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

Monday, September 5, 2011

September 2011

1. Editorial

Dimensions of the basics. 

When starting a new season, I tend to revert to the basics of Aikido.
At that point, I come to the question what are "the basics"?

One generally can consider fundamental "kihon waza" (basic technique) as basics, of course. However, there are many dimensions in which to delve. One can consider each dimension of the basics like the rings of an onion. The deeper the ring, the more subtle the level of the basic teaching is and the more it becomes an experiential rather than observational learning process. This model is somewhat similar to the dimensionality explanations given by Bob Nadeau sensei in City Aikido, San Francisco.

For Fujita sensei, who was coming to the netherlands 3 to 4 times per year until 2007, the basics were a fundamental set of tai-sabaki (the famous 4 tai-sabaki of Fujita sensei). One can consider this dimension somewhat more subtle than the "kihon waza" dimension which is pure form. Yet more subtle than that is the dimension of basic "feeling" in aikido. What is the basic connection supposed to feel like? Where is the centre in relation between uke and tori? What is the correct method of applying physical attributes such as force, speed, timing, distance, position, and how should one go about "controlling" their partner in the "aiki" way. Yet more subtle than that is the basic "zen" aspect. Although aikido is not a zen practice, there are crossing points of letting go of the ego, allowing aikido to be done without notion of the "I am controlling me or somebody else". The basic notion of tuning in to the universe and realising our connection to it and thus to our partner brings us to yet a more subtle basic practice which cannot really be shown.

One can consider other fundamental dimensions in the basics, such as your own being and its "happiness" in this world. So, the aiki taiso (yogaesque warm up exercises) develop your inner peace as well as warm up your joints for somewhat accentuated degrees of flexion and extension as one receives ukemi. To attain "inner peace" a fundamental awareness is brought to one's breathing (kokkyu) and centering. We often describe the hara (belly area) as the point to focus on in aikido movement as we try to move intuitively and freely think with our whole body rather than move calculatively and think with just our brain (this concept is known as "mushin" or innocent mind). 

Basic ukemi (receiving) is a further dimensional layer in which to explore. Starting from the ground and working our way up, we learn to be friends with the ground, not to fear it but to let it help us find a gentle way to come out of a throw or pin. Basic ukemi further requires basic connection and awareness of safety. We roll not because we are told to roll. We roll as a logical spatio-temporal function of tori's action. This is again on the basic "feeling" level.

In essence, the more subtle one goes, the more difficult it is for the basics to be "shown" as it becomes more of an experiential learning by feeling training method. As I explore aikido further, I see development in aikido therefore more of an exapnsive dimensional learning process as one refines the number of ways in which the basics can be practiced. This is becoming more important than the mountain climbing, goal oriented ambition for achievement and ability. Of course, the "height/depth" axis does exist in the learning process as much as the "breadth" axis and one does gain ability physically, mentally and spiritually. However, ability is, to me, secondary to practicing the basics on all possible dimensions. When one starts to enter the multi-dimensional learning process of the basics, one starts to appreciate its depth and breadth and starts to realise that the boundaries are unlimited and, personally, I am getting a lot of pleasure from the discovery process. To this setting, there is always something to learn always a new way of experiencing "basic" aikido. It will bring your aikido to a more profound level of understanding.

With my nevertheless limited depth, I often begin my classes with the tai-sabaki of Fujita sensei. It somehow lies in the middle between "kihon waza" and the "feeling" basics as one has to perform a certain irimi (entering) or tenkan (turning). So it is a form together with the feeling of connection. The class can then develop into a "kihon waza" kind of direction (in times of exams, for example) or a "feeling" direction in order to develop our better and deeper understanding of how aikido should be practiced as O-Sensei had realised it. 

I wish you much fun in your own deeper explorations of the aikido basics.

Lawrence Warry

2. New Season Open Classes

A new season is upon us. I had the pleasure to attend the open classes for new comers at the three dojos where I teach (The Hagukumi dojo in The Hague, The EAAC EPO Aikikai Aikido Club dojo in Rijswijk and the LCSA Leidse Culturele Stichting Aikido in Leiden). It's good to see that all clubs are running well. They each have a motivated committee and enthusiastic members who want to learn aikido. Each year, I notice the step-by-step progress of these groups and it is very satisfying to observe the growth both in numbers of students and in development of each individual's aikido. So, I pass my congratulations and wish each club a continuation in their flowering.

3. Fukakusa Shihan Israel (7th to 12th of September)

The Israeli Aikido Association has organised this seminar with Fukakusa shihan, 8th dan Aikikai, to take place not only in the Masatake dojo in Rehovot but also in locations in Tel Aviv and the Golan Heights. This is looking like its going to be another greatly organised seminar by Ze'ev Erlich and promises to bring aikido enthusiasts together from all over Israel and the world.
I'm looking forward to joining the seminar!

For more detailed seminar information, see Ze'ev's facebook event page:

4. Yamashima Sensei in Holland for Aikido mini-Summer School 2011

The Hagukumi dojo will celebrate their new location for the second year running with Yamashima sensei, 7th dan aikikai, again. Yamashima sensei is everybody's friend and likes to travel and visit friends around the world. He is a much welcomed non-political figure in the aikido world and, therefore, Yamashima sensei is invited purely as a private guest of the Hagukumi dojo. Nevertheless, he is also privately welcome to the dojos of Amsterdam, Utrecht, Delft and Rijswijk on his next visit. For the full agenda and further information about his visit, click the following link:

There, you can also find details for his course in England before and course in Germany after his visit to Holland.

5. Fifty Years Aikido in Holland (coming up 23rd of October)

As some people might know already, there will take place a great spectacle of Aikido in the topsportcentrum, Almere on the 23rd of October, to celebrate 50 years of Aikido in The Netherlands.
During that day, there will be lessons from some of the top instructors of the Netherlands. Some of the CABN's teachers have been given the honour to present classes, including: Ernesto Ladavas, Armando Braat, Charles Kientz, Sonja Winkelman and Silvia Marton.
More details about this event will come in the October-December edition of the IPAAN newsletter.

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