Aiki Ken Seminar 2012 Report.

On the 14th January 2012, Aiki Ken Seminar 2012 was conducted by Joe Thambu Shihan. The seminar was held out in SMK Alam Damai’s school hall, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. For some, getting there wasn’t a problem, but few had to ring the Live GPS (Sensei Emma, well, honestly, she’s an expert for the roads in Kuala Lumpur!) for directions. As for my brothers and me, we actually walked from home, singing songs as we walked through all the traffic, a true siblings bonding moments indeed!

The seminar starts off with a stretching and a standing bow to Joe Thambu Shihan. 27 participants lined up high in spirit and some eager to try out their newly bought white oak bokken.

At the beginning of the seminar, everyone was briefed on how to hold the bokken and the etiquettes of holding it. Briefing made simple by comparing it to holding a golf club (and yes, we were also reminded of not to hold the bokken upside down).

To get things all warmed up, we did some drills with the bokken just to familiarise ourselves with the bokken otherwise some might feel awkward holding one. We did a series of striking, blocking and deflecting with a front strike, side strike and a forward thrust. We managed to cover up to 8 katas before our lunch break. For those who’ve attended previous Aiki Ken seminars before, it was more like a revision for them, but for those who haven’t, steps were broken down into two, which are shite’s and uke’s role so it was easier for them to understand. To get the first 5 kata’s movements weren’t so difficult because they’re similiar to the movements of Go Waza. However, the training are emphasized on getting the timing and distance which results in accuracy.

 

For lunch, we went to a malay stall nearby the school (just about 5 minutes drive). It was a lovely afternoon, had a good food and also a great opportunity to know each other more over a chat.

Back from lunch, we continued the seminar with a stretch just to loosen our bodies’ muscles so we can prevent severe muscle injury. We proceeded the seminar with kata number 9 until 13. Things start to get more interesting as we progress. At the end of the seminar, we did a variation where one person tries to withdraw the bokken and another try to stop the partner from doing so but in the end got Nikkajo locked.

Overall, the seminar went well throughout the day (luckily, nobody got sliced with the bokken). The Aiki Ken seminar is also beneficial for Aikido practitioners like us because it helps us to understand the principles of Aikido technically better. Minus the aching and the soreness effect, it was truely a worthy and amazing event!

Osu!

(click on image for the event gallery)

- Elfira Ruizna Ortega

A Journey into Balance

Anyone who practices Martial Arts very often comes across a single word; a word which when examined closely evokes profound thought and profuse practice. The word I speak of is called “Balance”.


In the context of biomechanics, balance is a person’s ability to maintain his/her center of gravity within the base of support with minimal postural swaying. In other words, balance refers to a person who can move about without falling (think babies trying to walk).

Being able to balance oneself requires concurrent usage of the human body’s sensory organs and motor system to control muscle action and movement.

In Aikido, the word balance is a 2 faceted topic; the Shite must find and maintain his/her balance, while striving to manipulate the balance of the Uke into a compromised position to affect a throw or pin. Many a times, this is done while both the Shite and Uke are in motion. Sounds easy enough, but in reality keeping the balance is one of the hardest things to do in Aikido and especially so, when the Shite is trying his/her best to avoid being hit by the Uke.

Balance is but one part of Aikido training, and from the very first class, we are constantly corrected on our balance. A slight postural sway while performing a Tai No Henko Ni movement, will result in a shift of body weight off-center thus negating what could have been an almost flawless Hiji Ate Kokyu Nage.

On the mats, balance also refers to the relationship between the Sempai-s (Senior) and Kohai-s (Junior). The Sempai are able to execute techniques at their respective levels with ease, however for the Kohai member’s, even standing in Kamae can prove to be an arduous task. In this context, balance refers to the ability of the Sempai member to train with the Kohai and bringing out the best in them without watering down the technique. Once again easier said than done, especially when paired with a person who has two left feet (“…no, your other left leg..”). By constant and diligent practice, both the Sempai and Kohai will begin to see improvements in the respective techniques

On the personal, work and family fronts, striking a balance is more difficult. Many years ago, Shihan Joe told me that if I can find the balance between Aikido, work and family lives, I will be successful. 10 years down the road, I am still trying to find the balance. It is here, where we really put to test the lessons learnt on the mats. The ever changing, fast moving pace in which our lives are lived, we are forced to constantly adjust our balance to ensure that no aspect of our daily lives is neglected. In a recent conversation with Shihan Joe Thambu, I remarked at how difficult it is to find the balance. Shihan Joe responded with the following statement: “Finding the balance between Aikido, Work and Family is like walking on a plank that is on water. The moment you think you have found the balance, you lose it and have to start all over again.”


In closing, balance is something that cannot be bought, learnt, or measured. It is constantly changing, and requires constant awareness to ensure that the balance is never tipped in favour of one over theother.

- Noveen Mannath

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