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The rei in was led by Peter Goldsbury being the senior grade present, this was then followed by Peter Rehse taking a Shodokan warm up. At first simple to follow, general stretching not unlike we do back home, although maybe a little quicker than I`m used too. We then lined up with senior Shodokan chaps in front to lead us, and Peter proceeded to run through a kata type exercise that consisted of a specific set of moves. This was done at a very quick pace, apparently they do this at the beginning of every keiko, I just didn`t know where to step next. Each time I thought I`d sussed the pattern, they stepped into a different direction, by the time we finished I was left looking rather dazed and confused.
Peter very quickly handed over to Mike Steumpel to take the Yoshinkan portion of the class. He started with some basic foot movements to extend from the Shodokan movements, explaining how they perform these in the Yoshinkan and why. He then proceeded to assimilate the movements into a technique endng up with katate dori Shihonage. It was a good class, something that I could cope with quite easily and I enjoyed practicing with Jesse.
Next up the class was handed over to Peter Goldsbury who taught from kata dori. He started with ikkyo, moving onto nikkyo, which Ted Taylor became very familiar with as his uke . He moved on to an interesting variation of shihonage from kata dori shomen uchi, doing the shihonage in a reverse fashion on the arm doing the shomen uchi which resulted in uke being back to back with tori. It was a fun technique with a lot of entanglement . Peter`s piece de resistance was a kubinage that started as if doing ikkyo/ nikkyo etc. but swiftly moved into a tight throw, I had the pleasure of doing this technique with Sakai Sensei .
Next up was Sakai Sensei who proceeded to demonstrate and explain the kata drill that had confused me so much at the beginning, putting it into practice with an uke. This made it a little easier for this old head to come to grips with, as the practice was quite fun. The kata was various moves to avoid a tsuki with tanto, first of we had to learn to strike, which involved tori standing still "don`t move" shouted Sakai Sensei as uke thrust forward sticking the tanto into our chests, good job they were only stiff fabric. Following this we had to do various taisabaki movements to avoid the thrust. I had great fun with this, my uke was intent in following me everywhere with the tanto, even thrusting round corners. A number of times I heard his name called followed by "Straight, tsuki straight!"...
Sakai Sensei and his "hot" hombu deshi then demonstrated a number of drills which we then had a go at doing. Their demonstration was very sharp and crisp , their movement precise and clear, it was a very nice session to watch.The deshi were very helpful in guiding me through the practice.
Being Jesse`s last class before moving on to China, at the end of class we had to line up whilst he attacked us all in turns and we all had to throw him. After he`d been tenderized a bit, he had to do a randori session with Sakai Sensei as his uke . This was interesting to watch but was the point where I asked myself what it was about. This is where I think Peter Goldsbury wrote "it was possible to see quite clearly how Shodokan randori is, and is not, competitive". I think the idea of the randori can be done quite well without it being about points, I think the competitive nature took over in tori`s desire to do a technique, whilst the tanto appeared to be forgotten. It`s a small observation, and maybe I`m being too picky, I don`t for one instant want to denigrate anything that we experienced that morning, it was an excellent experience that I would be more than happy to try again sometime, which is why I`m writing my thoughts in my blog and not on the Himeji thread.
After practice we all adjourned to a local restaurant for a "Biking" style (read Viking for non Japanese) lunch, eat as much as you can in an hour. We sat around chatting, mainly about Aikido forums and the behaviour of people on them. It was an interesting chat where unsurprisingly we all agreed on the discussion. After lunch, the dojo members were going up to Himeji castle to do a bit of cherry blossom viewing, I`d already been up there a couple of days before so elected to return to Kobe along with Ted who was going back to Kyoto to do a dojo clean for an embu the next day.