Blog 2009

Discussion come class notes from teaching activities in Aikido Yuishinkai and at Griffith Aikido 
  • Subscription update for 2012 Dear Subscriber, please update your link to http://www.aikidorepublic.com/aikido-brisbane-news-2012 here are some of the recent news articles from 2011
    Posted 23 Dec 2011, 02:25 by Dan James
  • Michael Williams 10 dan Aikido Yuishinkai Congratulations to Williams Sensei on his promotion to 10th dan in Aikido Yuishinkai by Master Koretoshi Maruyama. [1]  A long time student of Maruyama Sensei, Williams Sensei joined Aikido Yuishinkai ...
    Posted 21 Jul 2010, 19:42 by aikidorepublic
  • Ukemi - Developing The Art of Receiving This page has been updated and included in the ukemi resources section as the sub page Developing the art of Ukemi but read on anyway...With so many students grading ...
    Posted 30 Jan 2010, 04:29 by aikidorepublic
  • Keeping it Real Precipitated by class time changes at the Griffith's Nathan dojo  I wanted to share some thoughts about getting the most from our aikido practice and the decisions many of ...
    Posted 30 Nov 2009, 15:55 by aikidorepublic
  • Kontai - Seeking the soul of Aikido Maruyama sensei has given us a great gift through the new levels of aikido presented in the syllabus. Whilst at the seminar numerous examples were presented we either have to ...
    Posted 30 Nov 2009, 16:10 by aikidorepublic
  • Hard or Soft Are the hard styles or aikido or the soft styles better? this is often a discussion point from seniors from around the world. Invariably those from the hard schools say ...
    Posted 30 Nov 2009, 16:06 by aikidorepublic
  • DR Aikido (Daito Ryu that is) Also at this years seminar was our first opportunity to be taught by Okajima Sensei. Sensei has been announced by Maruyama Sensei as his next successor. Okajima sensei was an ...
    Posted 30 Nov 2009, 16:08 by aikidorepublic
  • 66% more Aikido techniques at the National Seminar Last months national seminar brought with it some fabulous concepts to work on for the coming year. Firstly Maruyama sensei introduced 2 new levels to look at technique beyond Kotai ...
    Posted 30 Nov 2009, 15:56 by aikidorepublic
  • Circle, Triangle and Square "The body should be triangular, the mind circular.The triangle represents the generation of energy and is the most stable physical posture.The circle symbolizes serenity and perfection, the source ...
    Posted 30 Nov 2009, 16:02 by aikidorepublic
  • Are we doing "Cargo Cult" Aikido Most recently a phenona in WWII, cargo cults arose as local inhabitants of pacific islands copied the actions of occupying or visiting forces after they had left believing this would ...
    Posted 30 Nov 2009, 16:04 by aikidorepublic
Showing posts 1 - 10 of 10. View more »




Subscription update for 2012

posted 23 Dec 2011, 02:23 by Dan James   [ updated 23 Dec 2011, 02:25 ]

Dear Subscriber, please update your link to http://www.aikidorepublic.com/aikido-brisbane-news-2012 here are some of the recent news articles from 2011

Aikido news 2011




Michael Williams 10 dan Aikido Yuishinkai

posted 30 Dec 2009, 19:43 by aikidorepublic   [ updated 21 Jul 2010, 19:42 ]

Congratulations to Williams Sensei on his promotion to 10th dan in Aikido Yuishinkai by Master Koretoshi Maruyama. [1]

 A long time student of Maruyama Sensei, Williams Sensei joined Aikido Yuishinkai just under a decade ago when Maruyama Sensei emerged form a period of seclusion in a temple. Since that time with Williams Sensei as the International chief instructor of the organisation it has continued to grow nationally and internationally, today it has around 100 dojo world wide. A key to its success has been not only the personal reputation and technical direction of Maruyama sensei, an uchi-deshi of the founder, but also the annual international seminar programme, a robust aikido syllabus for teaching,  student guide(s) and DVD resources.  All of this has been developed under a banner of  'aikido without boundaries' which has allowed many dojo internationally to reconnect with a living lineage to the founder of aikido under an organisational yoke that it light.  Williams Sensei, together with a technical mastery of the art has played a vital role in the development of all of these as well as facilitating the err to the west and its wonderful to see him recognised for this.


These days in the martial arts we see more than a few grandmasters,  10th dan's and founders in the west, often self proclaimed, but very few emerge with living connections to Japan.


At the dojo people sometimes ask what does a dan grade mean? The meanings that count the most I suspect though are to the person receiving the award, the giver of the award and the school within it it is awarded. Beyond this there are no shortage of opinions. Aikido Historian Stanley Pranin has a bit to say on the topic [2] which is a thought provoking read. 

Many compare dan rankings between one art and the other, or one school and another, for us in aikido its widely understood that a black belt is a qualified beginner where as in something like Brazillian JuJitsu it can take well over a decade to achieve and represents a high degree of skill and probably competitive success as well. Within the schools of aikido there is also great variation in dan rankings, 3-5 yrs. is a typical time frame in the west, but its often much quicker in Japan where its both less and more important and maybe more about a student that is committed to the dojo.



Ukemi - Developing The Art of Receiving

posted 7 Dec 2009, 15:52 by aikidorepublic   [ updated 30 Jan 2010, 04:29 ]

This page has been updated and included in the ukemi resources section as the sub page Developing the art of Ukemi

 but read on anyway...



With so many students grading last saturday and stepping into more seniors roles everything moves up a notch. This means not only more techniques, faster techniques and more martial techniques but also our ability to receive such techniques. 


At Kotai level practice uke's job is simply to make a physical connection to nage through a wrist grab, hang on for the ride and try and get the feet in place for the proper ukemi. However as you progess to juntai level ukemi and beyond you must be able to co-ordinate your mind and body through these movements to develop your aiki skills of following and protect your body. Fortunately our co-ordination exercises at the start of class (toitsu taiso) and aikido exercises (aikido-taiso) prepare us for this when doing mindfully. We learn through these exercises how to co-ordinate the seika tanden( centre of gravity ) of the body with the seichusen (centre line) with our eyes and most importantly with our minds through a variety of physical postures and movements. So how does this translate to receiving technique with ukemi?



Image WestBrook and Ratti, " Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere"


Iriminage a foundation technique

One of the very first techniques we learn in the dojo is katatekosadori kokyunage, (the embryonic and high level) stages of iriminage and it appears continually through the syllabbus in the first striking technique and is something of a core technique of our art. The ukemi for it can be used for almost any technique in our syllabus, it less demanding physically than other ukemi and is a core method of self protection in many circumstances. So its a good choice to focus on ukemi development. 


Kotai - Static

At kotai level (static level) we keep our centreline straight up and down sit down on our bum, knee first and go into a backward roll (not all the way over though).  We grab cross handed and are brought a circle around, down, up and finally down. The down part of this movement at the end is we take the ushiro-ukemi was or sit down backward roll and is often the toughest movement to translate to higher level practice though this need not be so. (Why we grab and keep grabbing is the subject of a forthcoming post)


Juntai - Flowing (Nage leading, uke following)

At Juntai or 'following level' for uke static lebvl ukemi needs to respond to flowing energy and static level ukemi is puts us in incorrect mama (the wrong place at the wrong time, thus we are liable to be to slow and may end up running into nags palm heel, their elbow or hip. There are three reason for this :-

1) The body fights the incoming energy by resisting it rather than following it. This is fine if you are big and tough but its not going to help you develop or understand aiki

2/ The body responds to the incoming energy  by launching up onto tippy toes to stop all forward motion, thus putting your self in a posture where you cannot move easily

3/ Uke is still doing Kotai level technique.


The remedy is simply when receiving Juntai level technique (where nage is leading under movement) uke needs to follow completely with mind and body. Your eyes, your hand and  tanden all need to follow this. Thus at the end of iris nage rather than standing tall, fighting nage or just stopping allow your eyes, your tanden and your hand to follow nage.  If you focus on this the ukemi takes care of itself, the knees naturally buckle, the hips and tanden point up and you are halfway into your backward before you know it.


Ryutai and beyond

This preparation, at Juntai level is also preparing your body for Ryutai (freestyle) movement, KuTai (Universe or circle level) and finally Kontai (Soul level). At Kutai level nage movements consist of strong Ki extension with small movement that look almost like strikes that only an adequately prepared uke can deal with effectively.




Some outtakes from the Aikido Yuishinkai Syllabbus DVD. 

(Watch the ukemi and look for co-ordination at work)

 




Some high level iriminage ukemi (not from our school but sometimes seniors play like this )


Keeping it Real

posted 23 Nov 2009, 19:09 by aikidorepublic   [ updated 30 Nov 2009, 15:55 ]

Precipitated by class time changes at the Griffith's Nathan dojo  I wanted to share some thoughts about getting the most from our aikido practice and the decisions many of us may be makin. I want to encourage you to make conscious wilful decisions rather than letting event, circumstances and your body decide them for you subconsciously. 

Master Koretoshi Maruyama
Our school is headed by Maruyama sensei and Williams sensei, the school syllabus that we all enjoy comes from their hard work and years of experience it disseminating aikido to thousands of people. Its predicated on 2 x 2hr classes per week to make careful consistent progress (something I hope to return to in the near future, but thats another story). The recommended classes for grading are based on this. With a shortening of training time, its time to see where we can trim up the fat, make best use of our time at the dojo and decide what we really want to do with our aikido? 

How many classes to do a night? One or Two?
Sometime ago to meet the needs of space and numbers class times changed the Nathan dojo activities to a 1 1/2hr class followed by a 1hr class. This meant students could choose to do a single class on the night ( 1 1/2hrs of training) or 2 classes per night (2 1/2 hrs of training  ). For many the pressures of work, home life, feeling tired on the night etc.. it became an easy habit to skip the second class and thus reduce training by 1/2hr per class. Stretch this out over a year and it equates to 25 less classes per year, its bearable and might not even be noticeable by many.

However now with recent restrictions placed on training at the Nathan dojo its possible to imagine that class might not bow in till just before 7p and finish just before 8p giving little over an hours training. Yep you'll still get to tick the box for a class towards your next grading but your training load is down by almost 50%

So as classtimes change I would like to encourage you all to consider staying for the second class - not because you have to but because you want to improve your aikido. Its important I think to make that decision before coming to class because once 8 O'clock rolls around and If your body is tired,  you have had a big day at work etc.. your decision will already be made subconsciously.

I'd also like to encourage you to consider coming to the dojo at the time you used too, you get to sit outside the dojo (its quite pleasant in summer) and relax your mind before you start training, share a story with someone and be ready to charge into the dojo at 6:30. Alternatively you may think yipee! I have an extra 1/2 hr in my day by planning to arrive at 6:30p on the dot, well somedays you are going to run late...and who's going to vacum the mats then (yep we still need to vacum these each class or they get festy), you'll feel harried getting on to the mat and by the time you settle down the new shorter class will be almost over.
Participate Fully
Once on the mat and with shorter training times you need to make the best of the precious time there is for training and so I would like to encourage you to participate fully from the beginning to the end. The warms ups are actually not warmups but broken into 3 sets of exercises developed for specific purposes. The toitsu taiso (co-ordination exercises) iare developed to put 100% mind and body into simple movement to get them working together. The junan taiso (exercises for health) are useful for measuring and improving your co-ordinated flexability inch by inch, mm by mm you can make amazing progress in a year by doing these mindfully (or just waste your time waiting for the real stuff to happen..its up to you). Finally the aiki-taiso, these are the movements that are the foundation of all aikido technique, in just a few minutes of the aiki taiso you cover hundreds of techniques that would take weeks of training to replicate. The aiki taiso are you opportunity to master aikido in just 5 minutes a day so don't waste this opportunity - you'll probably do more throws in the taiso that in the whole rest of the class, whether you do them well or badly is what your body will remember...its up to you.

Of course sometimes during the exercises the mind wanders, we get bored, we watch someone else, we catch a latecomer coming into the dojo or just close our eyes and nod off to the rhythm of the class.. this is the challenge of training managing boredom and competing attentions  by finding something new in what we are doing  and getting our mind back on the job!

Thieves of training time
Some students have well over 4 water breaks in a class, agonise unduly over who to pair up with, creep glacially to the mat to bow in, take the opportunity to discuss technique (or their day) during training time on the mat, look lost when forming groups, cease training early rather than train at a slower sustainable pace in the summer months. All of these behaviours can  rob you of training time but are easily corrected with a little thought.
 Uchidachi
Uke and Nage
We spend half of each class as uke and half as nage, so if your just interested in being nage you only get half the training time to improve your aikido. Instead try to make use of your time as uke and double your training time... its really that simple. Quite apart from the practical reason of needing throw toys we spend our time between the roles of uke and nage for a reason. Nishioka sensei (from Shinto Muso Ryu) teaches that to receive technique in Japanese ancient arts is the traditional role of the teacher and thus is actually the most important role, to learn and understand it is vital. Time and again I have seen a trend of good ukes developing into the best of aikidoka over time. Ukes role carries the greatest responsibility and is much more than just taking a fall - or worse making a predetermined fall for your partner but genuinely learning to receive a technique without injury. Through the practice of kata, like aikido technique,  ukes job is to provide honest sincere energy to help take nage to the limit of their technique without fighting them. To do anything less teaches exactly the opposite

Whilst exploring Kontai level techniques in the dojo a number of students have asked what is the correct ukemi for this level? The correct ukemi at this level is the same as at lower levels, however at this level a resistant uke or one that predicts and falls over will be unable to cope with kontai technique - thus we must practice genuine ukemi from the very beginning to prepare ourselves for higher level practice. For myself and many other ukemi is the only overt skill used outside the dojo to protect ourselves in dangerous situations. 

Teaching and the throw count
For those in teaching roles whether classes or supervising small groups its tempting (and admittedly often important) to stand back and supervise the class but inevitability our throw count and receiving practice suffers. This is likely to be exacerbated in shorter class where it might be possible to demonstrate just a few techniques and do no others in the night. One way to combat this problem is to take the approach of Ariga and many other sensei's who make a point of throwing each person in their class with the technique they are teaching an/or receive ukemi from each student. This can be applied at class or group level. In paired situations rather that talking something out just keep taking ukemi for someone - don't let them rob you of your training time unduly. If you keep attacking them they'll soon stop talking and avoid the attack by doing. This kind of practice also enhances your effectiveness as a teacher, in this way you can discover where each student is at as well as communicating in a kinesthetic way what you are teaching at the time (often taking less time than explaining something.. and time is something in short supply in 1 hr classes

Kontai - Seeking the soul of Aikido

posted 18 Nov 2009, 15:27 by aikidorepublic   [ updated 30 Nov 2009, 16:10 ]

Maruyama sensei has given us a great gift through the new levels of aikido presented in the syllabus. Whilst at the seminar numerous examples were presented we either have to wait for next years seminar or begin to systematically work through the syllabus ourselves to explore Ku and Kontai level technique.
We have been doing this for the last few Thursday nights and interesting ideas, questions and observations are arising in a natural way.

Maruyama sensei said Kontai is Soul level technique - that is without the body and when the body is less involved so to technique is less involved. And so technique starts to disappear and many  of the techniques we practice, when done at soul level start to look the same. But underneath that we have far different mental gymnastics  going on....all of which allow us to see the same movement from different points of view.

Exploring techniques from Kotai right through to Kontai is a tremendous opportunity to see how important the foundations and correct movement of our art at the static level is a prerequisite for higher level technique. While we can't pretend to understand fully Kontai technique there is a definite relationship between having good performance of Kotai level technique with all the nuances of detail and ability to do respectable Kontai

Ikkyo, Nikkyo, Sankyo and Yonkyo  seem all to head towards Irimi nage/ kokyu nage style movements (forgetting the differences between the two for the moment). But what each of the syllabus forms reveal to us about irimi nage are difference facets of ma-ai and emphasis on movements. 
 - Ikkyo teaches us very strong irmi (or forward movement) whilst getting off the line. 
 - Nikkyo has an element of drawing uke tenkan style before strong irimi. 
 - Sankyo teaches us the importance of coming up our partners seichusen (centreline)
 - Yonkyo shows us cutting of the centreline laterally

I believe Maruyama sensei with these five levels of technique helps us to transcend being a hard of soft style of aikido (though predominately we are what is regarded as a soft style) with solid precise foundations of kotai  and exposure to the creative aiki process through ku and kontai level technique as a beginning.


Hard or Soft

posted 12 Nov 2009, 14:52 by aikidorepublic   [ updated 30 Nov 2009, 16:06 ]

Are the hard styles or aikido or the soft styles better? this is often a discussion point from seniors from around the world. 
Invariably those from the hard schools say they are on the right track as this is the only way to have rigorous martial technique. 
Invariabley those from the soft styles say they are on the right track because aikido is about blending and you can only do that if you are soft.
Critics of the hard schools say that the movements are rigid, blocky and forceful and that students never learn to relax.
Critics of the soft schools say that the technique is more like dance, that anyone can walk through their technique because its not martial.

My own view is that hard or soft all aikido schools provide a particular view of aikido, but if you look at exceptional people in any of these schools you will see they transcend the hard/ soft aspects when they do aikido. i think all schools have a predelection to certain aspects and will tend to develop students favouring certain aspects.

Maruyama sensei says 'aikido is aikido' and David Brown sensei says there are no styles of aikido and only 2 types of people those that can do aikido and those that can't. Fantasy aside probably  most of us are in the latter catagory  but through regular diligent training and seeking we can get glimpses f the former.


DR Aikido (Daito Ryu that is)

posted 8 Nov 2009, 20:44 by aikidorepublic   [ updated 30 Nov 2009, 16:08 ]

Also at this years seminar was our first opportunity to be taught by Okajima Sensei. Sensei has been announced by Maruyama Sensei as his next successor. Okajima sensei was an uchideshi in the Ki Society and student of the Roppokai Daito Ryu - the forerunner art of aikido.  I first had the opportunity to practice with sensei in OSaka in 2005. His technique and internal mastery were perplexingly mysterious then and only a little less so now :(

The art informes greatly on aikido and its intergration into Aikido Yuishinkai is fascinating. There is a subtle mindset but it opens up a new mindset. below is a video of his DR teacher. some things look a bit co-operative but having felt some of it well i believe it...if i can just do it ..that would be the trick


Daito Ryu in action


66% more Aikido techniques at the National Seminar

posted 8 Nov 2009, 17:26 by aikidorepublic   [ updated 30 Nov 2009, 15:56 ]

Last months national seminar brought with it some fabulous concepts to work on for the coming year. Firstly Maruyama sensei introduced 2 new levels to look at technique beyond Kotai, Juntai and Ryutai being Kutai and Kontai. The mathematician in me says wow thats a 66% growth in syllabus as we explore each technique through these two new levels.
Syllabus Foundations are the first three levels
Kotai (static) - Techniques begin with Katatedori style attacks (hand grabs) where accurate positioning of the body is developed through precise clearly described movements and footwork (such as moon shadow lizard legs). This teaches not only the correct distance and timing for these attacks
Juntai (moving) - Techniques are practiced with uke being seperated from nage by a small distance as we begin to operate at intent level.
Ryutai (freestyle) - At this level free your mid from footwork and respond directly to uke's movements and the shape of the technique.
Kutai Maruyama sensei describes as universe level. These techniques are to be done like the Ryutai level techniques but with fully extended circles initially - the circle describing the universe. As we practice and develop kutai we can begin to make the technique smaller by reducing the circles size. When the circle is sufficiently small we arrive at Kontai level
Kontai or soul level technique. Here the techniques cease to be external physical techniques and start to become more internal. At this point the body is less involved and it becomes more about Ki extension. Also at this point the outward expression of the technique starts to look similar e.g. iriminage and ikkyo look that same on the outside (though the mental gymnastics inside can be quite different)


Circle, Triangle and Square

posted 22 Sep 2009, 01:47 by aikidorepublic   [ updated 30 Nov 2009, 16:02 ]

"The body should be triangular, the mind circular.

The triangle represents the generation of energy and is the most stable physical posture.

The circle symbolizes serenity and perfection, the source of unlimited techniques.

The square stands for solidity, the basis of applied control."

--O Sensei

The circle "The circle symbolizes serenity and perfection, the source of unlimited techniques"

Moving in aiki around our partner means not entering their space by pushing or forcing our way in, but just moving around their body out of range of all their weapons. At a basic level we practice this by a wrist grab and we explore the freedom as we create this circle (or dynamci sphere) around our partner.

The triangle "The triangle represents the generation of energy"

Once we understand how to be in harmony with our partner we use the principle of the triangle to pierce their circle or sphere moving from our centr straight to theirs. Weather the connect wrist is high  or low, in front of or behind uke gives rise to many techniques. These techniques are safer if we allow our partner to take ukemi and create the flowing techniques we see in aikido (rather than the battlefield techniques or its parent arts)

The square "The square stands for solidity, the basis of applied control"

The trick then becomes what if my partner is bigger stronger or faster than me and this is where the principle of the square can be helpful. Our feet and hanmi posture for our square base of solidity, but its more of a rectangle. By positioning your self so you are strongly focused on your partner and their base is not focused on you you have tremendous relaxed power.

Are we doing "Cargo Cult" Aikido

posted 18 Sep 2009, 23:23 by aikidorepublic   [ updated 30 Nov 2009, 16:04 ]

cargo-cultMost recently a phenona in WWII, cargo cults arose as local inhabitants of pacific islands copied the actions of occupying or visiting forces after they had left believing this would bring gifts from the heavens. In these cults natives might make airstrips, wooden huts complete with bamboo radio and headsets and attempt to call in food drops from the skys. Wikipedia has a lot more info about the cargo cults here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult

The lesson for us as aikidoka is fairly straight forward. Whilst copying the outward form of aikido (some frame by frame watch Ueshiba sensei's video's to try to copy him) will bring a measure of success, without an understanding of the deeper mechanisms involved it may be just cargo cult aikido.

1-10 of 10