Maruyama Sensei seminar 2003

click to enlargeA Seminar report on the Master Koretoshi Maruyama 5 day seminar held at 
Goshinkan, Byron Bay, Australia Sept 5-9 Sept 2003

What a fantastic, energetic seminar this year - fortunately spring came 
late to Byron Bay which kept the temperatures favorable for vigorous 
training (though challenging for Gi washing/drying)

This year Sensei Maruyama focused on three ideas (the Seichusen, Moon 
shadow foot and Lizard legs) these were repeatedly emphasized and 
experienced through aikido technique and weapons training. These ideas are 
spoken at length in the new yuishinkai student guidebook by Sensei Michael 
Williams but became living (reality?) at the seminar. Whilst most of the 
tehnique syllabus was covered during the five days, I'll not attempt to 
convey this here(though perhaps others will attempt?).

The Seichusen
The centre line (encompassing the gei/seika, chu, and jo tandens) is 
familiar to many aikkidoka, its relationship to uke's centre line, where to 
cut for projections and having that forward feeling during leading were 
emphasized during weapons suburi and aikido technique.

I think Maruyamas seichusen was tested only a passenger in Sensei 
Neil's (Cleveland dojo) Corvette Stingray between classes one day ;)

Moon Shadow foot
Is a method of breaking ma-ai without ukes knowledge, this is achieved by 
sliding the front forward with no weight on it (as a transitionary 
movement). I guess a lot of experienced aikidoka do this anyway but it's 
nice to have it presented in formal detail. Maruyama sensei explained how 
it is borrowed from the shinkage sword school(s) and spoke of its use in 
some famous duels in history. The name itself comes from how your foot 
moves forward like the reflection of the moon on a pond.

Lizard legs
Was presented as a way of stepping to make distance to shikaku (hidden 
point behind uke) comfortable with out having to take big steps, awkward 
shuffling or dramatic leaps. Sensei explained this has helped his aikido 
become more effective with big westerners (in particular Peter from 
Fuji-ryu in Tasmania) and how as our bodies age this is a way to continue 
to do effective movements with less hip mobility.

Weapons training
Of particular interest to me were his insights into traditional sword 
practice where he explained a little of the linage of our sword training 
and more on the famous shinkage ryu schools. He spoke why we have different 
stances to traditional sword practice -  owing to the use of  bokken and 
not having to wear heavy armour and also about some of the 'fictions' of 
swordsmanship in popular Japanese movies.
A day of the seminar was devoted to Jo and Bokken practice, where we 
studied the relationship of the above 3 principles through kata and 
kumitachi. We studied bokken-bokken kumitachi (much like taigi 29 for you 
KS folks) and he really brought it alive as an intense interaction, we then 
covered Jo-Bokken kumitachi and the bokken part to the first jo kata 
(shooting star aka taigi 27 for KS). In fact I would go as far to say the 
first session was my favorite class(es) ever.

A particular students comment sticks in my head "I thought weapons was an 
interesting side to aikido but never really understood its importance in 
helping me understand things before"

Seminar Dinner/wild party
Saturday night we were treated to local Byron dojo talent at the seminar 
dinner with the 'Senseishins' band lead by Michael Williams Sensei and 
numbering some professional musicians in the group. Quieter moments also 
featured some acoustic guitar and vocals and a few excellent piano and 
vocal standards.

The seminar was well thought out showing a logical progression of ideas for 
each class and the classes as a whole. Its clear that Maruyama sensei has 
evolved his ideas (different from his time with Ki Society), in general 
there is greater martial emphasis and he embraces concepts from other aiki 
styles. e.g. he referred to and explained aiki-age from the daito-ryu as 
well as teaching little snippets of other aiki-things as well (thought i 
spied some shinbudokai stuff as well).

In closing Maruyama emphasized his motto 'I am mind itself' and reiterated 
the importance of posture and the seichusen as the most important thing for 
aikido and daily life. More info can be found on Maruyama sensei can be 
found on