Report on Ushiro Sensei Seminar- October 2009
The day of Sensei’s arrival was the opening for the Samurai Arts exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This collection represents one of the best single collections of treasured katana ever put together. We took Sensei to this exhibit the next day. The parallels between looking at these swords and watching sensei are undeniable. The swords are absolutely beautiful to look at. One has the same experience when watching Sensei perform kata. Creating these beautiful masterpieces took a lot of skill, time and talent to create an instrument that is both beautiful to look at and utterly lethal in use. Sensei’s achievements have been attained through a lot of skill, time and talent. His dedication to pass this legacy on to us is a gift that needs to be treasured.
This seminar was attended by 36 people on Saturday and Sunday. Almost all of the attendees had attended at least one previous seminar taught by Ushiro Sensei at my dojo. Sensei focused on establishing a solid foundation of understanding Shindoryu. He focused on the first two kata, Sanchin and Naifanchin kata. The emphasis was on our vision; posture and breathing. Sensei provided a clear, concise instruction in the teaching of kata. We explored how these three elements needed to be present in order for the movements to have effective integrity. Ushiro Sensei has the unique ability to imbue our spirit with Ki so that we could perform movements that we were not able to do without his Ki, enabling our bodies to learn at a cellular level, thereby improving our ability to perform the movements contained with the kata.
This seminar was a seminal event for the creation of Shindoryu Ushiro Karate in the United States. He provided all of us with the basic building blocks contained within Sanchin and Naifanchin Kata so that we can diligently practice. Our personal development through this practice should enable Sensei to provide us with further building blocks when he returns to New York in May and October of 2010.
A special thanks is extended to the staff of Aiki News, who always provide major support in enabling this seminar to take place. Akiyama Naoto, translator extraordinaire, once again did an amazing job translating Japanese to English for the participants. Finally, we are so grateful to Sensei’s students who have traveled from Japan to attend the seminar. Their patient instruction and camaraderie are profoundly appreciated.
The followings are comments from Seminar participants.
● Everytime I see Sensei I am so impressed. I’ve never seen anyone at that level. He’s one of the most impressive persons and human beings I have seen in my entire life. My life would have been very different if I had never met Sensei because martial arts were very important to me. I had trained so much. When I saw Sensei it really changed my whole conception of martial arts, so if I never met Sensei I would still not have known these types of things are possible. It is very important for martial artists to see this incredibly high level that most martial artists never get to see. And, therefore, they are like I was before a bit blind because they don’t know this is possible and once they see this is possible it changes your whole conception of martial arts. And I’m so grateful for Ushiro Sensei’s teaching and it will be with me my entire life this experience of meeting him.
Thank you very much.
M. J. International Lawyer
● I enjoyed Ushiro sensei’s seminar very much. I learned so much. Relaxation as far as learning to let go and be more relaxed in my own body and posture, shisei. And just letting go. When people hit or strike and you want to hit and strike and you want to try so hard to do things. There’s just more opportunities and things you can do when you learn to let go. That was probably the big thing. And about the concept of irimi reinforces everything I learned. There is nothing that conflicts with what I teach soldiers in the army. We teach them to always move forward and that it’s bad to back up. And so it’s good to see the same principles from someone of Ushiro Sensei’s level has the same belief. Obviously, he does it at a much higher level than what we do, but it’s the same concept so it’s good to see that we’re doing the right things because they work in combat. And that someone that does a Karate- Do does the same thing. Always enter and move forward. It’s very important. Thank you very much.
K. L. Army Major, Practices Aikido and Brazilian Jujitu
● As the host of this seminar, this was an absolutely amazing seminar. It was a very precise teaching of kata and how people can benefit from kata — from sanchin and naifanchin kata. It provided a very strong foundation from which everybody can take a piece and grow to bring back to the next seminar. So, that we can continue to grow here in America.
Thank you very much.
Marc Abrams, Seminar Host, Aikido Instructor, Clinical Psychologist
● It has been an absolutely magical seminar. I was telling someone that I feel like tingling. My whole body is vibrating with a really joyous feeling. It’s not excitement exactly but more like really open. I think I just want to leave it at that. It’s a really joyous feeling. And it has been so wonderful to connect with so many people. It’s the first time I am seeing Ushiro Sensei in a karate context. What Sensei is teaching you can practice with everybody, it does not depend on style and art. So, that was also a very wonderful experience. We focused more on the kata which I actually found very helpful because it ‘s really sort of going back to the roots. But he also did some of the exercises that I have seen before. But now I’m like looking forward to doing the kata, whereas before that it was like doing the kata wouldn’t help. Now, I saw a lot more of what grows out of the kata, so that was very inspiring.
V. R. University professor and Aikido student
● It was excellent. Really eye opening. I enjoyed it. Right to the point of what martial arts are. I learned very much. I will definitely continue training with Ushiro sensei. I would like to go to more seminars when he comes back. He’s a great master. This is amazing stuff with the Ki. I hope to learn more about that. I will definitely be back when Ushiro sensei comes back in May next year. I teach some adults and mostly children. Part of what I do as a police officer is to teach the youth in the Police Athletic League. I’m a director of that. One of the programs is Karate. I hope to bring some of this information to the kids. I found out about this seminar on the internet, probably on the Aiki site is where I found it. I saw that it was open to any martial artist and contacted Sensei Marc. I’d read Karate and Ki and the Kata book.
R. W. Police Officer and Karate teacher with 25 years experience.
● It was my first time meeting Ushiro sensei. I was impressed. There were a lot of things I didn’t know. I learned a lot. Particularly the projection of Ki without making contact with somebody. The image of Ki was different than what I had before. I didn’t know that it could be projected from one person to another without contacting somebody. I thought you had to make contact with somebody. But, I was impressed. It was well worth it. You yourself can project Ki by having right posture or through kata. I have never thought of that. As far as feeling loose and feeling free and not trying to muscle my way. Use my strength. Use my inner strength instead of muscles. So I learned a lot today. I don’t need to work out with weights. (Laughs)
G. W. Teacher, two years in mostly Karate with some Aikido mixed in
● It was my second time at this seminar. We were so excited to come back. As soon as we left New York last time we were ready to come back. I learned a lot more. It was a lot easier for me this time. I was a lot softer. Last time I was harder. I used a lot of muscle. I think I’ve improved and look forward to improving some more.
J. V. Biology lab technician, Aikido, Karate and other arts
● The seminar was absolutely fantastic and wonderful. The training was phenomenal. It’s absolutely amazing the knowledge Ushiro sensei shares each and every time he’s on the floor. My understanding has deepened greatly this time. It was much easier this time to pick up on things because I’m beginning to understand how Ushiro sensei teaches and what he is teaching and it makes a great deal of sense now.
D. T. University professor
● It was good. This is my second seminar with Ushiro sensei. I had a good time and learned a lot. It was a little different from the last seminar. It’s good because it built on what I learned the last seminar. I was able to understand it a little better and I felt a little more progressive through the kata this time than I did last time. It was good. I will use what I’ve learned here in my everyday life.
R. F. Military
● It was definitely a lot different than the previous seminars over the past few years. This one was a lot more structured and broken down into more basic stuff and I felt like people could learn a lot easier what he Sensei was trying to teach this year. I learn a lot every year, but this year was different.
K. A. 15 years old, student