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2020 New Year's Seminar with Nonaka Sensei

posted Jan 29, 2020, 11:21 AM by Minnesota Ki Society   [ updated Jan 29, 2020, 11:24 AM ]
by Kirsten Welge

This year, we were honored to experience Eric Nonaka Sensei teaching our annual EKF New Year's Seminar. Nonaka Sensei is Assistant Chief Instructor of the Hawai'i Ki Federation, Head Instructor of Mililani Hongwanji Ki-Aikido - and has been training for nearly 60 years. 

Nonaka Sensei began by demonstrating the power of the mind with a simple shokyu ki test, which tests physical posture. When the student tried not to get nervous, the physical posture was not stable. However, this changed dramatically when Sensei advised the student to "Be OK with everything. Say, 'I am keeping one point.' 'This is so good.' 'I am perfect.'" As Sensei noted, it was easy to see how easily mind works for you - or against you. "Words are so powerful."

I also noticed how easy it was to change my mind, and how powerfully it impacts my experience. Sensei reminded us - when we say something hurtful, this affects us as well as others. When practicing the exercise to say something hurtful, I noticed how I withdrew from my experience and became tense. Both I and my partner felt that separation and tension, and I was physically unstable. When I shifted my attention to what I loved, I relaxed. Suddenly I could feel the connection to myself and my partner, and my experience was calm and unshakable. 

Throughout the seminar, when called to demonstrate arts or practicing with a partner, these themes continued. If I was thinking about doing the technique correctly, concerned about moving my partner, or worried about my ability, my stability and connection with my partner suffered. When I remembered his phrases -- "It doesn't really matter." "It's already good." "I can do anything you want me to." -- there was ease, lightness, and connection. 

These same points of mind connected directly to bokken practice on Sunday morning. If I did something to resist a ki test on the bokken blade, I was not stable. As Sensei offered, when we feel pressure, don't resist -- "Feel yourself getting more relaxed!" Likewise, when I made raising the ken a separate act, preparing to "do" something, I was not stable. Instead, Nonaka Sensei reminded us of Curtis Sensei's teaching, "The sword is always cutting." Don't interrupt that act, and don't make it a big deal. Nonaka Sensei also reminded us of Suzuki Sensei’s "Four Points": 1. So what? 2. Be natural. 3. Do nothing. 4. Don’t worry, be happy.

I was amazed by the power and fluidity of Nonaka Sensei's weapons forms, as well as his tremendous kindness and humility in teaching. Towards the end of the seminar, he shared his response when someone once asked him about his swordwork, "When did you get it?" His reply: "Still trying. Never ends. Lucky me."

Lucky us, to know such a teacher. Mahalo nui loa, Sensei! We are grateful for your presence and support.

Our friend Nakita Federov captured the weekend of training and Ohana in photographs, which you can find here.