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Dennis Hooker
06-18-2003, 11:53 AM
When was the last time your Aikido changed direction?
Just thought I let folks know in case anymore of you drop by the dojo. A few have and thought what's up with that? Well what it is is I have not been teaching for the last six months and I won't be teaching for at least another six if ever. What I am doing is having fun and I am on a discovery journey. I am working on me and folks in my class (for lack of a better work) are going along for the ride. Funny thing is when I stopped teaching and started on this discovery phase the attendance doubled. I am using folks and I don't feel a bit guilty about it. I try something and then watch them and maybe feel how they do it and then I learn a little more about what I want. I am into taking my partners center as softly, as efficiently, as economically as I can. I don't ever want to throw anyone again. I want to take their center and balance and when they fall I may speed up the delivery process to the ground a little, or I may not. A touch here or a push there. Maybe make them extend a little further than they attended or com up a little short. Anything to capture their center and balance before of just after we touch. I get hit a lot but I am having fun! After 30 plus years of bump and grind on the mat and maybe a little finesse on occasion when the real Aikido accidentally kicked in I feel more and more every day like the Velveteen Rabbit. Damn near loved to death. So I am on a new journey and don't care a whit to teach but I am going to have fun. As one of my students said "Sensei that didn't look vary martial or fell vary martial, I thought that all the way to mat" Oh yaw I like this new discovery phase. Maybe I will call it Scientology Aikido. Think Oh L. Ron would get pissed?

Lyle Bogin
06-18-2003, 12:07 PM
Is it possible for you to not teach? Is teaching strictly pro-active?

Why not go all the way and start as a beginner in another art?

Dennis Hooker
06-18-2003, 01:07 PM
"Why not go all the way and start as a beginner in another art?"[/QUOTE]
Did that three times already. But after you get a few more dan ranks in the new art you ain't a beginner any more. Besides I am not tired of Aikido I just wnat to think about me a little more before I die.

Ron Tisdale
06-18-2003, 01:11 PM
Hooker Sensei (or maybe I should say Dennis now:)),

I had some interesting feelings when reading your post.

1) It is admirable for someone with so much experience to re-evaluate their practise and teaching to such a great extent. A lot of people with your experience would simply keep on with what they know. It takes a certain amount of courage to take a new path in old surroundings.

2) My own teacher has been focusing our efforts on "taking the center", "connecting to uke's center" and many of the things you mentioned. It is an interesting level of practise...and very difficult. Because we have the yoshinkan basics, we use that as the framework, and go deeper into the basics to discover how to do these "new" (to us on that level anyway) things. It would seem that the hight of "aiki" is to take uke's balance before or as soon as they (or you) make contact. It seems so difficult, so risky (in a "real" confrontation), but its sooooooo kool when it happens.

3) what brought a lot of this searching about, is a chance meeting with a senior student in the Aikido Kenkyukai of Yoshinobu Takeda Shihan. His use of center and the way he connects to uke are fascinating.

I'm wondering...was your journey inspired by a change in your personal life, a chance meeting with another aikidoka, or something else? This is a very personal question, so I'll understand if you don't want to answer, or if you do answer but privately.

Good keiko


Lyle Bogin
06-18-2003, 01:15 PM
With 30 years in the art(s), I say you are probably have the right to claim a little "me time", Mr. Hooker.

It is good to read that a long time practitioner still has not grown weary of his primary art.


Chuck Clark
06-18-2003, 02:22 PM
Hi Dennis,

Small directional changes...just about every day or so. Large changes... about two months ago. The last large change before this one was about 3 years ago. It has something to do with "really" not fighting.

I'm celebrating with you, my friend, we've earned it!

Look forward to seeing you sometime soon. I'll send you an email about my trip to Florida in September.

Best Regards,

06-18-2003, 02:57 PM
In my 15 years of Aikido, and 20 years of martial arts total, (of which I have kept a journal throughout--My first instructor said this would make it easier to understand where my students are and make it easier to see where they are going), I have noticed that at first I had little epiphanies all the time, as long as I kept an open mind. Now, the epiphanies are sometimes little sometimes big, but, are often harder to see and come less frequently. I try to get a healthy balance of teaching and just training so things continue this way and I will try to develop "big eyes" (being able to see the large picture with an open mind).

I hope your change in direction keeps inspiring you.

In Aiki,

06-18-2003, 03:12 PM

As you know I am into climbing mountains. Somewhere along the way I discovered that it isn't about getting to the top. The important thing is to enjoy the journey. To get off on the flora and fauna along the way. To find joy in the people we meet and to mean it when we say 'Namaste' as we pass. (That translates as - I salute the devine within you)

So, as we are on the same boat on the same river going to the same place - Namaste, my friend.

Bring over that banjo, I'll get the good glasses out. See if I can find my guitar pick.

Neil Mick
06-18-2003, 07:00 PM
Hooker Sensei (no: I think the title still applies; even if you no longer teach. Every good teacher is, at heart: still a student, IMHO):

Your post has broached many interesting facets of Aikido, learning, and martial arts.

My congratulations on your new teaching style: it makes me sorry I don't live in Florida, and able to experience your journey, firsthand.

Regarding answering your question posed in the thread: I've changed direction about a half-dozen times, in my Aiki-experience. Usually it corresponds to a change of dojos, or a change in my own life circumstances.

Most recently, I changed from a dojo under Kato Sensei to one under Anno Sensei's tutelage. Their personal and martial styles are very different; but the most important thing that changed (for me), was the way ppl treat me, and each other, within the respective dojos. The philosophies, on the surface level, were very similar: but the deeper outlooks couldn't be more different.

The Kato-dojo also offers classes in Thai kickboxing and yoga; the Anno-dojo offers study in chanting and offers the most comprehensive children's program I've ever seen, in a dojo.

There are other, deeper differences; but etiquette precludes me from making any deeper comparisons that may be construed as a criticism of one dojo, or another.

I was also a student under Sensei Frank Doran. For a time, he considered the apsect of humility in his practice, and he told his students not to bow to him, or call him Sensei.

Would you consider his explorations in humility and etiquette, similar to your explorations in teaching?

Paula Lydon
06-19-2003, 10:57 AM
~~Every class, because I change~~

06-20-2003, 07:19 AM

After I was promoted to sandan back in the early eighties I decided that I wasn't worth a damn and was going to start over. Took off my hakima, put on a white belt, you know, the whole works. Don't call me sensei, don't bow to me...

Saotome Sensei found out and it is one of the few times he actually scared me. Just who the hell was I to think that he had made a mistake about my level and competance! When did I think I knew more about Aikido than him? How dare I think that his judgement was wrong in regards to my level in Aikido? Man, was he pissed.

Ed Baker, Sensei pretty much said the same thing, only with a glint in his eye. He said "Linden, you can't start over. All you can do is recognize that the rest of your life is built on what you are doing this very second. And go on from there.

Good lesson. One I observe daily, what ever changes may come.

06-20-2003, 11:46 AM
Very interesting thread.

My thoughts in reading the original post were a little strange. I thought about different styles of Aikido and different paths up the mountain. I thought about how my original training in Seidokan had taught me very early on to focus so intensely on the very aspect that Sensei Linden is deciding to focus on after so many years. When I came to America, I joined an ASU dojo and so I put some of these ideas aside as I tried to focus on posture and movement and martial awareness. I guess it really is a thing of many paths up the mountain.

The really interesting thing is that when I moved my focus from the subtle taking of uke's balance to my own movements and martial awareness, I thought of it as 'focusing back in on myself.' Sensei Linden has the same feeling of focusing back in on himself, it seems, despite a shift in the opposite direction.

Neil Mick
06-21-2003, 09:24 PM
Took off my hakima, put on a white belt, you know, the whole works. Don't call me sensei, don't bow to me...

Saotome Sensei found out and it is one of the few times he actually scared me. Just who the hell was I to think that he had made a mistake about my level and competance! When did I think I knew more about Aikido than him? How dare I think that his judgement was wrong in regards to my level in Aikido? Man, was he pissed.
This is so like Saotame Sensei: I can almost picture him saying this to you. He was always very big on the concept of rank, as a reflection of the awarding Sensei.

And yes, Opher: I agree with you...it is an interesting topic. I'm hoping Hooker Sensei will check in and offer a few more observations.

06-26-2003, 06:54 PM
"When was the last time your Aikido changed direction?" - Dennis Hooker

Two years ago when I resigned from the Kokikai Aikido organization, after a 25 year affiliation, and chose to continue my study as an independent practitioner. A decision that proved to be at once daunting and exhilarating.

Since the break, my Aikido has blossomed. I feel as though I have thrown off a shroud and emerged into something new and wonderful. Each class I conduct reveals some new thing and I drink it up with relish.

An expansion of awareness is necessarily accompanied by a contraction of reference; a concept I first came across in a book by G. Spencer Brown, The Laws of Form. So it has shown itself to be with my Aikido. I have never felt so aware and so focused on the mat.

Aikido is a form of self expression that is governed by the principles that underpin the application of the techniques that compose the art. I have come to realize that as an instructor my main job is to allow the Aikido that already exists in my students to come forth in all its varied manifesations.

I'm beginning to ramble... Anyway, that's the last time my Aikido changed direction.