Aiki Retreat 2011, Monday

Today’s classes were Doran and Nadeau in the morning, Ikeda and Mary Heiny in the afternoon. I can’t begin to report what they taught, but in each case it was an in-depth exploration of something. It’s nice to be able to slow down and really pay attention to the details.

Doran Sensei showed a lot of techniques, and demonstrated for many of them how they are derived from sword techniques. Visualizing them in that way helps me understand more clearly the direction of the energy and movement, hand orientations, and the relationship between Uke and Nage.

An image came to me in Ikeda Sensei’s class, of Nage and Uke together in a very slow-moving current. As Nage, instead of trying to move Uke, just let the current move both of you. That seemed to fit with what Ikeda Sensei said later, too, something to the effect that if Uke can’t feel your technique, they can’t resist it.

Something Mary Heiny Sensei said struck me, too, and meshed well the Nadeau Sensei’s dimensionality work: “When you change who you are, your technique will change.” (Quoted to the best of my recollection, anyway.)

Michael Friedl Sensei and Alan Best Sensei taught the evening class, focusing on ukemi. The first half, on ways of taking back falls, was really useful for me, because I’ve found that I didn’t quite trust the mats here yet. There are two kinds, and they feel very different from what I’m used to. I showed up 30 minutes early and really spent some quality time warming up and stretching, and doing a lot of rolls. Between that and the first half of class I got a lot more comfortable with falling and rolling on them. The second half of the class covered more ukemi, and ended with some fun training where everyone did just Nage’s half of the technique, and then just Uke’s, solo. It was very challenging, and potentially useful for practicing alone. And it was really funny, especially nikkyo ura. I sure hope someone got video!

It’s been great seeing so many familiar faces from other seminars, and meeting in person so many people I’ve only either heard on, or have known just on Facebook. This is the first year I’ve come to this seminar, but still feels very familiar.

Back at it in the morning!