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Seeking Zanshin: Blood, Sweat, Tears & Aikikai Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 02-24-2005 11:53 PM
One small gal + a dojo full of big guys = tons o' fun
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 270 (Private: 12)
Comments: 195
Views: 820,880

In General 05/12/2007: SK Seminar with Kawahara Sensei Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #228 New 05-17-2007 03:14 PM
Pre-Seminar Nutrition Log: 05/07-05/11

- 15g Creatine/day (in morning fruit shakes) for the 5 days prior
- baked banana loaf for road trip (included oats, hemp seed)
- AM of seminar/"pre-event meal": good variety fruits, bran muffin, yogurt, omelet w/veggies, apple juice, green tea, 1% milk, the usual vitamin supplements
- Midday lunch break: focused on low-GI carbs (dried apricots, brazil nuts, apple, orange, pineapple juice), extra multi-vitamin and lots of water, of course

Energy Levels: (Not so surprisingly) very good! By the end, I felt like I could go a lot longer still.

After having missed the last seminar in the Fall due to my concussion (since recovered, with little residual effects thank-you!) I was rarin' to go. I wasn't disappointed.

Kawahara sensei, despite looking like he had lost a considerable amount of weight, was in good spirits. From an instructor's standpoint he may have seemed negative --- he had a number of disparaging things to say regarding instructors being far too egotistical, not practicing enough, and essentially blaming them for the poor performance of their students --- comments I was told afterwards which were meant more in a cautionary sense. One wonders, naturally, what more was "lost in translation".

Kawahara also made no small point that he felt that a number of his students in both Japan and Canada were "wasting their money" with Aikido by not pushing themselves to train harder. Personally, (and yes, there is some optimism to me) I viewed sensei's remarks as his way of encouraging us not to be like that. Call it tough love, call it a familiar feeling I had --- the way it was said reminded me a lot of something my father or grandfather would say. On the outside, it seemed harsh and even unfair and yet at the same time you knew that what he meant was to push you to be better. Go figure. For sensei's sake, I hope it works.

At any rate it was with this sentiment in mind, I'm sure, that the theme of training on this day was kihon waza --- back to the basics for all of us. Only was the basics unlike many of us had ever seen before. It was better. Sensei took the time to go into more detail than (apparently) he has in a while --- regarding the importance of tae sabaki (we practiced entering movements a great deal of the time), proper timing, knowledge of good atemi. He didn't hesitate to flog people about improper technique --- it was great.

After all was said and done, one could not shake the feeling that Kawahara sensei (possibly faced with his own mortality) is now looking back with some regrets regarding the kind of Aikido he wishes to leave behind. In spite of the language barrier, Kawahara sensei seems more willing to vocalize what he knows of technique than ever before --- a thing I know that my own sensei appreciates a great deal. Less stern than he used to be, he now cracks jokes while he's teaching and likes to tell stories about O Sensei; he encourages those training to treat their practice partners gently (though I believe he might be directed more towards those practicing with mudansha). One wonders if, nearing the end of his life, Kawahara sensei wishes to impart as much as he possibly can before it is too late. If so, I sincerely hope that for his sake and ours, he meets with receptive audiences wherever he teaches.

(On the drive back to Winnipeg, I debriefed from the whole thing: made my usual detailed notes about the essentials of what we practiced, etc. It seems not long ago that it would have been customary for me to write them all down here in this journal. The funny thing is, I've little interest in that now --- don't get me wrong --- I've outlined my understanding of things for myself; I feel very strongly that so long as I can do so and preserve my overall insights, then I've done what I need to. So please excuse me from omitting them for the most part from now on.)

I find it interesting that the overarching theme I observed from the seminar and Kawahara sensei's teachings that day ties in with the general tenor of how I've been approaching my training these days --- so I find it extremely encouraging. In asking Kawahara later that evening about what his own training was like, my own sensei was told that if one wishes to become powerful, they had to do thousands of repetitions of physically demanding exercises throughout the course of a single day.

My sensei related this rather ruefully, in doing so acknowledging of course what goes through all of our minds: that the vast majority of us who train in Aikido today do not have the time (or the luxury, for that matter) to train like professional martial artists. I for one know for a fact that had he the time and money, my sensei would not hesitate to follow Kawahara sensei to every seminar he teaches at in order to learn as much as he possibly can.

If only, right? I know to some it might seem quite futile, or impotent in their longing to do more than they seem able to. I don't know why, but despite my aspirations I do not despair at this thought. It has been my (thus far short, I know) lifelong dream to be only one of the very best martial artists. Knowing what it takes and at the same time knowing just as well that I may not be able to do thousands of reps in a day still does not discourage me. On the contrary, it pushes me to do as many more as I possibly can when I can --- and to take every single spare moment that I've got to squeeze just one more in. And then when I think I'm exhausted and at my limit, squeeze just another one in. I know that over time, it will add up. To what, I am just as eager to see...
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