Our instructor (Martin) went on a course at the weekend down in England with Mike McCavish, who lives and trains in Japan at the Shodokan honbu. Mike and Martin are good friends and from the little I know, he helped Martin win the World Championship a little while back.
So we were quite pleased when he came back up to Scotland to give us an impromptu 3 hour class!
At the start Mr McCavish gave us some breathing exercises and told us that our duty this night was to work on our breathing as we trained.
We started with shomen-ate http://www.gedanate.com/shomenate-aikido-throw-01.html
I haven't seen this move in other schools of Aikido, although I do see the principle. We then changed the angle of approach and it turned into ai-gamae-ate (a form of tenchi-nage) and progressed further through numerous variations until we had done 10 different applications. Sometimes the most interesting part of training is when you can see the same principles appear again and again in unexpected places
After that we quickly ran through the 17 basic techniques in the Randori-no-kata, then some applications of kote-mawashi (nikkyo). These were practical applications and brought uke flat on the ground before changing the relationship into the final pin. I got the feeling that Mike had recently been unimpressed with the way some people had been doing kote-mawashi and was emphasising the total control of uke to us. Personally I don't like this way of applying nikkyo, it is needlessly painful and to be frank people outside do not know to lie flat on the ground so it is only found in club practice (usually).
We spent the last hour on randori and this was the real gem. As an ex Judoka I have some pretty strong opinions about certain throwing techniques and their effectiveness, some techniques will only work against a 12 year old girl whereas others are more realistic and contain not only good physical principles but also good aikido.
So it was very refreshing to see an application of Sumi-otoshi that actually works. Sumi-otoshi in Shodokan aikido is not the same as in other schools. We call the other form mae-otoshi. http://homepage2.nifty.com/shodokan/en/kyogi10d.html
Fittingly, the final movement of sumi-otoshi into oshi-taoshi ( a bit like ikkyo) seems to finish like doing shomen-ate, the first technique in the class, backwards.
As we knelt to finish the class, Mr McCavish complimented us on our fitness and dedication, praised our instructor Martin Livingstone and thanked us personally for attending. He explained that without the support of people turning up and paying, he could not afford to travel or train in Japan. After he left us the next day he was away down to Manchester, then off to Russia, then back to Japan.
(this post is a reprint of my original one on martialartsplanet.com)