Sunday, July 27, 2014

On Watching Osensei on Video

Recently 3 previously unavailable to the public Osensei videos were unearthed. I watched them and I was surprised at my response. I felt that most people watching him would probably have one of the following responses:
1. What's he doing? He doesn't look like my sensei?
2. When is he going to show me some technique?
3. Boy he's soft. I wonder if it's real?
4. He is so spiritual. Maybe if I meditate and pray I can walk through people like he does.

So I thought it might be important to highlight what I notice when I watch him. I started my Osensei watching almost from the beginning of my aikido career. Robert Frager and Robert Nadeau senseis were both direct students of the Founder. In 1969 they would once a month co-teach a weekend where they would combine aikido classes with energy work which was inspired by their contact with Osensei. There was a lot of meditation, chanting/sound work, and in those days there were no  videos. So we would watch Osensei on 8mm and Super8mm home movies. And these were for me the highlight of the weekend.. I had started with another martial art, but upon reading about him I definitely decided aikido was what I wanted and I got my with when Robert Frager sensei started an Aikido club on the University of California Santa Cruz campus my senior year. And in the movies it seemed like he was working a form of magic. And it seemed as if the key to doing what he was doing was not in the technique but in something else. We did a lot of practices to become more aware of the energy/ki.. These were also tied to practices we could do on our own such as walking from center and playing with fields of energy. After my senior year, one academic year of aikido, I went to UC Davis for 2 years of graduate work. Since there was only aikido there in a club for once or twice a week, I had a lot of time to practice what I had learned in the workshops on my own. Energy work. Moving from center. Being present and aware. In 1973 I made the first of 3 major trips to Japan to study at the Shingu dojo. I was fortunate to go to a place where Osensei's spiritual message was recognized and stressed. So my perspective from Frager and Nadeau senseis was then balanced on the other end by Hikitsuchi, Anno, Yanase, and Tojima senseis. So what might I point out now about what I see when I watch Osensei now on video?

1. How naturally he moves. He seems to have no mental, physical, or spiritual set points as he demonstrates his aikido. He seems to avoid long deep stances( although you definitely see those in 1935 in the Osaka film) He is very free. Frager sensei showed films of Osensei to Moshe Feldenkrais, founder of the Feldenkrais method. Feldenkrais's response was he had never seen a human body in a gravitational field move that freely and perfectly. He did not reference the martial aspect of what was going on. He referenced only that whatever Osensei called aikido, when he was demonstrating it, his accomplishment was that his body moved perfectly. By comparison Feldenkrais once met Julius Erving(Dr J of basketball fame). Watching Erving move Feldenkrais correctly diagnosed this was one very advanced system of movement in human form . But he told Erving, correctly at that stage of his career, that thou;gh he had once been a 'god', that is was at this point not something Erving could do on demand anymore. . He noticed several sublte things in Erving's movement in response to gravity and posture that clued him in. Yet this same man said Osensei, and at a very advanced age, moved to in his opinion the ultimate potential of the human body in motion.

2.He is outwardly very empty/yin/receptive. When he touches his uke that person seems to be drawn into Osensei's gravitational field, much like a planet orbiting a sun. And Osensei's touch would appear to be very easy and deep. There appears to be no attempt on his part to control the attacker 'out there'.......He gives no weight to the attacker by trying to twist, jerk, pull, or leverage . And by being so fully receptive or yin, the postive or yang seems to kick in on its own as needed.

3.He understood very deeply the difference between strength and power and obviously chose the latter..Strength is a form of power, but his has a set point. Power is fluid. Just flip and switch and the lights go on. Or turn the faucet and water flows. Many people would see what Osensei did as soft. I would say he was fluid. One student who watched the recent video made an observation. He had seen a video of an elephant attacking people. The elephant would make little moves and people would go flying. He said even though Osensei's body was that of an aged man, he saw an elephant when Osensei moved. Is an elephant soft? I tend to see a dragon sweeping people with inivisible wings and a tail when I watch Osensei from a similar perspective. Power is the ability to affect change and may have little to do with putting strength into technique. Now I believe one can have ki strength as opposed to ki power. Mary Heiny sensei once said during a class in which she was present, Osensei stopped the class and berated the men for 'ude kurabe'...just a testing of arm strength in technique. And he said the women were much closer to doing aikido as he did than the men. So he is hinting that power is something that is not gender specific or in his case something that diminishes with age. He was once asked by Shioda sensei when he was the strongest, in his forties, fifites, etc. And Osensei answered him by saying he, Osensei, would be at his most 'powerful' his last day on this earth. I guess the larger question for all of us is how did Osensei 'flip the switch' or 'turn the faucet' and how can that apply to what we do?

4. He seems to have a sense for what the attacker does before the attacker moves. Having not set point of his own, perhaps he is able to 'read' the set point of the attacker? The other thing is that he often seems to insert in the mind of the attacker what the attack should be by gesturing  or shifting his posture. We chould get a little Star Wars here and say this may be a little of  ' These are not the droids you are looking for'.......I heard a story once where a karate club visiting Hombu dojo asked what he would do against a kick. They were then told they could train their best kicker, come back in a month, and see. Well their best kicker trained his best kick, mae geri(front thrust kick) for one month. On the fated day he faced Osensei and.......Osensei offered his wrist, the kicker went to grab it and took a flip. When asked after why he didn't kick, especially after all this prep, he simply said, "He offered his wrist...". So something more than we can at present explain I'm afraid.

And what I'm about to say means no disrespect to any person or teacher. But there is the very real possiblity that as good as your teacher is or my teachers are/were(some are now deceased)., the distance between them and Osensei might be virtually the same as the distance between us and Osensei. Just a thought. Hope this has helped. And here is the first video:

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Of Birthdays, Dragons, and other matters

It's been quite a month of June. Steve Tsao, one of the pillars of our dojo, re-located to Taiwan, hopefully not permanently. And of course another birthday has come and gone.  Classes continue at the dojo with a good new wave of new students along with our dedicated core of teachers and students. We are looking forward to the Santa Cruz Summer Retreat in July with special guest Motomichi Anno sensei. Fourth of July weekend coming up with reduced schedule Friday, full schedule Saturday(I intend to teach), Sunday off with regular schedule resuming on Monday. My father's birthday was July 4th so I always think of him this time of year.

Also this month was Fathers' Day, which I spent at the movies with my daughter Jennifer. She took me to see 'How to Train Your Dragon2'. The first was a movie I saw 5 years ago and really enjoyed. I've always been partial to dragons. I really liked the Elric books by Michael Moorcock, and of course Elric was being emperor of Melnibone, the dragon King. And in 'Stormbringer' he had to awaken the dragons with the horn of fate to bring in the new age. O sensei often referred to Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara RyuO, the dragon king of aikido. In fact during World War II in Iwama he was asked by the divine energies to accept the mantle of dragon king
This is a portrait of him as the dragon king. Dragons to me represent the raw pure focces or energies of creation. The king or queen would be he or she who accepts the mantle to wield those forces/energies according to the design of the universe/creation, mostly in the service of purification. In the first movie dragons are thought to be the enemies of the Vikings. Hiccup is a brave young man who must fight his conditioning to befriend one. Gaining the dragon's trust the dragon becomes both an ally and a friend.
I must admit watching the first movie the dragon Toothless(anything but) reminded me so much of Tiger, whom those of you from the days of the Japantown dojo may remember. Tiger and I were so close it reminded me of the bond between boy and dragon in the film...In the second film Hiccup has learned enough from the dragons to give himself both Star Wars and Batman technology. This is a cool touch and not to be missed.I really like this because for me technology comes out of the forces of creation, energies intended to help us fulfill our individual mission/purpose to reach our full potential. Since dragons are mythological, this extends that to the realm of archetype. When technology becomes too material, we have our present world. In Stan Lee's words, 'Nuff said....'......I am obviously pushing this film because I would like to see a 'How to Train Your Dragon3'.........

Below is a video I did commemorating the bond Tiger and I had:

And here is a poem I wrote about him:
You could run,
Feet flying
Above the ground
A streak of grey
And black lightning.
We would wrestle,
Your face a mask
Of some were-creature,
Exuding fierceness:
Your fangs and
Claws would never
Hurt me.
We could nestle
Like lovers,
Your chin so
Innocently perched
On my throat,
You body radiating
A light that
Kept me warm.
You've ascended
To be in the Energy
Never again to incarnate.
One with the universe
Waiting for me.
You are my best friend.
-Jack Wada
June 14, 2000

When I die,
I will soar with angels,
And when I die to the angels,
What I shall become
You cannot imagine.
-Jalaluddin Rumi

Monday, May 05, 2014

Many Things

It's been awhile since I posted to this blog so this is going to be a smorgasbord. First, the Osensei Revisited weekend in Occidental CA has come and gone, so I'd like to address this first. It was nice to see Nadeau sensei so deeply energetic laying out Osensei's process without the Japanese language barrier and the confusing Shinto symbology. Nadeau sensei was one of the few(maybe the only) person Osensei fielded questions from. So his work the last 50 years or so is based upon conversations he had with the founder of Aikido in the very early sixties. And it was wonderful to see Mary Heiny sensei there as well. I thought it was a statement that a teacher of her stature lent her presence to an event where she was not a featured instructor. It was fun interacting with her and we got a chance to train a little bit during the course of a class or two. So props to both Nadeau sensei and Mary sensei.

It was exactly seven years ago that I took up the trumpet again. I remember it was May 5th 2007. I rented a trumpet(that I would eventually buy) and went to the cottage I was staying in the hills of East San Jose(which I miss) and tried to make a sound. I had played middle school through high school but with a weird embrochure(upper lip with tongue part of the embrochure). I didn't realize I was doing something different until someone tried to teach me to double and triple tongue and I realized my tongue was doing something it should not. So upon my graduation from high school in 1966 I pretty much gave up playing.. I would try to play with a more conventional embrochure(both lips with the tongue spacing the notes) but never stayed with it. So I was intent on trying it and I found I could not make a sound after 41 years. So I thought this is going to be short. I had been inspired to play again because I had discovered the music of Chet Baker. So I put on a Chet cd and to my surprise while in the energy field of his music I could not only make a sound, but could also freeform to his playing. So I did that for awhile before I could make a sound on my own. And I find that after 7 years my whole sense of what am embrochure is has radically changed the last couple of months. I got some tips from Artt Frank, which are detailed in his wonderful memoir 'Chet Baker:The Missing Years' and after 7 years am still going and playing everyday. So thank you Chet. And Artt.

The Golden State Warriors' playoff run has ended after a very memorable season and first round playoff run. An undermanned and undersized Warrior team minus its top 3 centers finally succumbed to a much bigger Clipper team in a heartfelt 7th game.Their only championship in the Bay Area was 1975. I remember that vividly because my mom, battling cancer at that time, was a real Warrior fan. When I was in Japan she would stuff packages she sent me with Sports pages of Warrior games so I could follow the team while I was in Japan training. This was before satellite tv and ESPN. And when I got back in spring of 1975 I was able to follow the Warriors, led by hall of famer Rick Barry, on their run to an NBA championship. Often I would have to teach evening Aikido and would miss a playoff game. And I would return home to eat a late dinner she had prepared and she would leave the score on a notepad. In that run the Warriors had to overcome a punishing 7 game series in the Western Conference with the pre-Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls, then face what many people thought was an unbeatable Washington Bullets team led by Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld. But the Warriors overcame double didgit deficits in most all those games to eventually win the title by sweeping the Bullets. And later that year when the cancer was very serious I would tell her to keep fighting, just like the Warriors. And when she did pass on later that year the Warriors were NBA champs. Even though this year's version was eliminated in spirit I feel they are the equal of the '75 team. Steph Curry is a superstar the likes of which this team hasn't seen since the Rick Barry day's.. He's the best shooter I have ever seen. I go to the Y and shoot baskets and work on moves I have seen him do. Not supremely gifted with size and freakish athleticism, he nonetheless creates a fascinating game that is incredible to watch. I know he won't win the MVP award, but I can't think of a single player who was more valuable to his team than Steph Curry was to the Warriors. Like many Warrior fans I watched Tuesday night's game hoping for a miracle, but was rewarded with an incredible show of spirit team wide. But watching Steph continue to dig in and fight, making shot after shot and free throw after freethrow was astounding. All the Clippers did was win. And they did play well. But their fans will never match Warrior fans who have rallied around that team when there was no outer reward yet continued to fight along with their team. And this goes all the way back to my mom, who unfortunately lost her battle with cancer. But  her spirit never died. So to Steph and Klay and Draymond especially, thank you.  Steph it moved me tremendously how you were able to hug and congratulate both Griffin and Paul.You taught me something important.

And here is the first Chet Baker song I ever heard and one of his most famous:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Endings and Beginnings

This time of year I begin to think of how close beginnings and endings can be. March 28, 1966.
March 20, 1968. So the latter date comes first in terms of this month. But the former came first in
chronological time.  I first saw her on a Monday night , 10pm, ABC tv. And she exited on a Wednesday night 7:30pm  same network. And sometimes a disappointment can become something you can't even name.
Of course I'm talking about Diana Rigg on the sixties tv show 'The Avengers'. I was expecting Honor Blackman(who had starred previously in the series and had gone onto international fame in a Bond film) and so I was disappointed when I first saw her. But this quickly changed as I got into the quirky off beat element of the show and her personal style of cool, intelligence, and beauty.

And off course just because her last episode viewed only set the stage for years of watching her on re-runs, then vhs, and now dvds. And as you can she we travel together. She was with me and my group on our 2006 Japan trip. I remember being in Japan summer of 1973, apart from all elements of my culture, opening an international edition of Time magazine, and there she was in an article on theater. After she left the show she went onto quite a run in theater becoming finally a Dame of the British Empire..

And she has been a role model. Her character Emma Peel was cited in TV guide as being still(in the then ninties) a woman ahead of her time. Very independent. Fearless. Unafraid to venture and stay on paths others fear to tread. I have tried to model elements of my life after her. I became interested in martial arts because that was something she did in the show.. It was almost as if if I needed a direction for my life I need look no further than her.

So I always look at March as the month of beginnings and endings and how close they can be. Here is a clip that was made to advertise the color episodes(In 1966 the episodes were black and white then in 1967 moved to color):

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

On Being Promoted to 7th Dan

At the end of 2013 I was recommended for the rank of 7th dan by Robert Nadeau shihan. The promotion was recognized by Hombu dojo and the Aikikai and so last month(January) I was awarded that rank by Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba at his house in Tokyo adjoining Hombu dojo. That was one of the highlights of a week long sojourn in Japan for me and a small group that went with me. Other highlights include seeing Anno sensei and Yanase sensei in the Shingu area, visiting the gravesite of the Founder, and once again returning to the great waterfall in Nachi. I hope the trip was a positive experience for everyone in the group.

My last promotion(to sixth dan) was in 1991. That was a little on the fast side as I remember. After that I pretty much figured that was it. When I was first in Shingu Anno sensei was a 7th. Yanase and Tojima senseis were 6th.. Tojima sensei passed away at that rank. And my thought was always if I can die a 6th like Tojima sensei I will be happy. And life has a way of throwing you surprises such as this last promotion.

The biggest honor by far in this is the fact that I was recommended by Nadeau shihan. He is currently a 7th(though I hope he receives his next quickly). He is responsible for so many of the dojos in this area. And he has an international organization in his division 3 of CAA of which we in the San Jose dojo are a part. So thank you for your faith in me.

When I was in Shingu Anno sensei asked me if now that I was 7th did other people want it also. And I answered probably. We both had a hearty laugh. Just the way it goes. Steve Ditko(co-creator along with Stan Lee of Spider-man) received an award for his comic book art. He immediately chastised those giving him the award because he felt it made artists competitive and envious instead of just living for their art. Once I viewed this rank as an impossibility. A couple of Japanese instructors I was connected to flashed it saying get a big organization going and produce lots of yudansha.  Teach lots of workshops. Then 7th.I am happy to say the only two teachers of note who have never had this conversation with me are Nadeau sensei and Anno sensei, hence my deep respect for both.

Sadaharu Oh received direct instruction from Osensei(not training but the philosophy and soul of aikido). In his last game he hit what he knew was his last home run. As he was rounding the bases one last time he had a deep realization that everybody, every teammate, every opposing player, had played a role in his development and accomplishment. He had a deep sense of Osensei telling him the whole world was one family. And so what I am saying is thank you, all my teachers, friends, and students in the art. I had to have an excuse to continue to show up. Year after year. Month after month. Class after class. Without you I am nothing and this promotion would never have happened.

So thank you to Doshu. I have always been treated with the upmost respect by the Ueshiba family. And I received a very warm reception at Hombu dojo.

Thank you to my first teachers, Robert Frager sensei and , again, Robert Nadeau sensei, for starting me out and instilling in me early the importance of staying connected to Osensei.

Thank you to Anno, Yanase, and Tojima sensei’s for their guidance, strength, and example over the years. And to Hikitsuchi sensei for giving me a working sense of Osensei’s philosophy.

Thank you to Mary Heiny sensei and Linda Holiday sensei for their friendship and support both in those early formative times in Japan and through the ensuing years.

Thank you to Professor Richard Bunch for sharing with us a wonderful training space lo these last 13(now) years.

And thank you to all those who have trained under me, with me at Aikido of San Jose, which will in the end be my body of work. Without you I am as lazy as anyone else. You gave and still give me an excuse to show up.

When in Japan I told Harry Concepcion sensei that the model for my work was that of a great(award winning) comic book writer, James Robinson. He took an obscure title and character, Starman, and made it his own and memorable. It ran 80 issues, and was so good it was in its entire run put out in hard cover. The formative first story arc(Sins of the Father) introduced threads that went all the way through the entire run and were neatly tied up at the end. In the last issue Robinson thanked his readers for supporting the title so that he could tell his story. My very first blog began with a phrase from Robinson’s Starman, “And now a tale of times past….”……So I thank those who have given me a chance to show up and tell my story…..And as I told Harry in Tokyo, I’m not done…….

Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Review: Chet Baker:The Missing Years by Artt Frank

It was my pleasure a couple of months ago to write a review of Linda Holiday sensei’s book ‘Journey to the Heart of Aikido’. And now I shift my focus to another book written by another dear friend. This is Artt Frank’s memoirs of his time with jazz legend Chet Baker entitled ‘Chet Baker: The Missing Years’. First I’ll give my brief history with both Chet Baker and Artt Frank. I played trumpet middle school through high school. Even though I was first chair in the Soquel High School band I found out I was playing with a weird embrochure. My upper lip and tongue formed the embrochure. And when I tried to play with both lips in the embrochure, everything got unsteady. So when I went to the University of California Santa Cruz I pretty much gave up playing. I would try now and again but never was motivated enough to really practice enough to develop my embrochure the orthodox way. And I  went on to become a martial arts instructor. But I always was somehow drawn to music. Finally in early early 2007 I was at Starbucks in San Jose and saw a cd for sale that featured Baker’s music. I  bought it and put it in my car stereo not expecting anything and drove away. The first song was ‘Let’s Get Lost’ and the vocals blew me away. I had never heard anything like Baker’s voice. And then I started to listen to his playing, and I was inspired to rent an instrument and try to play again. So after almost 40 years I tried to play with an orthodox embrochure and couldn’t produce a sound. So I thought to myself this was going to end very quickly. But I put on some of Chet’s music and when I was in the energy field of his playing I could somehow make a sound. And not only that after a few minutes I was free forming to his playing. This was something I absolutely could not do in high school. No written music, I couldn’t play. So something was different.

So with the inspiration of Chet Baker’s music I bought more of his cds and started practicing. And I wanted to know more about him, so I went online. I was disappointed to find that so much written about Baker the person had a negative slant to it. It didn’t make sense. There was such a profound beauty and power to his playing and all I read about him was negative. So finally I came upon Artt Frank’s website And I was happy to see someone who knew Baker personally talk about him in not only good terms, but with love and appreciation. So there was an email contact on the website and I emailed Artt and thanked him. He emailed me back and gave me his phone number and asked me to call him. I did and we began what is to me a very dear friendship. Artt has not only  brought Baker the man, not the jazz legend, and made him alive for me, he has given me some great guidance in my playing and my approach to music. So both a mentor and a dear dear friend.

Now to the book. I must say that even though Artt has personally shared so much about his time with Chet with me, this book was still a revelation to me. I don’t want to give too much away because I want people to read it for themselves. I was given an advance copy by the publisher. I am not sure of the release date, but there is talk of it being released in February. It would be fitting because Baker’s signature song was ‘My Funny Valentine’.

This book details the period of Baker’s life that is completely unknown. In the mid-sixties Baker suffered a severe beating in which his remaining upper front teeth were knocked out. He had lost one at age 13. And both sides of his jaw suffered severe nerve damage. How he made his comeback and was able not only to play the trumpet again, but to play it even better is revealed here. And instrumental in that was the love and support he got from his wife Carol and from his friend and guardian angel Artt Frank.

So without giving too much away about the book, here are some odds and ends that are just the tip of the iceberg so to speak:
-Baker loved sweets. Especially sugar jelly doughnuts and apple pie with vanilla ice cream.
-He had to deal with a lot of pain when he played. In the beating where he lost his 4 front upper teeth he suffered nerve damage to both sides of his jaw, so to play was to in some sense suffer. He took pain pills to play. And he had lower back pain from years of traveling from gig to next gig.
-Even though most people place Baker’s comeback much later, his comeback was a gig in Los Angeles at a place called the Melody Room  with Artt Frank on drums. And it was Artt’s hard work and persistence that set the whole thing up.
-Artt goes into great detail about what set Baker’s playing apart from other trumpet players both in tone and phrasing. And he offers a great insight when comparing Chet’s playing to that of Miles Davis.
-Artt recounts Chet’s process for freeforming, where and how he got his musical ideas. Not to be missed. I read it every day……
-Baker reveals to his good friend things about his childhood and history you won’t find anywhere else. Also revealed is Baker’s warm relationship with his wife Carol and his family life during this time when he was practicing for his comeback.

Several other things I will say. There is great attention to detail in the writing. Artt said being an ear and heart player he had to learn music just by hearing it. So he has a wonderful ability to remember things. And even though he has played with other great musicians, he began early to write things down about Chet Baker. So the dialogue is   in Chet’s words and in Artt’s words.

And Artt not only doesn’t dodge the drug issue, he takes it head on. But with incredible compassion and understanding. He personally questioned Chet about his drug use and challenged him on more than one occasion. But he was also there whenever Chet needed him. In some ways the book reads like a novel in that there is much suspense in it. It is a historical memoir so we all basically know how it turned out. But  for example how Artt got Chet to his comeback gig at the Melody Room left me on the edge of my chair. Chet put Artt through a lot, but through it all everything was met with such devotion and love from Artt’s side. And without Artt there would have been no comeback for Chet, and so much of his music would not have come into the world.

Being a martial artist I have seen speed. But Artt Frank when he plays the drums has the fastest hands I have ever seen. They move like flames. He once shared with me that Chet loved Bruce Lee and Japanese Samurai movies and that they would watch them into the wee hours. Ueshiba Osensei,the founder of aikido used the term takemusu  to describe his art. It means martial art that is tied to unlimited creativity, where movement are spontaneous and created appropriately in the moment. My sense is that Baker was doing a similar thing in music. His freeforming was really composing. He was a genius. And having the opportunity to see and even to play a bit along side Artt, I put him right next to Chet.

If you are someone with an interest in jazz history this is a must. If you would like to see how love, devotion and compassion from Artt , combined with steely determination from Chet resulted in overcoming impossible odds, this book is also a must. A great read for all.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Freeforming with the Aikido Staff

A well known musician once asked Chet Baker to teach him how to improvise. Baker's reply was:"Improvisation is governed by your imagination, or lack thereof." Now imagination may appear to be a mental term that has no place in martial arts. But coming from a deep feel place and allowing what's inside to come out for me is imagination as well. When all that is learned is a skilled routine and more and more skill is added to that routine, I don't find much imagination in that. So I have put together this video on freeforming with the aikido staff. Again, one of our main premises is that much of the founder's use of the staff was influenced by his study and talent with the spear. Let's look at the spear for a second. In ancient times, I believe on the battlefield the spear was the primary weapon. When the spear was lost or broken, the sword was drawn. And the spear when extended out gives on the benefit of length when facing a sword. And the tip makes it a cutting /piercing weapon as well.

Now the length of the spear gives one an advantage, but it can also be a disadvantage should someone get inside that length. And while strong to the direction that the spear is pointing it may leave its wielder weak to attacks from the side and back. So this might explain Osensei's  use of spins and sweeps in his spear based staff work.. Especially when facing multiple attackers or someone moving in on you inside the reach of your spear, spins and sweeps seem very practical. And on the other hand one can view Osensei's staff work purely in terms of energy movement and see that he was moving in a double helixing field of energy. There appears to be an active invocation of the archetypes circle to center and center to circle in his movements.

I have put the freeforming into five levels:

Level one: Learn the set. I do not believe one has to learn the entire set to freeform. But this set includes the basic hand and body changes for ikkyo, nikyo, sankyo, yonkyo, and gokyo. When you are beginning to study a language it is crucial you start acquiring a vocabulary. So this set represents a good foundation of words that can be later freeformed. This set must NOT be learned in a rigid rehearsed manner. Also the second half will give you more of a feel for the beginnings of freeforming.

Level two: Even if one has not learned the entire set one can take pieces of it, add the spins and figure 8 connective movements and you have the beginnings of freeforming. In learning a language this is the equivalent of not just knowing some words, but now being able to go around. Ask directions. Order at restaurants. Buy items at a store.

Level three: Build on the first two levels and add sweeps and changes of direction. This is now the language equivalent of being able to have a conversation. Good morning. How are you? Did you sleep well? Yes I did.

Level four: As you build on the first three levels you will notice a change in energy. The movements broaden out and become fuller, not just study patterns. And you will notice movements suddenly organize into fours. Cut Cut Sweep Spin. Spin Sweep Cut Counter Cut.Etc......This is the beginnings of being able to express yourself in a language. The beginnings therefore of power.

Level five: Building on the first four levels and the broadness and power of level four, at five you notice intricate but not mental slashes cuts and piercings out of the broadness of four. Like a surgeon wielding a scalpel. This is where one cannot just express oneself, one can create. Both Joseph Conrad and Vladimir Nabokov wrote beautifully in English, and it was not their native tongue.

So here is the video:

Here is the first video, going through the five basic changes:

And here is the second video. It goes through the second half of the form and introduces the two transitions, ie spins and figure 8's: