Our First Instructor Course: Bulletproofing Pins

We’re excited to announce that our first online instructor course, Bulletproofing Pins with Roy Dean, launches this Friday. This is the first instructional product produced by the new Aikido Journal and was built from the ground up to serve as a new kind of instructor development program. Curriculum design was adapted from the Bulletproofing Pins instructor seminar we ran in the summer of 2017

With everything now complete, we’re very proud of the results and have received encouraging feedback from a number of senior instructors in the aikido world.  I believe we were able to focus the knowledge of a ground fighting and jiujitsu expert (who is also an aikido yudansha) in a compelling way to create a fun, valuable, and well-architected program for aikido instructors. We hope you’ll take the time to learn more about the course and its design below. Your feedback on the format will have a major impact on the future direction of the Academy and its courses.

Course Premise:

Amplifying our skills and deepening our understanding

As aikidoka, we practice pins almost every class. This course guides us on a journey to help us understand them at a deeper level. We designed a curriculum that explores classical aikido pins, introduces counters and resistance pathways, and then reveals henka-waza – ways to transform pins and regain control.

Traditional aikido training gives us excellent standing and ground based movement skills. We can move on our knees with speed and grace. We transition across elevations (prone > seiza > one knee up > standing) faster and more efficiently than almost any other martial artists (except perhaps Capoeira practitioners). We can apply a range of pins and controls from seiza, kneeling, or standing posture. However, despite our strong capabilities in these areas, there are important concepts related to ne-waza (non-standing techniques) that are completely absent in the core aikido curriculum.

Our goal with this instructor course is to introduce a targeted set of concepts, techniques, and training methods that show aikido instructors how to tie together their existing movement skills in powerful new ways to boost their abilities. Many aikido instructors don’t have the time or interest to study a ne-waza (ground technique) art seriously. This course is designed to provide those instructors with an efficient primer on key concepts that they can apply immediately to improve the effectiveness and understanding of a key element of aikido – pins.

We want this course not just to boost knowledge, but to create fun, engaging, and stimulating learning and training experiences.

Our Design Approach

Aikido utilizes pins extensively and they are generally very effective. However, there’s a critical moment between a control or throw and a fully secured pin when the uke may have an opportunity to resist or counter the pin.

We drew from Roy Dean’s 25 years of jiujitsu expertise and collaborated to develop a set of responses to an uke’s attempt to resist or escape a pin. These responses are designed to be style independent and serve as natural extensions of our aikido.

With the exception of a head and arm choke variation we wanted to bring to life that was demonstrated by Morihei Ueshiba in the Noma Dojo, we constrained ourselves to building responses that allow nage to always remain in a variation of seiza, kneeling posture, or standing hanmi. We stayed away from anything that puts nage on their back or into a highly committed position. While those positions can be powerful, aikidoka are not used to them and they’re not ideally suited to maintaining mobility and situational awareness when more than one attacker may be a threat (which is a priority for aikidoka.)

We invested heavily in technical research, curriculum design, and testing with leading instructors and groups of student practitioners. We’ve refined the techniques and optimized training methods to ensure a safe, fun, and efficient learning experience.

Course Components

  • 36 Modules: Starting with an overview of our design parameters, the course moves into key concepts and applications followed by a comprehensive set of aikido pin henka-waza techniques. After all the techniques are presented, the course introduces skills and drills to build new movement capability and technique fluency.
  • Next-gen Video: Instructional video is shot in HD with a free moving camera that follows the action and zooms in on the most important details for a technique. Techniques are demonstrated from multiple angles and the video can be played in slo-mo to review critical details.
  • Technical commentary: We provide technical commentary, outlining key advantages, disadvantages, technical details, and impressions for each instructional module.
  • Instructor Guidelines: Tools and guidelines to empower instructors. These modules cover topics such as how to introduce this curriculum into the dojo, managing injury risk, gender considerations (for new types of training interactions) and workshop and curriculum templates.
  • Extras: Course extras include additional primers on ne-waza from outside the scope of the core course curriculum, and a series of high resolution photos of Morihei Ueshiba, (many never before released) demonstrating pins and controls not commonly seen in modern aikido, some of which are very similar to the techniques covered in this course.

Early Feedback

“A clear and professional presentation with high quality camera and sound work. It is thorough and sensitive to aikido instructors, safely covering solutions to openings in classical aikido pins. You’ve obviously given lots of attention to details, both in presentation and content.  The techniques are skillfully demonstrated and are viable, practical alternatives to supplement classical aikido finishes. I believe that this work fills a void in the aikido world.”

Bruce Bookman

6th dan, Kaicho of Tenzan Aikido

We’ve asked a few pioneers and leaders in the world of aikido to preview Bulletproofing Pins. We want your feedback too. We’re proud of this course and believe it represents a significant milestone for us. However, we know we can do better and are ready to use community feedback to drive a cycle of improvements before producing our next course.

You can pre-order now at a discount and unlock Bulletproofing Pins on Friday. We hope you’ll invest in this course, learn something valuable, and give us ideas we can use to improve Aikido Journal Academy. Check out the course and give us your feedback. If you don’t find it worthwhile, Aikido Journal will happily refund you for the purchase.


AikidoJournal.TV subscribers can pre-order at an additional $20 discount (50% off launch day price of $79) by using the discount code you received in a separate email. If you’d like to subscribe to AikidoJournal.TV now to take advantage of this offer, sign-up here and then use the discount code in your confirmation email to pre-order this course via the button below.



  • Quick question: does accessing this course require high bandwidth. Living in a rural part of the UK my internet rarely operates above 1.5Mbit/s and sometimes considerably below this – I really would like to avoid that annoying video freezing as my machine buffers an incoming stream.

    • Hi Peter-

      The course should auto-detect your bandwidth and stream at the best resolution it is able to play without freezing / buffering. Please give it a try and we will be happy to refund you if the video streaming for the course doesn’t work great in your area.