Here's a seminar review of Frank Doran sensei's seminar in
Zurich by Andrew Wilby
Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee
Well ok we didn't really float like butterflies nor did we sting like bees, but we did lumber like bears, slouch like apes flutter like birds and indeed during the course of the weekend we mimicked many an animal. Frank Doran Sensei seems to be fond of animal analogies. In fact he is a very fond of analogies and of talking and explaining. With an excellent humour and a creative mind he imparted many an idea on this weekend in Zurich. Not for him the taciturn silent Japanese style of teaching where a technique is shown twice and the student is left to figure out what he is supposed to do. Frank Doran is 7th dan Aikikai and teaches in Redwood City USA. He was over here for a whole week but I unfortunately could only make the first weekend.
Doran Sensei's Aikido is a wonderful mixture of softness and effectiveness. I read on the website for his home Dojo that he used to be a "United States Marine hand-to-hand combat instructor and police defensive tactics instructor" I can believe it. He seemed to have a real sense of what is practical. Most peoples idea of being practical in Aikido is to be hard and to modify the techniques in brutal ways. Doran Sensei managed to be effective without being brutal and to have control without causing injury. A very good, and rare, balance.
I think the idea that most struck me was the idea of Hanmi being the key to O Sensei's Aikido. This simple idea led to many small aha ! moments and I am sure that I will be working on these ideas for a long time.
The organisers and participants on the course were all friendly and helpful. We got to sleep in the Dojo which was pleasant. I have the feeling that a few friendships were also started on the weekend. Doran Sensei's attitude, humour and personality were instantly warming and his Aikido was of excellent quality, his teaching style was effective and relaxed. Apparently this week-long seminar is an annual occurrence, I can heartily recommend anyone who missed it this time, to take part next year. I will be there.