George S. Ledyard
06-16-2009, 01:30 PM
Raso Hultgren Sensei, Chief Instructor of Aikido of Missoula, taught an incredible seminar this past weekend at Aikido Eastside. I have known Raso Sensei for 33 years. She was one of five yudansha to move to Washington DC back in 1975 to help Saotome Sensei open the new dojo. She was my first uke on my very first kyu test.
When one sees Raso Sensei it is immediately clear that one is looking at a teacher who has completely committed herself to the art. For her it's a life path, everything centers around her practice, everything is imbued with and informed by her art.
So many teachers hit a certain point in their training and plateau. They become dispensers of wisdom acquired in some distant past but have stepped off the path itself. With Raso Sensei it's clear that she is actively moving along the path of Aikido. Her technique gets deeper each time I see her. The ability to explain and pass on what she is doing gets better every year. I am not sure students understand just how fortunate they are to have a teacher who functions at such a level who can also transmit what she has learned effectively. There are students training with Raso Sensei who are functioning far "above their pay grade" so to speak.
Watching Raso Sensei I am reminded of the Aikido of Kisshomaru Ueshiba, the Nidai Doshu. Her Aikido is elegant, smooth as silk, expansive. She has the best movement of anyone I know. It's an absolute pleasure the watch and the ukes seemed to enjoy every second they worked with her.
There is a lot going on in Aikido right now. Various people are cross training and different currents are circulating around. All of this is just great. But someone has to develop and pass on Aikido with its essentials intact. In Raso Sensei's Aikido you can see the principles of aiki functioning at a deep level through her kihon waza. Elegant, beautiful, and expansive... Not to mention effortless. Her Aikido is an Aikido of quiet power within the larger sense of peacefulness.
This is a teacher whom I wish was better known. This is the kind of Aikido that folks need to experience. There are folks running around with numbers after their names far greater than Raso Sensei whose Aikido just doesn't hold a candle to what she is doing. It was a great honor to have her back at my school.https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/8994761102223176865-8511462137255911525?l=aikieast.blogspot.com