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.


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.

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