Little House In Ise

Picking Up Crumbs
March 13, 2008, 12:49
Filed under: Aikido, Expat, Japan | Tags: , , , , ,

Ueda Shihan once mentioned to me that it was easy to tell who would continue to grow in Aikido and who would eventually hit a plateau. The people who regularly stuck around after class and kept on practicing were the ones who would grow. Though I am paraphrasing a lot, that was the gist of his message. It goes a little beyond the “secret” of Aikido (on-going, regular practice) but not by much. I’ve been trying to follow his advice.

After ichbangeiko (一番稽古) at honbu there is a half hour break before the next class on that mat (there is beginners class on the 2nd floor that starts earlier). That half hour block is a great time to train with and take ukemi from shihan and other instructors who are always present. I have gravitated to Yamashima Shihan’s tutoring group. There is usually a line of students waiting to be thrown by him. The first time I tried it he slowly counted out twenty throws and then sent me off to imitate what he just done. The other students in the line make willing uke and we have a great time of it.

Yamashima Shihan’s Aikido is subtle and I am far from replicating even his largest movements. He absorbs with very fine shifts and rotations then redirects momentum and balance with motions so slight as to be barely visible. So far, I have learned more by being thrown than by observation of what he is doing. Since he is very fluid and formless it is often impossible to name what he is doing beyond kokyunage (呼吸投げ) so this is very much a study in principles.

Yamashima Shihan is one of the many ki wizards who daily share their experience and training. So if you visit Honbu, hang out after the first morning class. Notice where a line of students waiting to be thrown forms and go sit in the line. If that is not an option, Yamashima sensei does do seminars occasionally.


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