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

Friday, July 19, 2013

July 2013

Summertime Teacher Profiles: Takeshi Yamashima Sensei and Karl-Friedrich Leisinger Sensei

1. Takeshi Yamashima Sensei, 7th dan Aikido
"Aikido is a whole body practice"...

The Dutch Aikido community had the great opportunity and privilege to again receive Yamashima sensei to The Netherlands during the past week. The happy sensei was teaching in Rijswijk, Leiden and near and around Amsterdam. 

Yamashima Sensei's practice is based the principles that O-Sensei laid out about using the center and aligning the center to the training partner's center in order to achieve kuzushi (balance breaking). This practice ties in with the use of the Japanese ken (sword) and, like the sword, if the movement is only a hand or arm movement, you will not achieve a stable connection. To really make a stable connection, one has to practice the movement with the "whole body". Yamashima sensei explains it in his classes in simple terms.
1. Draw your belly in, which causes the back of the hips to lift slightly upwards.
2. Edge your body weight to the front foot whilst keeping your hand and arm extended in front of the center line of your body.   
3. Turn the hip which is opposite to the leading hand forwards towards your partner.

Yamashima Sensei advocates that if you practice these three points in that order, your connection feeling will be more stable and you will start to sense the direction of your partner's energy/power much more. You'll then be able to absorb your partner's attack and direct it in a smoother sense of control than you had done before.
This practice applies to every technique in Aikido and Yamashima Sensei believes if you practice these points on a regular basis your whole Aikido practice gets better. So, that's why we spent a lot of time grabbing the wrist in gyaku hanmi (opposite hand grab) and slowly studying the balance taking movement. From there, you can build up the practice, sometimes changing to morote dori (two hands grab one hand), Shomen uchi (direct head strike) and sometimes Yokomen uchi (side of head strike) or Ushiro Ryoto dori (grabbing two hands behind). Eventually the speed of the practice can also be increased but, in the beginning, it is important to practice slowly and gently in order to build awareness.
A lot of what Yamashima Sensei teaches is on an energetic level (feeling and sensitivity) but he always spends a major part of the practice time putting the study into practice with basic kihon waza.

Yamashima Sensei travels all over the world to practice Aikido with different groups. What makes his trainings unique and special is that he does not visit as a hombu dojo representative although he trains regularly at the hombu dojo. Instead, he visits as an independent Aikidoka only to practice Aikido. Therefore, no examinations take place under Yamashima Sensei's name and the sensei remains outside of the political game, in order to only focus on training his body with each group he visits.

Everybody enjoyed the training with Yamashima Sensei and it seemed that Yamashima Sensei also enjoyed training with them. There will be two further opportunities to practice with Yamashima Sensei in The Netherlands this year. Firstly, from the 17th to the 22nd of September and then, later from the 19th to the 22nd of December.

More details coming soon about the training locations.

Meanwhile enjoy this nice demonstration of Tenshi Nage that Yamashima sensei recently made at the EPO in Rijswijk...

2. Karl-Friedrich Leisinger Sensei, 6th dan Aikikai
The second teacher to come to Holland from abroad last week, Leisinger Sensei, came by car from his home town in Meppen, Germany. Next month, Leisinger sensei will be 84 years old. Hard to believe this age when you see him in action!
Leisinger Sensei gave a fantastic workshop in Castricum, covering the 25 move jo kata of Asai sensei, featuring the jo movement combined with bokken attack. Furthermore, participants got the opportunity to practice a number of different kumi tachi katas. We gained a lot of information in the four days that we practiced with Leisinger Sensei. It was also great to see that such a large number of younger people came to the practice also to be inspired by one of the oldest Aikido teachers living (with at least 45 years of Aikido practice behind him).

The Bokken & Jo Group with Leisinger Sensei, 6th dan Aikikai, in Castricum Last Week.

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