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This amazing fight choreography is indeed rare – free fighting with bokkens.  The movie – Gohatto was controversial, indeed the name means taboo.  But this scene required tremendous skills to produce.

This summer we were sad to report the death of Amos Parker. We met briefly in Japan in 1984 and I was very impressed with his quiet demeanor and dignified bearing.  This was the highest ranking non Japanese in the aikido world with perhaps the exception of a few ‘self proclaimed’ super grand masters…

Amos Lee Parker (Born December 12, 1936. Died August, 20 2013) was an American aikido teacher. He is ranked 9th dan in Yoshinkan Aikido.

Amos Parker first came into contact with aikido in 1958 while a member of the US Navy on board the USS Bradford (DD-545). Another member of the crew, Signalman Hill, was demonstrating techniques and Amos was shocked at how easily Hill was able control him and others.

In 1962, Amos Parker received his orders to Japan and was deployed to the Yokosuka Naval Base. The Monday after his arrival he found an aikido dojo on base that was under the direction of Yukio Noguchi, 7th dan Yoshinkan Aikido. His training with Noguchi only lasted a couple of months as the latter accepted an invitation to teach aikido in Hawaii. Aikido classes were taken over by Kiyoyuki Terada, 10th dan. Amos Parker would spend the next 35 years training and teaching in Japan.

Amos Parker received his Shihan in 1986, making him tParkerSenseiAtSeimeikanhe first non-Japanese instructor to receive such an honor. In 1995, he received the rank of hachidan (8th dan) and in January 2010 he was awarded the rank of 9th dan by the Aikido Yoshinkai Foundation making him the highest ranking non-Japanese Yoshinkan Aikido instructor in the world. Amos Parker is senior to many of the Japanese shihans and served as a presiding judge at several yearly embutaikai’s (demonstrations)

Today is Morihei Ueshiba’s birthday. He was born December 14th,1883.

Mr. Ueshiba, known as O-Sensei (great teacher) is one of the world’s most famous and influential martial artists. He developed aikido, a revolutionary martial art based on harmonious conflict resolution.

Aikido has has become far more than a self-defense system. It’s a way of life dedicated to personal growth and harmony. It’s now practiced by a global community of martial artists in over 150 countries across the globe.

“Rely on peace to activate your manifold powers. Pacify your environment and create a beautiful world.”

-Morihei Ueshiba

www.ikazuchi-design.com

Ikazuchi - O'Sensei

This was part of Doshinkan Aikido presentation at Drew University in 2009. I wish our entire group had been shown but obviously the editor enjoyed the knife work.

The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace. Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow.

You are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment. Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter.  – Morihei Ueshiba

 

 

One of the students asked a question about the etiquette of class and it reminded me of famous stories of O’Sensei’s great patience in teaching but harsh reprimands for impoliteness or inattention.

There is an old Zen story about weeds growing along the path to the temple.  The Elder sees them and reminds himself to fuss out the students who have not properly attended the gardens and path.  The Younger is oblivious and walks past the weeds not realizing anything is amiss.  The Righteous pulls one weed and congratulates himself on being erudite and correct.

The Master pulls them all; tosses them and any thoughts on the matter away.

Although its been a full year since the devastating tsunami hit Japan, their need for assistance remains  great.  Please hit the link below for the full details but the seminar conducted by Bill Bunn Sensei should be terrific.  He is an old training buddy and has spent decades honing his craft and teaching methods.  Support this event by spreading the word and plan to attend!

JAPAN AID SEMINAR

 

I had the great pleasure of filming a lecture by Dr. Jeff Brantley on Mindfulness at Duke’s Integrative Medicine Center in Durham.  We had an animated conversation before and afterwards relating the confluence of Mindfulness and Aikido.  Specifically I was relaying time studying with the late masterful George Leonard, one of the presidents of the Esalen Institute.

Here are some of Dr. Brantley’s observations on the subject which coincide with our concept of Mushin.

  • A quality of mind that notices, in the present moment, without judging, or trying to fix or change anything.
  • An awareness that arises from paying attention on purpose in the present moment non-judgmentally and with acceptance, where “acceptance” means a willingness to see things as they are.
  • Is enhanced by developing skills of intention, attention, and an accepting, allowing attitude towards present moment experience; usually by “meditation” or “reflective practice.”

One of the biggest mistakes martial artists make is valuing mindless repetition of techniques. If a movement is practice a thousand times, each time it has to be done with full alertness, attention, context and the inner dialog designed to remove unnecessary tension.

But equally fascinating was Dr. Brantley’s emphasis on “Self Compassion – not being overly self critical”. Obviously this leads to anxiety, worry, stress and tension which prevents us from performing fluidly whether it be professional work, play or personal interactions.

“Train with a spirit of Joy once said the Founder but never let the focus waiver”.

Last year the Diversity Martial Arts Association donated a great deal of used clothing to HOLT Elementary School in Durham. HOLT Elementary was chosen because of the high percentage of children living in poverty at that school.

We had the participation of about 8 dojos and in turn received a wonderful letter from the Principal.  She was completely blown away as every table in their cafeteria was filled with clothes for the kids ranging from socks to jackets.

The need is even greater this year.  Please set aside clean used clothing items and start bringing them to class.  The deadline for the donation is mid December and we will make the presentation to HOLT Elementary on December 18th.

I want to say thanks again to Winslow Thornton who made a huge contribution last year.

Thanks in advance for your help.

3rd Annual Doshinkan Aikido International Festival!!! October 29th-30th, 2011

The annual event was a great success even though the crazy weather impacted attendance.

Here are video clips from the demonstrations.  I was only able to get a few since Richard Vinesett Sensei and I had to do our own demo.  In typical fashion we didn’t plan as our dojo emphasizes spontaneity.  Richard did perform the old traditional jo kata in excellent form.

Click these links below:

http://vimeo.com/31405351

http://vimeo.com/31349979

http://vimeo.com/31347681