Dojo: NYC Icho Ryu
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Join Date: Nov 2007
Re: *Tentative* dates for Akuzawa (Aunkai) in Seattle, WA 11/3-11/4
Long time lurker, first time poster…
Thanks to Rob, Nori, Hunter, and of course Akuzawa Sensei. Thank you, Chris for getting Ark here and providing this great opportunity. Thanks to George Ledyard and Joe Springrose for the use of the Aikido Eastside dojo, and for Geoff of the TNBBC for being registration guy even with a bum ankle (I hope the healing process is going well!).
Our little basement-troll workout group, the TNBBC (Icho Ryu), had Rob out here for a seminar about a year ago, and we have been working on the exercises continuously since then (actually earlier, when Chris and Jeremy came back from Tokyo, jazzed about the Aunkai methods). I have noticed that my own structure has improved significantly during that time, and I am able to impart force more directly into Uke, while maintaining my own structure and connection to the ground. However, I have a looooong way to go. I realized during this session with Akuzawa Sensei and Rob, with their helpful adjustments of my frame, that I was not correctly seated in the kua, causing stress on my lower back and quads. This adjustment is very valuable to me (and frankly was the only reason I was able to continue the seminar into the second day). There were many other "Ah HA!" moments when I noticed I was "off" just a bit, and I am beginning to get a better idea of what I am supposed to be doing in these exercises. I look forward to hard practice and sharing notes with my comrades (and hopefully another seminar in the future!).
Ark was amazing and inspiring. He and his crew took a lot of time to explain precise ideas about form and the intent of the exercises. Ark was friendly and helpful, and with Rob's interpretation help provided excellent answers to all queries. When Rob was not available, Ark was still able to show by example, by feel, or by correction, and it was extremely valuable to get that kind of instruction. Rob was excellent, clear, humorous, and friendly as always, and is a testament to the Aunkai method and Ark's teaching. Nori and Hunter were likewise very friendly and helpful to everyone and I was grateful for their presence (Nori was inspiring: a small woman with burly power).
What does Ark have that I don't? I outweigh him by a good 40 lbs probably, and he was able to fling me about like a baby during a push hands exercise. It was so powerful and solid, yet so flowing that I had to laugh out loud at my own inability to stop it. From the times when I was able to feel his technique, resistance to an applied technique, or just a simple explanatory movement directly, he has incredible connection to the ground, but is immanently mobile. His frame building solo exercises over the years have made him what people refer to as "monkey-strong" or "cat-strong". I have tussled with large, muscular guys, and the feeling is so different. I envision it as an elastic strength in the tendons, allowing for sudden, powerful movement or slow steady pressure. I believe his methods work, because Rob feels different (more powerful), just under a year after last I met him. Building these pathways and strengthening the frame is clearly worth all the effort.
Understanding that this kind of ability is out there makes me feel very humble, but also very excited at the prospect of training in this direction. It's going to be an interesting journey of discovery. I am still absorbing and digesting all of the information (mind and body), so if I will leave descriptions of actual technique or terminology to others more prepared than myself.
The most important concept at the Aunkai seminar was imparted when Akuzawa Sensei was discussing his ideas of structure and connection. To paraphrase: Once you know what to feel for, what you want to affect in yourself and have identified these key ideas in the exercises, you can create your own exercises or adapt these concepts to other aspects of your physical nature and activities, so practice can be continuous and beneficial for your body type.
(Best Seminar Evar!)
p.s. "Hi" to all the great guys n gals I met at the seminar and dinner, and thanks for enduring all those tough exercises along with me in such great humor and friendliness!