contributed by Misa Suzuki, San Diego Aikikai
Originally posted as a blog on Aikido Journal and is reprinted here with kind permission.
I had huge expectations for this seminar. Although I have been training in the San Diego Aikikai dojo, which belongs to a different organization, I had attended a couple of seminars given by Ikeda sensei and Doran sensei in the past, and I knew how great those teachers were. Additionally, I was training in Aikido of Mission Valley for several months last year, and I learned about Tissier sensei from Cyril in that dojo. Cyril lent me a DVD of Tissier sensei: it was very interesting, with a strong and unique presentation of aikido. Mostly I was impressed at his uke, at how flexible and lively they are, and how they fly high! Tissier sensei seemed brutal in the video, so I was afraid but curious to encounter him.
And above all, our dearest teacher Murashige sensei was going to be a special guest for this seminar. I couldn't believe that such a dream seminar would be really happening.
The reality was even better than my expectations: unfortunately I could attend only the weekend due to my work schedule, but I sampled the best of this seminar. Every day, classes were given by these big shihans, and there were also some classes by other experienced instructors. In each class, the concept and fundamental knowledge of technique presented was different, so I had to adjust my brain and body. Tainohenka, ikkyo, kotegaeshi, shihonage... I expected that difference, but it was more prominent when I took all the classes in one day. Impressively, most students adapted very well, as they all were open-hearted, ready to absorb anything new.
Ikeda sensei's "invisible kokyu nage" was even more invisible. Every time he asked us "Do you see it?" I was saying in my mind "No sensei, I can't see it." Even Murashige sensei himself admitted that "the principle of Ikeda sensei's techinique is similar to mine", so it must be true. I used to think in that way too, but this time I felt more subtleness in Ikeda sensei's techniques, and more dynamism in Murashige sensei's techniques.
Tissier sensei's class was even more interesting. He dissected each technique, for example kotegaeshi, down to small learning steps. That was very helpful, since it was so different from what I had been used to. Turn away completely while holding the hand of your partner and turn the hips and body 180 degrees without raising your head: that sounded weak, missing the center of uke, but on the other hand, I could use the moment of turning as if unfolding a helix, and throw uke with the hip, not by kote. So interesting...
Then it was the turn of shihonage. Taking ukemi for his technique was not so difficult - it made me fly in the air as I saw his students do in the video. Tissier sensei was very kind and clear, and I left my fear off the mat.
Doran sensei was sweet and warm, his class was active. He presented each basic technique clearly, and some seemed to be familiar. He emphasized accuracy of positioning and form. Whether he was leading the class or not, he looked at each student carefully and gave us advices, he was very sweet.
Murashige sensei was, at the beginning, under some tension because of the new circumstances I think, and also suffering from physical pain. However, he did not show any difficulty, and his class was full of energy. I was comfortable in his class, I knew how it goes, and even more glad to see that other attendees were enjoying his class. Murashige sensei always gives happy classes, full of jokes, myraculous (sic) hand, and fun throwing invented from jujyutsu. I couldn't observe the end of the seminar, but I hope that he could present his talent fully, and that all aikidoka enjoyed his classes.
Another impressive class for me was the one with Phong sensei. He was small but very powerful, as if O-sensei. Most of his techniques seemed to be standard form, but there was some influence of other kung-fu-like martial arts. When I heard the applause at the end of his class, I was glad to share this joy with everybody. Ikeda sensei commented, "See? I told you, Phong sensei is a great teacher!"
Ikeda sensei also said, "As if going to a library and opening many books, I bring many great teachers from all over the world, please experience and learn from different styles of aikido. We teachers are today's Aikido, and you students are the next generation of Aikido." I was looking up at the picture of O-sensei, thinking where the future of aikido will go. I would like to thank Ikeda sensei and Jeff of Jiai Aikido for organizing this dream seminar, and all the teachers for giving us precious teachings with open heart.
Wishing this friendship spirit will continue in the future.