contributed by Linda Hendricks, Univ. of Florida Aikido Club
The Aikido Bridges Un Pont Friendship Seminar was held in San Diego January 13th to the 19th. This Floridian fled the abnormal heat of Central Florida for the abnormal cold of Southern California. This event was hosted by Jiai Aikido. Jeff Sodeman Sensei and the members of his dojo made every one feel welcome. The headliners for this seminar were four shihan - Hiroshi Ikeda, Boulder Aikikai, CO; Christian Tissier, Cercle Tissier, France; Frank Doran, Aikido West, CA; and Morihiko Murashige, San Diego Aikikai, CA. Early morning and evening classes were given by guest instructors from around California. This week of training allowed the aikidoka to practice outside of their comfort zone. Ikeda sensei encouraged us to try each technique as shown. We should find what works for us and incorporate it to our own Aikido. He reminds us that we create our own Aikido. We can try and learn various styles and use what fits our bodies.
Picking up on the notion of style, Tissier shihan explained that we practice based on a frame of reference or a code. This is how each one of us practices. This code may be different from one style to another. This week gave us the opportunity to experience and experiment with various codes. There was a unified emphasis on the principles of Aikido. Each sensei showed us the way they apply them. Murashige shihan demonstrated techniques that you could clearly see the Aiki principal behind. Participants were from different styles and backgrounds. Murashige shihan adjusted and blended with each student; each encounter was slightly different, yet they were all the same technique.
Tissier shihan talked about not trusting our selves. He showed us how he looks to the point were he needs to be and goes there. This is not moving uke to that point, but moving our selves. Doran shihan's impeccable posture and clean movements illuminated both technique and principal, teaching us in a slightly different way, that you must move you, not uke.
Dang Thong Phong sensei (one of the five guest sensei at this friendship seminar), showed us that size does not matter. Phong sensei is less than 5 feet tall, yet moved with the energy of a title wave. He was generous with his attention and used many class participants as uke. Francis Takahashi sensei, a man of great stature, demonstrated grace and precision with a jo exercise that challenged the mind to think and the body to follow with action.
Each seminar I attend, I pick up a new morsel of wisdom or am reminded of an old one. This seminar reminded me to look beyond the surface of technique and to examine the principle behind it. These principles are universal. Each of the sensei brought their own perspective. The Aikido Bridge Un Pont Seminar was a great endeavor at reaching aikidoka of many schools and styles and bringing them together in this international event. I encourage all aikidoka to look for other Aikido Bridge and Friendship events. I applaud this trend to form bridges and friendship among the practitioners of different styles.