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Cheryl Matrasko
James Loeser
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Cheryl Matrasko
James Loeser
Matthew O'Connor


Discipline and Training
Self Training in Aikido?

by Cheryl Matrasko

Just about every three days, I receive e-mail requesting that I send a book or video to someone so that they can learn Aikido by themselves. Sometimes the reasons vary: there are no dojos close by, lack of good instructors, etc.

Of course, first of all we don't send out or sell books, or materials of any kind. (Our and Barnes & Noble links are for that.)

And we highly recommend formal Aikido training from qualified and reputable instructors to everyone, without regard to any particular Aikido federation affiliation. 

I received an e-mail a couple of minutes ago with the following request: (the name and e-mail address has been omitted for privacy and protection).

"Please, put out a web site that contains full content about training for self training at home."

Self training. Kind of an oxymoron, if the person training himself has no knowledge or training in the subject matter. In Aikido, this is impossible if someone desires to learn the intended Aikido of O-Sensei.

Above, Ueshiba demonstrating ki extension, the power of Aikido. A student is pulling a belt that appears to be wrapped around Ueshiba's neck. Three other men are pushing him back.
2003, Stanley Pranin, Aikido Journal.
All rights reserved

The Aikido I refer to is that which Morihei Ueshiba and Koichi Tohei used when demonstrating the ki power of Aikido, when using only the little finger to hold back three men or more. Sometimes, several men attacked from the front either by pushing ferociously on their shoulders, or the head. The list goes on and on, when it comes to the ways in which these two men astounded spectators and even their own students, when conveying the real power of Aikido during classes, seminars, and demonstrations.

This is not a matter of physical strength, speed or weight but rather the use of ki and one-point. This cannot be learned from books, videos or even the material of websites. It is learned by the student under the instruction of an experienced Aikido instructor. (Of course, the instructor should have verifiable credentials and time training.)

Learning Aikido is an interactive process between instructor and student, and student with other students in practice. The pupil must feel the technique, the direction of the opponent, his own center or one-point, and learn to blend the movement of another person with his/her own movement. To learn this properly, an experienced instructor is imperative for the student. The student must also dedicate quite a bit of time and commit to listening and taking instruction from someone else.

My answer to this e-mail was as follows:

Thank you for your comments.
Truthfully and realistically, there is no way to fully train in Aikido at home by being self-taught. And there is no website, book, or video that will be able to fulfill your request, and effectively instruct Aikido without the help of an actual Aikido instructor.

Aikido must be learned properly with the aid of a qualified instructor. I can't tell you how many people are currently instructing Aikido incorrectly because they themselves have had no interactive guidance from a real instructor, except to read some books, view videos and websites. They have not invested any length of time (ten years or more) in surrendering themselves under the Aikido training. And this defines the true Aikidoka versus the novice or mere tinkerer. They struggle using muscle and strength, improperly trying to mimic techniques. Without learning extension ("ki") and centering (keeping one-point), and the joining ("ai") of the movements -- everything is just being uselessly imitated or "aped". A monkey can do that.

Websites such as Aikido World Journal, books, and video media are merely there to educate, enhance and improve on current training --- but can never replace real training with an actual instructor with a good background and long training in Aikido.

I will be referring your e-mail to my website to help the many others that have made similar requests. Your name and e-mail address will be removed for your privacy and protection.

I hope this helps. I get too many letters such as yours, that ask for websites, books and videos to fulfill all of their Aikido training needs. This is not real realistic and I refer these persons to Aikido dojos for their training needs.

Thank you,

2003, Stanley Pranin, Aikido Journal.
All rights reserved

With all the e-mail I receive everyday, I am thankful that some people ask questions about Aikido, training, proper conduct of Aikidoka, etc. and even the ones that ask for material so they can be self-taught. At least we can try to refer them to actual Aikido dojos, in an effort to help them.

Cheryl Matrasko - 2/8/2003 11:26 PM

2003, Cheryl Matrasko - Aikido World, Inc. All rights reserved

Thank you to Stanley Pranin and Aikido Journal.
Photographs displayed at the courtesy and permission of Stanley Pranin, Aikido Journal.

Any reprint or duplication of the above photographs is prohibited without the express permission of Stanley Pranin, Aikido Journal.


Cheryl Matrasko is a Network Analyst for the department of Networking and Communications at a prominent Chicago hospital. Formerly the LAN Administrator for
Northwestern University Medical School - Department of OB/GYN, and assistant LAN Administrator to the previous MIS of the School of Law. Cheryl started Aikido in 1965,
studying under Isao Takahashi as her first instructor. She enjoyed working out under many well known Aikido instructors during her tenure with Takahashi Sensei and thereafter following his death in 1971. Cheryl has dedicated time with instructors in Northern Shaolin
Long-Fist, Seven Stars Praying Mantis, and Daito-Ryu Aikijujitsu. Currently, she is instructing Aikido at Northwestern University's Chicago Campus and founded Aikido World Journal.

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Michio Hikitsuchi 10th Dan 1978
(C. Matrasko as uke)
1978 C. Matrasko

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