Don’t allow the slightest opening in your aikido!

“Michio Hikitsuchi: No one articulates O-Sensei’s message better!”

In this video, Michio Hikitsuchi Sensei stresses the importance of not waiting for your opponent to strike. He explains “to wait for the other person to strike means that you become conscious of the person as an adversary, and it’s no longer aikido.” We encourage you to ponder the deep meaning of this statement as we watch today’s video clip.

If you’ve been watching this series of videos of Michio Hikitsuchi Sensei, you will have noticed a profoundly different vision of aikido emerging. This is Morihei Ueshiba’s aikido in all its depth and beauty. And it’s waiting for us to discover and apply to our personal training!

Here is a glimpse of some of the many key concepts explained by Hikitsuchi Sensei in this course. Do you understand these principles and are you applying them in your aikido practice?

  1. Sincerity of attack. In your role as uke, do you attack with full intention and sincerity? Aikido relies on both parties bringing a pure energy to practice.
  2. Inryoku. Attractive power is what checks uke’s will to attack. It is what instantaneously stops the ki of uke when he thinks to attack.
  3. Seizing the initiative. One must control uke from the very outset of the encounter. To wait for a person to attack is to become conscious of him as an adversary. We lead to transcend being the attacker or the defender.
  4. Katsuhayabi. Speed independent of space and time. In Aikido, the issue is decided at the instant of the encounter. It is decided at the instant uke and nage come together. Uke thinks to attack, but he himself is struck.
  5. Shinken shobu. Action in dead earnest. You must put everything you have into your aikido as if it your life were at stake. Otherwise your true heart will never manifest itself.
  6. Masakatsu – Agatsu. True Victory, Victory over Self. The true aim of aikido is not victory over an opponent, but purifying and attaining victory over oneself.
  7. Shugyo. Ascetic discipline. The practice of aikido is a discipline for polishing one’s character and living life in harmony with divine nature.
  8. Takemusu Aiki. Aiki giving birth to martial techniques. An expression of his ideal of the highest level of aikido where techniques perfectly suited to the immediate circumstances surge forth spontaneously.


A 38-Lesson Advanced Course by Michio Hikitsuchi, 10th dan!



  1. Pranin Sensei: I have been reading the Aikido Journal daily postings for several months now, and was starting to observe some repetition of the same material, so I assumed that essentially all the basic information had been transmitted. I am surprised now to discover, supposedly, one of the major faithful transmitters of the art after O-Sensei himself that I had not even heard of before!

    If Hikitsuchi Sensei had such a faithful interpretation of O-Sensei’s teachings, how do his teachings compare and contrast to Morihiro Saito’s version of the “authentic vision” of the Founder’s Aikido. Or, in re-reading your current post, was Hikitsuchi Sensei’s authenticity and insight more along the lines of interpreting the spiritual and Shinto expertise, and Saito Sensei’s insight more along the lines of reproducing the physical movements of the Founder. Or was it more complex and subtle than that?

    • All of the basic information has yet to be transmitted. Hikitsuchi Sensei is not so well known because he was relatively isolated in Shingu. He was also disliked by the Aikikai partially due to the furor over his verbal 10th dan. O-Sensei regularly visited Shingu during the last 15 years of his life. He lived in Iwama and Saito Sensei studied with him from 1946 until his death. O-Sensei’s residence was in Iwama. He did a different kind of training there than when he was older. It’s a complicated subject to be sure. Good question!

      • Well done on making this material available Mr. Pranin. I regret not taking the opportunity to train with Hikitsuchi Sensei while I was in Japan. From the small amount of material I’ve seen of him there are many similarities between his explanation and demonstration of techniques and those of Saito Sensei. This kokyu nage is a good example. The movement of hands, legs and body, particularly the turning to face the same direction as uke, is consistent with the kuden oft repeated in Iwama of “相手と同じ方を見る” (turn to face the same direction as your partner) which differs from the common practice of turning to face uke when throwing. This technique, at least, is just as Saito Sensei taught it. I’m very keen to see more.
        Thank you.

        • We’ll be uploading several more clips selected from Hikitsuchi Sensei’s course during the coming week.

    • Taha Naim says:

      Dear Sclim,
      The question is actually an excellent one; to answer it in a brief way, one should know the three levels of aikido practice. Aikido practice starts with the static or solid (basics) practice which Saito sensei was faithful to in order to keep O sensei legacy intact and we all owe him a great deal of gratitude for that. The flexible practice starts after mastering the solid way and it is practiced once the practitioner has reached the level of third dan (and acquired his own style). The fluid way is the highest level of aikido practice and it involves a thorough understanding of energy flux Yin and Yang and that is well emphasized in the teachings of Hikitsuchi Sensei. Concerning the contrast with Saito sensei there are none, Hikitsuchi sensei master and respects faithfully the basics although they might not be apparent to an experienced eye. I hope my answer will help you.

  2. Thomas Fox says:

    Could you clarify the relationship between the teachings in Hikitsuchi’s videos and those in your Zone Theory videos?

  3. Gene McGloin says:

    Very interesting material and I would recommend that one check this out if they’ve never had access to Hikitsuchi sensei’s teachings. I had the opportunity to train with the narrator often during the ’90’s and I still kick myself for not obtaining “The Heart of Aikido” videos by Hikitsuchi sensei back in the 90’s!

  4. Dear Stanley,

    can you say a little bit more how the courses can be accessed? How many times can I look at them? How long will the material be available?

    Best regards,

    • Hi Thomas,

      You have unlimited access to both view the lessons and download them to your computing device. It will be there for you as long as Aikido Journal is in business. We have a track record of 40 years so far.

  5. bill fowler, sandan says:

    is the course avail in CD vs on-line // I do not have regular access for on-line instruction.

  6. is the course narrated by you? or anyone else? does it include commentary by others?

  7. tom collings says:

    I very much appreciate this wonderful series of presentations and bedrock concepts by a unique teacher. In 1978, I made a memorable trip from Hombu Dojo to Shingu. Me and my buddy had been training at Hombu for about a year, but we were getting nailed at Shingu while executing throws and pins in ways we had never been before. We were amazed we had so many openings, and such weak positioning without being aware of it. We left Shingu very sore, but with much better positioning and sharper technique.

    Although Hikitsuchi Sensei had been ill and was quite tired, he was kind enough to perform a special Shinto ceremony for us, and then give us a private class. At one point he motioned for me to attack, so I came at him fast and hard with a focused blow to his center. I remember this like it was yesterday, because he seemed to move so slowly that there was “no way” I would miss him. But just before I connected, his knuckles were at my eyes and I had to snap my head back to avoid getting smashed. Since I flew across the room, if there had been spectators they might have thought it was fake. But it was very real. The man definitely learned things about time and space from O’Sensei.

  8. Larry Feldman says:

    Stan – Sign me up for the DVD when available.

  9. Aikido has produced so many good teachers of the art. I knew nothing of martial arts until I looked into the subject. In Aikido every master you see seems so complete as a person and teacher/disseminate of the art it is a true indication of what a wonderful, truly great man Morihei Ueshiba not only was but continues to be through the students and teachers who keep his memory alive. Thanks to all of you.

  10. Peter John Still says:

    Yes! sign me up for the DVD!!!

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