Practicising amidst the mountains

20170715_092458Pineta Canyon, Alta Aragon, Spain. Photography by Siegfried L. © 2017

Next year, we will do the first Rignekai Aikido Yama Keiko, yama keiko meaning mountain training. Martial arts elevate our mind while it sharpens our body. I cultivate the same spirit when I look onto the peaks and search my way up. I feel I answer the expectations of my master as I set my foot in the steps of former wanderers, as I cross the border into lands beyond, welcoming at the edge of the pass a new view.

Rignenkai means the vision of the wheel, the sight at the origin of a teaching. Exercising myself through the mouvements given to us by my master is like questionning his sight again and again, seeing through his eyes his own master exercising himself. When I do Ikkyo or Shiho Nage, I see Noro Masamichi sensei looking onto Ueshiba Morihei sensei himself. The effort is one that opens to a sight as when I walk up the mountains.

Next year, lets meet for the 1rst Ringenkai Aikido Yama Keiko.



Even thin air

When one studies, one must not be disturbed by comments, criticism, misunderstanding. One walks the path of the masters of old, the forgotten lane which goes unoticed, that road among the heath which was given to the next generation with hope and trust.

I like to do Aïkido as a study of the example of my masters. I focus on what was, which was set as an example to reproduce, not only in a formal way but as a commitment to put ahead one’s heart, one’s earnestness, one’s trust in the improvement to come. Many try to find a better way of studying, a faster means to efficiency, a proficient drill to satisfy oneself. I like to set my efforts in the footprints of my master, confident that he gave me what would be of the greatest help to me.

Ringenkaï means in Japanese the eye of the wheel. One way of understanding this choice is to hear the whisper telling us that the more we move ahead, the more we see what was laid down for us way behind, waiting for our ability to reach the understanding of our masters. As I move smoothly on the mat, in a manner not to harm even the thin air around me, I come closer to my masters and they in turn come closer to me.

The like when there is an alike opens to a link

Voigtlander-Vitomatic-II.Web.051When there is a liking, there is a linking. Photography by Nguyen Thanh Thien © 2017

Last week-end, I was in Brunssum, Netherlands, sharing Ringenkai Aikido with John Luijten’s students and friends.

We went through many techniques, got to the principles which organise movements with a logical access. We explored Jo extensions of technique. I stressed the importance of strong stances and how it allows the upper body to concentrate on its most vital function, breathing.

We shared understanding of how Ikkyo, Nikyo and Sankyo are one within different distances, how Shiho Nage bears Kote Gaeshi and how Kote Gaeshi delivers Irimi Nage. In the approach which is mine, learning One opens to Two and Two leads to Three. The like when there is an alike opens to a link. I like to see this manner of studying as searching for a path. There is a link between the elements of our study. It is as important to look out for the elements as it is to walk the path from one to his neighbour.

Within each elements there is a liking for the follower, an invitation for each of us to the next step, an urge to move ahead. This linking sews Aihanmi to Men Uchi, Katate Dori to Yokomen.

It is a linking which binds us to the dojo. It is a linking which brought us together this year and hopefully will bring us to meet again next year in Brussum and … maybe in France.

I wish you all a fruitful study.

Eyes wide open

contax.167MT.Web.024Photography by Nguyen Thanh Thien © 2017

Practising is opening the eye of the body. Shiho Nage or Ikkyo are movements, steps, journeys along a road, a way, a manner. In the manner of our masters, we put our steps in their own steps, unveiling new landscapes. This is how I understand that Aikido techniques lead to a vision of Aiki.

Lets journey eyes wide open, with the eyes of our body. Lets journey within our body, within the link to our counterpart, within the dojo.

See tomorrow at John Luijten’s dojo in Brunssum for a 2 days workshop. I will teach there once a year, should we share the road together.

On the move

2017.03.15.005.WebAt one time, a teaching has to get on the move. Quai des Grands Augustins from the Place Saint-Michel, Paris, France. Photography by Nguyen Thanh Thien © 2017

I will be teaching in Brunssum at John Luijten’s dojo, Netherlands, this coming Saturday and Sunday.

It is an unusual thing for me to do. These last years, I have chosen to stay in my dojo(s) at home and study. This as enabled me to dig deeper in the teaching of my masters.

In the past, I have been to workshops here and there, in France, in Japan, sometimes in neighbour countries. Each time, I rushed back home to study what had been learnt and shared.

John invited me a few years ago, maybe in 2007. I came each year to his dojo but at one time I needed to concentrate on deepening the understanding, my understanding of the movements and the structures of Aikido. Yet, I had spent great time in his dojo with his students, children and adults. Time to unfold what I had grasped. Time to meet their enthusiasm and eagerness to walk the Aiki Way.

Saturday, I will be opening paths to the 6 manners (structural work), Tori and Uke no kata (inner movements), 1st and 2nd forms (binding of structure and movements). Sunday, we will go into Taïso as essential teaching, Jo and Bokken in the Aiki forms as taught by Noro Masamichi senseï  and his free work preparing for Taninzu Dori.

This program is quite extensive so please have a good night’s rest before. 😉

Very happy to be back among you.

Feel free to attend next workshop at John Luijten’s dojo in Brunssum. I will teach there once a year, should we share the road together.

True study of martial arts

Jardin japonais Albert KahnPhotography by Antonin Borgeaud © 2007

One always complains of what one has received. Did the master teach the true art, the true technique, the true spirit? Did he keep the essential for himself? Did he understand his own master? I read and hear these complaints since the beginning of my study of martial arts in 1970.

I have never joined this choral.

One hears that the students are of lower quality and are not able to grasp the secrets of their master. I hear that the mould of ancient masters has been broken. I read that our time weakens the heart and bones of today’s beginners.

I have never joined this choral.

True study is my aim. I have to take up practise, choose the best teacher available and keep making efforts. This opening of trail is the access to mastery. Complaint is no such road.

I hear that Ueshiba Morihei sensei was the only one to be able to realize Aikido. By realizing, I mean understanding, and doing. I read that Musashi was the only one to realize his teaching. This path leads to despair.

I do not join this choral neither.

Once Noro Masamichi sensei asked me how I saw the coming year. I answered: “Full of great expectations.” He considered my answer and said then: “Hope is a great treasure for men.”

I join his choral.

Once when an old age illness caught Noro Masamichi sensei, he was on the phone listening to a suffering old friend and Aiki companion. He told his mate: “You cannot despair, you are the student of Ueshiba Morihei sensei.”

I join his choral.

Aikido is about technique led by spirit. Technique is the cobblestone on which we walk; spirit is the sight which urges us to move on, one cobble after the other, from one horizon to the next and beyond.

I join this companionship.

Feel free to attend next workshop at John Luijten’s dojo in Brunssum. I will teach there once a year, should we share the road together.