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EKF Summer Camp with Tohei Sensei

posted Jun 26, 2018, 7:42 AM by Minnesota Ki Society   [ updated Jun 26, 2018, 7:50 AM ]
This past week, eight members of the Minnesota Ki Society traveled to Greenville, South Carolina for a four-day seminar with Shinichi Tohei Sensei, who was visiting from Ki Society Headquarters in Japan. Several of us had visited Tohei Sensei at headquarters two years ago, or had been able to train with him on one of his previous visits to the United States, and we were eager not only to have this chance to learn directly from the head of our school, but also to renew the relationship with a teacher we hold in high esteem. It was especially a privilege to support some of our friends in having their first experience training with Tohei Sensei.

At this seminar in Greenville, Tohei Sensei invited us into a deeper understanding of keeping one point, to experience connection with our partners, and to know the relationship of mind and ki. With a focus on basics, we had a chance to practice a little bit of everything – from aikido techniques, to jo and ken, to breathing and ki meditation. Now that we are home again, we are committed to sharing what we learned with each other in upcoming classes this summer. If you’re curious to hear more about it, we’d love to have you join us! You can check out the class schedule on our website calendar.

Everything at the seminar flowed so smoothly, it would be easy to assume it was effortless. Each part moved seamlessly into the next; breaks were timed perfectly; there was a gentle rhythm between explanation and practice; and when instructions were given, they were easy to follow, and everyone understood what to expect. And yet when we pause to consider how many moving parts there were, we can begin to appreciate how critical a role connection played in helping us all have a supportive learning experience together.

Everyone present made a commitment to help make this event happen – from Tohei Sensei’s dedication to making himself available to teach us, to our host instructors who made the visit possible at the highest levels, to those traveling from Texas, Colorado, New York, Wisconsin, Washington, California, Japan, and even Russia to join our group from Minnesota and the local South Carolina folks in growing and developing together. In order for this seminar to happen, it took the dedication of everyone to show up and bring their heart to the mat. The result of all these people coming together with this shared intention was a seminar filled with plus ki, creating an atmosphere where we could all learn joyfully.

In a room more than half-filled with yudansha in their hakama, we were also welcomed by representatives from the local children’s class, who helped us remember that we are supposed to be having fun! Some youthful mudansha in colored belts like my own also traveled from Virginia to be there with us – I was delighted to be their partner several times throughout the seminar. And there were several white-belts – of various ages – who joined us on the mat, in some cases having only been training in aikido a month. Yet here we all were together, finding ways to learn from each other, laughing and building friendships that spanned not only borders, but generations.

Many of us in Eastern Ki Federation have learned to think of our extended Ki-Aikido community as Ohana – a term brought by our Hawai’i aikido friends, reminding us that when we are intentional about tending our relationships to one another, we create an open-hearted sense of family. Our Aikido Ohana deepens and grows every time we come together and train with Plus Ki – whether that involves visiting Tohei Sensei, hosting a guest instructor at a home seminar, or simply showing up week after week at our own dojo, seeing our friends’ familiar faces as weeks turn into years and belts change color.

Community – a healthy sense of belonging together – doesn’t happen by accident. So I want to express my deep gratitude for all the ways, known and unknown, that we each bring sincerity and commitment to our training, whether local or distant, whether instructor or beginner, and whether you’ve been on the mat recently or not. As Tohei Sensei reminds us, Ki is constantly flowing, and the universe is constantly moving and changing. I hope that movement brings our paths together at the dojo again, so we can continue to build our joyful Ohana.