Zagreb

zagrebI have just come back from a seminar in Zagreb. The generosity and hospitality of the Croatians, which was characteristically welcoming, made for a great weekend both on and off the mat.

Congratulations to all those who did their gradings that weekend.

Hopefully see everyone again soon.

House of Aikido in Zagreb

During the summer seminar last year in Croatia, we started to discuss the possibility of Shihan Burgess teaching a seminar at the Aikido društvo Zagreb.  This finally reached fruition last month when he taught in Zagreb over the weekend 15-16 April.

The dojo itself was in need of a lot of restoration work when it was first rented from the City of Zagreb in 2013 with no no electricity, plumbing or water.  Located next to Zagreb central station, within the confines of a Steam Mill complex, it is a monument of Zagreb’s industrial past, built at the beginning of the 20th century.

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Through the endeavours of the club members, volunteering their time and effort, the building is being carefully restored. Today, they have produced a beautiful and peaceful place to practice.

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The seminar was well received over the weekend.  Similarly, well received by our instructors who accompanied Shihan Burgess for the weekend, was the kind hospitality of the club and the city.

Here are some photographs from the seminar which give an indication of the enthusiasm of the practise over the weekend.

Aikido društvo Zagreb will be hosting one of the summer seminar given by Doshu Yoshigasaki this summer at Baske Ostarije,Velebit. More details can be found here.

The Science of the One-Inch Punch

oneinchpunchHere is an article that attempts to explain the mechanics behind Bruce Lee’s one inch punch.

“Because the punch happens over such a short amount of time, Lee has to synchronize each segment of the jab—his twisting hip, extending knees, and thrusting shoulder, elbow, and wrist—with incredible accuracy. Furthermore, each joint in Lee’s body has a single moment of peak acceleration, and to get maximum juice out of the move, Lee must layer his movements so that each period of peak acceleration follows the last one instantly.

So coordination is key. And that’s where the neuroscience comes in.”

In Aikido we must learn the mechanics of a technique. We must also learn to use our mind and body homogeneously as described above. It is by developing both physical and mental aspects together that our techniques become relaxed and powerful.

The physical techniques of Aikido could probably be mimicked by a skilled dancer very easily. However such technique would lack substance and meaning. The techniques must be done with mind and body unification to have value.

This unification is taught  explicitly in our classes. In fact you cannot progress through our Aikido syllabus without formally demonstrating this understanding.

“The biggest danger is to stop learning”

At the recent children’s seminar in Germany, Sensei Raymond Scanlon taught a lesson explaining the importance of always adapting. Although this is a sentiment most people would agree with, many fail to follow it when they become adults. As we get older we seem to prefer what is comfortable than to what is true.

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All still learning even after decades of practise.

Martial Arts are the study of danger. This is a life long pursuit,  As with most discplines, the more we practise, the more humble we become as we start to appreciate the subtleties of the art. We come to realise that we are playing with pebbles on the beach whilst the “great ocean of truth lies undiscovered before us”

In Aikido, we also learn to apply and receive technique during practise. This practise of receiving technique, ukemi, gives just enough stress to your bodies to keep it supple and active whilst leaving it strong. In this way, your body learns, as it ages, how it can continue to function effectively

Aikido is as technically complex as other martial arts such as judo or karate. However it is also theoretically complex. Therefore, during a life time of practise we are confronted by a host of challenges both physical and philosophical.  Not only must we learn to keep our techniques martially efficient, we must also keep asking ourselves whether they are still harmonious, an art. This criteria ensure we keep revisiting and revising techniques again and again, adapting and refining them as we progress.

It is this continuous adaption that makes Aikido practise so valuable. We must learn to keep examining and challenge ourselves. By practising in this way we can transfer this attitude, of constant learning and evaluation into our daily lifes.