Video: Hiroshi Isoyama, 8th dan, at 2004 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration

This is a video clip of Hiroshi Isoyama, 8th dan, from the 2004 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration held at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo. Isoyama Sensei started aikido as a boy in Iwama and learned directly under Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

Hiroshi Isoyama is known for his dynamic demonstrations that combine technique with physical power. Audiences always respond enthusiastically to his performances due to his obvious use of strength and the daredevil-type falls taken by his uke. Isoyama maintains close ties to Hollywood movie actor Steven Seagal, the two having established their friendship more than 30 years ago when Seagal was residing and teaching aikido in Japan.

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  1. Rick Mathis says:

    Very interesting material. One can certainly see a similarity in his approach as compared to Steven Seagal. It is dynamic, aggresive and certainly a crowd pleaser, though to me it doesn’t seem to embody the philosophy that is expounded upon by many of today’s practioners, especially those coming out of the Aikikai. It would be interesting to hear his thoughts on why he approaches Aikido in this fashion. Fantastic footage as always, Stan. Many thanks!

  2. wan jones says:

    Rather brutal and one dimensional–same techniques with little movement! I compliment the uke for taking and aiding the demonstration with some skill and ecstasy.

  3. This is exciting to watch for people who do not understand Aikido or for the people who constantly ask “Will this work on the street?” After having practiced Aikido for 24 years I look at this as being a demonstration of ego. I feel this nage is saying “I am the number one no one can take me.” It is really in your face. This is see when I watch Steven Seagal and I don’t know if they studied together but the spirit is very similar. I would love to see how Ueshiba Sensei would have dealt with this nage in a lesson.:)

    The Uke in this video is very talented. I congratulate him on a job well done.

    • “I would love to see how Ueshiba Sensei would have dealt with this nage in a lesson.:)”

      Hiroshi Isoyama sensei was a student to O’Sensei, his Aikido reflects the era of Ueshiba’s practice, prewar 1935 ish, O’Sensei’s Aikido was a lot more brutal back then, his students of that era followed suit. 🙂

  4. I like this demo, it shows techniques that have a lot more chance of working on a bigger, stronger, more resistant attacker. In my opinion uke should be doing a lot more moving than nage. Big flowing techniques look nice, but are far less practical. It’s great to have flow, and ‘ki’, but surviving a violent encounter is rather important 🙂

  5. Please don’t tell me that this is the style of defense that would be used on a violent attacker in the street. If he/she was trained in aikido, looks like they would be coming back for more (if the street was padded by tatami that is :-), otherwise some of these throws look deadly on the street). Can this demonstration really be called AI KI DO? We are supposed to look after the welfare of uke, uke is trained in and carries out defensive falling, so that nage can practise his/her skills of perception, blending with the attack and executing a well timed technique which preferably would lead/trick uke’s mind into compliance. Isoyama san is lucky to have such a fit young uke to play with, but I am afraid of the damage done to him in the long run.

    Thank you for presenting this footage of the ‘darker side’ of Aikido, maybe a crowd pleaser, but so are all the other ego based fighting demonstrations.

  6. Andrew Bedford says:

    Hi all,

    Well if you thank that was dangerous and overly aggressive, watch his earlier demos! I think there one in 1988 and that was just unbelievable 🙂 Notice if you will, that although it appears very aggressive on one level, however imagine the training the uke has been through in order to receive very powerful technique, and walk away unharmed!

    And as a side note, I watched a video of a Saito Sensei demo on Aikido Journal, with if I remember rightly Bruce klickstein, and saito sensei was just irimi nage, and it was explosive, aggressive and probably more dangerous than this demo, everyone loved it, it’s how Aikido should be. Also, Isoyama Sensei is from Iwama and trained in Iwama with both Osensei and Saito Sensei, their movements are very similar. In my opinion, a great demo!

    Andy B

  7. Grant South says:

    I think it is important that we have a great variety of Aiki styles of practice. Elements can be incorporated as wished and styles of practice and applications can be varied as a congruency within each environment as required. It is a testament to the universal application of O’Sensei’s art, solid, flexible, flowing, and application accordingly.

  8. Well, aikido was a me-or-them martial arts at the beginning, wasn’t it? It came out from fights for life and that was what counted. No elegancy, no beauty but life. Isoyama seems to remember that well. He was one of O’sensei’s pupils so the touch of the Master is a part of his aikido , I bet. To me, that is just one of the DOs in all aikiDOs in the world. Splendid.

  9. Peter Downs says:

    It’s good to remember the budo element of aikido and it’s important to understand that practitioners of aikido should have the capability of severely damaging their opponents – without this capability one can’t extend the merciful decision to control without harm – which for me is a central tenet of aikido philosophy. This video and others like it I think present a vision of aikido where aggression and ego are not counterbalanced by love and mercy. Unfortunately, judging from the applause of the audience at some of the particularly aggressive throws, it plays to the baser instincts and misses the opportunity to show an alternative path. Top marks to uke though.

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