Some views from our 10th Anniversary
Potomac Aikikai's 10th Anniversary Seminar was held from Mar. 21-23 at our dojo in Ashburn, Virginia. The event or rather the instructors brought together aikido-ka from the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and Mid-West regions of the U.S. In fact the seminar was very much a reunion as people renewed old relationships on and off the mat. Saturday evening was spent at a local eatery enjoying good food, drink, aikido history, and a lot of laughs. This truly was a milestone event for the members of Potomac Aikikai, who in the past 10 years have put together an extremely strong and supportive aikido community. Special thanks go to Takeguchi, Faust, and James Sensei for sharing their time and energy with all who attended.
A few thoughts about the instruction...
Hanif Sensei led a class focused on techniques against jabs (and combinations of jabs), which benefitted from his many years of boxing. It was a refreshing contrast to the more common aikido attacks, which tend to be stylized, broadcast, and started at greater distance (giving nage the opportunity to contemplate the technique prior to executing). Working against several jabs in rapid succession underscored the importance of maintaining hanmi and not overreaching to execute the technique, as well as the importance of nage controlling the line of attack.Faust Sensei’s classes conveyed the importance of atemi and extending ki. He has an impressive ability to claim the space of the attack. And while he used atemi extensively, I never got any sense of his technique being hard or overly physical when taking ukemi for him.As always, Takeguchi Sensei conveyed a strong sense of “groundedness”. He has a great ability to unbalance uke through minimal body movement and much of his teaching during the seminar focused on kuzushi (breaking uke’s posture) and keeping uke unbalanced through completion of the technique. He also provided useful insights into the connection between taijutsu and weapons techniques.
“I had the feeling that he (Faust Sensei) could probably strike me at any time he desired.”
I very much enjoyed Watu sensei's class. I think he was continuing the ideas that Hanif and Faust Sensei began by demonstrating practical applications from a lapel grab. Another similarity with Faust would be 'flow.' Faust seems to flow into his atemi as a means of controlling the line and breaking balance simultaneously. Watu sensei appears to flow smoothly with less focus on atemi.
Takeguchi Sensei seemed to have marinated on what the others did and then boiled it down to the essence of grounding, connection, and control of space. He even admitted, "...what we are trying to do today is simple ...but not easy." So true. He showed how the jo movements are found throughout technique and how -in fact- the jo could be used as a line or point of reference from start to finish. He made it look easy, but for me it was not. Overall, a very enjoyable and enlightening weekend.