All who attended this year’s Birankai Aikido Seminar in Daly City worked hard and had fun. At the annual Aikido Institute of San Francisco Seminar, a half-day of practice for 30 students, including regional visitors, was a big success. Three classes were taught by instructors GE Nomura, Shihan, our guest instructor Alex Peterson Sensei of Summit Aikikai and Rob Schenk, Chief Instructor of Aikido Institute of SF. Participants experienced top teachers and trained with direct feedback from the experts.
Each instructor had his or her own style, giving the seminar an electric and dynamic current. Practitioners experienced a broad range of material and teaching approaches to enrich their forms.
Nomura Sensei emphasized centeredness and connection, over grabbing and striving, as a way of getting in the flow instead of getting hung up on technique and forcing the body into awkward positions.
Schenk Sensei’s serious devotion to Aikido was evident in his applied discipline in action. He showed how care and attention to technique and self-awareness are crucial to embodiment, stopping the action to give one-on-one attention to those who needed it.
Last, and definitely not least, humor was on demand for Peterson Sensei, who peppered his lessons with jokes to break physical tension and relax the mind for absorbing and feeling connections rather than forcing results.
Even for folks who didn’t train, there was a lot to be gained from the venerable tradition of observing, preparing the mind to understand physical principles, and then applying those skills later. The concentration and spirit of respect in the dojo was friendly, with people of all ages and ethnicities partnering together. Likewise, gender was no barrier to executing difficult moves. The May 21st seminar ended with a group picture and the return of student passports signed by the instructors.