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Not sure if I am more enamored with this quiet earnest pursuit of perfection or the fabulous production quality…

The Doshinkan Aikido International annual event was held within the dojo this year. Spacing was definitely compressed but spirits were high.  In the past we have performed highly tactical and practical techniques so this year we focused aiki waza.

Vinesett Sensei and Fitts Sensei demonstrated basic kumitachi and then free style from grabs.

Tenrokan Demo at DAI 2013  

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

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!



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”.