5th Kyu Essays
I have been doing aikido for about two years now and it has helped me in many ways; it has taught me inner strength, power and confidence, which I did not have before. Even though I am younger and less experienced I really enjoy keiko(aikido training sessions) and I have improved the more I train with adults and highly skilled people such as Nakao sensei and Akiko san from Japan. I do sport daily and feel unique as this a new skill as a martial art in comparison to gymnastics and athletics. It teaches me different techniques and a gives me a completely different mind-set when it comes to being in the outside world, and I am extremely grateful for this.
I also thoroughly enjoy learning about the Japanese culture, I admire the beautiful buildings and aikido dojos, and one day I would love to visit Kobe and hopefully train there. I love the new foods I have been introduced to through the art of aikido from raw salmon, which is delicious, to freshly made sushi and soups.
In my grading I was very nervous but I was happy that I performed and showcased my understanding of techniques and pins. I believe my posture was very good, but as Sensei said I need to improve the give more to the flexibility of my knees and try to be more relaxed. I have learnt the way of feeling like water as you cannot grab or hold something that is liquid. I hope to practice aikido to my heart’s content and one day become someone I look up to.
To a silent space
At the centre of the storm
Aikido takes me.
In one catch of breath
Your fierce attack flows around
Yet it heals us both.
Through ukemi gain
Knowledge, gift of teacher’s care
Choose sensei wisely
Kazuaki Kamishima - Seiza
I have been so impressed that Seiza power since I joined Seibukan two years ago. Actually I did not like Seiza at that time. It was though if I want to keep fixed posture. However in some keiko, I suddenly realized that Seiza power. My mind was settled and relaxed if I made correct Seiza posture. I felt that I could concentrate Keiko better than before. I was not sure why I can be better, still now. But I must be sure that Seiza gives me some power. So I will continue to take Seiza posture to make good result.
3rd Kyu Essay
Hayley Epps - Hakama and snowboarding
Since last years grading I have been trying to improve my posture in aikido and interestingly this has been greatly affected by wearing hakama. When I am wearing hakama I find that naturally my posture changes (hopefully for the better) and I also feel like my movements flow more as if my hakama have become an extension of my body. During this year's grading I felt a lot more comfortable with myself and my movements during the techniques. I still have a lot of work to do with remembering the correct pins, but I look forward to improving every step of the way, one step at a time.
Interestingly, I have discovered that posture can be applied to many activities where you wouldn't necessarily expect it to.
I have recently started snowboarding and to begin with I couldn't grasp the concept of how to move the board without moving my legs. But as with aikido it all comes down to posture, a simple relaxed adjustment means you can glide down the slope effortlessly, but being too stiff or strong can send you into the snow face first!
While trying to learn snowboarding it occurred to me to apply to aikido concepts to it, by concentrating on posture and it worked! I'm still not very good, but I hear falling is learning!
This April my husband and I managed to spend some time training in Japan both in kobe and himeji whilst in honeymoon and we look forward to many more trips in the future. I feel very lucky to have found seibukan aikido and to have been welcomed into the group so heartily.
2nd Kyu Essays
Since starting aikido over two years ago postural awareness is something that has come up often. Whilst many people only apply this in relation to aikido I have considered this outside the dojo as well. Working with physical fitness on a daily basis has given me a chance to watch people moving in ways that are unusual for them as well as ways that are normal - and this has shown me that sometimes people don't understand their body movement as well as perhaps they could, with a different approach to their training or exercise. Having recently qualified as a Pilates instructor this resonates with what I have been teaching and has been another reminder that martial arts (and especially Aikido) and their disciplines can be applied to day to day life - not just posture but also breathing, movement and awareness. Just one more reason people should take up aikido.
This year has been another wonderful one with Nakao Sensei coming over from Japan. For me, Aikido is fun when I find the motivation to go, but when Nakao Sensei comes, he completely changes the way I look at Aikido. I am nearly 15 now and have been doing Aikido for nearly 7 and I am so glad that I have done it. I do range of different sports such as golf, football, softball/baseball and basketball. Without Aikido, I don’t think I would’ve been as good at the sports as I am now and I am very grateful that I started to do it. Every year when Nakao Sensei comes over does the grading, I get very nervous… almost as nervous as playing golf in front of quite a few people. But I am now slowly starting to get used to it, the same with golf. Thank you to Nakao Sensei and Aikiko-san for another amazing year in England and also in Japan as well. I shall hope to see everyone at Seibukan in Japan next year. And also train more than the 3 times I did this year.
1st Kyu Essay
My essay is only distantly related to aikido. I have never been a "bath" person. This changed, however, after my trip to Japan last year. I tried a bath in our hotel there several times and, to my great surprise, I really enjoyed it. Not only was it more relaxing than a shower, but it also helped me to ease strained muscles. Since then, whenever I feel stiff, I take a bath. Though my bath at home in my tiny bathroom is something different than wonderful, large bath full of hot water in the Japanese hotel, it still works wonders. So after busy week with Nakao Sensei, I am looking forward to having hot, steaming bath.
Just a quick reflection on today´s grading. I had been more nervous before the grading then I was when actually doing it. So I can not use nervousness as an excuse. I am not entirely happy with what I showed today and I know that I need to improve a lot. I am grateful to Nakao Sensei for his feedback. As I said before, the most difficult thing for me about learning aikido is that I am not able to remember. So I guess the only possibility is to carry on practising, enjoy it, and see what will eventually get stuck in my memory. Thank you Nakao sensei for this week of practise and your effort to help me get better.
Nidan Grading Essays
Phil Purcell - Aikido and Business
For those of you that have not known me for years; I used to work for Argos. I was in charge of the purchase and logistics of goods from all over the world. Why do I mention this you may ask? Well, I started aikido in May 2005 and Argos in June 2005. I can chart my professional development with my development in aikido. I thought I would give a very quick two stop tour … else it can be very wordy and academic!
First few months
I worked on toys, it was fun but I muscled my way through my work interactions like a beginner uses (usually) brute force in their aikido. Sometimes it might work, often not. You will always come across a ‘bigger fish’ that will shut you down and possibly make you feel a bit of a silly sally before you know what happened. Something needed to change, I needed to follow the advice and counsel of those around me to improve.
A lot of changes, development, and growing up later …
I am moved back onto toys. I had been identified as a fire fighter for the business, I was used to parachute into business areas and sort out all the rubbish whilst maintaining relationships. However, there were people that I had crossed swords with previously. They were not happy. I pulled in nearly all my suppliers and used my aikido. I listened to what they had to say, appreciating their issues then using this energy turned the situation round with no bruised feelings or broken bones! I built (and repaired) a lot of relationships in a very short time and ultimately had suppliers bending over backwards to make sure I was happy.
I often share one thing about myself in most of my business relationships; the fact that I am an aikido black belt. I am priming the question ‘have you ever used it?’ My response is every day when dealing with issues and people.
Thoughts post grading
What can I say … I did it! It is a personal achievement for me. Aikido is a never ending journey. But as I discussed with a fellow member not too long before it is important sometimes for motivation, drive, or just touching base to have milestones. The grading system serves this purpose for many. There are and will always be more important intangible milestones, but when I look at my upcoming certificate on the wall I will be reminded that I have made a tangible step. But, can someone please tell me what the devil was discussed during my feedback from sensei? After the opening gambit of ‘I thought you were going to fail’ shell shocked I really cannot remember! This however proves that there are many, many, many more developments I need make and undergo in the journey of aikido.
I do, however, recall something about being impressed with my randori at the end … I would like to throw out a special thanks to Mark L-J for being game … I think we are now nearly even stevens for the face plant I got last year ... J
Akiko Bateman - Noisy Aikido
This year I was awarded nidan. I’d like to thank the people who taught me, the people who took uke for me and the friends who have practiced with me. Everyone knows I do noisy aikido, when I am uke I always make noise, no matter how hard I try not to, there is always a “Ga” or “Wa” to be heard. When Nakao sensei used me as uke this year he told me that I make noise when he changes his power from 100% to 0%. I thought about this and realized I make the noise when tori takes my balance, so maybe my voice and balance are linked. Until now, my friends were always telling me to be quiet during keiko, but, there is a benefit to practice with me – if I make a noise, tori knows that they have relaxed and moved well to take my balance. From now on, I am still noisy but please continue to practice with me. One other thing, I also make a noise when I get up, but this is not related to balance, this is just senior movement.
Since I received shodan 2 years ago I have put a lot more effort into my keiko. This is because I didn’t believe in myself that I was worth shodan level, as a Japanese person doing a Japanese martial art, I was embarrassed that I had a black belt. I put a lot of pressure onto myself, but recently this feeling has changed. It is not because I get confidence, it is because I am starting to enjoy my practice a lot more. Now I just want to train more and more. In the west many people think a black belt is the goal for learning so nidan is a high responsibility. But for me, it’s just about practicing hard, making noise, laughing and practicing more. This is my duty as a Japanese person practicing aikido in England. Thank you very much.