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Old 03-14-2011, 11:59 PM   #1
Janet Rosen
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Reflecting on a seminar, Ikeda Shihan at Aikido of Tamalpais

This weekend was the first time I've been on the mat for an Ikeda Sensei seminar, and my first time visiting the new location of Aikido of Tamalpais (I had been an observer, on the injury list, at a seminar of his many years ago at their old location). It also marked my first seminar, period, in a few years, partly due to financial constraints but largely due to shyness about feeling not up to my own standards because of my knee and intermittent issues with forward rolls (as in, sometimes just can't do them on one side, period).

The new dojo is lovely; the space and the people were very welcoming.

One things about seminars is, if the mat is crowded, nobody expects you to do much rolling and especially since a major focus here was on issues of connecting and engaging center to take kuzushi, it was easy to do slower practice. A few times when I did take backfalls, a partner looked askance and I had to explain it is actually a lot easier for me to go down than to stagger in order to stay upright! Friday evening, about an hour and a half in, the weird thing that sometimes happens to the back of my bad knee happened (some tendon thingie) and I promptly bowed out and sat down for the rest of the evening. Saturday I made it through both two hour sessions with no problems. [/FONT]So I feel like my seminar self-jinxing may be over.

Besides training in aikido at my local dojo two or three times a week, for almost a year now I've been doing solo training nearly daily including the type of silk-reeling and "tree-hugging" groundpath exercises folks have been talking about here on aikiweb. I've been doing them with the very concrete focus of learning to literally "move my center" as a physical phenomenon rather than a metaphorical or metaphysical one. I've started integrating this body awareness into my regular aikido training, finding it brings a very different flavor and benefit to our ki exercises, and just taking the first baby steps in terms of trying to bring up these abilities with a partner attached.

So given what I've been reading and hearing about how Ikeda Sensei has been teaching, I was very excited to be in a roomful of people at least some of whom would be explicitly working on the same things I am, and receiving instruction from somebody who is explicitly teaching along these lines.

Oh, it was so cool. He would actually show how the movement of center could be grossly amplified so it was visible in his whole body, then bring it down smaller so just his center would be visibly moving (OOH! I thought, that's really close to how my body looks when I'm doing my ki exercises in front of the dojo mirror!), then bringing it down even smaller so there was no visible external movement....just an inability from his (at times quite uncooperative) ukes to maintain their structural integrity. His instructions and explanations were often couched in humor but were jargon-free and totally accessible.

My partners (each and every one of whom was very nice - it was a remarkably ego-free zone) included some of the usual "just doing the techniques I know, thank you" folks, some real newbies with wide eyes doing their darndest to "get it," some well-meaning folks too limp or too "nice" to actually reflect what I may have been doing (as in, I know darn well I didn't have THAT much effect on you...) - and yes, quite a number of people, from various backgrounds and ranks, who like me are on the path of actively working on learning this stuff and who could and did give solid somatic and sometimes verbal feedback on what they were feeling from me and were interested in receiving my feedback.

So I came away feeling that I am making very real progress on the path I have chosen and that it is safe for me to go to seminars.

On the drive home Saturday evening I got profoundly anxious and had to get off the freeway. I suspected low blood sugar, but found myself driving through the streets of a town in Sonoma County weeping uncontrollably for Gayle Fillman Sensei, or rather, really, for me, for losing a teacher at what is in many ways a critical time in my training. I know I will be reaching out to like-minded aikidoka but it would have been so nice to sit down and discuss this stuff over a cup of tea with her...

Last edited by Janet Rosen : 03-15-2011 at 12:01 AM. Reason: formatting

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:15 AM   #2
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Re: Reflecting on a seminar, Ikeda Shihan at Aikido of Tamalpais

Hello Janet, it sounds like an interesting seminar. I struggle with moving the center so will read up on the threads on some of the techniques you are trying.
I am new to aikiweb and did not know of your sensei's passing. It sounds very sad, and I know I would be very lost without my teacher. I hope your grief after the seminar was also a release for you. Best wishes.
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:46 AM   #3
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Reflecting on a seminar, Ikeda Shihan at Aikido of Tamalpais

(((((hug)))))

Thank you for the write up Janet! Ikeda sensei has visited Holland a few times now, I've been to two of his seminars.

Glad you've un-jinxed yourself to attending seminars again.

Pauliina
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:46 AM   #4
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Re: Reflecting on a seminar, Ikeda Shihan at Aikido of Tamalpais

Sorry for what you loss.
Happy for what you gained.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 03-15-2011, 09:33 AM   #5
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Re: Reflecting on a seminar, Ikeda Shihan at Aikido of Tamalpais

Enjoyed your notes and I'm so glad that you found that you can enjoy seminars again. I am really looking forward to seeing Ikeda sensei again this spring at Mayfair.

Sorry that your trip brought up painful memories. Sometimes that needs to happen in order for us to really heal.
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Old 03-15-2011, 11:16 AM   #6
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Re: Reflecting on a seminar, Ikeda Shihan at Aikido of Tamalpais

Hi Janet, I hope you can feel that you are doing right by Fillman Sensei by pushing onward on the path. She was there to inspire you before, and now your progress and happiness brings honor to her memory, right?

Thanks for the review, I was really hoping to read something like that, having missed it and all.

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
... even smaller so there was no visible external movement....just an inability from his (at times quite uncooperative) ukes to maintain their structural integrity.
Could you elaborate on the uncooperativeness? Were there any non-aikidoka being used as ukes? (they would have less investment, or dare I say ukemi-brainwashing)
Always interested to hear to what degree Ikeda Sensei's minimal-movement kuzushi stands up to people who are really trying to not get their balance taken.

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
His instructions and explanations were often couched in humor but were jargon-free and totally accessible.
Do you feel that this statement is generally true, or was it because you had experience in the silk reeling stuff? I was wondering if folks would need time with an "internalist" like Mike or Dan, or with someone experienced in Ikeda's practices like George Ledyard, to really follow these seminars.
Thanks!
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Old 03-15-2011, 01:04 PM   #7
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Re: Reflecting on a seminar, Ikeda Shihan at Aikido of Tamalpais

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
Do you feel that this statement is generally true, or was it because you had experience in the silk reeling stuff? I was wondering if folks would need time with an "internalist" like Mike or Dan, or with someone experienced in Ikeda's practices like George Ledyard, to really follow these seminars.
Thanks!
Speaking as someone fairly new to aikido who first saw Ikeda sensei about a month before testing 6th kyu, 6 months into my training. I would say this is generally true of his seminars. I never had any trouble understanding what he was trying to explain. In other words he uses such clear simple language and illustrations that even a beginner with no martial arts background ,like me, can get it.
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Old 03-15-2011, 02:02 PM   #8
Janet Rosen
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Re: Reflecting on a seminar, Ikeda Shihan at Aikido of Tamalpais

Quote:
Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
Could you elaborate on the uncooperativeness? Were there any non-aikidoka being used as ukes?.....
I was wondering if folks would need time with an "internalist" like Mike or Dan, or with someone experienced in Ikeda's practices like George Ledyard, to really follow these seminars.
Thanks!
Good questions. Re the first: I don't know the name or affiliation of the uke in particular I was thinking of. He was a youngish very athletic and strong yudansha and I was watching him literally struggling to maintain balance and, once on the ground, clearly mustering his strength and flexibility to both muscle out of the control and to turn or roll out of the control as well as to be positioned to strike or kick. It was clearly not acting and his effort and his frustration were real.

Re the second: it is always hard to reply accurately as for each of us, depending on where we are at, will have a different level of "getting it." What I can say is, with my background in ki exercises and Tohei's four principles, had I NOT been doing the solo work so far and simply walked into this seminar not knowing what to expect, it probably would have been a huge AHA! moment, putting together those missing pieces. So in a sense, yes, I was "primed" but no - as
Cherie posted from perspective of a relative beginner - I think for the person with an aikido background, if they take what Ikeda Sensei is saying and doing seriously AND they have a dojo in which to continue practicing this way - including his specific instruction to do solo practice on moving the center during the day ("but not when driving! different focus of concentration, you'll have an accident!), rolling the ball up and down, back and forth, side to side, then moving to combining directions - they will follow the seminar just fine and take away valuable things to work on.

Janet Rosen
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