Dabbling in Daito Ryu with Takumakai, June 2012
Daito-Ryu with the Takumakai ) at Redlands dojo. In addition to what he taught, the discovery that there are many schools of Daito Ryu Aiki Jujitsu (DRAJ) and there seems to be the same variety within DRAJ as within Aikido. Certainly the work of Aikido Historian, Stanley Pranin seems to confirm that aikido is mostly the DRAJ prominant student and mastery certificates Morehei Ueshiba.
Recently we received an invitation to practice DRAJ with Annoiki Sensei one of Grant sensei's teachers and a senior teacher of the Takumakai at his Tweed dojo(http://www.aikinsw.com). Here is a short video of sensei on the web as you can see his movement is almost indistinguishable from advanced aikido with all the halmarks of great aikido.
On arriving we were made quite welcome by Periott sensei, who invited us onto the mat for some practice before practice. My first impression was that this was a remade Budoka, his body work and movements were transformed since we had previously practiced together in 2010. I later found out that Grant sensei travels to Japan annually and spends a month training with his teachers. Practice in DRAJ, as a koryu school is focused very much on personal transmission, rather than large classes and the merits of such were clear to see. The whole day was a special day for friends of the dojo, and a rare opportunity as many Koryu arts are closed to outsiders, a special gift in itself.
Each of the classes began with Grant leading us through warmups which are a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises together with relaxation and some foundational movements such as tai sabaki and strikes.
Annoiki sensei is in his mid seventies and has been practicing the art almo
st as long as the schools current headmaster, he is a direct student of Hisa - a contemporary of Ueshiba and student of him and Takeda the founder of DRAJ. Sensei's movements were incredibly soft yet compelling. Body movement was focused on working the weak points in the body (stopping where there is resistance), it was also interesting to se that the hyper extension of joints (something DRAJ is infamous for) is not for the generation of compliance through pain but instead a way to create a robust connection to centre and centre line.
At first I struggled with the teaching paradigm, as sensei would demonstrate something very slowly in detail and then go on to do multiple variations and other techniques seemingly at random. Come practice time I was a bit confused, eventually I realised that he would demonstrate a key concept and them expect us to practice this through a variety of techniques fopr ourselves. Wow this is active learning at its best - put us to work sensei!
By the last class we were down to just a small core of participants working with Annoki and Grant sensei, what a fabulous time to have some intimate time with this remarkable teacher and Grant on hand to bridge the gap to us mere mortals. It looks like there may be a study group up in Brisbane in the near future for something to watch.
For my own part, I wish I had the time to learn another system, but in the mean time its enough to know that my own schools aiki is somewhat compatible and that hand-wrist time with seniors adn the give an take of the uke-nage interaction is one of the treasures of experiences like this.
Thanks to John Gam for the images
PS Learnt the neatest shionage pin too - almost defies logic