Tony Neal “retrospective”

Tony Neal

Tony Neal takes time out from the grading panel to be uke for jo dori

“Never with a whimper”

Tony Neal Sensei has retired from teaching Aikido and has handed on his Liverpool Dojo in Sydney’s south-west to his students.

We’d like to acknowledge Tony’s contribution to Ki Aikido in Australia. We look forward to the promised occasional visits in the future and further enjoyment of his appalling yet infectious sense of humour. Tony’s participation is never with a whimper, always with a bang.

Tony began training in 1995 with Michael Stoopman at Griffith University. He soon became a key supporter of the Cleveland dojo and pretty much ran the club for head instructor Thom Hansen, bringing lots of enthusiasm, support and new students. Some of these, like Colin Staples, became long-term practitioners themselves.

At the same time Tony was an enthusiastic supporter of Griffith Aikido as it transitioned from a dojo running three styles of aikido (Ki Society, Shinkondo and Aikido Yuishinkai). He was also a supporter of Steve Dows’s Coorparoo dojo and for a time Tony ran the Logan dojo.

There was a 6 am class at Griffith in those days that attracted up to 15 people in part because of Tony’s enthusiasm. The after-class showers were something of a feature (but that’s a story best shared over a few drinks).

One of Tony’s greatest achievements is the Capalaba dojo he established with Darren Cowles in 2002. Now known as the Onami dojo it is still running today.

Tony relocated to Sydney and opened Aikido Liverpool in 2008. He has hosted numerous events and guest instructors in Sydney over the past seven years.

Tony has always been a wonderful supporter of the aikido community, often travelling long distances to attend seminars in Hobart, Perth and Hawaii, to name a few. He was a stalwart of Brisbane-based aikido seminars when he lived there, hosting both Williams Sensei and Maruyama Sensei. Tony initiated Bokkens on the Beach (Stradbroke Island) and ran it annually for several years, typically with Murray Loader instructing. He billed it as “Five star location, one star accommodation”.

Tony never seeks the limelight but seems instead drawn to doing the jobs others might shirk, helping out with the practical side of things. He always does his best to present the gruff exterior of a boofy bloke but Tony’s actions reveal a man with a deep sense of justice, concern for society and the will to do something when he sees a need.

Tony has been an informal mentor to many a young adult, helping them through rough patches with quiet generosity and raucous good humour.

There are precious few who take such an unassuming role, quietly working in the background for the good of the art, many a dojo, and the individuals therein.

Tony is a shihan in the art of life who always has a sneaky technique to spring upon the unwary on the mat.

Dan James, Aikido Republic and Andrew Sunter, Aikido in Sydney

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

Spring Workshop 2014

Aikido in Sydney is hosting the 2014 Spring Workshop for the Great Ocean Aikido Community.great ocean spring 2014

This inaugural Great Ocean Aikido Workshop will feature Steve Seymour (6-dan Aikido) and Mike Allen (7-dan Kenpo) as well as Great Ocean founders Jim Nicholls and Andrew Sunter. (We are still hoping Dan James and John Ward will be able to put in an appearance)

Location: Aikido in Sydney KōMyō Dojo
Bridge Road School
127 Parramatta Road, Camperdown

Cost: $90 full weekend, $50 single day
Date: Saturday 4 to Monday 6 October 2014.
The program may change due to some uncertainty about who will actually present some sessions, but essentially it will follow the pattern below.

Saturday 11 am to 4 pm:
•   Welcome
•   Syllabus and principles of Great Ocean Aikido with Andrew Sunter
•   Introduction to Target Focus Training with Mike Allen

Sunday 10 am to 5 pm
•   Internal Strength with Steve Seymour
•   Insights into Aikido from TFT and Yang Mian with Mike Allen
•   Training in Great Ocean Aikido with a GO Co-founder

Monday 10 am to  2 pm
•   Consolidation and integration sessions
•   Hooroo

Does budo build character?

David Lynch, Koru Dojo

Stan Schmidt once made the observation that we promote karate or aikido training on the basis that it builds character. We then interact with other “trained” people assuming that they must therefore be trustworthy, and are disappointed when they’re not. He suggested instead that budo reveals character.

It is a mistake to think that the more senior a person the more poor behaviour can be forgiven. I believe we must hold ourselves to a higher and higher standard as we rise in rank. A good starting point is the Code of Ethics of the Australian Jujitsu Federation (AJF).

These reflections were prompted by this post by Wayne Muromoto: Having a Moral Compass in Budo

“Budo, like any human endeavor, has its own share of scoundrels, liars, cheats and crooks. There are also people who may not be engaged in illegal activities, but whose moral, ethical and spiritual compass are less than stellar. Way less. How you deal with that is your own kuleana (“property,” as we say in Hawaii), but you have to live with yourself, and you shouldn’t lie to yourself about the choices you therefore make.”