Last weekend the OC Aikikai hosted the annual Harry Ishisaka memorial seminar. Ishisaka sensei founded the dojo – one of the first on the US mainland – with the encouragement of Koichi Tohei sensei in 1964 and the dojo is still going strong some 45 years later. I’ve trained here many times over the years and I was excited to attend this seminar for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, long time chief instructor Henry Oshiro chose to pass the reigns on to black belt Pilli Luna. I’m sure that the dojo will be in good hands with Luna sensei at the helm.
The other reason I was looking forward to this event is because off all of the talent that comes around this one day of the year to teach, to share, and to enjoy a day of training. There are too many instructors to mention but some of the stand outs for me were Dan Kawakami (hey I’m biased) who tried to sum up his 40 years of aikido in 30 minutes – (he did!), Gary Welborn with some strong kuzushi movements from katatetori, James Nakayama with some of his usual dynamic aikido, and Walter Muryasz who demonstrated his extremely smooth and relaxed yet powerful aikido.
I like these kinds of events that bring together a group of different instructors. Yes, they all had the same teacher (Ishisaka sensei) but despite that fact, they still all have different aikido and I see that as a good thing. If this really is an art than we shouldn’t all be robots trying to move exactly like our teacher. At some point we should allow our personalities and our body types to make the movements more natural. Some may disagree with me but to me an art is something that should be expressed and no two people are the same. We all wear different clothes, think differently, and move differently. At this seminar I saw all of the instructors at the core expressing the same principles but on the outside the techniques were all different and unique.
So congratulations to the OC Aikikai for a great day of training and for passing the leadership on to the next generation. It was nice to see and train with friends I haven’t seen in a while (get better soon Brandon!). I hope to be back next month when Muryasz sensei holds a 2 day seminar at the school (Feb 20 & 21!)
*All photos (c) Anthony Hilly