Sunday 28 April 2013

Free Aikido books from Gaku Homma!

Gaku Homma, who was a live-in student (uchi deshi) at the Hombu and Iwama dojos under both O Sensei, the founder of Aikido, and Saito Sensei, and who now runs the independent Nippon Kan dojo in Denver, Colorada, has very generously made available free PDF eBook versions of several of his published paperback books on Aikido. The books are: Aikido For Life, Children and the Martial Arts and The Aikido Sketch Diary. I have recently been reading Gaku Homma Sensei's excellent book 'The Structure of Aikido' (the paperback edition - this book is not available for download!) which explores the relationship between bokken/sword work and open-handed Aikido. If you are interested in Aikido weapons, I recommend that book. In the meantime, however, if you don't already have his other books, what are you waiting for? Read them for free here:

Sunday 21 April 2013

Aiki Weapons Class 6th May - Don't miss it!!!

I'm pleased to announce that the Hartland Aikido Club will host a special aiki weapons class taught by Sensei Richard Small (4th dan, Takemusu Iwama Europe) on Monday the 6th of May.

As a general principle, the Hartland Aikido Club teaches 'Ki Aikido', following the teaching of Koichi Tohei Sensei. Sensei Small's Aikido background is in a different tradition, often called 'Iwama Aikido, based on the teachings of Morihiro Saito Sensei. One of the clear differences between the Ki and Iwama styles is the greater emphasis given by the latter to practice using the jo (wooden staff) and bokken (wooden sword). Moreover, as I have mentioned before, the way in which the two styles of aikido use the weapons differs considerably. Not only are our formal 'routines' (the katas) different but also the qualities of movement which we strive to perfect are different in some respects.

So does that mean that one of us is right and the other is wrong? No, absolutely not. The fact of the matter is that we have two simple wooden sticks at our disposal. It is rather amazing that we can get anything at all of consequence from practising with them. In fact, we are able to obtain enormous value from jo and bokken practice which can also assist our free-hand aikido. In our regular classes at the Hartland Club, we explore one tradition (perfected by Tohei Sensei). In his class on the 6th of May, Sensei Small will explore some aspects of another tradition (perfected by Saito Sensei). In my view, both traditions are of equal value and students who approach the subject with an open mind will have the opportunity to enhance their appreciation of the great merit of weapons work in aikido.

I should also point out that the Hratland Aikido Club welcomes students from all styles of aikido (and indeed, other martial arts). So whether you are a complete beginner or an old hand, you will be very welcome to join us at Sensei Small's aiki weapons class or at any of our regular classes.

Sensei Small's Aiki Weapons class will be held at the Bucks Cross Village Hall, between 7:30 and 9:30pm on the 6th of May 2013. Cost is £5 for  two hours (£3 for unemployed/retired). If you have any interest at all in the use of weapons in aikido, please come along!

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Bucks Cross Aikido (between Bideford and Bude) now twice weekly!

From next week (Monday 22nd April, 2013) The Hartland Aikido Club will be meeting twice weekly at the Bucks Cross Village Hall. If you haven't visited us before, don't be frightened. We are a very friendly bunch and we always welcome beginners.

We have now moved our Monday classes, which were previously held in Woolsery, so that we can take advantage of the excellent, heavyweight judo mats that we have at Bucks Cross. Currently we have 20 full size mats and soon (thanks to the ongoing support of Active Devon) we will have even more. This means that we can offer a really well-equipped dojo for optimal comfort and safety.

Monday practice starts at 7:30 in the evening. Thursday practice starts at 7:00. Why not come along and give us a try. [Details on Bucks Cross Village Hall]. As an added bonus, your first session is free!

Friday 12 April 2013

Learn Aikido! (because you never know when you may need it)

This little video provides an excellent example of why you need to learn Aikido - before the enemy does!

Thursday 11 April 2013

Aikido - tanto (knife) defences

Later this year I will be teaching classes on 'tanto tori' - defences against knife attacks. We will practise with wooden knives for safety. I've always found tanto defences one of the most challenging and interesting aspects of aikido. At black belt level you are expected to be able to perform these defences against real knives, so you need to have both the technical skill and also (just as important!) the calmness of mind to deal with whatever happens to come your way. Many years ago, when I used to practise with my teacher, Sensei David Currie, I undertook quite a long series of private lessons in which we explored defences against all kinds of weapons - from baseball bats to broken bottles.

Fear not! We won't be using any of those somewhat unconventional weapons in the Hartland club. We'll stick strictly to the wooden tantos. Here is a short video I came across of some basic tanto defences. Incidentally, this teacher (Mike Jones of the New York Aikikai) has a number of videos on YouTube. I recommend them. They are well filmed and Mike Jones is a very clear and engaging teacher.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Steven Seagal - on the effectiveness of aikido

It's pretty common for people who haven't studied Aikido to assert that it can't possibly be effective in 'real' situations. Steven Seagal has his say on this...