Archives for July 2014

San Juan Aikikai’s New Location

San Juan Aikikai has moved to a new location.  The large bright windows blanket the tatami and reflect sunlight on the shomen’s clean sharp lines.  Stop by and visit this beautiful dojo at: 1220 Calle Cadiz, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00920.



Fairfield Iowa Aikikai hosts its 2nd Annual Aikido Youth Camp

As Fairfield Iowa Aikikai’s youth program continues to grow, June’s successful testing and promotions brought smiles to many faces.

August brings Fairfield Iowa Aikikai’s 2nd Annual Youth Camp








 Day passes will remain available for purchase online and on-site. To register online go to

CAMP CANCELLATIONS – All camp packages are non-refundable after SUNDAY, JULY 13th (case-by-case consideration will be made due to emergency or health concerns).

FINALIZING ROOM ARRANGEMENTS – Please email either Laura or Karen with changes/cancellations to your hotel reservation no later than Sunday, July 13th.

Please do not have anyone just “drop in” and stay in your room without registering them with the hotel.  This is not allowed as per our contract, and puts our relationship with the hotel in jeopardy! 

HOTEL CANCELLATION POLICY –  The hotel has a 48 hour cancellation policy. All cancellations within 48 hours of arrival date will be charged one night’s room rate, including tax. A “NO SHOW” WILL BE CHARGED FOR EACH NIGHT OF THE RESERVATION THAT THEY DID NOT CANCEL WITH 48 HOURS NOTICE


1) If you listed your roommate as “unknown” and no roommate assignment has been made, the hotel will allocate either a king or 2 double beds, based on availability.

2) If you listed children in your room but did not purchase a camp package for them – they may join you for aikido dinners free of charge if they are under 5.  If they are 5 and older and did not purchase a camp package, they will not be able to join you in the dinner dinning room.

3) If you are not registered for Camp AND do not have a hotel reservation – Day Passes are available.

4) Every person staying in every room must be registered with the hotel.  Contact Laura at or Karen at prior to the Sunday July 13h deadline.

Please note that having friends “crash” in your room is not permitted.  Please be respectful of our working relationship with the hotel and help us maintain our outstanding reputation with the staff.

Thank you!

Laura Pavlick & Karen De Paola

Camp Coordinators





It Has To Be Felt

It has to be felt.

How many students felt the dynamic power? Have you experienced the exhilaration, fear, uncertainty, excitement as the dynamic circle sends you spinning to the conclusion of the technique? The uke may not fully know how it will end, but for sure they are fully engaged and dare not lose the connection. Those who have had this happen will say to you, it has to be experienced; it’s active, not passive. You have to make contact and stay committed. If you give up that commitment, the interaction changes in a single moment. We love our videos; it gives us a reference point. It gives us something to observe, but it’s passive. Ultimately, we must physically delve into the depths of the movement. We have to engage physically. It’s in that interaction, the ‘doing’ where we feel what happens and it becomes a part of us.

USAF President Emeritus, one of the first members of the New York Aikikai (NYA) and current Sensei, Mike Abrams, explains that it’s important for students to feel the instructor’s technique. He’s an open history book.  Sensei Abrams is another living legend, who explains the importance of what Yamada Shihan and his contemporaries did with the NYA. Sensei Abrams’ class takes you back to the foundations of training at the NYA; he speaks of the ukemi that Sensei Yamada took for his sempai. You get a picture of it in your mind, while listening. In Sensei Abrams class, when he asks you to grab him, one may do so in a rather naïve, unsuspecting manner. One may wonder what is coming next, but as soon as he begins to move you become immediately clear that whatever happens will end with you on the mat, usually face down. Similarly, Harvey Konigsberg Shihan will point to the connection between his hand and his hip movement. He will then explain it to you, in his low gravely voice. He may then say, “Grab” and you do. Then what you thought you understood goes flying out of your head, as quickly as you land on the mat. His disarming warmth and spiritual connection lull you into a feeling of smooth quiet and security. That is of course, until you feel his hip move and his weight drop while you get tossed. You get up, smiling, because your body gets this “turning on the light bulb” moment of comprehension. And ultimately, when Shihan Yamada says, “grab”, undoubtedly, healthy concern goes through uke’s mind from inception. You know his movement is big, powerful and direct. Some uke have explained that when they take ukemi for Yamada Shihan, they feel like their bodies are going in separate directions at the same time. For example, during one class, Yamada Shihan seemed to be moving toward a particular irimi-nage opening, but it appeared that he changed his mind, so he picked the uke up, as though to do an aiki-otoshi. The entire class held it’s breath and watched with wide eyes, while the uke’s head turned from side to side, looking for the landing place (kind of like a fighter jet coming in for an emergency landing).

Then he let us all off the hook, as he said to the uke, with a chuckle, “don’t worry, I’m not going to do that.” Even as we enjoyed his humor in that moment, we were all taking ukemi, because we followed him intently. We were in sync with him and there was nothing between him and us. We released a collective sigh of relief for the uke, but more for ourselves, because for a moment, “things got real”. We felt the air swoosh, when he picked up and seemed to swing the uke around. We felt the distance between the uke high in the air, (with Sensei Yamada holding the uke underneath his arm pit), and the mat. We felt his joviality, but we simultaneously felt the seriousness of training, which I believe he wants us to understand. After class, in the locker rooms, we talked about that and kind of nodded at each other as if to acknowledge it in a single word, “Yeah”.

I suppose all of this is to reiterate, that is it has to be felt.


Dena Williams

New York Aikikai

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