"Sword Hand" or Tegatana study. Dunken Francis sensei, Institute of Aikido Auckland summer camp 2014
Some fantastic photo’s from this years excellent summer camp which included some very interesting and generous sessions from Loren Clement (Systema) Craig Barker (Goju Ryu Karate) Jules Robson (Jitsu) as well as Aikido sessions from Tony Shafelberger, Dianne Haynes, Rupert Atkinson and Dan Curran.
Any of you interested in participating in next year’s camp or in any of the many seminars we hold in Auckland please don’t hesitate to contact me via our website www.AikidoAuckland.co.nz.
Aiki Peace Week – Conflict Resolution Seminar, Dunken Francis Sensei, Institute of Aikido Dojo Silverdale Auckland Sept 2013
Footage from the Conflict resolution seminar held in Auckland last month.
The aim was to explore the notion of Aikido as a martial art for peace, and we looked at many aspect of this from how we present ourselves to the world, how we collect and process information and how we choose to react to this information.
This clip is free to share as long as you credit me – a link back would be even better!
The audio is a bit dodgy for the first few minutes but overall it’s very good quality and throughout the day we managed to cover off some very interesting material. Sensei Shaufelberger who took the seminar with me also has footage that hopefully will be available shortly.
A great little piece I found on http://www.dillonlin.net.
Our dojo here in Silverdale, Auckland was built with these factor specifically in mind.
The thought came to mind to post about a basic or classic dojo layout and the reasons for the layout being at such. Until now, I have been hesitant to present this partly out of a feeling I have not yet understood this subject conclusively. However, this subject recently became the topic of two blog entries by Geoff Salmon, a kendo kyoshi 7-dan sensei, on his blogkendoinfo.net, thus pre-empting my intentions (7-dan always do this too me). The discussion on that blog confirmed some of the things I observed or seen explanations for elsewhere. So I’ve gone ahead and incorporated everything I’ve understood so far into the featured drawing of this post (which is quite simple) and the explanation below.
jō (場) – which means “place”
We are very proud of our thriving Youth Academy here at and we have worked very hard over the past 5 years to develop a safe but challenging environment where students can use the framework of Aikido to find out more about themselves and how they interact with others and the world around them.
We believe that our syllabus and carefully developed games and training drills allow the kids to develop their self confidence, their self discipline and also learn valuable life skills like safe falling, rolling and self defence.
At our dojos in Auckland we have a thriving Youth Academy with kids between the ages of 8 and 15 all training together on the same mat. Over the years we have developed and refined a number of “Aikido games” to help them develop their skills quicker and more enjoyably, especially the fundamentals of posture, balance, ukemi and body movement.
Here is a clip of a game I developed about 5 years ago that we call the tai sabaki (body movement) game. We play this during the warm up of every class and it not only promoted honesty and self respect bgut also sharpens up their body movement and reaction times. It’s a great way to start a kids class and the best part is they really enjoy it!
‘When I trained in Iwama under Morihiro Saito Sensei many years ago, every so often he would say something like, “Sunao ni keiko shite kudasai” (Practice with an honest mind) to admonish students to practice sincerely and in a spirit of cooperation. An example would be when he saw a student resisting another’s attempt to perform a technique using his foreknowledge of the technique being practiced. Let’s assume that we are practicing tai no henko. I know that uke will be pivoting to the outside while extending his arms in front of his center.
Instead of merely grabbing his hand firmly, I lift it up forcibly to prevent him from turning and executing the technique. What I have done is simply to take advantage of the prearranged nature of practice to thwart uke’s attempt to perform the technique. I am not being “sunao” or honest in my training. Such an action on my part would be entirely self-defeating and a show of disrespect to the teacher. If I were to lift uke’s arm upward in tai no henko, he could simply continue the upward movement and swing his arm towards my face to throw me down.
The following was a true story that occurred at the Iwama Dojo many years ago. I was practicing with a strong partner. Every time, he would use his knowledge of the technique we were practicing to block my movement. This of course was a cause of frustration to me. To make a statement, I proceded to block his technique in the same manner, but only once to prove a point. He continued every time to stop me, and from then on, I just resigned myself to continue until the end of class vowing to never train with him again. I knew that Saito Sensei was watching us as we continued in this manner, and I saw him becoming upset out of the corner of my eye.
Finally, Sensei shouted, “Dame! So iu kudaranai keiko yamero!” (Stop that stupid training!). We all sat down while Sensei exploded at my partner. He explained that anyone can block a person’s technique if they know in advance what they intend to do. That this kind of training totally defeats the purpose of practice and that one cannot progress by training this way. Sensei then proceded to ban my partner from practice at the dojo. The man was totally humiliated and immediately left the dojo with his head hanging down. Sensei eventually let the man back after about a month. From that point on, he trained in a respectful way and became an exemplary student. I trained with him several times after that and it was an enjoyable experience. He later established his own dojo and is still active.’
With thanks to Kokoro Kai Iwama Ryu – taken from their facebook page.
A nice clip from 1964, showing Saito sensei demonstrating many movements and techniques that were to become the basis for the “Iwama” style of Aikido.
In the past year I have come into contact with several people who are successfully using Aikido as a framework for self motivation, self improvement and self discipline as part of their journey recovering from addictive behaviour. It never fails to amaze me how fundamental the changes can be, and always re-kindles my belief in the art.
Learning Martial Arts in Recovery
When people give up an addiction, they usually have plenty of time on their hands. It is advisable that they make good use of these empty hours, or they may begin to experience boredom. This is dangerous because it can lead people towards relapse.
General Benefits of Martial Arts
Those who practice martial arts get to enjoy a number of benefits:
- These ancient combat systems can be a great way to stay physically in shape. They can benefit almost every part of the body. There can be impressive cardiovascular benefits with some of the more intense martial arts.
- Practising a martial art teaches people discipline. In order for people to become good at these fighting systems, the practitioner must be willing to sacrifice many hours, and put in a great deal of effort. They can use this discipline in almost every area of their life.
- These arts equip people to defend themselves in an emergency situation.
- Arts like Tai Chi and Aikido act as a type of moving meditation. This is great for relaxation and mental development. Even the hard martial arts can be a form of meditation.
- All of these disciplines improve coordination and balance to at least some extent.
- Martial arts training increases people’s confidence. Not only do they feel better able to defend themselves in a threatening situation, but they are also likely to feel more comfortable in their own skin.
- Those who master these arts tend to be humble. This is because they no longer feel they need to prove anything to anybody. They are more aware of their strengths and limitations.
- These disciplines can be a type of spiritual path. The individual practising them can develop both inwardly and outwardly.
The Benefits of Martial Arts in Recovery
Practising martial arts in recovery can be highly beneficial for several reasons:
- It allows them to regain their physical health. Abusing alcohol or drugs causes great harm to the body, and practising martial arts can help restore health.
- Self-discipline is essential to a successful recovery. Many good things in life require persistent effort and a bit of sacrifice. By learning martial arts, the individual will be able to extend this discipline to other areas of their life.
- People who become addicted to substances tend to suffer from low self-esteem. Those who devote themselves to these arts will gain mastery over their body and minds. This will greatly increase their confidence and self-esteem.
- If people are bored in recovery it will leave them feeling unsatisfied. This means that they will be more likely to relapse. By taking up a martial art, the individual will have something constructive to do with their time.
- Early recovery can be a stressful time. It is often described as an emotional roller-coaster. This type of physical activity gives people the opportunity to release some of their pent up tensions. The meditation aspects of these martial arts can also be wonderful for helping people to be better able to handle stress.
- You will become part of a mutually supportive group, all striving for the same goals.
How to Begin a Martial Arts Practice in Recovery
Beginning a martial arts practice is not something that people usually regret. There are some steps that the individual can take to increase their likelihood of benefiting from martial arts:
- Even a small town will usually have several different schools teaching martial arts. It is recommended that people do a bit of investigation into the different styles before making any decision.
- It is a good idea if people consider what they want from this activity. For example, it is important to consider whether they want something that is more spiritual or physical in nature.
- All the different styles of martial art will have people of all ages practicing them. Some of them are more physically demanding than others. Those who plan on learning one of the more intensive arts will need to be willing to increase their fitness to a high level.
- It is a good idea if people speak to their doctor before beginning any new fitness regime. This is particularly important if they have not exercised in a long time or if they have any pre-existing medical conditions.
- In order to progress in a martial art, people need to be willing to commit to regular practice. They will be able to develop much faster if they can go to at least two classes a week and if they also practice at home.
- Most martial arts classes will allow people to come for a free introduction lesson. This can be a good way to assess what is on offer.