Apologies for my prolonged absence from blog updates. Things have been hectic of late. As per my last post I am still in California, working away and fitting in Aikido as often as I can.
End point of my part of my contribution – ryote dori, tenshi nage.
It has been an enjoyable week at Aikido of Monterey. In addition to our normal training we put together a half hour demonstration for the Obon Festival at the Buddhist temple in Seaside, California. As a visitor to the area I was delighted to be asked to demonstrate some techniques. I felt like I was having to set a good example twice over – once to show that British Aikidoka show good spirit, and second to show that I am learning and (hopefully) progressing in my Aikido while in California.
So for half an hour in front of an open crowd, Aikdioka ranging from 6th kyu (that’s me) through to 6th Dan showed a range of kneeling and standing techniques through to weapon take-aways and weapon attacks and defences. Full marks to Sensei Michael Smith for managing to fit his Horse Jo kata into the small space available.
I think the most important point of the half hour demonstration was the fun we all had. Yep, the sheer delight in just doing Aikido because we all enjoy it so much. When one pair of aikidoka came of the mats the grins on their faces at what they had done matched ours for the pleasure we had taken in watching them. All those hours spent correcting footwork, making sure you enter at the right point, the practice over and over until something clicks…. it all pays off And yes, I fumbled a couple of my techniques (I’m not perfect) but for once it just really didn’t matter.
These two were having way too much fun carrying out counter-techniques on each other. They clearly knew each others limits and they both have been training for a long time, giving them the ability to fully commit to each attack and defence.
Two days prior to our demonstration a friend of mine visited the dojo to watch us train. She raised two points after we were finished. Firstly, the calm feel of the dojo and those practising in it. Yes, we might have been delivering blows to each other, but somehow the harmony we generated seemed to negate the implied violence. Secondly, she commented how lovely everyone was. (I fully agree with her, they are a lovely bunch of aikidoka in Monterey!)
And perhaps that is something that separates Aikido from other martial arts. Jiu Jitsu, in my experience, tends to be more confrontational than Aikido. I’m not saying either is good or bad, it is merely a reflection of the way the styles have developed. Yet it is the need for Aikido to blend rather than deflect that perhaps allows us to generate that calm resolve and experience a glowing happiness which remains long after we have finished our days training.