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David Orange
03-30-2011, 03:28 PM
I recently demonstrated aikido for the Japan-America Society of Alabama's Cherry Blossom Festival at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. I've done this numerous times but I declined their last couple of invitations for various reasons. I even suggested that they contact some teachers with formal aikido schools and a number of students with actual uniforms to demonstrate, but JASA kept asking me, so this time I agreed and bought uniforms for the two guys who normally assist me--a tai chi man (who also does bagua and baji) and a JKD guy from a local school, each with about 20 years of MA experience. My six-year-old son was also in uniform and he demonstrated a few techniques.

The morning of the demonstration, I had a sudden inspiration and I put together a little poster advertising "Whack a Black Belt! Aid Japan!"

The idea was that, for a $5.00 donation to JASA's fund-raising efforts, I'd let anyone in the audience take a whack at me with one of my training weapons--sword or stick--to see if they could hit me or if I could avoid the strike. This would allow them experience aikido while raising money for the relief.

The President of JASA really liked the idea and agreed for me to do it. So I handed out my posters and after I'd finished my demo, I explained the rules to the audience and invited them up to go for it.

The rules were: the attacker had to use my weapons; they had to start from proper ma'ai (measured by arm-length-and-weapon-length); they could make any strike at any target; they could have one strike only and each strke required a $5.00 donation; the defender (me) would not counter-strike or apply aikido technique other than avoiding the strike (if possible).

I ended up making $55.00 to donate, which is not much, but my demo was the last one of the day and a lot of people had already gone home. It was also a late idea and I hadn't worked out many of the details. I did let a number of kids come up and beat on me with padded weapons.

The point is that it allowed the audience to experience aikido directly while raising money for Japan relief.

I did get hit a number of times and I later recognized some ways to improve the performance. I've offered to do the same thing again on April 5 at another fund-raiser at my University and I'm going to be seeking other opportunities to do it as well.

It was a good test and training for me and I'm going to practice it a lot more before next week! I hope to do much better in avoiding the strikes and also to raise a lot more money!

As Mochizuki Sensei taught it, avoiding and taking the sword is the heart of aikido--aikido being based on the sword. Many competent people say it cannot be done, but Ueshiba could do it and Mochzuki Sensei called it the essence of sutemi, or "running the risk".

http://www.aikiweb.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=1999&limit=recent

I committed myself with a samurai do-or-die attitude of service for the people of Japan and I'm glad I did. Much of the inspiration, moreover, came from the sudden understanding I described in my recent thread on "Fire and Water":

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19589

Also, to my great surprise and gratitude, my 17-year-old daughter came up on stage with me and demonstrated some aikido techniques I taught her over ten years ago. It was her untrained response at age 18 months to my taking her wrist that convinced me that aikido technique was built on child movment. As she lives with my ex-wife, who remains rather hostile toward me, this was the most time I'd spent with her in several years. So I was very grateful to Heaven for this and I was encouraged to work even harder.

Another relevant point: as I mentioned in the Fire and Water thread, my recent meditations, following the understandings described in the Ki Eureka thread (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19175), have been focused on direct perception of kokoro, or heart, described by Peter Ralston as "the source of ki".

The morning after my Whack a Black Belt demo, I was washing dishes in my kitchen and suddenly did perceive kokoro directly. I realized that this was not something to perceive through meditation, but to recognize in daily life. It had a profound effect on me, but, as Ralston explains, even such profound recognitions must be gradually assimilated into the existing situation of our daily lives.

So I'm continuing to work on that.

I am very grateful for these insights, experiences and opportunities and I look forward to further developments in all these areas.

Best to all.

David

Diana Frese
03-30-2011, 04:19 PM
I have been hoping for some creative ideas on how to help Japan, so thanks for the great example. Also, thanks to your sharing your experiences, I learned a lot, too, about how to learn .... about training and about daily life. thanks David, I appreciate it very much.

Diana Frese
03-30-2011, 04:29 PM
Just a clarification, I am way too out of practice to volunteer for a Whack a Black Belt session, and even in my training days I wouldn't have had the nerve. But I have already put a paper in the collection plate at my church volunteering a free intro to Aikido lesson, or a little Japanese language or some songs, or informal drawing with the kids, etc. to anyone in the church or their friends whether or not they have donated to the Japan collection that was announced and if they have no matter if the amount was big or small. I'm donating to the people of the church (and their friends) and the people have been donating to Japan. That way, I can be part of a circle, which I am sure is a spiritual concept in Aikido, although I can't remember the quote. I think it was in one of the old Hombu newsletter printed on that special thin paper years ago...

David Orange
03-30-2011, 04:41 PM
Just a clarification, I am way too out of practice to volunteer for a Whack a Black Belt session, and even in my training days I wouldn't have had the nerve. But I have already put a paper in the collection plate at my church volunteering a free intro to Aikido lesson, or a little Japanese language or some songs, or informal drawing with the kids, etc. ...

My wife, who has relatives in Nagano, is cooking up some special dishes for the Food Fair on April 5, where I'll be doing the Whack a Black Belt demo again.

Every little bit helps, I'm sure. I'm just glad to have come up with something unusual that actually uses aikido to fight this terrible problem for Japan. Just a little giving back in gratitude for the great treasures (including my wife) that Japan has given me.

Best to you.

David

Janet Rosen
03-30-2011, 05:00 PM
I love your fundraising idea! and bet it was fun.

David Orange
03-30-2011, 06:29 PM
I love your fundraising idea! and bet it was fun.

Yeah, it was a blast, but that was completely overshadowed by having my son and daughter up there with me. My daughter remembers a lot and I hope to spend a lot more time with her in the near future.

Thanks!

David

ChrisHein
03-30-2011, 07:18 PM
Sounds like a great idea for a great cause! Taking chances in front of strangers is always hard to do, and shows great Budo spirit. Good job!

David Orange
03-30-2011, 07:24 PM
Sounds like a great idea for a great cause! Taking chances in front of strangers is always hard to do, and shows great Budo spirit. Good job!

Thanks.

Best wishes.

David

David Orange
03-31-2011, 11:10 AM
Unfortunately, the University declined my offer to do this again at the upcoming food fair due to legal liability concerns, but I'm looking for any other opportunity to raise funds again.

My wife will be making spring rolls to donate and sales of all Japanese foods will benefit the disaster relief. So this time, I'll just be the cook's assistant and maybe wait tables.

Best to all.

David

Diana Frese
03-31-2011, 11:36 AM
I well understand liability concerns, they were taught to me by the lifeguard at the Y, who taught water polo there, as he convinced me it was in MY best interest to get the insurance the Y had the new policy of requiring. He said he wouldn't teach anything without it...

Anyway, just a memory from when we had our own little dojo at a Y.
We sometimes held practice in the center of the running track they had on the roof, we could do breathing exercises and even careful rolls on mats we dragged up the stairs, or there may have been a thin kind of astroturf... The sun was often setting in the west as the moon was rising in the east ... people never forgot those experiences...

Did someone say homemade Asian food? It would have been a great extended road trip for our old dojo even though waay further away than the usual seminar!

Thanks for sharing, sorry we can't make it!

David Orange
04-19-2011, 11:02 PM
I've just sent the following announcement to most of the Alabama aikido groups listed in aikiweb (according to my search).

I'm happy to offer this opportunity for aikido clubs to become involved in the relief efforts for Japan and I will be glad to go anywhere to do it.

This is the message I sent, followed by the attachment (with a link to the photo):

Dear Aikido Sensei,

Please see the attached outline to learn about a way for aikido people to help with the recent disasters in Japan. I want to use the spirit of budo to uplift the people who gave it to us, while showing the general public something of what the budo spirit really means. By hosting my Whack a Black Belt! event at your school, you can create very positive publicity for your classes while raising money for the Japan America Society of Alabama disaster relief fund.

In Whack a Black Belt! events, I allow martial artists and the general public to take a strike at me with a padded stick or sword, such as we used in Japan, in return for a donation to the JASA relief fund. I, of course, attempt to avoid the strike with aikido movement but without applying technique to the attacker, according to a set of basic rules to ensure mutual safety. This will allow your students, their families and friends an unusual look at unrehearsed aikido against earnest attackers. The purpose is to create a positive image of aikido even as we rally aid for the Japanese people.

You may contact Tamara Moriya, Executive Director of JASA, to confirm my pledge and visit the JASA home page (http://www.jasaweb.org/) for detailed information about JASA’s three direct relief funds benefitting the hardest hit areas of Tohoku, Japan.

I hope you will join me in this work of samurai service to uplift the people who gave us the spirit of budo. Please contact me by return e-mail to arrange an event.

Best wishes,

David

David Orange, Jr.
davidorangejr@yahoo.com

Attachment:

Whack a Black Belt!

In Japan, I was uchi-deshi (live-in student) of Minoru Mochizuki, aikido 10th dan, meijin and one of the earliest students of aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba.

http://www.aikiweb.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=1999&limit=recent

Mochizuki Sensei (above, center), was the first person to teach aikido outside Japan. He introduced the art to the Western world in France, just after World War Two. Demonstrating aikido at a French judo tournament, he gave several judo competitors wooden swords and other implements and said, “I’ll pay you if you can hit me!”

No one could hit him. Like Ueshiba O Sensei, who was often shown dodging sword strikes, Mochizuki Sensei taught that aikido is based on unarmed defense against the sword. We trained a lot on that method with wooden bokken and other weapons as well as batons and swords of padded PVC pipe, allowing the attacker to strike without hesitation.

At this time of disaster in the home of budo, I want to use my aikido and sword training in the samurai spirit of service to the people of Japan: for a donation to the JASA disaster relief fund, I will let anyone strike at me with a training sword such as we used in Japan. In turn, I will try to respond with pure aikido to avoid the strike without hurting the attacker. There will be no application of technique to the attacker. For donations to the JASA- Japan Earthquake Relief Fund of at least $200.00, I will come to your school and give each donor one sincere try (by the rules below) to hit me with the training sword while I try to avoid the strike with pure aikido.

Whack a Black Belt!
RULES

$20 donation per try.

One strike per try.
Any target, any strike.
Must start from line.
Crossing the line without attacking loses.
Failing to hit the defender loses.
No follow-up attacks, punches or kicks to the defender.
Defender will only attempt to avoid the sword strike.
Defender will not strike back or use technique even if you hit him with the sword or stick.

Contact David Orange, Jr.
davidorangejr@yahoo.com

Proceeds go to the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear relief efforts of
the Japan America Society of Alabama (JASA— http://www.jasaweb.org/).
Checks may be made payable to: JASA- Japan Earthquake Relief Fund
Tamara Moriya
Japan America Society of Alabama, Executive Director
jasa@mindspring.com
Let our spirit of budo uplift the land of its birth.
Aid Japan!

David Orange
04-20-2011, 12:42 AM
I've just sent the following announcement to most of the Alabama aikido groups listed in aikiweb (according to my search).

I did not realize it, but aikiweb prohibits use of data from the Search function for mass mailings, electronic or otherwise.

My apologies.

David

Michael Varin
04-20-2011, 03:04 AM
David,

I've got to hand it to you. This sounds like a great effort to raise money and some potentially great training!

Have you had any more opportunities to do "Whack a Black Belt!"?

I'd love to hear about your experiences and any effect they have had on your training.

And I like your teacher's approach.

Mochizuki Sensei taught that aikido is based on unarmed defense against the sword. We trained a lot on that method with wooden bokken and other weapons as well as batons and swords of padded PVC pipe, allowing the attacker to strike without hesitation.

David Orange
04-21-2011, 09:01 PM
David,

I've got to hand it to you. This sounds like a great effort to raise money and some potentially great training!

Have you had any more opportunities to do "Whack a Black Belt!"?

I have made the offer to many aikido schools in the area, but as yet none have responded.

Maybe I need to make the offer to karate and TKD schools.

I'd love to hear about your experiences and any effect they have had on your training.

I will post each time I can arrange such an event.

And I like your teacher's approach.

Mochizuki Sensei required that all yoseikan black belts have a black belt in judo and experience in the sword. He didn't train in sword just for the cultural influence but so that, when we practiced defense against the sword, the attacks would be very meaningful. The padded sword won't cut you, but it can break bones and it could give you a cerebral hemorrhage if you get hit the right way. It's an exhilarating experience to face it. There is danger in it, and pain if you're hit. But when you manage to avoid a sincere and completely spontaneous, free attack, it's great.

In Japan, I experienced this with the shihan of the yoseikan hombu and with people from many nations. It's a core element of original aikido.

Best wishes.

David