David Brown Seminars

After an introduction to David Brown Sensei some years ago i was fascinated with his interpretation and application of aikido kata. Since that time i have continued to followed his seminars where possible and practice his method where possible and shared stories in his studio betwixt the violins and glue pots. As a violin player myself spending time in his workshop satisfied another art that I enjoy.

From the 2004 seminar
I attended two sessions of the David Brown Sensei seminar last weekend at
the Brisbane Aiki-kai. An intriguing seminar as he shared his thoughts on
what he thought aikido was really about and proceed to demonstrate this
using aikido technique as a vehicle. In the process he also demonstrated
his proficiency in many other arts. From what I understand David Brown
sensei has spent considerable time practicing and 'mixing' it with
practitioners of other arts to arrive at his particular perspective which
he shared with us.

I had tremendous trouble putting pen to paper to describe the seminar at
first but my mind seems to have settled a bit more now. Thus the following
are my interpretations and include some paraphrasing of what i think he
said and taught.

David Brown Sensei believes that you can't throw any body ever because they
are too strong, also you can't hit people because they are too fast,
instead the shapes of aikido can be applied in conflict and uke will either
eventually fall over or run into a fist or elbow.

He explained that the techniques of aikido are a vehicle for the above and
spoke of how some of the different styles of aikido vary in their
interpretation of the conflict and approach it in slightly different
ways(he elaborated on this somewhat as well). Ultimately he believes there
are no styles in aikido only those that can and those that can't do aikido.
During the seminar he drew on teachings from Tohei, Yamagauchi, Sugano and
Saito sensei's among others. He also demonstrated how some of the footwork
we use is very similar to that of gojo ryu karate for example - though the
outcomes are somewhat different.

In the first class sensei stated that 'O'sensei was a jujutsu expert', he
then proceeded to demonstrate some jujutsu technique for us to practice and
then progressively refined this to more conventional aikido movements. We
then focused on this movements shape to show how atemi and technique are
formed. We also explored then how regardless of ukes responses (e.g. if
they hang on or not) the shape allows resolution of the conflict and
correct positioning of nage. The shape of the technique also allows the
movement to finish with other techniques even if kaishi waza (reversals)
and block were applied.

David Brown sensei spoke at length of the circle of power (bit like the
dynamic sphere) around uke and how if we enter that space there is
conflict. Instead we either move around that space to the hidden point
(shikaku) for shionage or alter the angle of the circle using ikkyo,
nikkyo... He felt that most fighting arts just these circles meeting head
on, where strikes and throws are able to be countered because you can see,
feel or sense what is coming. Instead aikido seeks to become invisible and
from this position uke doesn't know what is coming which makes it difficult
to counter/ resist or block technique (or its shape).

I enjoyed the creative use of kaishiwaza during practice as a means to
explore his concepts and enjoyed this during the jo-nage and kokyu-dosa
practice particularly and hope to incorporate them in my future training.
I'm also keen to learn more about tai-no henko as practiced at the seminar,
being something of a different practice (tenkan waza) to what I normally do
in Aikido Yuishinkai .

Many thanks to Brisbane Aiki-kai for making me so welcome. I enjoyed seeing
some old aiki-friends there and making some new ones as well.