Re: It Had to Be Felt #28: Robert Mustard: The Bastard from Angry White Pyjamas
In 2006 I was on my way on holiday flying out on the same day as Mustard Sensei's first UK weekend seminar and I wanted to drop by the seminar and train most of the day then head off to the airport, better judgment -or worse- said I should not risk missing my flight. So I didn't go.
I met Mustard Sensei the following year in which proved to be the beginning of a journey into Yoshinkan aikido as I have not experienced it before. The first time I met him, I was introduced as a new brown belt with a prompt request by the introducing instructor for me to be beaten up, Thanks! I thought!
In the three following sessions I took Uke for Mustard Sensei and experienced a level of skill I had not experienced previously and before the day was over, I too, like Neil, thought, I want what he's got! I want that immense throwing power and the ability to throw Uke through the cracks in the mats but they still get up smiling.
The first full seminar with Sensei completely changed many of my concepts of Aikido, the fact that a tall and big person of his size can apply a technique and you don't feel his timing, and you don't feel his hands and you can't tell when he is going to move until its too late was absolutely phenomenal.
The right timing is not an easy skill to acquire, on that seminar in 2007 we were doing a technique from shomen-tzuki Sensei came up to me and asked me to punch him, I was determined to get him, I Paused as if to hide my time of strike then punched as hard as I could and for a split second a wave of glorious emotion came over me just as I was thinking, Gotcha! But it didn't last long, the Initial sense of victory soon became a sense of doom I didn't get him and he wasn't in front of me! I really don't know what techniques he used but I recall being on my back staring at the ceiling thinking what happened?
As I got better at being Uke I felt some amazingly powerful techniques, like the one finger Tenchi nage, or the one finger Shihonage, but its certainly no softer on the landing just because he used one finger to throw!
Over the last 6 years I have trained with Mustard Sensei many times, worked with him on improving one aspect of my training or the other, and most importantly the each time we meet I get better at Kamae- basic posture- and think I've got it, he says now improve so and so in your Kamae, it seems like this simple stance is not so simple after all, he often tells the story of Gozo Shioda Kancho who always used to say everything you need to know in Aikido is in Kamae, I now know why.
Building the sort of Kamae that allows you to hold back 3, 4 or more people pushing straight at you as Mustard sensei does must certainly be a very complex and lengthy process indeed.
I have felt throws, pins evasions and variation techniques from him, all very impressive, but none more so than a tenchi age -heaven and earth- throw that he did from suwari -kneeling- position which given the fact he was at half his normal hight was very powerful. The ability to generate such power from such small a movement will something that I ponder for a long time.
Locks are another story all together, especially Nikkajo, not to mention the really advanced stuff which seem like he is not doing anything but still go down with a thud.
I am still training, because he says if he can do it so can anyone, well, I buy into that, and hope one day I can do it too.