A group of us traveled up north to Ann Arbor Michigan to support our brother in Shobu, Danny Kline’s opening of the Ann Arbor Aikido dojo and to participate in a seminar led by Dan Messisco Sensei (6th Dan). It was a very interesting approach to Aikido. Messisco Sensei has been studying and practicing Aikido for 45 years. The concept of “Aikido techniques” certainly changes into something deeper and more spontaneous after so many years of study. I personally like the idea of "Aikido techniques" but it is great to explore outside of the box which is what we did.
I tried to understand his approach as best I could during our brief encounter. It seemed to center for me around owning one's space, remaining centered and the power that we have when we are grounded in our own center and hara (source of ki). Moving naturally and relaxed in the same way that we do when we make common gestures and expressions with our bodies such as bending down and tying our shoe or rubbing our head. Uke would apply katate tori (wrist grab) and we would do these very spontaneous movements. The object of the expression was for tori (person receiving the attack) to find movement in a centered fashion. It was important for tori not to “stick” their hand out to be grabbed because that creates a sense of attachment. Rather simply present the wrist in a very natural balanced way. Another way of looking at it is that if you have your hand outstretched against a wall and your weight is against the wall and the wall is removed then you will fall. If you outstretch your hand in a balanced way AND you happen to be touching a wall, then it does not matter if the wall is there and you will remain balanced.
For me, Messisco Sensei caused me to think about what I am attached to in my own life. I know sometimes when we practice with the bokken (wooden sword) and I get so fixated on making contact with my partners bokken and we miss I actually lose my balance. The same can certainly be said for matters that we go through in life. We need to have a healthy balanced sense of what is necessary in our lives and to remain grounded in what is important. I love experiencing something and leaving with plenty of questions to marinate on. I’m still workin’ it out! Thanks Danny for sharing Messisco Sensei with the Shobu community and good luck in Ann Arbor. I’ll be on the road for some concerts for a spell but I will be back on the mats in a couple of weeks. See you when I get back.
Peace to you,