A Call for Photography

While Aikido Journal has always possessed a staggering depth of historical information, one area we believe the journal can improve is in its ability to showcase the beauty and emotion of the art. Aikido looks amazing. Even the harshest critics of aikido freely compliment the beauty of its movements. 

Aikido also transforms people. Determination, amazement, joy, fear, pain, pride, love. Almost all of us experience these emotions intensely on our personal journeys of transformation.  We want to better reflect these facets of aikido in the journal.  

A Call for Assistance

In the last two months, I’ve spent a lot of time with the Aikido Journal community. One thing that’s blown me away is the character of our tribe. The community truly is a group of modern day samurai, true warrior poets. I see people seeking knowledge and discussing concepts with the aim of bettering themselves and the art of aikido. But I also see people here taking decisive action.

When Stan Pranin was diagnosed with late stage stomach cancer, the community raised over $60,000 for his treatment and care though a crowdfunding campaign. Stan was relieved, overjoyed, and humbled. When we asked the community for feedback to improve Aikido Journal, we had over 1,000 respondents in a matter of days. I’ve received numerous unsolicited emails from community members with offers of help. Some are already providing support for the community in specific areas.

With a strategy for the future of Aikido Journal beginning to form, we’d like to humbly ask the community for assistance. We will use whatever support we receive to improve the journal and make a positive impact on our aikido community. One area we’d like to ask for assistance with is sharing beautiful photography (or video) with us. I’ve seen some breathtaking imagery and inspiring videos created by members of our community. We’d like to be able to showcase it on Aikido Journal. If you have something amazing and are willing to share, please see below for details.

The Plan

We’re looking for photos (or video) that we can use on the next generation of the Aikido Journal website, in articles, and in social media posts. For any photos used, we’ll find a way to provide a photographer credit and the name of your dojo. If you have something you’d like to contribute:

  • Email us the photo(s). Include the name of the photographer and any applicable dojo, along with any interesting backstory behind the photo.
  • Only submit photos for which you own the copyright and are willing to grant Aikido Journal a use license to display it in digital media communications.

What We Seek

We are looking for photos with some pretty specific parameters. Since I have easy access to Ikazuchi Dojo’s photo library, I’ve pulled some images as examples of what we are, and are not looking for. If you have something amazing that doesn’t strictly fit these guidelines, we’d still love to see it. Generally, we expect these photos to come from the members of our community with professional or serious amateur photograph skill.

Composition: Ideally, one focal point with an uncluttered background. Images with open space are great as we can potentially use that space for a text overlay. Here’s one example of composition we can use. One focal point (Matsuoka Sensei), uncluttered background.

Lighting: Photos with dramatic or unique lighting are a plus. This image below is actually a still photo taken from a video. We find lots of great images by scanning our video content. 

Emotion: Photos that show intense emotion can be compelling. Here’s one of Jason Ramsay, captured at the moment after his shodan test when Matsuoka Sensei tells him he passed.

Action: This shot of Roy Dean below is fantastic. The lighting detail is amazing with the setting sun reflecting off Roy’s face and his uke’s hands. The image makes you feel the dynamism of the throw. It’s not aikido, but it’s a great example. Our community is comprised of seasoned martial artists with experience in a broad range of arts. In addition to aikido, we’re happy to showcase amazing images from different martial arts, especially those with some close tie to aikido.

What We’re Not Looking For

Below are examples of the type of photos we’re not looking for. We’ve seen many wonderful images like the examples below. There’s nothing wrong with them, they’re just not ideally suited for our purpose.

Group Photos: We have tons of these photos from Ikazuchi Dojo events. I’m glad we take them. They’re just not well suited for editorial.

Class practice or wide-angle action shots:  Here’s an example of a type of shot we’re not looking for. There’s action here but the lighting is not great, the composition is cluttered (too many people), and the focus is too far out to capture interesting details on a digital device.

Surprise Us

We’re excited to see what the community comes up with. We look forward to seeing aikido through the lens of other practitioners around the world. It’s a great way for us to get to know you better and we hope we’ll receive some compelling photos (or video) we can use on the journal.

 Send us something great.

Email your pictures along with the name of the photographer, any associated dojo, and a brief backstory behind the photo.  Please only submit content for which you own the copyright and agree to grant Aikido Journal a limited use license to use it in our digital media communications.


Josh Gold

Executive Editor of Aikido Journal, CEO of Budo Accelerator, and co-founder of Ikazuchi Dojo.


  • I have a number of explained Nishio Sensei videos on my youtube channel “Thomas Huffman”. By explained, I have inserted written comment edited into the videos. I do this for the people who don’t bother to read any explanations about the video, then make dumb comments afterward.

  • Josh, thank you for this invitation. I’ll be sending some samples and I sure hope Bill Aquino will too! I recall you are subscribed to teh private FB group “Aikido Photography”your welcome to browse there and make requests. I wouldn’t foresee any disagreements with what you are asking.
    I have made it a point of that group to show the technique, heads, feet etc., have good photo basics and so forth.
    I’d assume iaido and possibly batto are also acceptable?

    • Hi Kieth,

      I actually was no a member of that private FB group but just asked to join. That sounds like a great resource. And yes, iaido and batto would certainly be acceptable. Great to hear from you.


  • Hi there,

    I’ve recently finished a light painting photography project of fundamental techniques that illustrate the flowing movements of Aikido produced with the help of the Kettering Aikikai ( http://ketteringaikikai.co.uk/ ).

    It’s outside the remit of what you are asking for in this post but may be a creative alternative to the photography you are looking for.
    You can view them here: http://glowingpixie.com/aikido-9-basics

    Please let me know if they would be of use.

    • Dave,

      Thanks for sharing. This looks like a cool project. For our current specific purpose, these won’t be a good fit. However, I can definitely see some areas this could be used for other things in the future. I may contact you in the near future if we can find the right venue to showcase this innovative art. Nice to meet you!

  • Hello Josh,
    If you are looking for pictures of Nishio Sensei, a guy in California to contact is Mike Fowler. He had lots of pictures of Nishio Sensei and has said numerous times the he never took a bad picture of Nishio Sensei.

    There was a woman who practiced and followed Nishio Sensei around in Japan. I know she lived in Yokosuka cause she was ahead of me walking out of the NJR railway station in Yokosuka when I was headed back to the ship in Yokosuka late at night. She must have taken a million pictures of Nishiio Sensei. I’m sure Takao Hatori san would remember her. He grew up in the Shioiri section of Yokosuka and seems to know everybody in town there. I’ll see if she is still alive and if there is a way to contact her.

    • Tom-

      Thanks so much for the pointer. I’ll see if I can find Mike and please let me know if you are able to contact that woman. We’d love to add more pictures of Nishio Sensei to the AJ library. He was amazing.

    • Hi there! Releases are not technically necessary, but for kids, I think we should get a release or consent from parents. If it’s your kid, we’d love to see the pictures though 🙂

      • I think for kids releases are needed. Certainly a good idea. That’s one of the reasons my son is often featured. I get to sign the release…that and he’d pretty good and photogenic 🙂

  • Why is the Roy Dean photo “not aikido” ~~~ That looks like a great Osoto-gari to me (which is certainly in the aiki-jututsu family (where Aikido’s origins rest). Is this not aikido because he is not wearing a hakama, and his uke is wearing a BJJ gi?

    • Exactly. We just wanted to clarify that we are not constraining ourselves to images only with aikido practitioners wearing the standard white gi / black hakama and executing the core stable of aikido techniques 🙂