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Another amazing day. I'm learning a lot about attending seminars. Sit in the middle, so you can hear. Drink more water than you think you need to. Eat something at each break. And now I know that if you throw the morning's sweaty gi in your car at lunch, all the windows will be fogged up when you go to leave in the evening.
There are a lot of levels of understanding at work. There are some things I just Do Not Get. I can't even understand what's being explained, never mind attempt it. There are other things I understand, conceptually, but cannot begin to do at all. Someday... Then some things I get glimmers of success, and could see being able to do them with some exploration and practice. And there there are the ones where I Really Got It, and was able to do the technique the way it was shown. Woohoo!
This morning's sessions included a good mix of all those things. A few "duh... what" moments, and a few "aha!" moments, with a lot of everything else in between.
At lunch a few of us went to the park at the bay to take a quiet break, and just rest. We ended up with a dead battery, but luckily another friend was able to come rescue us with a jump start, and we all got back in time for the afternoon sessions, which started at 3:00.
About midway through the afternoon I was really tired, and my knee was tight from sitting around on the lunch break. I and some of the people I was working with were not catching the subtleties of whatever was being shown, and were sort o
What a long day! I'm exhausted. A hot bath and a good night sleep (and some ice packs on my knee) are at the top of the priority list, so just a quick post tonight. I need to sit down with my notebook and try to remember what we did today. It's all in there somewhere, but describing much of it is beyond me at this point.
The guest instructor this evening was Wilco Vriesman Sensei from the Netherlands. (Here is a video of him at another seminar - not today.) He had a really interesting way of breaking down the areas of the body, and which area does what. A sort of short hierarchical checklist one can go through when doing techniques to be more aware of where things are falling apart. I would love to spend more time on it (and will try to be aware of it when I'm practicing). There was a lot packed into that one hour!
Aikido Bridge Friendship Seminar 2010 - First Evening
Umm... O... M... G...! What fun! I've met dozens of lovely people (and I'm sure will have to be reminded of their names in the morning) from all over California and the West - a few from the Bay Area, some from Boulder, Colorado, one who drove down from the Tahoe area, I believe. Some are even from here in San Diego. ;-)
Each of the three featured instructors, Ikeda, Doran, and Tissier, taught for part of the evening tonight (from 6-8). I wouldn't want to guess how many participants there were tonight, but it's a big dojo, and it was pretty crowded - we lined up two rows deep, the length of the dojo. A very good environment for developing eyes in the back of your head - both to find a safe place to fall (or to throw someone), and to keep an eye on the instructors, who move through the dojo stopping to work with groups here and there. They are all very generous, patient, and approachable. When Ikeda Sensei wasn't teaching, he was in the loft getting video of the event.
There were at least 5 people from my dojo, and I think I got to train with all of them, but we weren't sticking together overly much. The evening was very fast-paced. The instructor would show a technique, possibly pointing out a detail or or two, and set us to training for a few minutes. Then another, and another... I may have found a cure for thinking too much: Train so fast you don't have time to think. :-) I got to work with a couple dozen peop
Starting this evening I'm off to the Aikido Bridge Friendship Seminar (14-18 January, 2010, at Jiai Aikido, in San Diego). For anyone who's curious, here are some videos (by others, from other events) of the three featured instructors:
This weekend, Thursday through Monday, 14-18 January, 2010, I will be participating in my first big seminar at another dojo. It's the Aikido Bridge Friendship Seminar, at Jiai Aikido in San Diego. The featured instructors are Frank Doran Shihan, Hiroshi Ikeda Shihan, and Christian Tissier Shihan. What a privilege! Several other students from Aikido of San Diego will be attending, too. I'm looking forward to training with them, and to meeting new friends there. At least one of my Aikido friends from Facebook will be at the seminar. I may be posting to my blog in the evenings, but only if there's time after dealing with the critters and getting enough sleep.
The following weekend is our dojo community service project. On Saturday we will be doing a work day at the ranch where our Retreat is held. That should be a fun time.
On January 31st Sensei is offering an Aikido In Focus workshop on Ukemi. These workshops are only 2 hours, but those I've done so far have each provided a great opportunity to explore some aspect of one's Aikido. I'm really looking forward to this workshop.
Next month, on February 6th, I'll be taking my exam for promotion to 5th kyu. I've started reviewing the techniques, and working with my mentor, and of course training at every opportunity. I don't feel entirely lost, but will certainly need every moment of preparation I can squeeze in before that date!
March 21st brings another Aikido In Focus workshop with Dave Goldberg Sensei. I'll also be
Our dojo lost a good friend this past week, Keo Power. Sensei shared a lovely tribute on his blog, and I urge you to read it. I had never met the man. From everything I've heard about him, and the few photos I've seen, I wish I'd had the opportunity.
Some months ago a friend advised me to feel and be inspired by the love and sweat of all those who'd gone before me on the mat. Keo not only trained on our mat, he helped create it, along with much of the rest of the dojo. Tonight, during meditation before class, I let myself be open to feeling his presence. Afterward I spent a few moments noticing the places where I know his hand touched this little world I love so much.
Our dojo is physically beautiful, and an oasis for the spirit. Much of that was his doing. I don't know if one's contemporaries can become kami, but I like the idea that Keo, a generous and passionate man I never met, will always be present in that space.
I have been around music and horses for many years. In both of cases there are festivals, seminars, workshops, and clinics. I've been to many local one-day workshops with touring guitarists and fiddlers, weekend-long annual festivals with hundreds of music workshops going on all day, 4-day riding clinics with world-famous horse trainers, and even one week-long live-in camp in West Virginia to work on fingerstyle blues guitar. These are always intense, worthwhile experiences. Even in cases where the workshop is above my skill level it's fun and useful to see what could be possible at some point in the future. Workshops are a great way to learn new skills, discover new ways of looking at things, meet new friends, and reconnect with old ones.
My way of thinking about these things is if the opportunity presents itself, take it. I'm not much of a flat-picker, but when Dan Crary offered a local workshop, darned right I went. When the Mark Rashid comes to town for a horsemanship clinic, if I can manage it, I sign up. I always benefit from going, and it's always money well spent.
So going to an Aikido seminar at some point this year seemed like the natural and obvious thing to do. But with large animals to care for (or to haul off to board), and inner ears that don't like air travel (not to mention the expense of flying and hotels), getting to one of the big summer camps didn't seem feasible.
I was whining about just that online back in October when someone pointed out that
In 2009 I came to the dojo. I intended to be serious about Aikido, but could only spare one night a week. I was busy, you see. I was just there to learn some skills I could use.
Aikido smiled, offered a wrist, and I grabbed.
And now, here at the beginning of 2010, without having felt any force to struggle against, and without quite knowing how I got Over Here, I am facing a new direction, looking back with new eyes at who I used to be, and looking forward to a new year of continuing discovery.
This post is a "reprint" of a Facebook Note written by Cherie Cornmesser (also known, here on AikiWeb, as Shadowfax). Cherie and I seem to operate on the same wavelength about a lot of things. We are both long-time horsepeople (although she is much more experienced than I am). We are both new to Aikido, starting in spring of 2009, and are both 6th kyu now. We are fans of horseman & aikidoka Mark Rashid. We both like playing with nages who don't baby us. About the same time I was flying off Rainy last week, Cherie was writing this.
Cherie Cornmesser lives in Southwestern PA. A graduate of Meredith Manor Equestrian College in Waverly, WV. She has gone on to train horses professionally on a limited basis, focusing on developing a partnership between horse and rider as a team. She is also a professional hoof care provider using the barefoot methods commonly referred to as natural hoof care. Cherie was introduced to aikido and began to study it in June 2009 after seeing clinics by horse trainer Mark Rashid and with the encouragement of her friend, martial artist, Rodger Pyle. She currently trains under Garth Jones and Tara Meyer at Allegheny Aikido in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA.
Thank you, Cherie, for allowing me to share your writing. With that, grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable. This is well worth reading:
"While the rest of the world has been immersed in celebrating the season, I have spent today deeply immersed in my favorite subjects. Ai
You might recall that the person who introduced me to Aikido is Mark Rashid, a teacher of horsemanship, author, and Nidan in Yoshinkan Aikido. I had participated in one of his horsemanship clinics in February of 2009, after my large, young horse, Rainy, got scared at the beginning of a ride in the mountains, gave a few good bucks, and I came off.
I've not ridden Rainy except maybe once or twice around the backyard since starting Aikido in May 2009. Now that I'm a lot more fit, and in somewhat better control of my breathing and body language, I thought it might be time to start riding again. My plan was to ease into it with a few minutes of walking around the backyard. Walk, turn, walk, whoa. That kind of thing. Easy peasy. Maybe another little ride tomorrow, and one Sunday, maybe.
Everything went fine today until a neighbor somewhere out of sight made a small, sudden noise. That wasn't a problem, but Rainy's reaction was. He spun and bolted. My limited ukemi skills served me well. When I realized I was so far off balance there was no recovering I bailed in an organized way. I was able to let go as I fell, which is surprisingly hard to do. I was able to aim away from Rainy's legs, and toward a clear patch of soft ground just beyond a log and before a tree trunk. I must have rolled, and slammed into the tree, because I know I was diving forward and to the right, head-first, but ended up on my left side, with my feet tucked under me. Most of the road rash and bruises are