Welcome to AikiWeb Aikido Information
AikiWeb: The Source for Aikido Information
AikiWeb's principal purpose is to serve the Internet community as a repository and dissemination point for aikido information.

Sections
home
aikido articles
columns

Discussions
forums
aikiblogs

Databases
dojo search
seminars
image gallery
supplies
links directory

Reviews
book reviews
video reviews
dvd reviews
equip. reviews

News
submit
archive

Miscellaneous
newsletter
rss feeds
polls
about

Follow us on



Home > AikiWeb Aikido Forums
Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > Columns

Hello and thank you for visiting AikiWeb, the world's most active online Aikido community! This site is home to over 22,000 aikido practitioners from around the world and covers a wide range of aikido topics including techniques, philosophy, history, humor, beginner issues, the marketplace, and more.

If you wish to join in the discussions or use the other advanced features available, you will need to register first. Registration is absolutely free and takes only a few minutes to complete so sign up today!

Comment
 
Column Tools
It Had to Be Felt #43: Kanetsuka Minoru: "Following in the Footsteps"
It Had to Be Felt #43: Kanetsuka Minoru: "Following in the Footsteps"
by Peter Goldsbury
07-27-2013
It Had to Be Felt #43: Kanetsuka Minoru: "Following in the Footsteps"

In the early 1970s I trained a few times at the Chiswick Dojo run by K Chiba. The dojo was part of the Aikikai of Great Britain (AGB) and there was another Japanese training there, a youngish man with a goatee beard and a thin, see-through hakama. Occasionally he would train with a jo, striking a pillar, but differently from what was considered ‘normal' practice: he used a blindfold. This was Kanetsuka Minoru and I think he had 3rd dan then. I practiced with him once or twice, but I was a beginner and did not fully appreciate the quality of his aikido. One outstanding memory of the Chiswick dojo was that everyone had to sit in seiza at one end of the dojo while Chiba sensei demonstrated the next technique. The dojo was long and narrow and because he was so quick, it was quite a rush to get back and sit down. Kanetsuka was sometimes uke and whatever throw or lock was being shown was applied at great speed. So training was something of a blur.

When I took my Ph.D. at University College (UCL), I used to train at the UCL dojo. This dojo was a branch of Ryushinkan, which was Kanetsuka's own dojo. I was able to train very often at three different dojo: UCL, Ryushinkan and Tenpukan, which was run by Chiba's senior students.

Kanetsuka (we usually called him MK or KS) had begun his aikido training at Takushoku University in Tokyo. This was known as a center of hard martial arts training, and the aikido club was affiliated to the Yoshinkan. Fujita Masatake also attended Takudai, but he trained exclusively at the Aikikai Hombu. KS had moved over to the Aikikai after a few years spent in Nepal and had finally settled in Britain. The point is that he had trained at the hands of people like Shioda Gozo and Inoue Kyoichi and this was evident in the training at Ryushinkan. When I was there, the emphasis was very firmly placed on slow, careful training, with uke applying power and with posture checked with the full-length mirror placed in the dojo. I saw KS, too, occasionally checking his own posture as he threw or pinned his ukes. The staple fare was repetitive kokyu ryoku training, with or without ukemi and usually done from a morote-dori grip, and also much, much suwari-waza ikyou from shomen uchi and suwari-waza kokyu-ho. KS was a stickler for accuracy and exactitude and so was quite hard to please. We were continually being corrected for ignoring the fine details.

But the model he gave us was always superb. He was strong but very soft. The solo training before doing waza always included two items that I still consider impossible. One was separating the legs until they were a full 180 degrees apart and then completely flattening the rest of one's body forwards on the tatami. The other was to sit with legs bent so that the soles and heels of the feet were touching, and then to push forward and balance on the soles and heels, with the back of the hands gently resting on the tatami. We also did a form of deep funakogi, which involved a much wider hanmi stance than for usual funakogi, and with the hips square, such that it ceased to be a real hanmi stance (as I understood this at the time) but became a stance wherein all parts of the body were in equilibrium. In the forward movement the arms went right down to the ground, with the hands adjacent to the front foot. In the backward movement the arms made a wide arc and back of the hands reached the shoulders. The aim in both cases was to keep the torso straight, aligned with the back (straightened) leg for the forward movement and the front (straightened) leg for the backward movement. This exercise was (and still is) very difficult to do properly, but KS seemed not like mortal men: he was clearly fashioned of soft but toughened rubber. Other instructors have privately expressed to me their envy at KS's physical endowments.

KS had a superb sense of balance and timing. If I compare taking ukemi from KS with taking ukemi from Chiba, Tada and Yamaguchi, KS's waza seemed less distinctive, in the sense that you did not need to take special preparations or precautions. Both Tada and Yamaguchi had a distinct style of training that was immediately identifiable and Chiba could be fearsome at times, but KS was far less obtrusive in the way he stamped his personality on the waza he performed. You never approached KS with any apprehension that you might not emerge from the encounter in one piece.

The years I spent at Ryushinkan under KS's tutelage were something of a primer on ukemi. I think initially ukemi is understood as simply falling, being pinned or undergoing joint manipulation and the whole process—from the initial grab or strike or punch to getting up again from a throw or pin—is rarely analyzed in great detail. Being relaxed in this process is a constant refrain, but no practical guidance is usually given on how to do this, with the result that relaxation can become the locus of an anxiety complex about one's aikido. The value of the training at Ryushinkan was to instill an awareness -- as continuous an awareness as possible -- of what was happening to both uke and tori throughout this entire process and also to plant the seeds of an increasing awareness of the possibilities entailed by repeated ukemi training, both solo with a partner.

KS's physical endowments were matched by very strong self-discipline and I believe that only Hiroshi Tada overtly showed such discipline (I do not state that other instructors lacked it: simply they did not show it so openly). KS once injured his shoulder—quite severely in fact, but insisted on training through the injury. He stated that if you injure some part of the body, you must train that part more intensively than you would usually. Palliative measures like RICE seemed quite alien to him.

KS tried to model his training on that of Morihei Ueshiba, as far as he understood this, and the constant practice of two fundamental waza—kokyuu training from a ryote-dori or morote-dori grip, and suwari-waza shoumen-uchi ikyou—enabled the study of ukemi to take place in a situation shorn of any irrelevancies. KS always gave the well-founded impression that he was as much interested in pursuing his own training as in teaching students and sometimes he would take an uke and go on for several minutes. I think his model here was Shioda Gozo, since he did other waza for which Shioda was renowned and which appear in Shioda's early books. However, when I arrived back from the USA in 1975, Saito Morihiro Shihan was publishing his books on aikido and weapons and I tended to partner KS for weapons training, especially when he was learning Saito's ken awase and kumitachi. A year later Sekiya Masatake came to stay in the UK and practiced the basic kata of Kashima Shinryu. KS immediately began to learn this and eventually invited Seigo Yamaguchi to the UK. This was after I had come to Japan, but I gather that some years of fruitful cooperation followed.

KS was very devoted to his own students. I had trained elsewhere, so it took some time to become accepted, but once this was achieved a deep bond was formed. This became very clear to me as the result of a trip to France. KS had been invited to give a seminar in Le Havre at the dojo of M van Droogenbroeck (now deceased). Some members of the dojo ‘core group' went with him and we had an impromptu party on the overnight ferry—in both directions. On the return journey, KS drank a little too much alcohol and so we put him to bed. As we did this, he complained that he was completely unworthy of following in Chiba's footsteps and was equally incapable of teaching aikido to his students. We spent some time reassuring him that this was not the case and he eventually seemed to accept this. The following day we went to aikido practice in the evening. We did kumitachi practice and each member of the Le Havre group was called out individually. Then followed the sharpest, most intense kumitachi practice session I ever had with KS. Even now, over thirty years later, I have never forgotten this episode.

A major watershed for KS occurred in 1986, when he was hospitalized with cancer. However, by this time I had come to live in Japan and my training with him had virtually stopped. KS made a remarkable recovery and opened another chapter in his training history, but I leave that to someone else, more capable of recording it than I am. However, I am very happy to have had the chance to practice aikido -- and especially to be introduced to the subtleties of ukemi -- at the hands of a very remarkable human being.

For those inclined to post, please re-read the introductory column before doing so. The rules for contributors, in short:
  • Only people who have actually taken ukemi the teacher who is the subject of this thread, may post
  • Simply post your direct experience of taking ukemi. This can include the nature of your relationship with them, as ukemi is more than merely taking falls.
  • Do not engage in back-and-forth with other posters, disputing their experience, or trying to prove why yours is more real. Just post your own experience. Trust your readers to take in each writer's account on its own merits.
  • If, for any reason, you find something to praise or condemn in anyone's description or wish to amplify your insights and perceptions, do so elsewhere. Start a thread about that subject in the appropriate section of Aikiweb.
  • Follow-up posts should be substantive, striving to equal the depth of the original essay. Simply agreeing with the writer, or a brief comment that, yes, the teacher in question was really powerful or had a wonderful shihonage or the like, are not congruent with the purpose of this archive.
Peter Goldsbury (b. 28 April 1944). Aikido 7th dan Aikikai, Emeritus Professor at Hiroshima University, teaching philosophy and comparative culture. B. in UK. Began aikido as a student and practiced at various dojo. Became a student of Mitsunari Kanai at the New England Aikikai in 1973. After moving back to the UK in 1975, trained in the Ryushinkan Dojo under Minoru Kanetsuka. Also trained with K Chiba on his frequent visits to the UK. Moved to Hiroshima, Japan, in 1980 and continued training with the resident Shihan, Mazakazu Kitahira, 7th dan Also trained regularly with Seigo Yamaguchi, Hiroshi Tada, Sadateru Arikawa and Masatake Fujita, both in Hiroshima and at the Aikikai Hombu. Was elected Chairman of the IAF in 1998. With two German colleagues, opened a small dojo in Higashi-Hiroshima City in 2001. Instructed at Aiki Expo 2002 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Attached Images
File Type: pdf pgoldsbury_2013_07 (43).pdf (152.5 KB, 9 views)
Old 07-27-2013, 04:25 PM   #2
ewolput
Dojo: Shobukai
Location: Antwerpen
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 111
Belgium
Offline
Re: It Had to Be Felt #43: Kanetsuka Minoru: "Following in the Footsteps"

I first met Kanetsuka sensei during a summerschool in La Baule/France in 1976 or later. I was also exposed to him during a summerschool in Spa/Belgium led by Tamura sensei (1977?) and I remember him very well as trainingpartner for nikyo. Now more then 35yrs later I still feel the damage he did at my left wrist. Later he gave a seminar in my dojo in Antwerp and he stayed at my house. I remember very good the almost 24hrs a day teaching in the dojo and my house. He gave me and my wife the advice to start with a children group what we did some years later.

Where is the time....
Eddy
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2013, 04:57 AM   #3
Peter Goldsbury
  AikiWeb Forums Contributing Member
 
Peter Goldsbury's Avatar
Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,000
Japan
Offline
Re: It Had to Be Felt #43: Kanetsuka Minoru: "Following in the Footsteps"

There was another ukemi exercise that KS used to have us practice at Ryushinkan that I omitted to mention in the article. So consider this post as an extension of the article.

You stand in the middle of the dojo, with enough space to do ukemi in any direction. The stance should not be in hanmi or kamae, but in a neutral shizentai stance. From where you stand you have the possibility of a forward roll in any one of eight directions: directly to the left, directly to the right, directly forwards, directly backwards, and in one of four diagonal directions. The roll can be done using either arm, and with the legs crossing over during the roll (Yoshinkan style), or not crossing over (Aikikai Hombu style). KS could do this effortlessly in any direction and so gave us a superb model to imitate. I found the exercise was a difficult, but useful, training exercise and when I took ukemi from KS subsequently, I had a greater sense of what I: my body and my mind, was doing at any point during the ukemi.

As I stated in the article, when I trained at Ryushinkan in the late 1970s, Saito Morihiro Sensei was publishing his Traditional Aikido books and KS used these as training texts. Saito Sensei visited the UK once or twice and I believe that on one occasion he was accompanied by Bruce Klickstein, whose ukemi was superb.


EDIT: Ellis, Jun, I was not sure whether to put this here or start a new thread. Move it if necessary.

P A Goldsbury
_______________________
Hiroshima, Japan
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-07-2013, 09:33 PM   #4
Rupert Atkinson
 
Rupert Atkinson's Avatar
Dojo: Wherever I am.
Location: South Korea, Yongin
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 789
United Kingdom
Online
Re: It Had to Be Felt #43: Kanetsuka Minoru: "Following in the Footsteps"

After doing Judo in my youth I started out in Tomiki Aikido. Once I got the bug I went on a course with Terry Ezra Sensei in 1984 and was hooked even more. He told me his teacher was Kanetsuka Sensei so I just had to go and see for myself. When I first saw him I was amazed. Then, he got sick and became thin and gaunt and everyone though he was going to die of cancer - but he beat it. At first, I think people let him throw them about a bit because he was sick but after awhile it became apparent that his technique had changed for the better, especially once he got well again. I can remember grabbing him and not being able to keep my balance though we were almost static. Bizarre. His technique felt perfect - there was never any pain, not the slghtest bit, but it was as firm as firm could be. You could trust him 100% and you would just fall where you were thrown with no apprehension. The only other person ever to do all that to me is Ezra Sensei, who was at that time probably his #1 student. At some point I remember there was a big split in the org - I was only a white belt so knew little and cared less - but I knew that Kanetsuka Sensei was the guy to follow. I later went to Japan and did Yoshinkan myself - as well as Aikikai and Shiseikan and Judo. Yoshinkan's Aikido-by-numbers approach can be infuriating at times but the techniques they teach are excellent. I never knew Kanetsuka Sensei was from a Yoshinkan source until I went there and did it myself and figured it out. Then, someone at Shiseikan told me and it just clicked, especially as they also followed Kashima Shinryu. If I have any skill today, even though I only saw them on occasional courses, it comes from a combination of Ezra and Kanetsuka and years of thinking about it, keeping it in mind and trying it out. I have had many teachers over the years but well - no comparison.

Last edited by Rupert Atkinson : 08-07-2013 at 09:38 PM.

  Reply With Quote
Old 08-08-2013, 06:28 AM   #5
sakumeikan
Dojo: Sakumeikan N.E. Aikkai .Newcastle upon Tyne.
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,150
United Kingdom
Offline
Re: It Had to Be Felt #43: Kanetsuka Minoru: "Following in the Footsteps"

Dear Peter,
As you know I have been involved in British Aikido for years.My own journey started in Glasgow, with the Renown aikido Society,I then joined the Aikikai of G.Britain under the direction of Chhiba Sensei.
i first met K.S. in Stirling. soon afterwards I and Ian McClarence wentt down on numerous occasions and stayed with K.S. and Susan Kanetsuka in London.we had some good times.Mr K then was always interesting regarding his aikido.He also spent time in my house where he made himself at home, feet up and watching T.V.He especially liked Tom &Jerry.
When Chiba Sensei announced his intention to return to Japan , he assigned K.S as his successor.I was at the event where T.KC.made this announcement and urged the then senior students to assist and take care of the organisation and support Mr K. Mrr Kanetsuka with tears in his eyes vowed he would do his utmost to continue the work of T.K.C and asked the seniors to help him.
Now let me say that Mr K. does express the abliities that you mention.His Makko Ho exercises are superb.He constantly tried to absorb waza from well known instructors.eg Saito, Sekiya , yamaguchi Sensei etc.He was almost like a chameleon , one minute he trained in a manner of Sekiya Sensei, then trained at courses like somebody else.I know of few people who do such research into Aikido and allied subjects.You may well remember the Karate session with Tatsuo Suziki Sensei for example?The macrobiotics is another area.
Any way , while this may well have been ok for some, I found in common with others that I could not in all honesty remain in the B.A.F. It was more than just the direction of the training , I believe that difficulties arose within the group.Perhaps this is the nature of any group?
These events [the split from the B.A.F ]are now decades behind me.I endured much emotional pain during this period. Had these events not taken place I think the history of U.K aikido would have been very different.
I cannot comment on Mr K and his methods now.I do know in the 60/70 s he was a powerful aikidoka. His Yoshinkan background gave me some hard times.I have only seen him once in Cardiff.He appears to be much softer.I am also pleased that he survived the cancer.
I can only say that my experiences with Mr K were a curious mixture , moments of joyfulness, moments of deep despair.I do however consider mr K in many ways a remarkable man.
All in all, I take this opportunity to wish him and his family well and continued good health.
Cheers, Joe
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-08-2013, 07:53 AM   #6
sakumeikan
Dojo: Sakumeikan N.E. Aikkai .Newcastle upon Tyne.
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,150
United Kingdom
Offline
Re: It Had to Be Felt #43: Kanetsuka Minoru: "Following in the Footsteps"

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
There was another ukemi exercise that KS used to have us practice at Ryushinkan that I omitted to mention in the article. So consider this post as an extension of the article.

You stand in the middle of the dojo, with enough space to do ukemi in any direction. The stance should not be in hanmi or kamae, but in a neutral shizentai stance. From where you stand you have the possibility of a forward roll in any one of eight directions: directly to the left, directly to the right, directly forwards, directly backwards, and in one of four diagonal directions. The roll can be done using either arm, and with the legs crossing over during the roll (Yoshinkan style), or not crossing over (Aikikai Hombu style). KS could do this effortlessly in any direction and so gave us a superb model to imitate. I found the exercise was a difficult, but useful, training exercise and when I took ukemi from KS subsequently, I had a greater sense of what I: my body and my mind, was doing at any point during the ukemi.

As I stated in the article, when I trained at Ryushinkan in the late 1970s, Saito Morihiro Sensei was publishing his Traditional Aikido books and KS used these as training texts. Saito Sensei visited the UK once or twice and I believe that on one occasion he was accompanied by Bruce Klickstein, whose ukemi was superb.

EDIT: Ellis, Jun, I was not sure whether to put this here or start a new thread. Move it if necessary.
Drear Peter,
Not only did Mr K utilise the volumes of Saito Sensei in his courses ,he also used Budo Renshu as a reference.Other stuff was setai/makko ho/macrobiotic cooking[miso soup was good , brown rice UGH -ok with soy sauce , on its own ,worse than haggis].We also endured lying on our backs with knees secured by our obi [Aikido bondage anyone???]Also during a ZaZen session Mr K ,whapped me with the stick on both shoulders.I nearly cried with the pain.Sure made me an enthusiast for Za Zen.
Training at the Ryushinkan sometimes included the whacking of the big rubber tyre , enclosed in concrete. Pummeling this object with the heavy bokken.Oh what joy.Just as well there were sedatives [in beer bottles] to keep me going.
Cheers, Joe.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-08-2013, 08:39 AM   #7
David Helsby
Location: Zurich
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 2
Switzerland
Offline
Re: It Had to Be Felt #43: Kanetsuka Minoru: "Following in the Footsteps"

Hello Peter, I believe I qualify for taking ukemi from KS, in the early days of Ryushinkan there was sometimes only KS, Ross and myself and I was the one that got thrown around. His first instruction was stay in contact, that is your protection and do not throw yourself. He was angry when you tried to give Ukemi rather than take it. I believe a number of students today give Ukemi to the technique being shown rather than taking what comes by keeping contact. A useful tip if you have to Uke for a powerful Sensei,
they may just change the technique on you.
David
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-08-2013, 10:05 AM   #8
Alex Megann
Dojo: Southampton Aikikai
Location: Southampton
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 346
England
Offline
Re: It Had to Be Felt #43: Kanetsuka Minoru: "Following in the Footsteps"

I started practising with Kanetsuka Sensei in 1980 or 1981. In my undergraduate years I attended his classes at his own dojo in Oxford, which was initially located at Kofi Busia's yoga ashram on Banbury Road and then, after that venue closed down, relocated to Iffley Village Hall, close to where he lived at that time. He also put in a regular appearance at my father's dojo at Oxford University, where he graded me to gokyu in 1982. Over the following years I spent many weekends travelling with him around the UK and abroad, including trips to Belgium, France and Greece, as well as (particularly memorably) to Dusseldorf in Germany for Aikikai Deutschland's twentieth anniversary celebration in 1985.

I had little knowledge of his background when I was starting out in aikido, nor did I have much experience at all of other shihan, and I assumed that what he did was “standard” aikido. Only in later years, with the coming of YouTube, was I able to watch videos of Gozo Shioda, his first teacher, and appreciate the origin of his concise and economical movements. He was also strongly influenced by Seigo Yamaguchi, who added softness and direct centre-to-centre contact to the rigorous approach he absorbed from Shioda Sensei (and of course with Chiba Sensei in his earlier years in England). As Peter has already mentioned, Kanetsuka Sensei knew the five volumes of Morihiro Saito’s “Traditional Aikido” almost page by page: although he gradually moved away from the latter’s Aikiken exercises, he still values Saito’s emphasis on being able to respond to strong grips, as well as his basic approach to waza.

One of my main memories of practising on the wooden floors of his private dojos in Oxford was of the swordwork from the Kashima Shinryu, which he initially learned from Sekiya Sensei and later on from Inaba Sensei of the Shiseikan. We practised many repetitions of basic kesagiri cutting and of the five partnered kihon-dachi kata, with heavy, straight bokken with squared ends and inch-thick tsuba (which were definitely more than decoration!). I realised afterwards that this training was one key to understanding Yamaguchi Sensei’s direct but very relaxed aikido, as well as being excellent exercises for postural stability and focus.

In the mid-1980s, he was diagnosed with acute nasopharyngeal cancer. This was deemed inoperable, so in addition to his courses of radiotherapy he adopted a strict dietary and exercise regime. He gave up red meat and alcohol completely, cut his diet down to a simple fare of brown rice and vegetables, and augmented this with vast quantities of Vitamin C. All this time, despite his at times perilously low energy levels, he came to his classes at the Oxford dojos, a gaunt figure in a thick jacket and a big woolly hat, sometimes sitting and watching us practise, but often intervening with surprising vigour to demonstrate some important point. He continued to travel around Europe teaching - I remember accompanying him on a trip to Lille in northern France one snowy weekend the following winter, where he insisted on choosing the biggest and strongest ukes to demonstrate with. I know his illness caused great suffering and worry to him and his family, but I am convinced that this formed a major ingredient in the development of his sensitive, precise and economical aikido. His drastically reduced bodily strength, along with the inspiration drawn from his contact with Yamaguchi Sensei during the same period, helped him to refine his movement and his kokyu to ever more softness and to pare away more and more redundant physical effort.

Although his body has changed almost completely over the time I have known him, his technique has consistently focused on effectiveness and control of his partner. Nevertheless, in many hundreds of hours in his classes he has never injured me, beyond one occasion when I got a bloody nose from not protecting my face quickly enough when receiving iriminage. In fact, I have never even felt any risk of him causing me injury, despite his at times extremely positive and strong technique, and of course despite the real need to stay highly vigilant and focused when taking ukemi from him. As an example, many years ago he asked me to hold his wrist while he had a katana in its scabbard at his waist: as he drew the blade, I found myself entering a strange state of heightened awareness that blood could be drawn any minute, but at the same time I had a strong sense that I trusted him completely.

One of the first things many people notice when they see him for the first time is that he is in excellent physical condition, even now he is in his seventies, and even after suffering an injury in a road accident a couple of years ago that would have permanently incapacitated most mortals, but from which he has lately made a good recovery. His posture is upright, his body is flexible and strong, and he moves effortlessly and powerfully into and out of seiza (most unlike almost anyone I see on the mat in their sixties, never mind their seventies!). All the time I have been attending his classes, he has consistently stressed the importance of a personal practice regime. Over the years, he has regularly shown us exercises to improve our balance, flexibility and kokyu ryoku: for instance, arm swinging (ude-furi), “tree hugging”, suburi with a heavy bokken, the “fish” exercise, and makko-ho stretching exercises. When he is teaching, he constantly relates all of these to how the body should move in aikido. These days he particularly connects everything in his aikido to torifune, furitama, bowing (tachi-rei and za-rei), and gassho.

In all his demonstrations in recent years, and more often than not in his classes, he loves to show kokyu-ho against multiple attackers, with up to five or six people holding his wrists, shoulders, neck and legs. He usually starts from seiza, but he also likes to demonstrate standing, cross-legged, lying down, and even occasionally sitting in lotus pose on a chair. With a subtle movement of his body, he disrupts his partners’ centres, and from then on it is inevitable that all will collapse one by one. It is impossible to trap him in one position: he manages to keep the whole of his body free, moving at right angles to the applied force of the attacker’s (or attackers’) strongest direction in a continuous three-dimensional movement.

He tries to explain what he does in terms of ocean waves and of pendulums, talking about gravity and torques. Since he knows I was trained as a physicist, he often asks me to translate what he does into terms of physical principles. I have always struggled with this, mostly because of my growing conviction that the path of aikido is not primarily an intellectual one: he himself has told me more than once that my head understands aikido much better than my body does! Recently, though, I have realised (partly through experience practising with other teachers outside aikido) that much of his ability to connect directly with his partner’s centre, and to avoid being trapped even by multiple strong attackers, comes for his mastery of “in-yo” or yin and yang. Every movement at the point of contact is balanced by a small adjustment in the rest of his body. There is no pushing or pulling; instead there is a strong feeling of spherical movement around multiple centres of rotation. Every joint of his body is free to move with every possible degree of freedom. This leads to the occasional very weird sensation for his uke. Sometimes I have had the fleeting but vivid impression that his arms were made up of a mechanism of many intermeshing cogs and levers, rather than from flesh and bone. On other occasions I have grabbed his wrist and immediately had a feeling of “floating” instability, rather like the experience of trying to carry a tray filled with water.

Kanetsuka Sensei often tells us that his classes are a kind of laboratory for him, and that we are his training partners. In recent years he has been fond of saying that he is no longer teaching aikido – indeed, he rarely teaches specific techniques – just aiki and tai-sabaki, in the deeper sense of the latter as meaning “how to use the body”. He has a rather old-fashioned (and specifically Asian) didactic approach, in fact: rarely explaining explicitly how to stand or to execute ikkyo or shihonage, instead he shows repeatedly what we are intended to understand as core principles, even though each demonstration looks on the surface rather different from the last. He often berates us for repeating the same old familiar motions, instead of taking in what it is he is showing us (sometimes describing us as “hamsters in wheels”). He is constantly frustrated by our lack of progress, which can be dispiriting, but at the same time his constant exploration of the path of aiki is an example to us: to attempt to follow him is a constant reminder of the dangers of complacency.

Last edited by Alex Megann : 08-08-2013 at 10:10 AM.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-08-2013, 03:19 PM   #9
Nicholas Eschenbruch
Dojo: TV Denzlingen
Location: Freiburg
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 308
Germany
Offline
Re: It Had to Be Felt #43: Kanetsuka Minoru: "Following in the Footsteps"

Kanetsuka Sensei was the first Japanese Teacher I ever trained with. I was a beginner with a couple of weeks only at the Oxford Uni & City Club. It was announced the important Japanese teacher was going to come on the weekend, and everybody was welcome. So I went. I did not even have a training suit yet.

I don't remember much of the course, I was probably still trying to tell my right leg from my left, but I do remember he called me out in front of everybody and demonstrated shihonage. He held me suspended before finishing the technique (if he even did), and I clearly recall I could neither stand nor fall. He had my "balance" in an eerie way. I was hooked that very moment.

When I returned a couple of years later I was less impressed. I did not like the way he dumped his ukes, and I did not like the way he went on about aikido and the superiority of Japanese engineering at a time when the Japanese economy was at an all time low.

Years later again, I now think he has something of what we discuss as "internal strength", that I did not understand at the time.

So opinions change, quite meaningless in a way, but I clearly recall that first shihonage. The first in my collection of "important aikido snapshots".
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-08-2013, 03:46 PM   #10
Hellis
Dojo: Ellis Schools of Traditional Aikido
Location: Bracknell
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 597
England
Offline
Re: It Had to Be Felt #43: Kanetsuka Minoru: "Following in the Footsteps"

I was assistant to TK Chiba Sensei from 1967 to 1972 - I trained maybe once or twice with Mr Kanetsuka at the London Chiswick Dojo, I am not sure of the date, possibly 1970 - I recently asked Chiba Sensei what grade Mr Kanetsuka was when he first visited the Chiswick dojo - Chiba Sensei replied Shodan - I was a long serving Ni dan. My memories are a little different to most on here. When Mr Kanetsuka arrived I was so pleased to see another dan grade that would / should, take the pressure off me as I was getting hammered each and every practice night. Chiba Sensei hardly ever used Mr Kanetsuka, so it was back to normal for me.

At the Kenshiro Abbe Memorial I remember Ken Cottier telling me of a bizarre story of Mr Kanetsuka at a seminar in Oxford in a gym - where he climbed up a wooden frame and demanded that the students grab his foot ( makes a change from grab my wrist ) his leg and foot were stretched out and dutifully the students one and all ran up grabbed the foot and were thrown across the mat - I asked Ken " That is bizarre, did it actually work ? " - Ken replied " I don't know, I was the only one that was not daft enough to try " .

Henry Ellis
Co-author ` Positive Aikido `.
http://britishaikidoboard.blogspot.com/
( British Aikido Board Exposed )
  Reply With Quote

Please visit our sponsor:

Handmade Aikido Gifts - Handmade functional ceramic art with aikido themes



Comment


Currently Active Users Viewing This Column: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Column Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new columns
You may not post comment
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Column Column Starter Category Comments Last Post
It Had to Be Felt #7: Yamaguchi Seigo: Suburi with People Ellis Amdur Columns 3 04-23-2012 04:06 PM
Kanetsuka Minoru Sensei wayneth General 3 08-21-2006 07:32 AM


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:41 AM.



Column powered by GARS 2.1.5 ©2005-2006

vBulletin Copyright © 2000-2014 Jelsoft Enterprises Limited
----------
Copyright 1997-2014 AikiWeb and its Authors, All Rights Reserved.
----------
For questions and comments about this website:
Send E-mail
plainlaid-picaresque outchasing-protistan explicantia-altarage seaford-stellionate