Kiryu Aikido with Izawa Sensei following the tests.
Swirling to earth.
Ukes do the same.
This attempt at haiku, albeit poor, came to mind as I listened to bare feet swish across the mat while the first groups of earnest students performed their Aikido tests on a bright, breezy October day. Our biannual Aikido testing, again graciously hosted and overseen by Izawa Sensei and his Tanshinjuku dojo, was Sunday, October 26, 2014.
In addition to several students testing from Tanshinjuku and Doushinjuku, Kiryu Aikido had two students testing: Katie-san for Gokyu and Charles-san for Shodan. It was heartening (and not surprising) to see their strong tests — culmination of the hours they’ve devoted to practicing over the past few months.
While the quantity of hours is important (it’s hard to improve without the sheer reality of time on the mat), I believe the quality of the hours is just as, or perhaps more, important. Without focus and the intent to push beyond comfort zones and plateaus, practice might not get us where we want to go on our Aikido journey.
Katie-san and Uke (Greg-san)
Katie-san and Charles-san showed diligence and dedication in their preparation leading up to the test day, and I believe their commitment to their practice was reflected in the quality of their tests. They were strong, clean, confident, with good spirit and zanshin.
Thanks to our Ukes — Greg-san for Katie-san’s test, and Bob-san for Charles-san’s test — and to everyone in the dojo who helped them along the way every class.
I want to personally thank Andrew Blevins Sensei and Senior Instructor Les Steveson for helping me prepare over the years so that I could have the honor of being an Uke for Charles-san’s test. Without you both, I would not have had the joy and privilege to be a part of his test.
Congratulations, Katie-san and Charles-san. You did a great job, both in representing how far you’ve come on your Aikido journeys and in sharing the spirit of Kiryu Aikido, instilled into our dojo by Blevins Sensei, with others.
Charles-san koshi nage.
Keep up the hard work, and see you back on the mat soon.
Les, Charles, Kara, Dave, and Katie wrap up a great Koen Club.
On Saturday, October 25, we met outside for two hours of Koen Club (park practice).
After warming up with Tsuki No Bu of our 20 jo suburi, we moved on to paired practice.
The second hour, we worked on ken suburi, including proper kamae and hand position, followed by awase practice with focus on martial intent of our strikes and proper maai.
We ended with our first weapons relation: Ikkyo.
Thanks, Les-san, for leading a great class and your emphasis on our spirit and effectiveness.
What a great way to enjoy the warm late summer weather!
The first part of July 2014, Kiryu Aikido Instructor Kara Stewart and I visited Andrew Blevins Sensei for a week at his home in Central California. While there, we trained and went over basic and intermediate weapons relations plus open hand techniques.
Our first practice was in the backyard, against the backdrop of a lemon and orange tree. We started with a session on Tachi Dori, going through several techniques. It was great to pick up little tips and to brush off the dust a little.
The next day of training was at Grover Beach, a very long stretch of beach that is a little over a mile from Sensei’s house. There, we worked in the sand – a great tool / reminder for keeping one’s center and balance, and moving well to keep up with the technique – and covered intermediate relations with the bokken. We worked on the Taijutsu with the relations as well.
Then, we had the great fortune of taking breakfalls on the beach. Kara-san said it felt like landing on a memory foam mattress, firm at first, then the sand dissipated just a bit. Really cool, and fun.
The Aikido training was great, but visit was better. What a treat to see Sensei, Mina-san and Cyrus-san. This trip alone has made my summer very memorable for me and my family. We hope to see Sensei at the dojo soon.
Kara-san and I appreciate all the time the Blevins family spent with us, and all the planning and wonderful outings and places they showed us. It was a priceless week. Arigatou gozaimashita!
Just a reminder that every Saturday, the second hour of class is devoted to our weapons practice. We’ll be practicing everything from the very important basic etiquette on to the suburi, katas, and relations. Don’t worry if you don’t have any weapons yet. The dojo has a few sets for students to use.
Instructor Kara Stewart presents Katie-san with 6th kyu certificate.
Congratulations to Katie-san, who tested on Saturday, June 28, 2014, for her 6th kyu rank. Great job!
You’re a wonderful example of dedication and positive attitude. Keep up the hard work.
This journey is just beginning, and we are thrilled to be with you on this path.
Omedetou gozaimashita, Katie-san.
We had a great, fun Intro to Aikido workshop on Saturday, June 28.
Six new people bowed on to the mat and all did really well. They all seemed to enjoy the practice as much as we enjoyed practicing with them.
We started with a brief history of Aikido, followed by warm-ups and kneeling roll practice. Then we practiced Tai No Henko, Katate Dori Sumi Otoshi, Ai Hanmi Katate Dori Kotegaeshi, and finished the class with a short weapons demonstration showing tanto, jo, and tachi dori.
My sincere thanks to the Kiryu Aikido students who participated and shared our wonderful dojo spirit with newcomers.
The journey of Aikido is traveled alone, but it cannot be accomplished without the accompaniment of others.
Arigatou gozaimashita, everyone.
Interested in learning more about Aikido? We welcome you to our second free Intro to Aikido workshop.
We’ll cover a little of Aikido’s history, go through a few of our Aikido-based warmups, and try some techniques, plus demonstrate a sample of the weapons work we do at Kiryu Aikido.
The workshop will be held Saturday, June 28, from 1:30-3:30 at our dojo at Lone Tree Rec Center, near I-25 and Lincoln.
Register online at South Suburban Lone Tree Rec center,
or just show up. Wear sweat pants and a t-shirt and have fun exploring this wonderful martial art.
Please join us!
The three Kiryu Aikido students who tested in April recently received their certificates from Hombu Dojo in Japan. In a fortunate alignment of scheduling, Blevins Sensei was in town to teach that weekend and was able to personally give the certificates to Bob-san for his Ikkyu test and Greg-san for his Sankyu test.
Blevins Sensei presents Bob-san with his Ikkyu certificate.
Greg-san receives his Sankyu certificate from Blevins Sensei.
The following weekend, Dave-san received his Gokyu certificate from Senior Instructor Les Steveson. In addition, Charles-san was recognized for attaining 500 hours of practice.
Dave-san receives his Goyku certificate.
Charles-san reaches practice milestone of 500 hours.
New student Justin-san recently tested for his 6th kyu rank a few weeks ago — that first big step in an Aikido journey — and we welcomed three great new students to the dojo this spring.
You’re all great examples of the results that happen with dedication and commitment to practice.
Omedetou gozaimashita, everyone. Keep up the hard work and focus!
On Sunday, June 1st, we took part in the annual Japanese School of Denver Aikido demonstration, led by Izawa Sensei of Tanshinjuku Aikido dojo.
I think this was our third or fourth time attending, and as usual it was great to feel the energy of so many children, from very young to teenagers. Seeing their smiles, hearing their excitement, watching their joy as they tried something new — pricelesss.
Special thanks to Izawa Sensei for the invitation. It’s always wonderful to spread awareness of Aikido.
Thanks also to Charles-san for attending and being uke in our short demo.
“Life is short,” Izawa Sensei shared as we took a break between the kyu tests and the four Nidan tests that were to follow. Yesterday was our biannual test day with our community of dojos including Izawa Sensei’s Tanshinjuku dojo and Albright Sensei’s Doushinjuku dojo. Combined, 15 students tested from the three dojos.
“This is your time to share with us how you have been practicing and to show the training you have done over the past many months. Don’t keep your energy inside. Let it extend out; let your Aikido be expressed in your test.”
We had three students from Kiryu Aikido testing: Bob-san for Ikkyu, Greg-san for Sankyu, and Dave-san for Gokyu. Les-san and I were proud of each student’s test, which were strong and solid, and great examples of the hard work they put in over the last several weeks preparing for their tests. I also want to thank Charles-san for being Bob-san’s Uke, and all the students at Kiryu Aikido for helping each other prepare and for supporting each other’s Aikido path. I believe that preparing a student for a test takes a village – the dojo – and the students and instructors are all involved in various ways.
For me, what Izawa Sensei shared resonated at this level: that we are what we practice, whether on the mat or in life (and in the end, it’s the same thing, in my humble opinion). The attention we bring to the details, the awareness we bring to the practice and the work, the presence and confidence we project as we move through the world…all are expressed in our way of being and result from how we practice. That energy then extends into every piece of our lives and becomes who we are.
Thank you to Andrew Blevins Sensei, for your continued teaching and sharing Kiryu spirit, and Izawa Sensei and the students of Tanshinjuku dojo for again hosting the test and for your welcoming spirit, and for the camaraderie our three dojos share.
I look forward to getting back on the mat, bowing into practice, and taking the next steps on this journey with our wonderful students at Kiryu Aikido.
Kiryu Aikido celebrates 10th anniversary.
This year, 2014, marks Kiryu Aikido’s 10th year as a safe, strong, vibrant dojo.
To commemorate this milestone, we created special edition 10th anniversary hoodies and t-shirts. Here are just a few of our instructors and students wearing the new garments with pride for our Kiryu spirit and continued journey.
Doumo arigatou gozaimashita, Andrew Blevins Sensei, for your vision, generosity, and countless hours of sharing your amazing talent and passion for this martial art.