Re: It Had to Be Felt #36: Clyde Takeguchi: Ecce Homo
I wouldn't be studying Aikido if I hadn't encountered Takeguchi Sensei.
I had been studying Hapkido for about 10 years and a couple years of Judo and always had a curiosity about Aikido. I was simultaneously attracted to and put off by the philosophy. I liked the idea of controlling without trying to cause injury but also had adopted a hard nosed mindset about what was effective. I showed up at Capital with a semi-open mind. I was familiar with the outward appearances of the waza as Hapkido has similar techniques but done with a different goal.
After practicing with some of the yudansha over a couple of days I was still intrigued but not convinced. I still thought I could power through most of what was being offered. Then at the end of class where we were working on kotegaeshi Clyde came over to offer some advice.
I had a kotegaeshi applied to me many times in my years in Hapkido the constant characteristic in my past experience was that it was supposed to hurt. After a little bit of discussion back and forth he offered up his wrist which I grabbed. Very casually I was then handed a ton of bricks and saw Clyde standing over me smiling. No pain, I wasn't slammed or jerked I was completely and gently overwhelmed. I didn't feel like I could have used brute force to get out of it despite out weighing him by maybe 50 pounds. This was something different. I was hooked.
One of his mantras is "connect yourself." This can take on a variety of meanings in Clyde speak depending on what he is addressing but in the most general sense he is talking about having an integrated structure, your parts moving in conjunction and harmony in your own space. Easier said than done. That's what you feel. He's grounded and you are going for a ride along the gears and falling in the holes created. Never rushed or brutal just solid. It's a lot of fun.
Beside his technical expertise the most striking thing about Takeguchi Sensei is his approachability and the sense that he is having as much fun as you are. He has time for everyone and is usually wearing a smile. He carries the Aloha spirt of his native Hawaii. He seems to enjoy everyone he meets on his path, if he can help them he will, taking ukemi for a newbie or discussing minutia with the advanced. Another Clydism " Looks easy but…it's hard" As mentioned earlier Takeguchi Sensei is a great guy and makes it look easy.