There are currently openings for Adult and Children students. Interested candidates are invited to observe a class. The dojo is co-located with the Toledo Zen Center at 6537 Angola Road Holland, OH 43558

Aikido is a non-competitive martial art that can be practiced by almost anyone. Aikido techniques do not rely on physical strength but rather develops relaxed power through the focus of intention and Ki. The result is a creative method of non-destructive conflict resolution.

Aikido is practiced on many levels. The first level is includes the development of stamina, flexibility, and learning how to focus one's intention. The second level is built on the first and stresses self-defense techniques that teach the natural order of movement. In this process the students also become adept at ukemi, the art of rolling, falling and protecting oneself. Aikido provides the opportunity for the development of the entire person. It is a workout of the entire body and mind and results in increased strength, overall physically fitness, flexibility and centeredness.

At the third level students are gradually introduced to the secrets of receiving and harnessing the power of ki, they also develop spatial awareness and learn to judge proper timing and distance. During this training the goal is to establish and maintain an energetic connection to your partner and to lead them off balance. This eliminates the need for more destructive means of resolving situations.

The highest level of aikido is mind over matter. This involves the use of visualization techniques, the power of intention and ki, breath control and meditation. Aikido is truly a spiritual martial art that explores themind - body - spirit connection. This advanced level of training at Shobu Aikido reaches a level not easily found elsewhere. The student learns how to manifest power and effectiveness by the focusing of intention alone. This level depends on and can only be reached through the refinement of technique and the students own deepest feeling. For this reason it alternates between the physical and the spiritual.

In the process of practicing aikido, students inevitably find themselves less stressed and more energetic, better equipped to manage life's many conflicts with calm control. Aikido is great for adults and kids alike because practice encourages respect for self and others, self control, cooperation and responsibility.

Gasshuku or weekend long intensive seminars with William Gleason Sensei are available seasonally.

Children's aikido classes provide a friendly, non-competitive environment for students to become more physically fit, agile, flexible, aware, focused, and relaxed. They learn how to safely fall, roll and perform a variety of self-defense techniques in a supportive, comfortable setting, and parents like Aikido because kids learn how to be powerful without becoming destructive.

Muketsu Invades Santa Barbara

What's up T-Town! Today was a good day. Santa Barbara is a beautiful city. These Californians really know how to landscape their cities. I actually got to do some wine tasting at Stearns Wharf. The bartender gave us a few pointers and offered her insight. Man, this girl knows her stuff. She grew up in Napa Valley and has been wine tasting since age 5. She was able to taste the difference between American oak and French oak (the type of barrel the wine was stored in). I sampled 7 different wines. For our dojo's resident wine connoisseurs, Dale-san and Mike (Miller)-san, here is a list of wines I sampled, and I am curious about your input on these drinks:

Coastal View California Champaigne - Woodridge
Presidio Pinot Gris (2006) - Santa Barbara County
Presidio Syrah Rose (2006) - Santa Barbara County
Bonny Doon: the Heart Has its Rieslings (2006) - Santa Cruz
Field of Dreams 2006 Moscato - Barossa Valley, Australia
Kenneth Volk Pinot Noir (2005) - Santa Maria Curee/Santa Barbara County
Presidio 2004 Port - Amador County

Later in the evening, I got a chance to take a class at the Aikido Kenkyukai International, Santa Barbara dojo headed by Lia Suzuki Sensei. Lia Sensei studied under Gleason Sensei, who introduced her to Yoshinobu Takeda Shihan. Lia Sensei subsequently studied under Takeda Sensei as her main teacher. Takeda Sensei was Yamaguchi Sensei's most senior student. In fact, he was promoted to 8th Dan a year ago by the 3rd and current Doshu, Moriteru Ueshiba. Lia Sensei actually came to Toledo to lead a gasshuku on August 2005, and I remember that experience as an extremely intense practice.

When I stepped on the mat, I noticed that the floor was really hard. The first thought that went into my mind was an image of Yamaguchi Sensei's private dojo which had wooden flooring. Then I thought to myself, how will I take ukemi on this? Then I noticed that there were tatami mats underneath the canvas. OK, at least there is some cushioning. Actually, after awhile taking ukemi on real tatami mats felt "nourishing" for the body.

To no surprise, practice was indeed intense. When Sensei makes her rounds, she likes throwing me about ten times before moving on to the next student. The class concluded with students throwing each other. Lia Sensei performed irimi nage on me 25 times. After keiko, there was an after-practice practice where students had the option of throwing each other some more as well as being thrown by Sensei, if they so choose. I took turns with one of the mudansha students and with one of the senior students.

Before bowing out, Lia Sensei gave an anecdote on how Gleason Sensei would talk about yin and yang, heaven and earth, and how these concepts would escape students' minds. It is interesting to note that by taking ukemi from someone, one could have a glimpse or sense of what that particular individual's teacher's style of Aikido was like. This is so because learning is accomplished through a close teacher-student relationship and a direct transmission from teacher to student through contact, connection, and ukemi. In my case, when I take ukemi from Gleason Sensei, I can get a sense of what Yamaguchi Sensei's Aikido was like. Likewise, when I take ukemi from Lia Sensei, I can get a sense of what Takeda Sensei's Aikido was like. When you watch footage of Takeda Sensei, you notice that his touch is very soft, but he has a strong sense of connection and direction. And taking ukemi from Lia Sensei seems to support that. Yamaguchi Sensei and Gleason Sensei are similar, except that they place a strong emphasis on center and verticality, at least that's the feeling I get when I take ukemi from Gleason Sensei. I am very fascinated by Lia Sensei and Takeda Sensei's style of Aikido. And learning from her is a very good educational experience.

The students at the Santa Barbara dojo were extremely warm and friendly. Their energy and the ki of the dojo was very vibrant and strong; their practice was honest, pure, and open-hearted. Lia Sensei inquired how Jay Sensei and our dojo were doing, and I informed her of our recent shodan promotions and the Okugyo retreats. Lia Sensei and some of her students are going to Pennsylvania this April for a gasshuku at an affiliate dojo. Thursday night was Social Night for their dojo, and they kindly invited me to hang out with them. Unfortunately, I had to decline because my family had to return to L.A. in time for my mother to cook dinner for my brother when he returned from work. Nevertheless, I had a great time at Santa Barbara and training with Lia Sensei and her students.

I'll post some pictures when I return. Till next time...Gassho.

-Andre ("Muketsu")


Chris W said...

Muketsu- Should you decide to "invade" the Sunset Strip, heres a tip: Beware of friendly girls that have adam's apples! peace

Chuck Greer said...

I second that warning, 'ketsu, especially if they are drinking White Zinfandel, and have large hands and feet...


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