I attended the most recent Australasian
Martial Arts Hall of Fame demonstration and workshop day this weekend just gone.
I had an extremely enjoyable day and much to ruminate on. First up all
attendees were invited to line up according to rank, being a relatively
junior yudansha I was amazed at home many shihan, hanshi and grandmasters
were gathered together in one place - outnumbering the little known junior
yudansha such as myself.
The day was a great opportunity to witness and practice many other martial
arts in a co-operative atmosphere, something difficult to do if you fronted
up to these schools randomly to ask for a 'lesson'
First up we were treated to a grandmaster from America, teaching his art
based on the short sword (wakazashi). I was a little perplexed at his gold
trimmed red belt that was heavily embroidered, but he gave an excellent
class able to teach experienced iaidoka and novices (that didn't know the
sharp side of a sword was the best to cut with) some of his basic kata.
Similarly the hi-fives,'go girl' and drill sergeant training method were
something to feel squeamish about, though it certainly worked.
Following that a number of demonstrations given by newly inducted members
into the hall of fame were given.
During the day we were treated to full contact karate, kata demonstrations
from JJ (2 person), karate, iaido, other weapons, board breaking and even
some internals arts stuff.
Some ex? Zendokai karateka gave a superb talk and demo on the effects of
stress on the bodies physiology (specifically loss of fine motor skills,
loss of auditory senses and tunnel vision), which I had only read about in
scholarly works perviously. They also suggested ways to train for these
debilitating effects - though I would seriously need to upgrade my
'hobbyist' practice to enter into this kind of training regime.
The internal arts stuff included breaking arrows pressed into the hollow at
the base of the neck and lifting heavy weights through piercing made in the
arms with short metal stakes - and then breaking these weights with a sledge
hammer. Very impressive stuff that came with the usual warnings about don't
try this at home. Of course back of the envelope physics calculations
reveals just how easy all this stuff is ..but I'll save my own little hobby
horse for another occasion.
Finally the closing demonstration was given by Catherine Schnell Sensei,
what can I say it was a lot of fun, sensei even revealed a little of her
Yoshinkan roots (diverging from Ryushinkan - way of the willow just a
little) in the excitement and fortunately the ukes were up to the task. The
demonstration closed with Charlie and I demonstrating the Aikido Yuishinkai
Kumijo kata, which sensei kindly invited us to demonstrate.
I must admit I have reservations about Hall of Fame, Sokeship councils and
similar institutions. However the plethora of high dan rankings, flashy
awards and medals aside, 5 minutes in the carpark with some of the
participants and '...will we see you next year?' really caused me to
reconsider my prejudices.
For the most park everyone in aikido has a clear lineage back to the founder
(our art being younger than most) and have organizations that can provide
regular seminars for high quality teaching, interaction with other dojos,
certification and gradings.
However imagine the many other martial arts (like some karate and JJ schools
etc..) where lineage is not so clear, there are so many generations away
from the founders that ryu and ryu-ha abound, and where the many independent
and functionally independent dojos have little external input and
interaction with other clubs and little chance to be recognised for their
efforts. Here an organization like the AMAHOF can provide a sense of the
larger picture, a national affiliation, opportunities to have external
instruction and importantly and accompanying martial arts community.
Find about the hall of fame here