It’s been some time since I posted anything. I have been reflecting and sitting with the art for some time now. A lot has changed, mostly for the better and simpler. I took a leave of absence from teaching and took the time to reflect on where I was, and where I was to be heading on the path; my path. Sad to say, I lost some friends along the way, but that is expected, as we must often travel alone on our journey. I was once told by a great teacher of mine, Anthony Pallante, “It’s your Aikido” and that simple phrase has always stuck with me. I learned much from many teachers and friends I have had along the way, and still continue to learn from them; taking what they offer, and making it mine. Where I am now in my journey, I have blended several different styles and am at a point where a style of my own has emerged, come into its own so to speak. This was to be the crux of my recent dilemma. I had joined a wonderful organization with truly talented and respectful people. By that I mean they were about the art and the purity of it, with the politics removed. It was so refreshing to be with a group that recognized you for who you were, your performance, and not the rank you wore, what you showed on the mat was respected. Finally, a group akin to my independent style of training in the sense of  possessing purity of heart and art. Only one thing was, their style was very different from what I have been accustomed to, It’s like being a Jazz and Blues player sitting in with a classical string quartet, it’s all music, yes, but different. The appreciated the way I fumbled through their style, never looking to stamp my signature upon their way rather aspire to reflect theirs honorably. No matter how bad I looked trying to do things their way, I looked to show respect and honor to they system and way. To honor the lineage and wonderful heritage Toyoda

I had joined a wonderful organization with truly talented and respectful people. By that I mean, they were about the art and the purity of it with the politics removed. It was so refreshing to be with a group of highly skilled martial artists that recognized you for who you are, your performance, and not the rank you wore but what you showed on the mat that was respected.  Finally, I said, a group akin to my way of thinking and independent style of training in the sense of possessing both a purity of heart and for the art. The only one thing was, and there is always something, it was that their style was very different from what I had been accustomed to. It’s like being a Jazz and Blues player sitting in with a classical string quartet, it’s all music, yes, but very different feels. The appreciated the way I fumbled through in efforts to mimic their style, never looking to stamp my signature upon their way, but rather to aspire to reflect theirs honorably. No matter how bad I looked trying to do things their way, I looked to show respect and honor for their system and way; to honor the lineage and the wonderful heritage imparted by Toyoda Shinan was impeccably instilled and clearly evident in their ranks.  A wonderful and organized curriculum with a method book to follow the system. Though I did not come up that way, and having joined the organization, I felt so very welcomed and accepted when in their company, yet felt I myself felt I did not represent their style as perfectly, and this bothered me.A wonderfully outlined and succinctly organized martial arts curriculum, with a method book to follow the system in place, was almost unheard of. Though I did not come up that way and having joined the organization, I felt so very welcomed and accepted when in their company, yet I myself felt I did not represent their style as perfectly as I wanted to, and this became like a splinter.

Another great saying from another great teacher, Peter Tamagni Shihan was ” Aikido is done in millimeters” The smallest of adjustments or changes can have a great effect on Uke or the overall technique. A certain flow in my technique has been evident for some years now, I no longer think, but feel and allow it to flow freely. I cannot describe it well enough to do it justice, other than is happens without thought, Takemusu would be O’Sensei’s operative word for it. And this became the crux of my dilemma with my new found friends; how do I resolve the matter of feeling like starting over in a new style, imparting to students confidently, and performing to the best of my ability as I am accustomed to doing in my style? How could I honor their lineage with true love, spirit, and perfection of technique when every time I tried to do it their way?  I went back to thinking about the technique every time and the flow stopped. I fumbled constantly while thinking about and that I’m demonstrating the technique properly in their way in the pursuit of perfecting it. I was learning and teaching their way to new students, but I was not in my usual flow state and felt I was doing everyone a dishonor by not being the martial artist that I am when I am free to be me with my aikido.

Maybe in hindsight, I was too harsh on myself, but I am my worst critic.  I literally sat up the next day after we put on a very successful seminar and demonstration taught by respected high-ranking members of the organization and said to myself; what te hell am I doing? It was a wonderful time and experience for both myself and all who came.  I learned much, yet the flow was not there, the confidence I had in my own style and technique seemed to me to be missing as my persistent and somewhat obsessive compulsiveness to represent their way seemed to have created an insurmountable wall. As I sat up in bed that next morning, like an epiphany it hit me, this is not your path, this is someone else’s path, you must seek your own way. I had my answer; now lay the task of taking the first step. That step proved the hardest and most brutal. I had to tell a friend I could no longer travel with him.

Suddenly, the fog lifted and it all was made crystal clear, I was to become Ronin and follow my own path, wherever it lead. I can say I have been truly blessed and honored to have been in the company of such great martial artists and truly honest and decent people, they possess much in the way of honor, class, knowledge, and martial skill as any great aikidoka and teachers I have trained with in the past and are held in such high esteem by me. Though different in style, I consider them brothers in Budo. I was deeply saddened to inform the very person who introduced me to this art, that I could no longer follow this road. Sadly the relationship was strained by it all and seems irreparable. I had hoped they’d be happy for my new found truth, but it was not to be so.  The organization, it’s instructors, constituents, and head of the organization,  I hold with high regard and respect their “way”. Who knows where the path will lead. I am blessed to continue to train with good friend and teachers such as Anthony Pallante, Scott Harrington, Dave Maturo, and Mark Ahlquist.  I was inspired to write this post as I recently read a post from my Irish Aikidoka friend who said it’s been a while since I wrote…. Check out his blog https://aikijoseph.wordpress.com/ He truly possesses the martial way and spirit. Peace!

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Outdoor Aikido & Weapons Class at Marlton Park Woodstown NJ

Woodstown, NJ
25 Aikidoka

Aikido in the Park I began my martial arts training formally In Aikido about ten years ago. I am an instructor with Choetsu Aikido and currently hold the rank of Nidan and am …

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Aikido Techniques, Warm Ups and Basics, Weapons Training

Sunday, Jun 12, 2016, 1:00 PM
1 Attending

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Had our first Aikido in the park today on Meetup.com! I was so happy to see everyone that came out to train! Made some new friends and trained with some old. All in all an amazing turn out and time! I am looking forward to our next!

Every one moved well and trained safely! Always remembering that your partner is lending his or her body to you in trust so that you can learn and excel in your art, should always be front of mind. they treated each other with the same level of respect and care as they would for themselves; and they all did that naturally! We had a good bunch show up to train!

We had a nice blend of Aikidoka with different back rounds form; prior Aikido, Judo, Go Ju Ryu, and Krav Maga. this was nice to see! I’ll be using and building upon what they all bring to the table and integrate it with what we do in our Aikido.

We covered a lot of ground and hit many of the key and important points in Aikido from the Aiki Taiso (exercises); Funekogi Undo, Ikkyo Undo, Zengo Undo, and Sayo Undo to Kamae (stances), both Hidari Hanmi (left) and Migi Hanmi (right) to to some advanced concepts in actual engagement of techniques! We learned to hold a bokken properly and to move off the line of attack and capture center. We also learned the two most important moves in Aikido Irimi, entering and Tenkan, yielding, even a combo of Irimi Tenkan! I threw in Shomenuchi Iriminage for their first technique. We even got the chance to do the first Bokken Awase (matched movement sword practice). Much was covered in that short hour and I made sure to instill that NOTHING happens in Aikido without first capturing Kuzushi (balance) and to keep in mind the mantra instilled in me by my late teacher Peter Tamagni Shihan, ” Slow is smooth, smooth is fast” OSSU!

Outdoor Aikido & Weapons Class at Marlton Park Woodstown NJ

Woodstown, NJ
14 Aikidoka

Aikido in the Park I began my martial arts training formally In Aikido about ten years ago. I am an instructor with Choetsu Aikido and currently hold the rank of Nidan and am …

Next Meetup

Introduction to Aikido, Warm Ups and Basics, Some Weapons De…

Sunday, Apr 24, 2016, 1:00 PM
3 Attending

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Rabon Memorial Seminar 2016

Ushiro Kubishime Ikkyo Omote

Katatori Ikkyo Omote

Shomenuchi Ikkyo Omote (Nage Initiates)

It’s always a pleasure to introduce someone to Aikido.  It’s not often someone takes that extra step and come onto the mat to train, going from an idea or wish to an actual action.  The eagerness and curiosity that a new student wears is a reminder of how we should continue to approach daily training, like that of a new born, full of wonder and curiosity, of life and vitality, of an empty cup, and an open mind.  I consider it an honor and a privilege to be able to teach; never a burden nor chore.  We emphasized the trust between Uke and Nage, the relationship we have in Aikido, the harmonizing with instead of confronting and fighting.  And of coarse, safety first!  Aikido, though its origins in Daito Ryu and Aikijutsu along with the many other influences O’ Sensei had, is a formidable and deadly ask whose values and moral high ground take precedence over the violence and death the martial art ‘s origins.  We blend, harmonize, cooperate.  We do not fight, do harm, but command and control a situation as we would ourselves.  Self discipline is the best discipline.  Is there any other?  No.  If it were other discipline, it would be a punishment!  Our new student picked up the dojo etiquette that was taught as we went along.  It was a small class, so I was less formal than usual and as was her first encounter with the art, I took the time to explain the history, ideals, manners, and training practices we take for granted.  We began with seiza, bowing in, and went to warm ups.  I explained how there is a martial application to all we do, every action, has meaning and application.  We went on to a few Aiki Taiso; Funakogi undo, Jote undo, and Tai No Henko.  We focused on hanmi, posture, and correct movement.  Start them correctly and introduce key concepts early on I believe.  Some dojo’s are happy there is a body there and heaven forbid they make it a little difficult or push the student some by making them repeat until the correct posture or movement is made.  Will it be perfect, by no means, is it ever?  At any level?  All I have found is a greater degree of polish.  We are all still working on the same things we did on day one when I first put a foot on the mat.  It never changes, the attitude anyway.  Of coarse new things come along and we work on that, but the core attitude remains, distilled down to its essence is that of humility and gratitude.  We then moved on to tsuki into a kotegaeshi, showing movement of line, and incorporating Tai No Henko.  Naturally we worked on ukemi as that is paramount to any progress or future learning!  A bow and a sit out to a back roll, not bad, not bad at all.  I find that it’s all in the mind, that initial fear, that throwing yourself when you are always upright that needs to be let go.  It is said that walking is a constant stay of falling, if we look at it that way, taking ukemi would be it’s natural end or state of rest/peace!  We closed the class with a short review and demonstrations of other techniques in a more spirited fashion with a more experienced student to show that thought we took things slow and smooth, it can also be smooth and fast!  Something ot look forward and aspire to.  A few wow’s and smiles made the evening! We bowed out with a bell, centered, and at peace. Grateful for our new student. Ossu!

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