Stanley Pranin’s Video Blog: “How I Started Aikido”

“Witnessing a violent act triggered me to action!”

Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin relates how he first began aikido in Southern California in 1962. This led to a lifelong study of the art where he found his calling, all due to the profound message of Founder Morihei Ueshiba.


  1. Charles Warren says:

    …There I was in a new house in Rockridge. At the time I was married to a black woman. We had two daughters and a lot of racist neighborhood trouble. I had more or less well dealt with bullying in my youth, more successfully as I achieved mature size, powered by years of anger and pain. But I decided under the circumstances I hadn’t refreshed my fighting skills since high school… and the old College Avenue Aikido Institute dojo was right up the street… Bottom line – I got into the habit. I might have improved myself some. The problems sometimes would come by the dojo. I didn’t know what I was up to. Neither did they, but they didn’t look forward to finding out.

    So, as it happened my first “encounter” was with one of my wife’s friends. He and his wife had probably been smoking dope while I was at class. He was exiting as I walked up the sidewalk. The lawn sloped down from the front steps so he had an advantage of terrain when he announced, “Let’s try this out…” Good class. My first thought was, “Oh! Somebody else wants to play aikido!” I started a kiai and advanced. As I did in the evening street light it was as though my opponent’s body was painted with a luminous butcher chart. There were little symbols I took to be kanji in the segments. I believed that each segment pertained to a technique. Irimi nage seemed appropriate. I had yet to finish my kiai and was already behind the guy reaching for his neck as he descended to all fours saying, “This isn’t a very good idea…” He got to his feet about 50′ away and kept walking toward his place and was joined by his wife who must have quietly passed by while we were involved.

    My first feeling was loss, as in “Hey. You don’t want to play?” Met a pit bull puppy like that who completely wore down my cocker spaniel. They were about equal in size, but all Barnie wanted to do was wrestle. Finally my dog was on his back, paws in the air with Barnie standing over him as if to say, “Don’t quit now. This is fun!” Moving on, what WAS that butcher chart? Hallucination? I guess. But there it was anyway…

  2. Hello, im from Spain and i recently started learning Aikido, iwama ryu.
    My own history about starting martial arts is similar to yours as i think it is for many people.
    I discover this web yesterday and came to see you in this vid to know who you are.
    Very good place on aikido info, i have already purchased a book and sure i will keep coming back.
    Wish you the best

  3. Mr. Pranin,

    I have been watching your videos and demonstrations. You have a very effective way of describing techniques and philosophies of Aikido. I feel as if I know you as I have spent many hours watching your videos.

    I am 66 years old and currently have knee and back issues from former injuries in martial arts and also arthritis. My study of 12 years was in Tae Kwon Do under the training oh Mr. Moon Ku Baek. I received my first dan in 1971. I stopped teaching and training in 1981.

    I am very interested to study Aikido. I must be very careful with my knees and back. I would not be able to tolerate falls as I did over 30 years ago. Do you feel I would be able to learn considering these health limitations? If so how would you suggest I proceed?

    Thank you!


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