Rendez-vous with Adventure: “O-Sensei
Meets the Cowboys,” by Stanley Pranin
“O-Sensei emits a powerful kiai to overcome uke’s resistence. The kiai, or combative
shout, was an important part of the Founder’s execution of aikido techniques.”
When I first saw the “Rendez-vous with Adventure” film featuring Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, I couldn’t believe my eyes! Two “cowboys” from America — actually documentary film producers — are welcomed into the inner sanctum of the Ueshiba home and the Aikikai Hombu Dojo during their visit in 1958.
Having been invited into Morihei Ueshiba’s home, the two Americans listen attentively as the Master explains that aikido is, in essence, a spiritual martial art for the betterment of mankind. Here Ueshiba performs a vigorous chant to demonstrate the spirit of aikido.
The stalwart Americans are accepted as students and begin their aikido training under the tutelage of Morihei’s son Kisshomaru, and Koichi Tohei. Like all beginners, they appear rather awkward and find practice quite challenging.
Curiosity gets the better of Herman who challenges Koichi Tohei to a “match.” 190 pounds vs. 126 pounds! How will this end?!
The Master Ueshiba proceeds to demonstrate his craft… and what an amazing performance it is! His uke in much of the demonstration is Nobuyoshi Tamura Sensei, who was a young uchideshi at the Aikikai when this film was shot.
O-Sensei demonstrates the sword and emits a powerful kiai to overcome uke’s resistence. The kiai, or combative shout, was an important part of the Founder’s execution of aikido techniques. Its practice has fallen into disuse today.
Master Ueshiba takes Lee Green by the hand and personally shows him the true effectiveness of aikido techniques. The large American finds himself helpless in an unescapable pin gasping for air.
Lee’s suffers the final coup de grace as Master Ueshiba applies a strong shoulder pressure to render him immobile. As Lee taps out, the film ends…
In my long years of experience, I have found that “Rendez-vous with Adventure” is one of the best films to show to the general public who are interested in learning more about aikido. It covers the origins and some of the basics of the art, and presents an intimate glimpse of the Founder and the Aikikai Hombu Dojo from which aikido spread in the postwar era, all in a manner acceptable to a western audience.
THIS WEEK’S SPECIAL OFFER FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
Aikido Journal offers its complete collection of Morihei Ueshiba films for the first time in downloadable format. This invaluable historical material contains more than four hours of films and audio recordings of O-Sensei covering the period of 1935 to just prior to his passing in 1969. Morihei Ueshiba’s aikido was different from anyone else, and serious practitioners need to know how he moved, how he set up uke, and subtly blended using softness to attain such mystifying results on the mat. These are goals worthy of working for to greatly improve your aikido skills!