Friday, July 20, 2012

Yamamoto Seminar Review

Last weekend I attended the Yamamoto seminar in Columbia Missouri. Sensei Nick is (sadly) in the middle of the ocean, so it was just myself and another student from the dojo for this one.

This seminar was a bit different than previous seminars I have attended, but I really enjoyed it. Mr. Yamamoto studies Karate AND Aikido, so there was a distinct Aiki flavor to the weekend, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I have much more experience with Aiki than I do with Karate, so it was refreshing to be in familiar territory for once. There were some Karate applications and Kata bunkai discussion, which was similar to what I learned at the Wilder seminar. A very distinct similarity was going over how to stand and position yourself to be relaxed, yet rooted for powerful striking.

I later learned that Mr. Wilder and Mr. Yamamoto had the same Sensei. Ah. So that's where they got it.

The first day we covered how to stand (not quite as in depth as in the Wilder seminar) and how to be immovable through relaxation (which was not covered in the Wilder seminar). Also covered was how to be deceptive through relaxation and some of the defensive condition techniques. The Wedge, Dracula's Cape, and Answering the Phone. Or as Mr. Yamamoto says "Combing the Hair." We covered, not quite as in depth as the Wilder seminar, striking with power and remaining relaxed to do so. We also covered not crossing the road twice, so when you move, you move in one direction, with purpose.

One highlight of the seminar for me was getting to do some relaxed cuts with the bokken. I've always been TOLD that Aiki stems from sword practice, but I've never understood HOW. After doing some cuts and Mr. Yamamoto demonstrating to the class how some of the movements in both Karate and Aiki relate to, or are even taken directly from, sword movements, it makes much more sense now. It makes me want to do more sword training for sure.

Yamamoto focused more on internal versus external effects, which break down like this

  • Interntal (Things YOU control)
    • Structure
    • Relaxed and Confident
    • Hide Your Technique
    • Move Your Hand First
  • External (Things to do to HIM)
    • Break His Structure
    • Kill His Center
    • Cheat
    • Cut Through Him (like a sword!)
I can't give all the goodies away. You need to attend one of his seminars to get all the details, but you get the idea with that outline.

The second day Tina and I were late, due to some difficulty checking out at the hotel that morning. >: / So we missed maybe the firs 45 minutes or so of that day, but what we covered was mostly application of what we learned on day one. We practiced several Aiki type techniques and Aiki-minded applications to the Karate kata. Which would be like, this move from this Karate kata, but it is done in a relaxed way so as to be deceptive. It's just a different approach, not better or worse, just different.

Aiki tends to be my happy place, so I was really excited to learn some Aiki applications to Karate kata. It's not that I don't like Karate, I DO. Aikido/Aikijutsu just seems to have it's own unique methods. It's different from almost any other martial art... Not that all martail arts are the same, except they kind of are, but that's another can of worms. Even Judo "the gentle way" looks NOTHING like Aiki.

All that aside, I actually got to talk Martial Arts with Mr. Yamamoto after the seminar on the first day. If you get a chance to go the hang outs after the seminars that Eric Parsons hosts, they are well worth it, by the way. It was a great chance to discuss some of the difficulties I've been having with Aiki and get some outside perspective. We discussed muscle vs. finess on a technique and also how height/weight/body type plays a role in martial arts, etc. It was really spectacular to get some one on one time to really discuss some of my thoughts and difficulties with the Martial Arts with someone who has a similar background to what I am striving for. (Aiki and Karate)

Last but not least, I wanted to follow up a bit on the last post I wrote following a seminar review about attitude. I have to say the attitude at this seminar was better than any seminar I've been to. Everyone was friendly and talkative and outgoing. I didn't get the weird vibe like I've had before at all! I made a point to try to get around and talk to people and get names. I met several great gentlemen including Mark, Tony, Ed, Brian, Ryan and others. I am terrible with names, but those are the ones I remember. I worked with different people and had a great experience. I hope every seminar I attend goes just like this!

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