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.
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bye3jE7mL6o
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5AorrxyRXU
Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Vy5OQST_8s
Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9klx9Bm4uo
A week ago we had a wonderful Gasshuku. As Chuck-san said, it had an Okugyo kind of feel as we dealt with some of the deep spiritual aspects of Aikido. On Friday night, Sensei talked about the Kototama and its dimensions: O (groundedness), A (expansiveness), U (centeredness), E (decisiveness), and I (the boss). Then on Saturday and Sunday mornings, we began each keiko with chanting the kototama. For us Westerners living in a Judeo-Christian society, chanting in a small group may seem – for lack of a better term – weird. And it is understandable. To get a better appreciation, I recommend spending some time at the Zen Mountain Monastery. You can take their “Introduction to Zen Training Retreat,” which is held once every month and lasts an entire weekend. Here you can experience the chanting and the kototama in its proper context. Because when you have about a hundred Buddhist monks and lay practitioners chanting in a large meditation hall, the sounds and the energy in those sounds resonate throughout the entire zendo. Four years ago I went to the Monastery for an Aikido and Zen Intensive Retreat led by Gleason Sensei. This retreat was the precursor and became the model of the Okugyo retreats. And as I meditated and chanted along with the monks and lay practitioners, to me the chanting “made sense.” It felt right. The feeling I had from that experience was incredible. Now I can understand how each individual sound of the kototama would spark a certain unique feeling in my body. And when we study the kototama at the dojo, I have a better appreciation of what Sensei is elaborating about. For those of you who have come to the dojo regularly or have partaken in chanting during the Zen meditation group sessions, the Okugyo retreats, or our special New Year’s keiko, it will be rather difficult for you to fully appreciate the kototama, and the chanting will continue to feel “weird” if you have never experienced it before in a proper Buddhist and larger setting like the Zen Mountain Monastery. Even if you have read Gleason Sensei’s book several times, you cannot reproduce that feeling.
Also during the Gasshuku, Sensei talked about the concepts of kanagi (the physical realm), sagaso (the spatial realm), and futonorito (the mergence of the two realms). (I hope I got the spelling correct.) These concepts are very hard to understand intellectually and require an advanced ukemi for one’s own body to comprehend. As for me, I noticed that these concepts have apparently been around all along, but I have not been fully aware of them until Sensei was spelling it out recently this past couple of months. Even for me, I am only beginning to grasp what Sensei has been discussing as he used me as his uke during this Gasshuku. So for those who were there, I don’t know how helpful or illustrative my ukemi was for your benefit.
Since these concepts are difficult for most of us to comprehend both mentally and physically, I would like to offer these video clips as visual points of reference. I tried to find good clips of Senseis who best embody each individual trait of kanagi, sagaso, and futonorito. So here they are…
Top Video: Kanagi – Hiroshi Isoyama Shihan. Postwar Iwama deshi and Air Self-Defense Force instructor. He should be called “Mr. Kanagi.” This dude is freakin’ brutal. All power, no grace.
Middle Video: Sagaso – Yoshinobu Takeda Shihan. Highest student of Seigo Yamaguchi Shihan. Also is Lia Suzuki Sensei’s main teacher after studying under Gleason Sensei (see my Santa Barbara Invasion article). He is the polar opposite of Isoyama Sensei. Notice how Takeda Sensei’s touch is very light and soft.
Bottom Video: Futonorito – Seigo Yamaguchi Shihan. William Gleason Sensei’s main teacher in Japan. This is the person that our Shobu lineage is derived from. In my opinion, Yamaguchi Sensei is the epitome of futonorito and the I dimension.
During our June Gasshuku, we were honored to have our friends from Canada – Jim Sensei, his daughter Michelle, and Rob – as our guests. Michelle-san and Rob-san were promoted to Ikkyu this past February. So congratulations to them on their accomplishment and best of luck to them as they prepare for Shodan. Jim Sensei, Michelle, and Rob practice Yoshinkan Aikido, an older style of Aikido established by Gozo Shioda Shihan, who was a Kobukan uchi deshi of O Sensei during the pre-WWII era. If you watch Shioda Sensei at work, his style is reminiscent of O Sensei during his aiki budo days when he was transitioning from aikijujutsu to aikido. As Rob-san told us, Yoshinkan is about 95% kanagi.
In tribute to our Canadian friends, here is a nice documentary of Shioda Sensei. It’s in Japanese, so perhaps Chuck-san can translate it for us. We are always delighted to have Rob-san and his friends over, and they and the rest of their colleagues are always welcome to our dojo.
Here is the website of their dojo: www.seikokan.com
1. "I just drank 7 large glasses of beer. Who's your daddy?"
2. "It's 10 PM. Do you know where your children are?"
3. "Oh well, it was either this or Deja Vu."
4. "What do you get when you mix several G-rated short films with an NC-17 epic movie?"
5. "Hey kids, do you want to see my head shaved after I reach shodan?" (See the Dec. 23, 2006 blog entry.)
6. "...Don't listen to what the economists say. Why? Because they like math. And math is very much a part of the Axis of Evil." (Will Farrell as Pres. George W. Bush in Saturday Night Live for those who don't get the reference.)
7. "Either way, Muketsu = AWESOME!!!"
8. "I got MY tickets to The Gun Show!"
9. Captions 1 and 2 only.
10. Captions 3, 5 and 6 only.
11. Caption 7 only.
12. All of the above.
13. None of the above.
Usually I just upload photos, but I would like to say something on the blog. As a beginner student, I didn't realize how in depth the warm up is. At last thursdays lesson, we spent the entire lesson learning to focus on our core/breathing/mentality. It gave me a new and great appreciation for the warm it. I have been trying it at home and it is a great way to start your day!-Roy
The dojo garden is located out at Sensei's ranch near Oak Openings. We are currently growing - Kale, Brocolli, Califlower, Cucumber, Celery, Onions, Red sweet peppers and Pumpkins. There is still space for more veggies so if you have something to add you are welcome to come plant it.
Lately the weather has been great and the ground has stayed moist. In the upcomming weeks we will need help with garden maintenence which includes daily watering. If you have a moment drive on out to the ranch and escape city life for a short spell.
Lately, everybody has been asking me, "Do you feel like a doctor?" or "How does it feel to be a doctor?" To tell you the truth, it has not fully sunk in yet. Oddly but fittingly, my path in medicine parallels my path in aikido, especially since I have obtained both my doctorate degree and my shodan rank in the same year. Over the years as I have advanced in rank in aikido, I remember Sensei saying how one does not necessarily obtain all the skills of that particular rank upon passing his/her respective kyu/dan test but rather grows into that particular rank. In my first keiko as a shodan, other than having that cool feeling of wrapping a black belt around my waist, I honestly did not feel that much different. I felt I was the same as before I took that shodan test in Chicago. But as the months passed by, I began to understand what it meant to be a shodan in terms of my perspective of the art of aikido and my responsibility to the community and to myself. And to this day, I am still researching on not what it feels like to be just a shodan, but what it feels like to be a yudansha in general. I am not too much concerned on obtaining my next rank at this point. That is the same attitude I have toward my status as a newly minted physician. I believe that when I start my residency training this July and the following months thereafter, I will begin to understand what it feels like to be a physician as I work with the responsibility of my patients' well-being. But as in aikido, in medicine I have to avoid the trap of having a big ego. During my days in medical school, I have seen a number of residents and some attendings forget what it felt like to be a former medical student and lose their perspective on what it meant to be a physician. But don't worry about me, I won't turn to the dark side ;) Thank you all for supporting me. I'll see you on the mat. Gassho.
- October (6)
- August (1)
- July (6)
- June (3)
- May (4)
- March (2)
- February (1)
- November (4)
- October (3)
- September (2)
- August (5)
- July (6)
- June (2)
- May (13)
- April (5)
- March (9)
- February (9)
- January (12)
- December (7)
- November (12)
- October (16)
- September (11)
- August (11)
- July (11)
- June (5)
- May (8)
- April (9)
- March (15)
- February (25)
- January (17)
- December (7)
- November (12)
- October (19)
- September (15)
- August (6)
- July (7)
- June (21)
- May (8)
- April (5)
- March (8)
- February (3)
- January (10)
- December (14)
- January (1)