The Aikido seminar held October 3 at Brevard Aikikai in Melbourne to help support financially and spiritually one of our oldest and best instructors in the Federation, Nobu Arakawa Sensei, was inspirational. It was also fun. There was a great sense of camaraderie as we gathered to train together in the true spirit of ai-ki. As Peter Bernath Sensei noted, it is great thing that we can support each other in need, that we are all part of a large family.
It was also intense. We trained under six instructors over a four hour period in which we never broke for more than 10 minutes. I was pleased to have taken ukemi from four of the six instructors. Grady Lane Sensei, our host, opened the seminar with yokomenuchi kokyunage, emphasizing a stretched arm across the body to keep things as tight as possible.
Nobu Sensei taught the next session and demonstrated a variety of techniques from morotetori. The one I took ukemi for was a variation of jujinage in which the lower arm is pushed through like a lever to turn uke over and pin him on his back with arms crossed overhead. Nobu Sensei also pointed out the proper way to take nikkyo ukemi and perform kotogaeshi.
Penny Bernath Sensei taught the next session and focused entirely on henka waza, flowing from one technique to another. She demonstrated many natural transitions starting from different opening attacks and partners were left to find their own way back and forth.
Richard Wagener Sensei taught the fourth session, also focusing on transitions, from morotetori. We practiced nikkyo from this attack, transitioning from to one hand to the other, directly and with tenkan.
Youssef Sensei taught the fifth class and demonstrated ikkyo and other techniques from ushiro kubishime. His techniques were very clean and direct.
Peter Bernath Sensei completed the seminar with a series of techniques which focused on changing directions to upset uke and create the desired effect. He demonstrated this from katatatori with a slight push-pull that transitioned into techniques like hanmi handachi katatatori nikkyo, shihonage, and iriminage.
After formal bows and thank-yous, we concluded our time together outside the dojo, relaxing with pizza and beer and welcome breezes on a beautiful afternoon. Nobu Sensei left with a with a big smile on his face and an envelope full of donations that will help him through this difficult part of his life’s journey. In his own words: “I not give up so easily.”
Editor’s note: As well as teaching at the dojo, Buck is the President of Pittman Landscape Architecture, a Jacksonville based land planning firm.