This section contains an extensive range of articles written about the practice of Aikido. Some contributions were offered by some influential teacher and some are from myself. These reflections will hopefully allow you to deepen your knowledge of the art and broaden your views. Please note that the views expressed in each article only reflect the views of their respective author, not necessarily that of the owner of this site.
André Nocquet was a man of both sword and pen. A former resistance fighter and a pioneer of martial arts, he was one of the first foreign students of Morihei Ueshiba and the very first to have lived under the roof of the founder of Aikido. With this unequaled experience, he has greatly contributed to the development of Aikido, both in Japan and Europe. I translated some previously unpublished articles of Master Nocquet, edited some videos from his personal archives filmed during his stay in Japan, and recovered works for the promotion of Aikido and Budo in France. All of it is published on this website and therefore, it seemed necessary to supplement these documents with a full biography of the man, especially given the fact that his life before Japan is at least as extraordinary as his pioneering journey in the world of Aikido. Unfortunately, the sources documenting his early life are scarce and sometimes contradictory. This article introduces the elements that I thought were the most accurate. I would like to sincerely thank Mr. Michel Nocquet, the son of André Nocquet Sensei, who kindly accepted to review this article in order to prevent inconsistencies and inaccuracies.
I have expressed several times the fact that I believe that Budo have less to do with warmongering and personal defense than with physical and mental education, and that those who mainly seek martial efficacy in training are in my eyes wasting their time developing useless kills, and probably living in irrational fear. Today I would like to substantiate these claims with hard facts and ask the question: "What is the point of training to achieve martial efficacy in a peaceful world?". Violence in human societies is on decline and it has been so for hundreds of years. As a consequence, we are currently living in the most peaceful and harmonious time that our specie has ever known. This phenomenon has been put forward in its most elegant and persuasive form by Harvard Professor Steven Pinker in his book "The Better Angels of our Nature". I propose to share some of his ideas and evidence, and to discuss how this affects martial arts practice. In a nutshell, I could sum it up as : "No, the world is not becoming a dangerous place, so chill out and enjoy martial art training for what it is: a healthy habit, albeit a slightly silly, and mostly obsolete one".
I have recently become aware of an ensemble of pictures that were published in Shin Budo magazine along with some technical directions. What is truly remarkable about this set is that it presents a rare occurrence of Ueshiba Sensei and his uke wearing Western clothes. Therefore, in the aim of both presenting rare images, and for the valuable insight that this document gives us on the practice of O Sensei during this key transitory period, I have decided to translate these instructions and present them here.
Aikido is more of an art than a sport: it solicits the mind more than the body. Those who want to teach this art have two ways at their disposal to do so: through words and through demonstration. But Aikido originally comes from Japan, and thus, its teaching here in the West is hindered by the language barrier. However, this issue, although significant, is not insurmountable. Indeed, words are actually not the best tools to use in this situation. Why is that? Because the "Master" has to convey his way of thinking to his "disciple." This transmission requires two intermediate between master and disciple: words and reason. If we examine closely the mechanism of transmission of thought through speech, we find that it requires a double operation. As a first step, it is for the teacher to choose the words that he considers most suitable to suggest the ideas that he wants to convey, and as a second step, he must organize these words into sentences so that their meaning can be deciphered by the disciple’s reasoning.
This sensation that we call pain in Aikido is something that has always been a source of intellectual interest to me. Indeed, why are putting ourselves through that suffering? Why do we spend hours falling, rolling, getting our wrists twisted in all directions, and receiving shocks from a partner who is supposedly a "friend"? We assume that pain is necessary to progress in the Way. This pain is our limit, it is what allows us to know and to understand. Without it we are nothing. The real difficulty is not if we should sustain it but how far can we go in the acceptance of pain. More importantly perhaps, is to assess when does it become just plain stupidity?
The term "between techniques", is for me is a great help to understand what aikido is about. In spite of the fact that the general level of our art has improved a lot technically thanks to the increase in teaching skills and Aikido literacy of the practitioners, I think the that the moment of time that elapses between two techniques is often misunderstood.
For the past three decades, I have been returning to Tokyo every year order to train with the masters of the Hombu Dojo, and every time I feel the same joy, even though my expectations are not always fulfilled once I actually step on the tatami. But it is just fine like that. Given this situation, there are questions that I am being asked rather often, particularly during the social moments such as those spent at the cafe nearby the Hombu Dojo, the one where foreign practitioners often meet between classes. These questions are mostly "Why are you coming back to Tokyo every year? What are you coming for? Why do you always go to Saku to train with Endo Sensei even though your practice does not at all correspond to the principles that he is demonstrating?"
Christian Tissier Shihan is by far one of the most well known Aikido Instructors in the world. This can be explained by his start at an early age, his remarkable curriculum, his charisma, and his seemingly innate sense for the media. Yet, most people know actually very little about the man and his journey. In this article, I will try to shed some light on his early life, which will hopefully help to understand the man behind the "model" [the Japanese title Shihan (師範) literally means "model"].
I wish everyone the very best for this new year 2012! The other day, I had a look at my WHOIS data and I was surprised to see that I bought the domain name GuillaumeErard.com in February 2007. The beginning of the year 2012 thus marks the fifth year of the site. It seems like a good time to stop for a bit and tell you a little about the future developments of the site.
I first thought of writing something on this theme after realizing that contrary to what I thought initially, there were some interesting differences in the way my techniques were performed and intended according to whether I was demonstrating them as a teacher, or performing them as a student. Of course, for the experiment to be meaningful, these techniques had to be applied on the same partners each time. What struck me most is that the sensation was totally different according to the status I was assuming on the tatami.