Peter and Penny Bernath Aikido Seminar in Havana Cuba 10/16/15 – 10/17/15
Oh man. I don’t even know where to begin with this seminar. How about totally awesome? This seminar was a life learning experience. It bridged the point where Aikido became life instead of being just a part of life.
There is a lot I could blog about regarding this excursion. But, I am going to keep it focused on the Aikido aspects.
Let me get the specifics taken care of. Peter Bernath Sensei, Penny Bernath Sensei and a few members of Florida Aikikai went to Havana Cuba to practice with our Aikido brothers and sisters at Asociacion De Aikido Aikikai Cuba.
The first thing I have to blog about is my sensei, Peter Bernath. I have never been to a seminar of his outside the annual Aikido winter seminars and the ones we have at our dojo.
Peter Sensei is the real deal. I saw a side of him I have never seen before. He was massive and powerful in his movements and more importantly in his intent. I was in fear and awe of the guy. He’s a true warrior shihan.
Peter Sensei taught the moves I have seen him do a million times. But this time, he added more information and specific details about what he was doing. He was giving us all his secrets about movement.
For instance, on Friday night, we were working on tsuki movements. At home, Peter Sensei shows us the move with some instruction and we go at it. In Havana, he went into great detail about breaking your opponent’s form. Taking your opponent’s momentum and power and driving it right back into them. Taking the elbow and pushing it down into your opponent’s hip and disrupting their center. It’s a sublime and powerful move.
On Saturday, Peter Sensei was using utemi like I have never seen before. He was using utemi to manipulate mai and space in order to get his uke off balance. But he never lost connection. I have seen him do this a million times, but this was the first time I ever saw it!
I have always known the guy is a natural. Watching him in Havana reaffirmed that knowing.
I guess I am spoiled having been taught by him since 1998. You never realize what you have until you get out of yourself and see your life from a different perspective.
Let’s just say that the Havana dojo is male dominated. It’s a guy’s place.
Friday night Penny Sensei was working out with the general population. In other words, our Cuban brothers weren’t giving Penny Sensei an inch and she reciprocated. They were making her battle and I am sure they didn’t know who she was.
On Saturday, Penny Sensei came out and taught the first class. I looked around the guys on the mat and most of them had looks of dread on their face. Their expressions gave away their thoughts and if I had to guess, I bet they were thinking, in Spanish of course, “Oh no! what did I do? I was beating up on the shihan!”
During her class, Penny Sensei proceeded to beat the tar out of her ukes. I know, I was one of them. She was on fire. She was showing us that being a warrior isn’t just for men anymore.
I must add that our Cuban warrior brothers and sisters were a strong bunch that knew how to hit and liked to hit. They played hard and hit hard.
I don’t have a problem with this for three reasons: 1. it keeps it real, 2. the harder the opposition goes, the easier it is for me to get them off balance, and 3. it gives me an opportunity to work on softness and integrated body principles.
I could go on and on about this trip. There is lots to talk about. I originally started writing this post the week I got back from Havana and have been working on it since that time. The hardest part was reducing it down to just a few hundred words in order to make it bloggable.
I will sum it up this way: it was an awesome seminar, trip and life experience. I can’t wait to go back.