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 D.C. (Part 4 of 5)
For the first three days of camp, we were blessed with moderate weather. However, on July 4 and 5, temperatures were reaching the high 90’s to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the 8:30 AM class, I decided to go back to the two-sword class where Ledyard Sensei discussed the application of two-sword technique to empty-hand technique. I was working with Wendy Whited Sensei where the practice turned into a boxing-like sparring gone chaotic.
For the first half of the 10:00 AM class, we went over Tanto Dori with Saotome Sensei. The lesson here is that the focus is not on the knife but on the whole person.
“The eyes are to be focused in such a way as to maximize the range and breadth of vision. Observation and perception are two separate things; the observing eye is stronger, the perceiving eye is weaker. A specialty of martial arts is to see that which is far away closely and to see that which is nearby from a distance.
“In martial arts it is important to be aware of opponents’ swords and yet not look at the opponents’ swords at all. This takes work.
“This matter of focusing the eyes is the same in both small- and large-scale military science.
“It is essential to see to both sides without moving the eyeballs.” –from the “Water Scroll”
The second half of class consisted of Shinai Dori from Shomen, Tsuki, and Yokomen attacks. During this phase of training, Sensei again became upset about students having the wrong spirit. "Shiniai training but no shinai spirit," he said. He stated that shinai training is as close to working with a live blade.
The afternoon class went from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM with Ikeda Sensei. Throughout his class, I worked with Doug Clubine Sensei of St. John’s College Aikido in Annapolis, Maryland. He attended a few of Bill Gleason Sensei’s seminars in the past, and we became pretty good friends during this week. And so we did some deep research together while Ikeda Sensei was teaching. Sensei discussed more about breaking uke’s balance, and as usual the mystery of Ikeda Sensei lives on as he unbalanced four people who were all grabbing and placing weight on his shoulders.
Evening – The Fireworks
I spent two nights at the Holiday Inn Express, which was about a 10-minute drive from camp. Luckily, there was a free shuttle that took us directly from the hotel to Union Station, which was a few blocks from the National Mall. The shuttle ride was about 15 minutes, and so I did not have to worry about figuring out the Metro or any other form of public transportation. I took the 7:30 PM shuttle, and so by the time I arrived there the temperature cooled to about in the 80’s. Here are some pictures.
Remember "A Capitol Fourth," the July 4th concert shown on PBS? This was taken behind the stage. You could hear the music, but it sounded like a marching band rehearsal.
Here are a couple of U.S. Army cannons. At the time, I didn't know what they were used for or when they were going to be fired. They actually fired during the fireworks. When I returned to the hotel and saw the rebroadcast on television, I realized that they were used during the 1812 Overture. (Of course!)
I tried to make my way around to see the concert from the front, but first I had to go through security and metal detectors. On my way toward The Capitol, I could hear Gladys Knight singing "Midnight Train to Georgia" (Whoo whoo!) and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." There was a lot of people filling the steps of The Capitol to see the concert. Unfortunately, the center section in front of The Capitol steps were closed off by security, so I could not see the stage very well. I did see Jimmy Smits and Darius Rucker on the Jumbotron. I decided to head back down and walk toward The Mall.
There was a lot of activity on The Mall. One was the Hare Krishna Festival with Indian music and dancing. I wanted to continue on walking and get a spot by the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. But I didn't realize how far a walk it was, and I don't think I was halfway near the Washington Monument. Considering that I wanted to go back to the hotel as quickly as possible after the conclusion of the fireworks, I decided to walk back.
The fireworks were awesome! After they were over, I dashed back to Union Station and was able to make the first shuttle back to the hotel. It was around 9:45 PM.
I had a great time. Seeing fireworks on the 4th of July at the nation's capital - It can't get any better than that!
On to Day 5 and the Conclusion...
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