Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Resolve to intensify your practice! Winter Training begins January!

January 2015  Winter Training

Pick up a schedule at the dojo!

image of January training schedule

Winter training is a time to intensify your practice. Focus on your ukemi, build stamina and improve your conditioning. We'll serve up plenty of opportunities with ushiro waza, weapons & body arts training and a special ukemi weekend January 16-18.

View all the special events scheduled this month on
  Upcoming Dates

Bookmark it to your home screen: http://tinyurl.com/aikidodates

Monday, December 22, 2014

Introduction to Sword Handling: Feb 4-25

artist: Daniel Fruelund

Introduction to Sword Handling

Wednesdays, 7:30pm
February 4-25, 2015

Series of four sessions 
Open to the public, no experience required. 
Fee: $60

Basic sword handling skills will be introduced based on the Japanese art of Iaido. Partner exercises may include Aikido weapons forms. The series of four classes build on each other. For this reason, commitment to the series is advised.

This class runs concurrent with our regular Iaido class and is taught by Suzane Van Amburgh Sensei

Participants may use wooden bokken for this introduction to Japanese sword handling.  If you do not have your own equipment, the dojo has a limited number of bokken available for use during class.  

Please preregister by February 2. 
Contact us through the inquiry form on this site or send email to multnomahprojects@gmail.com

Multnomah Aikikai, 6415 SW Macadam Ave, Portland OR 97239

Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Schedule, Class cancellations, Upcoming Dates

Here is a summary of important Upcoming Dates at the dojo in December and January. Blue font indicates a hyperlink to more information.  

Members, please bookmark these links on your smart-phone and check frequently: Dojo News and http://tinyurl.com/aikidodates.

Holiday class cancellations and schedule

Adult classes are cancelled Dec 24-28. 
Class will be held on Monday Dec 29 and Tue Dec 30.
Classes are cancelled Wed. Dec 31 and Thursday Jan 1.

Winter weather note: 
Class cancellations due to inclement weather will be posted on Upcoming Dates: 

Summary of upcoming public events:

Fold a Crane for the New Year! Jan. 7, Wed. 4:45- 6pm, FREE
Aikido Appetizer, Saturday January 31, 2015, FREE
Aikido First Course: Tue/Sat, Feb 3 - Mar 14. $90
Center Yourself Tuesdays: 5:30pm- 6:00 pm Tuesdays. $10
The Lines of Engagement, Second Saturdays, noon, $10
Introduction to Sword Handling: 7:30pm Wednesdays Feb. 4-25

Quick reference to upcoming dojo events in Jan-Feb 2015. 

Events displayed in bold italics are open to the public.
Check for updates to this schedule on: http://tinyurl.com/aikidodates.

2015 Jan 4, Sunday in Forest Grove: 
A special event at Aikido Forest Grove. Hosted by Dave Dewberry Sensei. Save the date! Details TBA.

2015 Jan 6, First Tuesday: Advanced class 7:30pm

2015 Jan. 7, Wed. 4:45- 6pm:  Fold a Crane for the New Year! 
Origami folding activity for adults and children. Paper and instructions provided. Suzane Sensei will be available to help you!

2015 Tuesdays in January, 5:30-6:00pm (starts Jan 6): Jo staff basics. This series is a great introduction if you are new to jo work! For members familiar with jo, this is a chance to center yourself before the 6:15pm class and warm up your hips.

2015 Jan. 10, Second Saturdays at noon, Lines of Engagement.

2015 Jan 16-18, Ukemi Weekend:  What do you want to improve?  Principles of ukemi will be taught and applied to a variety of situations; body arts and weapons. Schedule details TBA.

2015 Jan 31, Sat. 10am: Aikido Appetizer, a FREE Introduction to Aikido. Open to the public. Spread the word! Invite your friends and family. All are welcome. Members please mark the date and plan to attend.

2015 Jan 31, Sat noon: Girls self-defense program, details TBA

2015 Feb 3, First Tuesday, Advanced class at 7:30pm

2015 Feb 4- 25, 7:30pm, Introduction to Japanese Sword Handling: Wed evening series of 4 sessions. Free to members. Open to the public for a fee of  $60.

2015 aikido seminars 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Walk like a Samurai! Intro to Sword Handling

artist: Daniel Fruelund
Walk like a Samurai!

Introduction to Sword Handling

Wednesdays, 7:30pm
February 4-25, 2015
(Four sessions)

Multnomah Aikikai members participate free.
Series open to the public: $60

Make your body like a blade!

Use your te-gatana.

Enter and cut!

In your Aikido practice, embody the principle of the sword.

The sword is ever present in Aikido practice. Yet, how many of us have familiarity with using a sword?  Basic sword handling will enliven your Aikido practice. This series is open to all members for no additional charge. Know someone interested in sword?  The public is welcome for a fee. The series of four classes build on each other. For this reason, commitment to the series is advised.

Participants may use wooden bokken for this introduction.  If you do not have your own equipment, the dojo has a limited number of bokken available for use during class.  Please preregister by January 31.

This class runs concurrent with our regular Iaido class, led by Van Amburgh Sensei. Basic sword handling skills will be introduced based on the Japanese art of Iaido. Partner exercises may include Aikido weapons forms.

Multnomah Aikikai, 6415 SW Macadam Ave, Portland OR 97239

Friday, November 28, 2014

Learn the basics of Bokken (wooden sword) Tuesdays in December

Bokken Basics: Tuesdays in December

 In this Center Yourself Tuesday series for December, we will study the fundamentals of sword work using the wooden bokken while practicing an eight part kata. No falling is required in this class. Footwork patterns include pivoting, sliding and stepping forward and backward. If you do not have your own bokken you may borrow one from the school during class time.  Come practice! Center yourself with the wooden sword, balance and breath.

During this class we will:
•    Raise the sword in line with the spine
•    Execute sword motions relative to the center line of the body
•    Move our upper body so it’s supported by the motion of the lower body
•    Develop footwork that supports movements of the sword

By practicing these skills we will :
• make good use of the ground so that gravity becomes a friendly force
• enable our bones to transmit power cleanly so that our muscles can relax 
• engage the left hand so that it knows what the right hand is doing 
• educate the left and right half’s of our bodies to coordinate around a central axis 
• allow our ribs to expand and contract in sync with the rise and fall of the sword and breath 
• allow our eyes to settle and align with our intention 
•  improve our balance so that dynamic stability is realized

“Being centered” and “moving from center” will shift from abstract concepts to tangible experiences.

Your instructor: Suzane Van Amburgh
This class is open to the public for a $10 drop in fee. Free to Regular and Community Members of Multnomah Aikikai.
Tuesdays in December: 5:30-6:00pm

Find your Space to Move® at Multnomah Aikikai: 6415 SW Macadam Ave, Portland OR 97239

Friday, November 7, 2014

Second Saturdays at the dojo: Nov 8, Dec13

Second Saturdays Oct. 11, Nov. 8, Dec. 13;  noon- 1pm

Contact us to be informed of class schedule changes and additions

 The Lines of Engagement

Center, Engage, Connect

Come and play Saturday at the dojo in a safe, light-hearted atmosphere of lively, sensory learning. Based on the movements of Aikido, explore the lines of engagement:
  • Investigate the moment when you encounter your partner.
  • Sense your center.
  • Experiment with where and when you make initial contact.
  • Discover how you change the angle of encounter.
  • Sense your balance.
  • Follow the trajectory of your partner’s motion.
  • Notice when you naturally take a step to restore balance.
No experience required. You do not have to fall down if you don’t want to.
This class is taught by Suzane Van Amburgh, GCFP and shidoin aikido instructor
Free to Multnomah Aikikai Members (Regular and Community members).  Open to the public for drop in fee of $10.
Send us a quick email to let us know if you’d like to attend. Use the inquiry form on this website or send a msg to: spacetomoveinfo (at) gmail.com
Location:  Aikido Multnomah Aikikai, 6415 SW Macadam Ave, Portland OR 97239 
503-246-8120 | dojo@multnomahaikikai.com 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Why seminars matter!

This post is from Biran Online, posting dated October 7, 2014.
L. Klein is the editor of Biran, The Aikido Journal of Birankai North America

Don't miss the seminars coming up in our own Northwest Region! Check out the seminar info page for details on upcoming seminars.  -Suzane Van Amburgh

Check out the great video above put together by the Birankai Scholarship Committee. Real Birankai students talk about the benefits of seminars as a part of training and development in the art. It’s eight minutes long but full of action footage!

All of us in Birankai Aikido are working to fund seminars to raise our level of Aikido, Iaido and Zazen training through the T.K. & Mitsuko Chiba Endowment Fund. Our national goal is to raise $400,000 in four years and we are already funding seminars through the endowment.
Donate today through the endowment page on the Birankai.org website or visit the T.K. & Mitsuko Chiba Endowment Fund Facebook page.
Thanks for your generosity and let’s keep Birankai Aikido strong!
L. Klein

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Drop in FREE for Orientation to Practice through October

Orientation to Practice - FREE in October

Practice is a mind set and an activity where you repeat an operation or movement, assessing and attending to how you do it. You introduce new variables, try something, make mistakes, form questions, change strategy and try again.
This can happen at a very mental/analytical level or it can happen with a more diffuse mindset. We can explore, play, fall, get up, try again. Sometimes we engage in practice with knitted brow and self judgement, but learning often slows down under such circumstances. Practice can be approached with an open curious mindset, a sense of humor and compassion for self.
A dojo is a place where we “practice the way.” At Multnomah Aikikai our primary practice is the martial art of Aikido. In this class, utilizing basic movements of Aikido, you will orient to the joy of practice. Whether you continue with Aikido practice or take up another practice, you will have cultivated the inner tools to direct your own learning with compassion, a sense of humor and the joy of movement.
Tuesdays 5:30 – 6:00pm, Saturdays 10-10:30am. 
FREE through Oct. 28, 2014. 
After the half hour class, we invite you to stay and observe the Aikido Fundamentals class following.
Aikido Multnomah Aikikai, 6415 SW MACADAM AVE, PORTLAND, OREGON 97239

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Venture a taste! Bringing on a first course of Aikido practice this month!

Aikido First Course starts Saturday October 11

Serving up your First Course 
in the art and practice of Aikido. 
12 sessions, Sat. mornings and Tue. evenings  
Oct 11- Nov. 22.  Fee $90
This series is a progressive beginners' course. Plan to begin on Saturday Oct 11. Arrive 9:45 for registration. Class starts at 10 am with Orientation to Practice and segues to aikido fundamentals class 10:30-11:30am.

Class times:
Tuesday 5:30-6pm: Orientation to Practice
Tuesday 6:15pm-7:15pm: Aikido Fundamentals
Saturday 10-10:3am: Orientation to Practice
Saturday 10:30-11:30am: Aikido Fundamentals

 Note: Sat. Oct. 25 join us for an optional field trip to Eugene for a seminar with Phil Vargas Sensei. Click for details. There is no fee to observe seminar classes.

Tue/Sat schedule doesn't work for you?
Become a Regular Member and practice Mon, Wed or Fri at 6:15pm. As a member you can flex your schedule and come to any unrestricted class on the weekly schedule. Click to view schedule.

Drop in for Orientation to Practice It's FREE in October

Join us for The Lines of Engagement Noon, Oct 11, $10.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fall Aikido Schedule begins September 17

This Fall our adult aikido class schedule shifts focus. You'll see the same basic time slots through the week but the focus of those classes shifts.

Our beginners series, Aikido First Course, begins October 11 and runs Tuesdays and Saturdays through November 22.

Get a taste at the Aikido Appetizer on Saturday October 4th at 10am.

Visitors are welcome to step onto the mat and join us for the half-hour Orientation to Practice, Tuesdays at 5:30pm or Saturdays at 10am (through October 28). After, we invite you to stay and observe the fundamentals class.

The public is also welcome to join us for the Lines of Engagement on second Saturdays at noon, Oct 11, Nov. 8 and Dec. 13. The fee is $10.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday 6:15pm classes are core classes for members of all levels and focus on our monthly teaching theme.  Become a regular member and train in any of these classes.

Two classes on the schedule are restricted to members ranked 5th kyu and above: Tuesdays 7:30pm and Thursdays 6:15pm.

Advanced class is held once a month on the first Tuesday in the 7:30pm time slot.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Building a Bridge ~ by Sanders Anderson

Building a Bridge

A lot of things go through your mind when test time rolls into your life. Even more so if you happen to be someone with the misfortune of failing your previous test. Beyond the obvious considerations of assessing one’s skill, is perhaps an even more daunting survey of a students determination. For me beyond the technical requirements of me passing or not passing, are the questions of whether or not the fire is lit. Is my flame a mere flicker or is it sufficiently hot enough to do its job? Can it heat the contents and transfer energy with mind, body, and spirit integrated as one?

I had a lot riding on this test for the rank of 1st Kyu (level/grade) in the Japanese martial art of Aikido. I really wanted to show I had spent significantly more time on the foundations of our art: hanmi(stance) and taisabaki(footwork). I also wanted to prove to myself that I had been willing to eat the bitter fruit, spending the requisite time alone outside of class, continuing to forge my will, and bringing those developments to the dojo. My hope was that others would bear witness to my progress.

Three nights of testing sounded like a good idea at the time as a welcome switch up to the usual program of having to prove yourself on a single night. This allowed myself, and others, I believe, to be less anxious about getting it all right (like such a thing was even possible). The test format proved to be physically taxing with one to two hours of testing every night for three consecutive nights; Tuesday through Thursday. Wednesday as hump day will forever have a new meaning for me. In summary, I feel it was more demanding physically, but less so mentally, since the one chance is all you got pressure was mitigated by expanding the format into three days.

I even had a strategy. Or at least I thought I did. Rather than rush through the techniques with the nerves of a cattle bell I would try to relax into a moderate pace and get into the groove. My groove–– whatever that was. I needed to create my own stepping stones on this path to 1st Kyu. For I was naked, alone, and exposed. No further preparation could help me at that point. I relied on what had helped me most in all manner of challenges. A positive mental attitude. This was something I could do. I just needed to focus my concentration.
Fleshler Shihan told me once: “this mat is just as much yours as anybody else’s. You need to own it.”  I felt as if I was incapable of owning the entire area of the mat but surely I could attempt to own a small patch of it. That much I could do.

Unfortunately after what felt like a near brilliant first night of demonstrating strong foundation level skills, things began to fall apart for me on the second night. Where did my basics go? Where did my confidence go? They didn’t tell me they were leaving. And suddenly I felt abandoned. Now missing both, I was feeling uneasy to say the least, and with a certain anticipatory grief, for how this would all end up. 

I remember telling myself I just had to get through this and live another day. Perhaps my resilience would return the following night.

The third and final night of testing I felt like I got my groove back. I got the fire back I and turned up the heat. Even when I was caught off guard with tantodori (knife defense techniques) and jodori(techniques against staff attacks) I remained as placid as a lake. It might not have looked that way on the outside but that’s what I was aiming for on the inside. I wasn’t exactly sure how I would express myself but I knew I had to be in control. I would embrace the circumstances as guests and invite them in as if I was looking forward to seeing them. I wasn’t necessarily proud of my specific responses, but I was very proud of the resolve I displayed in the face of simulated threats.

There was also a certain ugliness and ego I experienced during testing. I began making odd comparisons between myself and others. “If you can do better than him you will pass”. Ultimately I had to let these comparisons go. No one could take this test for me. And comparing myself to someone else was not only a waste of time, but energy as well. Whatever basic level of body mechanics and integration I had attained, now was the time to show it. Winning had no resonance here, only existing in the moment as it presented itself.

“When one is under sound attack
 one must die, and yet live, 
from moment to moment. 
It is in momentary living
 that one is free from distraction...” 
–– Thomas M. White

As the test results were called I sat on the floor in seiza(proper sitting) with dreaded apprehension. Was I good enough and were my techniques sharp enough? Regardless of the pending result, I felt some degree of my personal development was evident for all to see. What I did not expect, in my quest to attain the rank of 1st kyu, was to be elevated instead to the rank of shodan (black belt). In fact, upon hearing the results called, my eyes nearly popped out of my head. The handshakes and congratulatory gestures would now have a significantly larger context now. Unexpected? Absolutely. In addition, it was a particularly special honor for me because I am one of the first shodans to be promoted by chief instructor Van Amburgh Sensei.  

What does shodan mean for me? It means so much. I was so proud of this achievement and the perseverance it took to get to here. This was a 14 year journey of blood, sweat, and tears; both figuratively and literally. I only wish my mom was still alive to share this achievement with me. For three weeks after testing I felt like I was floating in the clouds. Now I could finally go to yudansha(black belt) class and feel I belonged there.

What I wasn’t ready for was a mild sense of shame or embarrassment coupled with a case of post-goal blues. Why couldn’t I just be happy with the present moment and simply bask in this glorious warm sunshine? These are answers I still don’t have. Maybe I was instinctively feeling that I had reached the top of a mountain fully unaware of the even higher mountain tops that lay directly behind it. Not only was the endeavor not over. It had just begun. In fact, shodan literally means “beginning degree”.

In regards to the technical aspects of our art, shodan means revisiting irimi(entering), tenkan(pivoting), taisabaki(footwork), and Ikkyo(1st technique: elbow control). Each has something I need to earnestly re-explore on a more intimate level. But more generally, shodan is a chance for me to begin weaving a tapestry with the basic elements of our art. Its pattern will only be revealed after jumping back into the forge, emptying my cup, and re-filling it anew with fresh insights from a beginners mind.
“The true warrior acquires the nature of a priest. 
It is in the mind that the body is trained, and in
devotion that the mind is trained.” –– Thomas M. White

Shodan also means looking for ways to use Aikido in daily life. I recently delivered an amazing design presentation to one of my clients. Just before that meeting my nerves were shot. This was a big account. So to raise my spirit, I bowed in(as if in Aikido class) in the hallway outside their office. After gathering my center, I stood up and then walked confidently into that meeting. The dojo’s boundries are limited only by my own artifice and preconceptions.

There is also an opportunity to expand my definition of some basic Aikido concepts beyond the dynamic sphere of physical practice. For example, irimi(entering) could potentially mean finding space in my schedule and my heart to work at a soup kitchen. Or the idea of Tenkan(pivoting) could mean making a dramatic shift in my previously held position to consider another way of seeing or looking at challenging circumstances in the world. Is it possible for me to be more compassionate towards others? Even someone I perceive as an opponent? Of course this is difficult but not entirely impossible.
“Be kind whenever possible. 
It is always possible.” 
–– His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
And finally, shodan for me, means walking a spiritual path. This is what attracts me the most about the possibilities of the journey we share and infinitely more applicable. In fact, most of us are more likely to be in an automobile accident than a street altercation. 

Spirituality has the possibility to transcend the physical manifestations of our day to day life. I am fully aware that martial arts may not help me when faced with a periodontal surgeon or deal with my trauma of being robbed as a youth in Los Angeles, but it can help me be more present. Here. Now. It can also help me shed the confines of the ego and the limitations it imposes on me. I’ve got some serious baggage. But I’m traveling lighter everyday, freeing myself from the unnecessary weights keeping me from swimming to that distant shore. 

I dedicate this essay to all the teachers illuminating this path, both past and present. I sincerely feel that without their wisdom I would be nothing more than an empty shell, void of any base or structure: Sifu James Wing Woo, Shihan Thomas M. White, Shihan Albert Wilson, Shihan Nobu Iseri, Shihan Dennis Belt, Shihan Minoru Oshima, Sensei Nobu Arakawa, Shihan Aki Fleshler, Sensei Suzane Van Amburgh, Guro Albert Tabino, and Yangsi Rinpoche.

Sanders Anderson
beginning student / Aikido Multnomah Aikikai