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I stepped off the train onto the platform at ShinJuku Station, fighting through the crowd to get to the exit. My heart was racing, from a mixture of nervousness and excitement. I was on my way to my Aikido class at the world headquarters of Aikikai. A dojo headed by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, son of the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba.
It was a thirty minute walk to the dojo, which took me through the noisy pleasure district of ShinJuku. Lights and color flashing everywhere, street Yakuza ganges and huge tv screens mounted on buildings. It was always a rush walking along thousands of people to get to my destination.
On my way to and fro the dojo, I would always pass a small temple. I loved walking by this temple. It was always so peaceful, with a water fountain and a stone statue of a dragon. I would always feel like I went back in time a few hundred years and was the best preparation for my intense workouts at Honbu dojo.
Walking through the main entrance, the smell of Tatami would always fill my nostrils and images of the mat covered with canvas would always enter my mind. "Can't wait to get on the mat, " would always cross my thoughts, "All I have to do is change, now."
I'd walk up the three flights of stairs to make it to the men's changing room and change. Wondering who I would get to train with that day.
I would bow into the mat and sit there patiently waiting for class to begin, trying to relax and get my rest because I always knew what
I like shihonage. The idea is to learn to protect yourself all around on every corner.
Is it possible? To create a technique so powerful that you are protected all around all the time.
Trying to develop this kind of technique over the years has taught me many humbling lessons.
Shihonage is one of the more difficult techniques to perform with multiple attackers. It's much easier to perform kokyunage, or tenchinage, or ikkyo kokyunage. It's hard getting around the idea of having to turn your back when you have more than one person attacking.
The funny thing, is that when it is performed correctly, Uke, or your attacker is the one protecting you!
Last week we got together for a little physical training and enjoy a wonderful evening watching the Golden Dragon Acrobats.
I think a few of the students realized how easy it is to get out of shape and how important it is to get a physical fitness program going.
We only did about 50 pushups, 50 situps, 50 back extensions and a two mile jog/walk, then we did a few sprints up a hill.
The training was simple, just some pushups, situps, back extensions a jog and a few sprints. Nothing special, nothing extravagant, no wild names like tae bo, pilates, Yoga...just your basic thing that could get kind of boring, but what I've discovered is that when you are in the company of friends, even the most mundane boring task can be fun!
The Golden Dragon Acrobats are truly amazing! I wonder if it would be more fun to try that out than to do Aikido?!?!?Maybe not.....Don't think my body can do what they can!
Erik Calderon, Vinny Nguyen and Rafael Garcia from left to right
When I was 13 years old, my dad shipped me off to military school. I went to MMA, Marine Military Academy in Harlengen, TX. It was, and I believe, still is, an incredible school. I learned all about discipline and physical fitness.
I went in weighting 90 pounds, three months later I weighed in at 140 pounds and I was able to do 150 push ups in a row under 2 mins.
We had a physical fitness test "PFT" every three months, if I remember correctly...
We would jog every morning, together. It was awesome. So awesome that I'm deciding to require students of mine to undergo a PFT, physical fitness test in order to proceed with rank.
I think the Aikido training in itself is enough to get one in shape, but the running, push ups, pull ups, and sit ups just makes the training a bit more exciting. And best of all, the Army has an incredible website with all kinds of awesome guidelines for the Physical Fitness Test.
Tomorrow is our first PFT training at Memorial Park....I wonder if anyone will show up!
Here's another video - I sure am having fun making these.....
In my opinion it is very important to integrate weapons training with Aikido training as an add on and expansion of Aikido. I think it's important to stick with "Aiki - Weapons" inorder to build a stronger foundation.
I consider any weapon practiced with the fundamental movements of Aikido "Aiki - Weapons." That covers a lot of ground doesn't it?
And the possibility to have fun learning Aikido with a variety of weapons also comes into play.
I've uploaded an exercises with the sword to Youtube. Check it out:
Finally got a third video post up. It's a lot of fun making these and then seeing how my own techniques changes over time. It's funny because it feels wrong to show something one way then a few months later say, it's not like that, it's actually like this. It's very humbling to know that I am always learning, changing and improving. Guess that's what makes it so hard to be a teacher of Aikido.