Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Progress on Progress

Please join me in congratulating Bill Bechdel on his great test for 3rd kyu tonight!

3rd Kyu
William "Bill" Bechdel

We still have 2 more tests to go this week.  See you at test prep / testing this Thursday night!


Saturday, June 27, 2015


Please join m in congratulating our fellow students on their latest kyu rank tests today.  Everyone did a great job and it is always a joy to see the progress of our dojo.

3rd Kyu
James Keeler
Gill Crespo

5th Kyu
Curtis Jacobs
Mikel Dorren

We have 3 more people to fit in this week so please make sure to be there.  Two of them will be Thursday.

We also had a great turnout today for our Regional practice.  Thanks to everyone who made it possible. Special thanks to Matt, Len, and Kerman fo all of the cleaning they have done over the past couple of weeks.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Insights from the Past

While cleaning out some computer files, I found some material that we posted from time to time  on the dojo bulletin board back in 2007. It was drawn from a version of our dojo handbook. Not surprisingly, the thoughts are still relevant. So, I thought I would share:


Western culture tends to generate the attitude that tension and strength are related to each other while relaxation is associated with sleep, laxness, spacing out, or some form of vulnerability.  In actuality, the more relaxed you are, the more effective you can be in just about any activity.  All masters, no matter what their artistic skill, perform best in a totally relaxed and alert state.  Only beginners try hard.  Masters try easy.  It is the mark of a master to be calm, relaxed, and in a deep state of peace while doing what he or she does best, be it a defensive art, painting, music, dance or any sports activity.  By giving yourself permission to be relaxed and alert now, you will facilitate your advancement in aikido and enjoy your training much more.
When learning new moves, take your time.  Go as slowly as you want to, and see how relaxed you can be in your learning.  Especially play with how soft you can be in your breathing, face, neck, and shoulders.  As these relax, your personal movement patterns will become more comfortable, while your actions on the mat will quickly gain ease, speed, and effectiveness.  At the same time, your attentiveness will increase.
Aikido is a defensive art which requires your full attention, readiness to respond, and willingness to be flexible.  In your training as an aikido student, it will be beneficial for you to cultivate a new level of sensory attentiveness.  This is facilitated by your relaxation.
This does not imply that you should not train hard or push yourself.  In order to learn any defensive art, you must train very hard.  There will be plenty of sweat, challenge, effort, pleasurable exhaustion and much to overcome.  Work hard on yourself.  Simply remember that you are doing something completely new and that its results will be evident in you when you are ready to replace old patterns with new ones.  This is accomplished as a release, as a relaxation of old, unnecessary tension and patterns of struggling with your life.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Thought for the ... well forever, just add it to the list

Slow Gets Smooth
Smooth Gets Speed

We all have that little voice inside of us that says "I want to throw fast like Sensei."  But like with all things, you can't start there.  If you do the chain becomes....

Fast gets Choppy
Choppy needs Muscle
Muscle means Effort, and not everyone has Muscle

That thought chain doesn't sound good at all.  Especially not for the "minimum effort, maximum effect" mantra.  But alas, we (all) still want to go fast and get to fast faster.  But we must recognize that while working through a "throw", we need to feel comfortable that we can practice it slowly.  We need to capture and process a lot of information during the throw if we are going to learn from doing it.  We unfortuantely can't do a throw, then after wards analyze what went well or not so aftewards.  We need to be conscious and aware during the throw. 

We need to feel uke's balance and process how that relates and responds to what your are doing, where you are relative to uke, where you are leading uke to next, simultaneously and instantaneously.  For that, we need need to slow things down because that's a heck of a lot of mental work.

But the other guys are looking and I can't look like a noob!  Cut it.  We're all noobs. (that's pronounced noo-B, btw).  Why are we all noobs, because if you are constantly learning then you are always treading on new ground.  Like the word "throw", "practice" is a poor word as it implies there is a set and known procedure that you just have to learn to rinse, wash, and repeat.  Well, that's why long ago they decided to call these martial "arts" and not martial recipes.  That and recipes doesn't very warrior like at all.  I'm not even sure there is a word for recipe in Klingon.  (please don't write me about the etymology of the Klingon word for recipe)

So, you have permission, from me, and from uke, to practice slow without any baggage but remember, slow does not mean stop animation.  Slow still means continuous.  Uke attacks, we lead them to start falling, continuously, from the moment of connection to the moment that we allow them to finish falling.


stay tuned to this same AKR channel for the next exciting installment

Testing and Open Practice to all Kokikai


We are having testing on June 27th, Saturday, at the 10AM class.  We will also be extending the class to 2.5 hours and are inviting anyone in Kokikai to come practice with us.  Beginners are welcome and there is no mat fee for the event.

Please come and support your fellow students and hopefully meet some new ones.  Keep an eye on the blog as we are looking to have a post class social event as well.