Ittaikan Blog

MINDSET IN KATA 10/30/14

Last Sunday, at our Sport Aikido session, I concentrated my attention on ‘mushin mugamae’, a concept, principle and approach in Japanese budo which adds a whole dimension to everyday training and is critical to first rate kata practice and presentation.

If you are privileged to see an Iaido or a Karatedo master demonstrating kata, they will bring their budo alive, even though they do not have an actual ‘opponent‘. To an onlooker, the opponent, though invisible, is ‘there’!

Intrinsic to their practice are: kamae (guard or stance), metsuke (eye contact), maai (distance), zanshin (focus), plus other technical elements helping create their exquisite movement. Underpinning those will be mushin mugamae.

Many of you will have heard the phrase, ‘the 10,000 hours’; the hundreds and thousands of repetitions needed to take the rough edges off a skill to create a thing of beauty. In martial arts, we have uchikomi (repetition training), practising the same movement over and over again until it is completely natural and simple. At the session, I spoke briefly about a kata being like a great sculpture, created by removing all the unnecessary bits. In aikido, this sculpture is created by two people, not one as in those other arts. That makes it even more demanding and difficult: we need to fully harmonise with our opponent, creating aiki in all moments of the kata. It must not be flamboyant and showy, but calm, smooth, unhurried; effective and powerful. Throughout the kata, every meeting will be slightly different; it’s bound to be. To be effortlessly ready, our approach has to be mushin mugamae: ready for whatever happens, thanks to our many hours of preparation. We are living beings, not robots, so our aikido needs to have that ‘every moment is a new moment’ feel, not a choreographed set of techniques but a living, pulsating piece of budo, full of heart, yet calm and serene.

If you see the power of nature, water or wind, it moves inexorably forward. Our aiki needs to be like that; naturally powerful, created by simple, effective idoryoku (effortless power created through movement). The best kata players are not showy or flashy. But, they are determined, purposeful, calm, focused, simple, effective, like nature.

Finally, you need the judges to look and be pleased by what they see. Don’t make them doubt you know what you are doing together. Aikido kata is a paired practice. It takes two active participants. Of course, uke’s aikido need to be similarly simple, controlled, not flamboyant but showing true receiving of the aiki, merging with tori, staying calm throughout.

There is a lot more to be said on this matter but first of all we need to routinely practice our aikido with this approach, repeat and repeat until it is shining like a polished sculpture and becomes irresistible. Mushin mugamae is not just the goal but also the way of achieving the goal.

Paul Bonett

SAF World Championship Japan 2013

When we landed in Japan, our first impressions were quite intimidating, having to have our fingerprints taken at the border with police dogs running around the airport. Despite this all the smartly dressed staff seemed very friendly. I had expected Osaka to look like a different planet. The outskirts did look very foreign with Japanese style buildings but as we got further in, Osaka had an American style to it, with tall buildings and a few baseball pitches scattered around.

We arrived at our hotel at about 9.30am. We were told check in was at 3pm and so decided to have a walk around. After a while we sat down in a park for some shade, where a Japanese man who looked like he was in his early 20s started talking to us, asking where we were from, where we were staying. Luke mentioned we were entering an aikido competition. He seemed quite impressed. He asked us how many of us there were, and we replied 8 (Me, Robert, my Mum, my Dad, Luke, Luke’s dad Graham, Paul, and David Findlay). He then cycled off, only to return 10 minutes later with a bag full of drinks for all of us! I was very impressed at just how friendly all the Japanese people were, they made us all feel very welcome. By then it was time to check in so we headed back to the hotel.

Shihan%202[1] Tanto%20Kaeshi%20Waza%201[1] Shihan%201[1]

In the evening at 5pm, Robert, Paul, Luke, David and I went to honbu training in Showacho where we were welcomed by Tetsuya Nariyama sensei. We got on the mat at 6.30pm; after the taiso and kihon kozo Sakai sensei said that tonight’s class would be free practice. The dojo had no air conditioning; it was so hot that we could only do about 10 techniques at a time before having to rest.

On the day of the competition we realised just how skilled everyone was. My brother and I had entered the Tanto Randori no Kata, and watching everyone perform we saw how sharp the Japanese were in their movement, with small pauses between some of techniques. We managed to get through the first round, but were knocked out in the second. Unfortunately Luke and Sara were knocked out in the first round of the Goshin no Kata. In the afternoon it was the mixed team event. Our mixed team was Me, Paul, Sara, Robert, Luke with Louise Saul, and Spike Nisbet from the Shodokan UK team) We were up against Shodokan Honbu ‘A’ team in the first round! Although we were beaten in all 5 events (Goshin no Kata kneeling, Standing, Tanto tai sabaki, Toshu Randori, and Tanto Randori) I was impressed that it was very close between us, only losing by one or two points in the randori and tai sabaki. The rest of the afternoon and the next day was the randori. I was very impressed watching the incredibly fast movement of some of the Japanese players I was watching. Their tanto strikes were so quick that they looked almost unavoidable. I was pleasantly surprised watching Sara’s bouts, in the first of which she scored a kaeshi waza waza-ari and ippon! She was knocked out in the second round but fought very well.Goshin%20no%20Kata%201[1] Goshin%20no%20Kata%202[1]

On Monday it was the International Junior Aikido Festival which my brother and I were also able to compete in. We had entered Under 19s Open Kata and Under 19s Tanto Randori. We had some time to practice our Open Kata before the event started, and managed to get some very helpful advice from Mike McCavish sensei. By this time it was time to get on the mat. We won the first two rounds, but were knocked out in the third by the pair that went on to win gold. I was pleased with our kata though, and how much it had improved for the competition. That afternoon we had been entered into the randori. It was much harder than I had expected. My brother won his first round but was knocked out in the second. Unfortunately I was knocked out in my first round, but was pleased with my performance as I felt I had improved since my last randori competition and felt that I had also learnt a lot at this competition. My opponent went on to win bronze. I was very excited for the next two days, as they were seminars taken by Nariyama Shihan.Tanto%20RNK[1] Open%20Kata%201[1]

Nariyama Shihan emphasised the importance of the kihon kozo. He told us the basics were the most important part of our aikido. This was something I understood as my sensei, Paul often mentions this in class, and it was the same message that Fumika Yamasaki gave us at her seminars in March. Nariyama Shihan also told us that Tomiki Shihan did not like it when his system was called ‘Tomiki Aikido’. He preferred it to be called ‘Shodokan Aikido’ or better yet just ‘Aikido’. I found this very interesting, being something I had not heard before. The seminars focused on the first day on the junanahon from kihon and applications, some of which were quite technical and complicated.Tanto%20Kaeshi%20Waza%202[1]

The second day focused on Dan grade syllabus from Shodan to Godan (5th Dan). I found all the techniques highly technical, although I had practiced them before in Brighton and felt I had a relatively good understanding. I particularly enjoyed practicing the Kumitachi from the yondan (4th Dan) syllabus. Overall our experience in Japan was a very enjoyable one. We learnt a lot about aikido and managed to see some of the amazing sights in Japan such as the bamboo forests in Kyoto and Osaka castle. I would highly recommend anyone to go to Osaka and look forward to returning myself in the future.

William Hayward

FUTURE OF SPORT AIKIDO? 24/03/2013

Brian and I, now two of the old timers of British aikido, were talking together last summer.  We were recollecting the training for the 1997 World Championships with instructors and players from all British sport aikido; Bob Jones, Phil Newcombe, Matt Pritchard, Ken Broome, Garry and Steve Hogg, Dave Smith, Steve Evans, Dante Montagnani, Dave Fielding, Vanda Fairchild, Jim Newcombe, Phil Crosby, Scott Morton, Ade ?, Brian Stacey and I; that’s just a smattering of who was there.  It wasn’t elitist but it was hard and you didn’t miss a session.

We did some serious aiki: basics, kata and randori, had an amazing time and spread the love around the UK.

Now, 15 years later, British aikido is in at least 3 camps, generally not training nor competing together.  We will never again have an undisputed UK kata or randori champion as we do not play together.  This year, we will go to different ‘world championships’ and have 2 or 3 world campions in one year for the same event…on different mats.  Is this what the majority, the students of aikido, want?

Last year, I attended an ‘open’ national level competition (almost every player came from the same ‘division’/divide).  It was fun but where were the top UK players?  How are up and coming shodan and nidan players going to be tested?  Will the novice yudansha have to wait for one of these ‘world championships’ to discover how good they are?  Even then, they will not play against the whole field of Sport Aikido.

I know we generally leave it to our instructors and seniors to think about the direction of our aikido, but perhaps it’s time for the students of aikido, the members, to say what you want.

Democracy is strength.

UNSOKU DOSA 15/03/2013

Mindfulness

Aikido practiced without ‘mindfulness’ of the parts, turns budo into calisthenics, interesting techniques, but not a journey of discovery.  Without ‘mindfulness the student is waiting for the main event, treating unsoku as a ‘warm up’: looking forward to technical aikido, kata, or randori, or weapons or whatever.  Whereas, if ‘mindful’, the session unfolds through it’s constituent parts and the student is in the ‘present’, studying them one by one.

(From Wikipedia:The Abhidhammattha Sangaha, a key Abhidharma text from the Theravada tradition, defines sati as follows:

The word sati derives from a root meaning ‘to remember,’ but as a mental factor it signifies presence of mind, attentiveness to the present, rather than the faculty of memory regarding the past. It has the characteristic of not wobbling, i.e. not floating away from the object. Its function is absence of confusion or non-forgetfulness. It is manifested as guardianship, or as the state of confronting an objective field. Its proximate cause is strong perception (thirasanna) or the four foundations of mindfulness.)

So, to begin with, we need to get into the present and remain there during unsoku practice and then throughout the class.

The basic principles underlying our practice are ‘mushin mugamae’ and ‘ido ryoku’: being in a relaxed but ready physical and mental state and being able to move freely and powerfully.

Unsoku allows us to develop understanding of and use these principles.  Be where you are, not in front of the count, not waiting for the count, not behind the count.  As soon as you hear the count, you move; then you stop.  When you hear the next count, you move; then you stop, etc,.  Simple but very difficult.  Each count is an isolated event; you are not bouncing through a set of 8 moves times 3 directions; you are practising 24 separate moves, put together for the sake of learning: Tomiki Shihan was a genius!

This means that the person calling the count should separate the count to give everyone time to move and stop, fully stable with both feet weighted, 60/40 on the first set and 50/50 on the next two sets.

Movement

General principles:

  1. You need to be mindful mentally and physically

  2. The count – to achieve quick movement, the count volume should be quite loud and sharp so your brain engages with ‘urgency’

  3. The count should be steady and allow everyone to start and stop before the next count – it is not a race or aerobics 🙂

  4. Speed – move very quickly from one position to the other, within but at the edge of your ability to remain stable; stop and stabilise before moving again

  5. The movement is called ‘tsugi ashi’ (succeeding or following legs/feet).  To move very quickly, you have to ‘pull’ the following foot quickly after the leading foot, to catch up and land quickly.  This requires contracting the inner thigh muscles strongly on each movement to pull the following foot after the leading one.  It takes a lot of practice and ‘mindfulness’ of the body

  6. The posture should be slightly low but not exaggeratedly so (bend the legs slightly to allow you to push off quickly, as muscles are slightly contracted then expanded powerfully)

  7. Feet should be facing more or less in the same direction or with the toes pointing slightly out but no more than 45 degrees

  8. Back straight

  9. Head straight and keeping square to the body (look forward in the direction you are so, as you turn, look in that direction)

  10. Gaze should be relaxed and attentive so you can see 90 degrees either side without turning your head to ‘look’

  11. Shoulders should always be relaxed and not jumping up and down as you move

  12. Trunk should be stable and upright and in line with hips and shoulders

  13. Hands either by your side and staying relaxed but not floppy, or easier, thumbs hooked into your belt (once you are wearing one)

  14. Feet should slide on the tatami, not leaving and returning to the surface.  This takes a long time to achieve but to begin with, lift your heels slightly then push off, trying to keep the balls of the feet connected lightly to the tatami.  When you land each time, ensure the heels are placed down, touching the tatami (this makes a massive amount of difference to your aikido movement and understanding, when you start applying these principles)

  15. Posture generally:  keep the same height as you move; move from your hara (centre) not your shoulders; keep your body (including hands) as one unit; look forward, not down, except checking from time to time when you first begin

In basic unsoku, there is only shizentai posture, so no leading leg on the corners (the first set where you lead either with left or right foot, is called ‘migi’ or ‘hidari shizentai’ – natural posture with a leading leg).

Also, this is tai sabaki as in ‘body positioning’, not as in ‘avoidance’.  So on the forward and back movements (the first ‘set’), go straight forward and not to an angle forward or back.  This is basic practice.  It is about learning to move in aiki shizentai posture.

  1. First set – moving forward and back by left foot, then right foot, and repeat:

  2. This is somewhat similar to the direct movement forward and back of Kendo practice (attack and retreat).  Front foot facing forward, but in our aikido, rear foot 45 degree angle, heels in line, body posture directly forward.  The beginning and end foot position should be approximately shoulder width and stable, so, after moving forward, look down when you first start, turn 90 degrees right on the balls of your feet, and they should be shoulder width.  Same shoulder width stance applies throughout unsoku dosa.

Second set –  moving sideways left then right and repeat.

  1. This  comes from Judo practice, where you would be gripping your partner’s gi, lapel and sleeve and working along a line, keeping square and stable to your partner, ensuring you land in posture quickly and have integrity in it.  Relaxed but ready to go, but relaxed 🙂  This set also references basic sideways avoidance from an attack.

Third set – Front and back corners and repeat.

  1. As above, it comes from Judo practice, staying with your partner as they move off the straight line but also references avoiding to four corners from an attack (punch, kick, weapon strike, etc,.).  The following foot is always challenged in this most difficult of the three sets, to catch up, land, stabilise, be calm in posture and mind, and move off quickly on the next count.

The whole relates to what we call the Shodokan Star, showing the eight directions …there may be a Buddhist implication of the Eightfold path – See this Wikipedia link with the eight-spoked wheel:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eightfold_Path

There are many gaps in this of course but I hope it will give you some pointers to help develop good movement and mindful training.

Paul Bonett

TEGATANA AWASE 04/03/2013

  1. maai – distance…should remain constant whether moving forwards, backwards or sideways.

  2. metsuke – eye contact, not looking at the hands 🙂 but all around awareness too

  3. tsugiashi – feet slide close to and preferably touching the ground all the time. They do not cross over each other – the heels stay in line, the body/head does not bob up and down, stay constant height

  4. seichusen – centrally aligned hand, body position

  5. tegatana – hand contact point – where there is a groove between wrist bone and hand, elbow slightly bent

  6. fingers – point up, touching whilst thumb is fully open, height at about shoulder height, looking at eyes between each others hands

  7. mushin mugamae – no pressure on contact point. Partners should move as one, so if one moves forward, the other moves back to maintain light touch contact all the time, without increasing pressure or losing contact. That is the main point of the practice, to develop this harmony, continuous soft touch, so you can react quickly with ido ryoku (power of movement) in technical situations.

If you find the pressure increases on the changes, concentrate on your partner not yourself, feel their movement, quickly change as they do and the pressure moments will lessen until there is only ‘touch’.

As you can see, they underpin so much else, so don’t just go through the motions of tegatana awase, using it as a chance to have a chat and catch up: practice consciously.

These are a few of the elements of this practice.

GREETING AT THE OPENING OF SHODOKAN 11/10/2012

I would like to say a few words to mark the opening of the Shodokan Aikido Dojo today.

Japan has a cultural heritage of which we can be very proud internationally. Over the years many great men gave their life’s blood to Japanese budo and their hard work is now bearing fruit. The techniques of budo have been influenced by many Oriental religious beliefs such as Confucianism, Buddhism and Shintoism. Therefore, from long ago budo was not simply about physical techniques but regarded rather as a spiritual ‘way’ or ‘path’.

There are a great many kinds of budo, a dazzling array from which to choose. Even considering just the old jujitsu schools there are 179

recorded, but as an old song says:

  1. “There are many different paths at the foot of the mountain but they all hope to reach the same wonderful summit.”

Similarly, the many different paths of kendo, judo, aikido, karate, etc. all hope to reach the same wonderful summit. Furthermore the summit is reached step by step, learning one technique at a time. In short, the study of budo is through the practise of techniques.

Initially, aikido developed from Daitoryu Aikijujitsu which was handed down by the old Aizu clan. In particular, from the Edo period it was called Oshikiuchi and received the support of the Daimyo (feudal lord). It was revived by Sokaku Takeda (1860-1943) who learned Onoha Ittoryu Kenjitsu in his childhood. He studied Jikishinkageryu Kenjitsu for a long time and also Hozoinryu Sojutsu so he incorporated sword techniques into the jujitsu system.

In the early Edo period the study of atemi waza (striking techniques) and kansetsu waza (joint techniques) was highly recommended by all schools. This was because jujitsu became a method of self-defence; attacks came from people wearing ordinary clothes in times of peace rather than by armour clad enemies on battlefields. Empty handed jujitsu had absorbed the principles of sword techniques and on this point Daitoryu was particularly outstanding.

Morihei Ueshiba Sensei (1883-1969) started studying Tenjinshinyoryu, Kitoryu, Yagyuryu and other jujitsu styles. In 1915 aged 32, he became a student of Sokaku Takeda and displayed his natural talent. He was also a very pious man and is believed to have received enlightenment, often referred to as ‘shinjin aiki’. As a result he changed the name aikijujitsu and founded aikido.

In the early years of the Meiji period Jigoro Kano Sensei (1860-1938) proposed Kodokan Judo as a modern form of old jujitsu from an educational viewpoint suitable for the new era. Firstly, he took the techniques and fighting styles of the old jujitsu schools, classified them logically and organised them into a randori practice system.  Secondly, he clarified the religious thoughts of Confucianism, Buddhism and Shintoism into ideas that could be understood by the modern educational titles of philosophy and ethics. By doing this he removed some of the confusion between the old jujitsu schools and was able to show the modern significance of peaceful budo.  If the techniques of old style jujitsu are classified they can be separated into many different categories but the Kodokan Judo randori practice system of grappling is composed of nage waza (throwing techniques) and katame waza (holding techniques). Other techniques are formed into kata practice.

Using the same method, the Shodokan Aikido randori system comprises atemi waza and kansetsu waza where there is some distance between the participants. Techniques that cannot be included in this randori system are important and are practised in kata. So I am confident that an important technical aspect of jujitsu history is being kept alive as a form of modern education.  The atemi waza and kansetsu waza do not require much physical strength so it is easy for men and women of all ages to continue practising throughout their lives. It is very useful for promoting health and the modern significance of rational practice can be seen ie. improving flexibility, agility and dexterity.

Needless to say I named this dojo Shodokan, after the present Showa period. Through a combination of a golden opportunity, favourable location and harmony amongst those involved, this dojo represents an important first step. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all of you for your support and guidance both openly and in private. I hope that you will continue to support and encourage us in the future.

Kenji Tomiki

Head of Shodokan

28th March 1976

Transposed from the english translation page of Shodokan Hombu

http://bit.ly/ci6kav

THANET AIKIDO CLUB COMPETITION 11/10/2012

Ittaikan had great success at the Thanet Aikido Club Competition in Margate, hosted by Dick Todd.  George Wait and Ellis Harbord won Gold in Junior Randori No Kata and Silver in Naga no Kata. Will Hayward and Chris Stockel won Gold in both the Adult Randori No Kata and Naga no Kata, and were awarded a trophy for Outstanding Play. It was encouraging to see players of all ages and level come together; a good time was had by all.

Chris Stockel

ONE OF THE PILLARS OF SPORT AIKIDO – KATA 08/10/2012

Back in 1987, I took my yondan in Shotokan karate.  For the written part, I wrote about the 3 pillars of effective karate: kihon, kata and kumite.

Shihan Masatoshi Nakayama (1913-1987), spent time in China and I have been told, he was a colleague of Tomiki Shihan discussed the forming of a national Karate association when he returned to Japan.  He created the JKA and we had the JAA.

In the 1950s, in a similar way to Tomiki Shihan, Nakayama formulated a sports science approach to karate.  Shotokan karate and similarly Shodokan aikido developed 3 pillars. My short dissertation for my yondan, was a discussion of the need for all three pillars for a comprehensive japanese budo, in my case at that time, karate.  The three pillars are of course:  Kihon: training in basic, underlying principles; Kata: studying the pure technical prearranged forms and application thereof (bunkai); and kumite: sparring, both preset (kihon) and free sparring, (jyu kumite).

In the last  20 years, after leaving the karate world, I competed at all levels in kata at aikido competitions (I started competing a bit too late to be very useful in randori!).  Similarly in the last 15 years, I have judged at many a kata competition, from club level through to several internationals, here in the UK and abroad, notably in Switzerland and 4 times in Japan; Katsuura and Kyoto World Taikai and at the annual Kansai Tournament and a Shodohai taikai in Osaka.

Recently, I was working in Libya.  I was invited by a local karate sensei, who helps develop the Libyan national squad, to watch a selection event for the Libyan National Squad.  These players will compete with karateka from all nations.  Due to the isolation of Libya during the Gadaffi era, I assumed the kata would have developed national and regional idiosyncrasies: that is not the case.  They looked like Shotokan katas as performed in Japan or the UK or USA or anywhere else.  Why?  You can only compare like with like.  Players need to demonstrate an internationally understood set of principles and techniques.  So, the senseis in Libya have ensured they get the international, including Japanese input.  This required travel to Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey to find Japanese and regional sensei with up to date information on karate kata skill needed to reach international standards.

Meanwhile, in the UK and around the world, though there are exceptions, our aikido kata  seem to represent many a dojo instructor’s individual interpretation: there seems no local, regional or national attempt to guide akidoka towards kata that will win internationally.  Surely, in a competitive sport, we should be aiming at the same interpretation and goal?  To be feted in your dojo as a great kata player; then, to be knocked out in the first round of a national or international tournament must be very disconcerting for the player…and the instructor.  This is a ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ moment for us all.

Jyu Embu

Of course, jyu embu (free kata) are another matter for aikidoka to develop together, but even these, demonstrated in a Tomiki/Shodokan competition, should be expressing our aikido, not a random selection of aikido from a variety of lineages (let’s do a bit of aikikai, tomiki, yoshinkan and finish with some taiho jutsu…yes, we’ve all seen this mixture).  As a judge, you are looking for understanding and development of our aikido, Tomiki/Shodokan.  In a Shotokan karate kata competition, I would expect an explanation of Shotokan karate, not a mish-mash of techniques cobbled together for dramatic purpose.  In our competitions, I would expect to see a ‘Tomiki story’ unfold in jyu embu, with techniques clarifying the principles we develop in our kihon.

Junanahon no kata

So, to get back to the Junanahon no kata (Randori no kata):  These are the 17 techniques which after kata practice, are a part of our randori (kumite).  To remind us:  this is kata – it is not randori nor is it bunkai (applied techniques for street-fighting).  As such, it is a clear and precise explanation of basic underlying principles of our randori techniques, not a simulated fight.

So, when learning this kata, we need to consider all these principles (and more) for each of the 17:

1.mushin mugamae: a state of readiness but not already planning the technique, so ‘no mind, no posture’ for tori (creator of the technique) and uke (receiver of the technique)

2.taisabaki: accurate body positioning to be most effective

3.kuzushi: breaking uke’s posture either physically or psychologically or both

4.tsukuri: correct entering – getting the movement structure accurate to create opportunity

5.kake: executing the technique

In addition, throughout the kata, you need to consider, maai (distance), metsuke (eye contact), zanshin (continuous awareness before, during and after completion of the technique) and nagare (flow).  This is not a comprehensive list of what you need but ‘aikido’ is what a judge needs to see, not just 17 techniques.

When you enter this kata event as tori or uke, you need to remember you are not fighting or even demonstrating fighting.  You are explaining through all your movements that you understand everything you are doing, no wasted effort, no flourishes, just simple, clear, effective aikido.  Uke is your partner, not your opponent.  Uke’s role is to explain how to best receive the technique.

Then, as a judge, you can watch the explanation of the techniques and make a clear decision.

Finally, you are not just demonstrating 17 ‘techniques’, you are showing budo in action, ‘Moving Zen’ as described by CW Nichol in his eponymous ground-breaking book.  It is paradoxical, saying that kata is an technical explanation but also has to be budo.  That is the challenge for players, working together, showing true harmony and budo spirit, whilst demonstrating accurate, efficient aikido techniques which show the correlation with aikido randori but remain kata.

So, students and instructors, when studying your kata for competition, don’t be parochial,; look outside your dojo, see what is happening and winning internationally as well as nationally, then, if you want to be an international champion, start studying what you see; just do it better!!  It can only improve your aikido overall.

Paul Bonett, 5th Dan Aikido, 4th Dan Shotokan Karate

ONE OF THE PILLARS OF SPORT AIKIDO – KATA

08/10/2012

SEPT 2012 SHODOKAN NEWSLETTER

Dear Aikidoka,

Welcome to this “Newsletter” edition. In reality we appear to be slowly becoming more of a magazine; with great articles from Matt Houlton and Dan Ramsden and a view on under 18 years competition aikido from yours truly and we are now starting to receive letters (albeit anonymously)…what all this shows is the growing understanding and breadth of knowledge currently in the UK on Sport Aikido.

As this sharing of information, ideas and views on the sport continues, it can only become stronger for it.  This also suggests perhaps a change in the way we should be thinking about Aikido. When I first started in Aikido it was clear that the sport was being led by a few seniors in the UK, eg: Phil Newcombe for Shodokan, Bob Jones in the BAA and we had Nariyama and Shishida Shihans’ in Japan. There were reasonably clear lines of control and instruction that reflected the size of the sport at that time. But the sport has now changed; there are more senior instructors in both the UK and Japan, and an increasing number across the world. The thinking and development of Aikido as a sport now goes far beyond only the most senior instructors, again, I would refer you to Matt and Dan’s articles as an example. I think if we are to continue to develop we will only do so by recognising that the sport has to embrace a much wider knowledge base from all our members and become increasingly open to new ideas and thoughts. Although it is important to maintain the leadership, administration and responsibility at a senior level, we must also recognise the value and input from the membership as a whole … letters on this subject welcome (published in the next newsletter – anonymous if you prefer!).

Meanwhile, in the remainder of the Newsletter, an update on the Shodokan Aikido Federation (SAF). The new organization under Nariyama Shihan now has 80 clubs worldwide. Any new clubs wishing to join, are welcome to contact the SAF Administrative Officer, Sakai Sensei directly.  SAF also plan to announce the date and details of the next International Aikido Tournament soon.

….on a more local level….

We have been fortunate to have Sensei Mike McCavish, 5th Dan, teaching in clubs around the country until end October (full information on remaining sessions follows) and our congratulations on the marriage of Mike and Natalia! – many of you have met Natalia as she too tours around the country with Mike and in true Aiki style, post wedding, she also attended training that evening! We also said goodbye to the infamous City University, Islington club a few weeks ago.   Many of us have trained there and experienced what Chilean Deep miners must feel like, but a good farewell night and joined by many past members of the dojo including King Goodliffe! (you need to look at the photo…) and we have a very rare photograph of the Newcombe brothers…not long after their release from solitary confinement, (I think..).  Many thanks to all contributors and I would just ask most of you to ignore Martin’s suggestion about doing your own calendars – I have been in many changing rooms around the – I have been in many changing rooms around the Country…please don’t do them…remember, Martin’s is a student club – they have youth on their side!

…important events for the diary …

The 3rd London-Hove Aikido Festival.  A great day of seminars on Saturday with leading international and national Aikido instructors – not to be missed! Followed by a rapidly growing Randori event on the Sunday that will provide a real opportunity to try out your competition skills. With over 30 competitors last year

this is now becoming a regular competitive event in the UK Competition diary.  And finally, for the Juniors, Tanseikan have their next Fun-day in November and plans for a GB < 18years programme.

Chris Stamate

Editor