Florida Aikikai Winter Aikido Seminar 11/6/15 thru 11/8/15
The annual Florida Aikikai Winter seminar was a smash. This was the 35th anniversary. I was told this was the highest attended seminar we have ever had. Check out their Facebook page too for great info and pics.
There were no Japanese shihan present this year. Bummer. Yamada sensei was scheduled to be there but he was having health issues and did not attend.
The lack of Japanese shihan was not the cataclysmic end of the world that I had worked up in my head. To the contrary, it is was a prophetic sign of things to come. The next generation of aikido leadership, currently made up of the technical committee, is the future and it is in the here and now.
The biggest thing I saw in this seminar was the imparting of knowledge by the teachers. Everyone of them took the time to explain and show in great detail the moves they were doing. I don’t ever recall that happening before at a winter seminar.
It has always been my experience that the teachers show a move then walk away and leave us to ourselves to figure it out. They of course walk through the throngs of sweaty aikidoka and critique what we are doing. It’s effective but hugely different than having a teacher show the whole class from the beginning what it is they are doing and how to do it.
I attended on Saturday and caught every class on the mat. I did not attend any of the outdoor weapons classes. I was more interested in what was going on inside; both figuratively and physically. I want the internals and I got it.
Berthiaume Sensei was the first class at 9 a.m. What is there to say about this sensei except that he rocks. Every class I have ever taken from him has always been a learning experience.
He was particularly focused on getting your opponent off balance. This idea being the integral portion of the movement.
Off balance, kazushi, IS the recurring theme. Until it happens naturally, primarily and automatically, it will remain the as the theme.
None of the moves we did stand out as anything extraordinary. In other words, we did basic moves. But sensei delved into great detail about manipulating your opponent in the course of the move to get their balance.
For instance, on a tsuki kotegaeshi, he explained to let the tsuki (punch) move past you and in so doing, your opponent then is off balance in a forward position. From here, you can go into a variety of throws. Or just help your opponent keep going in that direction and hit the floor.
The next class was Zimmerman sensei. He kept the information flowing.
As far as movements, we did basics. But sensei went into detail regarding body form and manipulation. He made a point to the effects of joint manipulation effect other parts of the body.
For instance, holding an opponent’s elbow from a tsuki and pushing it across his body and pointing it up and out has the effect of moving your opponent’s hips in the direction the elbow is pointing too. Simple enough but as a practical matter, never done by us underlings.
Next was Demko sensei. I am always intrigued by him. Physically, he’s huge. He’s a massive guy but he’s light in his movements.
He kept the information flowing too. He made points regarding slowing your movements down to increase the flow with your opponent.
The next class was Pimsler sensei. He kept the information flowing too.
But, he took a different approach than the previous sensei’s. He was brutal, in a good way.
I think he was the most concerned with imparting the minute details to what he was showing. He concentrated on making sure what he was explaining was understandable; that us laymen could take what he was saying and apply it.
The last class of the day was Konigsberg sensei. What can I say. He’s the bomb.
All in all, the seminar was excellent and I like the direction Aikido is going. It’s evolving and I like it.
Aikido and martial arts in general is learned through attentive observation. Observation and attention result in the privilege of knowing something that used to be secret. This is what separates the serious students from the general students. By explaining everything in detail, we eliminate this sacred process of learning and something is lost. In this case, less is more, unless of course we are also learning to talk our way out of situations.