February 5 2017

Howard Popkin & Dmitri Deglas Daito Ryu Seminar 10/14/16 – 10/16/16

Popkin Sensei of Aikijutsu Ginjukai  and Deglas Sensei of Shindai Aikikai came to Randall Smith’s dojo, Aikido of Palm Beach County to give a Daito Ryu seminar.

Before I start, let me mention a couple of things. This seminar was a few months ago from the date of this posting. It’s always a pleasure getting to see and train with both Popkin Sensei and Deglas Sensei. Especially at the same time.

I am going off of the notes I had put down the day of the seminar and my recollection, which is becoming more difficult to refresh.

I am becoming a real slacker to posting on my blog.

There were three concepts I put down and that I wanted to write about.

The first concept is to reduce 20%. From what  I remember, Popkin Sensei was saying to scale back on two things, the amount of energy in your touch and the amount of pushback you give when your opponent touches or grabs you.

For instance, when you are grabbed and you reduce the autonomic pushback, your opponent falls into an empty spot and his center is compromised. The best part is they don’t realize it happened.

What we want to do automatically when grabbed is to tense up and thereby giving support to your opponent. It then becomes a fight. You gave out too much information.

Its the same concept when touching your opponent. Reduce the amount of your touch so that your opponent doesn’t have the opportunity to react by tensing up.

Popkin Sensei also said to practice the reduce 20% concept by consciously reducing your touch 20% every time you are touched or touching someone.

The reduced touch is an unexpected response with devastating impact. I have noticed it creates the effect of making your opponent stick to you.

The second concept is head past feet. Its one that Popkin Sensei has discussed a number of times over the years and it comes up in every seminar. But it’s crucial and deserves constant discussion.

The idea is simple. Get your opponent’s head past his feet so he is unbalanced.

I have written about this before.  It is literally is the practice of unbalancing your opponent by consciously and physically manipulating his body so that you can see his head go past his feet.

Once you see that happen, your opponent is going down. Simple. Sublime. And requires no strength to make it happen.

The third concept is to breathe through your belly and suck your navel into your spine.

It had to do with making your stomach rise and fall to the rhythm of your breathing.

Popkin Sensei was saying how Okamoto Sensei would place a glass of liquor on Popkin Sensei’s belly and make him raise the glass so the he could reach it and take a drink. Pretty funny visual if you know Popkin Sensei.

I have to admit, this third concept is going to take me a while to mull over in my brain. It’s not a new concept to me, but one that I have never been able to get my head around.

There was a good turn out of the usual characters. And they are a good group of people. Dedicated to honing their craft and supporting the survival of this awesome information.

October 10 2015

Howard Popkin, Joe Brogna and Dimitri Deglas Daito Ryu Seminar 9/19/15 – 9/20/15

20150919_180702Sensei Howard Popkin and Sensei Joe Brogna from Daito Ryu Akijutsu Ginjukai came to Shindai Aikikai in Orlando for a weekend Daito Ryu seminar. Sensei Dimitri Deglas was present too. He teaches at Shindai. Dennis, a Daito Ryu instructor from Jacksonville, was also there teaching. Forgive me, but I can’t remember his last name. Bad huh? I remember his technique and teaching though.

Lots of the same faces were present. Many thanks to our martial brethren at Shindai for hosting the event. They have a very nice dojo and are good folks.

There was one major theme for the weekend and it was this: HPFF (head past f%$#$ foot). This is akin to what my old judo teacher used to tell me; the body follows the head. HPFF is more focused than that, but the concept is the same.

In practice, the idea is to move your opponent so that his head is vectored such that it is past his foot. This produces kuzuchi. Makes sense right?

We worked HPFF from many different angles and techniques. In a basic example, to help visualize it, we did it from a same side wrist grab where you let the grab happen. You then move your opponent’s hand past his legs so that his head is positioned in that spot over past his shoulder and behind him. It’s a sublime move with great impact.

We worked on another move where you catch your opponent’s hand as if he is strikingPopkin-september-2015-791x1024 you with an open hand, like a slap. You accept it only slightly in order to suck your opponent in, taking his center and balance. You then move back in the same direction yet underneath to the oncoming energy. Its surprisingly disabling and workable from about any angle or technique. Think aiki agi aiki sage.

There were a lot more techniques that we worked on. But this seminar seemed to hit a new, higher level in that it was all about accessing aiki. And that’s a hard thing to do. I hit it a couple of times, but I need lots more practice. I want to have it just happen in all my martial moves. Well, more really, all my moves, martial or otherwise.

At the end of the seminar, one guy asked a question about moving your hips and generating power from them. To my surprise, Sensei Popkin said that in Daito Ryu, you don’t move your hips; you don’t use them to generate power. He did clarify that your hips obviously move since moving your body will make that happen. But you don’t move your hips to generate power how you would in karate for instance, when you are punching or kicking.

As usual, it was great watching and being taught by Sensei Howie and Sensei Joe. I am always amazed at how easy they make it look.


September 29 2013

Howard Popkin, Joe Brogna & Dmitri Deglas Daitoryu Aikijustsu Seminar

2013-09-21 Shindai daitoryu seminar 2I had the audacious opportunity to attend a Daitoryu Aikijutsu seminar taught by Howard Popkin Sensei, Joe Brogna Sensei and Dimitri Deglas Sensei, last weekend at Shindai Aikikai in Orlando, FL. It was an awesome experience and tons good work was accomplished. Shindai folks were great hosts and all around good guys.

One of the major concepts I took away from this seminar was going underneath, over or around your opponents center. Specifically, the idea of maneuvering your elbows in a circular motion under your aggressor’s oncoming rush of force.

I know, moving around an opponents center is a recurring theme throughout my posts. But, it’s one I haven’t ingrained in my system so that its second nature and happening without reactionary thought. The concept hasn’t become learned behavior yet. Hence, my constant writing about it.

I am always amazed at how these guys move.I go after them full bore with all my guns blazing and they cut me down to nothing. Its like a hot knife through butter and I am the butter. Their apparently simple moves continually left me as a useless heap on the mat.

The thing about the elbow technique is to make your elbow the point of energy dissipation. In practice, your wrist is being grabbed and the force is driving into you. Your reaction is to fight force with force. The better practice is to let the force drive and you go under or around the force by letting the grab happen and focusing your force through aiming your elbow. Your energy should find its exit through the point of your elbow instead of that point where you are being grabbed. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Besides having to overcome years of conditioning to the contrary, there is also the subtle, sublime and innate emotional blocks that end up controlling autonomous motor response. In a word, ego.


February 25 2013

Joe Brogna & Dmitri Deglas Diatoryu Aikijutsu Seminar


Just spent yesterday and today working out with a bunch of hard core Daitoryu people. It was a great time. Worked on lots of essentials. This group might not look like much, but they are good an committed to what they do. I am the fat guy on the far left. 

Daitoryu’s subtle power never ceases to amaze me. I used to hold the misconception that it was a brutal and severe martial art that focused on inflicting the most harm possible on an aggressor, which is why I first started it.

Since I began my study, in earnest, a short year ago, I have found out quite differently.

Daitoryu actually operates by kuzuchi on contact. Offset your opponent by upsetting his balance through softness. If he is hard, go soft. If he goes harder, go softer.

I don’t mean go limp. But activate your whole body as a total element instead of just one part. For instance, don’t jsut flex and have your energy stop at your arms and shoulders when a person grabs your wrist. Lower your shoulders, accept the grab, and move your body from your center. As Joe Sensei says, “corkscrew”. Yea, he’s right.

In the softness you find your opponent’s instability. If he is hard on one point, you go around that point and and get in on him. 

June 25 2012

Howard Popkin &Joe Brogna Daitoryu Aikijutsu Seminar

2012-06-25 Daito Ryu seminar

I was just given the profound opportunity to attend a weekend long Daitoryu Aikijujutsu seminar taught by Sensei Howard Popkin and Sensei Joe Bragna of Daitoryu Aikijutsu Ginjukai. The seminar took place at Randall Smith’s Aikido of Palm Beach County.

Daitoryu is a brand new practice for me. I have heard about it over the last few years from a few people at my dojo, Florida Aikikai. But no one told me that it was like Aikido on steroids.

I think this was the piece I was missing and did not know it.

I have been practicing aikido for many years now under Sensei Peter Bernath at Florida Aikikai. I will never stop practicing Aikido.

Having come from a more violent martial arts background, I always longed for a return to it or at least a deeper connection to that aspect of my personality. I have always yearned to give my Aikido that other element that was always present when I was practicing more brutal martial arts.

I love Aikido. But in my practice, I have toned down my martial spirit. I have not given it full expression.

Over the last eighteen months, I was introduced to a martial artist, Dan Harden, who focuses on internal strength building. Or I believe more accurately defined as, muscle memory deconstruction.  (My term for what he does.)

I have pretty consistently been following his course of study. I believe it’s beneficial and applicable to Aikido. I just haven’t been able to fully integrate his techniques and understandings into my Aikido in a coherent way, until now.

I believe that I have found the convergence point for the two; Aikido and internal strength. It’s Daitoryu.