Exploring our Colorado Aikido Community: Reflections from Recent Training Experiences
By Sensei Ryan Goettsche
2009 has been a very busy year so far with all of the seminar activity in Colorado.
Last summer there was the Expo with Sabo Sensei and a weapons camp with Kashiwaya Sensei. Kashiwaya Sensei recently returned to Colorado for a three-day seminar which included him visiting several Aikido schools in the Denver/Boulder area.
Our most recent experience with Kashiwaya Sensei was amazing. He offered a children’s class on Saturday morning at the Denver dojo. I told the parents of our children’s class that this would be a wonderful opportunity for them to experience someone like Kashiwaya Sensei. They were excited to hear about it and allowed me to take all of the kids up to participate. It was great to see how interactive Kashiwaya Sensei is with children and how he handles a group of children as large as this one was. They all did some basic stretches in a very spirited way and then did some basic rolling and more advanced falling. After the one hour long class, I took my children home and they talked about his class all the way back. I hope it’s something that they will remember forever.
The next day, I visited to an Aikido dojo in Westminster to train for the day where we practiced MUSOGI breathing, lots of KI exercises, BOKKEN cuts and listened to Koichi Tohei Sensei talk more about Aikido. It was all very exciting. To think about his history, training with Koichi Tohei Sensei and everything he must have seen through his years is mind boggling. He moves with incredible power yet with softness that you can’t believe unless you see and feel it live. As usual, everyone was very friendly and I had a great time.
Most recently was the 9th Annual Aikido Summit at the Buddhist Temple in downtown Denver. This year’s Summit featured seven different instructors including: Chandler Sensei, Izawa Sensei, Itoh Sensei, Tanaka Sensei, Hayashi Sensei, Threadgill Sensei and Ikeda Sensei. There were students and instructors from all over the United States, Japan, and other countries. We basically trained for seven hours with a one hour lunch break where we enjoyed a KODO drumming session by a local Denver TAIKIO performance group. It was an exhausting day but a great learning lesson, as well. To see instructors from a wide variety of styles including Ki Society, ASU, Tomiki Aikido and Jujitsu all in the same day was very interesting and reminded me of the diversity of the art of Aikido. Everyone had very different approaches to training and different approaches to teaching. Most of the morning was hard training while the afternoon was softer training but still difficult nonetheless. I hadn’t seen Ikeda Sensei in more than ten years and I was so amazed at how his Aikido has evolved... or perhaps it was my perception of his Aikido that had evolved... or both, I hope! Everything he did was about energy, leading and redirection. Not that he never talked about that before or showed it, it was just very different than what I remember. The Summit was a wonderful experience to be able to participate in them and train with Aikido instructors from all over the United States and abroad.
There are more seminars to come this summer and we are in for some more great opportunities to experience some great history and see how it’s all tied together. Mary Heiny Sensei is coming out in April, Kashiwaya Sensei is coming back out in June and Koichi Tohei’s son will be coming out this summer as well. Like I said earlier, there has been an incredible amount of seminar activity this year and there is still so much more to come so save up the pennies, don’t go out to lunch a couple days per week to save that extra money so you can attend these seminars because they don’t happen very often and the likes of some of them may never happen again!