Aikido is unique among martial arts in that it teaches calmness and creativity in the midst of aggression .... compassion and non-violent responses towards violence .... and resolution of conflicts without harming others.
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Bought a new big fan from Home Depot. It's so much quieter than the 38" fan and nearly twice as big. It moves gobs of air. I didn't realize how big it was going to be. But that's OK.
I also had new signs made for up on the high wall in the dojo for Aiki Toho Iaido Kata's and the first information I teach new students and some conflict response realizations that I teach to more advanced students.
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 that 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 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.
Next week, starting Aug 31st, the Kids & Teens classes will flip from mornings to afternoons because the schools are finally opening in Alachua County. The rest of the county schools around North Florida are already in session. Schools in Sweden never shut down. There is almost no threat to children over 3 from the China Virus. There is very little threat to adults under the age of 70, provided they don't have any underlying health problems, which is a pretty low percentage of the population. Still, there is a county directive requiring continuing distancing here in Gainesville. So I will continue to teach only weapons stuff until this directive is lifted despite my belief that it's all just political horse kaka.
8/19/20 Kids & Weapons Practice
Wonderful morning class with Lydia (12, green belt, 6th test, nearly as tall as me, looks like she's 14 or 15) not her true name. I opened up for Kids & Teens classes about the 20th of June, but teaching only weapons classes. The kids who have been coming this summer are rather advanced and the virus has caused the curriculum to be all weapons this summer. It has been enlightening for them and after just two months practice, things are beginning to get more exciting for the them as well. The practice of weapons has a little bit of danger involved which focuses attention and requires honest (on target) aggressor moves and honest defender responses so nobody gets hurt. As we expand into partner practices with Kumi Jo and Kumi Tachi drills and partner katas, they are seeing the fundamentals of “Get-off-the-line-of-attack” and “Be Honest, also Attack-on-target-and respond-on-target”. They quickly learn that if the attack is not on target, you don't need to respond and if the response is off target, it's just worthless. This honesty in practice means they must use the fundamentals or things become dangerous very quickly even if we are going slow and stopping before anything harmful can happen. This honesty creates excitement in the whole routine. And the excitement is fun. So they are finally beginning to understand what I have told them all along, that the advanced stuff is FUN. Lydia also realized that she was becoming more relaxed and unable to think about any outside worries or stress, but must concentrate on what is immediately happening. That's focus and the relaxing allows the body to respond quicker to what is happening. That is what I have been trying to teach all along, but it does not show up till the student can handle the advanced stuff. Practically everybody quits too soon before they get to see it. Another thing Lydia realized was that she was getting tired. This is a product of the mind being stressed to remember what the movements are and how to respond. I told her that as she goes through this, she will get used to the stress and not get tired which is an increase in stamina. She will get to the point where she can just go and go and keep going and not get tired till she stops. It's tremendously exciting and gratifying to me when I know the student has comprehended so much.
Wow! I knew it had been some time since I last posted, but it's been nearly a month. July revenue is coming up. It's not where it was but it's lots better. I was so lucky in all the arts I have studied that they have all had lots of weapons included. So I can keep teaching weapons without having students touching each other unless they are in the same family. With such a focus, students are advancing in the weapons stuff very quickly. I'm also not teaching and drilling as long and as slow as the traditional approach. We skip the "Start - Stop" level and go straight to "Mutual Movement with Pause". I don't know if this is going to cause more students to stay or not. That data will show up with time. I think all Aikido will need to change in order to stay alive.
July 10th. I started teaching Sandor 11 and Simone 14 Jo (walking staff) take-aways this morning. It's pretty different principles for them, yet similar and see-able techniques. They were introduced to the stances of ai-hanmi (appearance of opposite side of the Jo, left foot or right foot forward of both people) and gyaku-hanmi (appearance of same side of the Jo, left foot to right foot forward of opposite persons). This often determines which techniques you can use or the way you can execute the same techniques from ai-hanmi or gyaku-hanmi. Sandor is working on his Iikyu level (last basic test before black belt). Simone is working on her Nikyu level (second basic test before black belt). So they are my most advanced students of Kids & Teens. Sandor was loosing interest in the weapons stuff. Today has rekindled that interest, because now they both understand they have to learn to use the weapons before they can learn to take them away and it's lots more interesting, challenging and fun. I told them that there are lots and lots of blackbelts who don't know how to do this stuff. So they might end up teaching blackbelt partners how to do this while they are still white or colored belts. It's cool to have this knowledge. And most cops who should know this stuff, don't have a clue. They go to MMA or Judo (with lots of chokes) or Krav Maga (which is very aggressive and debilitating). Main line Aikido does not teach this stuff. Takemusu (Iwama) and Nishio Styles of Aikido teach this stuff.
When I first opened up in 2002, I had to wait till either 7pm or 7:30 for the room with the mats to open up so I could teach. So I have had the Adult Empty Hand classes run from 7:00 to 8:30pm for maybe more than a decade. Also I have always run 1 1/2 classes because my thought is that a one hour class just isn't long enough to advance learning. For months no one has been showing up for those classes, so I'm flipping the time around to before the Iaido classes. Starting Monday July 6th Empty Hand classes will start at 5:30 and run one hour to 6:30. Iaido will run from 6:30 to 7:30. It is better attended and Students are coming from farther away, Ocala and Hawthorne. So the push-back of the time will let them get here less rushed.
My first student to come back in the Kids and Teens category showed up this morning. We practiced Bo katas out under the trees and back in the dojo. The wind from the fans was better. With the fans "souped up" there is about a 20 to 30 mph wind circulating in the dojo. She thought she had forgotten a lot, but it came right back. She did very well. When we took a break, I told her a lot about the various venturies that were used in Engineering on generators, desalinization plants, flooding de-watering and fire area de-smoking. when I was in the Navy. I didn't explain how they could have a cooling effect, but that was where I was headed. It was nice seeing her and her mother again. But that wasn't the end of the day. I had my first student for the Empty Hand time in months. We used a Jo to keep some distance (about 18" to 2 ft.). By grabbing the end we simulated a wrist grab and I showed her Iikyo, Nikyo and a thru-the-house-turn-back Sankyo. By the time we tried Hiji Kime, the hour had run out and Iaido was ready to start. I think she really enjoyed the "distancing" yet imaginative teaching. We didn't have to touch each other, yet I managed to teach very similar to empty hand stuff. So I had people for all class periods today. Wahoo!
This is going to a lot of students of Aikido of Gainesville.
The dojo is back open again. I was kind of open this past week, but still putting the main room back together. It's pretty set now. There are still details I'm working on, but I think everyone who comes in will be impressed with the plastering and painting that has been done. It has definitely been a lot of hard work.
I will post some pictures of the contrast from 2016 to today. It is definitely a lot brighter. You can't realize how much light is sucked up by the dark colors until you see it in the lighter color. I think it will make you feel good inside, even though you can't really comprehend your internal change. This is the feeling I talk about when I describe the feeling of the bright white inside of my first ship.
I am expecting to teach more weapons stuff until things open up some more. With the increased testing and finding more people contaminated, fear is causing a drive for a re-shutdown. I believe the media is driving the numbers to be scarier than the real threat. Nevertheless, I believe we can practice safely if we keep a distance while practicing the weapons stuff. The goal of weapons practice it to become proficient as an aggressor so I can teach the next level of take-aways. The idea was to be able to use a weapon against another weapon and stop the fight by removing the aggressor's ability to attack by taking away the weapon right in the middle of the fight. In really advanced training, Saito Sensei would teach how to snatch the aggressor's weapon every few moves throughout the 31 movement kata. It's quite an accomplishment to get in and take a weapon when the pace of the kumijo is flying. But then think about what you could accomplish if ever confronted with a real threat.
I will be open from 9am to Noon Mon. Wed. Thu. & Fri. for Kids and Teens. The dojo will close during the afternoon till 5pm. I'm moving the Adult classes forward from 5 to 6pm on Mon. Wed & Thu. Then Iaido from 6 to 7pm. On Thursday Free Empty Hand from 5 to 6pm, then Weapons from 7 to 8pm. I may need to shift all classes to the next half hour later, meaining 5:30 to 6:30 and then 6:30 to 7:30 for the following class. Weather permitting, all the weapons classes could be practiced outdoors.
"The Dragons of Kita In" Another interesting story about legendary things happening in ancient Japan. As I read, you will wonder, what about the dragons. It's a surprise ending. There wasn't a picture in the book, so I had to capture ancient woodblock pictures. In Asia, different countries have different versions of what dragons look like, but all the countries believe in dragons. In China, dragons have a lot to do with Feng Shui, the Chinese thoughts about influencing good luck and bad luck.
This "Story of Two Brothers" was meant to teach Japanese children about the responsibilities of the senior son to inherit the family wealth and support the parents for life. It's an interesting story of a kind of prodigal older brother who wastes his inheritance, but is sort of adopted by a wealthy woman, who allows him to stay at her home for free and learn more about himself. He shapes up and goes home, but the story has a magical twist in the end.
15th story needed some more editing of the map portion. This story is about wrestling in Japan in the early 1600's. Every year there was a Sumo wrestling contest that was attended by the Shogun, the military ruler of Japan. This one noble's wrestlers always lost, but one year, a number of wrestlers showed up from his province and won everything. It's another interesting story that they couldn't explain, so it goes back to the deities. I also show on the map and explain about the Tokaido highway and show where some of the places mentioned in the story are.
The 16th story is about the legendary competition between the thunderbolts. An excited young thunderbolt makes a mistake and gets trapped in the well of a temple. The thunderbolt pleads with the bonze to free him, but before the bonze will free the thunderbolt, he has to make a promise.
I'm not just putting up stories for the kids. I have also been making videos of the basics of Iaido. This is the Blocking (parrying) Draw. This sword draw is used for blocking and parrying a downward cut coming at you. The sword is turned outward when it is drawn and is turning back towards you as it rises. So when it gets up to the blocking position it is greeting the down swinging blade with the back of your blade. A number of people explained to me that when the draw was straight up, the blade would catch and cut the cheek. So they learned to turn the blade outward first and miss the face before the blade was turned back enough to block with. The controlling movement of your right hand on the handle (tsuka) of the sword, is the same condition of the controlling hand of a Shihonage throw in the Nishio Style Aikido.
The 14th Story is titled The Challenge. This story is about two sculptors who made very realistic carvings. Seishichi made very realistic carvings of living beings. Heishiro did carvings of flowers and plants that were similarly realistic. Seishichi suggested that they have a contest that would be judged by the towns people. Heishiro's carving was a beautiful flower. Seishichi's carving was rather revolting, but it caused a reaction by another animal. It's an interesting twisting story.
The 12th video is called The Dream. This story is about a carpenter who leaves his village on the western side of the main island, Honshu, to go to Edo (Tokyo before it became Tokyo) to find work. His wife expects him to be faithful to her. After a year or so another man from the village comes back from Edo and she suspects from inquiring about her husband that he is being unfaithful to her. She has a dream in which she sees two foxes playing. She chases down the male fox and it turns into her husband. I use the map again to show the area where the story is based.
This video refers to early Christianity in southern Japan on an island near Kyushu, the southern main island of Japan. The farmer and his wife are afraid of the authorities if they don't tell them the truth. They know which way the Christians went and tell the truth to the people looking for the Christians but when the buckwheat field changes and the visual appearance can't possibly fit the truth, the authorities don't believe them and go to check a different road.
I uploaded this video last week, but didn't update the website or facebook. Mano Choja is about a princess from really ancient Japan when the capital was Nara. This was even before Kyoto had become the capital. The princess was plagued by a skin disease of ugly black splotches. An oracle at one of the temples told her to go to a far away province and marry a mountain man and she would be cured and have a happy rich life. When the princess finds the man she is to marry, he is so remote, he doesn't even know what money or gold is. But he knows where to find it once he does.
It's been a few days since the last video. I decided to add some comments at the end because there have been so many stories with religious connotations. I don't push any religion in the dojo. It's more a matter of accept the religions that families have. Religion usually doesn't come up in classes.
Here is the url for the latest video entitled The Fated Life:
4/1/20 A seventh video has been uploaded. The Crabs of Kanimanji Temple. This is another story about magical animals in Japan. This involves a snake that turns itself into a man to try and take the daughter of an old farmer as his wife. It doesn't workout so well for the snake-man, then even worse when the snake changes to a giant boa constrictor to try and crush the shelter she is in. This is the url: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ye8ACWKVNg
3/31/20 The sixth video, The Gambler and the Goblin has been uploaded. This is about an unlucky gambler who meets a goblin who exchanges something magical for the gambler's dice. At first he thinks he will be lucky, but then the goblin may have reversed his luck. I also teach something about maps. The url is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaiuNIrtnj0
3/30/30 I just uploaded the fifth video, Icheimon the Fisherman. This man likes to drink when he fishes. He gets drunk and a water imp finishes his bottle of sake. When Icheimon catches him in his boat, the water imp offers to repay Icheimon somehow. In Japanese, almost always, all the vowels are sounded out. Sometimes they may be slurred together a bit, but over 90% of the time you pronounce all the vowels in the words. So listen to how I say Icheimon. Here is the url: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ut0KiTVnAvo&t=317s
3/29/20 The Old Man and the Fox was uploaded yesterday, but it was late and I didn't have a chance to post it. Foxes were considered magical in old Japan. This story as about one of the magical foxes. This is the url for the video:
I also uploaded the fourth video which is The Cherry Tree of Ankokuji Temple. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKb0fUdxc1Q
3/27/20 I uploaded this video this morning, Zen & the Bonze or The Zen Dialogue as in the book. The author probably used a big dictionary for translating and there are lots of words kids won't know yet, so I interpret them to simpler words as a read. I also showed the map which is what I do while I'm reading to the kids. So just cause I'm teaching Aikido, it isn't just Aikido I'm teaching.
Here's the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WEI58vYUsc.
Since I can't teach, I'm working on the dojo and making some videos of Japanese stories that I will be reading to the kids during cooling down in front of the fan breaks during the hot weather. Here is the first one uploaded 3/25/20. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsogv3uoBwQ I'm doing these so kids can have something different to watch. This is along the lines of my teaching of various things about Japan.
The Governor of Florida has closed all gyms or any type of fitness center, so Aikido of Gainesville is closed for the time being. The Alachua County Commission has put out a stay home order that has some loop holes in it as long you are not associating with others. So my plan is to go to the dojo and make some videos reading kids stories from the Japanese Folk Tales book I picked up long ago in Japan. I probably bought it for my nieces and nephews but it didn't get sent and I forgot I had it. So it has set in my bookcase at home for 20+ years. There is an association here called Fun 4 Gator Kids that I think would love to host these different kinds of Japanese tales along with my inputs about what I know of some things in Japan.
Monday, no kids for the morning class. The girl who comes regularly on Monday afternoons showed up and we did both Bo katas and Jo suburi (basic movements) and the 31 movement kata. Tuesday morning one 6 year old boy came. I was amazed at how fast he caught on to the 1st Bo kata. I teach it now in small bites 3 times then add some more to it 3 times and so on. When he made a mistake on which side of his body to move the Bo, I moved to that side and repeated the movements. It worked very well. I have learned these teaching techniques to help the dyslexic people who come in to learn. They will learn just as well as anybody else. Sometimes it takes a bit longer, but they get there. We played some dodge ball against the wall. This is not the same as what we played when I was a kid. I use soft inflated balls and deflate them some more so they are pretty soft when they hit and they can't roll very far. When the bigger kids play, I make them throw underhand so they can't throw hard or fast. It's all good coordination practice for everybody. He told me he has been playing soccer as the goalie, so I started throwing to give him practice on keeping the ball from getting past him and hitting the wall. Go with the flow. He was lonely for more kids, but overall he still had fun for 2 1/2 hours and he was going to sleep well that night.
Because the schools have closed and Kids will need a place to go for the next two weeks, I am going to run classes from 9am to noon for the next two weeks. I'm not going to go all day. I'm 66 and I don't want to teach 12 hour days which is what that would work out to including the adult evening classes. So I am going to teach the mornings, then close from noon to 2:30 and have the regular afternoon classes from 2:30 to 5:30 on Monday, Thursday and Friday. I have the Sword classes on Mondays and Wednesdays plus the weapons class on Thursdays, then what are usually the empty hand classes from 7 to 8:30. Those are easy to go to weapons classes as well because ultimately I want to teach everybody disarming techniques.
Saturday, Mar. 14th, 7 kids and 2 adults showed up. All the schools and the churches with more than 250 people are closing up because of the virus scare. To address that but stay open, we decided to go to no touch stuff. I teach lots of weapons things here which keep people apart from each other for quite a while as they learn the basics and learn the empty hand techniques that will ultimately go to disarming techniques. I also teach Bo Kata's that enhance coordination and muscle movement. So I started teaching people the first Bo Kata which they will need to learn as they advance to future tests.
Saturday, Mar. 7th, it was 8 kids with 2 new and 1 adult. One of the boys has been bullied at school. I asked how the bullying has been happening. Much of it has been verbal. That's not really my forte, so I asked the mothers for their input on what to do. Celeste came up with a wonderful explanation. Much of this bullying is searching for a reaction. By just walking away without any reaction, the bully may get bored and go to someone else. We all agreed that not giving a reaction is VERY hard and it may take some time with a lot of self discipline to not react. I shoed them a few of the anti-bully techniques to use if the aggression goes physical. They liked those cause they are simple and effective techniques. We did some Tehodoki, wrist extractions with the new boys which also educates the kids who have been here for a while about these quick grab break-aways. I'm leaning more and more towards making these my initial teachings when anyone comes in. These simple techniques may be just enough to stop any aggression before the physical conversation gets to serious conflict.
Saturday, Feb. 29th, we had 6 kids and 1 adult. 2 of the kids who play sports came back cause the sports have stopped for a break of a few weeks. It was the February birthdays party morning, but the February birthdays kids didn't show up. Sorin had his birthday at the beginning of the month and Rafa had her's close to the end of the month. Since they weren't there we sang Happy Birthday to Braydon cause his birthday was at the end of January and he missed the January party. After we cleaned up from the party, they wanted to do the balance run practice on the rolled up mat. Then we set up the obstacle course, played some Samurai Hockey and then practiced some more advanced techniques for the Blue with a White Stripe test. It was a good morning. Perhaps the low turnout is due to the cold start for the beautiful day it turned out to be.
Saturday Feb. 22nd, we had 9 kids and 2 adults. Feb. 15th, we had 6 kids and 3 adults. On Feb 8th, we had 5 kids and 2 adults. The numbers fluctuate from week to week. We had 3 new kids on the 22nd. They came in around 10:30, so I stopped working on the more advanced kids tests and we started practicing some tehodoki, wrist grab escapes. This is what I am focusing on for the first test out at the Queen of Peace Academy for a number of reasons. I have noticed over time that when there are no senior students, new students don't get to see or understand working together with each other. They also don't understand relaxing and not putting up hard resistance to techniques being put on them. Tension and hard resistance can lead to injuries, which nobody wants. The tehodoki techniques help them understand the wrist warm-ups, simple get-out-of-the-hold movements, working together with a partner, simple responses to aggressions on the playground and how to respond to the technique as the effect of the technique comes on. They are also seeing pretty quickly that these responses can be pretty effective with minimal efforts. So the first test is made up of 1st, 2nd, 3rd techniques plus simple Kotegaeshi. I'm seeing reasonably good results from this path, so I will probably change my whole repertoire for how I run the Kyu rank tests. Just today, Sunday the 23rd, I'm thinking I could develop a simple Hiji Kime, elbow focus technique. This would cover all the wrist warm-up techniques. The test would have 5 same side wrist grabs and 5 opposite side wrist grabs. A good start.
Thursday evening, Feb. 12th, we had 17 young ladies, college women, from the UF Women's Empowerment group, in for a Women's Self Defense class. Along with them, we had 4 guys from the UF ROTC come to help with registration and we also used them as fall guys to demonstrate techniques we were teaching the girls. There was a lot of laughing and surprise as to the power of the techniques we were showing them. Judging from the amount of laughter and responses I think they all enjoyed the night immensely. Keith and I certainly
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/
Sensei Keith was up in Virginia attending a Fukushidoin (assistant instructor seminar) in April. To expand on Sensei Keith's experience of the weekend, he already knew much of what was being taught while many 2nd and 3rd Deg. blackbelts were seeing things as new. It is always so gratifying to me when my students go somewhere and see that what I am teaching is spot on or even advanced to what others are teaching at the higher levels. I know I'm a good sensei, but it's better when my students really recognize it for themselves. Others may take my attitude as arrogant. No, it's self awareness of what I was taught in Japan and what I continue to expand on and pass on.
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 senior Kids students are not asking to play games at the beginning of class anymore. They now realize that the Aikido is the "play" and they have graduated to a higher level of play. I'm hearing "I love this technique." or "This is my favorite Bo kata". And just a few months ago the statements were "This is hard." Now it has become "This is fun."
I have decided to offer extra discounts of extra classes for parents or students who help clean the dojo while their kids or teens are in class. I'm swamped so much of the time with keeping track of the dojo financially, keeping up the websites, doing maintenance, processing new videos and such that the cleaning is not up to snuff. I think this can work out as a win-win for the dojo and the parents.
The Aikido of Gainesville Dojo will be closed on Tuesdays during the day. I might be there to do maintenance, but I will not be teaching on Tuesdays. There will regularly be a Free Community Service Aikido Class on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 8pm. Tuesday Evening practices may not always be open. Please call ahead of time to determine if there will be a class that evening. Call first Jun Evangelista 352-222-0872. If no answer or Jun is not teaching, call Keith McInnis rd352-258-4725.
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.
There are Dojos that stand a lot on visual image and ritual because they can't stand on knowledge and there are Dojos that forego a lot of ritual and may not look like much but they have an abundance of knowledge. We are in the latter group.
TEST US! There is an overwhelming abundance of knowledge here.
TEST US! There is an overwhelming abundance of knowledge here.
To see and learn more about the dojo, go across the top menu to "About". On the drop down menu click on "Location". On that page there are 10 videos showing the dojo with explanations of what I have on the walls.
Under the videos menu I have added instructional videos for both Iwama Style and Nishio Style. I will begin showing how I teach the techniques, as time allows. You may find them very informative.
If you want to get in contact with me, email; firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-494-7816.
Under the videos menu I have added instructional videos for both Iwama Style and Nishio Style. I will begin showing how I teach the techniques, as time allows. You may find them very informative.
If you want to get in contact with me, email; email@example.com or 352-494-7816.
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.
The Nishio Sensei videos shown above here are advanced techniques. I start practically everybody in the Iwama Style to build knowledge and a foundation of basic techniques. After you have the knowledge to pass the third test, then you will better understand and appreciate the Nishio Style techniques which are strong and fast.
For more class choices visit the
Aikido Lessons Store
Aikido Lessons Store
Classes will be tracked by the use of a punch card. The number of classes purchased will be written on the punch card and when the number of punches are completed a new card may be purchased. There will be no time restrictions on the cards.