Little House In Ise

November 9, 2008, 22:11
Filed under: Aikido, Expat, Japan | Tags: , , ,


A delegation of Russian Aikidoka are visiting Tokyo this week. They hail from the Kenage Dojo in Moscow. As a part of their visit a special trip to Iwama was arranged.

We met on track ten at Ueno station and boarded the one express train into the Ibaraki countryside.  Both O-Sensei and Saito Sensei used to call Iwama home. Our group walked straight to the dojo from the train station. We were greeted by Inagaki Shihan and three uchi-deshi. The whole group quickly changed clothes and we went to the Aiki Shrine next door for a quick blessing. The Russians brought vodka and the group had brought sake and shochu (Japanese “vodka”) for the ceremony.

On the way out, we bumped into a friendly looking group of folks from the neighboring Iwama Ryu dojo. It was nice to see them but it was a little disappointing to be reminded of yet another barrier within the Aikido world. On the positive side, I have seen organizational barriers in the US fall so have hope that friendly relations between these two Japanese organizations may eventually be restored.

After the ceremony at the shrine, we returned to the dojo for keiko (稽古: training). The focus of the day was to be tachidori (太刀取り: sword disarming). However, Inagaki Shihan made it clear from the start that he felt that training in tachidori alone was a bad idea. He felt that there was a well defined order for weapons training and gave the following explanation. Without suburi (素振り:swinging practice) form could not be learned well enough to perform kumitachi (組太刀:paired sword training) properly. Without kumitachi a correct and sufficient understanding of awase (合わせ:blending) can not be achieved. Finally, without a proper familiarity with awase it is not possible to truly learn sword disarming.  To start at the end yields form without depth.

All that said, he agreed to show us the form, and what impressive form it was! From the super clean irimi-tenkan and powerful atemi to awesome usage of kokyu ryoku, it is clear that there is incredible depth to the Aikido in Iwama.

After practice we changed and went outside for a very friendly lunch. Two fires burned on either side of the long table and bento, beer, sake shochu and the now blessed vodka were set out for us to enjoy. The meal was good and there was much laughter and singing. I was amazed that so many Russian folk songs had been translated into Japanese and that they were so well known. The Americans present (two uchi deshi and two visitors) mostly didn’t sing. There was a fellow from Tokushima who offered to teach everyone Awa Odori so I jumped in (I lived in Tokushima for seven years and danced almost every year) to dance like a fool, as is appropriate for the “fool’s dance”.

It was a memorable day and even the trip back on the train was fun. Two cups of sake each loosened tongues and the stories and jokes got rougher as we got closer to Tokyo!  I hope this group decides to go again!

TECHNOTE : The irimi nage shown by Inagaki Shihan was based on the premise of an armed attacker and was performed the same way even when uke was unarmed. One way that this was expressed was (assume shomen uchi) that nage’s lead hand was used to “lead uke’s hand” at the start of the technique. In other words, it was presented as a target and then quickly taken out of the action. In fact, after sensei did his irimi deeply to the rear of uke, he kept the hand, that had been his lead, hidden behind his leg. He demonstrated that if uke had a sword and the hand was anywhere in front of his own leg then the hand could easily be cut.


Taken from under the persimon tree in front of the Iwama dojo.


The whole group in front of the Aiki Shrine.

russian-delegationRear R-L: Oleg Tkachenko Sensei, Inakoshi Sensei,  Andrey Ivanov Sensei

Front R-L: Tatiana Limonova Sensei, Inagaki Shihan, Andrey Skorikov Sensei



2 Comments so far
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Cool photos!!

I know just the durian burps you mean!!

Comment by Uchi Deshi

[…] Your HabitsMaking MochiTo Live in Tokyo …No More Tele-Parenting!More Bathroom Humor …yabusame-1Iwama!ERCH Japan […]

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