NGAExperience® Nihon Goshin Aikido

This Week In Nihon Goshin Aikido ~ #15

July 11, 2014

In This Issue:

  1. Cross Training for the Dan Graded Aikidoka ~ Just Do IT!
  2. Aikido Topic Of The Week:  Aging Gracefully in Aikido
  3. You Can NOT Outrank Mr. Bowe
  4. Sho-Dan Promotions
  5. Nihon Goshin Aikido on Youtube ~ the argument for it (there is no reasonable argument against it)!
  6. Growing Our Subscriber Base ~ Please Forward to your Friends
  7. Seminar Announcements

Greetings Nihon Goshin Aikido Aficionado!

I hope all is well with you at your end of the great blue aikido mat on this outstanding Friday.  In spite of the Lexington, SC dojo being closed for the week, I was able to work in 2.5 hours of aikido training this week thanks to the new NGA dojo in Irmo (a scant 12 minute’s drive from my house), and the Tuesday night session at Columbia Aikikai.

Cross Training for the Dan Graded ~ Just Do It!

Cross Train!  Cross Train!  Cross Train!

For the senior student, cross training in another aikido style is like visiting your cousins from Tennessee.  They talk funny, and make you feel awkward due to your abstinence from moonshine, but boy do you get along well ~ once the moonshine issue is settled!  Of course we’re just as much a mystery to them as well ~ so its all good! ~ We’re cousins after all!

Seriously though, cross training is absolutely vital to the senior student’s ability, and it will enhance and improve our understanding of technique.  I began to cross train as a brand new sho-dan, and I almost immediately began to notice differences between the aikido styles ~ for example if you consider the 50 NGA Classical Techniques (as a whole unit, as opposed to their individual parts), it is abundantly clear that Shodo Morita was not a huge fan of (Omote Movement) preferring an Ura blend in most instances..

Doubtful of my assertion?  Well, think about the Nihon Goshin Aikido Ni-Dan test requirements for blending:  All blending attacks must be “read and responded to properly.” (I’m not sure that is the exact wording, but that’s the jist of it).  Anyway, the way it works out is that if you enter into an attack (eg: Omote instead of Ura) , you are considered to have failed to blend properly, and fail the test!  

This is a huge difference in approach between traditional aikido styles and our style.  They enter Omote all the time in traditional aikido.  Further, and while I’m not absolutely certain of this, they may even prefer to enter when possible at traditional aikido dojos.  

So to ask the question again:  “Why cross train?”  Well, in this instance, the minute you recognize that you “can” enter and be successful (even when using techniques like the Leg Sweep or the Spinning Hip Throw or the Arm Bar that are Classically Ura techniques), your list of available techniques off of any given attack and the applications that go with those techniques double ~ if not triple!  And who does not think “more techniques are better” for the senior student??!!

An additional benefit to the ability to enter at will is when defending against a 2 man (or more) randori attack ~ they invariably seem to both come at you with roundhouse punches (thrown from their outside fists).  Our desire to tenkan against a round punch simply puts us in the path of the other guy’s punch.  

Sensei Sanders of Columbia Aikikai put it nicely while standing the parking lot after training Tuesday night, “The decision for me is, ‘Do I go right or left?,’ and this decision is not based on the uke’s choice of attack.  It is based on my preference for movement when he attacks.  Where will I be safer?  That’s the question I ask, and it does not matter if I use Omote or Ura type movement, nor does it depend on what attack the uke is throwing at me when I arrive there; I will have a technique to deal with him.”

When he made that statement, I knew he had struck the golden truth.

I hope my comments on cross training are not considered hostile towards our art, as that is not my intention.  When I became a sho-dan my assignment was to “erase the borders that make up the cubby holes of technique.”  That’s what I’m doing, or trying to do.  Please keep in mind the recommendation to cross train is for the senior student only.  Ai

Aikido Topic Of The Week

Aging Gracefully in Aikido ~~~~

On other fronts:  We have this really old guy in our dojo named (I’ll call him “Marty” ~ because that’s his real name, and I don’t want to hurt his feelings). ~  Lol  Anyway, Marty’s one of the single greatest assets to our dojo, and a fine Purple Belt ~ and in his mid 50s.  He wears two knee braces to class every night.  Everybody loves him, and he has fabulous hair.  In our week of suffering without a Lexington Dojo in which to train (due to Sensei Carter’s ill timed family vacation ~~~  ~ lol), he has been complaining of symptoms of aikido withdrawal ~ cramping mostly....

Anyway, in moment of honest reflection he did ask, “How long will I be able to keep training?” ~ Then added something along the lines of, “However long it is, I will make the most of it and enjoy it.”  Then he went on some dementia triggered rant about stinky people in the checkout line at Target, and even worse was the fact that some kid had poked him with a stick ~ and ran away rather than give him a chance to work on his club takeaway skill set.

In between laughter, the greater message was “I won’t be able to train forever.”  Let me encourage you, Marty, and all of us NGA practitioners who happen to be getting older day by day:  If Mr. Bowe can still train, we can still train.  

So, you might have to lay off the ukemi eventually.... BIG DEAL!  The nage you’re working with can go to the point of breaking your balance without requiring you to fall, and it will be fine.  

Also, I submit that your nagewaza will indeed probably improve as you get older because techniques that we associate with speed for success (eg:  Slap to the Side of the Head, Spin Around, Pivot Take Down, etc.) can all be done in near slow motion when you’ve successfully taken uke’s balance.  

Not to beat a dead horse (though it is fun, and you should try it from time to time, just make sure you bring goggles and a full respirator), but this is another lesson I learned in cross training:  “Your Age Does Not Determine Your Ability Level or Potential.”  

If you take a close look at the picture of me with Sensei Sanders and Sensei Tangman (from Columbia Aikikai and Augusta Aikido Club respectively) in the top left hand corner of of this web page, you can see that they are both in their late 60s/ early 70s.  Neither man took ukemi on the night of the picture.  One of these two men needs a hip or knee replacement, and the other one is nearly deaf without a hearing aid.  That said I would hesitate to “touch” either of them (without specific invitation) ~ as they have devastating technical abilities!

So they’re old!  What does that mean???  Well, in this case it means that both men have been training in Aikido since the early 1970s.  In fact, they have over 80 years of aikido experience between them, and they know their stuff.  Without a doubt, they are dangerous men. We should seek to become as they are, and in time, hopefully that will be our experience.  We shall not quit!

One other point, Ken Marvin sent me a video last week (watch it on your immediate left).  It should be required viewing for every aikidoka in our style.  The video documents his battle with Parkinson’s Disease, and his experiences with Nihon Goshin Aikido.  The man is a living testimony as to what is possible regardless of age; a successful dojo operator, and a fighter who refuses to sit idly by while a holding a hand of cards he’d rather not have!  Formal Bow with Greatest Respect Sensei Marvin!  Like you, we also vow to Press On!

You Can NOT Outrank Mr. Bowe:

For all of you old-timey Mid Atlantic Wresting Fans, you will remember good ole Rick Flair ~ who famously said when defending his title belt:  “You wanna be the man, you’ve gotta beat the man!  WOOOOOOOOOO!” (He always finished his best lines by pointing a finger up in the air, looking deep into the camera, and shouting “WOOOOOOOOOOO!”).  

Now let’s be clear, as it relates to Nihon Goshin Aikido, you are not the man.  You are not Rick Flare.  Mr. Bowe is Rick Flare ~ and you should not aspire to promote or hold a rank higher than, or equal to, Mr. Bowe.  This is obviously mostly an “independent dojo” problem, but it should be abundantly clear that Mr. Bowe is the man none of us can ever be because Shodo Morita presented his own black belt to Mr. Bowe during his promotion ceremony; not us.  

If you have left the association, or whatever, please demonstrate the proper respect due Mr. Bowe, and abstain from “claiming for yourself” rank which you have not been awarded ~ especially a rank that out ranks Mr. Bowe!

In an email correspondence that I had with Mr. Bowe a few months ago, he made mention of this phenomena  ~ which up to that point, I had never even considered as a Nihon Goshin Aikidoka who is not training in a dojo that has current ties to the Nihon Goshin Aikido Association.  

In Mr. Bowe’s own words, “One of the things that still amuses me is when I come across a former member of the Association who I taught, who suddenly and miraculously now out ranks me.

What these self-proclaimed shihans seem not to know is that there is (or was, I haven't really kept up on it) a registry of those who are privileged to have been legitimately elevated to the title of Shihan in Japan. I remember paying a $100.00 registration fee when I was elevated.”

The word “amuse” here is important, as we know Mr. Bowe means something “slightly” different, and his admonishment could not be more clear, or more politely direct.  

So, if this relates to you ~ without calling out any names ~ and in the interest of honoring our art, as well as humbling ourselves, ~ please consider the option to cease and desist from claiming a title or rank that is not your own and/or superior, or equal to, Mr. Bowe’s rank in the art.

Promotions:  Two Sho-Dan Promotions Are On the Horizon in Spartanburg, SC

Congratulations to Roger Moon and Bill White ~ they passed their Self Defense Attack Lines on the same night a few weeks ago!  Their promotion is scheduled for July 29th, and they will be the newest  sho-dans to enter the SC Nihon Goshin Aikido Yudanshakai.  I have it on good authority from Sensei Wyndham that both tested brilliantly and uniquely.

Nihon Goshin Aikido On

Here’s the deal:  Be proud of our style of Aikido and represent it well!  This is not a “closely held” martial art ~ available to only a few family members or a pre WW-II political cabal.

People have to find out about it somehow, and a road front sign, while valuable, is not a primary source of new student recruitment any longer.  This generation goes to the web.  If we don’t have a presence there, especially on youtube, this generation of students will not seek our art out to learn it ~ and we like our Japanese predecessors in Master Nara’s dojo, will wake up one morning with no place to train.  To ensure our own martial arts training, we must grow the art by all means possible.  

If you are not videoing the art, and posting it on youtube or a similar venue, so that other potential students can see it, you’re doing a disservice to the growth of the art ~ which should be every practitioners global objective.

If you are afraid that someone may “negatively critique your abilities as you’ve demonstrated in a youtube video”  ~ then you might use their comments as motivation to improve your technique, and shoot another video!  Either way, both NGA and us, as its practitioners, win by promoting the art on the world wide web.

One other point:  We should never criticize another Nihon Goshin Aikido aikidoka’s technique in a negative manner (on youtube).  

In my personal searches for quality NGA videos (on youtube), I’ve seen some comments from members of our own art that were simply unprofessional.  If you think a person is demonstrating a Classical Technique incorrectly on a youtube video, do not use the “Public Comment” box to call him out on the carpet in front of the world, and Jesus!

Send him a private message, and ask for clarification instead.  Further, keep this in mind:  “A Critic is A Lot Like A Coach.  They Are Both Someone Who Can No Longer Do What They Are Talking About.”

Lou Holtz had a one liner that is even better:  “Point a finger at someone and you’ll find that three fingers are pointed back in your direction.”

So, post those videos and send the video links of your NGA videos here and we’ll link to it on our website to help drive traffic and students your way.  Keep in mind that gives you the ability to “monetize” your videos.  This allows you to earn money as people view your material.   

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Let's meet on the mat together soon!


Jonathan Wilson

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A video documenting Ken Marvin’s battle with Parkinson’s Disease and his efforts in Nihon Goshin Aikido.

 Rip that Ai patch off your gi if you can’t take 6 minutes to watch this video ~~~~

“You Wanna Be The Man ~ You’ve Gotta Beat The Man!!! WOOOOOOO!!!!!!”  ~~~

Rick Flair’s reasoning does not apply to self promotions in Nihon Goshin Aikido.  No one can ever outrank Mr. Bowe, or claim to be his equal in our art.

Mr. Bowe on the “Independent ‘Shihan” in Nihon Goshin Aikido:

One of the things that still amuses me is when I come across a former member of the Association who I taught, who suddenly and miraculously now out ranks me.

What these self-proclaimed shihans seem not to know is that there is (or was, I haven't really kept up on it) a registry of those who are privileged to have been legitimately elevated to the title of Shihan in Japan. I remember paying a $100.00 registration fee when I was elevated.”  

~ Richard Bowe

Be Careful When You Criticize Someone Else’s Nihon Goshin Aikido Videos On Youtube.  It might be wise to remember the old saying:  “A Critic is A Lot Like A Coach.  They Are Both Someone Who Can No Longer Do What They Are Talking About.”

Always be open to Cross Training in Other Aikido Styles

Right to Left: Senseis Darrel Tangman, (6th Dan Aikikai) , Lamar Sanders (5th Dan, Aikikai), and me ~

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