2009 Yamada Sensei Seminar

For the past two days, Yamada Sensei held an Aikido workshop in Israel. This is the first time that I got to see a practitioner from the founder’s time, and it does look like what Yamada teaches, at least, is probably similar to what he would have tought thirty or fourty years ago. The stances are low, with emphesis on stability; Uke always keeps Nage at arm’s length (full arm’s length), movements are large and open. This, more so than other Aikikai practitioners and teachers one sees these days. In addition, there is an emphesis on practicality – he shows the alternatives to Aikido techniques, for example by reaching a choke rather than throwing.

An intersting thing were the similarities between what we practice in Seidokan Aikido and what Yamada Sensei showed. Some techniques which are rarely done in Aikikai, but are often practiced in Seidokan, were shown; he even demonstrated the Funakogi aiki-taiso. This shows the common roots of Seidokan Aikido with the rest of the world’s Aikido.

On a personal note, I felt much better in this seminar – partly because people are not used to having Yamada Sensei in Israel (as opposed to Seki Sensei), and therefore maybe are trying to learn more rather than practice what they know. Partly I get to know my Aikikai partners better with time, and know who I like to work with, and who leaves a negative impact on me. I am constantly impressed by their excellent Ukemi – but I need to remind myself many Aikikai practitioners are also lacking in many areas – it’s just that in these seminars I have the privilege to meet those who have been practicing for decades, and I made the mistake of comparing myself to them. In whatever system, Shodan is still a beginner level and, from my perspective at least, it’s the years after that that make a profound difference in the skill of the practitioner.

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