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The Seidokan Communicator, May 2007

The Seidokan Communicator, May 2007

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Published by Sean Leather
"Aikido for a Modern Way of Life"

The Seidokan Communicator is the newsletter of Seidokan Aikido. It is edited by Doug Wedell and published several times a year.

In this issue:
* Focusing on the Process of Training
* One Magical Night in Salt Lake City
* A Perspective on Testing
* Expanding Aiki Taiso Reps
* Technical Corner: Shomenuchi Ikkyo Irimi
* Borrower
"Aikido for a Modern Way of Life"

The Seidokan Communicator is the newsletter of Seidokan Aikido. It is edited by Doug Wedell and published several times a year.

In this issue:
* Focusing on the Process of Training
* One Magical Night in Salt Lake City
* A Perspective on Testing
* Expanding Aiki Taiso Reps
* Technical Corner: Shomenuchi Ikkyo Irimi
* Borrower

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Published by: Sean Leather on Apr 14, 2009
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May ‘07
`
The Seidokan Communicator 
 Aikido for a Modern Way of Life
 
Focusing on the Process ofTraining
By Doug Wedell 
Seidokan Aikido of South Carolina was once againpleased to have Dan Kawakami Sensei lead training atour annual Spring Seminar. As this was KawakamiSensei’s fourth visit with us, many club members eagerlyanticipated more lessons in sitting, standing breathing,and walking, all while blending with an attacker orperhaps just with gravity and our own turbulent minds.We all know that it is important to build one’s Aikidoon a firm foundation, one grounded in the principles thatwe realize in our training and our daily lives. KawakamiSensei explained that the focus of the seminar was onthe process of aikido training, a process that leads us todelve more deeply into the principles and the reality ofthe moment. To help us develop good training habits,Sensei began by examining basic ki tests, such askeeping one-point and extension of ki. Right away, onemust throw out the outcome oriented view of trying not tomove or not to let one’s arm bend, as a focus onoutcomes leads us away from the realization of the Aikiprinciples. Instead, the process is largely one ofeliminating unnecessary thoughts, tensions, and tactics.The process is simply the maintenance of oneness nomatter how circumstances may change.Sensei provided us with a nice illustration of thisprocess in an exercise on leading. In it, uke stands firm,steadfast, and refusing to move. Nage comes up besidehim, puts his arm around his shoulder and naturallybegins to move in a mutually agreeable direction. Whendone correctly, there is no way to resist. Rather, ukesimply starts walking together with nage. There is nothought of resistance because nage has no intention tomove uke. The process is simply one of uniting with ukeand moving oneself. Since uke is a part of the extendedself, both persons move harmoniously together.Based on this exercise we applied differenttechniques, looking to make the effortless transition weexperienced in the exercise a part of the process of ourbasic Aikido movements. Especially applicable to thisexercise were Kokyunage and Makiotoshi. There were alot of Ah-ha’s resulting from these effortless kokyunages.But there were also lots of slaps to one’s own foreheadas one realized yet again that outcomes had crept intothe mind, obscuring the process and presenting a sternobstacle to completing the movement. Naturally, theobstacle lay within one’s own attitude, easily defeatedthrough self victory.
In This Issue 
- The Process of Training- Magic in Salt Lake City- A Perspective on Testing- Expanding Aiki Taiso Reps- Borrower- Shomenuchi Ikkyo Irimi
We also spent a lot of time working with ikkyo, whichrequires a true cutting motion. This in turn requires a clearmind, a stable base, and free movement unencumbered bypotential obstacles. Often students would find themselvespushing, pulling, twisting and grabbing. Then Sensei wouldcome by and demonstrate that the movement is a simple cut,nothing more. We also did similar types of unimpeded cuttingmovements in jonage applications of nikyo and kotegaeshi.The lesson over and again was that the process of focusingon oneness and moving oneself was critical to smoothexecution of the techniques.Another place where the mind is often cluttered withunwanted thoughts is in jiu waza. Here one typicallyconsiders what attack is coming, then selects a defense,executes it, and then deals with the resulting situation, whichtypically is another attack coming when the last defense didnot work. We began by sitting in seiza and using the simplestblending motion (shomenuchi Ikkyo undo) to harmonize withan oncoming yokomenuchi attack. After moving to standingposition, we then saw how simple defenses such as iriminage and makiotoshi easily flowed from this initial blend.Moving back to seiza, we worked with a similar defense tomunetsuki and then worked back to standing to work onsimple defenses such as kotegaeshi. After this preliminarywork, we encountered either attack along with follow-upattacks in a jiu waza exercise. Again, it was easy toexperience the clashing of wills and conflict resulting from aprocess built on outcomes rather than a process in whichblending was the true focus.Finally, each session ended with kokyu dosa, an exercisein blending that helps remind the partners of keeping a stablecenter and finding oneness. Seidokan Aikido of SouthCarolina is very grateful to Kawakami Sensei for sharing hisperspectives and his marvelous kiai with us. At 76 years ofage, Kawakami is a wonderful resource for those of us inSeidokan Aikido, providing keen insights from his many yearsof training. Domo Arigato Gozaimashita, Sensei!
 
2One Magical Night inSalt Lake City.
by Mike and Kim Finnegan 
Even after twenty plus years of practicing Aikido, weare always anxious before stepping on the mat before aspecial workout. The night of February 22, 2007 whenSensei Dan Kawakami from Orange County, California, joined us in Salt Lake City, Utah was no exception.Kawakami Sensei happened into the Salt Lake Cityarea this winter for a family vacation. He humbly askedto visit with the Utah Seidokan members during aworkout. Hosted by Ahsa Aikido at the Cottonwood HighSchool, Kawakami Sensei generously taught studentsfrom three different dojos. Attending his workout wereDale Peterson Sensei and members of Petersen FamilyDojo, Kerry Gallegos Sensei and members from theUtah Police Academy, and Audrey Nelson Sensei andmembers of Asha Aikido Dojo. Needless to say the matwas filled with eager, empty cups ready to learn.The aiki-taiso channeled energy into productive,focused pre-technique and as the evening started,anxiousness turned to anticipation. When KawakamiSensei stepped up to Shomen, all thoughts turned tothe secrets he would share. Simple secrets of walking,balance, and control. Not control of uke, but control ofnage—of ourselves. He stressed posture and softnessto find strength in our Aikido. The wisdom of the nightwas vast and absorbed so gently as to almost feel asthough we learned through osmosis, through seeingand imitating, giving and receiving.And when the night was done, how many techniqueswere taught? Only one that could be named. Irmi-otoshi.Yet our empty cups had been filled. We stepped off themat with smiles and warmth from all that KawakamiSensei generously shared with us. Thank youKawakami Sensei and please visit us again soon.
Photos from South Carolina Seminar 
Kawakami Sensei with uke’s Jarred Wittaker (top) andSuzanne Burgess (below).
Kawakami Sensei in South Carolina 
 
3A Perspective on Testing
Duangnapa Prommachak 
I have been interested about martial arts, especially“Aikido”, since I was in Thailand. I have seen peoplepractice Judo, Karate, Taw Kwon Do and Boxing. When Ifirst saw Aikido, I saw different things, and I was wonderinghow they can drop people down. It seemed that they justmoved, no crashing, no pouncing, and it looked smoothand smart. It is much different from other martial arts.I have the opportunity to practice Aikido at SouthsideDojo. I have been practicing for almost five months. Iusually attend three classes per week. Now, I have theopportunity to test for the first blue belt. Allison Young is myUke for my first test.These are the reasons that I considered for promotion.My first reason is that I would like to prove myself. Thesignificance of this is that I would like to know how manyAikido skills that I have. I would like to test myself to seethat I exactly understand the principles of Aikido, and that Ido the right techniques. In my opinion, I think it is the sameas when we go to school and we have a test to measureour skills. If we are good enough, we can go on to the nextlevel. My other reason is that I saw another person take atest. That impressed me and I would like to know thefeeling that they had. If I pass the test, it will be a greatexperience in my life, and I might have more confidence towork with new people. I still remember the first time I cameto practice. I did not know what I should do, or how would Ido. I needed advice on the Aiki Taiso and how to do thetechniques correctly. I might be prepared for these thingsnow, but if I am not, it will be a good lesson for next time.I am preparing for the test by practicing the principles ofAikido and practicing the techniques. When I am practicing,I feel that I am very comfortable doing the kotegaeshitechnique. It is the first technique in my mind to defendmyself. The skill that I need more practice is to control myrelaxation. When I am thinking about the process of thetechnique, my muscles usually tense up and so thetechnique is not successful.The most significant thing that I have learned isMasakatsu Agatsu “true victory is victory over oneself.” Thisis important to me because I am meeting various peopleeveryday and people are acting in different ways withdifferent attitudes and with different styles. Sometimes, I donot like the way others think and I do not like the words thatthey say. I can not change them, but I can change myattitude, and I tell myself that people are different. I can notcontrol other people, but I can only control my mind and myreactions.At first, I just wanted to learn to protect myself.However, after practicing the principles and techniques, Ifind Aikido has become central to my life. This is evident asI can now control myself and remain peaceful. It is veryuseful for me to use the principles of Aikido in real lifesituations. Aikido has a strong influence in my life because Ican live with different people in harmony and peace.
Expanding Aiki Taiso Reps
By Doug Wedell 
The aiki taiso exercises encompass the basicmovements of Aikido. Practicing them can thereby provideinvaluable training in correct posture, movement, rhythmand flow. Such training represents a firm foundation onwhich to build one’s aikido.How can we get the most out of our aiki taiso training?Clearly, there should be regularly spaced lessons thatemphasize a particular aiki taiso exercise, demonstrating itscorrect execution, how to test to determine if the exercise isbeing correctly executed, and how the exercise can beapplied in specific techniques and in daily life.Additionally, it seems to me that a simple way todevelop better rhythm and flow in aiki taiso training is toincrease the repetitions of each exercise. After stretching,the aiki taiso usually take up 6-7 minutes of a practice,assuming 4-5 repetitions of each exercise per side. I findthat once or twice a week I like to up the repetitions of theaiki taiso to 10 per side so that they take roughly 12-14minutes. I believe the added repetitions have severaladded benefits.One benefit is simply that the increased repetitions allowbeginners to find the right rhythm. So often when we dothe aiki taiso, beginner and intermediate students’ mindsare filled with details of how to move the feet, hands andbody so that just as they start to practice the exercisecorrectly, we switch off of it. By extending repetitions,these students get to have more repetitions of working inthe proper rhythm and flow.Moreover, all of us can benefit from greater repetitions.Before beginning the extended repetition version of the aikitaiso, remind the students to do their best to follow therhythm of the leader and stay in sync with the leader andeach other. With more repetitions, one has a greateropportunity to fall into the rhythm of the movement and findthe proper flow of ki. Note that often when the class is fairlysmall, we will do this with a “silent count.” When there is noovert counting, students must seek to extend theirawareness to the flow of the movement to keep in sync.Likewise, the leader needs to find ways to keep thestudents in rhythm without relying on sound.Increased repetitions also lead to greater efficiency. Asone pivots over and over again, or goes up and downrepeatedly, one will start to pare away excess movementand find the essence of the movement. This is particularlyapparent when executing 20 repetitions of koho tento undoin a row, or of ushiro tekubi tori zenshin nage undo or kotaiundo in a row. Indeed, an additional benefit of increasedrepetitions, especially on these three exercises, is that it willlead to the building of core strength. Critical to our postureand our core strength are strong leg muscles andabdominal muscles. These three exercises are very goodat working those muscles and building a firm core.Finally, let me encourage students to do this high repversion of the aiki taiso on their own each day. You’ll find itis a nice workout that warms the body and settles one’senergy in just 12-14 minutes. Try it and enjoy!

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