3/25/23 Christopher (13) and Simone (16) tested this morning for their Brown 2, Nikyu Belts. Both did great! Very solid Circle grade. I use the symbols used by the Nishio Style grading system Circle (Pass with minimal mistakes), Triangle (pass with mistakes) and Square (Too many mistakes. Needs more time.) I pitty-the-guy who tries to get fresh with Simone. Whenever there was a Sankyo technique, she would just whip Chris right down to the mat. I'm still laughing, her techniques were so good and FAST! The only thing she had trouble with was the 13 movement walking staff aggressor role. Everything else about her test just overshadowed that limited lack that there was no reason to allow that to significantly lower her score. And I have a lot of stuff in my tests. If they go anywhere else to practice, my students will be respected, or they might be so thoroughly trained they will be spoiled and feel they can't stand any lower level of instruction. (The knowledge I pump into them is equal or more than many 3rd degree black belts in Florida.) On top of the great tests, an older previous student came to visit from where she's living and working now in Montana. It's so satisfying to hear that she's remembering and using Aikido type techniques to control unruly patients and loves them because of the range of levels of strength available to apply as necessary to the situations.
Mark Larson Seminar in Sarasota 4-1&2-2023 Aikido of Gainesville will be closed April 1st & 2nd when Sensei Huffman goes down to Sarasota for training and socializing.
This Saturday March 25th we will have two Brown belts testing for their Brown 2 Belts. I expect two good tests that will display many rather advanced techniques. Visitors and guests are welcome to come watch. It may take 2 hours with a break. They have a lot of things on their test.
Yesterday Saturday, 3/4/23 was another good day. We have a student on the spectrum, who has missed for nearly a month because of a relative in the hospital was able to come and remembered enough to be able to pass the second test. Also we are getting 2 brown belts ready to take their Brown 2 tests. They are coming along well and we have set the date for their tests to Thursday evening after next March 16th. I one has been here very regularly and I know he will do well and pull along the other person who is always so busy she has a hard time coming regularly. I know she knows the techniques. She just needs some memory jogging, which the other student will provide when he does the technique first.
They also have a good bit of weapons on the test. I teach my students a lot of weapons stuff because if they stay with me the weapons and empty hand will be integral when they go into the blackbelt Nishio Style stuff.
Wow, I didn't realize I haven't been on here for so long. A good bit to catch up on. Really heart warming return of the young boy who moved up to Tallahassee. His birthday was, I think the 16th of January. One of the things he wanted to do was come down to Gainesville to see Sensei Tom. That was fun. His mom said there is no Aikido for kids around Tallahassee, so she took him to try some Tai Kwon Do. Vincent just turned 6. While the Sensei was telling him about classes, Vincent asked well what happens if someone grabs you from behind or attacks you from the sides? His mom said the Sensei just kind of stuttered and couldn't come up with a good answer. She said she had such a hard time not laughing because this little boy had just "owned" this man with such a simple question. Often I teach kids the bearhug from behind throw on the first day cause it's fun and it's powerful. They love the fact that they can "fly" someone about their own size who grabs them from behind. By the third test they are throwing each other from both hands grabbed from behind. By the 5th or 6th test, I am teaching them "knife-to-the-back" take-away techniques. Disarming a person trying to knife you in the back. By the 7th or 8th test, about half the test is grabs or attacks from behind. So that's why Vincent would ask about rear and side attacks. If you remember the student from last fall who was being bullied, he has arrived at a point where he is confident enough to assume he has learned enough. So, another student going away for a bit different reason than relocation. It happens. Few people want to make a long committment. And there are also the "One-and-Done" Black Belt achieved students. That Shodan is a goal and once it is achieved there is no incentive left to go further. Japanese people regularly look at a martial art as a life-time practice. It's different here in the U.S. The Japanese actually look at the first Black belt as the time when you have finished the basics and you really begin the higher level education. Certainly true with me. I tell people the lower belts are building a foundation with the Iwama Style. The blackbelt techniques are building a cathedral on that foundation. I rarely get to teach much in the cathedral. That's when I teach lots more of the Nishio Style, complex, fast and strong.
12/10/22 What a GREAT DAY! I am so glad that I have opened up allowing newer students to participate in Rendori (freestyle) practice. These kids were so excited to do this. I do have limits on them. The aggressors can only attack newer students at about half speed and only with the types of attacks that the student has already studied. They start with a bow for 15 seconds then end with a bow. This was brought about because all my Brown Belt students were on hand and they have Rendori in their tests. Brown Belts were going for 20 seconds. Practice gets them the colored tape stripes on their belts that they need to qualify for testing. The purpose of this type practice shows the students what it's like to be under the pressure of thinking on their feet to handle various attacks. Sensei Keith challenged me to face four students for at least 30 seconds attack. I have always thought to laugh during Rendori to stay relaxed, but never could do that. Today I was laughing all the time I'm throwing these kids around. Then 3 came at me with wooden weapons, a sword, walking staff (jo) and knife. This was fun too. At the end I had just taken the jo away and the boy with the sword came at me, so I used the jo to disarm and throw over that boy. All wonderful tests for everyone. Afterwards some students left with the brown belts remaining, so we went out front under the trees to practice wooden sword partner practices. Good fun all morning with plenty of advanced practice.
11/12/22 We have people coming back from vacations Britney and Eddy. Eddy was over in Israel, he got to practice on evening with Miles Kessler's class. That's exciting. He said he was so busy traveling around that it was the only practice he had time to attend. Miles spent about 10 years over in Japan with Saito Sensei. Also we have two new people. One, a black belt from Colorado and a new local woman. She stopped me to tell me she's got to go somewhere for 2 weeks, but she wants me to know she is really enjoying the classes and can't wait to get back. Good stuff.
11/9/22 Things have been going well at Aikido of Gainesville. We have had 3 tests. Two were very good and the third went pretty well. The person is working though limitations, so overall pretty good. Last Monday the yellow belt boy, who is now purple belt, told me that the bullies who were bothering him have stopped bothering him. And the brown belt boy has joined a kind of limited student government in his middle school. I am proud as can be of him because this is a by product of what I am teaching. He is also helping with teaching which fulfills some of his community service requirements.
10/19/22 This afternoon I had 3 German boys and the yellow belt boy in. The German boys are 2 brothers and the little 5 year old genius who was here last spring. They are having so much fun. Their mother says they keep asking when they can come again. It’s a challenge to keep them focused on what I’m trying to teach them. The first principal I teach them is get-out-of-the-way-of-the-attack. It’s called Tai No Henko in Japanese. Recently I have started adapting to wrist break-aways flowing out of the Tai No Henko so students quickly learn applications for the wrist warm-ups that are very simple, yet memory developing. We didn’t get many done before the 5 year old is wanting to teach the other boys about the Zombi Throw and the Bear Hug Throw. So they learn some of that and some kick responses, which the yellow belt needs to know. We finished up with teaching the new boys the Samurai Hockey game. Most kids love this game. It’s not really very Aiki, but they get some competition and working together practice in a fun game. I have just as much fun refereeing.
One of the German boys is the one who was here in the spring. His mother is back teaching acting and directing at UF for now. She’s been hired away to go teach up at Florida State University, FSU. That acting school is one of the best in the world. So, it’s quite a step up for her. But it means they are going to move to Tallahassee in December.
10/17/22 Rendori For Beginners Last Thursday late afternoon, the kids class was finishing up and the adults would come next. I had two boys 7 & 12 working on their 4th and 2nd tests, then the brown belt 13 year old arrived early for the 5:30 adult class. The 7 year old wanted to do some sparring. We don’t do that, I don’t want people getting hurt. I thought about it and decided we could do some 15 second Rendori (free style) practice. Normally this is reserved for more advanced, but I could set limits to control things. The limits were same side wrist grabs, cross hand wrist grabs and two hand wrist grabs either from the front or from behind.
I explained the limits and directions to them and we started with 15 second count downs to 15 seconds of free style. Essentially, do what you know. I would start the count down so they know to be ready. At 5 seconds they bow to each other while I count out loud the last “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Hajime” (Begin). Each boy got about 2 rounds each in the last 15 minutes of class. I had just taught them a number of short wrist break-aways as a way for the beginners to recognize the wrist warm-ups; Iikyo, Nikyo, Sankyo and Kotegaeshi. They were using these and mainly techniques from the second test “ anti-bully” techniques. They LOVED it! The 12 year old yellow belt did very well, executing 3 wrist break-aways in 15 seconds. Pretty good for a boy who has only been coming for about one month. They all did well. It’s got me thinking about getting kids ready for the street early on. The battlefield may come to you whether you’re ready for it or not.
Today this yellow belt boy was in class and asking about handling kicks. He said kids at his school had been trying to kick him. (He’s in a rough school) I showed him how to handle these kicks with the caveat that this hurts people cause they don’t know how to fall and not get hurt, especially on concrete. He’s really enjoying classes.
9/25/22 Yesterday morning was a wonderful class. All 3 of my Teens brown belts showed up. While Keith was helping the few beginners, I was teaching the brown belts Boken (wooden sword) take-aways. Also I introduced them to what I call the "Hot Wet Spaghetti Throw". They are all well trained in taking falls and being relaxed. It's a form of Nikyo projection throw that flips Uke around in a flying, flipping fall at the end. Uke looks just like hot wet spaghetti slipping out of the colander and sliding down the drain. Chris jumped up and practically shouts, "That was fun!"
9/18/22 Last week was a terrific week. Finally, new kids and adults are coming in. I had 5 Kids last Friday afternoon, 7 Kids Saturday morning with two new ones. And then 5 kids in on Monday afternoon. Revenue is finally coming up again. That's great! It would be extraordinary if it got up to cover the rent for the month. Revenue is so far behind for this year, it's still going to be about the greatest loss since 2002, for the year. I'm still keeping the doors open anyways. Helping kids who have learning challenges or being bullied is too important, and the gratification from positive results is something I would really miss.
9/5/22 Last week was a good week. Tested and promoted two kids. The 13 year old female tested for her 3rd belt Thursday evening. She did a good test like I knew she would. She went straight thru most of the test, then started having problems in the introductory techniques near the end of the test. I had her Uke show her the start of the technique and she was right on it.
Good showing. It just took a little push near the end. The second kid is 7. He finally got through all the rolls. Now he's having fun with them and practicing them more. He went right through the first test, very well. He has a couple techniques left for all his stripes for the second test. If he shows up multiple days this week, I anticipate he will be ready to test this coming Saturday. Also the 15 year old boy is testing for his 6th belt Thursday evening. We took him through a mock test Sunday afternoon. This 6th test is the beginning of including weapons in the test. He has basic movements of the wooden sword. Then, half the basics of the walking staff plus a drill to teach blocks for thrusting movements and the first two partner practices for the walking staff. These feature an attack side and a defense side. Then he will have the first two long staff katas to perform. He's done all this and lots more during the Thursday evening weapons classes. Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings are the best times for testing cause the most people come to those classes. I want there to be junior witnesses who see where their future will take them.
We are starting the Labor Day Weekend. Aikido of Gainesville will be open for classes through the weekend and on Monday September 5th.
One of the boys who came on August 13th, has started taking regular classes. He's already about 3/4's of the way through the first two tests. I don't direct him strictly. We go where his interest leads. I have been teaching the various rolls in the first test when he looses interest and wants to actually learn a technique. So, we go into the second test. That's why he has stripes for both tests on his white belt. By the time he learns the rolls well, he will be ready to do the second test as well. So, he may just jump from white belt, right past the yellow belt and go straight to Purple belt.
Saturday August 13th. We had 9 this morning with 5 new boys, kind of. 3 of the boys came about 5 years ago and the youngest was too young back then. They can all much better understand techniques now. So, if they keep coming, I will be able to promote them up as they accomplish tests. Later my most senior students came in. I put them together with each other practicing knife take-aways for their next tests along with another student who is now brown belt too. They rotated helping the younger brother who is working on his 5th test and has the simple first knife take-aways on his test. The new boys I taught the Zombie Throw. They need to keep their arms stiff like zombies in order for the throw to work, but it's very simple. It was a great morning.
Sunday July 31st. I started an account with Vimeo this week and have uploaded videos that I put on Youtube years ago. This Vimeo uploads like lightening. There is not much space for explanation of the video and it uploaded before I can put in much anyways.
Saturday July 23rd, We hosted a Fun4GatorKids event for families. We had three new boys come in, so with our other students we were able to finally play some games that need 6 or more to function. We all had a lot of fun. I taught the new boys the Zombie Throw and the Bear Hug Throw. These are very simple, and put a bully on his butt in seconds.
One Mom said as she left, "This is exactly what I have been looking for. This is going to be our new routine for Saturday mornings." Great! It was such a fun day.
We will have a Women's Self Defense Seminar on Saturday July 30th, starting at 2pm and running till 5 or 5:30pm. We have approximately 10 people expected to show up.
Saturday 7/2/22, No students showed up this morning. I wasn't really expecting much on the 4th of July weekend. This gave Keith and I an opportunity to practice some Nishio Style technique. We worked on Yokomenuchi Sankyo Omote (side of the head strike, 3rd technique, forward take down). We did an empty hand form first. There are multiple ways, I chose one. An outside the arm deflection and entry into the side to take the Sankyo. Then we did the wood sword to wood sword and wood sword attacking walking staff. The movements of the hands and feet are similar for all three forms and working them out through analyzation was enlightening. We discover numerous details whenever we practice like this and we need to practice with the weapons too in order to find these discoveries. Especially with the walking staff there are multiple hand flips that become so fast, they're really hard to see, but increase the speed quite a bit. A step up would be to add an Iwama type weapon take-away. Nishio Sensei had plenty of take-aways, but we didn't practice take-aways within the weapons techniques.
Saturday 6/11/21, We had a new student this morning. Pretty sharp little boy. He was picking up good on what I was showing him. The parents had him in Okito, but they were teaching Leon Tai Kwon Do. His parents immediately liked that I told Leon I wasn't teaching him to fight. I'm teaching him how to end the fight. The real surprise was what the 8 year old purple belt was doing after class. While Sensei Keith and I were talking with his parents, Neal was writing equations on the board that would throw high school kids for a loop. He had Greek alphabet letters in his equations. His father uses mathematics in his work at UF, but he said, "I haven't taught him this stuff." This kid is another amazing genius in development. I may not be attracting many kids, but the ones coming in are extraordinary. It's no wonder they pick up techniques quick and advance fast.
Starting next week, June 6th, the Kids and Teens classes will change from afternoons to mornings from 9am to Noon. This happens every summer when the schools let out for summer.
Thursday 5/26/22. Chris did a wonderful test this evening. He was doing really well with the empty hand stuff. I watched his face change as he realized that he knew exactly what he was doing. I think his confidence exploded through the roof at that moment. I think maybe his life changed this evening.
He has been realizing when he did something right and when he made a mistake for maybe a couple months now. This evening he realized he didn't have to look to me anymore to see if he did right or not. It was a great epiphany for him. I don't know if he realized it, so I told him his confidence had changed with this test.
5/19/21 Chris is getting closer to testing for his 8th test for Brown 1. We are aiming for next Thursday evening, May 26th. Neal passed his Purple with a White Stripe 3rd test on April 30th, Vincent passed his Purple Belt 2nd test on May 2nd and has returned to Germany for the summer. His mother teaches acting and, I think, also directing at UF. She will return in August for the next school year. His father is working in a TV series in Germany for the summer. I look forward to seeing Vincent again then. He's only 5 but really clever. He can come up with techniques even before I teach him and he has so much imagination. He also loves Starwars. He may become the next George Lucas of Germany some time in the future. Jack passed his Blue with a White Stripe test on May 5th. He is coming up fast too. I may not have many young students now, but they are all exceptional.
4/21/22 Good evening practice. Christopher got lots of knife take-away practice this evening. I had him and Patrick working on Christopher's test and Eddy and a new man working on Iikyo Omote. For the second class we stayed on knife take-aways working on take-aways on Jack's test. So they did knife-to-the-back Kotegaeshi Ura. Then knife-to-the-back Gokyo Omote and Ura and Mune Tsuki (stab-to-the-front) Kotegaeshi Omote and Ura. Then finally I introduced them to slashing Ude Osai also known as Ropkyo, 6th technique. Christopher has a two-hands-grabbed-from-behind Ropkyo, but the rest have not seen Ropkyo before. So, it was a good introduction to slashing attacks back-side-of-the-arm response.
4/11/22 This was Palm Sunday weekend. There is a lot going on for kids, so attendance for Aikido of Gaineville goes down. I promoted two blackbelts in Iaido on Saturday, Sabrina and Keith. Keith's was a surprise for him. He has been coming more regular for a while and I had not been paying close attention to him. Last month I noticed that he was keeping right up with me and I was hearing his sword swish more often, so I realized that I hadn't been paying attention. So I got a certificate for him from a Japanese lady down in Orlando who makes certificates and sells them on line. I contacted her and had her do a second custom certificate for Keith like the one I obtained for Sabrina. It was a nice surprise for him. So this makes four people I have promoted to Black belt in Iaido.
3/12/22 We had 5 new kids this morning. I think they all had a lot of fun. I read and delivered Neal's purple belt test (3rd test) certificate to him this morning in front of the biggest group we have had in two plus years now. The new kids got to see there are rewards for accomplishment. I had a lot of fun teaching them. Ages ranged from 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8. All together we had 6 kids with three regulars missing. That's a pretty good day finally coming out of this dumb shutdown we have been locked in. Some of the new kids this morning were pretty shy starting out. By the end they are all talking and telling me about things. If they all come back, I think they will have even more fun next week. Also when we have this many kids we can play some bigger games that don't work so well with only a few.
3/5/22 Good Days, we have been having them pretty regularly. Tested Adrian for his second test today. We had practiced most of it earlier, but held off to have more people to view the test. He flew through it. I had him repeat some things, but the majority of it was very good. Last Saturday Neal passed his second test too. He was in yesterday and we went through more than half of his third test. He is such a sharp little boy, he will probably go flying through this test too. His mother tells me he is always trying techniques on her. He's six, so he's not going to do much damage at this point. It's great to have such motivated students. The third test they start learning about the terms Omote = to-the-front and Ura = to-the-rear.
1/10/22 Experiencing the perfect throw. Saturday morning 12 year old (and small for his age) Carlton followed directions perfectly and threw me perfectly for a back spinning Irimi-Nage Tenkan= Entering Throw spinning the aggressor backwards and down. We had been working on this for maybe 10-15 minutes, that morning. Each time I had been tweaking how he caught my arm, how he twisted it as he moved & received it & twisted it and finally how he would slide in behind me, twist my body around and catch the back of my shoulder/neck intersection while spinning backwards.He was surprised and shocked by how much faster and stronger I hit the mat, yet I got up laughing and telling him, “THAT WAS GREAT!” He had followed directions exactly. While I was laughing, he was saying, “It didn't feel like I did anything.” I was telling him, “YES, THAT'S THE GOOD STUFF. You totally unified your body to execute the throw.”
I don't know how many times he has heard me tell people, “The best throws are like nothing, effortless.” (They don't believe it.) This was what Carlton had experienced, an effortless throw. It's a perfect combination of motions of the attack, the reception of that attack and the sequential movements which accelerate the kinetic energy of the movement, while simultaneously destroying the aggressors stability and balance. It's combining the Physics of movement of the body, Kinesthesia with classical Physics of motion, Kinematics. This is essentially what the Aikidoists study. I have never heard anyone put these words in this context. However, I have been pointing out the Physics in techniques and the Physics of the body for years.
People here in The States go gaga when they have a seminar with an 8th Dan = 8th Deg Black Belt. Yet they are still practicing with 2nd and 3rd Degree teachers and sometimes a 4th or 5th Degree. In Japan, I was experiencing classes nightly and on weekends with 4th, 5th, 6th and sometimes 7th degrees. A 7th Degree was my partner for my first test in Japan (for 3rd Kyu). I was receiving these perfect throws dozens per class and essentially getting private lessons, within class, in how to achieve these throws.
PERFECTION IS ADDICTIVE, both executing and receiving. So, when I receive this type of throw, perfection, from my students, my body spontaneously laughs, because it is the joy I live for, to know another student has achieved perfection even for a moment.
This is why I teach even when I loose money doing it. I want others to experience this knowledge and learn how to defend themselves without responding with malice.
1/2/22 Happy New Year Everyone! We had a wonderful start to the new year this afternoon. Jacob's younger sister and brother and sister's friend came to practice this afternoon. We didn't cover a whole lot of techniques. We went more in depth of initial principles of Get-out-of-the-way-of-the-attack, Tai-no-henko, Moro-te-dori Kokyuho = the Drink-your-soda-look-at-the-rainbow throw and the Bearhug from behind attack, Kokyuho Throw. Last Thursday evening, Jacob and I worked on the 13 no Jo Kata and the Kumijo counter kata I developed for it. It was exciting and his sister and brother both saw us practicing at the end of class. I'll bet he was pumped up excited, nearly out of his mind on the way home and his brother and sister now want a piece of that. They all had fun today and learned a bunch of stuff. I don't just show the techniques. I explain what principles we are working on. Also I explain how the Yin and Yang = In-Yo in Japanese work into everything we practice. It's everywhere in what we do.
It literally is "The Way".
12/30/21 We are coming to the end of 2021. Hallelujah. December has been miserable for revenue, but OK for advancements. I have tested and advanced three students this month. Christmas was good. I have had a lot of VHS tapes from Japan digitized and will try to get some uploaded to show what Nishio type classes were like in Japan. I have uploaded my Nidan (2nd degree black belt) test. It was a good test and I covered a lot of techniques. I'm linking it to this page later. Have a Happy New Year. Hopefully 2022 will be a better year.
11/21/21. Everyone have a great Thankgiving. There won't be any classes on Thursday, Friday or Saturday this year. I'll be open on Sunday the 28th. This past Thursday evening, Jacob passed his 4th test with a pretty good test. He went through the techniques with few mistakes or redoes. I was expecting that. Sensei Keith and I have been reviewing with him the past 3 Sundays. We drilled him pretty good.
I'm expecting Carlton will take his 7th test early in December. He is being drilled while he reviews the techniques for his test. He will have weapons and knife take-aways in his test, so there is more to review.
10/10/21. Another good week, kind of. The little Chinese/Japanese boy who was in last Saturday morning came again Thursday afternoon. I gave him a white belt and we ended up putting on stripes for everything in the first test and one stripe for the second test. He picked up so fast, I'm going to have him just do the first two tests together. All the time we were practicing he would every so often pull up the neck of his shirt and wipe all around his mouth. I just thought it was sweat and didn't think anything of it. Friday morning, I was snuffing and coughing. I had the cold. Oh well, it happens when teaching little kids. But with my experience with the covid virus, which I thought was just a bad cold, I had to stay away from church today cause of all the people in their 70's and 80's. Saturday morning, I was teaching Chandler, who has been coming regularly and his progress shows it. The half stripes he still had were all in the weapons portion of his test, so we didn't have to interact so close. He was the only student who showed up, so we just did all weapons all morning. So he has finished all his stripes for the 7th test in just around 2 1/2 half months. I have it posted for about 8 months worth of practice. Assuming he keeps coming regularly, he could pass the test maybe by the end of this month or early in November. It's all refinement from here on. That's the value of consistent practice.
10/3/21. It's been a good week. Thursday evening we taught 15 college girls with the Florida Empower group, formerly known as the UF Empowerment group. It's normally a 3 hour class, but they didn't stay for even two hours. Keith and I had gotten though all the theory and psychology stuff that we teach and had just gotten into techniques, when they left. They enjoy our teaching. This is about the 3rd or 4th year they have been coming. It would be nice if they could come back a few more times this year to get more of what we teach. Saturday morning a new little boy, 6, came in. His mother is Okinawan and she was just beaming as I taught him using Japanese words. As we were warming up and I am counting repetitions in Japanese, he was counting right along with me. Very sharp little boy. He picked up so quickly on things Charles and I were helping him with. Then in the afternoon we had 3 more ladies in for another Women's Self Defense class. They stayed the full 3 hours and we covered our full curriculum. So, it was a good week.
9/9/21 Wow I did not realize it has been so long since I posted anything on this. There have been two tests since then. Chandler passed his 6th test in July and Jacob passed his 3rd test on August 25th. It was a very good test, and I expected that because he comes on Sunday afternoons and so often he has been the only student. When Keith is there, he gets double private instruction, so he is flying ahead. Chandler also comes on Free Thursday evenings and Free Saturday mornings. He's 11 and he may still be small for his age. He is flying along too and getting proficient with the 7th test. He's working on the Green with Black belt. Jacob passed his Purple with White Stripe and is now working on Blue belt. Jacob's sister has also come to two Saturday mornings. The first one I taught her most of the Women's Self Defense class. Then this past weekend I was already teaching Chandler 1st, 2nd and 3rd techniques from both wrists grabbed from behind. So, we brought her into the practice, continuing to teach Chandler his test while teaching the same techniques, in beginning form, to Katrina. So, she felt the control of the techniques when she grabbed Chandler from behind and started learning how to apply them to Chandler when he grabbed her single wrist from the front. Good practice.
Saturday 7/24/21, The Batto today was pretty good. My sword is cutting spectacularly. I started out with the Morinaga/Tokutomi Style Toyama-Ryu Pre-drawn Walking Cuts set. Then we started going through the 15 Kata pamphlet of Walking Draw Cut Katas I have both put together and designed. I say that because there are a number of old Katas from the classes I attended in Japan as well as new Katas I have designed from both the Nishio Aiki-Toho System and Toyama-Ryu together to bring the count up to 15. Some are kind of simple and some are downright difficult. It's certainly a challenging set. It's all video taped. So, I will be posting each Kata as I edit them with explanations and process them.
This coming Saturday 7/24/21 we will be doing Batto (cutting rolled rice-straw mats) out in front of the dojo, under the trees, weather permitting. I put 21 rolls of targets in a barrel by the dojo and filled it with water today. So, they will be well soaked by Saturday. We will start setting up, out front, at Noon. Once we are set up we will start cutting. We have been practicing with Iaido swords and pool noodles stuck in cones for target positioning for weeks. I will be trying to go through 16 Katas. Most of them are the same as we practiced in Japan. I have developed some new Katas using the Aiki-Toho Iaido for inspiration and concepts from Toyama-Ryu Batto. It's going to be interesting.
Saturday 7/10/21, I'm very proud of the showing from Aikido of Gainesville down in Orlando for the Japanese Sword Show put on by Bob Elder over the weekend. On Saturday four of us from the Iaido class rode down together and met two families from the Aikido classes down there. So altogether counting other family members as well we had 11 show up on Saturday. Two other students said they would be going down on Sunday. So this was the best showing on an out-of-town event since starting Aikido of Gainesville in 2002. Terrific! Also, this evening, July 12th, I'm showing the Iaido class a composite video of classes I video taped back in 1996 of Batto classes at the Tokutomi Dojo in Toyama village in Japan. What was taught there, as far as the tame shigiri (cutting), is pretty different from the Tokyo Style Toyama-Ryu tame shigiri that is prevalent here in the U.S. I am planning on a Batto class, with cutting, outdoors, on Saturday afternoon on the 24th, weather permitting.
We do have the free classes going again on Saturday mornings. It's open from 9am to Noon. When there are a number of kids coming we usually start with a warm-up game at 9am for those coming in not really just a 9am. Then we bow in and do the stretches and wrist warmups and break up to knowledge level groups. Often I have the more advanced students helping the new students, which promotes good learning for all. When the advanced students teach their juniors, they learn more in depth what they learned previously, which helps their advancement to more complex versions of the same techniques with different attacks and accelerating speed. If time and good attendance permits, I switch out the advanced students so I can teach them something to help their tests. Then often, the last 15 minutes, we play either some "Samurai" hockey or 10 strikes. This promotes teamwork with a lot of laughing and or fun with some competition.
6/10/21 We have had the first test and promotion since before the pandemic. Jake started a number of months ago practicing weapons while we were still limited to no contact. So, we just started the empty hand a few weeks ago and we just put the two first tests together and he blew through them. He will already know weapons knowledge up through about the 6th test when he gets there. So, I expect that Jake will advance pretty fast through the lower tests. He's coming twice a week to both an empty hand and a weapons class, so he will advance much faster than the persons who only come to the free classes, once a week. I now give both a free empty hand and weapons classes on Thursday nights, but still just one time a week doesn't trend to as good retention of knowledge as coming a second time during the week. I found that to be the case with the Batto (cutting with a sword) classes that were only on Saturday afternoons and evenings while I was in Japan. It was difficult to recall what I had learned the week before. Once I started video recording classes and re-viewing them later, I could progress much better. That second reinforcement did the trick.
5/23/21 It's been a good day, but a sad day. The family from India has a flight date for a week from tomorrow. Today was their last practice. I gave them a weapons bag for the handmade Jo's I made for them. The mother asked if she could be a teacher in India. I told her what Sensei actually translates to. Student who has gone before. She and her daughters are obviously that, so of coarse she can be a Sensei. They have recorded so many videos of various techniques I have taught them. So, if they save those videos, they have a good library of explained techniques to use. They also know the 31 and 13 kata movement kumijo's, both the defender and aggressor sides. Yes, there is a kumijo for the 13 movement kata. I developed it. Her youngest daughter is 8 and she knows both sides of the katas. There are lots of Sandans, 3rd Degree blackbelts who don't know the kumijo. These girls are great. Wonderful family. I am going to miss them so much.
4/2/21 The last Saturday of March, we went down to Orlando to Bob Elder's Toyama-Ryu class. I demonstrated the walking draws set of the Toyama-Ryu style I learned in Japan, which I am teaching and to observe their practice. Here is a video of what I was showing. https://rumble.com/vfa1u1-toyama-hon-iaido-batto-walking-draws-set.html I put it up on Rumble, because I don't trust what Youtube or Facebook might do with it. I don't think there is much Batto here in the U.S. that is doing any cutting on the move. The normal target stands are not conducive to cutting on the move. You can not walk past the stand close to the target. So the stands you see me using are very different. Also the angle stand that holds the target at a 45 degree angle is unheard of here in the states. I may have the only one existing now. I think Bob's students may want to build one now. My demonstration was radical compared to normal. The amount of time required to set up cuts made me think about the sequence of katas. I am re-arranging them now so I can accomplish more cuts on the same setting before moving stands around for the next cuts.
3/14/21 Sunday. Today Bharathi's two older daughters were practicing back and forth on the aggressor side of the 31 movement Jo kata. They were laughing and having just too much fun with it. (I'm being facitious) They all so much enjoy what I have been teaching them. And I certainly enjoy teaching such students. Another great day!
3/12/21 Rock, the student who moved up to Memphis so he and his mother would get to see Dad more often, was in last week. His mother's parents live here, so they will be back down to visit now and then. I got to meet his father. He thanked me for being a kind of surrogate father/uncle to Rock while he was flying cargo around the world. They have enrolled Rock in a Karate school. I asked him how he liked it. He said, "It's OK, but it's not as fun as Aikido." So we had a lot of fun practicing the 13 movement Jo kata. Then he wanted to put together the 13 movement kata and the 31 movement kata. (He didn't really forget anything.) So, that gave me a challenge of how to fix it so the 13th movement could go right into the first movement of the 31 movement kata. Our normal finish of the 13 no Jo ends with the attack side moving right and the defender's Jo being on the left. But the start of the 31 no Jo starts with the attacker reacting to the defender's first counter thrust being to the right of the attacker. I had to create a left movement for the attacker with a response to the right. I got it. So we now have a 44 movement kata. So we both learned something. Good practice.
1/29/21 Wednesday evening Iaido practice was good. My students understand the Aikido Toho Iaido well so we have been going through the katas and just doing two each unless there are mistakes. If there are mistakes we repeat those 4 times. After we finish the 15 katas, we switch to the Toyama-Ryu katas. Since I expect that at some point we will be actually using these katas for cutting, it is important for everyone to understand the positioning of targets for cutting. The use of cones with short pool noodles positioned as targets makes the practice much more realistic.
1/19/21 About a week ago Bill of the Iaido classes brought in some low cones with about 1.25" holes in the top. It is big enough that a 1.5" short pool noodle can be pushed into the hole to represent the location of a "wata" (target) for Batto cutting. So I have begun using these to give a better visualization of target placing for future Batto cutting. Up to this point I could visualize where the targets would be when I have been teaching, but it is pretty abstract for students. This will allow them to get a much better idea of what they are doing when I teach them about the Toyama-ryu Batto. Also I got a really nice deal on a new canvas cover for the mats. I've had it for over a year and a half, but there were too many other things that would mess it up that I wanted to get done before we put that cover on and I was waiting for the weather to cool because it's a hot job. More on that as it progresses.
1/10/2021 Wonderful news today. I have been promoted to 5th Dan, 5th Degree black belt in Aikido after 20 + years as 4th Dan. I will need to make new business cards. What a terrible need. Perhaps the 20 years time-in-grade pushed my name to second in line on the list. I had three students for both weapons and the empty hand time today. We changed weapons and kept going. Good Day!
1/1/2021 Sensei Keith has been coming to practice weapons more now. He came to one of the Kids & Teens classes or maybe it was a Thursday evening for the free classes and found out some of the kids are getting more advanced in weapons techniques than he is. Not so good. So I am overjoyed to be teaching him more weapons stuff. He is getting more and more proficient with the attack side of the 31 movement Jo kata. I believe he learned the attack side of the 13 movement kata about a year or two ago, but without practice, it's easy to forget. I also had a new student come in yesterday. He has practiced a number of other martial arts, but felt that they required too much aggression to use in a real situation. Aikido does not need the aggressiveness to respond and he likes that philosophy better. That's the kind of student I want to teach lots of knowledge to. I packed his brain with Bo, Boken and Jo techniques yesterday. It's just a beginning.
Nov 8th, 2020. About a week or so ago, one of my Iaido students gave me a really heart felt thank you for my teachings. He said that the consistent intense focus in manipulating the sword straight really helps himself and the other students to focus as well and everybody improves quickly. Sensei Keith has also thanked me in the past that these classes have been so beneficial and healing for his mind because of the concussions and other head traumas he experienced over his years as a deputy sheriff. We have had to go to all weapons classes because of the virus constraints and I have always maintained that practically everything we do builds neural pathways across the brain divide because you must use both sides of the brain to move and coordinate your appendages all the time. The kids are beginning to really enjoy the classes as we get deeper and deeper into the partner practices. When they are facing another weapon coming at them and deflecting it and responding back, things get exciting. They recognize that this could get dangerous even though we are going slow as they learn things. It gives them a little adrenaline pumping. The time to think is very limited, so they must respond as taught. Time and again I hear, "This is so cool!" and "I love this!" and "This is fun!" I respond with, "See, I told you right from the beginning that Aikido is fun."
We kept on the Tsuka Osai and Tekubi Osai katas during Iaido this week working on getting the angles right because the orientation of the student's body and the movement of the handle of the sword is so important to what makes the technique effective. I need to get some of the blue paint type masking tape to put down on the mat so the feet get oriented correctly because body stance and positioning is what is moving the sword handle around. Strong Nikyo technique can be executed with very little effort provided you use your body in a very unified coordinated movement. Otherwise, you may need to use much more strength or the technique may be weak or not work at all. When I got back from Japan, in 1997, I was moving and turning with very small tight hand movements and people would fly to the mat. I was even taking the Nikyo off before the full execution, yet they were so surprised by the strength, they thought I was being mean. The key is total body unification. That was the level I practiced in Japan.
Saturday Aug 29th, During Iaido class we analyzed the 7th Aiki Toho Iaido kata, Tekubi Osai (wrist pin down), which is the right hand of the aggressor grabbing the end of the tsuka (sword handle) or grabbing the left wrist of the defender for empty hand attack. The Katate Dori Nikyo Ura (take down to the rear) is pretty easy to see. What we were analyzing was what was happening with the various positions we move the sword through as we execute the kata. There are a number of interesting effects to the aggressor's wrist and physics principles effecting the bodies that the movement presents. Takemori Sensei would often sit beside me at the parties and he would often say, "Nishio Sensei is very clever." He is right. Nishio Sensei was a very clever man. I believe Morihei Ueshiba Sensei, O'Sensei, ran a genius factory. So many of his students became geniuses.
I received this awesome message from my friend Mike Fowler about a night with Nishio Sensei after practice. This was Nishio Sensei's deep philosophy.
In Tokyo, one night after class, we all went out to Nishio Sensei's favorite yakitori place for dinner. There were 5 or 6 students with us; We ordered some things and after a while Nishio Sensei looks at me and said "Michael, I'm one of the best martial artists on the planet, if you have a question for me, you can ask it now!” That's called “Front Street.” It's an unusual, direct way of Japanese speaking.
I thought about it for a second and said, “Sensei, when you practice Ken Tai Ken, What do you feel when you meet your Uke without hurting them?”
Sensei answered me in a deep voice, "Forgiveness.” “Most people have a hard time to forgive even once. I'm an aikido man. I must do better than that. In the Aikido techniques we practice, there are many points of reflection where we have the chance to learn forgiveness for others and ourselves, even when they want to harm us!”
"Sensei, How many times do we need to forgive in one technique?"
Sensei said, “At least 3 to 5 time's is good, or until they feel the sharp part of my sword, after that it gets repetitive!”
"Sensei, What do we think about when we practice cutting with our sword?"
"We should think that we are cutting out the bad parts of ourselves, or our character that we don't like. With every cut we go deeper. The Aikido sword cuts in the correct way for people to follow and develop good character and spirit to become strong and to help others to do the same.” “But first, we must work on ourselves!" “I believe in myself!" He said, “1000 Sword cuts for your heart!” “10,000 sword cuts for your spirit!”
Sensei looked at me deep in the eye's for a minute and said, "Most students would not ask this kind of question of me Michael-san.”
I looked at the other student's at the table. We all had tears in our eye's at that moment. We all said, “Kampai Sensei!”
I always tried to pull things out of him in this way. Thank you Nakamichi Sensei, for reminding me of that moment in time. I feel AIKIDO is the physical expression of love and compassion. I miss you Sensei!”
Michael fowler 5th dan Nishio sensei.
This is a video of Saito Sensei teaching a seminar in Japan. Maybe it's a university aikido club or perhaps multiple universities cause the average age looks like college student ages. Probably you won't be able to understand the words, but you can still understand the teaching cause it goes more by demonstration than exactly what he says. I linked it, so you should be able to just click on the url address here.
I stumbled onto an old demonstration by Nishio Sensei. It's the 11th All Japan Aikido demonstrations. I think they are up to around 57 now so this must be back in the 1960's I'm about 85-90% certain the Uke's are Nishimoto Sensei and Masuda Sensei. Everyone is so much younger than when I practiced with them. Nishimoto Sensei was my Uke and tested me for Sankyu at the old Matsuo Dojo. He just called me up near the end of class and had me do techniques. I didn't even know I was being tested. How many white belts have a 7th Dan test and Uke for you at the same time. That was special and I didn't even know it at the time. I was still pretty clueless at the time. This is the link to the video: https://www.facebook.com/senseiaikidocom/videos/544548876016792/UzpfSTEwMDAwMTA0Njg4Njk3MzpWSzoyNDQ4NjUxNTQxODE2OTQw/
I received this wonderful Thank You from the woman who requested and coordinated bringing the children with Tourette Syndrome to the Saturday morning classes. She said posting this was great with her.
Simpson, Heather N.
Mon, March 2019
to Sensei Tom,
Thank you so much for welcoming our group this weekend. I know that the children loved it and really enjoyed learning the activities. In particular, while the kids were learning, the parents were bonding and connecting, which was a real bonus to Saturday.
I have taken your flyer and will hand it out whenever possible.
Your program is truly remarkable and I appreciate your kindness to the group.
Heather Simpson, OTD, MOT, OTR/L
Tourette Clinic Coordinator
Southeast Regional Centers of Excellence
UF Health Rehab Center at Fixel Center for Neurological Diseases
I received this great email complement from Nathaniel after his first class in Jodo, walking staff, last Thursday evening. It's so nice I asked him if I could post it on the website. He said he would be honored.
Thank you for writing and for teaching a wonderful class. Having dabbled in various martial arts and numerous dojo’s over the years I have developed a good sense for quality instruction and found it in abundance on Thursday. And I feel very fortunate to be able to receive such a level of instruction within a small class (although I do not expect the class to remain small for long). The commute is a challenge but is what it is. I look forward to seeing you again on Thursday.
This video explains how to perform the first kata of the Aiki Toho Iaido developed by Shoji Nishio Sensei. I also explain about the cutting draw I was taught right from the start of my practice of Iaido. I did not need to change anything when I was introduced to Tasaburo Tokutomi Sensei, master of the Morinaga line of the Toyama-Ryu style of batto-jutsu, cutting of rolled rice straw matting. Here is the URL of the first Aiki Toho kata https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBuEw99f3CE
The primary question: What constitutes a good dojo? How do you recognize a good dojo?
1. The Sensei (instructor) is knowledgeable, helpful and safe.
2. The techniques work and can be powerful, but don't always need to be powerful.
3. The senior students look out for and help the junior students and keep things safe.
4. Everybody is learning a lot and having fun.
The more time spent in class becomes more learned which means the faster the advancement.
Free Saturday classes will remain in the mornings until further notice.
Kids 9am to 10:30am and
Teens 10:30am to Noon
AOG web sites with information about Kids classes are;
Aikido Kids of Gainesville,
Stop the Bully Using Aikido and
Bully Defense Using Aikido
These sites have more information about what to expect in Kids and Teens classes and Anti-Bully techniques.
Thursday Free Class times are 6:30-8:00pm.
There is now a weapons class from 8:05 to 9:00pm following the free class.
Tom Huffman (352) 494-7816
4424 SW 35th Terrace Suite 4
Gainesville, FL 32608
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and Thomas C. Huffman, All Rights Reserved