Schnell Sensei visits the Republic

catherine schnell aikicentreLast night, owing to dojo renovations, we descended on the Mt Gravatt showgrounds, Eric with a ute full of mats, and in due course dojo members appeared and those from dojos across Brisbane kept coming out of the dark attracted by the bright lights of the showgrounds Pavillion (as our own dojo is being renovated with air conditioning, showers and a hot tub*). I’d say they appeared like insects to the lights, but we had those too, but using creative aiki, and selective lighting we were able to lead them out the shed by nightfall (the ants that is).

Sensei’s first session focused on personal protection and drawing on recent experiences of clients from Melbourne was able to lead us through the processes of awareness, assertiveness – though posture, control of distance voice – and finally physical escape. Drawing on the aiki skills she was able to relate them to personal protection which we all practiced.

Sensei’s second session focused on tanden development (aka core strength) and maintaing that under movement of uke, she related that through maintaining a connection to nage that doesn’t fight nor flee (two typical ukemi behaviours) but rather seeks to maintain a conversation. In this way sensei explained that this is our job in training, not to have winner nor loser but 2 persons working together to find ‘Aiki’. I especially appreciated sensei working one on one with a few of use in the group teaching environment and got to see ideas in action as a method to understand what aikido is able through working with a newer student, an experienced student from another art as well as someone thats been around the traps for a while (i.e. me). in each of these cases she talked through how uke might respond, why that might respond that way and the purpose of her style of response in uke.

In many senses the practice was challenging to our world view of ukemi but something of great importance to our art. Sensei, as a senior instructor (6th dan) in our organisation provided some terrific insights.

Its been great to share a dialogue over many years with Schnell sensei in Melbourne and Brisbane, and for my part been a rich interaction of ideas and insights into Aikido and being about to verbalise and inculcate in to the body. Its something to treasure all the more as we learn that in 2013 Maruyama Sensei won’t be able to visit Australia and that a collegiate approach may help foster continued progress in the art

* NOTE;: Actual renovations may differ from those described

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