3/29 Seminar/Testing (Recap)

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*More pictures coming…

This last weekend we just finished a great seminar and test. There were three different teachers from out of town to attend the summit and also to teach and attend the testing seminar. The testing dojos were Kiryu Aikido, Tanshinjuku, Doushinjuku, Castle Rock Aikido, and LMS Aikido. We were joined by other instructors and students from throughout itosensei20090329Colorado.

The day started with David Ito sensei from Aikido Center of Los Angeles. He started with basic techniques and emphasized that as a nage we should prepare for our partner to respond in multiple ways. One example was when employing Aihanmi-katatedori and sliding off to the outside to do Nikkyo the hand doing the nikkyo should be in place for a shomen strike. So if our pattern lets go we are not in a bad position. We continued on this idea. The students enjoyed this approach.

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We then did the testing before lunch. With the multiple groups testing there are some variations in style and approach in our Aikido. I personally really enjoy the diversity and there are a lot of common themes that the instructors are looking for that traverse different styles. Some of these (and many more) can be confidence in techniques, being relaxed, knowing the techniques, smooth application of technique, strong/controlled techniques, etc. Furthermore, it is a joy to see the students from the various schools growing and progressing between tests. Without these nice moments and seeing progression in my own students along with other students it is hard to see why we keep instructing (as least to me). The students did well and you could see the people who did well, and the people who really put in a lot of time and training from the last test.

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After lunch August Dragt sensei from Aikikai Aikido Amsterdam taught some nice variations on some basic techniques and the redirection of energy. Also, he added some ideas on where attacks were coming from and how to protect yourself when you are blending with the attack. It is always nice hearning different explinations to our Aikido techniques.

Yasumasa Itoh sensei from Tekkojuku Boston was the next instructor teaching. Itoh sensei has come to Denver before and it is always a delight learning from him. His techniques have that Kanai sensei taste and very flowing and powerful. The day before he also taught a class at the 2009 Aikido summit. The students liked the big dynamic throws. For this seminar he focused on moving with some ryotedori grabs and some makiuchi dropping throws. He also talked about “Touitsutai” concept. This he said is our attention, hips, body, everything is focused on where we are throwing and follow it itoh_sensei_summit09(including zanshin afterwards). I personally really liked this explanation, and feel this is very important in our throws.

Izawa SenseiThe last class was taught by Kei Izawa sensei from Tanshinjuku, Colorado. Izawa sensei brought in some dynamic ushiryote dori techniques that we practiced in lines (I think people were starting to get tiered 🙂 ). He recapped the importance of the seminar and thanked all of us for getting together for a great day of practice. All the students rolled up the mats and put up the gym. It was a great seminar, and again a good opportunity for many dojos and styles of Aikido to get together to share their viewpoints and experience with us. Thanks to all the instructors and also to all the students who made this a successful day.

Andrew Blevins
Kiryu Aikido, Littleton Colorado

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Comments (3)

John PriceApril 3rd, 2009 at 2:26 pm

This was one of the more enjoyable seminars I’ve attended (not that others haven’t been enjoyable, mind you). I don’t know if that was due to the size of the group, or the variety of waza and concepts shown by the Senseis, or the inclusion of testing, or all of the above. Whatever it was, this was just one that I had a grand time at.

It’s always interesting to watch (and be a part of) testing. Seeing the various ways students perform the same techniques, and even the variety of ukemi is always fun.

Congratulations to those who tested. Having seen the progression of fellow Kiryu students Kara-san and Keith-san from when they first walked on the mats to where they are now is very cool. And of course it was an honor to be uke for Keith-san in the test and to help Kara-san prepare for her test.

I enjoyed Ito Sensei’s focus on taking a basic waza – nikkyo – and how it can be adapted and changed depending on what the uke is doing. (I’m also VERY pleased that he didn’t take my photo later in the day as I tripped over the curled edge of the mat and did the most embarrassing “ukemi” of anyone at the seminar.)

Itoh Sensei’s comments on Touitsutai brought to mind experiences from my Iaido days. Sensei Corella worked with us a lot on this idea (although he never used that term the concepts were still the same). I’m glad that Itoh-Sensei brought it back to me to think about and work on again.

I worked several times with Dragt Sensei over the course of the day. He kept me honest in my techniques and gave me some valuable information.

And it’s always a pleasure to have Izawa Sensei teaching us. (and I appreciated the line “drills” and the breathers they provided) His strength and smoothness are something to aspire to.

I look forward to more of these seminars and training get togethers with our fellow Aikidoka.

John

AndrewApril 3rd, 2009 at 2:29 pm

Very nice comments. I didn’t see “the fall” but sounds like it was spectacular. Glad to have you there!
Andrew

Kara StewartApril 3rd, 2009 at 3:57 pm

It was a wonderful seminar and the testing was fun. 🙂 I want to thank you and every teacher who helped us students prepare for our tests.

I like seeing the differences in styles and then working with different students to feel the differences in their techniques. That’s really helpful for me.

The teaching was awesome. Each Sensei brought very helpful perspectives and I learned a lot from eachl of them. Here’s just the top level of what I took home:

Ito Sensei: be ready for anything and don’t assume

Dragt Sensei: extend, extend, and maintain the connection

Itoh Sensei: focus and direct our whole being, inside and outside, on where we’re throwing

Izawa Sensei: changing direction during a technique is no reason for connection and flow to cease; it’s just changing direction

I loved the off-the-mat applications/implications of each teacher’s lessons, as well. I really appreciated the time and personal help each Sensei gave to us students, and their Ukes and students were just as helpful and accommodating.

We have a great Aikido community and it’s wonderful to all get together and spend time training and learning. What a blessing, and I look forward to many, many more chances to practice together. 🙂

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