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I taught a seminar at Asoryu Aikido Club in Huddersfield in the UK on 21 August 2010. This is an extra blog post about some of the things we covered.
Anyone who has any questions about the things we covered is welcome to write a comment below or to send me a message any time (whether you were at the seminar or not!).
It was a beautiful sunny day and from the dojo there was a great view over the rolling English countryside. Everyone was keen and sincere. I enjoyed it a lot.
The main theme of the seminar was CENTER. We covered basic points about centre:
- Always keep your own centre. So your posture should be solid and strong and straight and your hips should be low.
- Break the attacker's centre in every technique.
- Techniques should be done in front of your centre line.
- Throw down your centre line.
- For many techniques your centre should be as close as possible to uke's centre (for example irimi nage after you have entered behind the uke, or shiho nage before you turn)
- Shomenuchi cuts should be made down your centre line like a sword cut.
- Yokomenuchi cuts start from your centre and finish in your centre.
- When you are taking ukemi attack the tori with your centre.
I spelt C/ENTER like that because the second theme of the seminar was ENTER = IRIMI.
We did some irimi nage variations (omote and ura) from different attacks and with some different timings (early entry and late entry) and even some different finishes (omote
Patrick Swayze died in September 2009 of pancreatic cancer. He was in a few popular movies, for example Road House and Dirty Dancing. I liked him very much in Point Break (which was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who won the Oscar this year for The Hurt Locker). He was Bodhi, one of a gang of bankrobbers who wore Presidents of America masks. Keanu Reaves was Johnny Utah, the FBI agent who went undercover and became a surfer to try to catch them. There is a great quote in that movie. A tough old FBI hand looks at Johnny Utah and says "Guess we must just have ourselves an asshole shortage, huh?" He just says, "Not so far." It's a very cool movie.
But I want to talk about Ghost. I think it was Patrick Swayze's most popular movie. He plays Sam Wheat, a young banker who moves in to a renovated loft apartment with his cool ceramic artist girlfriend (Demi Moore looking boyish). It's partly a romantic movie and there is a famous potter's wheel love scene with Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers on the soundtrack.
When I saw Ghost in 1990 I remember thinking, "Hey, this is about ki!" (movie spoilers below…)
Suddenly Sam is shockingly killed in a mugging that goes wrong. But after his death his ghost stays on earth to try to protect his girlfriend from danger.
Sam, now a ghost, has to learn from other ghosts (ghost sempai!) how to pass through doors effortlessly and then how to touch and move physical things when he doesn't have a body. These lessons are like aikid
A training camp is called a gasshuku in Japanese. I remember one summer camp that was like an intense high school sports club summer camp. The training was outside on the grass (and the grass and earth stains were impossible to get out of our keikogi later). We had to clear all the pebbles from the grass before we started. Then after the training the black belts threw the white belts a hundred times. It was in the middle of the hot and humid Japanese summer. On the first day when we had a break in the middle of training a woman brought out a tray of cloudy white drinks. It was Calpis, a sweet fermented milk drink you dilute with water. It was the first time I had tasted it. On that hot day it tasted wonderful - like liquid silver. Ever since that day every time I drink it I remember that summer.
At one summer camp there were some university aikido clubs training at the same place. Some of the students knew me from Arikawa Sensei's class at the hombu dojo and they all came over and bowed politely to me. They trained very hard all day and they partied hard late into the night. On the way home from that camp all the trains were stopped because of a typhoon. We were lucky - it was only for a few hours. A week earlier they had stopped for two days.
The largest summer camp I've been to was at La Colle-sur-Loup in the south of France - not far from Nice. The teachers were Tamura Sensei and Yamada Sensei. It was in 1986. I know that because Tamura Sensei signed and dated his n
"I have some knowledge, however, of baritsu, or the Japanese system of wrestling, which has more than once been very useful to me." Sherlock Holmes
I'm going to Baker Street next week. So I was thinking about Sherlock Holmes (who lived there at 221B). I haven't seen the Robert Downey and Jude Law movie yet - somehow Jeremy Brett is the quintessential Sherlock Holmes. Anyway I found the quote above. Actually he probably meant bartitsu. Or perhaps the printer made a mistake. A man called Edward William Barton-Wright developed his own eclectic MMA - mixed martial art - at the end of the nineteenth century. Maybe he had been bullied at school for having too many names. Anyway Barton-Wright worked in Japan for some years and apparently trained in Shinden Fudo Ryu Taijutsu in Kobe and also judo at the Kodokan in Tokyo. Then he made his martial art by including four styles of fighting each with its own ma ai or optimum fighting distance.
The first was stick-fighting using a walking stick to keep an assailant at a safe distance. This was developed from la canne, a French martial art.
The second was kicking techniques as used in savate - also a French martial art - as the distance became a little closer.
The third was boxing as the attacker came within striking range.
And the fourth was jujutsu - grappling with the attacker and throwing him as he came close enough to grip.
So Barton-Wright had a very comprehensive approach to ma ai. He said: