Just A Little More

There’s a point in the technique where you can feel uke’s weight or resistance. You think you can’t go any further and feel as though uke has stopped you there in the middle of your movement. However it just so happens you are training with a sempai who directs you to move a little further to make the technique more effective. Sometimes just a little extra extension is all it takes. You were trying to be relaxed while doing the technique, but in fact made some parts of your body dead weight instead. There is a big difference between being relaxed and being limp. You can still be relaxed while having energy extend throughout your movements. That added energy is just the bit you need to extend upward for that Kokyuho or create a sharper cut down for that Ikkyo. When you’re at a point where you feel like you’ve hit a dead end, give it a little more energy and see where that takes you.

How far is your reach? There’s a $100 dollar bill hanging just a centimeter beyond your answer. Now, how far is your reach? We can often do more than we believe we are capable of (unless you’re one of those people with exceedingly high levels of confidence). Under the right circumstances and pressures we may see capabilities come out that we never knew we had. With the right motivation we find that extra bit of energy within ourselves to tip the scales in our favor. This doesn’t mean that we over-exert ourselves though. I often see people putting too much “effort” into their techniques. They put all their might into a throw and they get exhausted quickly. Meanwhile, the uke at the receiving end of their brutal efforts grimaces and would most likely avoid training with them in the future. Putting more energy into your movements is more subtle and precise than the brute force maximum “effort” approach. It’s adding some energy and extension while cutting with the edge of your hand, instead of using all your muscles to push through someone.

On my commute to the dojo delays on the subway happen every so often. Sometimes a train is delayed at a station indefinitely leaving passengers with no idea of when it will start moving again. It could be 5 minutes; it could be half an hour. When my train is delayed at a station where a transfer is available I think to myself of whether to wait out the delay, or to transfer to another train that may take slightly longer to get to my destination. There are those times where a minute after I exit the train to transfer, the train closes its doors and starts moving again. If I had just waited an extra minute I would have gotten to my destination sooner. The reverse can also happen where I stay on the delayed train too long, and transferring would have gotten me where I needed to go on time. Do I move a bit sooner, or wait a little longer? Timing is important in Aikido, and luckily it is easier to feel that out than how how long a train will be delayed for. As we train more we get a better sense of when to move to create the right distance between us and our partners. And as we learn to feel out better timing we start to understand where subtle changes need to be implemented to improve our technique and movement. Stepping out just a second (or less) sooner can make a significant difference. But if you step out too soon uke can track you with their attack. Sometimes an extra second of patience can be the key instead.

There are many different types of effort. There’s inefficient effort that just exhausts you without really getting you anywhere. There’s efficient effort that helps you steadily move towards your goals. Then there’s effort of intention that shows other people you care. Things like simply being present in someone else’s life can convey a lot of intention of care. Different people approach this kind of effort of intention in different ways. For the more gregarious types it may be enthusiastic conversation; for others it may be more subtle. It’s kind of ironic that I’m writing about this since I’ve never been good at showing effort of intention. I often come across as cold to others and don’t talk much to most people. But I see the effort of intention other people show me, even if it doesn’t look like I acknowledge it. Some people take a while to warm up.

You bring someone a cup of hot tea on a cold day, but that person doesn’t want it so it gets cold. For the next few days you try again, but the same thing happens; the tea gets cold. You keep trying though since it doesn’t really inconvenience you and you’re getting drinks for other people too. After thirty days of seeing that cold cup of tea each day, you think maybe tomorrow I’ll order one less cup of tea, but you decide to give it one more try. On the thirty-first day you find an empty cup, a smile, and a thank you. (Disclaimer: This story is for metaphor purposes only. I am in no way suggesting to buy tea for someone who doesn’t want it for thirty-one days straight). Some people may never warm up to you, because certain people just don’t connect well due to incompatibilities in personalities or worldviews (or other reasons), but sometimes chipping away with bits of effort of intention over an extended period of time can go a long way.

Whether it’s reaching or cutting that extra inch, moving a second sooner, waiting a second longer, or just adding that bit of extra effort that shows you care; a little extra energy along with some subtle changes can make a big difference. A strong intention doesn’t always guarantee results, but sometimes it’s the tipping point. For every grounded and heavy uke there is a weak spot. Find that spot, put some energy and intention towards it, and uke’s balance will come tumbling down. That extra bit of initiative or patience can bring surprising results. People don’t expect a lot from a little, but many little things add up and the simplest changes can open up a whole new world of possibilities.

By Andrew Lee, New York Aikikai

Living Aikido Life – An Invitation to Learning

A soft shuffle of barefoot students draws attention to the peaceful silence soon to envelop the practice space we call Dojo. As if by magic, the wave of people dressed in white uniforms find their spots as they slowly line-up in a sitting position called Seiza. And in a moment, all time seems to pause. Like breath, this is a suspension of thoughts, a way to call back one’s mental activity to the present moment and the space which one occupies. In this moment of recollection, all becomes unified. The state of calm ensues and invites new learning. Oftentimes announced by a clap, then another, then a third, the line of students bow, synchronized by an inner rhythm acquired through the practice of awareness and presence. Thus, practice begins.

Being immersed in the study and practice of Aikido – or any dedicated practice for that matter – slowly becomes part of our lives and in many ways it also becomes our way of living. As that happens, we become “insiders” and slowly adjust our language to express principles and concepts otherwise elusive to the general public. Maybe more so than other Martial Arts, Aikido has to felt to be understood – or to be experienced at deep physiological and psychological levels. 

The beauty of Aikido rests within its offerings. As students develop their skills, they also become more confident and more in tune with their own bodies, and their partners’. This generates a way of learning through partnership and it extends far beyond the Dojo’s mats, into the daily life comprised by a multitude of situations and relationships always in a state of permanent change.

Living Aikido Life is the embodiment of Aikido’s principles and it gently grows over time, much like a majestic tree soaring towards the Heavens. This is the message of the full length documentary titled Living Aikido Life, a message told by ten wonderful human beings whose life-long dedication to Aikido is making the world a better place for future generations to come.

Living Aikido Life is an invitation to learning, an open window into the world of those who share the same passion and love for the “Art of Peace” as the world has come to know it. The film captures the many aspects of the art, and offers “how to” insight to educators, parents, students; young and old, regardless of their culture, nationality, or any other artificial boundaries that separate us.

Living Aikido Life presents Aikido to the world in a way that hopefully respects the wishes of Aikido’s Founder Morihei Ueshiba who hoped that one day Aikido will bring peace to the world and harmonize society. Dojo-Cho and Instructors are invited to acquire and use the film as a fundraiser, as an introduction to Aikido for new students, or as part of their Dojo’s events. All orders of the film will support the goal of making the film freely available to any Public School in the world.

A Trailer and more information can be found on the project’s website: http://livingaikido.life/dojo-cho-info/ 

Bogdan Heretoiu

Central Illinois Aikikai

Just Saying Hello….

It has been many months since I wrote an article to the Aikido community, and that is actually good news because I have been back to my busy schedule traveling and teaching all over the world. I am happy to be taking these few days at my own dojo because right after USAF summer camp I traveled immediately to camp in Germany, and I leave soon for a trip to Brazil, Argentina and Chile.  So it’s always nice to be home, no matter how short! I would like to thank everyone who came to camp this year, both Osawa Sensei and I had wonderful week.

There are many instructors connected with New York Aikikai in the tri-state area who have been running their own dojos for a long time, even decades. It was an unusually busy spring for me as well because in addition to my international seminars, several of these nearby dojos had anniversary seminars. So while I was absent from even more of my usual Saturday classes at NYA, I was  happy to be included in these celebration seminars and see so many instructors in their own dojos surrounded by wonderful students.  

So, this is all to say that I am doing well, and I look look forward to seeing you soon, somewhere, on the mat.

Have a wonderful fall season,

Y. Yamada

Dan Promotions January 2, 2017 – May 31, 2017

Test applications received and dated between January 2nd 2017 and May 31st, 2016 (some listings represent applications prior to Hombu approval, applications not received by posting date will not be listed in the post). 

 

Shodan

  • Ralph Akin – Two Rivers Aikikai
  • Beverly Baker – Aikido de la Montagne
  • Bernard Becker – PAPA Aikido USA
  • Anthony Bentley – Springfield Aikido School
  • Guerman Ermolenko – Albany Aikido
  • Micahel Ettore – Twin Cities Aikido Center
  • Michelle Farris – Columbia Aikikai
  • Jone Gaunavou – San Francisco Aikikai
  • Matthew Gentile – Albany Aikido
  • Benjamin Goliwas – Asheville Aikikai
  • Kevin Johnston – Aikido Center of Jacksonville
  • Ulugbek Kasimou – Open Sky Aikikai
  • Stephen Koehler – Twin Cities Aikido Center
  • Jason Koonce – Heaven and Earth Aikido
  • John Lai – San Francisco Aikikai
  • Lance Luria – Springfield Aikido School
  • Chris Mangos – Shodokan
  • James Matheny – Jonesboro Aikido
  • Mary Moutoux – Open Sky Aikikai
  • Carmen Narvaez – Albany Aikido
  • Michael Nilan – Twin Cities Aikido Center
  • Donald Nollet – Twin Cities Aikido Center
  • Terrence O’Grady – Aikido of Nassau County
  • Robert Paluszek – Heaven and Earth Aikido
  • Wiley Patterson – Alamo Area Aikikai
  • Louis Pingitore – New England Aikikai
  • Grant Price – Aikido of El Paso
  • Brandon Rout – Jonesboror Aikido
  • Bill Querry – Portland Aikido
  • Stuart See – Albany Aikido
  • Dario Valcarcel – Southern Maryland Aikido Center
  • Michael Weiss – Aikido of Champlain Valley
  • Donovan White – Albany Aikido
  • Eric Yanofsky – Shodokan

Nidan

  • Faisal Ahmed – Albany Aikido
  • Don Eisele – Tatsumaki Aikikai/KSU Aikido Club
  • Ken Fung – City Aikido of Los Angeles
  • Basia Halliop – Toronto Aikikai
  • Lawrence Howard – Albany Aikido
  • Kaitlyn Hunter – North Vancouver Aikikai
  • Chris Ingham – Bermuda Aikikai
  • Dwi Jaya – Toronto Aikikai
  • Kim John-Banks – Bermuda Aikikai
  • Amos Kennedy – Aikido Center of Atlanta
  • Allen Kline – Framingham Aikikai
  • Andrew Konopacki – Albany Aikido
  • Catherine Lefebvre – Aikido de la Montagne
  • Michelle Lefkowitz – Aikido of Champlain Valley
  • Jason Martell – Lunenburg Aikikai
  • Xavier Matute – Monteregie Aikikai
  • Nicholas Mills – Lunenburg Aikikai
  • Matt Moller – Springfield Aikido School
  • Philip Natale – Albany Aikido
  • Ezzard Neri – Toronto Aikikai
  • Suzanne Rancourt – Albany Aikido
  • James Reed-Jones – Aikido of Prince Edward Island
  • Patrick Roux – Seattle Aikikai
  • Scott Somero – Portland Aikido
  • Jerry Vejar – City Aikido of Los Angeles

 

Sandan

  • Jeremy Akel – Aikido Center of Jacksonville
  • Jonathan Aronson – Albany Aikido
  • Linda Cox – Albany Aikido
  • Stefan Dromlewicz – Framingham Aikikai
  • Stephen Fay – Kingston Aikido
  • Jorge Garcia – Aikido of Austin
  • Shawn Kim – Plano Aikido Center
  • Damien Kick – Austin Aikikai
  • Paul Miroff – Kingston Aikido
  • Alan Moores – Aikido of Pahala
  • Daniel Top – Seattle Aikikai
  • Tom Visentin – Kingston Aikido
  • Thomas Voetsch – Kingston Aikido

Yondan

  • Daniel Almosny – Florida Aikikai
  • James Baptiste – Bermuda Aikikai
  • Alexandra Hamer – Open Sky Aikikai
  • Daryl Muranaka – Harvard Aikikai

Aikido Is Frustrating. It’s Supposed To Be.

You’re sitting there. Your legs hurt after a bunch of suwari-waza. The instructor demonstrates a technique, and you can tell there’s some subtlety to it. He shows it 3 times, pronounces its name, and says “Ok, partners”… and there you are, left mainly to your own devices.

You feel like you follow along well enough as uke, but then as nage, you don’t get it. You maybe don’t even GET what you don’t get. You receive some correction, but it doesn’t make the technique fully clear or resolve all of your questions… And what do we do with questions? We ASK them…

Except, not in aikido. NOT during practice.

In our culture, we are brought up to ask questions. We are encouraged to ask, and in most aspects of life, we are rewarded for them with explanations leading to a more acute understanding. “Ask and ye shall receive.” Even our government was once revolutionary in its dependence upon questioning policy and authority; dissent and discussion.

Aikido is different. It HAS to be experienced. You HAVE to fail. It will resist every attempt to convey it orally. That’s not to say you can’t talk about it or read about it – that absolutely enriches your practice. But don’t expect giving voice to your concerns to improve your technique where “the rubber meets the road” (or where “the face meets the mat”, for that matter). Ridiculous though it may sound, “he who questions training only trains himself at asking questions”.

It is particularly inappropriate to ask for specifics in the middle of class for a couple of reasons. For one, it is not in line with the traditional way in which budo is communicated – namely through demonstration and repetition. For another, an art like aikido can’t be put in a box or learned from diagrams, any more than you can learn to swim by clicking through a powerpoint slideshow – you have to get in the water! Moreover, these questions take the instructor out of the pedagogical flow he or she is seeking to establish. If you’ve got to follow up on the “what” and “how” of a technique, wait until after class. Avoid “why” altogether – unless you appreciated your mom’s response when you asked “why” you had to take out the garbage, you won’t like the answer. Maybe she said “because I said so”. I’ll say “Trust the path.”

On a certain level, this can seem a challenge at best and infuriating at worst. But when you realize that you are subscribing to a centuries-old philosophy of learning and preserving an art which has been evolving for generations, you find that it’s not a liability at all. It’s exactly what you signed up for. By feeling your way through this art with the guidance of your teacher, you will develop your own connections, conscious and otherwise. You will come to appreciate the fluidity of the movements, the symmetry of the positions, and the adaptability of the techniques. You will internalize those elusive, conceptual points which you initially took for granted. In short, you will find the way to make aikido your OWN… which dissolves a question too colossal to voice, let alone answer.

So yeah. Aikido is frustrating. It’s supposed to be.

 

Ed Haponik

Aikido of Charlotte

 

 

2017 Summer Camp Is Open For Registration

Once again, Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club, located at 401 South New York Road, Galloway, New Jersey USA, will be the venue for the 2017 USAF Summer Camp beginning Sunday, July 30th and ending Saturday, August 5th. To accommodate Aikido camp participants and their family and friends, the hotel has blocked off a number of rooms at a discounted rate, including a very limited number of rooms for arrival prior to camp on Saturday, July 29th.

You are encouraged to register for a Camp Package and book your hotel room as soon as possible. Although you will have to pay in full for your Camp Package at the time of registration, you will not incur charges for your hotel reservation until your actual stay. The DEADLINE for registration is Friday, June 23rd but the blocked off USAF discounted hotel rooms may be fully occupied prior to the DEADLINE.

For more information and to proceed with your registration, click here

In addition, updates and further information will be available in this newsletter on the USAF Summer Camp Page

We look forward to seeing you at camp!
Sincerely,

Laura Pavlick and Karen De Paola

From our Birankai Friends to Students and Friends of Chiba Sensei

Dear Students and Friends of Chiba Sensei,

Mrs. Chiba has agreed to sell the last of Sensei’s life long collection of weapons and accessories. Below is a link to a website containing the collection.

The site itself is broken into three areas:

 

  • Tsuba
  • Kozuka, Kōgai, Menuki and Fuchi/Kashira
  • Swords

In each area there is a list of items. Clicking on a single item will show you details about that item as well as a Certificate of Authenticity, if one is available.

You can click on images in the detail pages to see larger versions.

The purchase process will take several steps:

  1. Click the “Buy Now” button you see on the listing page next to the item you wish to purchase.
  2. You will be directed to a page for you to fill in your shipping and personal information.
  3. Click the Purchase button.
  4. You will receive an email with further instructions, and the item will be placed on hold.
  5. Payments are being processed through Paypal. We will not be accepting checks. Items will be held for 4 days pending receipt of payment from Paypal. After 4 days, we will release the item to be sold to someone else. Once payment has been received your item will be processed and shipped to you, and the item marked as sold.

Thank you to Derek Shaw for building this website, Didier Boyet for cataloguing, researching, and appraising all of the items, Gary Payne for photographing them and Dick Miller for storing and shipping the items.

Web Site

https://chibasaleitems.azurewebsites.net/

Warm Regards,

Lynne Ballew

Trustee, TK Chiba Trust

Congratulations to new Shihan

The title of Shihan is appointed by Aikikai Hombu Dojo, which states that “no additional power or authority accompanies the title of Shihan, but it shows qualifications as Aikido instructors of the highest rank.”

The USAF is pleased to announce two members who received Shihan title, effective January 1, 2017. They are:

Collins Smith, Bermuda Aikikai

Kazuho Nishida, City Aikido of Los Angeles

Congratulations!

 

 

Eddie Hagihara : Congratulations And An Introduction

The year of 2017 started with good news for the aikido community in the USA. This good news was announced in January during Aikikai’s annual kagami biraki celebration. Four Americans were promoted to 8th dan for the first time in aikido history. Needless to say I know all of them very well so it makes me very happy.

One particular person among the four is Mr. Eddie Hagihara from the USAF. I’m especially happy for him for many reasons. The recommendation for his promotion was made by me and the USAF for his exemplary aikido life for many years and his long-time support of the aikido community. That is the congratulations part of this story. Now for the introduction.

 It is unfortunate that Mr. Hagihara is not well-known to the new generation of aikidoists in the USA. The main reason for this is due to the wonderful qualities of his personality. Hagihara Shihan is a very quiet, shy and humble person. (Except when he has a few glasses of beer!) I know these qualities very well because we’ve known each other for 55 years. He was born in 1935 and promoted to shodan in 1962 by the late Koichi Tohei Sensei. Right after he received his shodan he went to study at Aikikai in Japan. I was already an uchi deshi there and that was the first time we met. And we became friends. At that time there were very few foreigners training at Aikikai, not like the present.

By the way, Mr. Bob Nadeau, who has also been promoted to 8th dan, was also in Japan for the same reason as Hagihara Shihan. The three of us hung out together on and off the mat because I spoke English. Both Eddie and Bob traveled with me when I went to teach regularly at a US military camp. They were especially helpful when I taught Americans. However, I still wonder whether they were really accompanying me in order to drink the good scotch and beer available in the military camp.

 Now I must tell you a serious story that shows Eddie’s true nature. By 1962 I had already decided to accept the invitation to be the main teacher at the newly formed New York Aikikai. In contrast to the present, the dojo was very small in membership and most of the students came from judo. Eddie was an original member of the dojo and was the main teacher even thought he had limited knowledge at the time. That’s why he was sent to Japan; to improve his skills and become the main teacher in New York. At that time communications were not as easy and sophisticated as they are today and there was plenty of confusion. Eddie found out about my assignment in New York while he was in Japan and I’m sure he was very surprised and confused about it. The reason I respect Eddie and owe him so much is that his attitude toward me after this confusion was great – he was gracious and humble to me as if nothing bothered him. He gave full support to my goals and efforts at the New York Aikikai. I came to New York in 1964 to be chief instructor and Eddie came back at the same time. I felt bad about the situation but there was nothing I could do but apologize to him.

After his return to New York, Eddie got married and opened a dojo on Long Island. He still displays the qualities of quiet strength and humility that are the foundation of his nature and that have made my aikido mission here even easier. I have great respect for him because of that and that’s why I feel so happy about his promotion. He’s still very attached to the New York Aikikai and I think he loves it more than anybody else.

My congratulations to Eddie Hagihara and my best wishes for even a longer life in aikido.

Aikido Portraits

It’s been said that, if you want to find a place where people of all ethnicities, religions, social classes, and political beliefs come together for a common goal, look on the mat.  I am deeply grateful to be a part of this diverse community, which comes together with the common goal of refining and nourishing our minds, bodies, and spirits.

Click here to view Aikido Portraits – Part 1

 

Jaime Kahn

New York Aikikai

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