Well the weekend was great fun. We had five one hour sessions on each day, Saturday and Sunday. The teaching was varied and entertaining.
Gary Masters provided some great weapons training over a couple of sessions with an unusual (for me at least) set of techniques using a tanto against a sword. His techniques were crisp and effective leaving little to the imagination. I also enjoyed some nice and simple jo movements despite finding it not so simple – I kept hitting myself rather than the attacker.
John Jenkins displayed marvellous flexibility in both his toes and jaw but also ran a great session emphasizing the importance of being able to modify your technique as the circumstances dictate. In this particular case one imagined having multiple attackers and ensuring that you are not leaving your back exposed after completing the technique.
Jack and Merrel Poole focussed more on principle than technique. Jack had only recently returned from a hip replacement so could not really put much weight on hi left left. He demonstrated how it is possible to do aikido when disabled. In this case he used minimal movement to control and manage the attack and ensured that he kept his weight off the bad leg as much as possible without losing balance.
Merrel emphasized that in things like wrist locks are only partially implemented through the use of pain on the joints but mostly they are about affecting the opponents posture. One way she did this was by getting us to do nikkyo on the forearm rather than the wrist. This meant that we couldn’t rely on the pain causing uke to react – we had to break their posture and balance.
Our Tony did a great session that got everyone moving. As it turned out (probably not on purpose) it followed on nicely from what Merrel was doing. Mainly we were looking at techniques that involved moving only slightly off line and redirecting the energy to cause uke to fall as they went past.
We got a good work out from Steve Billett who did his usual tricks with the tanbo and plenty of chokes. For those who don’t know, the tanbo is a seriously nasty piece of wood, not much larger than a pencil, but it can be used to create some of the most stupendous pain on various bony bits of the body. Steve is a master of choke outs and it was a pleasure to be entertained and have the opportunity to practice an aspect of fighting that is often overlooked in aikido.
Finally, there was Roy Shepherd. He is a regular at these events and is a self proclaimed clown. After the bizarre chicken and knife act Roy finished off the Sunday sessions with a great period of meditation and visualisation that was much appreciated by all those who had been working hard all weekend. As Sian mentioned to me later, it is important that martial arts include learning how to heal as well as how to destroy.
The extra curricular events were also good fun, culminating in Tony getting an unexpected birthday card from the Chinese buffet restaurant. Some enjoyable drinks and food with some friendly and interesting fellow practitioners of aikido.