Home » Aikido » Blog Review: Samurai Spirit: Aikido (合氣道) by Nicholas Pettas

Blog Review: Samurai Spirit: Aikido (合氣道) by Nicholas Pettas

Samurai Spirit

*Edit: The original video has since been deleted. The original author has made it shorter but it still has everything that I’ve written here.

This is the long-awaited review of the segment done in 2009 by K-1 Japan Prix Champion Nicholas “Blue-Eyed Samurai” Pettas on Aikido. Along the way I’ll be doing my commentary and/or reviews on the effectiveness of how he approached the martial art. My rating system is as goes:

1 – “Crapkido” The name says it all.

3- Below Average: Not so good after all. Authenticity has a definite air of doubt.

5- Average: The term “Could have been better” applies to most if not all areas in presentation of the material. This blog’s version of a C grade. Not bad, but no big impressions. authenticity is there but has holes

7 – Above Average: The material can go through 2 pieces of oak wood. It makes an impression of the viewer. The material or presentation draws in the viewer to learn more. The equivalent of a B/B+ grade.

10 – “Awesomekido”: Everything about this series draws the viewers in to the point that the next day they go to the local school of that martial art/self-defense system! The material was presented in a professional matter and the characters and explanations are genuine.

Some of you might remember the first part – it was in my post about similarities between Aikido and Wing Chun. I liked how Nicholas Pettas is a true skeptic in Aikido and yet approaches it in a way that isn’t ignorant or egoist (minus the words on his gi and black belt that he wears). I enjoyed how the scenes were just allowed to play out and were not choreographed. In part 2 Ryuichi Omori Sensei kicked – or knocked – ass, while Dr. Nobuyuki Ito at and Hideo Takaoka were great additions and gave good outside perspectives to the art, although Mr. Takaoka is a aikidoka himself.

The third part simply continues from part two. As a side note I liked how the American trained bodyguard couldn’t move Shoida Sensei. Part 3 is where Nicholas meets Tsuneo Ando Sensei and boy did I enjoy the exchange! The authenticity of Ando Sensei speaking broken English gave the exchange an almost Sensei – student relation. Pay attention to the great explanations on Aikido. (Edit) I especially like how they hooked Nicolas and Hideo Takaoka to senses to really prove that Aikido uses little muscle contraction in redirection forces. In part 4we’re introduced to Yasuhisa Shioda, the son of Goza Shioda and the current head of  Yoshinkan Aikido. The baseball analogy reminds of my own Sensei’s metaphors of Aikido. I particularly enjoyed the dagger  attack. Personally I would not have liked the knife so close to my head. Nicholas Pettas’s response of “What just happened there?” is worth replaying since that is the normal response of beginners in Aikido. Finally, we are treated to the Aikido defense of a kick by Nicolas that gives the series a nice finish off.

In Conclusion: 8/10

A well done documentary. Nicholas Pettas plays the part of skeptic in the beginning with his history in competitive martial arts. The interactions between the Sensei,  scientists, and himself were respectful and dignified. The explanations for the Aikido are in line with many layman-style interpretations of Aikido.

However, I did feel that as an Aikidoist I felt left out that they only concentrated on Yoshinkan and Tomiki. Perhaps this was due to the time constraint, but nonetheless they could have went to another branch of Aikido. Some exposure is better none I figured. Having gotten their information from YA, there was a lot of mind-body spiritual emphasis that went untouched, again perhaps to time (but it could be due to my partial-ness). With that said, I loved how for the first time viewer, they packed in and demonstrated many of Aikido’s superficial aspects in an intelligent, authentic, and unbiased episode.

*Edit [August 13, 2012]: This video series keeps on being deleted by the various accounts that I connect to. A commenter mentioned that my videos were deleted. I’ve gone ahead and replaced them and some of the wording might be off. I apologize for this. I hope you enjoy this post regardless. 

17 thoughts on “Blog Review: Samurai Spirit: Aikido (合氣道) by Nicholas Pettas

  1. Thanks for posting this up. I have only gotten through the first three films, but iInoticed that the first teacher was from Shodokan lineage – the Tomiki lineage. So indeed several different schools are represented.

  2. Given that this was from TV, they managed to keep the cheese factor relatively low. I quite enjoyed it especially them demo in the park and Shioda sensei’s choke near the end.

    Thank you!

  3. This looks interesting, having been so involved with survival these days I have not had a chance to check this out more. I will catch up.

  4. I have always had a great interest in Aikido. These days after years of study in Mantis and Tai Chi I see many many of the same concepts and actions.
    If it were not for my age I would study Aikido in Japan once we relocate. However the thought of all that falling and bouncing off the floor, does not sit well with these older limbs. 🙂

    • In the dojo that I train at there’s an 80 year old great-grandfather who can take rolls. He also happens to be 6’1″, has the grip of a stone giant, and makes most of the black belts look like kids (he’s still a white belt).

      His rolls are not bad at all! It may be something for you after all 😉

      • Ahhh, well, I can roll already, so maybe there is hope, I may still end up practicing. A class may turn up in the Zensekai Nihon edition 🙂

  5. Zen,

    If you’d like you could give me your email and I will happily send my dojo’s address to you. It’s in San Jose. I’m sure that if you can make it to Campbell and back San Jose won’t be that much of a challenge!

  6. Pingback: “Blog Review: Samurai Spirit: Aikido (合氣道) by Nicholas Pettas,” by The Accidental Aikidoist

  7. How is this different from any other proof of Aikido’s worth? Doe eyed Gaijin placates to the supposed masters compliant moves while listening to a lot of supposedly scientific jargon-next.

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