Aikido Brisbane News

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Aikido Blog is moving

posted 10 Jun 2012, 03:19 by Dan James

Hi All,
 we have moved our blog to 
its a bit easier to maintain and share with our Facebook page etc..

Ronin Shugyo Video Analysis (Tue 29th)

posted 25 May 2012, 14:34 by Dan James

This months ronin shugyo we will be filming  tanninzugake practice for everyone. In this form of freestyle training the body and mind are released from kata and the conscious mind begins to release it self from kata. In this practice our deep learning is free to express itself, and our good and bad habits are revealed. As nage and uke, no matter how often you receive instruction it is sometimes hard to correct and improve. Body awarness and perceptions of self can sometimes be mismatched with reality and in this professional and serious athletes in most disciplines utilise video feedback to help improve.

During class we'll aim to film everyone and cut the video into pieces for you all to take home on the night - though maybe i can swing a data projector for the night as well. please bring a chunky USB stick if you would like to take it home with you on the night.

Improvement through self analysis of how you do technique and receive may just provide what you are needing for your next step forward.

Lightening and Rising Moon weapons Kata

posted 25 May 2012, 14:25 by Dan James

Last night Alison sensei taught the importance of connection through paired weapons exercises and touched on some of the paired kata Maruyama sensei introduced in 2003. These kata are the lightening and rising moon kata, which are  tachi dori (paired sword  exercises) and jo and sword paired exercises. The kata are described in 13 Aikido Yuishinkai Syllabus Downloads

They are a series of exercise practised from a 10m distance that closes rapidly to the more usual combat distances. The name Lightening is given for the speed at which you must strike and Rising Moon takes it name from the reflection of the moon the water, in that you reflect the movements of your partner. Many of the movements in rising moon will be familiar to Ki Society members who may remember  taigi 29 - kumitachi

Sensei provided these exercises as a respite from the sanningake exercises done from kneeling position (for nage only) to ensure proper movement from tanden, throwing from the front hand only and then from the rear hand - before finishing the class with the formal tanninzugake practice.

Whilst the paired weapons practice  might seem to have been a respite from the physical practice of tanninzugake - its actually identical training in preparing the mind to extend and connect , the body to enter correctly, pass through the space and then control uke with projection.

We hope to return to rising moon and lightening kata in the near future

Koichi Tohei's 1974 resignation letter

posted 14 May 2012, 15:52 by Dan James

tohei resignation

Many years ago (before most of us were even practicing aikido). Koichi Tohei, the first 10-dan of of aikido resigned from the mainline aikido style (Aikikai) to form his own school (Ki no Kenkyukai, or Ki research organisation). It rocked the aikido world at the time and set in place many of the divisions between aikido organisations that exist today. Stanley Pranin, the well known aikido historian who runs what is today known as the aikido journal,  has released the letter to the public (previously it was only available to subscribers). 

You can download the letter after registering at

The letter details Tohei's reasons behind forming his own organisation, his substantial achievements in the spread of aikido and a window into the aikido hierachy at the time. Most interestingly for me it shows why  Ki Society Aikido was practiced the way it was (and still is today) and explains somewhat why the antipathy still exists today. 

Its also a cautionary tale of sorts demonstrating that while a goal of the art is to seek unificatipn and peace - it is stil fraught with humanity along the way. Many thanks to Stanley Pranin for this gift to the aikido community.

Perching on a Branch with Mark Evans Sensei

posted 4 May 2012, 03:24 by Dan James

Last night Mark sensei and Lisa visited our dojo and shared something of their time with Okajima Sensei in Japan. Time was short, though he managed to cover an overview of their training experience in Japan, as a bit of a teaser really. First up were some Soutai exercises and some insight/explanation into their purpose and aid in the study of Aikido. Soutai, is as Williams Reed Sensei once shared as an aside in Japan(link), just the characters for Taiso the other way around and there neatly is its role in our practice.  Soutai is intended to allow the body (and hence the mind ) to relax and become rebalanced. When practiced at the start of class, its a form of preparing the body to be better balanced as well as developing a state of 'proper' mind to maintain (and return to ) during the practice of the Aikido arts.

Sensei led us through several exercise and then we practiced some aikido arts that related to the movement. in these movements the touch of the hands on uke was very soft. Sensei used the analogy of birds perching on a branch, where, rather than forcing uke to the ground, the relaxation of the body draws them to the ground. 

We then explored Goshindou, a self defence oriented art that Okajima Sensei is a lineage holder in. The movements are short and sharp, yet based on aiki principles at the same time. Many of the movements i thought (*speculation alert*) were also consistent with practice of the weapons arts, such as trapping holding and imaginary saya during movements. I was delighted to learn Mark Sensei and Lisa hold dan grades in this art and are open to the possability of running a short seminar in this sister art in the near future.

Sensei finished class with Kokyu dosa, explaining that for him it encompassed all we need to learn. From, the Soutai principles to relax, the aiki-age aiki-sage of unbalancing(link to aikiphysics II), the need to move from our centre and then an insight suggesting that it is less about pinning uke at the end and more about calm in ourselves invoking calm in uke.


There is something very special that happens during prolonged intense practice as transformation. To do this in Japan is the dream of many and Mark Sensei and Lisa made reality. Practicing multiple class everyday for a year brings with it an incredible amount of knowledge in bodywork and mind that Sensei seems to be well on the path to integrating and making their own in the year since returning to Australia. I found his teaching to be a much deeper experience than just a few years ago when he last taught in Brisbane and I look forward to next time, as it continues to distill in his mind and body.

I was greatly encouraged to hear that Okajima sensei studies many other arts actively, in addition to those he teaches. This is a incredible wellspring of knowledge to drink from that I hope will continue to replenish and extend on the knowledge he brings to our school for many years.

I'd like to thank Lisa for her feedback on her experience in our dojo (I often grill visitors for feedback) and on how she found our role of uke in the dojo. Its important for uke to be conducive to learning, rather than dive bunnies, overly resistive or prescriptive in response to technique. The feel of a traditional dojo, such as Okajima sensei's in Japan is some thing we have striven to create so thankyou all for being such exemplars. Thankyou also to our regular visitors from other dojo for what you bring to the dojo.

A reflection

One of my conundrums as a student of the art is that we have the student handbook and grading syllabus as a starting point, the complete syllabus that is made available to all dojo through Michael Williams Sensei our chief instructor,  yet beyond this are the Shinkage Ryu and Daito Ryu teachings and now the Soutai and Goshindou are also emerging. There is a lot to learn! a lifetime really. For this black duck with a modest 20yrs under my belt its exciting to be able to continue to learn, though the task of running a modest dojo and what to teach people just starting the art is a challenge.

In many respects I shouldn't be surprised, Takeda Sensei drew on many source to create Daito Ryu, his principle student (arguably) Ueshiba Sensei drew on other sources to create Aikido, Tohei sensei (his first 10th dan) drew on other sources to create Ki Aikido, Maruymaa Sensei (president of Tohei's Ki Society) drew on other sources to create Aikido Yuishinkai and now Okajima sensei is also bringing in new sources. Having been around for a solid foundation in Ki Society, the spread of Aikido Yuishinkai in the west and now seeing the influences of Okajima's other lineages its a real challenge to maintain beginners mind and practice authentically what is Aikido Yuishinkai, there is so much to learn…. I guess thats why the dojo is still open

Evans Sensei reflects on a year with Okajima Sensei, Thursday 3May 8pm

posted 30 Apr 2012, 16:06 by Dan James

This Thursday Mark Evans sensei will be visiting our dojo. Mark Sensei is a senior instructor at Goshinkan dojo, the Aikido Yuishinkai headquarters and in 2010/2010 Mark Sensei and Lisa were soto-deshi students of Taikai Okajima Sensei in Osaka Japan. Okajima Sensei, is a 10-dan holder in Aikido Yushinkai and has been named as Maruyama Sensei's successor. During my last, albeit brief visit to Okajima sensei's dojo he said 'everything is Soutai' whilst still downing me with very effective Aiki. I have had the opportunity to visit Sensei's dojo on a number of occasions and learnt a lot from the small focused dojo he runs ( my thanks to Mark Sensei for helping with the most recent visit late last year)

I first met Mark sensei in Brighton, UK in the late 90's at Yoshigasaki Sensei seminar (we were all were in the Ki Society at that time) and got to know him at the Brighton Ki Society dojo in the coming year. Just a few years later he turned up in Byron Bay and have enjoyed a rich dialogue ever since. 

During the course of their years study with Okajima Sensei Mark and Lisa learnt from many of the arts Okajima is skilled in (some of which he holds lineages in). These include Aikido Yuishinkai, Goshindou and Soutai. 

I am looking forward to learning from his distillation of a year in Okajima sensei's dojo as well as what he thinks are the directions of study for the future. A last years national seminar in Byron his insights on tenkan from Okajima sensei, turned even the investigations of Sunter-san on its head a little I thought.

Martial Arts Expo May 23,24, Goshinkan Seminar in July and more

posted 29 Apr 2012, 21:32 by Dan James

Coming up on May the 23,24 is the Brisbane Martial Arts expo and many familiar faces will return from amongst the martial arts community. see we have had a great time previously (see Patrick McCarthy Sensei at the Brisbane Martial Arts Expo) and thoroughly recommend it as a way to sample other budo and sister arts.

A little later on friend of the dojo Chicko Xerri Sensei from Fudoshin dojo will be hosting a tribute to Yamaguchi Sensei and Goshinkan dojo, Byron Bay in mid July (see attached file for details)

Our own national seminar is scheduled in Byron sometime in October and already we hear whisperings of some great new material.

Special thanks to our friends at Brisbane Aikikai and Bayside Budokai for inviting us to some terrific seminars these past few months

National Coaching Accreditation for Aikido

posted 27 Apr 2012, 16:26 by Dan James

This is to let everyone know that a government recognised national coaching accreditation course is being run in mid June in Queensland (they are also running in other states at other times of the year see below for the dates). The Australian Jujitsu Federation is the NSO (National Sporting Organisation) that represents aikido, jujitsu and related arts  to the Australian government and runs this course. (see for more information). Quite a few schools within Aikido Yuishinkai have undertaken the training and there is broad support across many other aikido styles in Australia. (see the schools listing on the AJF site)

The course runs in intensive mode over a very full weekend, with followup assignments and practical assessment. It presupposes that participants are already skilled in their art and particular school (it is not style based) and admission is based on existing dan or equivalent measure of these skills. Whilst the coaching corse devotes some time to demonstration of practical teaching skills, its emphasis is on the wider coaching context, and fills in some of the gaps in knowledge. These include

 - identification of physical activity

 - strengthening and conditioning

 - physical maturation

 - biomechanics

 - diet

 - leaning and teaching of skills

 - warm up and warm down

 - risk management, litigation and the law

 - understanding of the role of policy etc..


The course was developed and approved through the Australian Sports Commission. The accompanying coaching manual is developed by the ASC and knowing quite a few authors personally, they are some of Australia's leading lights in the training of elite athletes in australia.

The outcomes of the course are an NCAS (National coaching accreditation system) accreditation. With this accredditation you can also access a really good insurance policy through the AJF, in part because of the lowered risk this brings.

As an instructor in a dojo the course equips you with National best practice and as a dojo it does so as well which can help you give your best for your students both in duty of care and in teaching within your school.

Most current dates are


Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th May 2012

VENUE: Point Cook Senior College, Boardwalk Boulevard Point Cook VICTORIA

Course Coordinator: Ross Miller Phone: 0412 343 088

Inquiries may also be made with the Course Presenter go to ‘Contact Details’ or by calling 07 5576 1064



Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th June 2012

VENUE: Dept Sport & Recreation, Sports House 150 Caxton Street MILTON QLD 4064

 Course Coordinator: Matthew Cugola Phone: 1300 766 634

Inquiries may also be made with the Course Presenter go to ‘Contact Us’ or by calling 07 5576 1064



Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th August 2012

VENUE: WA Dept Sport & Recreation, 246 Vincent Street, Leederville, WA 6007

Course Coordinator: Nigel Farrier Phone: 08 9581 6288

Inquiries may also be made with the Course Presenter go to ‘Contact Us’ or by calling 07 5576 1064

Aikido Republic - Winter retreat (June 22-24)

posted 22 Apr 2012, 04:24 by Dan James

Our winter retreat last year was such a success that its on again, this years them is the Kumijo of Aikido Yuishinkai. There are a few spaces left and day visitors are welcome.  Find all the details at our new seminars site

Please join us for a fully catered weekend of rustic style food with ingredients sourced from the Arakai tea estates’s own garden, cosy fires and bracing mountain air, and plenty of time for a little aiki on the side. Partners and families are welcome.

Kumijo Aikido Yuishinkai

is the creation of Williams Sensei and is a joining of the famous 7 part Kumijo (a paired jo kata) of Saito Sensei  to develop and understanding of distance and timing from long through to short range.

When practiced within the school levels of kotaijuntai and ryutai it highlights and develops our understanding of our open hand arts through precision practice. The kotai or static level practice is critical to the kata maintaining its martial understanding, juntai prepares for aiki and ryutai hones the senses.

Its movements can also be interpreted though open hand practice which will also be explored. On Sunday we hope to film the practice for website and dojo use.

Don't forget Ronin Shugyo (Tuesday April 24th)  and beginners induction Tuesday May 1st

Dream dojo.

posted 17 Apr 2012, 21:01 by Dan James

Whilst relaxing in the town of Hanmer Springs, New Zealand, we came across a historic hospital. It was a popular place to convalesce and 'take the waters' in a bygone world. 

These days its empty, though many a fine building stands. Ever on the lookout for a good dojo I had a peak inside one. Yep! there was someone dream dojo inside,  maybe I'll take a Gi next time :)

Any other dream dojo out there?

Dream Location - Hanmers main street
(main  st. photo from

Somewhere to unwind after the practice

dream dojo

There it is inside one of the many high ceiling historic buildings

Plenty to do in Autumn

Aiki dodgems

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