Oct 282010

Morihei Ueshiba, O Sensei, studied multiple arts to develop his beloved art of Aikido, not a multi-century old art but a new art, his art: The art of Aikido. He selected techniques from the various arts he studied and improved them to make what is now known as Aikido. Hiriki Aikido is being introduced to the public because of the efforts of myself, Alex Rusinko Sensei. I am sure he felt like myself at times. Because I do not fit the “traditional lines of martial arts” some people have not taken me seriously. That is until I demonstrated my art to other martial artist and then all they say is, “how did you do that?” This is what I have been hearing since I decided to open my art to the public. I studied different martial arts as well as different types of Aikido for over thirty-eight years for one reason only: so I could improve my love, Aikido. At every dojo I visit they have said the same thing, “This is really smooth and effective. Why don’t we do our technique that way?”

I’m willing to predict in the coming years that you will see the techniques of other styles of Aikido change to what I have developed. I may or may not get credit. That does not matter as long as the art improves and matures. Hiriki is the guardian of the Classical Martial Art of Aikido, “The Forgotten Art”. Is it really forgotten or was it buried? This we will never know. But I know it will not be forgotten any longer. My students will carry it on and make it become a remembered art form for everyone to study and grow with while traveling on the Do. O Sensei always said Aikido is ever changing and that what was taught today might change tomorrow. If so, should the art not improve itself? O Sensei also said “I’ve given my life to opening the path of Aikido, but when I look back no one is following me.” I say “Please look Sensei. I and my students are following you.”

The Younger Years
While in my younger years, I endeavored to learn more and more about different styles of Aikido. I studied with many of the major Shihan in the world. I was first-generation American Black Belt; the founder himself signed my certificate. I served as Aikido Uchi Deshi (live in apprentice) and I would like to tell a little about my Uchi Deshi period.

I was asked to be deshi to Yoshimitsu Yamada Shihan then a sixth dan in New York during my summer high school vacation. I had no idea what it meant; I was just told I could practice a lot of Aikido. I was the first aikido deshi in the United States and feel that my performance as Uchi Deshi helped paved the way for other great Uchi Deshi of Yamada Sensei. From Yamada Sensei I found the dynamics of hip movement and powerful throwing techniques. Thank you Sensei. Yamada Shihan’s first book Aikido Complete is filled with faces of old friends who were the true pioneers of American Aikido. I am pictured with some on this web page. Koichi Tohei Shihan, at the time a tenth dan, came on a tour of the United States. Yamada Shihan went with Tohei Shihan and I went along serving as their Uchi Deshi (I carried a lot of luggage in those days). To my knowledge I was also the first American to serve Tohei Shihan as his personal Uchi Deshi in the USA.

There were times when I would travel with Tohei Shihan alone and we would talk and he would teach me breathing. I could never keep up with him and I would run out of air while he was still exhaling. He taught me counter techniques (Kaeshi Waza) and he told me one day I would be an instructor and I should know how to protect myself from students. He taught me ki exercises though I did not understand what they were at the time. He also taught me the art of Japanese Massage Therapy. He told me many things that I did not understand at the time, much of which I only grasped twenty years later. I learned a lot from Tohei Shihan, the power of ki, and how to move gracefully and quietly amongst other things. Thank you Sensei.

Walking The Path
So now I had dynamic, graceful movements: a joining of teachings from two great Shihan. But there had to be more. Something was lacking. I trained myself to look for deficiencies in the techniques. I accepted challenges from many styles of martial arts and received my lumps but never did my Aikido let me down. Then I started to look for places where an attacker could strike or reverse the movement executed by the aikidoka. I began to patch the holes in the traditional aikido I studied and started to develop Hiriki without being aware of it. I did not realize the ki power that was mine at that time. My Aiki was truly different. Becoming disenchanted with the politics of the Aikido world and the lackluster techniques being taught after the founder O Sensei’s death, I removed myself from much of the aikido world to be independent, just teaching and practicing what I felt Aikido should be. Powerful techniques were where my mind was at that time. Then one day I was given a copy of Budo by John Stevens. The book showed O Sensei doing the techniques that I had been doing without my ever having seen this book. As I read more, I found that my techniques and those of O Sensei were very similar in content. My technique became powerful to the point that when I would practice with other aikidoka they would think I was deliberately causing extreme pain in the execution of the technique. Because of my ki grounding me, many would be disturbed with me because they could not lead my ki. I wondered why, if the nage could not lead me, should I pretend to be lead?

I was always told Aikido employs natural movements of the body (in contrast, perhaps, to the unnatural stances and movements of many striking arts). I came upon the concept of focusing on my elbows as one of the major sources of power. I taught it but had no idea what to call it. I latter came across an article where Shihan Shiota and O Sensei were practicing Hiriki techniques. The article did not go into detail other than to say that they were techniques using the power of the elbows to do proper Aikido. I then knew I had a name for what I was teaching and practicing.

Hiriki ki development procedures originally came from the Ki Society. But as the years moved on I found that it was not enough of a challenge to me so I began to develop more of them and incorporate them into the techniques that I instructed. As I developed the exercises, I began to experiment with ki energy to the point that I was developing stronger ki tests and a better knowledge of how to explain ki so that Americans would find it easier to learn than when I was taught. I shared these teaching techniques with Ki Society and other Sensei freely to help in introducing Ki to the aikidoka. I have found that most Aikido Sensei are content to remain in what I call the comfort zone. This is a place where they don’t have to think about growth, just keeping the status quo. They often do not ask, and may discourage their students from asking, “Why?”; they just do what they’ve been shown. I have always been a seeker of the truth. I try to search out the limitation of the art, expand on these limitations to overcome them. As an interesting aside, I only recently learned that “Rusinko” in Japanese can be translated to mean “The keeper of the truth” or “Lord of the truth”.

I believe that the first thing any martial art should give the student are good, basic self-defense skills. Many things work in the dojo with a willing partner but will they work on the street? After achieving a level of genuine self-defense skill the student seeks more challenges of the mind and body and this is why Hiriki Aikido is gaining popularity. It has something for everyone from realistic defense in a modern, violent world to the beauty and grace of Kashewaza Kata to the Hiriki Healing and Ki Arts.

Some people in the martial arts have tried to disparage me and my art. One thing is very clear to me, however: The way is the way. There is the reality of truth or illusion of truth. The reality will save your life in a deadly situation; the illusion will cost you it. If I bring a cup of coffee to you in a drinking glass or coffee mug the coffee is still the same coffee. The same is true of the Do of the martial arts. If a person is dealing with truth and his information is based on hard work, experimentation and dedication, then the truth will persevere beyond any ridicule and negative words. I have heard of the experiences my students have had when visiting other dojos, how the Sensei have tried to apply techniques to them and failed. This is the Sensei’s ego and it is sad that it happens, but superior training always shines in a confrontation, they failed because Hiriki Students are taught to apply ki to neutralize other styles’ techniques. I tell my students if you see a Buddha in the road, kill it. By this saying I mean the Buddha as the ego of the self and preciously held beliefs. If you study a martial art, your ego is the worst enemy you have. I know because I had a very big one for years. It has taken much searching and putting away my ego and fears to finally bring this art of mine to the public. I have seen my students attend seminars and the other attendees request instruction on how my students did what they did. The reason for this was that the technique was applied quickly and smoothly without the other person sensing the technique until it was completed and their attack neutralized.

The Lightning Without The Thunder
In the past I was known for the power of my Waza and a lot of people followed me just because of the hardness of my Aikido style. As I began to mature I realized that, perhaps, there existed a soft AND powerful side to my art; I began to change the focus of the techniques to smooth AND powerful. Hiriki is now primarily known for this: lightning without the thunder. When a lightening storm is off in the distance you can hear it coming slowly towards you as the thunder grows more loud. However, when the storm is right on top of you the sound is not noticed because you are blinded by the intense flash and can feel the heat of the striking lightning. This is the essence of Hiriki! This is so because Hiriki aikidoka practice to move at the moment of the perception of intent when the attackers ki reaches them. This is opposed to reacting to the attacker’s movement after the intent has become a physical action. Hiriki aikidoka begin their technique before the attacker’s malicious intent manifests into physical action. Hiriki technique is applied with proper timing and without any unnecessary movement. It strikes like the lightening, which is overhead before the thunder can reach the ears. I had an experience of this while sparring with a friend of mine who instructs karate. I felt where and what he had planned to do and was already applying aikido techniques before he realized it himself. Hiriki aikidoka practice the sensing of intent (Hiriki’s seventh pillar, Ushiro) as essential practice for even novices in their first week of training.

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Oct 282010

Does “Aikido” Even Exist?
What is Aikido? One could simply say that all Aikido, regardless of style, has a certain basic set of techniques and movement principles which make the art “Aikido” as distinct from aikijutsu or jiujutsu or any other martial art. But, as any person who has trained widely in the Aikido community can tell you, there is such a wide range of interpretation with regard to how these techniques are practiced and executed that the surface similarities get outweighed by these inherent differences.

In Japan there is the traditional faction that believes that the art is the sole creation of Morihei Ueshiba and that Aikido is essentially the property of the Ueshiba family. Whereas, this might be the attitude of certain members of the Aikikai Honbu Dojo in Tokyo, I don’t think one can effectively maintain this as a point of view. Unlike the koryu, or classical martial styles of Japan, Aikido has had no set curriculum or any narrowly defined standards for the certification of its teachers. Even before the term “Aikido” came into common usage in the 1940’s, a wide gulf existed between the interpretations taken by various early instructors. The Yoseikan, Yoshinkan, Shudokan, Aikibudo (later Shin’ei Taido) systems emerged as distinct styles of what was just becoming known generally as “Aikido”.

The family claim to “Aikido” stems from its origin with the Founder whom we refer to as O-Sensei. Yet, even before the death of the Founder in 1969, his son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, had secularized the philosophical underpinnings of the art and begun the process of simplifying its techniques, de-emphasizing the use of weapons and the more martially oriented techniques of the system. The Uchi Deshi who took Aikido abroad after WWII took varying elements from the Founder, the Nidai Doshu, and the Honbu Dojo Cho (Chief Instructor), Koichi Tohei Sensei, not to mention varying influences of the other senior instructors at the Honbu dojo. Saito Sensei, the caretaker of the shrine at Iwama, also had a degree of influence over the teachers sent overseas as virtually all of them had spent considerable time accompanying the Founder on his lengthy visits to the shrine and dojo.

By the time we reach the late 1970’s, this process had largely completed itself with Japanese Shihan presiding over the growth of Aikido all over the world. Yet even amongst these teachers, all considered “Aikikai” instructors, there was a wide range of interpretation as to what Aikido actually was. Some maintained a strong emphasis on weapons work; some even developed their own unique weapons training systems. Others put little or no emphasis on weapons training. Some ignored the trend towards a less martially oriented Aikido coming out of the home dojo and kept a strong emphasis on atemi and the more martial techniques which were dropping out of the Honbu Dojo repertoire. Even in Japan, apart from a small number of teachers like Abe Sensei, Hikitsuchi Sensei, Sunadomari Sensei and a few others, the spiritual orientation of the art had completely shifted away from the traditional, religious, Shinto based outlook which was fundamental to the way in which the Founder conceived and taught his art.

Where some sense of spirituality was maintained, its emphasis was more on the ethical / philosophical elements of the Founder’s teachings than on the mystical religious elements which didn’t travel well overseas and were even considered obscure by most modern Japanese practitioners themselves. Kisshomaru Ueshiba, the Nidai Doshu, wrote a number of books on Aikido and this orientation was quite evident in his works. In many, if not most cases, the practice of Aikido became almost entirely secularized with almost no emphasis by the teachers on the spiritual side of the art in favor of almost total focus on the technical side. This was in stark contrast to the Founder’s emphasis which was to talk about the spiritual underpinnings of Aikido and only rarely deal with the technical aspects of training.

When Tohei Sensei left the Aikikai after the death of the Founder he created his own style of Aikido which focused heavily on ki development as well as waza (technique). His ideas on this were derived from the work done by Tempu Nakamura rather than anything he had learned directly from O-Sensei and despite a painful rift with the Aikikai, many prominent teachers both in Japan and abroad left the organization to do the new style called Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido. Over the decades that followed, the majority of these teachers have struck out on their own, setting up their own organizations and adding further to the wide mix of interpretations that exist in contemporary Aikido.

So by the time the new millennium rolls around we find an Aikido that is variously defined by styles, organizations and individual teachers. In addition to the previously mentioned recognized “styles”, some teachers like Saito Sensei, in an attempt to distinguish their very traditional Aikido from the variants that followed came very close to developing new “styles”. “Iwama Style” came into common usage although it was never declared to be such by Saito Sensei nor recognized as such by the Aikikai Headquarters.

Some individual teachers, like Mitsugi Saotome, went off on their own (in his case the USA), started their own organizations, and then subsequently were reunited with the Aikikai Honbu Dojo. The “organization”, led by a talented and charismatic senior teacher soon became the new vehicle for promoting the growth of Aikido. It became possible to actually have one’s own organization which promoted a very specific interpretation of Aikido while simultaneously maintaining membership in the Aikiaki organization. K. Chiba Sensei’s creation of the Birankai is an example of this approach. Thus, re-absorption of previously estranged groups coupled with this toleration of organizations functioning within the larger headquarters organization has slowed down the creation of recognized separate “styles” of Aikido but serves to only thinly veil the fact that there continues to be very wide variation in approach and technique, even amongst students who trained with the Founder at precisely the same time.

With the spread of Aikido around the world we find the tendency towards entropy magnified even more. Most countries now have senior instructors at what would once have been considered “Shihan” grade who have their own ideas, not always in concert with the Japanese viewpoints, on what should happen with their art in their own country. Further, the development of non-Japanese teachers has also diminished the Japanese mystique which used to surround the senior teachers, all of whom had trained with the Founder. Now, students of the students of these teachers are instructing in their own schools. The pure numbers of practitioners, especially in France and the United States has made it virtually impossible for the Uchi Deshi of the Founder to remain as the dominant influences in the countries in which they have settled. Aikido has begun to take on aspects of the national character of the various countries it has spread to with increasing variation amongst a growing number of high level instructors.

At this stage, connection with the Aikikai Headquarters in Japan is more a sentimental attachment rather than something considered important to the continued development of the art in its various host countries. Pandora’s box has been opened and nothing will return it to its former state.

It is evident that, at this point in time, that the term “Aikido” which might have referred to something specific historically, is really a generic reference to a collection of martial and non-martial movement systems which share only the most surface similarities. Saying one does Aikido is like saying that one likes to eat Chinese Food. What kind of Chinese food? Sichuan, Hunan, Shanghai, Peking? What kind of Aikido? Yoseikan, Yoshinkan, Shudokan, Aikikai? Aikikai? Well, that doesn’t describe anything at this point… it’s all about the particular teacher within the organization or even which organization within the organization.

If this all seems to be impossibly confusing, it is. My intention in pointing this out is to help us all get past any remaining tendency to argue about what is the “true” Aikido, which Aikido is the most authentic. I don’t believe that there ever was anything that could be defined as “Aikido” in the sense of a “style”. Even before it officially became “Aikido” it had already morphed into several versions. The fact that the Founder spent his entire life refining and developing his art meant that what was called Aikido at any point in time represented only a temporal snapshot of what kept changing right up until the Founder died. It is almost impossible to maintain that any particular approach is more valid than any other. It’s simply a matter of finding the one that works for a particular individual. Not much more can be said.

George S. Ledyard (b. 11 May 1952). Aikido 6th Dan Aikikai, Aikido Schools of Ueshiba. Aikido & Defensive Tactics Instructor. B. in Syracuse, NY. Direct student of Mitsugi Saotome beginning in 1976 at the Washington DC Aikikai. After moving to the Seattle area in 1982, attended the Seattle School of Aikido under Mary Heiny as well as the Seattle Aikikai under Bruce Bookman. Other aikido training influences include Hiroshi Ikeda, Tom Read, Ellis Amdur, and William Gleason. In 1986, became chief instructor of the Seattle School of Aikido through 1989 when he opened Aikido Eastside where he currently teaches.
reprinted without permission

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Oct 282010

People choose Hiriki Aikido for many different reasons. Some need a safe form of exercise. Some want to learn how to defend themselves and their loved ones. And there are students that have studied different forms of martial arts a large portion of their lives and are still searching. It is a martial science first and foremost. The art form of Aikido is next in the development and challenges the student must face to gain knowledge of the art in an academic sense, to know where the martial science came from, and to be able to understand and interact with any other style of Aikido. It is practiced as a martial science, not the aerobic work out that many schools today are saying is Aikido.

But why do people choose Hiriki Aikido? From forty-four years of teaching experience, I have learned that to retain and promote the student’s confidence from the very first day techniques must work for the beginner as well as the advanced aikidoka. With that in mind an advanced program of learning has been developed to enhance the learning process.

Waza (technique) is taught initially while confronting a near-static opponent which is directly opposite to most other styles of aikido teaching. When the student is taught by handling a static attack it is done to challenge their learning ability in the higher levels of the art. Static is harder to learn because the balance and momentum of the attacker is not given to the beginning student to use as an aide in performing the technique. At the same time the beginning student is taught how to use their Ki energy and develop the body memory of Ki in all the techniques they learn.

The theories of Hiriki Aikido are instructed along with Ki and its applications in practice and daily life. The philosophy of the art of Hiriki Aikido as self-protection for the mind and body is passed on to the student. Unlike most martial arts schools Hiriki Aikido Dojos educate the students to the range of choices they have in response to aggressive behavior, physical or mental, and we train knowing there are always consequences set in motion by our actions.

The foundations, pillars and principles (waza) are taught to the student in actual levels. These levels are like the levels of the Use of Force Continuum taught to law enforcement personnel which is used to judge the correct level of response to a specific threat. This always allows the Hiriki Aikidoka a range of responses necessary to keep safe, physically and legally, giving the beginning student a solid foundation to advance their education to a higher plateau of learning in the future. Hiriki Aikido is based on the foundations of O Sensei’s Aikido (square, circle, and triangle) with added foundations of the Point and Axis; adding these foundations to O Sensei’s original foundations improves the art of Hiriki Aikido’s effectiveness and versatility.

The Hiriki Aikido dojo is a safe place to practice and learn the art of Hiriki Aikido. The dojo membership is friendly and helpful to all its members; there are no bullies or cliques allowed in the dojo. The classes are structured to allow an attitude of enjoyment in being there; the strict military discipline practiced by some dojos is not present. That is not to say there is no respect of the dojo or students; respect is always shown at all times and the students pride themselves on the seriousness of their study and the safety of the learning process of Hiriki Aikido. Class sizes are small and personalized with access to the Sensei being always available and encouraged. Because Hiriki Aikido has the potential to cause injury all students are carefully watched as they progress through the levels of training.

When a student leaves the dojo they feel relaxed, energized, and totally relieved of stress. This is just one benefit of Hiriki Aikido practice. The student looses their necessity to be who they are in the outside world. They are not parents, teachers, lawyers, doctors, or factory workers they are aikidoka and for the time in the dojo that is all they are. They are just students, each walking a different path toward the same goal. They practice an art which enhances their inner self and their physical self toward their betterment as human beings where good energy dwells and manifests as a path which dispels all negative energy; this is what Hiriki Aikido teaches them and it is what each enjoys most.

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Oct 282010

There is a saying, in which I believe, written by Basho: “Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.” This is a concept I have endeavored to follow in my years of Aikido practice. I have developed Hiriki Aikido to adapt and improve all styles of Aikido, to fill the gaps in technique and answer the questions left unanswered. The art of Hiriki Aikido is quite able to stand on its own merits, showing it to legitimately be a new style of aikido, the first American style. I feel there is no end to Aikido in general. There is always room to improve the art as an art form and as a martial science. True to the quotation, I sought what the men of old sought and found it within my art of Hiriki Aikido.

I believe Aikido is a martial science and intended by O Sensei to be that. But he also intended it to be a path of love for all mankind and a way to self-harmony. He often admonished students not to stray from the path of Aiki but I believe that many have because they have become encased in the indifference of “don’t ask, just do”. It is my intention to keep Hiriki Aikido both as a martial science and a martial way for self-improvement. Hiriki Aikido is unlike the “aiki aerobics” of many “traditional” forms of Aikido which require a passive partner to “work” with. Some call that blending. I call it lacking the ability to redirect the attacker where you want them to go. If you cannot perform the technique in the dojo without faking it how will it work in the street? Aikido is a martial science first and an art form second. If you can perform the martial science aspect of Aikido the art form is easy to accomplish. Performing Aikido without involving the use of Ki becomes a contest of who is stronger and larger in size; I do not believe this is true Aikido. I have found that strength fades with age so I have developed Hiriki Aikido techniques intertwining Ki and the dynamics of movement to deliver what is needed to complete the technique.

Many styles of Aikido, in my opinion, are becoming Aiki-aerobics: “Just dance around me while I make believe this will actually work in the street”. Sadly it will not. These styles have not adapted to the reality of a modern world and its changes in the new millennium. As an example, people rarely attack with an overhand strike any more. Why practice against it? It seems they hold to outmoded principals and in this process they often overlook the real concept of the technique.

Traditionalists say Aikido is non-aggressive. They say the art is a passive art. I say it is a very aggressive art because when performed correctly the Hiriki aikidoka is applying technique when the aggressor is just beginning to think about becoming aggressive; this is learned through training. I believe that the Hiriki aikidoka is a true Peaceful Warrior. I say this because to be truly peaceful you must have the power to destroy an opponent but choose not to do so. Doing this you show compassion to the opponent. Only a warrior who has overcome the challenge to both mind and body and faced the inner fears of the ego can be a true pacifist. The sword that takes life or the sword that gives life, this is true aikido; the ability to destroy life but the compassion to spare it. To have the ability to choose is a most important attribute of any martial art form. The ability to spare life or take life and having the confidence within the human spirit to truly know it; this is the true spirit of the Hiriki aikidoka, the Peaceful Warrior.

There is a popular concept that the art must come from Japan to be a true martial science. I say this: what matters is the martial science that is taught, not the land it came from. A Hiriki aikidoka realizes that he may have to use the art he is learning to save his life in this violent world. This awareness is the key to his safety. Too many traditional stylists do not care to believe they may be attacked sometime in their daily lives. They walk around with a false sense of security in their art form believing that the techniques they learned will ward off an attack that is trying to end their life. Unfortunately they may learn the truth too late.

Preserving the art form’s core is the right thing to do, of course, but Aikido was made to improve every day. Use the core as a base of learning and the core techniques & philosophies should be improved. O Sensei was asked if his techniques could be filmed. His response was “Why? It will change tomorrow“. It is regrettable that the many styles have forgotten this. A true art form will also reflect the teacher’s experiences and, most important, the innovations and discoveries of his art on his path. If that is not present the art form will be ineffectual and without real substance.

As a Sensei I am concerned with the safety of my students both inside the dojo and outside of it. I have been given the responsibility for their training and their safety both physical and mental and I am confident that, if need be, their training will perform to the level that they need to keep safe from harms way. The law enforcement personnel I train call Hiriki aikidoka “Aikido’s Bad Boys”. They say this because of the effectiveness of Hiriki in street applications for the law enforcement community.

I believe that practicing Aikido as a martial science is the true way to develop the inner self. It allows the inner self face fears and doubts and become victorious over them. Without the discipline of a martial science there is no challenge to the character of the student to improve their higher, inner self. I believe the true goal of O Sensei’s development of aikido was to improve the higher self and develop a caring respect for all humanity.

There must be awareness within the Aikido community that the reality of the twentyfirst century is not the same as when the original art form was born. In this modern world, the art form must be able to withstand the challenges as a martial science for both the body and the mind. Remember that most martial arts were developed in wartime contexts and the combative techniques changed to effectively overcome an opponent every time there was a change in the opponent’s tactics. When the conflict stopped the changes in technique often also stopped. Many of the martial arts forms now are just chronicles of those years during which they were developed.

I will not allow Hiriki to become static and develop holes in its techniques. This could endanger the safety of my students and violate their trust in Hiriki Aikido and myself. I know the art must become the student’s own. This means the art form will change with every student who walks the path of Hiriki Aikido. It will change ever so slightly to fit into the individual’s mindset and body characteristics. This is the way it should be. It is the obligation of the art to its students and it is my legacy to my students.

Hiriki Aikido was developed within the United States to ward off the violence of the land it in which it was developed. It was developed so Americans can grasp not only the physical aspects of the art but also the mental aspects of the art in a modern, realistic way without offending their own religious beliefs.

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Oct 282010

Level # 1

The first level involves evasion, control and restraint of an attacker with some throwing techniques, which are intended to do minimum damage to the individual who is attacking. At the first level, the student learns the square foundation before moving on to the next level or foundation of movement. The student acquires a very good knowledge of the first ten (waza) principles creating a good beginner level of defense and knowledge of the art. The student also develops their basic falling skills as well as an introduction to specific weapons. Level one also contains two person kata forms of practice and the Aikidoka is introduced to weapons training. In level one the student is also initiated into the use of their energy or Ki.

Level # 2.

The second level involves learning the circle foundation of movement and its use in the previous waza. The more advanced techniques of this level encompass the next ten principles of Hiriki Aikido. These waza are where most other styles of Aikido stop training their students. The waza gives the Hiriki Aikidoka choices to disable an attacker or neutralize the attack. Choice is always offered to the student. All Hiriki students are trained even as beginners to think of the repercussions of their choices. The student will become knowledgeable with the circle foundation at the second level, learning to integrate the circle to the previously learned principles at level one. He will also challenge himself to become more proficient in his falling arts as well as increasing his knowledge in the use of the square foundation. At level two the aikidoka is introduced to two person counter kata forms and embarks on serious weapons training. Finally, the second level student becomes more proficient with his usage of Ki. He is trained to pass level two Ki performance tests and is challenged to enhance his knowledge of more difficult Ki manipulations.

Level # 3.

At level three the student learns the triangle foundation movement and its use both in level three waza and in waza of previous levels. At level three the Hiriki aikidoka learns additional waza which can only be described as deadly force level on the force continuum. These are the forgotten techniques of the art of Aikido. The aikidoka is constantly tested to insure that his level of maturity and development is the proper state of mind for this knowledge. At level three all students are trained to pass level three Ki performance tests. At this level the student is trained to be proficient in the use of weapons. The student also learns the introductory segment to the Inner Self Development category of Hiriki Aikido.

Level # 4.

At level four the student learns the axis or line foundation. In this level the student’s abilities are improved and refined to reflect the high quality Hiriki Aikido is known for. The student also builds the skills of the more subtle teachings of Ki use.

Level # 5

At this level a command of all previous foundations, pillars and principles of Hiriki Aikido are demonstrated and polished. The student is introduced to the Point foundation or “Gen”, as it is called. This level is where the student masters Ki and weapons which includes the use of the traditional bokken and jo. This level also begins instruction in the Hiriki Tanto Kihon (Basic Knife Techniques)

Level # 6

Level six is usually for senior students who will become professional Hiriki Aikido Instructors. At this level all of the principles, pillars and foundations are demonstrated to show the student’s skill level and then polished to reflect the Hiriki Tradition of Excellence. At this level the Advanced Tanto is also learned and demonstrated by the senior student.

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