Issue 27 – Southern Aikido Connection

We’re into the Great Kiwi Shutdown season again! Have a good break, indulge a bit, but make sure you come back to training in the new year. Have a great Christmas.

Make sure you read the “BREAKING NEWS” and plan to spend February ’07 in Christchurch!

A few thoughts

I really enjoy watching the All Blacks. After the successful recent Northern hemisphere tour Richie McCaw’s [the NZ All Blacks captain] at a press conference stated that however good the AB’s appeared there was always room for improvement. His view was that the All Blacks were less concerned with the opposition than with setting their own standards and surpassing them. As an aside it bodes well for the World Cup.

That is a good roadmap for us as well although I feel some trepidation in mentioning the All Blacks in the same sentence as us. I only draw the analogy of the All Blacks clear desire to improve what they are doing ignoring the individual achievement such as wins over France etc along the way. They set their own standards and so should we.

The end of year grading went well. Please enjoy the success if you were one of those who graded. Whilst we enjoy the grading results let’s also see if we can now surpass the standards we have set.

Keep up regular training even though we have the pressures of Christmas and New Year. Now, immediately after grading is the best time for students to make significant advances, after all you have done all that hard work to achieve your grade. You can now experiment with the basics you have learnt and find ways to improve them.

I love that challenge of studying the basic techniques over and over from different points of view and developing them and improving their execution and effectiveness.

Andrew Williamson

End of year grading

Our end of year grading was held on Sunday 26 November with kids in the morning and adults in the afternoon. Around 85 people in total graded during the day from Semi 10th kyu for the kids to 6 yudansha [black belts]. Rather than a lot of words we thought we’d this time include photos from the senior grading.

But two points: firstly all the instructors were very happy at the level achieved by all those who graded. Secondly, I just wanted to record the fact that Elissa Mah gained shodan – she is the first student who began in the kids class who has then carried on into the adults and achieved shodan. Hopefully the first of many.

Andrew Williamson

Breaking news

We have been contacted by Masuda Shihan. He and his wife anticipate travelling to and staying in Christchurch from 2 February to 28 February 2007. We hope that all students “block” February 2007 in their diary to be in Christchurch. Masuda Shihan is an 8th dan Tokyo World Aikido Headquarters instructor, he previously was the Director of Instructors and is one of the most senior instructors in the world today.

ASC 16th. anniversary seminar 29 Sept – 1 Oct 2006

Class started on Friday night. It was hard to park the car due to the large number of cars already parked and the fact that I have not yet mastered parallel parking. I had stopped previously for a regulatory long black and two snicker’s bars. I had been looking forward to this event and along with a piece of licked peanut butter toast – it was my father’s day gift, so I was going to make the most of it. I am glad seminars are six months apart as that is how long I need to soft soap her indoors to allow me to go. My brownie points meter was at a good level that month and I had not been in the dog box for a while, so I was ready to go.

Sensei Irene took the first class and although room was tight, there was rapid rotation of techniques and a sweat soon started to form on me, but I think that may have been something to do with the fact that it was already thrity five minutes since my last coffee. I enjoy Sensei Irene’s classes as Sensei lays down no hard and fast dictate, but gives a framework for the technique at hand and allows us to experiment with the technique.

Next came, Sensei Brent Beaumont from Waitakarei which I think is somewhere north of Wanganui. I have had the pleasure of assisting Sensei Brent with children’s classes before so I was eagerly awaiting to see what interesting things he came up with. Sensei Brent has a gentle, but clear cut way of teaching and offered through the weekend at his other two classes valuable advice on everything from advanced Uke-bouncing through to jiu-waza.

Saturday started off with an argument between Eric and myself as to what was the quickest way to Pages Road. I still think he was wrong and I have the last word here in print.. YEAH!

Alan Wade, Sensei was up next in the weekend, and although quiet, his techniques are hard. He had mentioned that as he has aged he has gotten “lazy” in his techniques and showed short cuts and ran through many techniques including kaishiwaza.

Takase Shihan is always a pleasure to watch…….from a distance. His power is tremendous, but effortless. Shihan concentrated a lot on de-powering a technique, something I am constantly trying to work on, but as of yet have had no luck whatsoever.

All in all the weekend was great fun and it was good to train with those who made the effort to travel up from the South. I am looking forward to the big one in March.

Kyle Southam

Personal Thanks – from Kyle

Kyle's Shodan gradingKyle’s Shodan grading

I would like to thank the following people over the last numerous years, especially those who have helped me train up for Shodan. Also, to the unmentioned who I train with, thanks as I learn something new from every uke.

To My Teachers:

  • Andrew
  • Kevin
  • Gert
  • Terry
  • Chris

To the morning (coffee) crew and my training partners:

  • Eric
  • Logan (for stepping up on the day even when crook)
  • Warren (for being Uke on the day)
  • Elissa
  • Peter CJ
  • Sean E.
  • Ben H.

To the Rangiora Posse! – thank you for your support.

Sorry if I have missed anyone. I would also like to say congratulations to all of the kids, especially the Rangiora group who graded. Keep it up.


Of seminars & gradings

Hi everyone. I trust you all enjoyed yourselves at our last Seminar and Gradings. Well done to those who passed their tests. I must admit I did enjoy watching the more “Physical” Grading Applicants doing the big techniques and really making their Uke work hard. Some more so than others…….Hhmmm…..Geeez Blake, I thought you liked Alex? I couldn’t tell there for awhile! I think Alex might have thought the same thing too!!!!. Anyway,. well done mate – excellent grading!! Which brings me to a point I’ve been thinking about for some time now. Some students really shine at the Gradings, and some are, sort of, mediocre (for want of a better descript!).

Sitting on the side, as we do, the instructors can really see which students put in that extra effort, but we can also see the ones that don’t. Don’t get me wrong here – the Gradings were all good, but some were lacking and needed that little bit of extra spark. Know what I mean?

If you want to do a great grading, you have to put in the time to make it great.!!! Truly excellent technique just doesn’t happen with “luck on the day” – it takes practice, and lots of it!!!. This is why we encourage you to attend classes as often as you can, and attend the Seminars that Andrew and Irene organise for you. For example, if your next Grading is 3rd or 2nd Kyu, you have to train at least three times each week, to make up the time required in the twenty five weeks leading up to the next exam; 1st kyu needs even more time again i.e. at least 4 days per week! So, that must give you all something to think about surely. Hhmm??

I often wonder, when we have over one hundred people on the Roll Book, and only thirty-five of you turn up for Seminars. Why is that?? I’d love for someone to tell me?? The Seminars in question don’t happen by themselves – they take a lot of planning, time, and money!! Usually, at every Seminar we have, when there are only two weeks to go before we kick off, we only have ten or so people registered for the actual Seminar! Why is that, I ask myself! Pay early and get the discounts offered is what I’d do. But people always wait, and end up paying the full price!! How silly is that!! Seminars are valuable lessons for your Grading!! Really!

I do realise a lot of people that miss the seminars are students, and your studies are your future. But, a lot of the people who do attend the Seminars are students as well. Somehow they seem to make more of an effort than others.

It’s kind of disheartening as well (or annoying, depending on the mood I’m in at the time), that when I get to the Dojo after a very long day at my office, to find only four people on the mat ready to train!! Where are the rest?? I remember a few years back, Andrew and I would be competing for class numbers – to see who could have the most people attend. Remember that Andrew? I think Andrew always beat me, but classes always numbered over twenty people. I think the opening of the branch Dojos made the numbers drop, but we should still have more people attend all the same!!

I look at it this way. I come in from out near Rangiora to work each day, and on Mondays and Thursdays, I teach at Pages Rd Dojo and the Clyde Rd Dojo respectively.

I then teach at Rangiora on Friday evenings. I don’t go home before training, so these are very long days for me. It’s thirteen hours from the time I leave home in the morning, to the time I walk back in the door of my house in the evenings.

But, I, like Andrew, Irene, Alex ,Gary, Din, Chris and Terry etc etc. have to attend these classes – we’re the instructors. So I reckon you guys should be there too!!! We make the effort for your benefit, so this should be reciprocated. We all have lots to teach, really. Our variations in technique are huge, and the composite knowledge in years is tremendous. I’ve been training as long as Andrew and we both started in 1979, so between us, we have accumulated fifty-four years of Aikido knowledge. And if you add up the rest of the years the other guys have been training as well, I guess you could say, we have nearly one hundred years of Aikido knowledge we are passing on to you!! How’s that for numbers?? Pretty good in anybody’s book. Waddaya think?

So, in closing, I would like to say “Get to those Classes and Seminars” Come and see what we have to offer; check out all the instructors in each of our Dojos. Don’t just stick to one Dojo either. Build up your class numbers for your next grading ok? And here’s a good idea – come out to Rangiora and train with me for a change!! Why not? – I make the effort to come in and see you!

See you on the mat. We’ll do Tsuki Ude Gaeshi /Koshi Nage… with a backflip and a double half twist Ukemi at the end!!!!! Niiiiice!!!

Kevin Allen

The Journey – from junior classes to senior classes to shodan

What a relief, the grading is finally over and everyone no longer has to concentrate on “grading techniques” or the gradual countdown to grading day – we’re FREE!! For some of us, that freedom is twofold – not just the grading is over but exams are too…. however this is supposed to be about Aikido, so nothing more about exams.

Elissa's Shodan gradingElissa’s Shodan gradingLately there has been quite a big focus on the kids’ classes, and I must say it’s extremely fascinating watching the number of young people training growing. At the risk of sounding like an old person, back in the days when I trained at the kids’ classes, there was only a small group of us regulars, and training was solely at the Burnside dojo. I wasn’t able to watch the recent kids’ grading, but I remember tagging along to watch my little brother Colin do his mid-year grading, and seeing so many little people running around wearing gis…. scary sight I tell you. Scary, but most definitely a good thing. A couple of others have already discussed the benefits of children training so I won’t go into that in too much detail, but take it from me, it’s a good thing to start young.

Apparently I’m one of the only people still training that has moved up from the kids’ to the adults’ classes, so it’s great to see a few others moving up too. I remember when I first started training at the adults’ classes; initially putting on a white belt again was a big change from being The Almighty High Grade [i.e. the pompous little girl] in the kids’ class. At the time it was actually slightly discouraging knowing so many techniques already, and yet having to ‘start again’ [imagine the feeling you’d get when stuffing up a level 99 game and having to begin again from level 1……]. I don’t quite get what all the fuss was about for the recent shodan grading [well done everyone by the way], but it really makes you think about how far you’ve come. Looking back now, it was actually quite fun being a white belt since you’re not expected to know everything, and seeing people’s surprise when they realize this little kid they’re training with actually knows the techniques…. priceless. Not only do you get to have a quiet little laugh to yourself, but also [this is slightly immature I know, but never mind] being a kid you get such a kick out of knowing that you can do some stuff the ‘big people’ do, and occasionally some stuff they can’t!

In addition to having a head start on everyone else, if you ask me beginning training earlier actually helps with all that flexibility and strong joints stuff too… That’s my guess anyway – believe it or not, I wasn’t always as flexible as I am now.

I’ve actually forgotten what I was supposed to be writing about now… Something to do with moving from the kids’ class to the adults’ class I think. Oh well. Six years [coming close to seven now] it has been since I first started training, and I most definitely have no regrets. I suppose grading to shodan is a rather significant step, but apart from the new belt it doesn’t really feel that much different. [However my newly hakama’ed fellow shodans may think differently…. heheh] So anyway, keep training and I’ll look forward to seeing some more young aikidoka soon.

Elissa Mah

Familial dojo – part of our close Aikido family.

Each edition of SAC magazine we try to feature a Familial dojo i.e. one that is part of our close aikido family. In this issue, we feature Aikido Shinryukan Dumfriesshire, Scotland.

Aikido Shinryukan Dumfriesshire

Report from bonnie Scotland

Hello all and Merry Christmas. It is certainly very very Christmasy here. It’s cold indeed and everyone has their lights up.

For those of you who don’t know me, I have been in Scotland for 3 ½ years after training in Christchurch and Alexandra for 6 years. I now run Aikido Shinryukan Dumfriesshire. At present I have 8 full time members (and a few others who don’t like the cold) and we train in my local village hall.

Ant & IanAnt & Ian

We have been in the local hall since May. We started off with an open evening at which around 30 people showed up. We had 14 at the first few trainings but as is usual, a few dropped out and a few more and we have been left with eight. My target was 10 full-time students before the end of the year so we will have to make up for it next year. I plan on holding another open day early in the New Year.

The Christmas Tree!The Christmas Tree!

It will be a lot easier now that I have some students who know what they are doing. It makes a big difference. We have just completed our first grading and I feel now like we can grow a lot quicker. Teaching becomes easier when you don’t have to explain the very basics to everyone, there are more people so there are more contacts with even more people and maybe most importantly the people have now been coming along for the last six months are testament to the fact that it can’t be too bad.

MartinMartinSo to the grading! On a cold and wet December Sunday morning we held a training session before grading. The week before we had turned up to the hall to find it fully decorated with Christmas regalia including a tree. Not the kind of hardcore dojo look but very seasonal and full of joy. I think in some ways O-Sensei might have liked it. The guys trained very intensely (as always) and after a hearty lunch (provided by my heavily pregnant wife Lynn) we did the grading.

For me it was all a bit surreal really. I have never sat in that corner before and when I got there I realised that I never really thought I would. Something else that struck me at that moment was that these guys had never seen a Shinryukan grading before and had only what I had told them to go on. I know most people never see a grading before they do one but in this case it’s a little different because they had no-one to ask how to bow on or if they should bow between techniques etc. etc. etc. but me. I wondered if I had told them enough…

However, the guys did really well. They responded well to pressure and exceeded my expectations which I would like to think I set pretty high. I was particularly impressed with the level of ukemi. This is something we have been focusing on and it’s great to see the results of the guys’ hard work.

The four who graded were Calum Jardine (who had travelled for 14 hours the day before for a game rugby on the Isle of Mull), Ant Holden and Ian Park who passed their Rokkyu, and Martin Hughes who passed his Gokyu. Well done guys!

So back to training this week and maybe something different for a couple of weeks. Koshinage I think.

And once again, if you are over our way you are more than welcome to come and stay and train. If you let me know in advance Lynn might even make you a hearty lunch and dinner and we could maybe even have a wee dram or two.

See you all next year some time.

Kia kaha

Nick Burnett Scotland

Grading moments

View the grading moments gallery.

Comments are closed.