Aikido clips

Since we’re on the subject of aikido, here’s a couple of videos showing two of the most famous aikidoka in action. Aikido practice is performed with two roles, uke and nage. Uke attacks nage, receiving the defensive technique (usually a pin or throw) that nage applies to him. In these videos, the instructors always take the role of nage.

The first clip features Morihei Ueshiba, O-Sensei, the founder of aikido. The film quality isn’t all that great and there’s no sound, but it’s still worth watching. Ueshiba was in his fifties when this was shot and still a commanding presence.

One of the things we’re taught in aikido is that weapons work isn’t studied merely for its own sake, but also because it informs the movements in hand-to-hand techniques. I hadn’t seen this so clearly until watching the video below. At one point Ueshiba demonstrates defense with a jo (staff). A few seconds later he’s back to using just his hands, but thanks to the purposefulness of his movements and the grainy video quality I didn’t even notice the change until several attacks later.

You’d probably never heard of Morihei Ueshiba before reading this post, but I’m sure you’ve heard of the instructor in the next video: action star Steven Seagal. Before he was discovered by talent agents in L.A., Seagal was devotedly studying aikido in Japan. (You didn’t think he spent all those years in acting school, did you?) Seagal went on to become the first foreigner to open his own dojo in Japan and achieved the rank of 7th dan.

The video below shows Seagal teaching in both Japan and the US. The strength and speed of his techniques is incredible.