Zen Aikido Classes in Albuquerque

Albququerque Aikido KanjiFor information on the upcoming Zen Aikido Classes Summer 2017 Session

We are a unique Albuquerque Aikido school in that we combine traditional Zen practice and classic Aikido instruction into a single curriculum. So, in every class we sit zazen (seated Zen meditation) and we train in Aikido.

Please realize that this is a working site – we use this first page blog to keep our Albuquerque students updated with class summaries, instructional material and ‘musings’. But, there is plenty for you read as well. So, feel free to poke around.

If you are new to Aikido, check out the About Aikido page. For more about the thinking behind Zen Aikido Classes, check out the About BHC page. You can read student comments here. If you are new to Albuquerque, we are located in the Northeast Heights, near Juan Tabo and Copper. We partner with a judo club. And you can find us at:

Albuquerque Judokai / Both Hands Clapping Aikido
670 Juan Tabo NE, Suite G
Albuquerque, 293-5836

Another unique part of Both Hands Clapping Aikido is that we base our Zen Aikido classes on 13 week sessions. So, we only accept new students four times a year. For you, our next session will be the Summer 2017 Session starting in mid-May. You can follow this link for more info.

Aikido is a great martial art. And combining Zen and Aikido into every class is the ultimate. But Zen Aikido classes aren’t for everyone. So if you can’t wait until May to start your Aikido training or you are just not interested in seeing how Zen meditation is vital to Aikido training, here are several other Albuquerque Aikido schools that you may want to look into.

Albuquerque Aikido HakamaOther Albuquerque Aikido Schools (not all include Zen instruction)

Finally, I an always happy to answer any and all of your questions. You are most certainly welcome to come see a class, see how we integrate Zen into Aikido and we can talk. While it is always best in person, I always respond to questions through e-mail. Last, you can subscribe here to receive notices of all upcoming classes

Thank you for your interest in Both Hands Clapping Aikido.
Jim Redel

Zen and Aikido Classes Spring Session:
Week 10 Summary

This week of Zen Aikido Classes

Well, we’ve made it through Week 10 – the first week of randori. Congratulations! Know that if you’ve made it this far you can make it through the next two weeks just fine

The next week of Zen Aikido Classes

For the second week of randori, we will move to four session of eight minutes practice and two minutes of rest. On Tuesday, you will continue with one attacker. On Thursday, you will have to deal with two attackers. Remember, the attackers are only trying to help you understand the true nature of relaxation. So … relax. When you can eventually relax and keep a quiet mind while faced with one, two and three attackers, just think how this will impact the rest of your life!

Martial Art, Self-Defense, Fighting

Week 10 SummaryTo be serious in the pursuit of Aikido as a martial art, is to eventually need to reconcile the concepts of martial art, self-defense and fighting. It is inevitable that you will see and hear and read about and may even debate many aspects of martial arts and of the merits of self-defense, fighting and of Aikido. But, before you can speak intelligently about any of these concepts, you must think them through and decide for yourself the meaning of each – the meaning for you. And to get your thoughts rolling, here are some things you may want to consider.

First, in looking at these concepts, realize that there is a fair amount of overlap between them. Also, realize that there is a distinction between academic understanding and a popular understanding. We are only concerned with the popular understanding of each one. With that said, let’s take a crack at them …

Martial Art

It’s a safe guess that we’re all familiar with the term martial art. Aikido is a martial art. And, of course, we can argue that it means different things to different people – it’s different for non-students, different for students, different for instructors.

  • For those who have never studied, the martial arts are what they see on TV or at the movies  – meditating and kicking ass.
  • There are those who have started studying and quickly stopped and the martial arts are not what they thought.
  • For those students who have studied less than a year, the martial arts are the belief that you can indeed learn how to kick ass. (The thought of meditation is long gone.)
  • For those students who have studied more than a year, the martial arts are a good way to hang out with friends, to get a bit of a workout and to convince yourself that you are learning something useful. (The thoughts of meditating and kicking ass are long gone.)
  • Finally, for most instructors, the martial arts are a way to make a living.

The fact, that most instructors and long-time students realize, is that most martial arts are not martial in the literal sense (a combat art) and are not martial in the TV sense (meditating and kicking ass). Most long-time students of the martial artists have never meditated. And most have never actually ever hit someone with true intent and have never gotten hit with true intent. Nor do they ever want to!

So, for most long-time practitioners, the martial arts end up providing a regular social, physical and practical part to one’s life – with the bonus that there are occasionally times when you actually do use something of what you learned. (For example, many Aikidoists talk of slipping and tripping and falling without getting hurt.)

Self-Defense

Most of us have a kind of intuitive notion of self-defense – but one that is rarely thought through completely. We know that many martial arts claim to teach self-defense and that there are many self-defense systems that re not martial arts. But what exactly does it mean to defend oneself?

In a way, this is the heart of the matter. We all know the stereotype of a confrontation with four or five thugs and our hero leaving a pile of battered bodies. But what if that were twenty-five or thirty thugs? What if that were fifty or sixty? What would self-defense look like then? And even with (just) a handful of attackers, when does a pile of battered bodies look more like judge, jury and a sentencing carried out, rather than just coming away intact?

So, what is self-defense … and what is self-defense for you? Occasionally I get asked if I’ve ever used Aikido. I usually reply that “I am using it now”. In a certain sense, we are defending ourselves all the time. The nature of life, as seen from a natural selection perspective, is competition. We compete for resources, for mates, for status, for reputation. And as we’ve talked about in another article, the dilemma for members of complex social groups is that we are inevitably competing with the very people that we also depend upon for survival. (In our current society, survival is not exactly our highest priority – but our genes don’t care.) And so, ultimately, what is the best outcome the majority of ‘self-defense encounters’… when both parties win!

Fighting

Most use the concept of fighting to actually evaluate martial arts. And most often confuse fighting with self-defense. When someone says that this or that martial art is best – or good – or useless, they invariably gauge it from the standpoint of a one-on-one match-up between two competitors willing to stand and.beat up on each other. In fighting, competitors agree to continue until they resolve some silliness – usually with one person not getting up.

I guess that in a certain sense, fighting is self-defense – when you consider it as defending one’s status and reputation. But for the most of us, defense of status and reputation is probably not what we mean by self-defense. And we should conclude that fighting is not self-defense. It would probably not be that hard to find a good fighter who could not prove good self-defense. And it would not be that hard to find someone who defended just fine without being a good fighter.

And where does Aikido fit in?

Aikido is a martial art based on a unique concept of self-defense. It is unique in acknowledging right to personal safety while assuming an obligation for the safety of the attacker. In essence, we might consider the Aikido philosophy as

Conflict is inevitable. And we have a right to protect ourselves. But others have a right to be stupid. And the world is a better place when we can resolve conflict without undue harm.

As you can see, Aikido is not the judgement and sentencing of an attacker. And Aikido is not fighting. Aikidoists recognize that the competition for resources, mates, status and reputation creates natural conflict – conflict that one can rise above.

In the Zen Aikido Dojo:
Zen, Zazen and Consideration

Zen Consideration is Zen Practice

Zen ConsiderationZen is best as a group practice. And zazen (seated meditation) is the main tool in any Zen practice. In the dojo, we always, always sit in full sight and sound of each other. And we are silent and still. We are silent and still so that we can  investigate the workings of our minds. And we are silent and still in consideration of others who are investigating the working of their minds. And finally, we choose to meditate in a group so that we can truly come to understand the nature of our inter-connectedness with others – and the world.

Five Zen No-nos

So, from an actual physical perspective, what does silence and stillness look like, sound like, feel like? Pretty simple actually, there are essentially five Zen ‘no-nos’ and four Zen ‘inevitables’. The ‘no-nos’ first: After the third bell which signals the start of zazen and until the clackers which signals the end of zazen, there should be no …

  1. Shifting
  2. Scratching
  3. Sighing (and other loud breathing)
  4. Sniffing
  5. Clearing your throat

Four Zen Inevitables

These ‘no-nos’ completely address a zen student’s expectation of silence and stillness. These are things for which we can all actively choose not to act on – that is, things we can choose just to tolerate. Aside from the ‘no-nos’ there are some ‘inevitables’ that we should be aware of. So, do not try to suppress …

  1. Coughing
  2. Sneezing
  3. Burping
  4. Farting

Zen ConsiderationContinued stillness in the midst of a maddening itch or a runny nose can be quite illuminating. Still, continue your stillness and embrace them. The itch and the runny nose and occasional boredom can become your teachers. Continue your stillness and learn from them. This is the heart of consideration – the heart of Zen practice.

And, in the same vein, natural reactions like coughing and sneezing, especially within the silence of a group zazen – very often trigger the temptation to suppress them – in ‘consideration’ of others. So, when this happens, realize that the urge to suppress the cough or sneeze is the workings of fabricated self (within our minds) that is intent trying to validate its own existence.  Cough, sneeze, burp or fart … and move on.

A Quick Reminder of the Upcoming Zen Aikido Class

Our Summer 2017 Zen Aikido Class Summer 2017 Session starts the week of May 22nd – with both noon and evening classes. You can get more information on that here. And, finally, you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter and receive notices of upcoming sessions here.

Both noon and evening sessions will be held at:
Both Hands Clapping Aikido / Albuquerque Judokai
670 Juan Tabo NE, Albuquerque
293-5836

Musings on the Path of an Unfettered Mind:
Hecticity and Primal Drives

Primal drives and natural selection

HecticityThere is little doubt that primal drives are responsible for a fair part of human behavior. And many of these drives are sources of hecticity. Yet, there is no doubt that some of these primal drives are pretty darn helpful. For example, it would be a pain if we always had to remember to eat and drink. But we must be clear – primal drives have just one ‘goal’:

To get the greatest number of our genes into the next generation.

This means we must survive, we must reproduce and we must see that our offspring and those of close relations survive as well. (And so the cycle continues.) Yet, these drives control us at the unconscious level. There are no thoughts – ‘I must survive’ or ‘I must reproduce’. We feel hunger and find something to eat, we feel threatened and lash out, we experience loneliness and find a mate, etc. There are many, many drives ‘designed’ to carry out this job of surviving and reproducing. But among these are three that are important in considering hecticity. They are:

  1. Anger,
  2. Envy, and
  3. The delusion of a free and persistent CEO self.

Natural selection designed us for hecticity

And because these drives exist in us today, we know that natural selection has ‘determined’ that they were vital in getting the most number of ancestral genes into the next generation. And we also realize that they aren’t terribly useful in creating a life of lasting happiness. To understand primal drives a bit better, let’s take a closer look at these three. For our ancestors ….

  • Anger was crucial in the posturing needed in avoiding potential injury from competition. And it created distinct advantages when competition was unavoidable. Finally, realize that it was competition that allowed people to accumulate and keep status and reputation – both vital in attracting and keeping mates.
  • Envy was integral in acquiring more resources and (more) mates – both necessary for both survival and reproduction.
  • The delusion of a free and persistent CEO self may once have been the result of a simple mix of several other fundamental drives – the belief of being ‘in control’, the illusion of continuity, the attribution of agency and the instinct of certainty. But this delusion clearly became necessary for our ancestors in creating a fabricated self, whose main purpose was to augment status and reputation. And we know that both were needed in attracting and keeping mates.

Hecticity is baked in.

And hopefully we see that all three – anger and envy and the delusion of a free and persistent CEO self – exist in us today and do create everyday problems for us. Anger and envy that do not actually enhance status or reputation (as in road rage) become quite counterproductive to both the person and to society. And the belief that there is a CEO self that should somehow be able to control primal drives through the sheer force its will – when it realistically cannot – is both stress-inducing and equally counterproductive. (If you think you can actually control anger and envy through the power of your will, then simply command yourself to be angry or to be envious when you are in a perfectly contented mood and see what happens.)

So, the point of this discussion is to start to understand that we are products of nature. We are saddled with baggage. This baggage, while necessary in getting our genes into the next generation, is not terribly conducive to lives of lasting happiness.

Where are we going?

There are a couple of questions we must ask.

  • Are we forever stuck with anger, envy and the delusion of a free and persistent CEO self – are we stuck with primal drives?
  • If so, can we really know lasting happiness in the face of all this?

The answers to both are … yes. Primal drives are with us. The good news, they needn’t forever dominate our lives in the ways they do now. Understanding and practice and guidance will get us there – will change our relationship with these primal drives. But we have much ground to cover first.

Next time we will cover hecticity and complex social navigation.

Note – natural selection does not actually design or decide things from a willful, intellectual sense. And primal drives do not actually have goals. I have placed most of these words in quotes to highlight their use as simple literary devices. And to make this discussion a little less cumbersome.

More Musings

The Musings represent a series of blogs. You can access the complete list here. They are also a regular part of the Midnight Archer – a weekly newsletter (free). You can subscribe to that here.

A Quick Reminder of the Upcoming Zen Aikido Class

Our Summer 2017 Zen Aikido Class Summer 2017 Session starts the week of May 22nd – with both noon and evening classes. You can get more information on that here. And, finally, you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter and receive notices of upcoming sessions here.

Both noon and evening sessions will be held at:
Both Hands Clapping Aikido / Albuquerque Judokai
670 Juan Tabo NE, Albuquerque
293-5836

In The Zen Aikido Dojo:
Zen Instruction Reminders

Always return to the fundamentals

Zen InstructionAt the beginning of every 13 week session, all students, regardless of experience, receive the same Zen instruction. And in every Zen Aikido class we will sit zazen – traditional seated Zen meditation – for 20 minutes. But returning to fundamentals is so important – even if you have heard the Zen instruction a dozen times or one hundred times. It is very, very important to always remember that the zazen  posture is structured for three main things:

  1. Extended comfort
  2. Alertness
  3. Effortless breathing

To that end, play with different sitting strategies to the point where you can eventually sit in the Zen meditation posture for at least 20 minutes – alert and relatively stress-free. In Zen practice, pain is not your friend. Most of all, remember that Zen practice is not about masochism. In giving Zen instruction, I always mention that “we do not seek pain – and yet we do not run away from it”.

Next, see the zazen posture as has having five necessary components:

  1. A stable base – like a three-legged stool
  2. An elongated spine – as if holding up the ceiling with the crown of your head
  3. An energized center – hands and arms
  4. Soft eyes – which are always open and gazing on the floor about 4 feet in front of you.
  5. The practice of following the breath – in, out, shallow breath, deep breath

Last, when (not if) you find that your mind has drifted, simply return your attention to your breath. While you may be tempted, spare the judgments and simply return. Zen is an interesting practice. And zazen (seated meditation) is the main tool. While Zen instruction takes less than 20 minutes to complete, Zen understanding may take years. And yet, it is not that special in that only Zen monks and priests can achieve understanding. Finally … work hard!

Upcoming Zen Aikido Class

Our Summer 2017 Zen Aikido Class Summer 2017 Session starts the week of May 22nd – with both noon and evening classes. You can get more information on that here. And, finally, you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter and receive notices of upcoming sessions here.

The noon and evening sessions will be held at:
Both Hands Clapping Aikido / Albuquerque Judokai
670 Juan Tabo NE, Albuquerque
293-5836

In the Zen Aikido Dojo:
Aikido and Randori

Randori – when Aikido training gets flipped on its head

RandoriIn regular Aikido practice, there is always an agreement about which throw or pin to execute. And the attacking partner has agreed to make the proper ‘hole’ for that ‘peg’. In randori, there is no such agreement. In fact, the only agreement is that the attacker(s) will attack … appropriately. The founder of Aikido called this a ‘loving attack’. In a nutshell, an appropriate attack means that the attacker will:

  • Attack with speed considerate of the skill level of both partners.
  • Attack consistently and with a consistent speed (no pausing, no lurching).
  • Keep pressing the attack as long as the defender is evading.
  • Relax and allow the defender to make appropriate throws.
  • Not allow an excessive amount of predictable throws. (“First I do the left, then I do the right”.)
  • As part of a two or three attacker practice, pursue as a pack. This means keeping the defender always aware that attacks can and will occur from any attacker at any time.

Remember, the attacker is the teacher

As an attacker, your goal is for your student to show both a relaxed response and a reasonably effective throw or pin. To that end,

  • Depending on skill level, if the defender stops moving for any length of time (a bad thing), the attacker is then allowed to change the attack to the other shoulder or to add a bit of resistance feedback.
  • Again, depending on skill level if the student is not demonstrating an understanding of how to induce movement and take balance, the attacker may offer some resistance feedback.
  • Lastly, depending on skill level, if the student is not demonstrating proper control of the ‘falling body’ or the ‘fallen body’, the attacker may offer some resistance feedback.

And so, randori flips Aikido practice on its head. There is never an agreement on the throw or pin. The defender can’t simply decide a throw in advance, because the attacker is in no place to create the proper ‘hole’. In randori, holes just inevitably appear through the actions of both the attacker and the defender. And the defender is aware to insert the proper peg – execute the appropriate throw or pin.

And all of this can only happen when you know the meaning of Aikido – the meaning of true relaxation – when you can induce movement and are then able to see the ‘hole’ that’s been presented.

Upcoming Zen Aikido Class

Our Summer 2017 Zen Aikido Class Summer 2017 Session starts the week of May 22nd – with both noon and evening classes. You can get more information on that here. And, finally, you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter and receive notices of upcoming sessions here.

The sessions will be held at:
Both Hands Clapping Aikido / Albuquerque Judokai
670 Juan Tabo NE, Albuquerque
293-5836

Zen Aikido Classes Spring Session:
Week 9 Summary

This week of Zen Aikido classes

Zen Aikido Multiple AttackersWe’ve just finished up week 9 of the Zen Aikido Spring Session 2017, which means that instruction and formal reviews have wrapped up. Well done to all of you who have persisted. Of course, persistence is the key to learning any martial art.

Next week of Zen Aikido classes

Starting with week 10, we will have three weeks of freestyle practice. The Japanese term is randori. Randori often brings to my mind the words of the Zen Master Guishan and his “Encouraging Words”. The first couple lines seem right for randori.

Some day you will die. Lying on your sick-bed about to breathe your last, you will be assailed by every kind of pain, your mind will be filled with fears and anxieties and you will not know where to go or what to do, only then you will realize you have not practiced well.

Of course, for our purposes, dying becomes doing randori and instead of lying on a sick-bed and assailed by pain, we have attackers.

Soon you will do randori. Looking out, attackers will meet you. First one, then two, then three attackers. You will scheme and plan and yet you will still end up not knowing where to go or what to do. Only then you will realize you have not practiced well.

It comes down to this

Remember, we spend nine weeks as a group, all learning a set of ten techniques just so that we can do randori safely, yet energetically. And we do randori safely, yet energetically just so that we can get real feedback on our current understanding of Aikido – our current understanding of true relaxation. And if you are doing randori and you are scheming and planning and fretting and freezing up and running out of breath and wondering why the attackers are doing what they’re doing and why they’re not doing what you want them to do …. then you should know that you have not yet realized the meaning Aikido – the meaning of true relaxation.

Only then you will realize that you have not practiced well.

In some future musing, I will talk about an idea called validation. Randori is one of many chances in the dojo to confirm your current understanding of Aikido. Embrace randori and learn from it and remember the lessons when it comes time again for more practice.

In the Zen Aikido Dojo:
Aikido’s Three Pillars

Balance, Footwork Timing

Most martial arts have ‘pillars’ upon which the art is based. They are fundamentals that, in a sense, actually define the nature of the art. For many kick and punch arts, the pillars might read something like:

  • Strength,
  • Speed
  • Stamina.

But in Aikido, we have a completely different mindset – a completely different set of pillars. They are:

  • Footwork
  • Balance
  • Timing.

Footwork is about where to go. Balance is about how to go. Timing is about when to go.

The Illustration of the Pedestrian and Car

This is best illustrated by rethinking self-defense as something closer to an encounter between a pedestrian and a car. For many martial arts, the answer is to somehow turn the pedestrian into another car. That is, to make him/her the biggest, strongest, fastest car around. And that way, no other car will mess with you or, at very least, you will survive a crash with another car..

For us, as Aikidoists, a car is a car and a pedestrian is a pedestrian. There will never be any intent to turn a pedestrian into a car. Every day, millions upon millions of pedestrians do actually have encounters with cars – and the overwhelming majority of them are quite uneventful. In dealing with a car, a pedestrian simply needs to know (you guessed it):

  • where to go (footwork),
  • how to go (balance), and
  • when to go (timing).

That’s it! When crossing a street with a car coming, your footwork must simply take you out of the car’s path. Your balance means that you don’t trip while moving and you don’t fall back into the path of the car after you have finished moving. Your timing means that you don’t move too early – without knowing where the car is ultimately going – and, of course, you don’t move too late.

Back in the Dojo

Likewise in the dojo, footwork, balance and timing will take you out of the path of your partner’s attack to where you can safely execute a finishing move. Standing in place is not an option for a pedestrian and is not an option for an Aikido practitioner. An attacker’s strength and speed are of little value when you are no longer in the same spot as when he started his attack.

And there is a similar Aikido metaphor that you may want to keep in mind – that a bird can fly in a hurricane … just not into it.

Upcoming Zen Aikido Class

Our Summer 2017 Zen Aikido Class Summer 2017 Session starts the week of May 22nd – with both noon and evening classes. You can get more information on that here. And, finally, you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter and receive notices of upcoming sessions here.

Both noon and evening sessions will be held at:
Both Hands Clapping Aikido / Albuquerque Judokai
670 Juan Tabo NE, Albuquerque
293-5836

Musings on the Path of an Unfettered Mind:
Living Has Always Been Hectic

Hectic - Hecticity SucksHecticity Is Not New

Living has always been hectic … at least for anyone beyond the age of reason. (To be a kid again!) It is hectic today. It was hectic yesterday. It was hectic for our ancestors one hundred years ago. It was hectic for the humans of ten thousand and one hundred thousand years ago. And yet, we seem plenty able to convince ourselves that we are somehow unique in our hecticity. (Yes, the nature of it has changed over the years, but the reality of hecticity has not.) The fact is, if we truly want to make progress on the path of an unfettered mind, we must first accept that, with respect to hecticity, no one is unique and no one time in history is unique. Hecticity is and always has been a human inevitability.

Our Minds Create Hecticity

And, if we stop and consider the hectic nature of our lives, we have to admit that most of the chaos is the activity of our own minds.And science has shown, our minds are essentially unchanged in the last seventy thousand years – so our ancestors ‘suffered’ in the same way we suffer today – from a general sense of dissatisfaction created by our minds. In fact, even the dream of somehow ‘returning to a simpler time’ is yet more evidence of the mind’s goal of producing a fundamental discontentment. (And as we will see next week, discontented ancestors were more likely to survive and reproduce and pass along these traits.) Over the next couple months, we will be investigating how the different modes of mind relate to our hectic lives. But for now, realize that hecticity is real and at some level is simply inevitable.

Do we have a choice?

But can our hecticity be lessened? Can we achieve some degree of sanity within an invariably chaotic life? The short answer? Yes, of course. Think about it, even now, our lives aren’t actually hectic 24/7. Our lives are, for most of us, just hectic enough for us to think that there must be a better way. (Of course, the observant among you will realize that just the thought that there ‘must be a better way’ is still another indication of the mind generating discontentment.) But there actually is a better way. But first, it will be helpful to realize that chaotic lives are the result of three major factors:

  1. Primal drives
  2. Complex social navigation
  3. The certainty instinct

And over the next three weeks, we will take a look at each one of these to better understand what is really going on in our lives and in our minds – what we can and cannot do and how we can be most effective in walking the path of an unfettered mind.

More Musings

The Musings represent a series of blogs. You can access the complete list here. They are also a regular part of the Midnight Archer – a weekly newsletter (free). You can subscribe here.

Upcoming Zen Aikido Class

Our Summer 2017 Zen Aikido Class Summer 2017 Session starts the week of May 22nd – with both noon and evening classes. You can get more information on that here. And, finally, you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter and receive notices of upcoming sessions here.

Both noon and evening sessions will be held at:
Both Hands Clapping Aikido / Albuquerque Judokai
670 Juan Tabo NE, Albuquerque
293-5836

Zen Aikido Classes Spring Session:
Week 8 Summary

Zen Aikido: This week

We’ve just finished week 8 of the Zen Aikido Classes Spring session – our second week of review. So this means we have done a complete review of every technique. Recalling the evasions, throws and pins:

Evasion 1: Stop Sign

– Kokyu-naZen Aikido Week 8 Summaryge (Back shoulder throw)
– Shiho-nage (4 way throw)
– Sayu-nage (Left-right throw)
– Zenpo-nage (Forward direction throw)

Evasion 2: Intercept

– Irimi-nage (Front shoulder throw)
– Kote-kaeshi (Wrist turn, 3 palms pin)
– Ude-nage (Arm throw)
– Tenchi-nage (Heave-earth throw)

Evasion 3: Welcome Inn

– Ikkyo (Straight, bent, straight, Ikkyo pin)
– Nikyo (Straight, bent, bent, 3 palms pin)

Zen Aikido: Next week

Next week is independent practice. So, be sure to come to class with some idea of what techniques you need to work on. By the end of the week, you should have a pretty good handle on which evasions go with which throws and which pins go with which techniques.

Styles of Aikido

If you’ve read books or articles on Aikido, visited websites or have seen videos, there is one topic that comes up fairly often. And that is Aikido style. And, in general, style itself is usually described in two different ways – through lineage (the sequence of teachers going backwards in time) and through the execution of techniques (hard vs. soft).

With respect to lineage, Aikido has two main branches:

  • early Aikido (pre-WWII)
  • modern Aikido (post-WWII)

The modern Aikido branch then commonly splits into two other branches:

  • Aikikai, which traces its lineage back directly to Morihei Ueshiba (the founder)
  • Ki Society, which traces its lineage back to Koichi Tohei (one of the founder’s more famous post-WWII students who split with Aikikai in the mid-70s)

So where do we stand here at BHC?

With respect to lineage, we would be considered in the Ki Society branch of the modern branch of the Aikido tree. One of my teachers was Shizuo Imaizumi, who followed Koichi Tohei when he formed his own Aikido organization back in 1975. Imaizumi Sensei eventually left Ki Society to create his own Shin-Budo Kai organization. And, I eventually left Shin-Budo Kai to form Both Hands Clapping. While it may sound like a lot of intrigue, in many respects, this is the natural progression of the martial arts.

With respect to hard or soft, I believe that a third group is necessary. That group would be: flowing. In Japanese, there’s the term go ju ryugo (hard), ju (soft), ryu (flowing). The art of Aikido is by nature circular and spiral. But I would argue that only a flowing style actually guarantees the circular and spiral execution of techniques. While hard styles may indeed be circular, the circles are often too small to recognize and are too easily turned linear. And while soft styles may also be circular, the lack of intelligent resistance that accompanies many soft styles means that non-circular techniques will work as well.

So, if asked, our style is go ju ryu (hard, soft, flowing – or small circle, half circle, full circle). While we primarily study and practice as ryu (flowing, full circle), we are just as able to show go (hard, small circle) or ju (soft, half circle) as circumstances demand.

Upcoming Zen Aikido Class

Our Summer 2017 Zen Aikido Class Summer 2017 Session starts the week of May 22nd – with both noon and evening classes. And you can get more information on that here. Finally, you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter and receive notices of upcoming sessions here.

The noon and evening sessions will be held at:
Both Hands Clapping Aikido / Albuquerque Judokai
670 Juan Tabo NE, Albuquerque
293-5836

Musings on the Path of an Unfettered Mind:
The Three Certainties

  1. Living has always been hectic.
  2. For over 2500 years, the path of an unfettered mind has been a most reliable one in getting those with a life most hectic to realize the source of lasting happiness.
  3. Lasting happiness is always within reach of any 'midnight archer' determined to walk this path.