Recently I attended a Aikido seminar given by Patrick Cassidy Sensei in the Dojo of Ray Butcher in Dublin. Patrick teaches in such a way that people can explore Aikido at different levels of depth. One technical and another coming from sensation. The study of Aikido is often lacking in the kind of sensitivity that Patrick is teaching. A student will often focus too much on the outward technique and ignore the more subtle aspects. For example in pinning techniques such as Nikkyo, Sankyo and Kote Gaeshi it is easy to focus on the wrist or shoulder, however this prevents attaining a connection to Uke’s centre. In other words if you attack the wrist that is all you will get.
By opening up more it is possible to feel into the centre and the feet of your partner. To study this Patrick first explained in terms of positioning and we practiced. Then he repeated the same thing but with sensitivity, done like this it is slightly different each time. I noticed that he called up many people to take Ukemi, I think he does this in order that the group has a direct feeling of what to look for. This way the sense of Aikido can be more clearly transmitted.
After the lunch break training got a lot more rigorous. We explored a freer side of training. Flowing movements while maintaining the connection to our partner. I found this is be liberating and exhausting in equal measure. It is however extremely enjoyable and a great way to put the principles of Aikido into practice.
For Patrick, finding and keeping this connection both to ourselves and each other seems to be an important focus of his approach to Aikido. I certainly have a lot to learn in this area and classes with Patrick give some very useful tools to make our Aikido more mindful. Surely the preservation of life is an integral part of Aikido and the first step towards this must be to gain a greater sense of empathy with each other. Patrick and some other instructors I have trained with and written about see Aikido as a means to improve human society starting with ourselves. No simple matter at all but by creating and training in a more focused open state of mind we can create a space for others to follow suit.
Patrick Cassidy is living in Montreux, Switzerland where besides from Aikido he also teaches Yoga and Meditation. He teaches in Ireland at least once a year in the Henshin Aikido Dojo.
Aikido Montreux – aikidomontreux.com
Henshin Aikido – www.balanceireland.com/aikido