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Old 02-05-2013, 06:19 PM   #3
Russ Q
Dojo: Shohei Juku Aikido Gibsons
Location: Gibsons BC
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 193
Canada
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Re: It Had to Be Felt #34: Suganuma Morito: The Calligrapher

Great observations Maurice and Robert! My experience with Suganuma Sensei has been at seminars over the previous fifteen years and a short but memorable trip to Japan in 2000. I have had the chance to be uke for Sensei on many occasions over that time and the feeling is always the same...tactilely, when grabbing him, you feel his flesh is soft and giving but underneath is a solidness that I liken to brick or iron.... when attacking with a strike one feels their intent and ability to be successful in the attack is gone as soon as you are committed (as it should be, but I've never felt anyone actually do it so successfully). His footwork is fantastic...I've never seen him in a vulnerable position during his demonstrations...he is always in the shikaku (safe zone) at just the right moment. Most importantly there is no fear generated from his technique....you get swallowed up and thrown or pinned, (many times without consciously experiencing the moment between attacking and tapping/rolling), and you have this sense that he is watching out for your well-being the entire time. As mentioned he always makes time for everyone on the mat and goes out of his way to practice and help beginners. We often have many visitors at the seminars from different affiliations and all walk away, I'll bet, refreshed by their experience with him. The Q&A sessions after training are illuminating (although I often think much is lost in the translation). You never quite get the response you are expecting but it is always interesting. "be the kind of uke everyone wants to train with" "It's okay to drink booze but don't let the booze drink you" etc.

Add to this his personality and you have a true Shihan....someone WORTH emulating and modelling. He is open, humble, generally happy (it seems) and he suffers the "cult of personality" without having it go to his head.....(he is essentially treated like royalty whenever I see him - whether in Fukuoka or abroad I consider myself very lucky to have stumbled into a dojo with one of his students as dojo cho and falling into, not only a clear lineage to O'sensei but also, a connection to a wonderful person.
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