Please Join Us – Intro to Aikido Workshop, July 16, 2016

If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the Japanese martial art of Aikido. we cordially invite you to our next Intro to Aikido Workshop.

The event will be held Saturday, July 16, from 1 – 3 pm at the Lone Tree Rec Center. After a brief history of Aikido, you’ll have the  opportunity to practice a few techniques and experience a bit of this wonderful martial art and its benefits in so many areas of life.

Our instructors and students look forward to meeting you and sharing the warm and welcoming spirit of Kiryu Aikido!

Lone Tree Recreation Center (near Lincoln and I-25): 10249 Ridgegate Circle, Lone Tree, CO 80124

For More Information
Web: www.kiryu-aikido.com
E-mail: admin@kiryu-aikido.com
720.588.0798

 

 

Intro to Aikido Workshop July 16, 2016

Intro to Aikido Workshop
July 16, 2016

 

 

Kiryu Aikido Recognizes Senior Instructor Les Steveson for 2,500-Hour Milestone and Dedication

Les Steveson, Senior Instructor with Kiryu Aikido, Colorado, was recently honored for reaching the significant achievement of training more than 2,500 hours so far on his Aikido journey. But the award was about more than sheer hours of practice.

Andrew Blevins Sensei honors Les Steveson Sensei for more than 2,500 hours of training and dedication to the dojo.

Andrew Blevins Sensei honors Les Steveson Sensei for more than 2,500 hours of training and his dedication to the dojo.                                             

Andrew Blevins Sensei, Chief Instructor and founder of Kiryu Aikido, presented Steveson Sensei with a certificate and plaque. During the presentation after class, he shared his gratitude for Steveson Sensei’s long-term and steadfast commitment to both Kiryu Aikido and his own Aikido training.

“Steveson Sensei has been training with me since 1999, when I was Chief Instructor at another dojo in Denver,” he said. “When I left that dojo in 2003 to open Kiryu Aikido, Steveson Sensei came with me. He holds Student #1 on the dojo roster, and he’s been an integral part of this dojo since day one.”

Steveson Sensei began his Aikido studies in 1996 in Dillon, Colorado, under the direction of Meno Sensei of Suncoast Aikido, who is affiliated with Yamada Sensei, Eastern Region of the United States Aikido Federation. He trained there three years before moving to Denver and starting practice with Andrew Blevins Sensei.

Andrew Blevins Sensei shares thanks and memories of Les Steveson Sensei’s long-term support and friendship.

“Your dedication to training and tireless support of the dojo, combined with your martial spirit and encouraging leadership, have helped forge the spirit and heart of Kiryu Aikido,” added Blevins Sensei as he presented the plaque. “Thank you for always being there, and for sharing your love of Aikido through teaching the Kiryu Aikido team. My deepest thanks for all you do.”

Andrew Blevins Sensei and Les Steveson Sensei, Kiryu Aikido.

Andrew Blevins Sensei and Les Steveson Sensei, Kiryu Aikido.

Student Achievements: Training Milestones

Three Kiryu Aikido students have reached significant training milestones on their Aikido journeys.

Dave-san and Katie-san were awarded their 250-hour training certificates, and Jackson-san received his 125-hour certificate.

You’re all great examples of what results from dedication, tenacity, and consistency in your training. Your commitment to practice is inspiring.

Keep up the great work, and thank you for the spirit you bring to every class at the dojo.

Omedetou gozaimashita!

Dave-san receives his 250-hour training certificate from Blevins Sensei.

Dave-san receives his 250-hour training certificate from Blevins Sensei.

 

 

 

Jackson-san is recognized by Blevins Sensei for attaining 125 hours of practice.

Jackson-san is recognized by Blevins Sensei for attaining 125 hours of practice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Misogi and the New Year

waterfall01Upon waking up this new year morning of 2016 I always reflect back on the previous year. This reflection then heads into what I want to focus on this coming year and how best to approach that. In the past few weeks I have been reading poems of Basho, and just using both the Japanese and the English readings to trigger thoughts and ideas that may come into my head. This morning two of these came into my thoughts and wanted to share.

The first for new years:

(Ganjitsu ya / omoeba sabishi / aki no kure)

New Years Day!
and I recall the loneliness
of autumn evenings.

This to me is how I feel sometimes on the path of Aikido and training. While we have lots of teachers, students, friends, and others we meet upon the path we are the drivers (of our destiny) and alone in one sense. I remember talking to many of my students and people I have trained with during my almost 30 years in training about it is up to them alone to push their own training and not to “wait” for others to catch up.

I have seen many times where two students started practice around the same time and have progressed together for the first few steps (ranks, tests, challenges, etc). I think this is also great and can encourage us to get to the Dojo and be with out friends while on the path. Over the time though is when one of the two comes less regularly or not fully engaged in their training. Sometimes this can have an negative affect on the other student and sometimes even though they are doing well or really enjoy training can stumble.

I personally have had many people I started with or even Sempai quit Aikido or only come so often. I tried to never link their training directly to my own and always progress and challenge myself to be the best Aikidoist that I can be. Of course I enjoy working out with other passionate people and especially as a teacher want to encourage and be there for my students and other Aikido practitioners (as uke, nage, sensei, student, etc). By focusing on my own training and trying to be the best that I can be I believe that then I can be a helpful for others. Sometimes I think people in the beginning tend to do the opposite. Always be available but sometimes in detriment to themselves or their training. Have you seen similar situations in your training or at your dojo?

To come back to this post, Why did I title this “Misogi and the New Year”? Misogi to me and has been shared by my teachers through explanation and experiences in training is – purification of our spirit. In Japan Misogi practice can be under a waterfall or a lot of the “cleansing” rituals involve washing away something. Maybe this is why I originally chose the waterfall for the Kiryu logo? Hmm?

Misogi is also done through hard training. In the last few months of practice I have been thinking about this concept and how Misogi manifests itself in every training session. A lot of times I tend to go to the dojo after a long day at work or at the end of a long (work) week. Sometimes I am mentally exhausted and not always fully motivated. However, once I begin to loosen up, sweat, and enter into my practice the day/week/year/etc is shaved away from my thoughts and body.

(Everytime) At the end of the training session I am much more mentally clear and awake then I was before. I feel better and have clearer thoughts. To me this is the most common form of Misogi through practice that I want everyone to enjoy and experience. There are many other levels of this concept and how it can strengthen our spirit, training, and our lives and am still exploring those as well.

Aikido/training can be very deep and a worthwhile (lifetime) journey. This is why I continue to train and work towards my own path both alone and also with my teachers, students, and friends along the path.

To finish up the second quote that came to me while reading basho called “The Spring Sea”:

(haru no umi / hinemosu notari / notari kana)

The spring sea —
all day long it rises and falls,
rises and falls.

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Keiko Osame (Kiryu CA, 2015)

This to me (especially at new years) is the cycle of the year, each day, and our lives. Things can go good, they can go bad, people begin to train, people quit training, we may loose contact with friends, but may meet new ones, etc… The author of the book stated that (even though all this is going on) “The fisherman doesn’t dwell upon the primordial pulse of life as he laboriously hauls in his nets.”

Maybe that means focus on what is important to you and move forward, train, enjoy life… do your thing…

Be well and hope to train with all of you more this year!

Andrew

Seminar with Danielle Smith Sensei (December 5, 2015)

On Saturday, December 5, 2015, Aikido Central Coast hosted a half-day seminar with Danielle Smith Sensei, Chief Instructor and Dojo Cho of Aikido of Monterey.

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Smith Sensei, 6th dan, has been training since 1973, and she began her practice with Stanley Pranin Sensei as her first teacher.

Nearly two dozen Aikidoka from several dojos attended the four-hour seminar, during which Smith Sensei shared her strong open-hand and weapons techniques.

For the first two hours of the seminar, we practiced a variety of katate dori techniques. Some had interesting variations and approaches that were fun to explore and experiment with. The second half of the seminar focused on bokken, starting with a fun variation of happo giri and moving into some tachi dori and then a few open-hand/weapons relations.

weaponsThere were a lot of great takeaways from the seminar. One was Smith’s Sensei’s explanation of the body as a framework. Just as any structure needs a strong framework, when we use our body as a cohesive whole, it provides a strong and stable base from which we can execute techniques. If our framework is weak, whether from lack of extension or not using our center as well as we can, as just two examples, our Aikido reflects that.

Another point was the idea of connecting our back to our center. As Smith Sensei said, we tend to be very frontal focused, assuming that our “center” is only in the front of our body. But, if we drop our shoulders, and then connect with the center in our lower back, we connect our body as a whole. The result is better grounding and a stronger foundation for our Aikido.

This is especially apparent, and important, in weapons work, when we tend to raise our shoulders when we raise our bokken.

It was a great seminar and wonderful to meet and spend time with Aikidoists from other dojos. Thanks to Smith Sensei for your teaching, and to Michele Sensei and the other teachers and students at Aikido Central Coast for hosting the seminar and for your hospitality.

Thoughts and Congratulations: Fall Testing, November 8, 2015

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Kiryu Aikido, from left: Greg-san; Sr. Instructor Les S.; Andrew Blevins Sensei; Instructor Kara S.; Dave-san; Katie-san.

Kiryu Aikido participated in the biannual testing of our Colorado community of dojos  on Sunday, November 8, 2015. Again graciously hosted and overseen by Izawa Sensei and Tanshinjuku dojo, the test included students from three dojos.

From our dojo, Greg-san tested for Nikyu, and Katie-san and Dave-san tested for Yonkyu. All our students who tested showed solid techniques, great spirit, and zanshin.

Their martial spirit was evident. As Izawa Sensei shared with everyone after the test, Aikido is the way of peace, but it is a martial art first and foremost, and techniques must express martial spirit and intent, both from Nage and Uke. Our students showed this in their tests, and the dojo is very proud of their commitment and accomplishment. We also thank Charles-san for his continued support of the dojo and for taking video of the tests.

Keep up the focus and good training. Build on what you learned and gained to reach this milestone and take it forward. Omedetou gozaimashita.

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Andrew Blevins Sensei with Kei Izawa Sensei and instructor Stephen Shaw of Tanshinjuku.

 

Kiryu Aikido Central Coast Tests First Student, November 1, 2015

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John-san doing suwari waza for his Sankyu test.

On Sunday, November 1, 2015, Kiryu Aikido, Central Coast branch, reached a big milestone: testing our first student.

John-san, who initially began practicing with Kiryu Aikido in Colorado in 2010, tested for his Sankyu rank. Our Sunday morning Sunahama classes (practice on the beach) over the past few months helped prepare John-san for a strong, solid test. Kara Stewart was his Uke.

We’re building relationships with the California Aikido community, and that led to the kind offer by Aikido Central Coast in San Luis Obispo to host the test at their dojo. Larry Bardach Sensei, who’s part of the California Aikido Association, was an observer for the test.

After John-san’s test, Andrew Blevins Sensei taught an energetic class. Testing is great a milestone: something to work hard for and then enjoy the results of the effort. And, then, it’s time to get right back to the secret of learning Aikido: practice, practice, practice. :)

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Kiryu Aikido Receives 2015 Best of Lone Tree Award in the Martial Arts Activities Category

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October 14, 2015

Kiryu Aikido has been awarded the Best of Lone Tree Award in the Martial Arts Activities category. Presented by the Lone Tree Award Program, the award recognizes local businesses for their success in the community and within their category.

Kiryu Aikido was recognized for our use of best practices and programs that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. As one of the Best of Lone Tree Award winners, Kiryu Aikido helps make the Lone Tree area a great place to live, work and play.

Read the full release:

Press Release_LoneTreeBestAward_OCT2015

 

 

“Big Magic” and Aikido

While the newest book from the author of “Eat Pray Love” is about creativity—recognizing it, welcoming it, and then buckling down to do the work necessary to bring it into a tangible form—I believe much of the book’s explorations relate directly to the practice of Aikido.

Really.

Here’s just one passage to consider, which in my mind resonates in the same space as the secret technique of learning Aikido that Andrew Sensei shares with every student: Get through the dojo door and bow in to practice, day after day. Because with the simple act of practice and consistency, big changes can take place (which are not magic, but can be magical). Without the simple act, very little can.

What do you think?

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— From “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear,” Elizabeth Gilbert, (c) 2015

…Sometimes I think that the difference between a tormented creative life and a tranquil creative life is nothing more than the difference between the word “awful” and the word “interesting.”

Interesting outcomes, after all, are just awful outcomes with the volume of drama turned way down.

I think a lot of people quit pursuing creative lives because they’re scared of the word “interesting.” My favorite meditation teacher, Pema Chodron, once said that the biggest problem she sees with people’s meditation practice is that they quit just when things are starting to get interesting. Which is to say, they quit as soon as things aren’t easy anymore, as soon as it gets painful, or boring, or agitating. They quit as soon as they see something in their minds that scares them or hurts them. So they miss the good part, the wild part, the transformative part—the part when you push past the difficulty and enter into some raw new unexplored universe within yourself.

And maybe it’s like that with every important aspect of your life. Whatever it is you are pursuing, whatever it is you are seeking, whatever it is you are creating, be careful not to quit too soon. As my friend Pastor Rob Bell warns: “Don’t rush through the experiences and circumstances that have the most capacity to transform you.”

Don’t let go of your courage the moment things stop being easy or rewarding.

Because that moment?

That’s the moment when “interesting” begins.

 

Video Clip: 53rd All Japan Aikido Demonstration, May 23, 2015, Tokyo Nippon Budokan

A high-res video clip of the 53rd All Japan Aikido Demonstration is posted on our Kiryu Aikido YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0iFcgUqLwq7e0zhrrjMd1w

Andrew Blevins Sensei, Les Steveson, and Kara Stewart were honored to be part of the demo by Itoh Sensei’s AikidoTekkojuku Dojo from Boston. Blevins Sensei was also a nage and threw three ukes.

It was an amazing experience.

Thanks again to Itoh Sensei, Joji Sensei, and all the students at Tekkojuku.

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