The weekend of October 20th had Aikido Eastside in Bellevue, WA hosting William Gleason Sensei. Gleason Sensei is the author of the Spiritual Foundations of Aikido and is an annual guest of our school.
The seminar embodied Aikido of the very highest order. Gleason Sensei's researches into O-Sensei's writings and those of the Omotokyo religion makes his presentation of Aikido technique a window into how O-Sensei viewed his art.
We often see the split between the Aikido practitioners who champion Aikido as a martial art and those that focus more on the art as a form of spiritual practice. Gleason Sensei's Aikido is a perfect balance between these two asp[ects, in fact you can't separate the two.
We listened as he explained how the different elemental energies of water, fire, and earth are channeled by different parts of the body and how the balance of those elements create a technique that is effortless yet is quite unstoppable (I know, I tried).
Gleason Sensei's background in Kashima Ryu sword flows through his empty hand technique and we were able to practice a number of sword forms that illustrated the principles that Gleason Sensei was emphasizing in the empty hand classes.
I have found that every time I have trained with Gleason sensei he has left me with a host of concepts that have eventually changed my Aikido. If you get a chance to train with this teacher go out of your way to do so. It is Aikido of the very highest quality and sophistication. Just be prepared to be a bit humbled when you find that his effortless technique doesn't coime so easily as he makes it look.