ZAA Kangeiko 2012: A Review
On January 12th I helped ring in 2012 with the very first Kangeiko Winter Training of Zenshinkai Aikido Association (ZAA.) Throughout this four-day event, spirits were focused and commitment was high, providing a respectable platform for intense training. It was a fine, fresh beginning to a slightly new, yet traditional approach.
River Valley Aikikai Dojo of Van Buren, Arkansas, set a high standard when hosting this event. It was clearly well planned. Visitors’ needs were met from every angle, yet dojo members did not sacrifice mat time–an impressive example, indeed! For this reason, it was a pleasure to witness River Valley Aikikai receive it’s Japanese name, Mujushinkan (meaning unfrozen mind, mind of infinite mobility.)
Throughout the weekend, high quality instruction helped participants polish many fascinating details and nuances. Significant improvement was made by all. Class was structured where a demo would take place, followed by practice. After assessing where improvement was needed within the group, a second demo would then take place, accompanied by extensive, highly detailed explanation. The details, insightful as they were, were a springboard for growth throughout the event.
Much of the technique had a dynamic quality that was described as unique to our lineage. Everything was similar yet slightly different, with a theme of power in the hips, effortless throws, and side falls. My dojo cho, also a member of the ZAA teaching committee, described the entire mix of demonstration as, “an exact replica of Toyoda Sensei’s style”, which he clearly desires to pass on to all of us.
Weapons work was also a signicant focus throughout the weekend. During our paired bokken work, one detail new to me was found within the block of a bokken shomenuchi strike via stepping forward to slice uke’s forearm; this rapid block was accomplished by nage actually falling forward towards uke. As the fall begins, nage’s feet step in, and thus nage meets uke’s forearm more rapidly. I had done this block before, but this time it was different–new detail made it a surprisingly aggressive defense.
A number of expectations within the ZAA were clearly defined and welcomed, during this event, as well. Numerous meetings and class-time speeches made the organization’s emphasis quite clear: personal responsibility, exemplary behavior, committed mat time, and desire for advancement of this art and our lineage are required; growth and life balance must be maintained as a responsibility to our training partners, our families, and all others around us.
Overall, this seminar set the groundwork for a very positive, exciting future. We are heading in a direction that is clean, bright, and smooth; one that will allow us to polish ourselves diligently. All that is needed is our commitment and sincerity.
-Alison Lincoln, shodan
Jikishinkan Dojo, Brooklyn, NY