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Ok, I'm back from the seminar and I'm still alive!
My wife and me left our home at about 10am on Friday, we were lucky to almost avoid the traffic (we were caught for just about 20 min, which is very good). We stopped and took some pictures near lake Tahoe at the vista point and were in Reno at about 3:30pm. My hotel was in downtown and the school where seminar was held is just 10 min drive.
In the evening semanar started. There were about 250 people there of different ranks, some even less experienced than me, which means - beginners. The facility was pretty big, but even then everybody was very cautious about falling. I started with David - very nice fellow who will take his Nidan test later this month. It was 5-th or 6-th seminar he is attending and he gave me the advices to ve careful when I throw or being thrown and go back on my feet as soon as possible. Those were valuable advices. That also made me a little tense in the beginning, but that feeling left me soon and I was able to enjoy myself. As usual (at least for Iwama style) we started with taino hanko, then kokyu nage and all following techniques were continuations and improvisations around these techniques. The class was not very hard, but it was hot inside because of so many people were in there. I had really good time, only one partner seemed not to care what he is doing, but that was the only encounter during the whole seminar. There were children there trying to look like grownups, there were grownups trying to be humble as children. I guess that's the rule
There were some moves which were taught a little bit different from what my sensei teaches, though O'Quinn sensei used to study under the same sensei - Saito Hitohiro's father. Later I asked Alison sensei about this and she explained that at the time my sensei was in Japan, the techniques were taught that way and they evolve after that. Even 31 jo kata done on the third day of the seminar was a little bit different variation. As sensei asked, we were trying to do the way Saito sensei is teaching and that was not very different. Overall - great teacher and very nice people.
There were 10 bokens with master's writing which were sold 100 each, all money were given to the fond which supports Aikido in developing countries. A lot of people wanted to buy them, so there was a lottery. I did not feel worthy enaugh to have one yet, so I did not participate, but David did and he won the lottery. The best way you can gamble in Reno! David deserved that. He is the only person I know who reached Nidan in 3 years.
In the evening my wife demanded a little walking tour in Reno downtown. I was tired, but how can I deny her?
On the second day sensei talked a little about misogi and meditation. He explained the difference between Zen meditation and the meditation he was taught (I can't remember the name of that practice). I will not talk about this not to mislead people with my understanding of his words.
Then we went outside and were practicing boken suburis. Sensei was emphasising the importance of the basic movements - suburis and told us to practice them daily no matter what rank we are. Return to basics.
After lunch in a mexican restaurant (with a very delicious food I should mention) we continued the practice inside. This time the main portion was iriminage. The impressive (and a very dangerous technique) sensei has shown was an iriminage when the throw is performed by grabbing uke's head and throwin him. I'm not sure how to describe that, but I'm pretty sure there will be pictures posted here soon. Unfortunately it was not allowed to take pictures during the class. There were several people who were instructed to do that. I think you can find pictures on Aikido of Reno dojo website http://www.renoaikido.org.
In the evening there was a dojo party and I'll post some funny pitcures.
Third day was spent doing 31 jo kata and then partner practice with jo. That was the first time I did the whole kata. Then beginners were separated in a separate group and we were doing it very slowly and with a lot of precautions. Sensei's techniques were very precise, accurate and at the same time relaxed. That was very impressive.
I can't explain all the things taught at the seminar, but there were several ideas that stayed in me especially in the weapon practice. Important things like correct hanmi, timing, the place to look during partner practice, importance of keeping shoulders on the same horizontal line, "squizing" the weapon during a strike. I'm sure many of those things were already taught to me, but you get that when you get that.
In the end of the seminar sensei seemed pleased, he told us he is very sad that it's over and expressed his hopes to meet again. All dojos had a photo taken with sensei and the seminar was over. I hope I'll have a chance to do that again.