Happy holidays!

25 12 2007

…MERRY CHRISTMAS from Trondheim!!!

I cannot post myself (forgot the USB cable for the camera) but, trust me, soon there will be one of my mass uploads!!

So, enjoy the holidays, where ever you are!!!

Ciao!!! 😀


Aikido is a martial art!

19 12 2007

*** Better: AiKi IS a martial art.. Refer to the comments section!! *** 

I started answering Peri Mackintosh’s comment on yesterday post, about Freeform Aikido, the style he his teachnig in his dojo in London. The main part of the comment is:

“…Freeform Aikido is not a martial art though of course it may have implications for martial situations. There are therefore no “attacks”. What interests me in Aikido and the ideas of O’Sensei are the possibility of experiencing Oneness, connection and creativity – Take musu aiki. This I understand as arising out of kimusubi.
Both participants in Freeform are seeking to engage in kimusubi with their partner and lead the other out of balance. There is no resistance to being lead out of balance as that would obviously rupture the kimusubi. Ki musubi and non-resistance are two sides of the same coin!”

I perfectly agree on the comment about kimusubi and not-resistance, in the meaning not blocking your partner in his/her movements.

But Aikido IS a martial art.

The point that created more discussion among my friends was the name of your style: is this Aikido? Can you call it “Freeform” Aikido just because it is not martial? Then why calling your style Aikido at all? I know Peri has a long Aikido background (I’m pretty sure I have practiced with him in Norway too!), but is it an enough good reason?

Aikido IS martial: when various sensei I have met have been asked about use of Aikido in real life, all their examples led to use basics of what we do in practice (go out of the line, keep your focus, balance, coldness in your thoughts, awareness, feeling of the whole situation) in order to avoid an attack and next *attack* the openings of the opponent! That is Aikido for me!

We do not teach that to beginners but all the atemi movements and basic foot work and balance breaking exercises, in a life or death situation must lead to an active use of Aikido. Maybe, you want to call it Aiki-budo, but the important part is always AiKi.

Endo sensei, 8.dan Aikikai, commented that he does not like to hear that Aikido is only a defensive martial art: when he does his contact exercises he is very much active in seeking (and reaching) all the openings his partner leaves, when the contact is lost in some ways. With a perfect contact, every “attacking” movement would be felt in advance and the body would react properly. So, this could have been a comment from Freeform Aikido people: they work to achieve perfect kimusubi in order to feel and react at once. But they state they don’t have attacks.. so most of the movements lose their meaning!

What it is written in this introduction for Aikido in USA is again one of the mis-conception of aikido as “flower power”, the art of peace meaning there is no possibility to use it for real defence.. Trust me, after one year following close Endo sensei I got a much better insight of how to use the contact feeling in a very Aikido martial way!


18 12 2007

After ages, I updated Aikido Glossary adding the section about the different way of attacking and I finally started the section about the techniques, probably the one that will be longer!

Do we need more Aikido styles?

13 12 2007

shu ha riI know this is totally a retoric question, since, for one way or another, a lot of students of martial arts reach a point of learning at which they decide to try a some more personal approach. Very often this is the turning point for a new style, or branch, or variation of the martial art.. It is also a natural step in the martial art training: shu – ha – ri, but I will talk about this later on.

So I am not surprised when I meet at different seminars people coming from never-heard-before Aikido associations. I admit my view might be too narrow, maybe I haven’t been enough around as other norwegian Aikido practitioners.

So, in my limited view of Aikido, I have been a bit surprised when I saw the following video posted by Tenshinkan Oslo Aikido dojo, club founded by Bjørn Erik Olsen, technical chief of Norwegian Aikido Federation and close student of Inaba Minoru sensei and Suganuma Morito sensei.

The clip is from an introductory weekend seminar on Freeform Aikido facilitated by Peri Mackintosh and Enoiki Hiro, from Freeform Aikido London.

…and I did *not* like this clip at all!!!!

Before blogging it with a too bad comment, I searched a bit around and I found the next one:

In this clip I can see a bit more Aikido elements and.. a purpose in the movement, not so much “drunken boxing” footwork as in the first clip.. yeah.. that was the first thought I had watching the first clip! 🙂

While writing this post I decided to have a better look into this Aikido view, so I checked out their homepage and read especially the part about the “breaking apart” from conventional Aikido. It is an interesting reading.

The first reason that the author, Peri Mackintosh , states as separatory from traditional Aikido is the fixation, in the latter, in the roles of uke and tori. Probably the clips proposed are all from beginners student, because what I can see there is exaclty the same thing, except that there are not 4 techniques before changing roles, but it is done every other technique. It’s true, it looks more blended, soft, flexible, relaxed, and this are all *plus* points for me. But still not of the attacks that lead to a technique are anything close to a real attack. You can notice that the one “attacking” is most of the time preparing himself already for the fall or for accepting the change of roles. And *this* I do not like! Is that still a martial art, this Freeform Aikido?

A comment from a guy that does for work something called Integration Training was, in fact:

“…They [Freeform London] do aikido as a movement art rather than martial art…”

I could not agree more!

Some of Peri’s words recalled my previous reading of the book  “The Craf of the Warrior“, by Robert L. Spencer. It is an extremely interesting collection and suggestion in the field of warriorship in daily life. “Warriorship” not intended as violence or seek of fight, but as the purity, discipline, awareness characterizing a warrior.. Finding its own way the daily life.. And it is a lot about psycology and philosophy, or better, psycho-therapy. I’m not an expert in any of these fields (Aikido included) but my thoughts reached another book that I have not yet finished reading: A. Lowen Bioenergetics“. And this is probably closer to Integration Training.

On London webpage, the Oslo seminar purpose is presented as:

“…Work then focused on developing and maintaining a coherent connective awareness – on a partner whilst maintaining awareness of body sensation. This connective awareness was then expanded into more overt energetic/intentional bonding (ki-musubi)…”

Oh, was Endo sensei practicing there? 😀

Because, in fact, he is doing exactly all that these same people state, even “…engaging with chaos, in chaos…” especially for people that has never seen him before.. but the result is still Aikido, my beloved martial art, my life, my love.. and my approach is still close to Endo sensei ideas about Integration of the Incompatibles.

A last thought about free training, I would recommend the previous post on freedom in practice.. at least, from my own reflection and experience.

Nice words about my home town..

10 12 2007

..and my first passion: basketball!!!

After suggestion of Vittorio, have a look at this very nice description of Biella, my.. our (Vitto and myself) home town and its historical connection to basketball:

Draft Express


Biella and Mucrone

Igarashi sensei in Stockholm

7 12 2007

My Aikido holidays had started the weekend 23rd to 25 th November in Stockholm, right after a lovely Thanksgiving (and julebord) dinner at my chief house. “Right after” means in fact that I went home from the dinner quite early (around midnight) finished packing and left Friday 23rd with a 6:40 am flight.. dead tired!!! 😀

It was my second experience with Igarashi sensei, and I admit I did not remembered much from the first one, except very difficult jo and bokken practice. I remembered also that people from Aikikan federation, even medium-high graded, had problems performing those weapon katas, thing that surprised me, since they have much more weapon experience than me!

This time we practiced with bokken only a short session, and the exercises were extremely interesting, giving a great feeling in the way one should handle the sword. I was lucky also to practice almost all that session with Lucas Icasatti, a good friend and great Aikido practitioner (and instructor in his dojo: Aikidojo in Oslo).

A few more considerations:

  • as mentioned already, many many thanks to Urban and Iyasaka dojo for the hospitality and the great chance to travel there and practice for free with Igarashi sensei!
  • interesting practice, both Aikido and bokken, even if, stupid me, I did not take notes (habit I have especially for Endo sensei seminars)..
  • it was great meeting friends that I have not many other chances to meet: Pedram and Lucas top of the list, but also Matei, Pål and Kris from Oslo Aikido dojo, my previous club in Oslo, and some other Norwegians, like Eivind and his kids, from Hamar, and Eyvind and Camilla from the new formed club, Sentrum Aikido.. And, as usual, it is great make new encounters at Aikido seminar and.. Aikido party!!
  • there had been a very interesting and effective sankyo session: View slideshow (set the delay @ 1 or 2.. better effect!!)
  • more Aikido related, I liked a lot the work on katadori menuchi techniques, and the different application from grips to wrist, elbow or shoulder: how to move the free part of the body without starting meaningless struggle against the grip itself.

group picture @ Iyasaka dojo

Stavanger on ice!

4 12 2007

Back at home.. and the day started with panic on ice!!!!!

A drop in temperature right after some rain in the early morning created caos and many incidents, both traffic and walking ones!! Busses, cars, police, garbage collectors had several problems and for all the morning the most common sound was the sirens from ambulance cars!

The ER of the local hospital had already, early in the day, a long queue of people with different kind of injures because of falling on the ice.. I managed to avoid the situation.. and I hope to be equally lucky on the way home!