Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Program for Training in Paradise

We now have tentative dates for our group trek to Aikido of Bali Hai. June 15th  to the 27th. We should slso have some sense of what will be covered during the 12 days or so of the event. One thing I would like to prioritize is some discussion about the nature, purpose of Aikido. When I was in Japan there was quite a bit of time devoted to discussion. Oftentimes in Japan, Anno Tojima and Yanase senseis would come over and in some cases we would talk all night about the topic of what Aikido truly was. This is no substitute for training, but traning without this can be directionless. And one can get better in a directionless way. What is tricky as I have found out in the ensuing years is that everyone must find Aikido for themselves. And in some ways you could say the search for Aikido might be a significant part of searching and finding yourself. Nadeau sensei and I still spend significant time at coffee shops and restaurants discussing Osensei, his history, his process, the direction of Aikido as it has been laying out the the last 50 years. I have also had the same discussions with Robert Frager sensei, with Mary Heiny sensei, with Linda Holiday sensei. And when I connect with Anno sensei either here(mostly these days) or on a trip to Japan, the same topics always come up. I want  the people going to in coming times  keep these discussions going.

Now we are all different. And that is a strength. So those going(and those following this) I want you to give some thought to questions you might have about Aikido, Osensei, what training means to you, what your goals are................That is first. Secondarily we will come up with a plan or approach to the training. One thing that was constantly in our consciousness as we were training in Japan, and I am referencing Mary Heiny and Linda Holidays senseis as well as myself, was what is Aikido and what is my purpose in Aikido.

Some thoughts I had. I would like to cover the weapons to some extent. And to cover the sound practices. I had a request for kototama. Here I would like to be able to format practice as opposed to mainly theory and history. Would people be interested in learning some of Osensei's formal chants such as the Amatsu Norito?
My thought is that we should come up with a structure for the training. Also schedule time for discussion. And in addition time for both individual and group recreation..

We currently have 7 people committed with one strong maybe. We probably have room for 3 more from the dojo. I would like possibly 2 more from outside the dojo, but this should be people with either a strong connection to the dojo or to me. So onward!

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Aikido of Bali Hai

I made my first trek to the island of Kauai in 1996. I went alone. I loved the musical 'South Pacific' and of course the sequence with the island of Bali Hai. In the stage presentation the characters onstage just looked out towards the audience with a sense of vastness and reverence. Your own special place. You live on a lonely island lost in the middle of a foggy sea. Bali Hai is your own special island. And I remember sometime in the very distant past listening to the great Dodger announcer Vin Scully where he was filling some space between what was happening between pitches or innings and he said referencing the movie version of 'South Pacific' that the Bali Hai sequence was filmed on the island of Kauai. So having a longing to journey to Bali Hai, a place that doesn't exist in the 'real'world, I decided to make a pilgrimage to the physical island of Kauai. What I found was a lush tropical paradise with mysterious mist covered mountains, verdant plant life, and clear blue ocean on pristine beaches. It was a wonderful stay. And I passed a sign reading 'Bali Hai Realty' and the thought crossed my mind, 'wouldn't an Aikido of Bali Hai be great?'

So that thought always lingered in my subconscious. I made two more trips in 2012 and 2013. I skipped 2013 because of a trip to Japan. But on very short notice my daughter's time share in Kauai opened up and I made a very unexpected trip late last month. And this time in Princeville on the way to Hanalei Bay I saw another sign, 'Bali Hai Salon'. So the thought reawakened. And I put it out again but this time on Facebook accompanying some photos of my trip to the island and upon returning back got a response. A small group of Aikidoists from my dojo would like to go next summer. So game on!

So instead of a physical dojo Aikido of Bali Hai is instead a journey. June sometime in 2015, the dates to be determined. Aikido training 8am to noon so even though we start early everyone will have an afternoon and evening to enjoy 'paradise'. I don't want a huge group so I imagine it will be basically just people from my dojo and those connected to me.

The actual structure of the training is to be determined. I have my vision, but will try to be open to suggestions. But what I want to emphasize as the purpose of the trip is more than just go to a great place and train in 'aikido'. Yes there will be training and I'm sure there will be ample time to enjoy the island and spend time with friends and fellow aikidoists. But I allude to the song. For those of us who'live on a lonely island....lost in the middle of a foggy sea....' it will be about finding our 'own special island'.Our

own special place.

So that is my vision. Now we will all see how that unfolds.