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This past weekend I had the great pleasure of attending an Aikido seminar at Bucks County Aikido with George Lyons Sensei (Bucks County Aikido), Juba Nour Sensei (Aikido of Manhattan), and Michael Sidebottom Sensei (Connecticut Aikikai). It was an all day Saturday seminar, and there was a fantastic (and large) group of students to train with from all three locations, plus some others as well, I believe. All three teachers are members of the USAF Western Region, and all are students of T.K. Chiba Shihan. I believe that Chiba Shihan is often mentioned as an Aikido instructor who emphasizes the martial aspects of Aikido, and that is certainly what I experienced Saturday. While the practice was very safe (I am unaware of any real injuries), it was certainly very vigorous, correct, and martial. Having heard so much on the net about Chiba Shihan and his students, I had been very eager to have an opportunity to train with them.
George Lyons Sensei opened with warm-ups that concentrated on more stretching than I'm used to (but not quite as much as I remember with Donovan Waite Sensei). Since I haven't been able to train as much lately, due to a knee injury, the extra stretching was much appreciated. Many of Aikido's standards were part of his sessions that day, including Ikkyo, Nikyo, Shiho and Irimi. The Tenkan exercises that he started off with gave me a little of the feeling of the differences between the USAF West, East, and the Yoshinkan style that I am used to. I w
Well, after close to six months of pain, rehab, no practice...I think I'm ready for some steady mat time. I'm starting off with one practice per week, then building up from there. I trained before the new year at the Boulder Aikikai (that was a great time), at the Doshinkan Hombu New Year's celebration (got to teach a little and do a little free-style demo) and did a thousand sword cuts last night to open the New Year at the Homeikan. So far, the knee gets better every time I practice, so I think its ready for some more sustained exercise.
Did some freestyle after class last night with one of the strong karate guys...now that was fun! Miss training with my buds there. The training in Boulder was great, but my smokey lungs had trouble the last hour and a half handling the thin air. whew! But I had great partners, and would love to train there again. I'm really looking forward to training there again sometime. If any of the folks I trained with there see me online, I hope they'll drop an email so we can get to know each other better. Thanks to Jun for getting me situated!
Best wishes to all for a happy and healthy New Year!
Well, got some more keiko in before my next self enforced layoff. The knee held up well for two friendship seminars. There was a little swelling, but not much pain, and inspite of increasingly vigorous practice as I got used to romping again, no serious problems. I am carefull not to land with the bad knee bent, switching sides for the ukemi mid-air when needed (quite tricky sometimes, when being thrown by a 5th dan).
The aikido kenkyukai group here has Kirisawa Sensei in town for eight months! good training, good beer, fun all around! They had us participate in a embu to welcome him into town. Looking forward to training with them much more.
Here's an abbreviated review of the Utada/Ikeda Friendship Seminar:
at the Friendship seminar given by Utada and Ikeda Sensei this past weekend, both instructors focused on breaking the uke's balance at first contact.
Ikeda Sensei stressed relaxation and using your center to capture uke, even if uke didn't know it, and maintaining that off balance through-out the waza. Ikeda Sensei was clearly a master at sensing uke's balance, and obtaining kazushi without uke even knowing it. He would have you grab his hand powerfully, even 4th and 5th dans, and then when you were sure you were in control, he would say 'nope', and throw his uke effortlessly. You could actually see uke's knees buckle, and then they were done. At one point, he demonstrated how by using his center to move uke, he could make uke look like they were
It felt sooooooo good to be back on the mat. The knee is holding up well, I won't train on thursday, so I can rest it well for the seminar this weekend. I hope to have a good review sometime monday.
It didn't feel like the month and a half or so layoff caused much harm. It was a light practice, so I didn't put much strain on the knee at all. I think I'll be able to get in a couple of good sessions this weekend. Then I'll try once a week until rehap on the knee is done. So far so good...
Well, my knee is pretty well hosed for now...I'm going to look at surgery vs traditional medicine. Torn meniscus and a sprained mcl. I'll have to see just how long I'll be sidelined. I'm considering not posting till I'm back training again, but I haven't decided on that yet. I guess I'll just have to find some other ways to train...
It turns out I've got arthritis pretty bad in one knee. I'm fairly used to training with pain, but its gotten so I can't even kneel or sit in seiza. Its going to be interesting to see how I deal with this. The first medication prescribed is already out...turns out Vioxx causes anxiety and depression in some people, and I'm one of them. It got bad enough where now I have to do some damage control...
I've heard others talk pretty extensivly about training with chronic problems. Now its my turn at the wheel...
This year we were fortunate to have John Stevens Sensei for four days of training, lectures, and informal sessions. Once again, he impressed me with his knowledge of aikido, his practice of Rinjiro Shirata's waza, and his poise. His topics ranged from Aikido's philosophy and history, to Aikido's techniques. We were fortunate this year to be able to share Stevens Sensei with the Aikido Schools of New Jersey (under Rick Stickles Sensei). Stevens Sensei lectured, gave a demo, answered questions, and signed books for over 70 students of aikido, in an absolutely wonderful venue provided by Stickles Sensei. I would be remiss if I did not thank Stickles Sensei for his hospitality. It is our sincere hope to continue to provide greater exposure of Stevens Sensei's Classical Aikido throughout the North East in the coming years.
One of the most interesting facets of Classical Aikido to me is the fusion of Rinjiro Shirata's early training at the Kobukan, and the philosophy of Ueshiba Sensei's later years. While many schools whose lineage springs from the Kobukan days eschew Kotodama and any connections with the Omoto-kyo religion, I find that Classical Aikido has a good link to those traditions, and that Stevens Sensei is able to express that in his classes and lectures. The Kotodama sessions before practice helped me to relax and to focus, enabling me to train with a renewed energy each day, and strengthening the feeling of connection with the founder of Aikido. The pract
I'm not really sure how to express this recent experience, but I'll give it a shot. I have an 80 something year old great aunt who lives in North Philly (about 20 blocks west of Broad street). Its a neighborhood that has been in great distress, but it is slowly comming back due to improved housing efforts by developers and the city. The kind of lawlessness you regularly see there is armed gangs riding three wheeled off road vehicles down the streets at all times of the night and day, popping wheelies. Somehow, they evade any cops interested in stopping them .
I was taking my aunt back home after dark on the forth (she's always either in a wheel chair or walking for *very* brief periods with a cane on one side and me on the other). While I was helping her out of my car, about 3 to 4 thugs began to approach us from the other side of the street. She started to get upset, so I propped her up against the car, and started telling her it was ok, there was no problem. I continued to help her, while angling my body so that I could watch the leader without looking directly at him. Just enough so he knew I could see him, but not enough to confront him. He got to within about 4 or 5 feet, then veered off and went on past us down the street with his buddies. I told my aunt "see, its just attitude", and took her on inside.
I never really considered the opponant defeated...I considered us safer once he made clear by his change in direction that he had reconsidered his choice. I cons
5/20/03 -- review of seminar with Donovan Waite Sensei
This past Saturday I had the pleasure of training with the Lower Providence Aikido dojo when they hosted Donovan Waite Sensei. Jeff Bowden Sensei was an excellent host (as always), and it was great to get to train with him again. I first trained with him when he was a brown belt many years ago, and it is always a pleasure to feel his technique again.
Waite Sensei is probably one of the most flexible men of my age I've ever met. His warm-ups had a very large stretching component. I believe his flexibility adds a lot to the power of his technique; his throws have a whip like tensile power that is strongly focused and controlled. Flexibility always being a weakness of mine, the warm-ups stressed the importance of working on improving in this area. Since Waite sensei did not hurry through the stretching portion, even someone as tight as I am was able to feel significant improvement just from that relatively brief session. Combined with this were many breathing exercises, some of which strongly reminded me of the Eight Brocade breathing exercises from the Chinese arts. The standard aikido warm-ups were not neglected either.
A highlight for me in this seminar was the ukemi. So much has been said about Waite Sensei's system of ukemi, that I don't know how much I can add. Although the style of ukemi I practice is quite different, it was easy to see the advantages to Waite Sensei's style. It was very relax
Last nights practise was really gratifying. In the midst of being very disappointed with myself about how I've handled two different situations (one work related, one personal) I taught one of the best classes I've ever had. Ohama Sensei has been out this last week due to a friend (someone we used to train with) being back in town for a few days. So I asked if I could take thursdays class.
I had spent a fair amount of time preparing to teach two hours of basics for the new students we've been getting. One of my worries is that we have not prepared them in the way we were prepared. The classes are often more oriented at this point to the seniors because we've had very few new people joining. Now that they are, it will give all of us a good opportunity to review the basics more. That said, none of the new people showed up last night, so I scrapped the entire class (it was going to be sankajo), and flew by the seat of my pants.
After warmups, breakfalls and basic movements with partner, I taught Utada Sensei's jo kumi kata from tsune no kamae. Its a short kata, but with some nice powerfull direct attacks and uke's part is pretty aggressive. Star number one: nobody got smacked by accident. Joe and I performed the kata, then I taught uke to everyone in a line, then shite. Then we paired up and walked through the kata together, then I let one side be shite for a while. Once they were comfortable with their roles, shite and uke switched. Once both were comfor