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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