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.
Yeah, so apparently Harvard has its own "Brew House." I'll have to admit, they have a better selection of beers and better food and service than our own Brew House back home.
This is an actual traffic signal in Cambridge. Cool.
This is a statue of John Harvard. It is also called "The Statue of Three Lies." Why? Well, first of all, the inscription reads "John Harvard, Founder, 1638." Well, Harvard was actually founded in 1636. Second, John Harvard was not really the founder of Harvard University. And third, the image of the guy in the statue is not really John Harvard because no authentic pictures of this John Harvard ever existed. So I guess you can say that those who came out of Harvard are just a bunch of liars. Anyhoo, there is a tradition where visitors rub John Harvard's shoe for luck. Since the statue is a total lie, I don't know what kind of luck I'm going to get.
To one-up this tradition, I decided to climb up onto John Harvard's lap and tell him what I wanted for Christmas.
Oh well, till next time, Happy New Year! Gassho.
I know that this article is long overdue, and that this Gasshuku is already old news. But better late than never, I guess. Let’s see how much I remember…
In July 2007, a group of us – Sensei, Chelsea, Bob, Kristi, Andy, and myself – traveled to the Shobu Aikido of Boston for its Summer Gasshuku (7/27 – 7/29). This particular Gasshuku was special because the classes were conducted by Bill Gleason Sensei’s former students who each became a sensei and dojo-cho. The Gasshuku culminated in the final class being led by Gleason Sensei himself.
While everyone else in our group took the pleasant 12-hour drive, I decided to travel by plane. Unfortunately, the plane was delayed for about an hour on the Detroit airport runway because of weather conditions along the flight path. By the time I arrived at the Boston dojo, there was about 30 minutes left in the first class. The rest of our Ohio group was already on the mat, but it turned out that they arrived late as well. Jay Sensei waved me in to the mat. So I got to my rental car, obtained my gear, changed into my gi, and here we go…
The first class was taught by Rob Liberti Sensei of Shobu Aikido of Connecticut. When I got on the mat, Sensei was teaching us some tricks to doing Aikido techniques correctly. These “tricks” were jujutsu variations of some of the classic Aikido moves such as Nikyo, for example. Sensei repeatedly told the class that these “jujutsu” forms that he showed us were only meant to be used as visual tools to help us execute Aikido technique properly but should not limit us from researching the principles and philosophies behind Aikido technique.
On Saturday, Lia Suzuki Sensei of the Aikido Kenkyukai International dojo at Santa Barbara led the first morning class. As usual, her class was intense (see my Santa Barbara article in March 2007) and she showed us some interesting techniques. In one technique for example, nage would lie down supine on the mat while uke would grab both of nage’s wrists from a standing position. Nage would then attempt to unbalance uke while remaining to lie down. Lia Sensei’s class brought a lot of energy to everyone on the mat but also left us tired.
Next, our very own Jay Chikyo Weik Sensei of Shobu Aikido of Ohio taught the second morning class. Sensei slowed the pace down and set a more reflective tone as he discussed kanagi, sagaso, and futonorito as well as the dimensions of the Kototama. It was cool that Sensei used some of his own students including myself as his uke in most of his demonstrations. I could tell that many people on the mat had difficulty understanding the concepts that Sensei was going over. However, I was not surprised. Sensei went over these principles over an entire Gasshuku at our home dojo last June (see the June 29, 2007 article). And to have Sensei condense everything he went over an entire weekend into a two-hour class is a formidable task. So Sensei was only able to provide a bird’s eye view of these deep concepts. But in the end it was all good.
For lunch we went to this Macrobiotic restaurant in town. I never knew that any of these ever existed. But I guess one could make a restaurant out of anything. We had a good time at this particular establishment. In one photo you see Jay Sensei talking to Ralph Sensei of Vermont (sitting to Jay Sensei’s left) while you can see us in the other photos enjoying the Macrobiotic cuisine. I ate what was labeled “Steak Sandwich” when I very well knew that they used some Macrobiotic substitute but labeled it as so to appeal to the common folk such as myself. It tasted pretty good as long as I didn’t know what the real contents were.
Saturo Sato Sensei of Shobu Aikido of the Berkshires led the afternoon class. During the first half of the class, Sato Sensei demonstrated the application of the principles of hanmi, maai, and zanshin to technique such as Ikkyo. It was interesting taking ukemi from Sato Sensei. One would not think that a lot of hara would come from such a small person. The thing with Sato Sensei is that he knows how to control the space really well and so in turn he is able to control the center of the technique and thus the center of uke himself. During the second half of the class, Sensei went over bokken techniques. At this point, Gleason Sensei stepped onto the mat and practiced with Jay Sensei. But as for the rest of the class, we were all lost with what Sato Sensei was teaching. Oh well, in the end it was all good.
It was a tough day of training because it was very hot and humid. It rained most of the day, but it did not help cool down the climate unfortunately. We were all exhausted at the end. In the evening, there was a party at the house of one of the Boston aikidoka. I opted not to attend because I wanted to visit one of my best friends who was living in Boston. I’ll discuss my adventures in another article.
On Sunday, Chelsea, Bob, Kristi, and Andy had to drive back home. Since my flight was later in the afternoon, I was able to attend the morning classes. The first class was taught by Todd Trzaskos Sensei of Shobu Aikido of Vermont. The basic theme of Todd Sensei’s class was trying to maintain a vertical posture throughout the technique. So in one demonstration, Sensei had someone grab him with full force. And even though Sensei was being pushed back, he maintained his vertical posture and allowed himself some time to collect himself and receive uke’s energy and momentum. At the end of class, Sensei showed the application of this principle to kokyu tanden ho. He demonstrated how one could maintain vertical posture from nage’s standpoint (which was obvious) as well as from uke’s standpoint (which was not so obvious).
Next, Ralph Malerba Sensei, the head instructor of Shobu Aikido of Vermont, taught the second morning class. If memory serves me right, I believe that Ralph Sensei was one of Gleason Sensei’s original students when he [Gleason Sensei] returned from Japan after studying under Seigo Yamaguchi Shihan. First, Ralph Sensei went over strict etiquette of entering, practicing on, and leaving the mat. Next, we went over kokyu tanden ho. This time, I had the luck of practicing with Lia Sensei for this technique. As Lia Sensei’s style is heavily focused on sagaso, I wanted to take the opportunity to ascertain her hara out of curiosity. And Lia Sensei let me know that she was indeed pretty hard to move. Afterwards, Ralph Sensei performed some demonstrations. And let me tell you my friends, he is one guy you do not want to mess with. He is one mean dude. It is not that his technique is brutal; it’s just that he moves like Gleason Sensei. I had the pleasure of taking ukemi from Ralph Sensei, and all I can say is that his technique is simply amazing.
Since I had a flight to catch, I could not attend Gleason Sensei’s afternoon class. But by that time, I was already worn out. Nevertheless, I had a great time despite the weather. The only problem I had during the training, however, was that sometimes the more experienced black belt students had a tendency to be physically rough toward the less experienced students when training with them. Also, the more experienced black belt students like to lecture their kohai, including myself, when we are practicing the technique together. I don’t know why they have a tendency to do such things, but I find the behavior quite bothersome. First, it is more distracting than helpful in my research. In a way, it goes against O Sensei’s principle that practice is research involving a mutual cooperation between partners. Second, it is disrespectful to the teacher who is conducting the class. Personally, the only “lecturing” I do is for the newcomer who is obviously lost but even then I try to keep talking to a minimum. Rather, I let my ukemi do the talking, and I leave it up to my partner to figure out how my ukemi reflects on how correctly or incorrectly he/she is executing the technique. And for those of you who I train and work with [in our home dojo], you know exactly what I am talking about. The people who I enjoy working with are guys like Jay Sensei and Sato Sensei. Sato Sensei, for example, whenever he is not leading a class is an excellent training partner. As an uke, he understands that you have less experience and that your technique is not as refined or sophisticated as his, but he will still flow with you. And if you are not doing the technique correctly, he will let you know (nonverbally, of course).
That being aside, I had a wonderful experience in Boston. What made this particular Gasshuku unique is that it felt like a family reunion. In most Gasshukus, there seems to be a subtle competitive spirit amongst members of different dojos. But in this case, with all the Shobu students gathered on one mat, there is a common understanding that we all share. Therefore, the practice becomes very honest and research-oriented. Furthermore, to see how each instructor has a unique interpretation of Aikido and to see how much these senseis progressed since studying under Gleason Sensei are inspiring. I highly recommend any Shobu student to take the opportunity to attend one of these special Gasshukus.
Happy Holidays! Gassho.
Please come and join Karen, Isabella and myself for a New Years day open house pot luck party at our ranch anytime from 3-9pm. As it happens, New Years day is also my birthday - I will be turning 39 this year, so we can have a drink to that toghther as well!
All are welcome, come when you can. If you need our home address, email me and I'll send it to you.
See you then!
I've been reading "The Spirit of Aikido" and it dawned on me that perhaps we could try something out that might help with making the dojo more accessible to those with day jobs, families or those living the american dream. I was reading about the Doshu's amazement over class participation at Hombu Dojo. Regardless of the season - snow, freezing weather as well as summer with it's hot conditions practitioners show up regardless of the weather. My focus was on the time frame involved. Obviously the size of our dojo doesn't compare to Hombu but I'd like to throw this out for Shobu community feedback . . .
Would anyone be interested in Aikido classes daily at 6:30 am?
Granted I'm not a morning person (yet) but I would gladly sacrifice a few hours of sleep in order to free up more evenings for my family. There is no doubt in my mind that if I could somehow go to keiko more often without impacting my relationship with my wife and kids that I would. As it stands now going three times a week has at times created serious implications with the relationships in my life. I think an early class would be great and allow for more time on the mat. What do you all think??
Throughout this past year, I am surprised how many people across the globe visit our blog. I want to thank everybody who contributed to the blog and all of you who checked out our website. I hope you have found the contents in this blog to be enlightening, or at the very least, decent bathroom reading material. To the members of the Chikyokan Dojo, please continue to contribute to the blog. And to all of you, please continue to check out our humble website and you are welcome to visit and train with us anytime. I look forward to another good year of training, beginning with the New Year's Keiko. Gassho.
hello shobu community, i (danny kline) will be leading an aikido club at the fitness connection in tecumseh, michigan beginning jan. 9 and continuing each wednesday following. all are welcomed and encouraged to join in should you ever find yourself far from holland and in need of keiko. as this is very much an extension of my training at our home dojo, i wanted everyone to feel a part of it. arigato, see you on the mat!!
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