Articles and Interviews

We are indeed fortunate that such a figure as Amdur is willing to dissect both himself and the arts he studies for public delectation.

—Review in Kendo World

Articles

It Aint Necessarily So: Banquo’s Ghost

Here I discuss what for many might seem to a trivial thing–whether a photograph of several prominent martial artists together really proves that one was the student of the other. Not trivial to the legacy of both men–particularly Shioda Gozo, who was claimed to be the student of Horikawa Kodo, something that would contradict his own biography.

It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure

In this essay, I question (through first hand interviews of witnesses) several apocryphal tales of superhuman power that have been taken as gospel within the modern aikido world.

Interviews

Beneath the Eyes of Unseeing Masters: An Interview with Ellis Amdur on Aikido Myths and Masters

There is perhaps no popular martial art more susceptible to the “wise master” and abusive teacher complex than Aikido, an elegant throwing art whose founder, Ueshibal Morihei, was ascribed nearly supernatural ability, was a practitioner of an obscure, highly mystical religion, and whose students seemed to be particularly adept at factional in-fighting while practicing the Art of Harmony. Therefore, there is no one better to talk about the beauty and beasts of the Aikido world than Ellis Amdur. Iconoclastic, rebellious, yet fiercely holding to some of the most traditional values of Japanese martial culture, Ellis Amdur brings something new to martial arts writing – a startling honesty about the flaws, not only within martial arts culture, but also within its practitioners, often using himself as an exemplar of the latter.

We sat down with Amdur-sensei to talk to him about Aikido, his complex relationship towards it and his new, dramatically expanded Dueling with O-sensei: Grappling with the Myth of the Warrior-Sage

Being Old School: An Interview with Ellis Amdur on the Classical Martial Arts of Japan

At The Freelancer blog: Ellis Amdur, author of Old School, discusses common misunderstandings about koryū, challenges in maintaining and transmitting archaic martial traditions in the modern world, and even a few thoughts about the growing movement in redeveloping Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) from the perspective of an inheritor of two living martial traditions.

Q&A with Ellis Amdur: An Interview with the Shindai Dojo

From the interview: “I believe that aikido offers a lot of people the chance at experiencing something clean and pure — a practice of relationship that holds all the opposites — insecurity/confidence, aggression/peace, taking/giving, and metaphorically, at least, cuts a line right through the oppositions. I’m not saying that people always, or even most of the time, can do this. But I think of Yasunori Kuwamori or Shirata Rinjiro, and see that aikido can be a vehicle to this end. Not enlightenment. Simply a clean line through life.”

Interview with Guillaume Erard (Part 1) – Martial Journey from Aikido to Koryu

A wide-ranging interview on the writing and practice of martial arts, with discussions on the nature of aggression and what value, if any, martial arts training can provide beyond skill in fighting or life-and-death combat.

Interview with Guillaume Erard (Part 2) – The De-escalation of Violence and the Relevance of Budo

A continuation of my interview with Guilluame Erard, focusing here on the role of martial arts practice in training to actually de-escalate or stop violence in the real world.

An Interview with Ellis Amdur to Celebrate the Publication of Dueling with Osensei in Dutch Translation

This interview introduces my book, Dueling with OSensei, to my Dutch readership.  The book was wonderfully translated by Merlijn Torensma and Ernesto Lemke

Rollicking Interview with Ellis Amdur on HIYAA Martial Arts

The interview, well over an hour in length, starts about 20 minutes into this podcast. Talk about koryu, aikido, internal training, and some great stories.

Audio Interview: “Memories of Terry Dobson”

This 36 minute audio recording is the answers to a number of questions put to me about the late Terry Dobson, my first aikido teacher, and my friend.

Of Packs and Lone Wolves: Interview with Ellis Amdur Regarding Japanese Martial Traditions [from Journal of Asian Martial Arts, Vol. 18 No. 2 (2009)]

This interview by Peter Hobart was for the Journal of Asian Martial Arts (JAMA). It discusses essential qualities of true martial ryu, as well as some specifics about Araki-ryu and Toda-ha Buko-ryu. (Please note that this is a fee-based article, owned by the JAMA)

Articles on Martial Arts Either About My Work or Using My Work as a Primary Reference

Tomoe Gozen: A Warrior Worth a Thousand

by Alyssa Favreau

This small blog article is perhaps the best single article on the web about the legendary woman warrior, Tomoe Gozen. Ms. Favreau does an elegant job blending together history and popular culture, absolutely appropriate as Tomoe Gozen has been a figure of both from the 14th century.

The Origin and Practice of Solo Training in Aikido

by Guillaume Erard

Much of this article involves a dialogue between Erard and myself concerning “Hidden in Plain Sight” training within both koryu and aikido

A Review of Old School 2nd Expanded Edition

From the Review: “That said, though, this book, Old School, is one of the best books on the traditions of martial arts —  and how time changes, erodes, and enhances them — ever written. In fact, you might even say it stands alone as an attempt to bring modern scholarship and even philosophy (like Huserl’s notions of the study of history) to bear on the heavily mythologized, incredibly nuanced, hothouse world of Japanese combat arts and their evolution—or devolution—into stylized sport fencing and manicured kata—and even that statement is a distortion of the complex arguments in the book.”

Interviews on Martial Arts with Associates

Interview with Aaron Fields on HIYAA Martial Arts

Aaron is a jujutsu/sambo practitioner who is also a long time associate of mine in Araki-ryu.  The interview starts about 35 minutes into this podcast.