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Our Sixteenth Year

by Stanley Pranin

Aiki News #85 (Summer 1990)

This issue marks the beginning of our 16th year of publication and the start of a new era with the appearance of the first independent Japanese and English editions. Without our even realizing it, the two individual magazines have taken on a unique character although their contents remain mostly the same. We hope to tailor-make each magazine into a form which is both attractive and useful to our readership and a reflection of the vision of its creators - the AIKI NEWS staff.

This brings us to the subject of where we go from here. As I’m sure is obvious from the content of AIKI NEWS thus far, this editor has a strong personal interest in accurately documenting Aikido and Daito-ryu history. To a large extent I feel we have succeeded in this regard and naturally we will continue providing a steady stream of information as our research progresses. At this juncture in time we feel we are in a position to significantly expand the scope of coverage of this magazine. And it is in this regard that I would like to enlist the opinions and advice of our esteemed readers - YOU! Much can be done with a publication such as this which is targeted specifically at serious practitioners of Aikido and Daito-ryu which would be beyond the means of martial arts magazines attempting to cover a wide gamut of fighting arts.

Menu Of Possibilities

Let me provide you with a “menu” of possible additions to AIKI NEWS for your consideration: a technical series tracing Aikido through its transition from Daito-ryu techniques to its modern form; an on-going comparative study of Aikido techniques as practiced by the major styles; a series of historical articles dealing with jujutsu, kenjutsu and kobudo published originally some 50 years ago and featuring martial arts masters of an earlier age; more extensive coverage of current events including news items down to the regional level; language courses including audio tapes especially directed at the martial artist. These are some of the many subjects we could introduce and we would like to know where your preferences lie.

With regard to this menu of possibilities for enhancing the content of AIKI NEWS, I would like to request feedback from readers as to what depth of news coverage you desire. Is it sufficient for you to know what is happening in your immediate area or country or do you want to know in detail what’s happening throughout the Aikido world? To give specific examples, do our Japanese readers want to know what is happening in European countries even if Japanese instructors are not involved? Do foreign readers want to know about seminars given by well-known senseis in Japan or only when they travel abroad? We need guidance from you in this area so please help us out. A handy Readers’ Survey form is included for the first time in this issue for your convenience and we hope many of you will fill it in and return it to us. We can learn more about who you are and what you consider to be of value in AIKI NEWS. Let’s make communications a two-way street!

Model Mugging

In this number we present an article which represents a departure from our usual fare. It deals with the subject of “Model Mugging,” a special type of anti-rape training. It so happens that a number of Aikido black belts, both female and male, have been involved in the development and spread of this highly-effective approach to sexual violence. We feel this subject is very timely, certainly in western countries, but also increasingly in Japan where incidents involving rape represent a serious social problem and undoubtedly are grossly underreported. The subject of the effectiveness of Aikido techniques is a much debated one. It is certainly true that although the dojo environment can provide vigorous training, practitioners, especially female Aikidoka, do not experience the reality of a life-and-death struggle as they would if accosted. Many techniques as taught in Aikido dojos are not even completed in the sense that the attacker is not immobilized. Also, depending on the technical orientation of the school, pinning techniques tend to be applied in a very lax way allowing a strong or flexible person to escape easily. Thus even in the event a person succeeds in applying an Aikido technique, the attacker has every opportunity to pick himself up and resume his attack. Do we seriously think even for a moment that this sort of training would prepare one for a violent street attack or rape scenario particularly one involving multiple adversaries? In any event, our readers of the fairer sex may find that Model Mugging training provides a viable answer to an ever-present threat they must live with.

Our English And Japanese Editors

Although she is introduced in her interview starting on page 48, I would like to say a few words about Diane Bauerle. Diane has been assisting us for the last several months and has recently stepped into a full-time role as English editor of AIKI NEWS. She is eminently qualified for this work given her strong background in Aikido and academic training in English and library science. She is also quite handy with computers and has even promised to teach me the fundamentals of programming! With her participation this editor’s commitment to work on the magazine has been roughly halved leaving time for other much needed activities such as videotape production and book publication.

On the Japanese side is Editor Ikuko Kimura, truly one of the pioneers of AIKI NEWS, whose position has recently assumed even greater importance. In addition to her responsibilities as Japanese editor, Ikuko and staff have taken on the load of book publishing as well. We have accumulated a wealth of materials which would best lend itself to publication in the form of books. As a matter of fact, our first Japanese-language offering Morihei Ueshiba and Aikido is just now appearing in bookstores all over Japan and the initial response has been excellent. This project was entirely conceived and implemented by Ikuko and assistant Hisako Ishida and we are encouraging them to provide us with much more of the same!