Monday, December 28, 2015

Winter Training Intensive 2016: From the Ground Up

Multnomah Aikikai provides winter intensive training in January of each year. 

Winter training is a time to sense your center; a deep ember, burning and warming your body. Nurture that ember and sense the fire within you.

Through practice with each other the fire grows and radiates, warming the hands and feet, radiating out and sparking the fire in each other.

The theme for this January’s Winter Intensive is  From the Ground Up.   Look for opportunities to condition your core, hips, legs and feet. Sense the strength of your lower body and the power the ground offers. Fuel your technique, your ukemi and your spirit.

Share with each other what you’ve learned about conditioning and taking care of your feet, legs, hips, and core.

When the lower body is strong and well coordinated you can make good use of the ground forces to support movements of the upper body. Chest, spine and shoulders become supple and free.

We’ll practice our techniques from suwari waza, hanmi handachi and tachi waza this month.

In Japan, winter intensive is a time period when people resolve to practice everyday. This January, come to the dojo as much as you can and mark your attendance every day that you come in. At the end of the month we’ll recognize the mu-kyu, kyu and dan members who trained the most.

Schedule changes and special events for Winter Intensive

For January, we’ll practice in a different rhythm on Tuesdays and Thursdays in three class segments. This will allow us to add a fundamentals class, a nikkyu and above class and a iaido/ sword handling class to our training schedule.

Tue 5:45-6:30pm, fundamentals
Tue 6:45-7:30pm, all levels
Tue 7:45-8:45pm, sword handling for aikidoists/ Iaido class

Thu 5:45-6:30pm, fundamentals
Thu 6:45-7:30pm, all levels
Thu 7:45-8:30pm, 2nd kyu and above

The rest of the class schedule, Mon, Wed, Fri, Saturday remains unchanged.

Special events:
Jan 5,  First Tuesday

Jan 9, Sat: Balance Challenge

Jan 12, Tue: Kagami Biraki; full community event
5:45pm - 6:30pm Fold a Crane for the New Year
6:45- 7:30pm Traditional New Year’s practice for all levels
7:45-8:30: celebrate with tea and sake.

Jan 15- 17, Fri- Sun: Winter workshop Power Without Struggle;

More news to come! Stay Connected!

Follow Dojo News and check in regularly with Upcoming Dates

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Improve your balance. Take the Balance Challenge January 9

The Balance Challenge! Circuit Training Course

Improve your balance, safely and enjoyably, by practicing the balance challenges in this indoor circuit training course. The exercises are varied and fun. Exercises are scalable so you can practice at the level of challenge appropriate for you. Regardless of your skill level, you can improve your balance and have fun doing it!

Click to see Balance Challenge activities 2015

Saturday January 9, 2016, Noon- 1pm: 
Initial orientation session, $20. Personal training and orientation to the course presented by Suzane Van Amburgh
DIY. Self-directed training for alumni of the orientation session for $10. Suzane Van Amburgh on site and available to offer help and clarification as needed.
Multnomah Aikikai members who attend the initial orientation session for $20, are eligible to return for self-directed training (DIY) at no charge.

"The balance class is relevant for all ages willing to try it. You don't realize how your balance changes as you get older, usually not for the better. However, improvements can be made almost immediately and there are balance exercises for people of all ages and abilities. And it's fun!" 
~ Kristin Mitchell, Balance Challenge Alumna

Your Instructor and balance coach:
Suzane Van Amburgh developed the balance challenge circuit training course and continually improves the stations of the course. Suzane is a martial arts instructor (aikido and iaido), a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teacher and a balance trainer. She conducted balance testing and balance training protocols at a physician’s office. She is the founder of the balance lab. Suzane brings fun balance challenges, benchmarks to self-assess progress, and an array of resources to help you explore and improve your own sense of balance.
The exercises:
The training course includes a variety of challenges to improve coordination, proprioception, leg and core strength, how we use our eyes, eye/ hand coordination, somatosensory functioning, use of hip joints and spine.
Our balance is influenced and maintained by the eyes, inner ear, and brain working together. The brain receives signals from the somatosensory system and processes that information along with input from the structures of inner ear and the eyes. Proprioceptors in the ankles and ribs are key to one’s sense of balance and the ability to restore balance. Leg strength and joint functioning are essential factors in balance as well.
When you improve your balance you invest in an improved quality of life. What do you feel safe doing? Even a slight erosion of confidence in you balance over time, will subtly narrow the range of activities you choose to engage in. As confidence in your balance grows, you will broaden your options, move freely and enjoy a more active life.
Whether you are rehabilitating from an injury, training for top performance, or anywhere in between, you will find the right level of challenge for you. If are interested in graceful aging, neuroplasticity, fall prevention or improved decision-making, you will find the Balance Challenge Training Circuit Course fascinating and engaging.
Contact Suzane Van Amburgh by email: spacetomoveinfo(at)
Find your Space To Move at Multnomah Aikikai

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Dear Uke, You are the Ink!

Taking Ukemi - You are the Ink
by Suzane Van Amburgh

Do you take ukemi the same way on a person's kyu test that you do in regular class?

When a person tests, he or she is performing specific forms as clearly as that candidate can. The test is a time to demonstrate one's understanding and embodiment of the principles of aikido. As uke, your job is to reflect clearly what the practitioner is demonstrating.

The format of the kyu test usually requires the candidate to perform certain classic techniques in their most basic and fundamental form. We have a clear, published curriculum; the Birankai North America kyu guidelines. A 5th kyu test includes a specific list of techniques to perform. As the student progresses more complexity and knowledge of variations is expected. However, in the lower kyu ranks we set a pretty clear expectation of exactly what techniques they can expect to have to perform.

As uke, on a person's test, your job is to move with them wherever they go. It's not about you; it's not about what you think is right or correct. This is not a time to lead them or "help" them. Launch a clear and accurate attack and then your body should provide a clear reflection of their movement (to the best of your ability).

Nage is an artist, wielding a brush. You are the ink stuck to the end of that brush. Wherever your foot falls on the mat, wherever your body makes contact with the mat, is the resulting art; the calligraphy or the lines and splotches reflecting that artist's intention and technique.

If the artist hesitates, will the witnesses see that hesitation in the wobble of your back foot? How clearly can you follow their movement while still taking care of yourself in the motion? The term ukemi comes from the verb ukeru; to receive or accept. Accept your partner's movement.

If your nage does something unexpected, will you be there - all parts ready and willing to go in the direction they take you? This is the best service you can provide to your fellow dojo member and to the teachers watching the test.

Try out the same approach in regular class. We practice in many ways and we provide different kinds of "nutrition" to our practice partners. However, ask yourself, as you accept their technique, are you the ink?