I have practiced Aikido seriously for the last seven years with Tancinco Sensei whose technical prowess and attention to details of TK Chiba’s instructional style and lesson were a gift. I’ve had the privilege of learning from many great teachers within the Birankai strain of Aikido including: Mike Flynn, Lizzie Lynn, Alex Peterson, Cecilia Ramos, JD Sandoval, Mitsu Nobusada-Flynn, and many other teachers and senior students.
As I set out on this adventure with Sharleen, Alyssa, and Kylie, I sincerely wanted to explore Aikido around the globe. Some words by Peterson Sensei gave me pause to think: “We all came from O’Sensei. There is a famous image of two Aikido hands making a globe in Aikido, you’ll have the opportunity to see if people really handing down lessons from O’sensei, or doing their own thing.”
After several misses in Bali, Brunei, Cairns, and Kuala Lumpur, I finally had a great training session in Hong Kong at Aikido Shokenkai, which is under the direction of Horii Shihan. (Click here for the dojo’s website). David Cheung was welcoming and kept is two hour class full of joy and learning. There were some minor variations with the techniques from what I’m used to, but in the words of Sensei Ramos: “The hardest part will be being doing what you see, not what you know.” I’ve heard the same from many teachers, and now it was time to really work on doing what I saw.
Feel free to skip this paragraph as it may be fairly technical. One difference that David Cheung explored was the defense on a yokomen attack. A variation I am accustomed to is a step back, allowing the strike to continue letting the attacker’s momentum off balance them, then moving into execute the desired technique. However, here the Sensei Cheung explored the idea of using a Shoman to aide with Kuzushi while doing a ushiro tenkan. We did this with open hand and with a knife. It was an interesting approach, demonstrated here by Seki Shihan (at the 3’23” mark).
A key message of the class was techniques and Footwork often have to be adjusted when performing same technique with or without a knife (tanto). A more subtle point was that modern Aikido mostly focus on only 3 attacks (Shomen, Yokomen, Tsuki) , not counting hand or shoulder grabs. And those 3 attacks are highly stylized because they are based on historical weapon context. For example, rarely do we see people attack using a punch to the stomach (tsuki) unless they are holding a knife.
In all, by body complained about soreness that accompanied intense practice after a time of non-practice, but the warmness of the students and the Sensei was more than enough compensation. I especially enjoyed David Cheung’s approach of jumping in to receive techniques to demonstrate some of the nuances of the form — a sign of a committed teacher who is dedicated to the transmission of the art.