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

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
4101 Middle Two Rock Road
Telephone: 707-766-9404

City Aikido, San Francisco:
Nadeau shihan demonstrating at City Aikido
City Aikido
1339 Mission Street 
San Francisco 
CA 94103
Telephone: (415) - 552 7208.

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