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Training in Aikido with Type 1 Diabetes

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by Jack Freund

Aikido of Charlotte

Aiki-Happens

We are here to practice Aikido, or as I’ll call it here: Aiki-do (pronounced aiki-doo).  Our practice may become what appears to be a repetitive routine.  It’s important to remember that repetition is a means to an end, not an end in itself.  So we practice technique repeatedly.  The end is Aiki-waza.

An unschooled observer may think: “over and over, ad infinitum, this is so boring.”  We know, of course, that this isn’t so at all.  Each instance of the practice, each repetition, is unique.  Our minds build ever broadening neuro-behavioral models of the parameters of shiho-nage, and all the other techniques, until we are able to improvise and execute seamlessly.  I like to advise students to try it a few  thousand  times.  I whisper the word “thousand” in a barely audible tone that draws giggles from the class.  Do they think I’m joking?  I repeat: “ Try it a few  thousand  times.”

As time passes we’ve had the opportunity to practice a myriad of techniques from numerous openings, with various endings.  We have also been training our minds to remain in the present, to allow our bodies to execute without critical intervention.  Then we begin to see that Aiki-waza is not something we do.  We’re amazed to learn that Aiki-waza is something that happens.

This is due to our ability to finally remove our “selves” from the process.  When we remove our selves from the process it is the “Self” that is happening.  That is, if you believe that the Universe is a single entity, and that we have only an illusion that we are a discreet part of it.

It is the “ego,” our perception of a unique self, which is a product of the brain.  This brain is also an extension of the Universe, which creates this illusion of separateness.  It is as if the Universe has set up a mirror, a self-monitoring system by which it can look back upon and admire itself.1  But I do not believe the Universe is egotistical.  Only its creation, the ego is.

When one has eliminated the illusion of self from the process, one can then join in the harmony between different vectors (Perceived Individuals) of Universal Energy (ki) within the Self (Universe).  It is then that Aiki Happens.

by Ed Schechtman, Shidoin, Center Island Aikido

1 See The Book: On the taboo of knowing who you are, by Alan Watts.

Aikido Film: Compassion, Composure & Culture

A close look at Aikido and the practitioners from Aikido of Charlotte, a United States Aikido Federation Dojo. Directed/Shot/Edited by Brett Mullen, Red Nebula Co. | Written and Produced by Jonathan Weiner, 360 Visuals Productions/Mez Media Films

 

Aikido: Compassion, Composure & Culture. from Aikido of Charlotte on Vimeo.

 

New York Aikikai Endowment

Dear friend of New York Aikikai,We are writing from New York with some good news about the New York Aikikai.

In 2015, the Board of Directors at New York Aikikai decided to create an Endowment Fund. This Endowment Fund will be a permanent source of support for the growth and development of the New York Aikikai and its programs.  There has been a wonderful response to the initial solicitation for this fund.  Thank you to those of you who have become our founding donors.  We are writing to you now in order to ensure that all members and friends from around the world have the opportunity to participate in this important effort. 

Yamada Sensei’s work during the past 50+ years has resulted in an extraordinary institution, the New York Aikikai. Through his love of and dedication to aikido and its study, Sensei has touched and inspired many people at home in New York as well as across the United States and abroad. The New York Aikikai’s dojo, which also serves as the headquarters for the United States Aikido Federation, is a place where aikidoka from around the globe immerse themselves in the study of aikido. It is our hope that through this Fund, we will help the NYA continue realizing Yamada Sensei’s vision and ensure his legacy will be with us for years to come.

The New York Aikikai is a special community that could not exist without the efforts of the many members who contribute in significant ways. In turn, the school provides a meaningful experience by growing and evolving. Whether developing the kids programs, performing community outreach, creating scholarships for inner city children, or special classes for beginners and advance practitioners, our aim is to thrive.

In order to maintain both the high level of training and the spirit of community, it has been important for Sensei that the dojo continues to be open and accessible to as many members and visitors as possible. The school strives to keep the monthly dues and mat fees low, even in the face of mounting costs. As you can imagine, the expenses of maintaining a building and a school in Manhattan are high and only increase over time. 

To ensure our school’s economic sustainability, we humbly request that you consider a donation to the New York Aikikai Endowment Fund. Making a gift today, your contribution will help keep the New York Aikikai the vibrant place we treasure. Any amount counts. (Donate here) Or if you prefer to make a donation by check, please make it out to NY Aikikai (Memo: Endowment) and send it to the address found below.

In order to help with the effort of raising funds for an endowment, the Board of New York Aikikai has formed the Endowment Advisory Group comprised of dojo members. Should you have any questions or concerns about the Endowment, this group or any member of the Board should be able to help you.

The Endowment was established out of love and appreciation for a school and community that continues to enrich and inspire us. To all aikidoka, past and present, friends of the NYA worldwide, if the teachings of Yamada Sensei and the New York Aikikai have had an impact on your life, join us and donate today.

We thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

 

The New York Aikikai Board of Directors

 

 

 

The New York Aikikai is a Nonprofit Organization, (under the 501(c)(3) terms of the Internal Revenue Code) – all contributions to the Fund are 100% tax-deductible.

The New York Aikikai may expend so much of the endowment fund as it deems prudent after considering the factors set forth N-PCL § 553(a)

Perhaps your workplace has a matching program. (Click for information about matching programs).

You can also consider the New York Aikikai Endowment Fund in your estate planning. (Click here for info).

Of course, we will generate a letter for your 2015 tax return.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Aikikai Endowment Fund :: 142 West 18th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10011 +1 212-242-6246 :: donations@NYA-Endowment.org :: www.NYA-Endowment.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aikido of Charlotte Grand Re-Opening Seminar With Andy Demko Sensei

On Feb 5-6, Aikido of Charlotte hosted Andy Demko, 7th Dan, Shihan, USAF Technical Committee for their Grand Re-Opening Seminar in their brand new dojo with 1,600 sq. ft. (72 tatami) sprung floor mat system.  We had attendees from over 10 dojos and a great time was had by all.  This was a very special event for us launching the new dojo but also celebrating Demko Sensei’s 50th year in Aikido.

Check out a highlight video here, https://vimeo.com/155044649

 

 

Jonathan Weiner, 4th Dan, Shidoin | Dojo Cho


New York Aikikai Endowment Fund

New York, December 2015

Dear friend of New York Aikikai,

As the end of 2015 is nearing, the spirit of the dojo is lively as ever. Hope you’re enjoying it. We are writing you with some good news:

The Board of Directors at New York Aikikai has made a decision to create an Endowment Fund. This Endowment Fund will be a permanent source of support for the growth and development of the New York Aikikai and its programs.

Yamada Sensei’s work during the past 50+ years has resulted in an extraordinary institution, the New York Aikikai. Through his love of and dedication to aikido and its study, Sensei has touched and inspired many people at home in New York as well as across the United States and abroad. The New York Aikikai’s dojo, which also serves as the headquarters for the United States Aikido Federation, is a place where aikidoka from around the globe immerse themselves in the study of aikido. It is our hope that through this Fund, we will help the NYA continue realizing Yamada Sensei’s vision and ensure his legacy will be with us for years to come.

The New York Aikikai is a special community that could not exist without the efforts of the many members who contribute in significant ways. In turn, the school provides a meaningful experience by growing and evolving. Whether developing the kids programs, performing community outreach, creating scholarships for inner city children, or special classes for beginners and advance practitioners alike, our aim is to thrive.

In order to maintain both the high level of training and the spirit of community, it has been important for Sensei that the dojo continues to be open and accessible to as many members as possible. The school strives to keep the monthly dues low, even in the face of mounting costs. As you can imagine, the expenses of maintaining a building and a school in Manhattan are high and only increase over time.

To ensure our school’s economic sustainability, we humbly request that you consider a donation to the New York Aikikai Endowment Fund. Making a gift today, your contribution will help keep the New York Aikikai the vibrant place we treasure. Our goal is for 100 percent participation from our membership. Any amount counts. (Donate here) Or if you prefer to make a donation by check, please make it out to NY Aikikai (Memo: Endowment) and send it to the address found below.

In order to help with the effort of raising funds for an endowment, the Board of New York Aikikai has formed the Endowment Advisory Group comprised of dojo members. Should you have any questions or concerns about the Endowment, this group or any member of the Board should be able to help you.

The Endowment was established out of love and appreciation for a school and community that continues to enrich and inspire us. To all aikidoka, past and present, friends of the NYA worldwide, if the teachings of Yamada Sensei and the New York Aikikai have had an impact on your life, join us and donate today.

We thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

 

The New York Aikikai Board of Directors

 

The New York Aikikai is a Nonprofit Organization, (under the 501(c)(3) terms of the Internal Revenue Code) – all contributions to the Fund are 100% tax-deductible.
The New York Aikikai may expend so much of the endowment fund as it deems prudent after considering the factors set forth N-PCL § 553(a)
Perhaps your workplace has a matching program. (Click for information about matching programs).
You can also consider the New York Aikikai Endowment Fund in your estate planning. (Click here for info).
Of course, we will generate a letter for your 2015 tax return.

Aikido of Charlotte Announces New Dojo Space

I would like to introduce you to the future of Aikido of Charlotte! We are almost done with construction of this 4,300 sq. ft. building (a little less than half will be a production studio) The Dojo will include changing rooms, shower, kitchen area, LED lighting, ceiling Fans & a 1,600 sq. ft. sprung floor mat system with 72 Zebra Mats, which will be the largest martial arts mat system of this kind in NC & SC. Stay tuned on more announcements regarding our Grand Opening / Open HouseInaugural Seminar with Andy Demko, 7th Dan, Shihan, USAF Technical Committee & our 2016 Q1 Community Self Defense Class!

Thank you to our students for being so dedicated to this cause and for giving me a place to share this wonderful martial art with our Chief Instructor, Dennis Main, 6th Dan, Shidoin.

…Jonathan Weiner, 4th Dan, Fukushidoin | Dojo Cho

 

 

The Mirrors of Circumstance

There goes a story of O’Sensei where at a late age he had to be carried onto the mat to teach class, but once he was on the mat he moved with the amazing speed of a whirlwind, tossing ukes like they were ragdolls.  Like O’Sensei many of us can act differently on the mat as opposed to off the mat, although to a much lesser degree.  There can be people who are timid off the mat, but can show a great amount of assertion while training.  There are also those who can be relatively calm in daily life, but once on the mat and under attack they can get pretty wild and aggressive.  The opposite of course can also be true; the flow and fluidity of Aikido can have a calming effect too.  Different people can respond to the same circumstances differently.  Whether it is the circumstance of Aikido training or something else entirely, when we enter a different circumstance we look into a specific mirror, one that may reveal characteristics that we previously were not conscious about.

Imagine life as a hall of mirrors, and each mirror is a different circumstance of life.  Some of the mirrors show who we believe ourselves to be, but other mirrors, like fun house mirrors, distort that image.  We may deny the authenticity of those distorted images, but nevertheless they contain elements of who we are.  Our actions adapt to circumstances.  Our response to a shomenuchi attack may vary from our response to a yokomenuchi attack.  In randori, our responses become reflexive as attacks come one after another, and sometimes we may surprise ourselves at just how much we are capable of.  There are sides of us that remain hidden until the right situations bring them out to the surface.  An unexpected hardship can bring out resiliency that we never knew we had.  Tragedy on a mass scale can also bring out kindness on a mass scale, as people rush to help their fellow human beings in need.  A cutthroat competition may bring out ugliness that we never knew existed in us.  We each reflect a different face depending on the current circumstances around us.

Sometimes people like to engage in hypothetical scenarios.  What would you do if today was your last day to live?  What if a bear chases after you when you go camping?  What will you do if your iriminage doesn’t work!?  What if someone comes at you with a kick!?!  We may answer with what we think would likely be our response, but we would never know our true response until the situation does occur.  Our reflexive response and our intellectual response can often contrast with each other.  Sometimes the intensity of a situation may lead us to take illogical or irrational decisions.  And sometimes doing something illogical may bring unexpectedly positive results.  Each new circumstance is filled with an array of possibilities, chances to capitalize on opportunities as well as to see what we lack.  My favorite quote, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, states, “For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.”  You can see what you lack, but learn from it, or see some greed come out as you capitalize on an opportunity.

Circumstances can bring out both the best and the worst in people.  It can lead to self-discovery, or to actions resulting in self-defeat.  Whenever people learn new things and improve themselves, they change the foundation that their reflexive responses are based on.  Adjusting a detail in your Aikido technique can improve your reflexive response the next time that attack comes unexpectedly.  Reflexive responses are also based on our characteristics and traits that form the basis of our personalities.  Personalities of certain types may interact better, in certain circumstances, than others.  Other people may also act as different mirrors of circumstance.  I interact with my family in a different way than I interact with strangers, or acquaintances.  My family interactions reflect one side of who I am, while my interactions with people I don’t know well reflect another.  Even within my family my interactions with different individuals show differentiated reflections.  I interact with my mom differently than I interact with my sister.  If I interact with 16 different people, I will reflect 16 different sides of myself.  Many of those sides will be similar since they are unified by my core personality, but there are significant differences, even if they are subtle and slight.

Every partner we have in our Aikido training is a different mirror of circumstance.  How we respond to each of them, along with the other circumstances that come our way, adds up to the parts that make us who we are.  We may see similarities of how we act on the mat occur in our daily lives too since all our reflections are connected to our core sense of self.  Circumstances bring more of who we are to the light; it illuminates our inner selves.  Our responses to the various circumstances lead to various results, both good and bad, but we learn more about ourselves either way.  We can mold our reflections through learning and improvement, but many reflections are also stable and based on our personalities.  Each day brings new circumstances, and with that new chances for better reflections.  We are all artists striving to paint ourselves in the best way we can using the brush strokes of each day we live.

by Andrew Lee

New York Aikikai

Albany Aikido Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Shihan Irvin Faust of Albany Aikido would like to sincerely thank all those who supported his 30th anniversary celebration seminar. Much gratitude goes out to those who were able to come, those who sent cards, made calls, and those who sent Internet messages.

Shihan Irvin Faust was very pleased with the turn out and says that it was a joyous and very spirited seminar. He especially thanks Dave Halprin, Joel Poslum, Larry Levit and Brian Mizerak who taught excellent classes.

The after party was held at Highway bowling alley and it was fantastic. The bowling, socializing and fun exemplified his t-shirt logo - Nage + Uke= Harmony.

 

 

 



The Wave of Presence

Whenever we experience a particularly effective technique we notice nage’s presence immediately.  Like a tidal wave that suddenly appears out of nowhere, it can sweep us off our feet while we look on in awe.  Presence can be powerful yet subtle, and become the center of attention without being obnoxious.  Many people can be present but lack presence, and it is the difference between practicing Aikido with a limp arm and practicing with an arm full of energy yet still relaxed.  When we relax in Aikido it is not the same type of relaxing where you plop down into bed after a long and tiring day.  We need to keep relaxed during practice but with an energy and presence that lets whoever we train with know that we are there and in the moment, ready to be engaged.  Good presence lets our practice remain in motion like the ebb and flow of the tide, instead of feeling overly static like water trapped in a bottle.

With a diverse array of people come diverse types of presence.  People can differ stylistically in their presence, and people may also derive their presence from different sources.  Some people have a natural presence, and when they’re in a room everyone notices, while others cultivate it internally to bring out an energy, voice, and authority that had previously been eluding them.  One day, several years ago, I saw a person wearing a trench coat stride into the dojo with such a great deal of presence that I was convinced he was a yudansha.  Later on, to my surprise, I found out he was 5th kyu.  A powerful presence doesn’t always come with rank or skill, but with the ability to project your energy so that the people around you can’t help but notice it.  A lot of energy flows in Aikido, and these lines of energy can move in so many different directions, that it can sometimes seem unwieldy.  A strong presence can bring order to these paths of energy that can result in freer and uninhibited movement.  Our presence places us in charge of guiding the movement instead of letting it drift aimlessly away.

In contrast to the presence emanating from within, are some forms of externally derived presence that have less to do with projecting energy and more to do with something to be avoided.  Just like not all types of attention are desirable, there are types of presence that we are better off without.  One time I was training with someone who had an extremely sweaty and stinky gi (reminder to all aikidoka: please keep your gis well washed and clean!!), and we were practicing iriminage.  As I was taking the ukemi and he was bringing my head towards his shoulder I couldn’t help but notice the dark sweat stains on his gi under his arms, and to avoid having my face squished into that abyss of sweat I took the fall before he technically completed his technique.  That type of stinky presence certainly made his iriminage effective; I was made to go down instantly after all.  This, however, is not the type of presence that would help us in our training.  A presence that repels people is very different than a positive presence that accepts and guides them.

Presence isn’t something strictly technical.  It’s more about attitude and how you use it to deal with the energy around you.  For those of us with pets, we know they can see it when we assert ourselves and demand their attention and respect.  Being energetically assertive doesn’t mean to be arrogant or obnoxious.  We can assert authority over a situation while retaining a sense of humility and a respectful demeanor towards others.  If nage is doing a technique properly he or she should feel in control.  An attack can create a potentially chaotic situation, and neutralizing that attack takes, in addition to the technique itself, an inner sense of stillness and presence that makes you and the attacker feel you are in control of the situation.  At more advanced levels of training it is the nage that initiates the technique.  Nage becomes perceptive enough to take the lead in resolving the movement by breaking the maai before uke moves in for the attack.  By initiating with a strong presence nage is then able to shape uke’s attack in a way that is more efficient to manage.  A good attitude doesn’t just make for a more pleasant practice, but also a vibrant presence in performing the techniques.

Both the giant tsunami and the relatively small wave that merely makes us stumble have significant presence.  One is more obvious while the other is more subtle, but in the end we acknowledge both of them, since they have entered our perception in a way we cannot ignore.  The inner presence derived from overt charisma or a more subtle inner cultivation can make others notice in a definitive way, the same way an assertive hand to the face would make uke definitively notice.  Some external types of presence like a strong odor can make people double take, but are not beneficial for a good practice as most people would rather that stay hidden.  Good presence calls for an assertive, but not overly aggressive, attitude that can initiate and control the situation at hand.  There are moments when we may feel knocked around by the tide as we drift; those are the times where we need to find stable footing, ground and center ourselves, and spark a presence that makes us truly present in life and on the mat.

By Andrew Lee, New York Aikikai

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