2012 MN Spring Seminar with Shibata Kenichi Shihan

Shibata Kenichi Shihan trained under Morihiro Saito Shihan for over 25 years. His technique and presence on the mat reflects the deep understanding of aikido passed on from his master and the founder, Morihei Ueshiba before him.

Last year my wife Tyffany and I traveled up for  Minnesota Aiki Shuren Dojo's annual spring seminar for the first time. Afterwards we decided to make the trip every year. The training and instruction was world class, and we had a great time hanging out with the local crowd.

This year was no different, unfortunately Tyffany had to stay home and attend pastry school so I was on my own. Besides, I needed some extra training to work off all the pastries I've been eating at home...

Saturday we trained from 10 to Noon, broke for lunch, then continued from 2 to 5 in the afternoon under the instruction of Shibata Shihan as Mark Larson Sensei translated. We spent the first part of the day on basics: ikkyo and nikkyo, then we practiced kaeshi-waza (reversals), but don't tell anyone. Shibata Sensei reminded us several times that Saito Sensei always told his students not to show or teach kaeshi-waza. However, it is ok if you have a partner you can trust. Since we were a trusting bunch, Sensei demonstrated some basic kaeshi-waza techniques from ikkyo and irimi-nage and we practiced with our trusted partners.

Iwama style aikido cannot exist without weapons practice. After lunch we picked up with the seven ken suburi, then some awase practice for #5 and #7. Then we worked on the 31 jo suburi (without partner) and kumijo (with partners). We finished afternoon keiko with some open-hand techniques: shiho-nage and variations, then finished with ni-nin-dori shiho nage. I have to point out: doing safe ukemi from that technique can be rather challenging. Both ukes usually end up in a pile if nage does good technique.

Saturday night we gathered for a buffet-style banquet, and some open-mic stories before finishing the evening at a campus pub.

Sunday keiko was mostly bukiwaza (weapons). We practiced the first three kumitachi (bokken vs bokken with partner), three or four of the kumijo (jo vs jo with partner), then finished with the 31 jo suburi.

Shibata Shihan closed practice with some ushiro ryo-te-dori techniques and yokomen-uchi kotegaeshi.

Before heading out to the airport, I thanked Shibata Shihan for teaching and Larson Sensei for hosting and promised to bring more of the dojo for spring seminar 2013.

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