Little House In Ise


48th All Japan Aikido Demonstration

Day by day for the last two weeks the mats at Aikikai Honbu dojo have grown crowded as Aikidoka from all over the world trickled into Tokyo. They have come to view and participate in the 48th All Japan Aikido Demonstration at the Nippon Budokan.

Unlike previous years, this time I attended only as a proud papa and spectator. My main goals were to watch my daughter perform (my son had a science fair) and meet Ueda Shihan from Ise. Since I went with my daughter we arrived about three hours after the event started and then spent the better part of an hour trying to find her again (I lost the whole group right away) I didn’t actually watch much of the demonstration at all. Once the kids were sorted out, I received a phone call from Sensei and met him in front.

Having seen fewer demonstrations this year than at any event previously, I wasn’t able to take as many pictures as I would have liked. The few that I did take I’ve posted below.

After the demonstration, I met Ueda Sensei and the Mie-ken Aikidokai group at the Tokyo Prince Hotel — the one below the Tokyo Tower. After a bit of wandering we found a nice izakaya there in Akasaka. Over dinner, Sensei’s perspective and wisdom flowed with the beer. As usual, when spending time with him I felt as though I should have been taking notes. His ideas about Aikido, life and education are fascinating.

Two younger men sat with us at dinner and sensei quizzed them about the demonstrations. He asked the younger of the two, a new shodan, what he had been watching at the demonstration. The young man replied that he had been watching and trying to learn waza. Sensei responded that that he was crazy to try. Rather than waza, he said, manners and behavior of the uke were paramount. He said to watch how they bow. Remember how the give and receive weapons. He was especially adamant that just observing how the more senior teachers sat and stood should be food for thought.

Later on, when discussing education, sensei mentioned that he was now of an age that no one scolded him anymore and he missed it. His point was that when a teacher or parent scolds their child they are showing that they care. They are providing life lessons and, sadly, once a person reachers a certain age, the mentors in our lives seem to disappear. Becoming an adult capable of self direction and self correction is what growing up is all about but, even so, a friendly slap on the back followed by a “WHAT were you thinking when you did that?” is something that one eventually learns to miss. He told me that he hoped Doshu would scold me more.

The next day we stopped at Tully’s while his students attended Doshu geiko. He very kindly said that though we only meet once a year, it feels far more frequent than that. I agreed but do wish that I could speak with him more often. As always, I appreciated the time sensei gave me and I take his words to heart. I will endeavor to incorporate his wisdom in my life.

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The 47th All Japan Aikido Demonstration

The cobbled walk, moat and fortified gates of the Nippon Budokan give the place an appropriately martial feel. The view of the moat in front of what used to be a gate into the old Edo castle is slightly obscured by cherry trees. It is too late in the year for blossoms but the large trees add a bit of much needed shade. Today, the Budokan was the site of the 47th All Japan Aikido Demonstration organized by the Aikikai.

I volunteered to work instead of demonstrating and was assigned to “patrol” the 2nd and third floor. My Team (Mayumi and Tim Buerger) patrolled the 2nd and third floors. This meant that we had a lot of opportunities to chat with visitors, watch the demo and take pictures. Aside from having to wear a tie in the heat it didn’t really feel like work. At any rate, we saw some excellent Aikido, got a “free lunch” and were able to enjoy encouraging people to remove their clothes in slightly less public places (believe me, this counts a public service!). After the event, we walked through the Budokan cleaning up and then went for drinks with visiting luminaries. Pictures follow… Please note, I have promised two rather famous sensei that I would self-censor a few incriminating images (Bank number for “donations” at the end of this post 🙂 ).

The moat protecting the budokan

The moat protecting the budokan

The Outer Gate

The Outer Gate

The Inner gate

The Inner gate

Above the entrance

Above the entrance

The main arena had five large mats for the demonstrations.

The main arena had five large mats for the demonstrations.

Kudo Shihan of Tokushima -- my first sensei in Japan.

Kudo Shihan of Tokushima -- my first sensei in Japan.

Kobayashi sensei does ikyo

Kobayashi sensei does ikyo

Inagaki sensei demonstrated buki tori waza -- energetic buki tori waza ...

Inagaki sensei demonstrated buki tori waza -- energetic buki tori waza ...

I love this iriminage!

I love this iriminage!

Yokota-sensei lead the Honbu Ippan (General) Demonstrations

Yokota-sensei lead the Honbu Ippan (General) Demonstrations

Morning class regulars

Morning class regulars

Kokoro Does Irimi nage

Kokoro Does Irimi nage

Ray does irimi nage

Ray does irimi nage

Ray finishes shihonage

Ray finishes shihonage

Tada sensei does yonkyo

Tada sensei does yonkyo

Tada sensei leading

Tada sensei leading

Doshu and Waka-sensei do kotegaeshi (before)

Doshu and Waka-sensei do kotegaeshi (before)

Doshu and Waka-sensei do kotegaeshi (after)

Doshu and Waka-sensei do kotegaeshi (after)

Doshu and Suzuki sensei

Doshu and Suzuki sensei

A few pictures in the crowd …

Morning class friends

Morning class friends

Morning class regulars

Kadi (Congrats on your 1st kyu!)

Kadi (Congrats on your 1st kyu!)

Inagaki sensei 1

Hirose-san

Sakurai Sensei

The Buergers and Fujimaki sensei

The Buergers and Fujimaki sensei

Banba-san

Afterward …

Ueda sensei and the Mieken Aikidokai came for the Enbukai!

Ueda sensei and the Mieken Aikidokai came for the Enbukai!

Kokoro and friends

Kokoro and friends

Doshu and the some of the women of morning class

Doshu and the some of the women of morning class

Kanpai!

Kanpai!

Osawa Sensei and the Saito girls

Osawa Sensei and the Saito girls

Natali and Irie sensei

Morning class dudes



The Kids @ The 46th All Japan Aikido Demonstration
May 24, 2008, 23:36
Filed under: Aikido, Expat, Family, Japan | Tags: , , , , ,

Two days ago we realized that the kids were expected to participate in the Aikido demonstration at the Budokan. We hadn’t really paid any attention to the leaflet that came from the dojo. We knew the kids weren’t eligible to test so didn’t read further than that. It turns out that we missed a quite a bit… Oops. So, the kids had their debut at the Nippon Budokan today. It turned out well. Ray knew the techniques and just did what was asked. Kokoro didn’t know what was going on so she just did ukemi the whole time. Her partner was confused at first but didn’t seem to mind once she caught on. Here are a few pics.

Ray, front row left, doing Shihonage from yokmenuchi.

Ray at 2008 All Japan Aikido Demonstration

Ray at 2008 All Japan Aikido Demonstration

Ray at 2008 All Japan Aikido Demonstration

Kokoro was on left side of the middle of the little kids mat.

There were other people demonstrating too…

I like this one of Doshu and his son.



Trip Report: All Japan Enbu & Honbu Practice w/Doshu …

budokan.jpg

Howdy!

I was in Tokyo over the weekend to see the 45th All Japan Aikido Enbu. I hopped on a train with Ueda Shihan and three other students Saturday morning and we made it to the Budokan by early afternoon. As usual for outings in Japan, I felt underdressed since about half the crowded stadium were wearing gi and hakama.

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The floor of the Budukan had five square mats, each more than twice the size of that at PSA (my home dojo in Seattle), laid out like a tic-tac-toe game. Five schools at a time would come out and demonstrate their particular take on Aikido or Aikido training. It was amazing to seeing the stylistic, habitual, attitudinal and philosophical variations that exist all within the Aikikai and all on one floor. The demos lasted a minute and a half, barely enough for a taste, then five more schools would trot out for their turn. The dojo demonstrations were interspersed between Shihan from various schools around Japan who would come out with their favorite uke and do their thing. To be very honest, I was more impressed with the ukemi than anything else. An uke as sensitive and skilled as these could make a rank beginner look like a movie ninja. 🙂

There were crowd favorites. Endo Shihan and Tada Shihan drew the biggest rounds of spontaneous applause. They were both tremendous and quite different! There was another Shihan, whose name I missed, whose very martial presentation, vigor and energy were EXCITING. Almost all of his irimi-nage were finished with the palm of his hand wrapped about his poor uke’s face. Ouch!

After spending the whole time smiling like a fool, thinking to myself, “Wow! You can do X-nage that way!!” I was simply blown away and really didn’t learn a damn thing. The only thing concrete that I came away with was a very nice jo. The vendor said it had only been swung by a little-old-lady during morning practice…

The next morning we went Honbu Dojo to attend practice with Doshu. It seemed as though everyone else in Tokyo had the same idea.

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Since this was my first visit to Honbu, I was prepared to be disappointed (live in Japan long enough and you get into that habit). The architecture didn’t let me down. Honbu is a plain, four-story concrete block that is indistinguishable from other offices/apartments. It is in no way the ancient wooden structure with hidden passages that somehow was still my mental image of the place (must stop watching those damn ninja movies!). The first floor is offices and the next three each have mats (again, each about twice as large as that at PSA). Though the men’s locker room did have lockers, they were all full and even the tops were piled high with back-packs. There were luggage piles everywhere.

Dozens of us stood outside the door trying to watch one of the Honbu shihan run his class. It was so crowded that for most techniques he had half the crowd sit out while the other half trained. Hot, humid air poured out of the room blown, perhaps, by the wind from flying bodies. When that class ended and streams of students mostly _didn’t_ file out it became very clear that today’s practice with Doshu would be crowded. Once we finally got onto the mat and lined up there were ranks and ranks of students. I was in the fifth row and was close to the front of the pack.

Just before Doshu came in, a student went around turning off all of the ventilation fans (there were about six). Apparently, students are intended to experience the seasons during class. I thought it was a bit early to be experiencing July in Hell. To say we were cozy doesn’t quite cover the sensation of being in a pre-heated, extra-moist crowd. Doshu did not split the class in half and it is not an exaggeration to say that there were at least two people per tatami (tatami sized cloth quilt pads). Every technique was spent looking for a safe spot to drop your uke or covering your head in fear of falling neighbors. It was thrilling.

We ran through almost the entire basic set of Aikido techniques. We did all of the following in about this order:

suwari waza aihanmi katatetori ikyo
suwari waza shomen uchi nikyo
shomen uchi sankyo <—<<< He set the sankyo while standing w/ no shoulder into the armpit
shomen uchi yonkyo <—<<< The yonkyo was set with the uke down rather than on the fly
aihanmi katatetori kotegaeshi <—<<< The big “slap uke’s ass” variation
yokomen uchi shihonage <—<<< Big round absorption, followed by classic rounded arm extension using both hands
shomen uchi iriminage <—<<< Damned if I know, kotegaeshi clobbered me.
tenchi nage <—<<< Dynamic, I missed his footwork on the entry GRR!!!
kokyu dosa

At which point he ended the class and took off to where famous sensei often go — lunch, I think.

After all was said and done, I enjoyed the Budokan demos a lot but that hour on the mat at Honbu was wonderful. It wasn’t that Doshu was at the front or the crunchy historical location but rather all the amazing talent on the mat. Almost everyone there was shihan of some sort or a senior student hauled along as an uke. There were other just-plain-lucky folks like me in the crowd but I didn’t practice with any. Absolutely everyone that I trained with was a genuine Aikido bad-ass of one sort or another. There were the Ki-oozing-from-their-pores-old-farts; wicked fast, flexible-as-rope college dudes and tough-as-nails soldier/cop types. Whew! Next year I’ll know to bring more Pokari Sweat.

Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu!
e.

PS The current style in Harajuku is to wear clashing haori hakama and/or fake looking traditional clothing.
Jaa naa!
e.

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