Spring Seminar May 20, 2017

“Tips, Tricks and Secrets of Aikido” with Gorman Miller Sensei.

With 25 years of experience Miller Sensei provides unique perspective to accelerate your Aikido training.

  • Saturday – May 20, 2017
  • 10:00 – Noon and 2:00 – 5:00
  • Location: Sand Drift Aikido
  • 2727 Parrish Rd. Cocoa, FL 32926 (www.sanddriftaikido.com)
  • All Ranks and Affiliations Welcome
  • Dinner Included (Asian Fusion)
  • Price: $40.00

See Seminary Flyer and  Aikiweb Mention.

Practicing on the new mat

There were eight of us on the new mat.  It isn’t the full 900 sq ft yet, but we were able to practice easily without falling into each other.  While it requires more awareness, this is actually good for developing spacial awareness.

We need to finish laying the mat and remove the excess foam, then we will be able to paint the walls.  Then we can put up the weapons racks again, and it is basically finished.  Then we need to schedule the spring seminar.

how to practice aikido

I am concerned that there is too much resistance in the dojo.  In particular, a stronger, higher ranked person should never block another student from doing technique.  What is important is that we each get a chance to practice our techniques.  Uke should give a strong honest attack, or sometimes a weak but still honest attack so that somebody that is new or not physically strong can still practice technique.

What do I mean by an honest attack?  Often, I see uke not resisting, but not accepting the ukemi either.  This does nothing useful for either party.  It is not good for uke, because they are not practicing good ukemi – which is critical for kaeshi and henka waza, and also to avoid getting hurt.  It is not good for nage, because they know that they are not doing technique, that uke is merely tanking for them.  So an honest attack is one that simulates a full bore attack, while moving more slowly and using less force so that nage can successfully practice his technique.

I must admit that I like it when I get somebody that is difficult to do technique on.  So I no doubt encourage the wrong sort of practice.  However, you might have noticed that I am actually quite easy to throw.

So when do we get to practice aikido full strength, with full strength attacks?  Any time that you are working with somebody of similar rank and strength, and it is clear that both parties have practiced enough to benefit from this sort of practice.  If either party is finding it difficult to do the desired technique, then the other person needs to work harder at flowing and being a good uke.  Any time somebody has to strain to make a technique work, they are no longer doing aikido.

There is a fine line here, because we do need to learn how to use our strength productively in a technique, but most people do this before thoroughly learning the technique and this is counter productive.  Merely trying harder is hardly ever the most productive way to practice.  Rather, we should be studying how our body and uke’s body interact so that we are effectively much stronger than our uke (angles and leverages rather than muscle).

Finally, you may be unable to do a particular technique on somebody, particularly if they know what you are trying to so.  In the dojo, the correct response is usually to ask them to use a bit less strength.  In the street, the correct response is to change technique.  This is what Musashi calls “letting go four hands”, though “mountain sea change” is also relevant.

Back in business

Thanks to the folks who helped with teardown, moving, and build up, Enmei Dojo is open again.  There is still a lot to do, but we do have the mat down and a picture of O Sensei up on the wall.  We can practice.  We had a yoga class last night.

The next thing to do is to finish laying the mats and moving excess mat to the barn.  Then we need to organize the office, changing room, and restroom.  We need to patch the walls, sand the sheetrock joints, and paint the walls.  Then we can put up the weapons racks, and we will be about done.

Happy New Year, and Changes

Happy New Year to everybody.  It is now the year of the rooster, if you are Chinese.  Since 1873, the official Japanese New Year has been celebrated according to the Gregorian calendar, on January 1 of each year, New Year’s Day (元日 Ganjitsu?). However, the traditional Japanese New Year (正月 Shōgatsu) is still celebrated on the same day as the contemporary Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese New Years.  This is based on the Lunar calendar, and was on January 28th this year.  So akemashite o-medetō-gozaimasu.

Effective immediately, we have changed the times of the evening classes, moving them an hour earlier to 6 – 8 pm.  Hopefully this will make it easier for people to get to class.

Also, we have given up Unit 115.  Classes are canceled for the rest of the week, while a new partition wall is being built.  We will still have a 900 sq ft mat, which is not as much as we had before.  Most of the furniture is being given to charity.  We expect this change will get us into the black financially.

End of year coming up

Xmas is coming, and the end of the year.  At Enmei, we have lost a few students and gained a few.  We need more people, if we are to survive.  We have tee shirts, both short and long sleeved.  Come to the dojo and buy some.  Buy one for yourself, and buy some more for Xmas presents.  We also have certificates for a month free aikido, value $80!  Give these as presents too.

We are having a meeting of all members at the end of class, this Saturday (17th).  Please come if you can.  We will talk about how we are doing, and where we go from here.

We now have a yoga class at Enmei

After looking for over a year for a yoga teacher, we have gone ahead and started a yoga class at Enmei Dojo.  The first class was to have been on October 5th, but was pre-empted by preparations for hurricane Mathew.  The first actual class was last Wednesday, 12th.

Classes are free for the month of October.  We will probably work out some introductory offer for new people after then, but at this point we have not decided on a schedule of payment.

We had a good attendance at the initial class, with 6 of us.  It seemed the response was very positive, so we will continue it for the foreseeable future.  If nothing else, it makes me actually get out there and practice, which I tend to do very sporadically at home.

So tell your friends, come along, and try it out.


Wow.  It’s been a while since I posted.  However, this is a forum for everybody, not just me!  Send your postings to Jeremy, Doug, or me, and we will post them.

Remember the seminar is this weekend.Enmei Spring Seminar 2016  I didn’t see the flyer here, so I added it to this post.  Hopefully, I did it right and it will work.

Let’s have a good turnout for Doug.  He will need lots of ukes, but even if you can’t be uke, come along anyway.  Encourage any potential students to come watch the demo (maybe around 4) and party.

We have been having good turnouts on Saturdays and Tuesdays, and I like that, but remember the other classes, morning classes if you can make that time, and Thursdays.  Thursdays in particular, we’ve had a couple of times nobody showed up.



rhythm and timing

Wow.  It has been a bit since I posted.  But some of you should be posting too!

Tonight I was thinking about rhythm and timing.  Rhythm is generally a good thing, but it is predictable.  If you can pick up an attacker’s rhythm, you can exploit it by being just a bit ahead, or sometimes a bit behind.  And of course, he can do the same to you.  A broken rhythm is unpredictable, and can’t be exploited by either of you, which is good and bad.

Very rarely in combat does a rhythm last long, so you need to be quick in picking up and exploiting one you do see.  Maybe a bit like those games where you hear a few notes and have to guess the tune.

Often, each partner provides alternate notes.  In kumi tachi #1, for example, you start synchronized, with your swords touching.  Aite 1 starts by stepping back and putting their sword in hasso gedan.  This is a suki, an opening.  It is also a taunt – ‘I dare you to come and hit me’.  Aite 2 accepts, and steps in with the obvious attack.  Aite 1 can respond in various ways, but the kata calls for him to step aside and deflect the strike, stealing its power for a counter strike.

Now if Aite 1 stays with the rhythm, Aite 2 can easily block and the exchange can go on for ever.  Instead, Aite 1 waits until Aite 2 is fully committed, and so breaks the rhythm.  Picking up a bit extra energy from Aite 2’s sword helps.  Just as Aite 2 thinks he has got Aite 1, Aite 1 moves and counter attacks and then keeps the pressure on Aite 2 until the end of the kata.

Keeping the pressure on is like playing notes as fast as you can.  If Aite 1 could attack a little faster, he could win sooner.  If Aite 2 could defend a little faster he could turn the tables on Aite 1.  The kata calls for Aite 1 to make two strikes and “win” on the second.  I put quotes around “win” because a kata is a cooperative activity and both win when it looks effective and inevitable, but where this would end in a real life duel in medieval Japan is with Aite 2 dead.

However, this is a bit of a different way of looking at pairs practice – kumi tachi or kumi jo.  So try it out for size, and see if it helps you move a bit further.

Great class

We had a fantastic class yesterday, with 14 of us there.

Jerald is back from a tweaked shoulder – so I have been stressing that people should keep their arms in omote position – in front of the line through the shoulders.  This is where we are strongest and least likely to get injured.  And don’t strain, especially on the mat.  If you are straining, you are doing something wrong, either as uke or nage.  Of course, a force that is on the limit of straining is greater for a bigger person.  So a big person can be doing good aikido and be more forceful than a smaller person.  Smaller people have to be technically better – Segal throwing Matsuoka is not impressive.  Matsuoka throwing Segal would be.

Position is very important.  Much of aikido is about positioning your body so that you are able to overpower uke without even trying.

Several of the students are working on their 4th kyu, so we did a lot of techniques from shomen uchi and yokomen uchi.  While both are strikes, they are very different, even though they blend into one another.  Shomen is more direct, both for uke and nage.  Yokomen is more flowing.

We finished with randori, as we often do.  I don’t know if it was the larger class size, but most people seemed to do better than usual.