Friday, June 08, 2007

Anno sensei and Switzerland

So I’m back and getting settled into a more normal routine. This is the first of several blogs about the trip to Europe. It is not going to be linear. Just for general information, Paris was fun, and then, with the travel, the aikido seminar, and the shamanic experience, the latter parts of the trip were more intense. So I’m starting with the aikido seminar in Biel, Switzerland.

The seminar was hosted by Juerg Steiner, who trained in Shingu for, I believe, 12 years. My deepest appreciation and thanks to both him and his wife, Noriko, who allowed both Linda and myself to stay over in the dojo 2 nights. They also hosted Anno sensei, his wife, and Kuribayashi san(one of my old training partners from the old days and now a 6th dan instructor as well) as well as having Linda and myself over to dinner several nights during the seminar. There were on the mat over 90 participants from France, Switzerland, Germany, and America(us). Saturday and Sunday had 2 hours of training in the morning and 2 and a half in the afternoon. Monday was just one morning class.

I’m on the mat a lot, but these days I don’t take ukemi in a training mode. I will receive students’ techniques to give them feedback, but that is a totally different matter. So the legs got a bit sore and tired( Barry Bonds effect?). After the Sunday morning training I took some ukemi from Anno sensei, which Linda sensei got on my camcorder. She’s going to watch it and then ask him if we have his permission to use it, perhaps online. So more on that later as it develops. I asked him to do this because this was probably one of his last seminars abroad, just as his appearance in July at the Santa Cruz retreat might be his last trip to America. So this was maybe my last( or one of my last) chances to be thrown by him.

As one grows older, the ukemi becomes exponentially more difficult. Maintaining a center and a connection while in movement is always challenging. As one grows older, the athleticism of youth wanes and one finds it more difficult to get upwhen thrown. A very fascinating part of the morning shoot was that during the sword taking sequence Anno sensei receives some techniques from me. Here is an 8th dan chief instructor of a major school in Japan taking ukemi in his mid to late seventies. It is very moving to watch how open and “sunao” he is while taking these falls for one of his students(me) from over 30 years ago.There is a poignancy to the precious and fragile nature of how one and those close to you make that uncertain journey through time together. The fleeting nature of all things makes that which can endure, in his words love, peace, and harmony all that more vital and important.


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