Aikido in the Philippines: Manila Seminar w/Sugaw
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Aikido in the Philippines: Manila Seminar w/Sugaw
02-17-2005 01:32 AM
I had the great pleasure of meeting and training with some friendly Aikidoka while I was in the Philippines at the "Hombu Instructional Tour" seminar with Shigeru Sugawara Shihan that took place at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila and was hosted by Aikido Philippines. Unfortunately, I was only able to attend one of the five two-hour sessions due to being in Manila on just a day trip and my family's schedule was not conducive to any more than that. Regardless, it was a great opportunity and a valuable experience nonetheless.
I've uploaded a few pictures of the seminar to my AikiWeb photo gallery (at: http://www.aikiweb.com/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=2331&password= ) which were taken by Rommel, the secretary of AikiPhil and will also eventually add to these the pictures that were taken by my dad (which still need to be scanned). You may also view some of the pics uploaded by AikiPhil at: http://www.photonski.com/makilingaikido/paja05
There were a ton of folks on the mats when I was there on Tuesday morning from 8 to 10am --- my dad counted about 80 (a good mix of Yudansha and Mudansha) and I was told that there would likely be more during the sessions later in the day. I counted around a dozen female aikidoka, also of a decent mix of ranks, which was likewise nice to see. But boy, were the mats ever crowded!
Sugawara Sensei (presumably as he's one of the younger --- read: more flexible -- of the shihans) led the warm-up, which would be the first time I'd ever seen that at a seminar (granted, it's not as though I had been to any other than those with Kawahara Sensei until then...)
On this particular morning, Sugawara Sensei covered mostly a variety of "basics", including: Shomenuchi Ikkyo, Nikkyo, Sankyo, Kotegaeshi and Shihonage. Not that I by any means would call myself proficient at evaluating such a thing, but for those who are interested...from what little I did get to see, I suppose I would describe Sugawara Sensei's technique as fast, hard and smooth, with a very upright posture; in other words, quite strong (surprise, surprise) --- judging by the pained grunting of the Filipino Yudansha he would occasionally make the rounds to practice with (another thing I'd never seen happen before at a seminar --- the Shihan coming around to practice).
Afterwards, the notes to myself I had made regarding certain techniques were:
Nikkyo - (As usual) the hand change needs work to become more fluid without losing contact with uke.
Sankyo - We did the version (which we rarely do at NWA) of omote where you come around to the "head side" of uke and bring him down to the mat backwards; from what I've seen at other dojos, this seems pretty standard and is good practice for me, considering.
Kotegaeshi - Sugawara Sensei drew attention to this being more like a spiral up uke's arm; as well as to tenkan first, block uke at the elbow and then grab the wrist, which leaves more options open to you, ie. Kokyunage (best used against a straight punch and on any other punch where the back of uke's palm is not facing towards you) and Iriminage than if you were to grab the wrist first.
Shihonage - Sugawara Sensei spoke of maintaining one point of contact and tension with uke at all times.
Ryotekubidori Kokyuho (Suwari Waza) - The Yudansha I was paired with advised me to extend my centre and then my arms as though pushing my pinkies underneath uke's elbows, which was a new visualization for Kokyuho to me --- I'd never heard of it before, so into the notes it goes.
A couple of general observations...
- Training in sweltering tropical weather (it was often over 30 degrees Celcius outside) in a dojo with just a few fans running was a new and rather strenuous activity for me, having never really experienced it before (that is, having always done Aikido in Canada for the most part, and in a dojo with air-conditioning)...I mean, birds would fly into the room from outside to escape the heat. It's not long before you're pretty well soaked in sweat --- certainly challenges your stamina (especially in a heavy-weight dogi) and makes you appreciate your water a great deal afterwards.
- I certainly hope I'm imagining things, but I kind of got the sense that a lot of the male aikidoka were rather reluctant to train with females.
Essentially, my experience at this particular session (which could simply be coincidence, for all I know) was of having a very difficult time finding a training partner on the vast majority of occasions which in itself would not be so disturbing --- but often, I would be seated or standing right next to a male aikidoka who would also be looking for a training partner, but instead of turning to me, would continue to look elsewhere. This, coupled with how oftentimes, I would notice a lot of female aikidoka training specifically with other females made me wonder a little.
Now, it has always been taught to me that good dojo etiquette dictates that after Sensei has finished demonstrating, you should find a partner quickly and get to training right away, which means turning to the person nearest to you and getting to it. But with only two exceptions, I found that most male aikidoka would try to ignore me and walk away as fast as they could. I had to be extremely aggressive if I wanted to find a training partner --- in most cases, having to tap the person who was walking away from me on the shoulder to draw very obvious attention to myself. The two exceptions to this were: a male Aikidoka from Germany who turned to me right away, and Rommel, the secretary of AikiPhil who I had been corresponding with via e-mail earlier and had noticed that I was having trouble finding someone to train with.
(Just as an aside: If I were absolutely sure that it was either coincidence or paranoia talking, I wouldn't mention it. But I also know I can't be completely off-base about this in part because of the general stereotypes and prejudices that I'm fully aware that a lot of Filipinas still face in their native country today --- both from my own experience and from the experience of other Filipinas I know --- particularly due to traditional Filipino attitudes; I won't go into detail about these at this particular juncture, but if you're wishing to discuss it, please feel free to message me.) But enough bitching about it for now. :-P
Another interesting thing that came to mind:
- Training solely with aikidoka who, as in the Philippines, generally share a very similar average physique and height raises the question of whether or not one's Aikido settles into being able to effectively react only to ukes of this kind. I feel fortunate, living in a multicultural community in Canada, to have the opportunity to expose my Aikido to a wide range of ukes with varying body types throughout the course of my long-term training, thus enabling me to practice quite often how to feel and adapt to different kinds of energy and movement.
Despite the minor things, it was a great time and above all, quality instruction (and at just 60 PHP/ 1US a session, you can't beat that). From conversations I had prior to class, roughly 30 different dojos from around the area were represented at that particular seminar --- so it looks like Aikido is really thriving there. I look forward to the possibility of training at one of them if I'm ever back to visit the Philippines in future.
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