Description

A blog with some news, reports and articles from the Aikido community around the world.
Edited by Lawrence Warry & Ze'ev Erlich

Sunday, September 14, 2014

September 2014

1. Editorial; New Season, Open Classes and Aikido Introduction Workshops in and Around The Hague
In the month of September, there are usually a lot of chances to meet Aikido for the first time in your life. In my local community, a number events have taken place in the past week.

2. Grote Pyr Aikido
Aikido Beginners at The Grote Pyr.
The season started on Monday 1st of September at the Grote Pyr Aikido club. A new Aikido venue, every Monday from 19:00 - 20:30. It is a good time to go if you're starting Aikido as the basics are given step-by-step, in an easy to learn manner. The public of The Hague is welcome to try the first lesson free of charge at The Grote Pyr. Website: http://lawrencewarry.wix.com/shinyu

3. Hagukumi Aikido
Yujo Seminar @ Hagukumi Dojo
On the weekend of the 13th and 14th of September, the Hagukumi dojo in The Hague held their "Yujo" friendship weekend seminar and open day, welcoming the public to come and try out Aikido and, at the same time, welcoming the Aikido community to come and celebrate the end of the summer and start of a new season. Dojo cho, Paul Jungschlager, 4th dan Aikikai, ran the show, which included inviting a prominent Japanese teacher, Yamada (not the Yamada shihan of New York) but a less well know but equally interesting shihan from Narita, Japan. Local Aikido teachers also gave their time to share their Aikido on this packed training weekend at the Hagukumi dojo. As well as Aikido, also on the programme during the Yujo seminar were the arts of Kendo, Kempo, Chi Gong and Foot reflex healing. Aikido lessons in the Hagukumi dojo have the following programme:
Website: http://www.aikidoindenhaag.nl/

4. Aikido Workshop on The Beach
Aikido on The Beach @ Licht Puntjes Festival
Also on the evening of Saturday the 13th of September, another festival took place in the beach cafe FAST at the beach of Scheveninge, The Hague. The organising group is called "Lichte Puntjes" and, as well as providing an Aikido introduction workshop on the beach, they had guest healers and artists performing poetry and music. The aim of the workshop was to encourage radiance in people. The Aikido evening workshop taking place at 19:45, as the sun set, was warmly received and well attended by about 20 festival participants. Website: http://www.lichtpuntjes.nu/

5. Leiden LCSA Aikido
LCSA Leiden Aikido.
On the evening of Sunday the 14th of September, the Leiden dojo, LCSA (Leidse Culturele Stichting Aikido) opened their doors to the public for a new season open class. This was a great way to kick-start the season as the attendees were all lookin motivated and recharged after their summer break. Website: http://www.aikidoinleiden.nl/

6. EAAC Aikido
Monday 15th of September sees the open class of the EPO Aikikai Aikido Club (EAAC). A short open class will take place at lunch time (12:15 - 13:00), allowing the European Patent staff members to meet Aikido for the first time. Website: https://sites.google.com/site/epoaikikaiaikidoclub/
Demonstration practice at the EAAC:

Monday, July 21, 2014

July & August 2014

1.0 Solar & Lunar Alignment & The Human Body
As was abundantly reported all around the world, on December 21st 2012, all the planets in our solar system were perfectly aligned with each other. For the first time, our Earth, Moon, all 9 planets in our solar system, our Sun and the Pleiades constellation (which is the star system that our Sun orbits) ALL came into direct perfect alignment with the massive black hole that exists at the very center of our Milky Way Galaxy. If that's not amazing enough, this exact alignment only happens once every 200+ million years!

This 2012 event also marked the completion of a 26,000 year solar cycle that our sun is on orbiting Pleiades. This was an event that the Mayans and many other ancient tribes around the planet predicted as symbolising "the end of the world".
What is so interesting for one studying Aikido is that O-Sensei often spoke about the Sun, the Moon and the Earth being Aiki. Here is a doka from O-Sensei: 
The sun, the moon and the earth
All have become Aiki
Standing on this bridge
The great expanse of the sea is
The Way of the Mountain Echo.

Shimamoto shihan of Osaka has been heard to speak of O-Sensei as teaching students to have a big imagination and to imagine placing the sun, the moon and the earth on a stick and swallowing them whole. Many alternative healing theories (such as medical astrology) involve representing celestial bodies with human body parts. One can consider, for example, the alignment of the mind, heart, lungs and stomach as corresponding to aligning celestial bodies in order to create an influence on the environment by way of gravitational force. This is indeed what we try to achieve in disbalancing uke, as a role as tori. For this disbalancing to happen, we have to create the correct alignment in our bodies. We do this by way of hanmi. Hanmi is, indeed, the intentional act that a human has to make in Aikido in order to create such a burst of energetic influence on their training partner. One can parallel such an effect with that of the spring tide which happens when the moon is full or when the sun and the moon are aligned with the earth, causing the combination of gravitational pull, both from the sun and from the moon. 
If we are to consider our body parts (such as, for example, heart, lungs and stomach, having a gravitational pull of some degree with respect to the earth), then we can also understand that the combined gravitational pull would be achieved when the body parts are aligned, and a corresponding effective force would be established as a consequence. 
In this video from the recent course in Geneva, Yamashima sensei talks about the importance of aligning the center in hanmi:

It seems interestingly close to the spring tide effect caused by planetary alignment with the sun and the moon and is an explanation, to those who comment that "he is not moving" and "it looks fake", as to why he can cause such a big gravitational effect on uke without an exhaustive physical effort. 
How close Yamashima sensei is to O-Sensei in his idea, I can't gauge and, yet, at to that point, it is not even necessary to consider whether this was O-Sensei's main focus, for the study itself and the progress being achieved is of enough value in its own right to be interesting and to be followed up with further reasearch.

2.0 Yamashima Sensei in Geneva
Again, for another time, Yamashima sensei drew Aikido enthusiasts from all around Europe to Geneva to practice Aikido. The participants enthusiastically studied together and enjoyed social time visiting touristic parts of Geneva and having lunch and supper.
The training atmosphere was of a typical friendly nature and the practice with Yamashima sensei gets increasingly interesting for everybody who follows what his development is all about. One aspect is the alignment and hanmi position (as mentioned about) but there is much more than that to it. Aspects of how and when to use your center are important details which need to be considered. 
(Uke: Rodolph Peyvel)
Indeed, the practice of Aikido is not just a spatial practice but equally as much so, it is also a temporal practice. Time and space in unison, should somehow be managed and Yamashima sensei provides a wonderful enquirey into that study. All students got tired and sweaty in the summertime heat and in grabbing Yamashima sensei's arm, curiously trying to feel how he cultivates such an immense and effective power from the relaxed, aligned state.
Many thanks to Rodolph Peyvel for hosting again another great seminar in Geneva. Also, I can't forget to mention and thank the amazing and warm hospitality of Luc Giradin and his family who hosted us in their beautiful house in the countryside outside of Geneva! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

June 2014

1.0 Report on Seminar with Miles Kessler Sensei, 5th dan Aikikai, in Maastricht 13, 14 and 15 June 2014
I attended just one day of this seminar but it already gave me a taste of what I can only imagine to be an inspirational and powerful workshop to develop our mindfulness towards ourselves and towards others and allow us to make a more expansive relationship experience in Aikido. The course was intended for both experienced Aikidoka and beginners. On the day that I attended, we started with a one hour session of mindfulness meditation where Kessler sensei, with his profound Vipassana meditation experience, invited us to inquire about the nature of being mindful to the "I" and the nature of being mindful to the "we", the two entities requiring fundamentally two different approaches of being mindful. On this initial basis, the two hours Aikido practice that followed drew upon this meditation and the concept of harmony being only attainable through conflict and not by avoiding conflict. Therefore, after some basic movement, Kessler sensei presented some physical and verbal challenges into the exercises which allowed us to face (in a "cool" way without getting bogged down by the challenge) resistances in movement, and verbal "hits" using a question/response exercise integrated with a physical tai sabaki movement. The question/response exercises happened in 3 initial phases. In the first phase, uke would come and push tori's shoulder whilst presenting the question "what makes you comfortable?". Tori's response was required to be given as much as possible without stopping the movement even if a pause of reflection was required. In the second phase, uke would come and push tori's shoulder whilst presenting the question "what makes you uncomfortable?". Again, Tori's answers should not interrupt a centered flow of movement in tai sabaki. At the third stage, the ultimate question was asked by Uke to Tori whilst pushing, "what is your potential gold?" which allowed the opening into the space from the "comfort zone" to the "discomfort zone" and outwards to the problem how to transform those pointers which make us uncomfortable into what could be our potential gold. After each stage of movement, participants were encouraged to share what they experienced with each other, dialoging in particular what was easy or difficult about the exercise. The final exercise in the series was also based on a further question "what is the magic you need?". The "magic", being the solution or process or practice that you would need in your life to allow the "potential gold" to materialize. During the last phase of the practice, the verbalisations ended and the mat became busy as the participants jammed their aikido with each other in a free-flowing way.
With some alchemistic references and spiritual insights, Kessler sensei presented a fun and effective transformative Aikido workshop. I felt grateful to have this opportunity to meet Miles in a different setting to that of Tel Aviv and to meet the friendly Aikido people of Maastricht.

2.0 Return to California and Some Inspirational Aikido
This week, I'm in the Bay area near San Francisco and I will be heading for some Aikido practices at Two Rocks dojo in Petaluma with Richard Strozzi Heckler sensei, 6th dan Aikikai and City Aikido in San Francisco with Bob Nadeau sensei, 7th dan Aikikai. If you ever get over here you must see them! Bob Nadeau is renowned for having been one of the few westerners who was close to O-Sensei and documented discussions with O-Sensei. Heckler sensei is an ex-US marine and still teaches conflict resolution and Aikido principles to the US marine department and develops the martial arts programme for Afgan National Army. He has written several books, including "In Search of the Warrior Spirit". He is a close student of Mitsuge Saotome shihan.
Further information about these two dojos:

Two Rocks Aikido Dojo, Petaluma:
Heckler sensei addressing students at Two Rocks dojo, Petaluma
Address: 
4101 Middle Two Rock Road
Petaluma
California
USA
Telephone: 707-766-9404
Website: http://www.tworockaikido.com/

City Aikido, San Francisco:
Nadeau shihan demonstrating at City Aikido
Address: 
City Aikido
1339 Mission Street 
San Francisco 
CA 94103
Telephone: (415) - 552 7208.
Website: http://www.cityaikido.com/