Spring Workshop Review

TFT Sydney The Great Ocean Aikido Spring Workshop was held at Camperdown dojo 4–6 October 2014.

Highlights were the further study and practice of expanding in six directions — roppodachi — and the increasingly prevalent statement that good posture is the essence of aiki. These were practiced in several forms including Tai No Henka and Katadori. However, it is more and more obvious that this basic training creates toppling in uke and completion of technique becomes a lot simpler.

The experience of uke being able to apply 100% power and then to feel this reduced efficiently to zero gives a glimpse of the aiki we are seeking.

Visiting instructors at the seminar were Mike Allen from Sydney TFT and Steve Seymour from Aikido Kenkyukai Balmain.

Mike Allen gave an extremely interesting introduction to Target-Focus Training and showed how it is used in violent confrontations. The training is confronting. However, Mike’s clear and relaxed manner combined with his extensive knowledge of body systems generated wonderful group participation as well as raising many questions.

One immediate outcome is a total rethink of previous weapons training which has focussed on “take the weapon” rather than “control the operator”. We had plenty of opportunity to feel the difference.

Another outcome was to experience the power of aiki techniques in a new way and the realisation that our syllabus offers knowledge of dangerous power if not contained within the dojo training environment.

Steve Seymour Sensei was responsible for the visit of Bill Gleason Sensei to Sydney in mid-2014 and gave something of a review of what Gleason Sensei had left behind. This was blended with teaching from Dan Harden and the recent visit of Harden’s student Jill Lapato. Steve Sensei’s key message was to work from the ground up and to incorporate “turning the femur” in all techniques. It meshed nicely with “roppodachi” and “posture” which were more or less the themes of the weekend.

There was a strong sense of excitement and I would also say “mission” within the Camperdown group led by the able teaching and ongoing research of Andrew Sunter Sensei.

Andrew’s articulation of the uke-nage relationship and the levels of Gōtai, Jūtai and Ryūtai are important new directions as is his insistence that we must be able to explain what we are doing to any participant and have them succeed at every repetition.

This year of 2014 has been a year of revelations for me on the aikido journey and I am pleased to say the Spring Workshop was yet another revelation – so glad to have participated and thanks to all Camperdown friends.

Jim Nicholls