Saturday, September 24, 2016

First Course in Aikido begins October 5

Do you have the appetite for aikido practice?
Indulge in your First Course in Aikido.

Aikido First Course October 5 - 29

This 4-week beginner series allows new students to explore the practice of Aikido. Emphasis is placed on the fundamentals. Movements and techniques are broken down to instill a healthy relationship with one’s own physical structure and movement abilities to ensure a fun and safe practice for you and your fellow students. 

Schedule and registration details:

If you know others who might be interested in checking us out and taking some classes, please invite them to join us! Share this post or share the postings on our Multnomah Aikikai Facebook page

See you in the Dojo!
Aikido Multnomah Aikikai 6415 SW Macadam Ave Portland OR

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Aikido practice "magic" for an aching back

Aikido in my Life
by Moshe Rachmuth 2016
You are reading the thoughts of someone who had about fifty “dojo-hours” in the last ten months. It means that all that I am about to write can teach you very little about Aikido as a martial art or as a way of thinking. It can only open a window—for what it is worth—into the experience of a forty-something Israeli, living in Portland, at the Multnomah Aikikai.
About a year ago I discovered that I have a back. I work as a college professor so—other than the ten hours a week of teaching—I spend most of my day sitting in front of the computer. Sitting, I prepare classes, I write, I watch chess broadcasts and in the weekends I play chess tournaments at the Portland Chess Club. This is what I do today and this is what I was doing a year ago—living an intellectual life. I needed my head to think, my fingers to type (or move pieces on the board) and my legs to carry me from my chair to the car. But about a year ago I discovered I had a back—it ached.

I tried to solve the problem. At first I asked myself who was it that had designed the weird curve between our heads and our buttocks but as the pains moved to my neck and shoulders I realized that flawed or not, this back and the whole body surrounding it had to be taken care of, and with exercise. So I tried to keep in shape: I ran—it was tough on my knees. I walked—it was too easy. I went to a Tai Chi class—the teacher retired. I went to another Tai-Chi class—I did not feel the teacher was knowledgeable enough. I looked at a couple of Taekwondo classes—it seemed too tough for me. Everything was either too easy or too hard, did not feel safe or did not seem helpful. And the pains continued.
Things changed after I arrived at the Multnomah Aikikai. Google tells me that “Aikikai” is the original school of Aikido, headed by the Doshu. You see, Aikido has many words in Japanese that are defined by other words in Japanese. You can easily sink into the intellectual side of learning the terms and the philosophy but this is not what I came for, I came for the life change and this is why I stayed. I joined the introductory-month program—I was given the uniform and two beginner classes a week for nearly the price of a month's membership. With the other beginners I was taught how to call the uniform (Gi) how to wear it, how to tie it, how to bow at the beginning of the training and how to fall, and fall, and fall. My main memory from the first two weeks is taking a step back, turning around, sitting down, rolling backwards, and standing back up. My back hurt for the whole two weeks, on and off the mat, mainly because I was so afraid to hurt it that I tensed my muscles constantly. Everybody but one (unfairly young) person who started the program with me reported pains. For one it was the thighs, for another a wrist and for a third the elbows but each hurt at their weakest link.
After two weeks the pains passed, and I felt much better than I had felt before I started and have been feeling much better since. You may ask, “What, like that, just like magic?” and my answer would have to be “yes.” In fact, when I go to the Aikido I feel exactly that—I am in a show that is a combination of magic and dance. A black belt student “attacks” the sensei (=teacher), the Sensei’s feet dance away, behind the attacker’s back, while the sensei hands perform their own magic escape. Suddenly, it is the attacker who has his wrist caught. Like a tango master, the sensei gently helps the attacker to the ground, where the latter taps the mats to sign for surrender. It is my turn to practice and I am lucky to practice one-on-one with another sensei that is present. She is a woman and smaller than me. I attack her with confidence, not because I think I will harm her but because I know she will drop me on the ground within the blink of the eye and it will not hurt (we practice a lot of falling). Still, I am surprised, every time and I get up of the mat laughing as if I were the magician’s assistant who was cut in two but is somehow intact.

I have been on the mat for mere fifty hours but Aikido is with me through other parts of my life. I come back from practice exhilarated, even if exhausted (Somehow, the practice is no longer difficult physically but it still is a cognitive challenge.—I get learn so many new moves every time that after forty minutes I cannot remember what is left and what is right, what is up and what is down, what is forward and what is backward). I go to sleep happily and wake up happily. The next day, waiting at the Max stop, I imagine getting away from a wrist-grab. In my head, I perform an Ikkyo. I do not move my body but in my imagination I dance and I do the magic. Recalling the last class makes me more aware of my posture and my breathing. The train whistle awakens me and I look at it as it pulls into the station. Between me and the front car there is a line of people, all on their phones. I could have performed a complete Katate Dori Ikkyo Ura and nobody would have noticed.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The River of Aikido by Dan Reid

The River of Aikido
Dan Reid, August 2016

Aikido is many things to many people. For me it is like a broad and deep river flowing through time. It springs from its source in the mountains with O’Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, runs down and spreads across the plains and valleys with his students, and carries us forward through the decades as we continue to train. And like any river, the deeper we venture into the water, the more powerful the current becomes.

I first discovered Aikido in May 2000 at Tom Read Sensei’s dojo in Arcata, California when I was an undergraduate at Humboldt State University. I had always had a fascination with martial arts and Eastern philosophies, but up to that point I had only dabbled my toes in the water. My training at Northcoast Aikido gave me a chance to wade in and start to feel the current. My body began to learn these strange new ways to move, resulting in sore muscles that I never knew I had. As I continued to train, the movements and techniques gradually began to feel more natural, and I began to understand the first layers of their underlying martial logic. At the same time, the humbling knowledge that the more senior students and sempai had been training for years or decades reminded me how little I yet understood. I began to sense the depth of the channel that stretched out before me.

I moved to the Bay Area after college in 2002 and reconnected with my training at Aikido Institute of San Francisco under Gloria Nomura Sensei. After wading tentatively into the water from this new bend in the river, I gathered my courage and plunged in headfirst. As one of Chiba Sensei’s disciples, Nomura Sensei and her students carried forward his unique interpretations of Aikido in a vigorous and challenging style of practice. The training seemed dauntingly martial and even severe at first, but as I began to accept my fear and give myself to the swiftness of the current, I found that it supported me even as it swept me downstream. My body began to change, my instincts and reactions began to align with the practice, and I grew more confident even as I struggled through my own limitations. At the same time, my membership through the dojo in Birankai International connected me with a worldwide community of Aikidoists. I had the opportunity to train with many new people through seminars and Summer Camps, and I realized that the river of Aikido has many streams, channels, and tributaries, all flowing toward the same sea.

The deep and serene waters of Aikido have also been an enormous source of stability and community during periods of transition and difficulty in my life. I moved to Minneapolis in 2007 when my wife started her doctoral program there, and I had the opportunity to train at the Twin Cities Aikido Center for the next three years. The members of TCAC became like a wonderfully boisterous extended family, and the training and friendship I found there carried me through many trials in my professional life. We then moved to Oregon in 2010 when I began graduate study at UO, and I was lucky to train briefly with Steve Thoms Sensei at Eugene Aikikai before the combined demands of children and architecture school forced a hiatus. Even when I was unable to train, however, I always considered myself an Aikidoist, and the pull of the river’s current was never far from my mind and heart. We then spent my wife’s internship year from 2013-14 in southern Illinois, and I was able to rejoin the stream with an Aikido community there to continue my training through another difficult period.

Finally, my family and I moved back to Oregon in 2014, where I had the opportunity to join Multnomah Aikikai. This return to the Birankai community was a long-awaited homecoming. I feel fortunate to be able to continue my development in Aikido with Suzane Van Amburgh Sensei and Aki Fleshler Sensei, who also trained with Chiba Sensei. A sense of continuity in the lineage of my training stretches upstream through Van Amburgh Sensei, to Fleshler Sensei and Nomura Sensei, to Chiba Sensei, and finally to O’Sensei at the wellspring of Aikido. However, to paraphrase an old saying, one never swims in the same river twice. The flow and swirl of its currents and eddies are constantly carving new channels, silting in old ones, eroding old banks, and depositing new ones. Aikido is a living river that evolves with the dedicated training and stewardship of its practitioners around the world, and it is my honor to be considered a fellow Aikidoist. I can’t wait to see where the flowing water takes me.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Aikido Appetizer - Free Introductory event Sep 24

Join us for our Free Open House event, Aikido Appetizer 

We invite our South Portland neighbors, our extended dojo community and anyone curious about the art of Aikido.

Aikido Appetizer
Saturday  September 24, 2016

Enjoy a taste of what the practice of Aikido is all about. Get ready for fun! This is an ideal opportunity to experience Aikido firsthand. This free event is open to both adults and children.

You are invited to our Spring Open House - the Aikido Appetizer! Family, friends, neighbors are welcome! This is a great opportunity to try something new. Here's the schedule:

  • 10am: Doors open. Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and get oriented to the space. 
  • 10:30am: Step onto the mat for a sensory experience and introduction to the art of aikido. Whet your appetite for for martial practice and get your body moving. Everyone can participate at their own pace. 
  • After class: We will have tea and sushi. Socialize and ask questions of members.