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Old 02-27-2012, 01:03 PM   #1
opherdonchin
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Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

Hi,

Does anyone know if there is any historical connection between Terry Ezra, of the Komyokan Aikido Association of Great Britain, or his teachers, and Roderick Kobayashi, late of the Seidokan Aikido Association out of Los Angeles, or his teachers?

I've been exposed to both styles and they seem to me awfully similar in style, philosophy, technique, and training focus. However, nobody around me seems to know of any connection. If it's a case of parallel evolution, I will be very impressed by the convergence, but I'm guessing there is some branch of the family tree that they have in common somewhere.

Opher

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 02-27-2012, 01:13 PM   #2
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

I'd go with the parallel evolution. I think if we train hard enough we all end up in the same place. If people converge then it is one piece of evidence we are on the right track. If we are going in different directions it means we are lost. Ezra's aikido is superb - probably the best I have seen - so you have made the right choice of whom to train with anyway. Just hope some of it rubs off on you!

Quote:
Opher Donchin wrote: View Post
I've been exposed to both styles and they seem to me awfully similar in style, philosophy, technique, and training focus. However, nobody around me seems to know of any connection. If it's a case of parallel evolution, I will be very impressed by the convergence, but I'm guessing there is some branch of the family tree that they have in common somewhere.
Opher

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Old 02-27-2012, 01:20 PM   #3
opherdonchin
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

Well, there may be many paths up the mountain, but these two paths are very close to each other and very far away from the other paths I've been exposed to.

Personally, I think my own path lies along a different route, but I don't mean that to take away from my respect for the quality of the aikido or the insight that has been found by either Kobayashi or Ezra.

Opher

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Opher
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Old 02-27-2012, 01:35 PM   #4
Keith Larman
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

Don't know Ezra, but I'm in Seidokan. My only comment would be that the late Rod Kobayashi was Chief Instructor for the Ki Society Western US up until he left to form his own organization (Seidokan) in 1981. So he would have some influence to varying degrees on quite a few people, at least here in the Western US where Tohei was tremendously active bringing Aikido from Japan to here. And of course Kobayashi also trained some under Tohei as well as the old-timer first generation students of Tohei in Hawaii like Yukiso Yamamoto, Kazuto Sugimoto, and Isao Takahashi. So like anything else there's destined to be those who followed similar threads and paths.

Also, Seidokan has always been a rather "large tent" organization with senior students of Kobayashi (and now their senior students for that matter) all over the world. Some of us like to visit other people too. So he had quite an influence on a lot of people prior to forming Seidokan, then influence after the fact, then a lot of rather talented folk fanning out all over the world. Not to mention the fact that most in mainstream Ki Society will obviously have many similarities depending on their focus.

Just fwiw. Not sure if it helps.

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Old 02-27-2012, 01:37 PM   #5
Keith Larman
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

I'll also add that Kobayashi was well known as being a "salt of the earth" kind of fellow. Powerful technique. And constantly evolving and exploring. FWIW.

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Old 02-27-2012, 01:47 PM   #6
Keith Larman
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

I should further clarify that I'm not saying Kobayashi necessarily influenced the guy, just that Kobayashi was high up in the US in Ki Society and Ki Society influenced a lot of people. So to the extent that Ki Society shaped Kobayashi it also shaped many hundreds (thousands?) of others.

I watched a few videos of Ezra on youtube. FWIW I taught a class a few weeks ago on Nikyo where I went over many of the same things he did in his video on the topic and I could see someone saying we were teaching it the same (not that I'm putting myself up to his level either). Shrug. But I don't think any of that is particularly "exclusive" to anyone as I've seen folk from any number of backgrounds emphasize similar stuff.

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Old 02-27-2012, 02:08 PM   #7
Alex Megann
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

Terry Ezra, to my knowledge, has been involved with aikido since the early sixties. I don't know who his first teacher was, but his paths crossed with those of Chiba Sensei pretty early on in the history of Aikikai of Great Britain (later the British Aikido Federation). I would guess he had quite a few influences along the way, but mainly from the Aikikai side.

I have always had a feeling when I practised with and watched Terry that he admired Tohei Sensei (though he might contradict me!), which might explain your perception of a link with Seidokan, but I would be very surprised indeed if there were any formal link.

Actually I don't think his aikido has much similarity to that of either Chiba Sensei or Kanetsuka Sensei, which is perhaps surprising, given his long-term contact with those two teachers.

Alex
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Old 02-27-2012, 02:19 PM   #8
Gary David
 
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
I'll also add that Kobayashi was well known as being a "salt of the earth" kind of fellow. Powerful technique. And constantly evolving and exploring. FWIW.
Keith
As I remember Rod Kobayashi....wasn't he about 4 feet tall......kinda like a hobit.... Kobayashi Sensei presided over the test board when I took my Shodan in 1978. At the time for randori he always said something like "...no need to practice separately as the principles are same for single or multiple..." After I had completed my exam he came up to me to complement me on my randori and ask me why I was good at it....I told him we have been practicing every Sunday for months in preparation....he looked at me with that look he had.......grumbled and walked away..... OCAk left KI Society within the following year.

Gary
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Old 02-27-2012, 03:02 PM   #9
Keith Larman
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

Well, taller than 4 feet, but certainly not very tall.

We still have the tradition of not practicing randori very often. The tradition was to have a solid class or two devoted to randori before dan exams so everyone could practice, but no more than that. The way it was explained to me years ago was that he wanted to use randori (multiple attacker) as a "stress test" of their overall skill level to help board members better evaluate the person being tested. So it was sort of a "diagnostic tool" especially at the initial dan levels to see how well they adapted to a higher stress and intensity. So he didn't want people to spend time practicing the randori extensively right before a test because he wanted to see people pushed outside of their comfort zone.

Once out of the "tested" dan ranks it wasn't an issue. But my impression that the goal was to keep randori rare so it could be used to assess overall progress in the newer yudansha.

Just my understanding... Your mileage may vary and I could easily be wrong...

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Old 02-27-2012, 03:30 PM   #10
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
We still have the tradition of not practicing randori very often. The tradition was to have a solid class or two devoted to randori before dan exams so everyone could practice, but no more than that. The way it was explained to me years ago was that he wanted to use randori (multiple attacker) as a "stress test" of their overall skill level to help board members better evaluate the person being tested. So it was sort of a "diagnostic tool" especially at the initial dan levels to see how well they adapted to a higher stress and intensity. So he didn't want people to spend time practicing the randori extensively right before a test because he wanted to see people pushed outside of their comfort zone...............

...
Keith
We had a study group that started the test before I took mine.......6, 7, 8 or so folks meeting on Sunday mornings to run through the drills and thoughts....getting differing opinions on how to handle it. .... no one in charge. Everyone got to be in the middle a bunch of times. It also allowed each of us to get a better handle on who we were in our approach. As an example James Nakayama flowed by and through folks like a fish in water....for me it was enter, center up and toss'em.....sometimes with a pivot, some times behind me and sometimes at my feet. Each of us was different and the practice established in each of us our individual sense of it. Randori is not like single up practice....space, times, mixed flow, varied speeds, split awareness, bodies all over the place...any number of things separate it from one on one. I realize that was Kobayashi Sensei approach and I/we had reviewed this, talked with our instructors and could find none of our crew that bought into it...so we practiced......

Gary
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Old 02-27-2012, 03:40 PM   #11
Jorge Garcia
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

Quote:
Alex Megann wrote: View Post
Terry Ezra, to my knowledge, has been involved with aikido since the early sixties. I don't know who his first teacher was, but his paths crossed with those of Chiba Sensei pretty early on in the history of Aikikai of Great Britain (later the British Aikido Federation). I would guess he had quite a few influences along the way, but mainly from the Aikikai side.

I have always had a feeling when I practised with and watched Terry that he admired Tohei Sensei (though he might contradict me!), which might explain your perception of a link with Seidokan, but I would be very surprised indeed if there were any formal link.

Actually I don't think his aikido has much similarity to that of either Chiba Sensei or Kanetsuka Sensei, which is perhaps surprising, given his long-term contact with those two teachers.

Alex
When I talked to Terry Ezra about his background, he expressed an admiration for Seigo Yamaguchi Shihan. Anyone with experience under Yamaguchi Sensei would know something about Kashima Shin ryu Kenjutsu such as Chritsian Tissier does. In fact, Nick Waites, a senior instructor under Terry Ezra does reference their bokken work as coming from Kashima Shin Ryu on page 117 of his book on Aikido available in the U.K. For me, that confirms that somehow, Ezra Shihan came under the influence of Yamaguchi Shihan. I believe that to be one of Ezra Shihan's major influences.
Best wishes,
Jorge

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Old 02-27-2012, 03:48 PM   #12
Keith Larman
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

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Gary Welborn wrote: View Post
Keith
We had a study group that started the test before I took mine.......6, 7, 8 or so folks meeting on Sunday mornings to run through the drills and thoughts....getting differing opinions on how to handle it. .... no one in charge. Everyone got to be in the middle a bunch of times. It also allowed each of us to get a better handle on who we were in our approach. As an example James Nakayama flowed by and through folks like a fish in water....for me it was enter, center up and toss'em.....sometimes with a pivot, some times behind me and sometimes at my feet. Each of us was different and the practice established in each of us our individual sense of it. Randori is not like single up practice....space, times, mixed flow, varied speeds, split awareness, bodies all over the place...any number of things separate it from one on one. I realize that was Kobayashi Sensei approach and I/we had reviewed this, talked with our instructors and could find none of our crew that bought into it...so we practiced......

Gary
Gary, I've got zero problem with what folk do in their training. I was just relaying my understanding of why he felt that way. I enjoyed the hell out of randori when we practiced it and have been known to teach a class or two on it just to get an extra chance to practice. I will get "that look" from some seniors, however, as that is a prevalent attitude. I just like training... More chances the better.

Although in retrospect I will admit I've had 2 rather severe knee injuries doing randori for some reason. Could be coincidence, but maybe it's also karma...

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Old 02-27-2012, 04:29 PM   #13
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

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When I talked to Terry Ezra about his background, he expressed an admiration for Seigo Yamaguchi Shihan.
As far as I know Ezra sensei didn't actually meet Yamaguchi sensei many times, but apparently meeting him was a big influence nevertheless and made him change the direction of his training.

Is there any connection to Seidokan from Yamaguchi?

Pauliina
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Old 02-27-2012, 05:23 PM   #14
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

Quote:
Opher Donchin wrote: View Post
Hi,

Does anyone know if there is any historical connection between Terry Ezra, of the Komyokan Aikido Association of Great Britain, or his teachers, and Roderick Kobayashi, late of the Seidokan Aikido Association out of Los Angeles, or his teachers?

I've been exposed to both styles and they seem to me awfully similar in style, philosophy, technique, and training focus. However, nobody around me seems to know of any connection. If it's a case of parallel evolution, I will be very impressed by the convergence, but I'm guessing there is some branch of the family tree that they have in common somewhere.

Opher
Hello,

Why don't you ask him directly? You can find his Komyokan Dojo on the Internet and I have always found Terry to be quite approachable.

Best wishes

P A Goldsbury
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Old 02-27-2012, 10:47 PM   #15
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

Meeting people can certainly change your ideas, but the way you train is important. Over the years I have noticed that no matter the style, the best practicioners all look very similar in the way they do their stuff. When I was in Korea we had visitors from all over the place. Natrually, perhaps, only the better of them would bother to bring their keikogi on what was probably a business trip. I just noticed that from the many random visitors from all over the place - many were definitely on the same track in terms of how they did their techniques. I too have travelled quite a bit and can generally ft in with what others are doing, or so I like to think.

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Old 02-28-2012, 03:27 AM   #16
Alex Megann
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

Quote:
Jorge Garcia wrote: View Post
When I talked to Terry Ezra about his background, he expressed an admiration for Seigo Yamaguchi Shihan. Anyone with experience under Yamaguchi Sensei would know something about Kashima Shin ryu Kenjutsu such as Chritsian Tissier does. In fact, Nick Waites, a senior instructor under Terry Ezra does reference their bokken work as coming from Kashima Shin Ryu on page 117 of his book on Aikido available in the U.K. For me, that confirms that somehow, Ezra Shihan came under the influence of Yamaguchi Shihan. I believe that to be one of Ezra Shihan's major influences.
Best wishes,
Jorge
It's interesting to hear that. I guess when Yamaguchi Sensei came to the UK in the seventies and eighties all of us in the BAF fell under his spell, but I didn't know Terry held him in special esteem. There is a set of clips on Youtube of one of the classes he took in Oxford in 1988, in which Terry Ezra and John Rogers took most of the ukemi: in this one Terry is first on.

Alex
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Old 02-28-2012, 03:38 AM   #17
Alec Corper
 
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

I trained with Ezra sensei several times in the 90's when my then teacher was a direct student of Kanetsuka, as was Terry. Even then it was clear that he was doing his own Aikido, one which was in constant development. I have not met him in the last 10 years or so but I believe he is still following his own form of blending the technical to the more esoteric aspects of MA. I never heard any mention of Kobyashi as an influence.
Alec

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Old 02-28-2012, 09:13 AM   #18
Dazzler
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

There are probably people lurking who are far beter qualified than me to comment, but FWIW I believe Ezra Sensei has also been sharing courses with Yamashima Sensei in recent years. Possibly this is confirmation of Yamaguchi influence coming to the fore.
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Old 02-28-2012, 01:36 PM   #19
sakumeikan
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

Quote:
Alex Megann wrote: View Post
Terry Ezra, to my knowledge, has been involved with aikido since the early sixties. I don't know who his first teacher was, but his paths crossed with those of Chiba Sensei pretty early on in the history of Aikikai of Great Britain (later the British Aikido Federation). I would guess he had quite a few influences along the way, but mainly from the Aikikai side.

I have always had a feeling when I practised with and watched Terry that he admired Tohei Sensei (though he might contradict me!), which might explain your perception of a link with Seidokan, but I would be very surprised indeed if there were any formal link.

Actually I don't think his aikido has much similarity to that of either Chiba Sensei or Kanetsuka Sensei, which is perhaps surprising, given his long-term contact with those two teachers.

Alex
Dear Alex,
I concur with you last sentence in you blog.I saw little if any of similarity between Chiba Sensei /Kanetsuka Sensei. I saw him at the first J.A. C. course and in Cardiff.Did not get a chance to practice with him , so I do not know how he moves etc.As you know he took ukemi from Yamaguchi Sensei , so maybe this is where is interest /influences came from? Cheers, Joe.
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Old 02-29-2012, 08:24 AM   #20
Jorge Garcia
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

Quote:
Jorge Garcia wrote: View Post
When I talked to Terry Ezra about his background, he expressed an admiration for Seigo Yamaguchi Shihan. Anyone with experience under Yamaguchi Sensei would know something about Kashima Shin ryu Kenjutsu such as Chritsian Tissier does. In fact, Nick Waites, a senior instructor under Terry Ezra does reference their bokken work as coming from Kashima Shin Ryu on page 117 of his book on Aikido available in the U.K. For me, that confirms that somehow, Ezra Shihan came under the influence of Yamaguchi Shihan. I believe that to be one of Ezra Shihan's major influences.
Best wishes,
Jorge
This is from the Martial Edge.
http://www.martialedge.com/articles/...th-terry-ezra/

Shihan Terry Ezra represents the Komyokan Aikido Association, and teaches in the Wirral, Merseyside.

To fuel his obsession for Aikido as a young adult, Terry Ezra sold his possessions and travelled the country in pursuit of knowledge.

Thanks to that early dedication to his martial art Ezra was awarded the title of Shihan, meaning ‘Master Teacher', by the Aikikai Headquarters in Japan. Shihan is the highest level of instructorship that it is possible to achieve in Aikido, and Ezra says he feels privileged to have been awarded the title.

Yet despite this accolade, the down to earth Ezra comments on how he views his training in Aikido: "I always regard my own training from the point of view that I haven't quite got it yet; I'm always trying to improve my technique. So on a day to day basis in my training it's an ongoing quest to achieve the unachievable; to try and gain some level of perfection in my Aikido."

His journey started in 1963, when the 18 year old Ezra was invited by a friend to his local Aikido club. He watched a class and decided it looked interesting enough to try. At the level of sixth Dan 43 years on, he finds it more than just interesting. "At high levels of training in Aikido, you don't need strength; Aikido is a way of taking the attacker's strength and energy and redirecting that," Ezra states.

Chiba Sensai introduced Ezra to the heart of his art over the first 11 years of his relationship with Aikido. This talented man was a direct uchi-deshi, or live-in student, of the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba. "I felt very privileged to learn from Chiba Sensai," says Ezra. "I was travelling the country at weekends to the courses he held around the UK. I sold a lot of my possessions so I could keep following him around."

Chiba Sensai has been the most influential person in Ezra's career. He reminisces: "Chiba Senai had the most incredible spirit; he was unstoppable. He just looked at you and it was all over."

Another inspiring Aikido practitioner in Ezra's career was Yamaguchi Sensai, from the Aikido World Headquarters in Japan. "He had a unique style," says Ezra. "It was incredibly soft, but incredibly powerful and when I practiced with him, I thought this is the kind of style I want."

In the 1970s, Ezra met a monk named Hogen, the Abbott of Shizuoka Temple in Japan who was a good friend of Chiba Sensai. When Ezra was finally able to open his own dojo he started teaching not only Aikido, but the Zen chanting that Hogen taught him. "I look at every day as a highlight of my teaching career," he explains. "For each day that I am able to do what I do, even though there's no money in it and I'm living like a monk most of the time, I look at each day as special."

The atmosphere of the Komyokan Aikido dojo is austere, in keeping with the traditional Japanese hierarchical system. Yet that code of conduct is anything but constricting, Ezra explains: "Within that code is a beautiful freedom, so between myself and my students is a good respect."

Ezra says it is hard to pin down exactly what it is that attracts him most to the role of teaching. "I enjoy being able to practice Aikido, quite simply. I particularly like it when people that seem quite inept slowly and surely take on coordination and become much more competent as human beings. I take a deep interest in the development of my students. I like to watch them grow."

Teaching abroad is one luxurious aspect of Aikido that Ezra is able to take advantage of. In October he taught in Costa Rica, South America. This month he is travelling to India and Holland to instruct, with a further course at his own Dojo in the UK on 11 and 12 November that anyone is welcome to attend.

Ezra adds a few words of wisdom that he has learnt as an instructor of Aikido: "You must not rest on your laurels while teaching. If one is constantly training and improving and trying to perfect one's technique on a day to day basis, you are better able to teach your students."

He adds: "When teaching, it's important to take what you're doing very seriously, but not to take yourself too seriously; you have to keep a sense of humour."

Jorge

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 02-29-2012, 08:45 AM   #21
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

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Pauliina Lievonen wrote: View Post
As far as I know Ezra sensei didn't actually meet Yamaguchi sensei many times, but apparently meeting him was a big influence nevertheless and made him change the direction of his training.

Is there any connection to Seidokan from Yamaguchi?

Pauliina
Dear Paulina,
Mr Ezra was an uke of Yamaguchi Sensei in the early 70s.You seem to be contradicting this in your statements. I offer another explanation Mr Ezra also trained under Sekiya Sensei .Perhaps as in my own case Mr Ezra was influenced by Sekiya Sensei? We both met Sekiya Sensei /Yamaguchi Sensei when we were in the A.G.B [the precursor of the B.A.F \U.K.A and the B.B].many years ago. Cheers, Joe
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Old 02-29-2012, 06:02 PM   #22
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

Hi Joe,

I only meant to say that Ezra sensei wasn't a long time student of Yamaguchi sensei, just in case someone would have thought that. Because I know here on this forum people easily comment on claims on being this or that sensei's student. Didn't mean to cause even more confusion!

cheers
Pauliina
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Old 03-01-2012, 05:59 AM   #23
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

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Pauliina Lievonen wrote: View Post
Hi Joe,

I only meant to say that Ezra sensei wasn't a long time student of Yamaguchi sensei, just in case someone would have thought that. Because I know here on this forum people easily comment on claims on being this or that sensei's student. Didn't mean to cause even more confusion!

cheers
Pauliina
Hi Paulina,
No problem! It just so happens that I was at the courses held by Yamaguchi Sensei. He gave me a picture book lots of his pics.I also received a Training Manual from Sekiya Sensei .Sad to say I cannot put my hands on them. I have so many many, Video, dvds , books on Aikido my house is stacked full.I guess the aforementioned manuals are hidden amongst the piles of stuff I have . Cheers, Joe.
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Old 03-01-2012, 08:21 AM   #24
Alex Megann
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

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Joe Curran wrote: View Post
Hi Paulina,
No problem! It just so happens that I was at the courses held by Yamaguchi Sensei. He gave me a picture book lots of his pics.I also received a Training Manual from Sekiya Sensei .Sad to say I cannot put my hands on them. I have so many many, Video, dvds , books on Aikido my house is stacked full.I guess the aforementioned manuals are hidden amongst the piles of stuff I have . Cheers, Joe.
Hi Joe,

Is that "picture book" from Yamaguchi Sensei the one with a page for each technique, with blurry photocopied photos? He gave me one when he was in Oxford in 1987 or 88.

I think I have a copy of Sekiya Sensei's manual too, with the stick drawings - I don't remember exactly how I came by it. Now that is a fascinating document...

Alex.
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Old 03-01-2012, 11:57 AM   #25
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Re: Terry Ezra Sensei and Seidokan

Quote:
Alex Megann wrote: View Post
Hi Joe,

Is that "picture book" from Yamaguchi Sensei the one with a page for each technique, with blurry photocopied photos? He gave me one when he was in Oxford in 1987 or 88.

I think I have a copy of Sekiya Sensei's manual too, with the stick drawings - I don't remember exactly how I came by it. Now that is a fascinating document...

Alex.
Dear Alex,
I guess its thee same set of books.If you could copy them for me I would be grateful- I seem to have misplaced them. Sekiya Sensei stick men are particularly good.He gave me a copy when he and his wife were staying with me. Cheers, Joe.
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