This Saturday I had the pleasure to attend a fundraiser seminar at Brevard Aikikai. Hosted by Grady Lane Sensei, the seminar featured several amazing instructors, including Peter Bernath Shihan. Each instructor seemed to have a varied style of teaching, and each focused on a particular aspect of their Aikido. This made for both an informative and nurturing learning experience, where the students could focus intently on the lessons.
There were two special morning classes. The first morning class started at 10:00 a.m. and was taught by Peter Bernath Sensei of Florida Aikikai. Bernath Sensei focused on body positioning and immediate, unreadable technique. He also emphasized the importance of maintaining your center, as well as keeping extension.
The second morning class was held by Penny Bernath Sensei, also of Florida Aikikai. Starting with deep entrances, and then jyu-waza, the class gradually turned into a dynamic randori lesson. It was structured to help the students build their skills, from the initial movement to the limitless possibilities of jyu-waza.
John Johnson Sensei of Orlando Aikikai began the afternoon session. Johnson Sensei demonstrated various techniques from ryote-tori yonkyo, including several kokyu-nage throws. I learned about the adaptability of yonkyo and the importance of extension. Especially interesting was an anecdote from summer camp thirty years ago, where an instructor, after leading a Shinto chant for several classes, required that the attendees clean the training hall. The significance was not lost on Johnson Sensei: the dojo was a place for serious, committed training.
Following Johnson Sensei, Ed Di Marco Sensei of Lake County Aikikai taught a vigorous and informative class. Demonstrating ushiro movements, Di Marco Sensei spoke about “worst case” scenarios, where uke flanks nage. Again I learned about balance and extension, and how to turn difficult attacks to my advantage.
After a short break, Youssef Sadkane Sensei of Sadkane Aikido began his class. Demonstrating direct and efficient Aikido movement, Sadkane Sensei emphasized the importance of controlling uke’s center. I saw in his technique the rhythm and feel of swordplay. I really enjoyed it!
Dee Sensei of my school taught next. She opened her class with an ukemi exercise, and continued with ikkyo ura, from katate-tori. She asked nage not to break uke’s grip, which forced uke to maintain close connection. It was as much ukemi training as traditional technique. She then allowed us to train in jiu-waza, again without breaking uke’s hold. Finally, taking a cue from Sugano Sensei, she instructed the attendees to attack anyone on the mat, including her. It was great fun.
Fittingly, the seminar closed with the host, Lane Sensei. He led a high paced, high energy class, from morote-tori. Beginning with kokyu-ho, he demonstrated pins, kote-gaeshi, and finally juji-nage. I learned a great deal about the complexity and possibilities of the morote-tori attack.
In closing, the seminar was high paced and highly informative. I want to thank Lane Sensei, as well as the other instructors present. I learned a lot and had a great time!