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As President of the Homeowners Association, it takes me away from the dojo once a month, and being a board director on the Asian Pacific American Heritage Association (www.apaha.org), takes me away from the dojo another few nights per month.
So, I teach less, but focus more on what is being taught; and yesterday we focused on Ikkyo.
We started out with simple kirikaeshi with the bokuto. Back and forth, back and forth, over and over again. Trying to help the students get the feel of the movement of lifting up the sword and going forward, using the hips and not the feet.
After that we did Kumi-tachi Ikkyo (A composed technique of the First Teaching).
I was trying very hard to make the association for the students between the movement and the technique; from sword to no-sword.
Finally towards the end of class we got into Shomen-uchi Ikkyo.
Yesterday, everyone really understood the association between the movement with the weapons and without (hopefully they won't forget.)
Sometimes it's very hard to see how the movement with the weapons translates into the movement without the weapons, but it's there and it will make sense when you see it. If you don't see it yet, keep studying the movements. Keep analyzing; keep questioning and little by little things will come together.
Erik Sasha Calderon
I was eating lunch at the cafeteria in Sophia University in Tokyo, it was the Yotsuya campus. A fellow Aikidoka from the Sophia University Aikido group asked me a question about Aikido...Can't really remember what it was, or maybe I don't want to...but I do remember him all of the sudden telling me that I knew nothing of Aikido.
I didn't say anything, just kept quite, and thought to myself; wow, I train 5 hours a day, spend 8 in the library reading books about Aikido, Zen, Budo, etc... I never really see this guy train, mostly on social occasions, and he is telling me I know nothing of Aikido.
I just kept quite, and thought to myself, this guy is an idiot. Maybe he feels insecure around me and has to try and verbally put me down so he can feel better. Maybe he's just delusional.
Anyhow, I just walked away, a bit upset that I had to deal with him. For him to ask me an opinionated question, then put me down the way he did.
Funny though, because this was the very first time it happened, but has prepared me in a strange way, for the multitude of times it has happened since, and still I just keep quite, turn away and continue to improve my Aikido.
The work shop was harder than I expected. Three hours of breathing, and towards the end, I realized even that was not enough. One simple thing to focus on and three hours was not enough. But that gives us a life time to practice. The end of this workshop is just the beginning of something to focus on everyday, and it's something we can focus on anywhere.
It was amazing to see the impact when everyone in the workshop started focusing on Kokyu (Breath). Even the beginners where able to perform the techniques as if they had been doing Aikido for 20 years.
I really got to see the point made in Zen, that there is not past, no future, only the present, the here, the now.
If you weren't able to make the workshop, please ask your fellow students about it. Ask them to give you all the details, to share with you, and put that into every class.
After three hours of talking, I hope I don't have to talk again until next year!
Erik Sasha Calderon
Classes have been going at a furious pace. Several students have had to bow out or pass out.
When classes go this good, there's not much to say or write. It's just an experience; becoming aware all around, feeling the attacks and the blending, not having the opportunity to stop and take a rest.
This is the kind of training that I enjoy, because it's one hour of hell, and the rest of the day of bliss. It's nice to see members walking out of the dojo with a smile on their face....maybe their smilling because the class is finally over.
Learning techniques on the mat is one thing. Learning the discipline and respect is another. ShinKiKan members should always remember this.
These are the basics in Aikido: respect.
-We respect the dojo by showing up on time
-We repsect the dojo by paying the dues on time
-We respect the mat by taking our shoes off before getting on
-We respect the sensei by being on the mat at least 2 minutes before lessons begin
-We respect the sensei by bowing to him at the beginning and end of class
-We respect the sensei by giving him an honest attack, even if he fails to do the technique
-We respect fellow students by bowing to them each time we are about to practice
-We respect fellow students by bowing each time after practicing a particular technique and at the end of class
-We respect our fellow students by giving honest and sincere attacks according to their level
-We respect our fellow students, sensei and dojo by not talking in class
These are just a few basics, maybe I'll work on the list more later.
Most people attend seminars in order to learn something new, and the quality of the seminar is often decided by how much new information is obtained by the attending person. The weapons seminar was greatly different from the typical seminar; rather than placing a focus on new techniques, the seminar focused on the basic and key elements that were often forgotten when performing a learned technique. The seminar was separated into two parts and scheduled in such a way as to promote both analysis of technique and application.
The seminar was oriented for anyone, but it tended to have the greatest impact on those who had an average or better than average understanding of techniques in Aikido, and it seeked to improve fundamental elements in them through the integration of weapons. The focus of the seminar was to explicate the basics, not only to break them down but also to study them as a whole. By taking an entire day to begin gaining a general understanding of key concepts the seminar served as a means to correct habits and focus on technique versus visual replication and repetition.
Essay written by Monique Lloyd - 1st Kyu