Category Archives: Courses

Muden Juku – First International Seminar in Ireland.

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Introduction by Joseph Kennedy.

The following piece is by Oisin Bourke. I have trained with him and his wife Megumi, since they moved from Sapporo where she is from, to Kilkenny. The Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu practiced by Oisin is a part of the Muden Juku. The Muden Juku is based in Sapporo, Hokkaido and is headed by Hiroo Iida Shihan. Oisin as the ‘Shibucho’ is the director of the Irish Branch of the Muden Juku. He runs a Dojo in Thomastown and teaches in such a way as to be consistent with the Traditional methods employed by his instructor Hiroo Iida. Having travelled to Japan in order to attend Keiko with Iida Sensei, I can say that the Dojo in Thomastown is inline with the teaching of Iida Sensei, that the manner of the Keiko is shaped by a understanding of ‘Aiki’ from the same source. This transmission is essential to the school and an essential characteristic of Japanese thought. For me this course gave me the experience of being able to train alongside Oisin as a student, observing him taking Ukemi and receiving instruction, thus broadening my appreciation for the Art.

Report of Daito Ryu Seminar with Hiroo Iida and Ole Kingston in Thomastown, Kilkenny, June 2018.

By Oisin Bourke

A unique event took place in the village of Thomastown, Kilkenny this June. It was the venue for the first ever Irish seminar in the traditional Japanese art of Daito Ryu Aiki jujutsu. Moreover, this seminar also had the distinction of being taught by two instructors from two ryu ha (factions) of the art: Hiroo Iida, a shihan (master level) instructor and lineage student of Kodo Horikawa, and Ole Kingston jun kyoju dairi,(licensed teacher), lineage student of Okamoto Seigo shihan, one Horikawa’s earliest and highest-level students. These two instructors presented methodology stemming from a common source, but they also showed distinct aspects of the Daito ryu that informed each other. Practitioners were thus able to receive a comparative, broad and comprehensive overview of the principles of this fascinating art.

Traditional Japanese ‘ways’ of development and art, whether they are budo (ways based on martial practice) shodo (based on calligraphy) chado (based on the tea ceremony) traditional dance or one of a myriad of other practices, must be experienced bodily and mentally in order to fully understood their depth. In this age where people can become ‘experts’ from watching clips on the internet and picking and choosing bits of different arts to bolster their own system to attract students, fewer people are actually taking the opportunity to train with truly advanced practitioners of budo to a deep level. This has been a perennial problem in learning traditional arts. The Japanese writer Issai Chozanshi addressed this tendency in the early eighteenth century in his classic treatise “The Demon’s Sermon on the Martial Arts”. Chozanshi wrote

“Nowadays, people are shallow and their resolution is not in earnest. They dislike the strenuous and love the easy from the time they are young. When they see something vaguely clever, they want to learn it right away; but if taught in the manner of the old ways, they think it not worth learning. Nowadays, the way is revealed by the instructor, the deepest principles are taught even to beginners, the end result is set right out in front, and the student is led along by the hand.”

This is a problem in Ireland as much as anywhere else, so I organised this seminar to help remedy this situation.

Attendees came to Thomastown from all around the world to avail to the experience to train with Ole and Iida Sensei. Countries represented at the seminar included Japan, the USA, Denmark, Portugal, Britain, France, Finland, Belgium and of course Ireland. Practitioners came from a background of a variety of arts, including various Ryu ha (branches) of Daito Ryu, Aikido, Koryu Bujutsu (classical Japanese martial disciplines), Jujutsu and Chinese arts. The fact that such a diverse group of people managed to train so well and profitably together over a weekend seminar is a testament to the spirit of all those who attended and to the ability of the instructors.

The days were split between morning sessions, led by Ole Kingston, and afternoon sessions, led by Iida Hiroo, with an introductory session being held on Friday evening.

Ole’s main emphasis for his sessions were on the aiki jujutsu portion of the art. These included techniques that used sophisticated methods of timing, breathing, use of the eyes and intent to effect kuzushi (the breaking of balance) on the opponent. In aiki jujutsu, little physical effort is needed to disrupt the opponent’s balance or will to attack. Minimal movements are focussed on specific areas of the opponent’s body, often the joints, known in Japanese as kansetsu waza. Ole sensei also taught very much by feel, throwing everyone in attendance in a line (known as rinban keiko in Japanese).
Then we divided into three smaller lines to practice the techniques with each other. The emphasis was on smoothness and repetition of execution. Ole often showed ‘sets’ of techniques, which were basically the same techniques done for a particular attack (e.g. a one-handed grab) but were executed using different modes of movement, from relatively large and expressive to small and refined. One reason for this kind of training was to help ‘burn in’ the smoothness of the movement needed to do the techniques correctly. Also, by repeatedly recieving these techniques in a line, one could feel the movements within one’s body feel where their balance was disrupted.

A special emphasis on Ole sensei’s classes was achieving this smoothness in executing techniques, which is based on a deceptively simple principle called ‘no-shi’. This is a kind of spiral motion that is expressed by the hands but is ultimately created by the correct use of the whole body. It’s a multi-faceted concept that applies to many aspects of practice, such as breathing and body usage. Ole demonstrated that the first part of this movement (‘no’) unbalances the opponent and can even momentarily stop their breath, while the second part (‘shi’) follows the technique through to the end either as a throw, lock, strike and so on. However, these should be executed as two aspects of the one movement! Even in this basic teaching there was a wealth of practice and information for people to work on.

Ole’s teaching was at a very sophisticated level. The aiki jujutsu level of the art is rarely taught and demonstrated so clearly, especially to first time practicioners. Iida sensei’s portion of the seminar extended that sophistication to encompass the aiki no jutsu portion of the art.

The Three levels of Daito Ryu: Soden, Chuden and Okuden.

This three-level stage of training is quite common in many authentic Japanese arts. In the practice of shodo (Japanese calligraphy) for example, practitioners begin by practicing brushing script in the Kaisho level. The script that practitioners brush/write at this level are characterised by strong clear and precise strokes. Then they move onto gyosho in which the brushwork becomes more fluid as practitioners begin to grasp how the characters in Japanese script work and fit together. Finally, after many years of practice, master level calligraphers achieve the level of sousho, in which their calligraphy and their vital energy becomes fused into their work.

Traditionally, when one joined a Daito Ryu school, one moved through three levels of initiation. The first level of this was the soden level at which practitioners learned jujutsu. This included powerful locks throws, groundwork and strikes (known as atemi) that were not dissimilar from other schools of Japanese jujutsu. After a period of training, (up to ten years), practitioners were graduated to chuden level and were introduced to the aiki jujutsu portion of the art. At this level, jujutsu techniques start to be performed using aiki, as opposed to normal muscular strength. At this level, many of the techniques became smaller, and thus could be performed in smaller spaces. Aiki jujutsu techniques lock up or throw the opponent by attacking their joints momentarily with aiki. Aiki is a deep concept for which there is no English translation, but it incorporates elements of breathing, timing, reflexes, psychology and body movement.

Finally, some of the most advanced practitioners of Daito Ryu graduated to the okuden level of the art and learn the techniques known as aiki no jutsu. This is a level in which the internal practices introduced at the chuden level have become so integrated into the practitioner that the practitioner barely moves externally. Internally however, the practitioner is using intent, breathing and connection to organise themselves to deal with incoming force and to generate unified, compacted energy. The opponent is unbalanced, locked up, thrown or even frozen, cramped or compacted at the moment of contact, often before they are even aware of what has happened.

At the level of aiki no jutsu, the sharp aiki techniques used to attack joints at chuden level flow into the opponent’s whole body. The sensitive opponent grabs or attacks, but suddenly feels like a huge powerful force suddenly appears somewhere within them, sometimes feeling like a great weight, sometimes like an uprush of wind and sometimes like an explosion, all going on deep within their body. Often when receiving an aiki no jutsu technique, a beginner will fall or lose their power without being able to understand what has happened to them. It feels as if they just fell over. To the outside observer, it certainly seems like nothing is happening between uke (the attacker) and tori (the thrower). This is linked to the historical development of the Daito Ryu style, which evolved as an art special to the Aizu samurai clan of Northern Japan. High ranking members of the Aizu used the art as a self-defence art for formal indoor situations. These situations demanded minimal movement and a calm, settled spirit, steady breathing and a highly developed usage and control of one’s body and mind.

Iida sensei’s section of the seminar concentrated on the aiki no jutsu portion of the art. He emphasised the type of practice required to develop this level of the art. He stressed the importance of correct form or kata in practice. This type of kata geiko requires often repetitive, mindful attention on the part of both uke and tori as one starts to integrate breath, intent and internal connection need to neutralise and redirect uke’s incoming force.

To this end, we concentrated on the first day on a series of paired practices to develop aspects of the body, in particular the chushin, or centre line. This central line of the body must be unified for the aiki no jutsu level techniques to make sense. This is because aiki no jutsu techniques cannot utilise normal, gross muscular power due to their minimal movements. Grasping this concept must be done on a physical and mental level and this requires special training method. Iida sensei also explained the crossover with these principles found in some schools of Japanese swordsmanship, or kenjutsu. Iida sensei made mention of kuden, or oral teachings in traditional arts to help inculcate the correct movements and body usage based on the principles expressed in natural. Iida sensei’s emphasis was not on the large, dramatic movements that many identify with Japanese budo arts. Instead, he concentrated was on developing a soft yet connected, concentrated body and mind that could gather and express aiki. For Iida sensei, this is the essence of Japanese arts and their training methods, akin to and ‘old style’ or ‘koryu’ method of movement and training.

On the final afternoon, Iida sensei introduced some techniques that could be executed with minimal movement in order to help manifest aiki no jutsu in application.
The approaches of both teachers helped inform the other. Where Iida sensei’s emphasis was on development, Ole’s was on expression. Where One approach helped make one aware of movement, the other made you more aware of internal connection. Where one emphasised the feeling from receiving a technique, the other emphasised the cultivation of feeling in oneself. Both approaches gave insights to practitioners that weren’t usually shown. More importantly, the feelings, concepts and body organisation introduced will hopefully provide a foundation from which attendees can develop for years to come. Many concepts introduced were very high level and left some practitioners conceptually confused, yet I believe that the training planted seeds within the body of each attendant that will bear fruit in years to come. My sincere thanks to everyone who attended this unique event, and my commiserations to those who missed it!

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oisinbourke.wixsite.com/daitoryu

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Aikido with Simone Chierchini Sensei – April 2018

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Sunday 15th April in Thomastown

aikijoseph.wixsite.com/nore-valley-aikido

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New Venue

View from the New Place

View from just outside our New Dojo

Nore Valley Aikido has re-started their second weekly class. Every Monday evening 7.30 till 9 in Thomastown Scouts Hall. Beginners are Welcome.  Our other class is in Jerpoint, about 2 miles outside of Thomastown. Training is held 3 Thursdays of the month from 6 till 7.30. Call to confirm.

Contact me on 0857245321 if you’d like to attend. Any other enquiries via email please. aikijoseph@gmail.com

Information for beginners.

aikijoseph.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/faqs-aikido/

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year to All. I hope you are all well and enjoyed a peaceful Christmas.

I haven’t been blogging much the last months. I started College in September and so I have cut down on Martial Arts, particularly leading the Aikido classes. Having an extra evening free in the week has made college, work and family life all the better, time is very valuable to me and I can no longer spread mine so thinly. All in All, life is fairly good at the moment.

I am still training in Daito Ryu with Oisin Bourke in Kilkenny. The Daito Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu class is on Monday in Kilkenny from 6 till 7.30. Same venue as I use for Aikido. For information see oisinbourke.wixsite.com/daitoryu

Aikido in Kilkenny- Monday evenings 7.30-9. Bodyworks Gym, 11 0′ Loughlin Road. Some Thursdays in Jerpoint, Thomastown. 6 till 7.30. Intensive Practice Monthly. norevalleyaikido.com

Katori Shinto Ryu- Thursday Evening in Jerpoint Dojo, Thomastown. 7.30 till 9.30. Intensive Keiko once a month in Jerpoint from 6 till 9.30.  aikijoseph.wix.com/kenjutsu-ireland

If you’d like to come call me on 0857245321. Any other inquires via email aikijoseph@gmail.com

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KSR with Luigi Carniel Sensei in Inistioge

Photos by Dominika Mlynarska.

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Last weekend I had the pleasure to host a Katori Shinto Ryu seminar given by my Sensei, Luigi Carniel. Students traveled from Switzerland, England and Italy to attend and to take in the beautiful countryside of Inistioge. This was not only a weekend of insightful training but only a wonderfully social occasion. Everyone stayed at the local BnB, The Woodstock Arms where they were very well looked after by Richard and Annette O’ Keefe, we had a Party there Saturday night with Irish Stew and Trad Music. Criac was had by all.

During the classes Luigi Sensei made many important points. Most relevant to the training of Budo in a general sense. To focus on basics and to consider the meaning of what we do. For Sensei it is very important that the basics are keep to a high standard and that a student never gets complacent, believing they understand something far more than they actually do. He often stresses the importance of always improving our training through consistent diligent practice.

And the more Social side! Photos by Remy and Vinz.

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Thanks very much to Luigi Carniel Sensei for a wonderfully insightful Seminar. It was an absolute delight to host such a lovely bunch of people. Thanks to all who attended and helped make this happen. Especially to my wonderful wife Susie for making two delicious meals. To Richard and Annette of the Woodstock Arms BnB who made a great Breakfast! And the musicians who played on Saturday night, Thanks Stefanie and co.
Joseph

The Woodstock Arms BnB in Inistioge – woodstockarms.ie

Luigi Carniel Sensei. Dojo Neuchatel Switzerland – anamj.ch

aikijoseph.wix.com/kenjutsu-ireland

 

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by | March 22, 2016 · 15:17

Aikido with Patrick

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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

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Onoha Ittō Ryū

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a seminar of  Onoha Ittō Ryū given by Soke Sasamori Takemi in Gradara Italy. A very interesting experience and a really lovely group to train with. In and out of the Dojo.

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A month ago during the Budo Springs in Verona I met some students of OHIR. I was given a brief introduction to the system and became intrigued. I felt a need to explore the school more. Valentino told me that the Head of the school was making his annual trip to Europe soon, this time to Italy. I organised myself and went along. The trip over was less than fun. I had to spend Thursday night in Stansted Airport, and got little sleep. Two flights and a train ride later I arrived at Cattolica. Waiting to greet and take me to the training where Claudio and Mirco, both in keikogi and hakama. Mirco I had met in Verona last month and Claudio just then. We arrive at the Dojo with training already in full swing. It was about 4 o clock so I was quite late. After a introduction to Soke, I began training. I worked on Kamae and the first Kata for this training. I was extremely tired already when I arrived, but I tried my best. I was probably even less coherent than usual, but it was really touching how patient everyone I trained with was.

The feeling among this group was very positive. People came from Japan, Germany, Belgium, United States, Italy to train together with the Soke. Despite living so far apart, it really felt like the extension of one Dojo. I was one of 5 beginners at this course, and happy to say I didn’t feel that I was slowing anyone down as everyone I trained with had a good attitude towards training.

After a good meal, some wine and a decent nights sleep I was in better spirits to focus my attention on training. The training started the same way each day. With Rei, Warm up,  Suburi, Kamae practice. The Reishiki is of intense importance to the School and is quite unique I think. You face your partner in Seigan and lower the bokken together till on the ground overlapping a few inches. Sitting back into Seiza we bow to each other. Timing is of great importance to this. This is done at the beginning and the end of practice. The rest of the time, the rei is performed by subtly lowering the hips. Soke cares about the Reishiki of his school and had us repeat this a few times till he was satisfied.

The first principle of OHIR Kenjutsu is Kiriotoshi. This is the basic cut and the first kata. Stepping into the attack a fraction later and gaining the centre line and raising again with forward pressure cutting again. Stepping into the attack was a lot to get used too, but there is something very liberating about this also. The movements of this school are relaxed and natural, and yet the pressure of a sword raising forward towards the neck is oddly unsettling.  This is however what attracted me to this school in the first place. Both the intensity and the relaxed nature of OHIR make it very interesting and also enjoyable.

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photos taken by Nao Ishiyama

Saturday evening we had a meal all together. I think we where in Pesaro, but Iam not quite sure. We where in restaurant on a beach. After a couple of hours of eating from a continually replenished buffet there were a few speeches given by the organisers and Sasamori Soke, Asai sensei and Ishizaki sensei. This was all very heart felt. Everyone was thanked for their attendance and for helping making the weekend a success. The Soke spoke of being happy that people where continuing to practice. He had also brought along a Print he had made from a piece of his own calligraphy. He had one for each student. Which simply says ‘Itto’ along with the symbol of the school. I very much look forward to training Onoha Ittō Ryū again.

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onohaittoryuitalia.org

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Takemusu Aikido Spring Course 2015 – Gallery – Thomastown Dojo

The Sixth Takemusu Aikido Ireland Course with Sensei Simone Chierchini. Held in our Thomastown and Waterford Dojo.

These Fabulous Picture where taken by Dominika Mlynarska of the Nore Valley Aikido Dojo. She is the Red Haired Lady in Hakama. Currently living in Kilkenny and studying Arts.

Jerpoint Thomastown Dojo – www.norevalleyaikido.com

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by | March 9, 2015 · 11:15

Starting Katori Shinto Ryu

Introductory Course to Katori Shinto Ryu. A traditional Japanese Martial Art.

Training will include Kenjutsu – Sword technique taught though paired Kata, and solo stance exercises.  Iaijutsu – Drawing the sword from the scabbard and cutting in a signal motion. At a later stage we train in Bo staff and Naginata.

Thursday evenings in Jerpoint, Thomastown from 7 till 9.30

 aikijoseph.wix.com/kenjutsu-ireland

Every few months I open up the Dojo and invite new students in. I prefer to have a few in the class at once, as opposed to a constant trickle of beginners. It benefits the more experienced students greatly. To revert to basics for a few weeks, can really improve the overall standard in the Dojo.

Currently the KSR class is small. Over the Summer frequently just one or two people showing up for training. Come September it’d be 4 maybe. So we have some space. Although not much. Only looking a couple more. I prefer to keep the class small. So I can train with each person and give some correction and advice to each student. Obviously I am also learning, and so keeping the class small is to my benefit also. I started this class two years ago with the guidance of Sensei Luigi Carniel, a 5th Dan in KSR under Yoshio Sugino. Sensei Luigi is living in Neuchatel, Switzerland. I will be going to train in his Dojo this October, anyone training in my Dojo is welcome to come along.

The first couple of classes will have a lot of repetition. Suburi, stances and Kihon exercises. Cutting with the sword, how to stand and a few simple paired forms. After about 6 sessions a student can expect to have learnt the first Kata of Kenjutsu and a couple of Iaijutsu forms. At this point training can become more enjoyable. Fun as it is, training requires focus and a relaxed kind of attentiveness. A beginning student is likely to be frustrated at some point. Just go with the flow, everyone learns at their own pace. Although we take our training seriously, there is no pressure to learn quickly or to keep up with others progress. Better to learn anything at your own pace, slowly allowing things to sink into your mind over months as opposed to days.

Phots taken by Jonny Whitwell of the Winchester KSR Dojo

Photo taken by Jonny Whitwell of the Winchester KSR Dojo

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Budo Spring

Just home from Budo Spring in Ferrara, Italy. Budo Spring is an annual Course of the Koryu Budo Seifukai usually held in Verona, this year a change of scenery. Sensei Luigi Carniel taught most of the classes with the main focus being on Koryu arts. Me and the two students that came along focused our attention on Katori Shinto Ryu using the opportunity to practice with many students of different dojo. We also trained in Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu, Wado Ryu Karate, Moto Ha Yoshin Ryu Jujutsu and Gyokushin Ryu Jujutsu.

Photos taken by Alex Kozlovsky of Lviv Ukraine Aikibujutsu Dojo.

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