we advise), you could execute the Wheel Throw regardless of which hand he attacked with ~ so the neutral stance does afford a solid flexibility!  

That said, Musashi lists 4 other stances that are “prepared in advance based on the calculated approach of the attacker.”  So, while it is true that we most often train in a neutral stance, it may not be the only way to train; especially if we have time to prepare (eg: we recognize the attack is coming as the attacker approaches). As mentioned, Musashi details these possibilities in his book ~ so it seems right to consider these other stance options from time to time.  In doing so you may discover that this training out of a hamni stance will help you get out of predictable ruts (eg:  Have you ever been frustrated by the number of Arm Bars and Elbow Chops you employ in an Attack Line?) ~~~  If this has ever described your frustration in an Attack Line, strike a right hamni or left hamni, and you’ll see the attack from a whole new perspective which will enable and often insist that you execute different techniques.  The same can be said about blocking.  You can get out of ruts in technique in randori situations by changing your blocks also.

A Close Inspection of Steven Seagal’s Aikido:

Last week I spent way too much time watching Seagal movie fight sequences, and aikido demonstrations.  In the words of Mr. Mihls, as related to me from Mr. Bowe, “why waste our time talking when we could be training instead?”  

That said, I did see some commonalities to his technique that can be categorized into component parts for breakdown and individual study.  Rather than recite the article verbatim here, I’m simply going to link to it instead.  I think it gives him a fair rendition, and has many pictures, links and videos to support my observations.  In fact, there is a great video at the bottom of the Seagal Study that considers Aikido in its most general terms and asks, “Will it work” ~ using Steven Seagal video footage as its medium for consideration.  Link to the full Seagal article is Here:  

Kuma Station, Chitose Japan:

Ever wondered what Kuma Station looked like when Mr. Bowe was stationed there?  Me too!  That’s why I put on my S-2 (Army Intelligence) hat and researched and found many pictures of the base as it looked during the time period.  In the process, I scoured through close to 500 pictures taken by soldiers in the late 50s and early 60s (who were stationed on the base) hoping to find a shot that included Mr. Bowe.  I was unlucky in my attempt, but I did find many pictures that are relevant, and that I believe you will enjoy.  The link to the Kuma Station and Downtown Chitose slide show is here:

Website Updates:

We are constantly adding to the website ~ so you need to check back regularly.  

Nihon Goshin Aikido On

Post links to your NGA videos here and we’ll link to it on our website to help drive traffic your way.  Keep in mind that gives you the ability to “monetize” your videos.  This allows you to earn money as people view your material.   

Have You Got A Seminar Planned?  Send us the information on it and we’ll post it here for you.


More is better, so can you help us grow our Newsletter Subscription Base by passing the website along to your training buddies and asking them to subscribe?  

Our hope is to be an inter-dojo clearing house for all things NGA, but we need more subscribers to do that.  Best of all, it’s free, and who doesn’t like the word free!”  Click Here to Subscribe!

Let's meet on the mat together soon!


Jonathan Wilson

Sensei John Carter and me

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

NGA Organizations

Dojos and Study Groups


Start an NGA Study Group



T-Shirts & Other Clothing

Gi’s and Hakamas

Training Weapons

2014 - 2021

The Possibilities of Movement

In  Aikido

Parallel Aikido History

Your Dojo Pictures Here

Ukemi Central

The Soft Ukemi Revolution

Real Fight Breakdowns

Lots of Irimi Tenkan (Forward) Movement Going On in Multiple Attacker Randori Situations ~ so get the footwork down ASAP!

Steven Seagal’s Spin Around ~ Yeah, that’s probably going to leave a mark.....

Chitose Japan in Winter ~ it got a tad chilly there ~~ If you look closely you can see a huge ship made out of Snow!

comments powered by Disqus