A blog with some news, reports and articles from the Aikido community around the world.
Edited by Lawrence Warry & Ze'ev Erlich

Sunday, January 13, 2013

January 2013

This Month's contents:

1. A Happy New Year to you!
2. An Article on Joining Ki.
3. Another Aikido Hero Passes Away (Hiroshi Kato, 加藤 弘; 1935 – 2 December 2012).
4. Yamashima Sensei's World Tour Planned for 2013.
5. Japanese of the Month: Ki Musubi (氣結び)

1. A  H a p p y  N e w  Y e a r  to you!
Dear Aikido friends from around the world. It is a pleasure for me to serve you with what I hope is some interesting monthly information regarding Aikido. I know there is so much going on with Aikido these days. There's no way I'm going to be able to record everything that happens or provide all necessary learning information at that, and we anyway have some bigger fish in the sea to provide us with great online content (such as and 
I'd anyway hope that my humble contribution will be able to bring a smile to at least a few Aikido faces in the globe. I'm very thankful to have met a lot of the readers due to my various travels in the past few years and it gives me great pleasure to feel that this newsletter may somehow add to my and your global connection in Aikido.
I sincerely wish you much Aikido pleasure in 2013.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! .. or as they would say in Japan, 
Lawrence Warry (Editor)

1.2. Happy New Year from Israel!!
Wishing all our friends a Happy New Year 2013.
It was wonderful to have guests from the CABN at our dojo during aikido seminars with Shimamoto Shihan (8th Dan) and Fukakusa Shihan (8th Dan). If you can, please join us also this year:
May 28th until June 3rd 2013 (Seminar with Shimamoto Shihan)
November 28th until December 3rd 2013 (Seminar with Fukakusa Shihan)
All the best,
Miho, Kazuki and Ze'ev and members of Masatake Dojo - Israel

2. An Article on Joining Ki  (気).
When I think of the concept of joining Ki (otherwise known in Japan as Ki-Musubi), I often visualise past images of Masatake Fujita Shihan in one of his lectures pointing to the square portion of the Japanese character for "Ai" from "Ai-ki-Do" and saying to the audience "One Mouth". The Ai in Aikido, as put by Fujita Shihan, is the essence of joining Ki between humans and attaining an order of harmony. The "Ai" part of Aikido litterally means union or meeting. With two simple English words, Fujita Shihan was able to so clearly express that this was the essence of Aikido, the "one mouth" sqaure sign thus supposed to symbolise the representation of many mouths with just one voice.
Fujita Sensei, at the Masatake Dojo, Rehovot, Israel in April 2005, was well known for giving lectures about the essence of Aikido as taught to him by O-Sensei
There are many interesting esoteric exercises to bring one closer to a sensation of experiencing Ki and it is commonly accepted that there is no machine as such to measure Ki. Kisshomaru Ueshiba (son of the founder) referred to Ki as the "Spirit of Aikido". It is therefore not even certain that Ki has a physical property though the physical experiences testify that what is understood as Ki has a physical influence (temparature, tingling sensations in the skin, charged sensations, whole body awakening, vitality, and so on and so forth ...).
The joining of Ki goes one step further.
When we join Ki we supposedly make our connections stronger, we learn and develop collectively, we create harmony in our environment, we improve our power to heal and prevent injuries and we have a better quality of life on an individual and group level. There are many physical practices to help people with developing their own Ki and join their Ki to others. 
When beginning Aikido, we learn a lot of form and it becomes very much choreographed much the same way as forms are learned in other martial arts. As time goes one, it becomes apparent, that to go futher in Aikido, one has to go beyond technique and form. The subtle energy of Ki must somehow be researched and, for the lucky few, fully understood. When one stops to be busy only with their own ability and how good they are at something a shift occurs and one's consciousness enters a new level to that of the collective. 
In investing one's concerns for others instead of themselves, a human being has reached a higher level. I think this would be agreed by the majority of people regardless of whether or not they believed in the existence of Ki. In Aikido, we try to experience the joining of Ki in this way by giving up our individual demands and joining others to realise the common demands between each other. One could regard it as a universal democratic system without political intervention.
On the bottom line, Ki is just a theory with billions of testimonial experiences. So strong is the belief, in fact, that it is not even doubted in most of Asia (Chi being the Chinese version of the word Ki). The term Ki appears frequently in the Japanese language when referring to energy related concepts (for example: Gen-Ki refers to a person's state of health, Ten-Ki refers to the weather or energy of the heavens, Den-Ki refers to electricity).
The theory of connecting Ki extends further into peoples' well-being. Chinese Medicine explains injuries to be caused because Ki is disconnected or can't flow in one's own body. Healing techniques such as those adopted in Reiki and Shiatsu are supposed to be effective by connecting the Ki of the therapist to the patient.
It's a very interesting subject and I'm probably not experienced or qualified enough to sell Ki as the next best thing since sliced bread but nevetheless I would like to request that in your Aikido practice you give your Ki a chance to be connected. It might enhance your own practice. You might notice that you stop nagging about aches and pains. You might gain more confidence in your ukemi. Your Aikido movement may flow more. You might gain trust in the others around you. You may notice the collective efforts required to run the Aikido club, to make a unified effort to keep the tatami clean and to concern yourself with others' safety and well-being. You may solve inter-personal issues with others. There are so many advantages promised in experiencing the joining of Ki that, even as doubter, one would also do well to explore the possibility. 
- Lawrence Warry

3. Another Aikido Hero Passes Away (Hiroshi Kato, 加藤 弘; 1935 – 2 December 2012).
A Memorial Tribute: Hiroshi Kato Sensei, 8th dan. 
When Lawrence asked me to write about Kato Sensei, I realized that in the span of Kato sensei's life in Aikido, I had been in his presence for only a few short years. Yet, in those years, this remarkable man made an impression on me that even as I write this it still feels as if he is still present in my life.
Kato Sensei became a student of O Sensei’s in 1952 after a fortuneteller (who interestingly was also a friend of The Founder) recommended Aikido at the time Kato Sensei was searching for a martial art to study. This was and to some degree is still a very common way to make a decision in Japan.
He maintained an outside job and raised his family while practicing at Hombu Dojo as often as possible. When he retired, he devoted all his time and energy to teaching. I was aware of workshops he taught in Brazil, Indonesia and many other countries around the world. Before visiting us in Northern California for the last time, he had just finished teaching workshops in the Netherlands and Scotland.
Kato Sensei was not a large man. He was maybe 5’6” or 5’7” when on the mat. Yet, he was probably the strongest male I’ve ever encountered. The first time I grabbed his wrists in swari waza he would have effortlessly thrown me for at least three or four feet had a plate glass window not been in our way (thank heavens, he stopped!).
I saw him at workshop numerous times life a man over 6’5” who weighed at least 240 pounds in air with a flick of his wrists. Yet, his movements on the mat were at times delicate, almost dance-like. When once answering a question that another instructor asked about his “style,” I replied that it was neither hard or soft but both at the same time. What he had was power, real power from ki and not from his own strength.
I noticed he worked with everyone at a workshop. Whether you were newbie or an instructor, he would take time and with his wonderful impish humor and smile, correct a hand movement here or a foot placement there. It seemed his patience was inexhaustible. I never once saw him lose his temper even when he knew he must have been repeating the same thing over and over again. All his suggestions and corrections were done with an obvious carrying heart and touch.
He repeatedly would tell us that he was only teaching what he saw O Sensei do on the mat. He once remarked at a workshop when someone asked him about The Founder, he said, “He was a genius.” And he would remind us again and again that he was still learning too.
On his last visit to the dojo at Sofia University where he taught a weekend workshop, my friend Bob Noha Sensei and I had the wonderful opportunity of taking him out to dinner at his favorite local Japanese restaurant. It was just the three of us. Neither Bob Sensei nor I spoke Japanese. And Kato Sensei didn’t speak English. But we had a great time. Once word got to the owner, he appeared with a menu in Japanese for Sensei.
Noha Sensei and I later remarked we ate so many dishes we had never seen before. Sensei kept ordering, and dish after dish would appear which Sensei would insist we try and then finish. When we left, after bowing to him, he reached out his hand to shake my hand. When I extended my hand, he had me in a thumb nikyo before I knew it. With a gentle twist, he laughed and slapped my arm.
I was shopping at our local market when I received a text message that he had died. It was totally unexpected. I had to stop and stand there for a few minutes to absorb this sad news. Although we noticed he was a little more tired than usual on his last visit that was all. He passed away in his sleep shortly after he returned to Japan.
The Aikido World has lost a great teacher, mentor and part of O Sensei’s direct legacy. Yet, I have no doubt that his spirit lives with his many students around the world and will continue to do so.
Paul Rest is a 3rd dan and dojo cho at West End Aikido located in Sebastopol, CA. He is a student of Robert Frager Sensei, 7th dan who was himself a friend and student of Kato Sensei’s for many years and also a direct student of The Founder. Rest Sensei writes extensively about Aikido and has had hundreds of articles published about the Art. He writes a regular column on “Martial Artists Making a Difference” for the You can contact him at: and on Facebook.

4. Yamashima Sensei's World Tour Planned for 2013.
With Yamashima Sensei and Top Student Kakisaki san last year in Nerima Sports Center, Tokyo, Japan.
I have obtained Yamashima Sensei's tentative travel plan for 2013 from Ken Aigo, one of Yamashima sensei's top students. You can find the tentative travel plan online
(An up to date agenda is coming soon so please keep checking) at this link:

5. Japanese of the Month: Ki Musubi (氣結び)
The kanji 结=musu means to fold or blend and with its addition:  び=bi it means "to bind", "build", "join", "attach", ...
In its early form, the part on the left was understood as the folds of silk, they are assembled and folded several turns so they do not crease. The right side of the (bi) is a phonetic element.
In Aiki-ken practice (bokken), the Kumi Tachi Ki Musubi no Tachi, developed by the late Saito sensei is a good teaching tool to understand and feel the concept of Ki Musubi: both partners engage in imagining that the tip of their two boken is connected by invisible silk and they join their Ki in performing the movement synchronously.

Mosubi shodo by Ze'ev Erlich