Aikido Journal Begins Again

Stan Pranin and Josh Gold at Ikazuchi Dojo in 2016

The End of an Era

In January 2017, I was contacted late at night by one of Stanley Pranin’s close friends. Stan had fallen ill with serious pain and was taken for medical treatment. He told his friend that if anything happened to him, he should contact me about Aikido Journal. Stan was soon after diagnosed with late stage stomach cancer. I was devastated, but Stan remained strong and in good spirits.

As soon as I could organize a trip, I drove from Southern California to visit Stan at his home in Las Vegas. He looked thin and weak, but still had a piercing gaze and sharp intellect. On this visit he handed me a drive with his digital archives and told me to use it however I saw fit to benefit the aikido world. It was vast and meticulously organized. Stan spent two days with me, taking me through the archives, updating me on his current research and projects, and bringing light to many hidden areas of the aikido landscape. Over the course of two separate trips to visit with Stan, he shared everything he could with me. During these visits, the importance of Stan’s legacy and the heavy responsibility of its care hit me like a ton of bricks.

Although physically weak, Stan’s spirit was undefeatable. On a mission to walk me through the archives, Stan unlocked unexpected energy and enthusiasm. Although I was saddened to see him in a weakened condition, these were some of my most treasured moments with Stan.

Stan remained positive and hopeful about his condition and was excited to pursue alternative medicine treatments. When we organized a community effort that raised over $60,000 for a medical fund, Stan was even more encouraged to see so many people rally to support him. He was optimistic about his recovery and none of us expected the sudden and rapid decline in health that brought him to his final rest on March 7th, 2017.

Mourning, Reflection, and a Challenge Overcome

After a period of mourning and reflection, the Pranin family and I began to work together to prepare for the future of Stan’s legacy. We’ve faced enormous challenges over these last few months.  While Stan gave me a meticulously organized digital archive, he didn’t have time to leave a master list with account names and passwords for all of the Aikido Journal systems.

For the last six months I’ve been doing everything within my power to keep Aikido Journal alive, but I had no access or even visibility into what was happening with the Members site, product sales and fulfillment, customer support, and other key systems. With no outside resources and only the support of a few volunteers, I’ve spent every evening and weekend creating and contributing articles and content to Aikido Journal in order to preserve and extend Stan’s legacy and to keep together the community that he spent forty years building. Behind the scenes, the Pranin family and one of Stan’s close friends and technical advisors had been working to solve problems that were outside of my reach and that I was powerless to solve.

I’m pleased to announce that we’ve now successfully overcome the key technical, business, and legal challenges that have limited Aikido Journal since Stan passed. We are now ready to take action and begin the process of rebuilding.

What’s Next

It’s an exciting, but high-risk time for Aikido Journal. We have a massive content library. The scope and scale of the archive is staggering. Our community is large, supportive, and awesome. However, our website and the entire digital presence needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. The products need a complete overhaul and the all the back-end business and operational systems need to be rebuilt from scratch. We will be working with a small team with few resources.

Our immediate focus will be on these two efforts:

1. Strategy

I’ve spent the last six months going through the archives and spending time with the community, listening, learning, and observing. I’ll be taking those insights and using them to create a strategic plan for Aikido Journal. We’ll need to think carefully about how we can best serve the community and what path we should take to best achieve that goal. The Aikido Journal name is trusted and respected. That’s been earned over the last forty years by serving the aikido community. We need to continue to build on that promise.

2. Emergency Triage

We need to stabilize the patient. We have to get critical systems back online, such as email, customer support, content access, and product fulfillment.  We’ll have to go through months of backlogged emails or declare email bankruptcy for the period of the last six months and humbly ask that anyone with an unanswered email send us a new message.

Then We Build

Once we have a strategy and have stabilized critical systems, we’ll begin the process of rebuilding the journal. It will be a gradual process, but you should see it begin soon.

A Surprised Successor

After Stan’s passing, I often wondered why he chose me as his successor when there are so many others in his circle with more aikido experience, more historical knowledge, or more lasting relationships. I asked Patricia Hendricks for her perspective. She knew Stan for forty years and helped him assemble the very first issues of Aikido Journal / Aiki News back in the 1970s. I now believe I better understand the reasons Stan chose me for the task.

Patricia Hendricks, Haruo Matsuoka, and Josh Gold

Stan watched me develop and evolve a successful and progressive dojo. He believed I created an example of a dojo that points to the future while preserving the traditions of the art. He knew my mentor of 26 years, Haruo Matsuoka, has the integrity and wisdom to guide my judgment and to provide the necessary understanding of Japanese language and culture to best utilize the archives. He also knew I operated independently of any large organization, remaining politically neutral and open to learning from, appreciating, and supporting all styles and organizations. Patricia Hendricks told me that Stan saw me as someone who can bring community together.

Stan saw me lead projects. Some were successful and some failed, but in every case, they were thought through strategically and designed and operated with competence and speed. He believed I had the necessary background in aikido, technology, business, and media to position the journal to serve the aikido community into the future.

I can never replace Stan – his experiences, his path as a historian, or his deep understanding of Japanese language and culture.  I can only make my best version of Aikido Journal, guided and shaped by the community. I’m excited, honored, and a little nervous to walk this path with you as we reshape Aikido Journal for the future.

Special Thanks

Through these first six months of my work supporting Aikido Journal, I’ve met many new friends and mentors and had the opportunity to work on projects with inspiring and capable members of the aikido community. As we begin this new chapter in the story of Aikido Journal, I’d like to thank each and every one of you for your enthusiasm and support during this critical time since Stan’s passing. I’d also like to individually thank:

Haruo Matsuoka: Thank you Sensei, for being a world class mentor. Your compassion, integrity, and technical mastery inspire me always.

Anne Lee: For your support, wisdom, and love. None of the work done to support and honor Stan would have been possible without you. He had great respect for you and your skills and was grateful to have you as a friend.

Instructors and students of Ikazuchi Dojo: For continuing to inspire me, pushing me to improve, and using the art of aikido to so powerfully improve your own lives and those around you.

Patricia Hendricks: A true master and great leader. Thank you Sensei, for your guidance and encouragement. As one of Stan’s closest friends, your perspective and backing have been invaluable.

Christian Tisser: One of the great leaders of the aikido world. Thank you for your trust, insight, and support.

The Inosanto Academy: To Guro Dan Inosanto, Jeff Imada, Tsuyoshi Abe, and Mark Cheng, for opening my eyes to the wider martial arts world and teaching me the value of understanding and appreciating all martial styles. Your collective humility, beginner’s mind, and seeking spirit have been a powerful example and a driving force behind my recent development.

Peter Goldsbury: For your behind-the-scenes guidance, insights, and knowledge. As the former chairman of the International Aikido Federation for twenty years, a formidable aikido historian and technician, and long time friend of Stan, your time and mentorship has been invaluable and treasured.

Joshua Hansen: A long time friend and advisor of Stanley Pranin. Without Joshua’s leadership and technical skills, Aikido Journal would likely have ceased to exist. He should be known as a true hero in the world of aikido. Thank you Josh, for saving the day.

Roy Dean: For contributing your media skills to showcase and promote the art of aikido. The video production and musical composition you’ve freely contributed to Aikido Journal would have made Stan proud. I look forward to working with you on new projects in the future.

Arnold Mina and Brent Williams: For your valued and respected business counsel.

Gustavo Rearte: For your friendship, your fantastic photography, and your help cultivating new friendships and opportunities to serve the aikido community.

Karen Kim: For generously donating your time to edit each and every article we’ve contributed to Aikido Journal over the last 6 months. You are way overqualified for this role, Professor Kim. Thank you.

Setsuko Okumura: For your invaluable translation and writing efforts for Aikido Journal projects.

Rose Jones and Ben Cave: For helping to curate old Aikido Journal articles and share them with the community via social media.

Ellis Amdur, Toby Threadgill, and Thomas Collings: Long time friends and peers of Stanley Pranin. I thank you for your friendship, encouragement, and guidance.

Gil and Mark: For inspiring Stanley, staying by his side, and supporting him as faithful students and friends.

The Pranin Family: For your support of Stanley Pranin and his efforts. You are some of the behind-the-scenes heroes of the aikido world.

Now We Begin Again.

If you’d like to stay in touch, follow our progress, and be part of Aikido Journal’s transformation, please stay connected with us.

We look forward to updating the community on our efforts and forging a powerful resource for the aikido world.

 

 

 

 

43 Comments On “Aikido Journal Begins Again”

  1. Thank you for carrying on the work!

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  2. Thank you Josh for keeping Stan’s dream alive. Forty years is a massive legacy to preserve and a nearly overwhelming responsibility! He chose well when he tapped you to continue the mission. It bodes well for the future!

    Best Wishes, may the Tao be with you, always
    Dr. Carl Totton
    Taoist Institute

    Reply

  3. With you at the helm, Josh, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Aikido Journal!

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  4. Dear Josh,
    bless you for shouldering this responsibility, as daunting as it may seem! Having had the chance of glimpses through the years of your dedication and fervor in regard to Ikazuchi Dojo and the potential of aikido, my immediate reaction when understanding that the mantle had passed to you was, “Thank God!! Stan saw it too, and made the perfect choice!!”
    AJ was a combination of Aikido, a Journal, and Stan – who was unique, zealous, and cannot be copied. It is now a combination of Aikido, a Journal, and Josh – who is just as unique and zealous, and does not need to copy anyone!
    I have not just faith, but complete certainty that I will be loving and enjoying AJ as much in the years to come as I have in the years gone by!
    Gratefully yours,
    Christian A. Stewart-Ferrer
    Reishin Dojo – Odense, Denmark

    Reply

    • Christian,

      Thank you so much for the kind words and encouragement. I’ll do my best to be worthy of the trust, respect, and support you and so many others in the community have given. I hope we can meet in person someday. I’d love to train and spend time talking about aikido.

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  5. Thank you Josh for your efforts to keep the Journal alive!
    J.M. Sandlow

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  6. May he rest in peace.

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  7. Congratulations on agreeing to continue the work of Stanley Pranin, preserving his invaluable legacy to the history of AIKIDO. Success in this new journey!

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  8. Dear Josh:

    You have my support, and you have earned it many times over. Your heritage, your past work and your attitude have been exemplary. Mr Stewert-Ferrer has expressed exactly and so well what I felt about our beloved Pranin Sensei and about what the future holds for us all who support AJ.

    It would seem AJ’s everlasting strength came from its impartiality and openness to expression from all who undertook to practice under the name of Aikido, and, in true journalistic fact finding impartiality, not to take sides or partake in any sniping between factions. Sensei Pranin did this so well and with such integrity, that this will indeed be a hard act to follow.

    It may seem a daunting task; but your courage will be admired by all, and our proper response should be to give you the support and leeway to carry it through, in what ever style your strength and spirit will lead you through.

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    • Thank you so much, not just for the trust and encouragement, but for giving me the leeway to explore new directions and make mistakes. I know there will be many obstacles before us and many mistakes will be made. It means a lot to know that you and others will be there to support our efforts as we go through our initial phases of transformation. We plan on making sure we’re worthy of that trust.

      Reply

  9. Thanks Josh for taking on this huge responsibility and continuing this journey. Wishing all the best. New discoveries lies ahead.
    Gratefully yours,
    Marc Séguin
    Taijiquan Center
    Ottawa ON
    Canada

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  10. The journey is infinite, thanks for manning the controls

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  11. Josh – I can hear Stan shouting YES !! YES !!
    Deep bow to you my friend.

    Gratefully,
    Tom Collings

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  12. Good luck with this important proyect

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  13. You’ll do well and don’t worry about it……Pick you for a reason

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  14. Thanks for having the courage to continue with this project and the responsibility to say I will.

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  15. And what exactly happens now?

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  16. Glad you are taking this on. It is a staggering amount of data, articles and history. Good luck.

    Tom Huffman
    Gainesville, FL.

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  17. Thank you for taking over Aikido Journal and building on Stan’s contribution to the Aikido world. Yours is already different and seems to have a wider dimension. Conserving the past and looking forward at the same time helps provide a wonderful balance. Good luck, wish you the best, and look forward to receiving more from Aikido Journal.

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  18. Good luck with your mission, and I hope that the Aikido Journal will return to his success. By the way, if Stan trust you, then we also should trust and support you.

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  19. I believe that you, with the guidance you obviously have, will take the journal to new places.

    Looking forward to seeing where!

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  20. Stan introduces you to his archives, his legacy, while holding you by the shoulder..shortly before his passing- an emotional photo.

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    • Hi Marius,

      I really thought for a long time about whether or not I should use the photo in the article. It was a very emotional and meaningful time for me that forged sharp memories of sadness, uncertainly, hope, awe, and friendship. I like to remember Stan with his full vitality, but ultimately, I wanted to share the experience and that part of Stan’s story with the community that loved and respected him so greatly.

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      • A very, very meaningful photo. A huge responsibility, and an honor. I wish you best luck in preserving the Stan`s legacy for the Aikido Community.

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  21. Keep up the Good works for Aikido

    Teo san,Singapore

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  22. I think you have done an excellent job keeping an on-line presence since Stanley’s sad death. (He looked ill in his videos, but spoke and moved with such energy that his death was a shock.) I’m delighted to see that you will be able to get up to full speed again.

    Even though Stanley wrote down a lot, and perhaps most, of what he learned about the history of Aikido, there were probably some bits of information that went with him. Can I suggest that you grill Peter Goldsbury and Pat Hendricks to squeeze ever scrap of history from them?

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    • Greetings! I think your advice is sound 🙂

      I already tap Patricia Hendricks for wisdom and insights every opportunity I get and I have the privilege of speaking with Peter almost every week. He’s been kind enough to help me “connect the dots” and provide historical and organizational knowledge that’s far above my level of understanding.

      I consider them both to be valuable resources and mentors and do my best to make the most of their support and goodwill.

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  23. I had the pleasure to meet and learnd to now stan in person over 40 years ago GOOD LUCK IN CARRY ON HIS WORK

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  24. Gambatte! A daunting task it is,and will be in all aspects. The shoes you have accepted to walk in are large and custom fit to a great and complex man. We all owe Stan a debt of gratitude that will never be paid. You have inherited some of that as well. We will watch how you and the community proceeds with great confidence and interest. Rei….

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  25. Best of luck with the projects going forward

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  26. Go go guys!! Super proud of the work that has been done so far! :*

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  27. Best of luck Josh. Although I’ve know you for a very short time I know you will be fantastic in this new role. I fervently look forward to this new chapter in the life of Aikido Journal and this new chapter in your life as well.

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    • Thank you so much Jim. Even though we’ve just begun to build a friendship over the last few months, you’re a continued source of inspiration for me. I look forward to seeing you again soon Sensei!

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  28. Stan had an everlasting desire to keep Aikido alive not only through the journal but also more importantly through people. You have been chosen to carry this legacy own on. There is a great lesson to be learned when things settle down please reflect. May the Ki be with you…

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  29. Josh,

    Many thanks for keeping the flame going. We must keep Aikido alive through “The Aikido Journal”, Godspeed, Sir

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  30. Congradulation Josh,and success in this most valuable enterprise.For I am certain that Stanley’s presence will be forever felt on behalf of the Aikido Journal( a little treasure for all the Aikido’s fans).Lu!

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  31. Thank you and good luck in your endeavor. AJ is a valuable resource for teachers and students alike. Onegaishimasu.

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  32. We have an advantage over the early practitioners. Now there are many out there who have 20+ years of training. That wasn’t true in, say, 1969. The difficulty now is in sorting out what thread of training works for us rather than trying to find anything at all.

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  33. Thank you for continuing this important work, Josh. It’s comforting to know Aikido Journal is in such good hands.

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  34. Hi Josh,
    Congratulations for all the good work you’ve already achieved !
    I can’t wait discovering the fruits of your strategy.
    The spirit of Stan is still there, and, with your vision, experience, connections with aikido world, I’m sure we’ll see a very good value-added publication.
    In other words, and despite the sad disparition of Stan, hurray to the “Josh Touch” !
    Take Care.
    David.

    Reply

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