Play and Practice

by Dash (age 12, 5th kyu) and John (Dash’s dad) Dash has been studying Aikido since he was six years old. He has happily set aside the practice time to devote to the classes at the dojo twice or sometimes three times a week. He has really enjoyed his training and has developed in many ways beyond his ever increasing Aikido skills. The children’s classes that he began with were full of fun and easily accessible movements that kept him interested and enjoying each lesson.  Dash says of his early sessions, “The teachers in the kids classes were really great with the play and practice ratio. It was exciting and fun to join the Aikido classes. At the beginning I didn’t always want to come to class but by the end of each class, I was always glad that I had. I had learned new things and it was great practicing new techniques.” This spirit of learning and playfulness in classes kept him coming...
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Practice Theme – September 2011 – Hanmi Handachi

Every month, the dojo sets a theme for practice. Having a theme allows the instructors to unify their various teaching styles towards a single goal. Some months the theme is an abstract point, such as connection, or maai (distance to the opponent). For others, the theme is an actual technique, such as ikkyo (the “first” arm immobilization), or a type of attack, such as shomenuchi (overhead strike to front of head). Hanmi handachi is both a technique and an approach: nage sits on her knees, with feet underneath, much like in the seiza meditation posture, but resting on the toes, to allow for readiness of movement. When the attack comes, nage (the person who applies the technique) receives it and executes any of the standard defenses from that low position. At that point in the technique, unless we are doing it right, we often hear Fran Sensei, our head instructor, tell us: “Let them come to you!” You are expected to sit in your center, and take advantage of gravity. By attacking...
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