During the Aikido uchi deshi week in Heggedal, Norway, one of the students interviewed Mouliko Halén sensei. The result is a 30 minute long podcast with the title: Aikido – riding the wave of personal and relational transformation.
James Arfinsen, the interviewer, says this in his intro to the podcast:
In this seventh episode I speak to Mouliko Halen, a 6th dan instructor in Aikido. He tells about how he came into the martial arts and further explains how Aikido is a system of self defense, but at the same time a highly advanced approach to personal and relational transformation. We also explore the connections between Aikido and daily life and how Aikido could be relevant for people doing leadership training. Mouliko also points to how Aikido can be a way to gradually train our ability to be present in the moment and how the concepts of “form” and “freedom” play into Aikido and creativity in general. At the end we delve into Mouliko’s latest initiative called the “Super Week”. Hopefully our conversation will be of interest to people outside the martial arts scene as well.
This week, I'm at an Aikido uchi deshi week at the Sunyata Dojo in Heggedal i Norway. Our teacher, Mouliko Halén (6. dan Aikikai), got the idea to a "super week", as he calls it, earlier this year. He wanted to gather up to 16 Aikido practitioners at his dojo for an intensive week of Aikido training.
Now, it's finally a reality.
When I heard about the super week, I immediately decided I would participate. It's a great opportunity to practice a lot in a short time, and hopefully progress some in my Aikido. I will get to practice a lot of techniques that I normally can't practice (because of lack and time and training partners at my level).
And the dojo is only an hour away from my home, so it was kind of a no-brainer.
This video shows Seishiro Endo shihan (8. dan) perform at the 49th All Japan Aikido demonstration. The demonstration featured a large number of aikido demonstrations and showed how varied the Aikido community has become.
Personally, I enjoyed this year's presentations by Endo shihan the most. His technique gets better and better, and it's just great to watch. Something to aspire to. The demonstration this year was not spectacular as such, but in my opinion it's a demonstration of purity in motion.
These days, I'm working a lot on relaxation and on doing Aikido without relying on strength. And Endo sensei does this to perfection. I'm really looking forward to the next opportunity I have to meet him.
I hope you enjoy the video as much as I did.
This video shows Robert Martucci sensei from Rome. Martucci sensei is a 6. dan Aikikai and a student of Seishiro Endo shihan.
Before seeing this video, I'd never seen Martucci sensei before, but I'm really impressed by his fluid, dynamic Aikido. You can see clearly that he's an Endo student, but still he has his own unique style. Really enjoyable. I will try to attend one of his seminars. Rome is one of my favorite cities, so it's a good excuse to visit there as well :)
This week, I will sign the contract for the lease of our new Aikido dojo. Renshin Aikido Dojo in Horten, Norway gets a new home. During the last three years, we've practiced at a local school. Now, we'll have a place to call our own!
The house is a former church, and it's also been used as a place for Asthanga Yoga during the last few years. Actually, the yoga teacher had the room blessed by a buddhist priest upon opening. So this place is full of good vibrations!
When practicing Aikido, or any other budo, you have a responsibility towards yourself. And towards your partner.
Saying 'Onegai Shimazu' to one another in the dojo is not just an empty phrase. Every time you say it, you should remember that this phrase has a deeper meaning. Saying it implies an agreement: I willl not hurt you, and I trust you to take care of me as well.
When I started Aikido in 1988, I started in a group with two teachers. The beginner's group was led by two guys with 1. kyu and we benefited from their slightly different approach to Aikido. The physique of each one was very different from the other. Thus, the techniques looked different. Also, their approach to Aikido was a bit different and this also reflected in what and how they taught. One was very soft and mellow and did a lot of breathing. The other one was more direct and emphasized the practical applications of each techniques. Both gave me valuable insights into the world of Aikido. What I realized quite soon was that Aikido was not a single way of doing things. It was individual.
As I progressed, I came into contact with a lot of different teachers. I practiced with my primary sensei in the dojo I belonged to. In addition, there were about five or six other people teaching at the dojo. Add to that the teachers I met at seminars and visiting teachers to our dojo, and you'll see that impulses came from many places. I saw a lot of different Aikido, and I'm happy I did. This was, and still is, a conscious choice by my main sensei. He seeks knowledge from many places, and so do I.
I think this approach has benefited my Aikido and, perhaps more importantly, my view on Aikido. I don't consider one single teacher to have the answer. And I'm not trying to copy any one person or style. I'm trying to find the Aikido inside me with the help of the amazing teachers and students I encounter.
Have you ever been to a party where you know nobody, or at least just a few people? And the people you meet are not very interested in getting to know you. Conversation is slow, it comes to a halt after just a few sentences, and you have to push to get it moving again.
People are holding back, and they’re not putting anything of themselves into the conversation.
Other times, you’re at a party where people are eager to get to know you. They’re positive and respond to your input. The conversation flows freely. One point creates another, and you change topics freely along the course of the conversation. Other people join in as well, and the conversation flows equally well between all of you. There’s a balance in giving and taking, and you’re all having a great time.
These experiences can easily be translated into our reality on the Aikido mat. The things that make up good conversation are as true for ukemi in Aikido.
In 1994, I did my shodan examination. This was before our organization got permission to perform Aikikai dan grades in Norway. Thus, we had to go to Sweden to do our exams. I did my grading for Kazuo Igarashi sensei, now 7. dan of the Aikikai.
Next week, he's coming to Norway again. I attended his seminar two years ago as well, and I'm really looking forward to training with him again.
Below, you can see a video of Igarashi sensei performing at the Higashi Yamatoshi Aikidokai 40th Anniversary Demo, September 28 2008.