Seminar Recap [O’Sensei’s 2009 Memorial Seminar]

group-1Location: Aikido Center of Los Angeles
Photos Courtesy of Aikido Center of Los Angles

For the second year I have been able to attend the O’sensei Memorial seminar hosted by the Aikido Center of Los Angeles. The seminar was scheduled from Friday April 24th to Sunday April 25th.

I arrived Friday afternoon and went right from the airport to the dojo. Due to the flight time I was only able to catch the second class that night. This was taught by Mark Ty who now lives in Washington DC. Bill Allen who is an instructor at the dojo was scheduled to teach the class before that.

img_1848After the first class a lot of people went to the the distinctive Nickel Diner. From the outside this restaurant look like a hole in the wall. However, after going in it had a very nice warm atmosphere with great food and customers. The food was great (even had mint lemonade), and at the end of the meal we celebrated the late Furuya Sensei’s birthday. This was done with a special cake made by the diner’s pastry chef (apparently he trained and came to LA from France). For people who do not know, Furuya Sensei was the founder of the Aikido Center of Los Angeles, and was a nice moment shared with the group.

ito-sensei-throw-1The next morning we started off with a class from David Ito Sensei who is the current chief instructor of the dojo. He gave a class on some Furuya Sensei style techniques. Each time I see these techniques I really enjoy seeing the power and physics based in this style. It is hard to explain in text, but with the martial application of these techniques you can start to see similarities in the concepts introduced. Always fun to get a taste of these techniques.

Itoh SenseiNext Yasumasa Itoh Sensei from Tekkojuku Boston taught his Kanai Sensei style of Aikido. Little by little I have been to a few of Itoh Sensei’s classes and I am slowly seeing how his techniques are applied and the power behind the large hip and body movements. I always enjoy Itoh sensei’s classes not only for the strong throws, but he has a weatlth of knowledge of different techniques and technique names. Never enough time to learn it all =).

Kei Izawa of Aikikai Tanshinjuku (Lafayette, Colorado) taught the last class before lunch. Izawa Sensei always has a lot of movemeimg_1941nt with the whole body during his classes and he was having the students focus on moving our feet and how this translates to power in our techniques.

After lunch img_2010 taught the first class. Almaraz Sensei has a Furuya Sensei branch dojo in Salamanca, Spain. He taught some techniques from ushiro ryotte-dori techniques involving an atemi as the uke comes around for the second grab. This was new to me, but I really enjoyed the practical nature of this transition to the ushiro techniques. Something to digest.

The last class on Saturday was taught by Tom Williams Sensei from La Puente Hacienda Heights Aikikai a Furuya Sensei branch dojo in California. This was a nice end to the practice day, and we all were ready for a little R&R. We took a few hour break to take showers and rest before the nights activities.

Saturday night we had a pot luck party. The dojo and students put together a HUGE amount of great food. It was setupPot Luck almost like a professional catered event, with tons of different dishes and a big evil desert table (can you say cream puff?). This gave everyone some time to share stories, catch up, and get to know each other a little better. We had a TV by the side playing old Furuya Sensei videos and demonstrations. You can see where the beautiful and powerful Furuya style of Aikido came from. I wish I could have seen his Aikido in person. This was a great party and I always step back and really see how Aikido attracts a great type of people. I enjoyed the potluck event a lot, I get to know people a little more each year.

img_2063Sunday morning came quick (weird how that happens), and back for another day of practice. After we got to the dojo I was approached by David Ito Sensei and to my surpise I was asked to teach the first class. Good training for me to come up with a class topic in only a few minuets while warming up :p. I taught katatori-menuchi techniques working on different entries and movements from the energy. I want to thank Mike Van Ruth Sensei (Furuya Branch dojo instructor from Arizona), for being a great uke. It was a great opportunity to share Kiryu Aikido style with the participants of the seminar (Thanks Ito Sensei).

After my class we had the O’Sensei memorial service. The dojo brought in a Buddhist¬† priest to perform a chanting ceremony followed by a short talk. It started with the chanting service and near the end everyone participated in showing respect to the founder of Aikido (Morihei Ueshiba). The priest gave a talk on some deep topics. I think we all take different things from these talks. I took from it that first we must just Memorial Cerimonylive our lives, and no one can do this for us. Furthermore, for us to follow the path “Dou” we must do Aikido (or whatever) for the sake of just doing it. Not to do it for the reasons we come up with, but the pure path. Again, there were many things said and it was a very nice ceremony to celebrate the founder of Aikido.

We had one more class before lunch. This was taught by Kei Izawa Sensei. He taught various flowing techniques from gyaku uchi. This was a lot of fun, and a new strike for me. A lot of line techniques so we could handle the large throws with the large amount of people at the seminar.

We broke for lunch. As some of us had a flight early Sunday night I could not attend the last two classes Sunday afternoon. These were taught by Yasumasa Itoh Sensei, and James Doi Sensei from Aikido Center of LA respectively. I am sure they were great classes.

I have been to many seminars throughout the United States and in other countries and each have their own flavor and setup. Aikido Center of Los Angeles hosts a wonderful seminar. All the classes are on time, and the level of the classes and instructors was great. I was challenged by lots of different types of Aikido. However, we always come down to the fundamental principle of Aikido. I believe this to be the power to bring great people together to share and transmit this martial art to one another while making Aikido friendships. Could not ask for a better weekend.

I want to thank all the instructors and the Aikido Center of Los Angeles for hosting the event, and all who made the event possible.¬† I want to specially thank for helping with driving and that extra hand… (Izawa Sensei, David Ito Sensei, Mike van Ruth, Mark, Shawn, Stephen S., Jacob, Larry, and many more). Hope to see everyone again next year.

Andrew Blevins
Kiryu Aikido

*Note: More Photos HERE, Click Seminars => OSensei Memorial Seminar 2009

Comments (2)

John PriceMay 1st, 2009 at 7:37 am

Thank you for sharing Sensei.

Sounds like a wonderful weekend – the Senseis gathered there, the classes, the memorial service, the parties, the food (um, cream puffs !)… Wow.

I can’t imagine a much better seminar weekend than one having Senseis Ito, Itoh, Izawa, yourself, and the other Senseis (who I’ve not had the pleasure to train with but would like to some day) teaching classes.

Furuya Sensei created a beautiful dojo and legacy. I had the pleasure of seeing him and several of his students do a demo in Little Tokyo during a festival some years back. I remember his Aikido as looking powerful and the Iaido that his students demonstrated was very precise.


Kara StewartMay 1st, 2009 at 9:04 am

Yes, thank you so much for sharing this with us.

It sounds like a great weekend — quality people, strong practices, enjoying time together. Very special.

I really enjoyed working with several of these Senseis when they were in Colorado in March for our testing seminar. It’s wonderful to be able to learn from different people and get a hint of the vastness of Aikido.

Loved what you shared about the Dou and practicing for practice’s sake, and the joy that stems from Aikido bringing together great people to share time on this journey. Furuya Sensei has left a great legacy of Aikido, and what a blessing his students continue his teachings.


P.S. I’m intrigued by gyaku uchi!

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