Contributed by Tom Haines and by Al Krever
Photographs by Ken Jacobs, Aikido of Flagstaff
Celebrating our 40th year, Arizona Aikido introduced the "Aikido Bridge" format to our annual September Fall Training Camp held in the mountains outside of Prescott.
Joanne Veneziano Sensei of the Emerald City Aikido in Seattle joined Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei of Boulder Aikikai, as the two lead teachers of this friendship bridge event. Rounding out the line-up of local guest instructors were our own chief instructor, Tsuneji Sakakbara Sensei; Tom Haines Sensei of Arizona Aikido; Rafa Mithuna Sensei of Arizona Aikido Katsujinken Dojo; Glenn Brooks Sensei from Aikido of Scottsdale; Judith Robinson Sensei from Aikido at the Center in Tucson; and Jeff Sodeman Sensei from Jiai Aikido in San Diego.
Ikeda sensei and Veneziano sensei taught the majority of the one hour classes throughout the extended weekend seminar which commenced on Thursday evening and ended midday on Sunday.
Each one hour session in the expansive indoor mat space was mirrored by an outdoor session of weapons training taught by one of our visiting sensei. This gave us as many as eight training opportunities per day. The weather was especially cooperative this year making the format much appreciated by the attending participants.
Veneziano Sensei, a long time student of Mary Heiny Sensei, demonstrated her unique approach to waza. Her defense against two person attacks was especially well received by the class participants.
Ikeda Sensei continued in his classes with his emphasis on deep partner connection and control at the point of contact. His effective use of humor in describing the complex mind-body processes involved in this training seemed particularly helpful for the newer students in his classes.
The three local instructors offering classes this year were Glenn Brooks Sensei of Aikido of Scottsdale; Judith Robinson Sensei from Tucson and chief instructor of Aikido at the Center; and Rafa Mithuna Sensei of Prescott's Arizona Aikido Katsujinken Dojo. Glenn Sensei presented strong and well described technique from his Aikikai (USAF) tradition. Judith Sensei in her classes introduced students to forms and movement from the Iwama lineage. Her explanations about ma-ai in weapons practice were particularly thought-provoking for those not familiar with that tradition. Rafa Sensei instructed a very nice weapons class outdoors.
Tony Sakakibara Sensei, chief instructor of Arizona Aikido, taught Friday night's class, and he had great fun throwing Trent from Flagstaff. Trent said that he felt like a different person at the end of class. It was not clear, however, to which person he was referring.
Jeff Sodeman Sensei of Jiai Aikido in San Diego taught an ukemi class on Saturday, which was very well presented and received. He caused enough enthusiasm that plans are being made to bring him to Phoenix for a special ukemi training weekend.
As you know, Arizona Aikido was founded in 1968 by John Takagi Sensei, making this our 40th year as a continuously running Aikido dojo and one of the oldest established dojos in the USA. In honor of the occasion, each seminar attendee received a special commemorative 40th year collector's medallion, designed and created by dojo member Al Krever. We celebrated our longevity at our annual gala banquet at the St. Michael Hotel in downtown Prescott with a fine dinner, open bar and many anecdotal reminiscences of Aikido training in bygone years by some of our (relatively) older aikidoka. Afterward we were entertained by the spinning discs of D.J. Alex and a good time was had by all.
The Prescott Aikido Bridge Seminar was a success, for all that it was the first attempted in Arizona. All the instructors taught with great enthusiasm and the seminar attendees responded in kind. We look forward to next year in this expanded format and to another great seminar in Prescott.
Have a happy and healthy year. Train well.