Contributed by Josette Nickels-Grolier
Aikido no Sensei, Godan
This three-day seminar took place in Paris, in the Charlety Stadium, a well known sport-ground dedicated to rugby. It gathered some 150 to 200 people each day, on an 800 mē mat. There were practitioners from all over Europe: France, Spain, Switzerland, England, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Sweden, etc. as well as from the United States and the French Dom Tom, Guadeloupe and Martinique. I may have forgotten some countries, please forgive me.
The courses were organized by units of two, the first hour was taken by Ikeda shihan and the second by Tissier Shihan. During the whole seminar, the emphasis was made on a necessary connection between the two partners before undergoing the technique, to avoid the use of muscle strength and unnecessary fighting. Ikeda Shihan developed this principle through exercises, kihon waza and bugei waza and Tissier Shihan applied it to various kihon waza and henka waza.
To clarify the principle, Ikeda Shihan repeatedly insisted on the fact that neither partners should use their strength either to grab or to do the techniques, but instead connect to the partner through his center to escape muscular constraint. He gave many examples with "heavy" partners, either with empty-hands or using the jo and the ken and proposed various exercises and techniques to the practitioners to give them time to experiment the feeling of his "in, pick and out." That is to say, to experiment the feeling of getting inside the partner's body, to pick into his center to loosen his grab and then do the necessary body movements (irimi, henka, tenkan, etc.) to execute the technique. It was the notion of "mental intention" associated to the "irimi principle" he asked us to put into action.
Ikeda Shihan proposed the same work with the ken and the jo, clarifying the differences between the two weapons while identifying the principles which are common to them and to taijutsu. He used sword techniques to present the various directions of tori's entries. Either direct, or to the inside or outside, he always insisted on the fact that it was not the bokken or the jo which were moving but the body, through the hips and shoulder motions, which either gets straight in or turns on either side. The emphasis he made on the internal work rendered it possible to understand that spirit should always prevail over muscles.
To apply this principle, Tissier Shihan developed various technical progressions. Limiting the work to taijutsu, he used the same approach as Ikeda Shihan to mobilize uke's body and create angles to lead him through the techniques. To clarify the importance of the hands in techniques, as in katate-dori kaiten-nage, for example, he proposed large movements first to finish with short rotations and precise changes in the hands directions. It was the importance of spiraling motion in the execution of the techniques he wanted us to be aware of.
With Tissier Shihan too, the practitioners were given the opportunity to experiment the necessary connection between partners and to understand the importance of openings, angles and turns in the execution of flowing yet efficient techniques.
We all want to thank both Shihan, Ikeda Shihan for coming to have us share his understanding of aikido internal principles and Tissier Shihan for making it possible for us to apply these principles into our technical work.
The pleasure to practice with him, either as a uke when he was teaching, or as a partner when he was practicing during Tissier Shihan's sessions. Were they beginners or more advanced practitioners, they all gained a lot from their encounter with a nice-hearted person.
We do hope that this seminar will just be the beginning of a long-lasting exchange between two exceptional Shihans.