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Reflection from the 2019 Shugyo Tassei Kigan Shiki Seminar

posted Feb 26, 2019, 11:13 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Feb 26, 2019, 11:14 AM ]
by Kirsten Welge


In January this year, four of us from the Minnesota Ki Society had the pleasure of learning from Shaner Sensei at the annual Shugyo Tassei Kigan Shiki seminar in Merrifield, VA. Here are some  of my notes and reflections from the weekend:


During this seminar, Shaner Sensei reviewed more of Tohei Sensei's carefully crafted pedagogy, and taught several taigi to reinforce why Tohei Sensei developed this form of training. Taigi consist of five to ten aikido techniques, performed with a partner in a particular sequence. Taigi are another form of "tsuzuki waza", or continuation exercises, that help us develop sustained connection with a partner. The aim is to maintain unbroken connection with our partner from the beginning bow of the taigi, through the final bow. Through this connection, we support our partner, and are supported by them.


Just as Tohei Sensei designed taigi as tsuzuki waza, he also incorporated elements of this continuation into the ki society pedagogy. The four basic principles to unify mind and body underpin everything we do: 

  1. Keep One Point
  2. Relax Completely
  3. Keep Weight Underside
  4. Extend Ki

 

The last principle is exactly the same as the first of the Five Principles of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido: Ki is Extending. We must be practicing mind-body oneness to practice aikido.

 

Similarly, the last "hitori waza", or one person exercise, of our standard aiki taiso is tenkan. When we practice tenkan, we extend our wrist as though inviting a partner to grab our wrist for a technique. Likewise, Taigi 1 begins with the same motion, leading our partner into katatedori tenkan kokyunage. Even in the aiki taiso, we see the connection to our arts: Are we practicing our invitation for a partner to grab hold and do aikido?

 

Every one of these connections is intentional. Likewise, each of the taigi has a particular focus.

 

This seminar, Shaner Sensei taught Taigi 2, 4, 10, 11, and 12. He also spoke to Taigi 3, 6, and 8.

  

Taigi 2: Katatedori Ryotemochi (Two hand grab of one hand)

  • Theme: Fusoku Furi - "No contact, no separation".
  • Uke's hold with two hands is quite strong. Any kind of push or contact felt from nage's movement causes separation. Nage must follow ki principles to perform the arts and taigi correctly.

 

Taigi 3: Yokomenuchi (Strike to the side of the head)

  • Theme: Seido Itsuchi (or Seido Ichi) - "Unity of Calm and Action"
  • This taigi is explosive. Nage must move decisively on the "i" of "ima" (English: the "n" of "now"), matching uke's ki movement.  Sensei pointed out that there is a sudori in every art, as well as a rubber band-like feeling of expansion and contraction.
  • Other taigi that also feature the "i" of "ima" feeling are 7, 13, and 19.

 

Taigi 4: Ryokatadori (Two hand grab of shoulders)

  • Theme: "Move from where you're not being held." (From Five Principles of Kaisho)
  • Uke is grabbing the shoulders. If nage moves from the shoulders, s/he is stuck!
  • Nage must move from one point while keeping good posture ("shisei") to lead their partner .

 

Taigi 8: Ryotedori 
  • Theme: Rhythm of Down, Up, Down
  • All arts in each of these taigi exhibit a clear Down, Up, Down rhythm. Nage and uke should feel this clearly!

 

Taigi 12: Katatedori Ryotemochi

  • Theme: Move from the Fingertips
  • In each of these taigi, the core point is not to get stuck where uke is holding.
  • The fingertips are connected to one point. Move from the fingertips to move yourself and your partner.

 

Performing a taigi correctly isn't easy. We must first memorize the order of the arts and develop confidence in performing each art in sequence. Only after the work of memorization is completed can we can train in the deeper meaning of each taigi, and practice balance, rhythm, and largeness with our partner.

 

I had a personal experience of this gap when demonstrating Taigi 2 with a friend from another dojo. Between anxiety about getting up in front to demonstrate, trying to remember the technique order, and worry about working with an unfamiliar partner: I was entirely in my head, separate from my partner. I was not supporting my partner, or allowing him to support me! As a result, the taigi was rough and bumpy - a solid experience of "wrong way".

 

I then had the golden opportunity of feeling a clear difference when demonstrating Taigi 8 just a few minutes later.  I love this taigi's arts and flow, and I am familiar with the way it moves. I chose a partner from my home dojo. And this time, I decided to choose a different intention: have fun, and support my partner in enjoying this taigi. And, both of us had a great experience.

 

 As Tohei Sensei often says, practice means sometimes yes, sometimes no. I am deeply grateful for Shaner Sensei's clear transmission of Tohei Sensei's teachings, and his commitment to our growth. And, I look forward to countless more opportunities to practice!