Skip to content

Bill Gleason Sensei at Aikido of Maine 2105

by on October 23, 2015

— Edit: I’m super embarrassed. Have you ever been in a rush and swapped one person’s name for another? And then done it over and over again because you’ve already cemented the mistake? Oops… Thank you Michael for saving me from further embarrassment. —

This past week I attended the Saturday portion of Bill Gleason sensei’s seminar at Aikido of Maine. Unfortunately, work and a hunter’s safety course kept me from attending Friday and Sunday. Thankfully I managed to take a lot away in the one day.

I had never seen Gleason sensei before, but I had a feeling I would like him given that he had come across the edge of my feed a few times in various circles. Happily I was not disappointed.

I felt like there was a good mix for me of confusion/frustration, and success. Enough confusion that I’ll continue to think and play around with the concepts, enough success that the seminar was a positive experience. (Thankfully my tolerance and appetite for confusion has not diminished too much over the years!)

My eye is not yet particularly sophisticated, but I saw much of the same “dynamic deadening” that I have remarked on earlier. Furthermore, because of Gleason senesi’s approach, I may now have a better framework within which to understand what that dynamic deadening is.

I have spent a lot of time over the past year or two lurking in some FB groups devoted to internal strength. Besides the friends I’ve made, this topic is basically the main thing that keeps me in the martial arts world at this point. More choreography just doesn’t interest me. Unfortunately, when it comes to internal skills, there are a lot of things that you need to either feel or have felt. I can read all day about jin and yi and the dantian, but what I really need is some hands on exposure with instructors who can do the skills competently.

Where does Gleason sensei fall on the spectrum of internal skills? I don’t know. Above me.

I can’t be entirely sure, but I felt like Gleason sensei helped me get a little closer to understanding some of these topics that I’ve seen float across my feed. He didn’t use the same vocabulary that Mike Sigman uses, but I think I was seeing many of the parallels, and, because he used different words and images, I had another angle from which to approach the subject.

The coolest thing about making progress with internal skills is when you more fully understand a mode of movement which you have observed, and perhaps occasionally achieved accidentally.

I have a very vivid visual/motor memory of a type of motion my Aikikai instructor in Japan, Kaneko sensei, used to make. Over the past year, I’ve heard Mike Sigman write quite a bit about opening/closing. Now, thanks to Bill Gleason sensei, I realize that this motion I associate strongly with Kaneko sensei was one mode of opening done well.

I don’t have a whole lot of time to write this up, so I’m now going to take a bit of a scattershot approach. These are almost more for my reference than anything, but if they’re helpful to you, all the better. If you have a question about something maybe I can elaborate further when I have a little more time.

Expand in 6 directions:
Don’t expand towards uke, because with uke as your target you are working in uke’s world. Expand in 6 (all) directions with an origin (your center) and no particular target. Now uke has deal with you.

Rotation is power:
As mentioned above, you will expand which will bring your edge towards uke. But once you have contacted uke, don’t start drawing a line, start rotating something. (Obviously, don’t move the jiku!)

Practice new rotation skills:
Practice rotating your humerus in your shoulder socket. Be sure not to let the shoulder drift. One way is open and turns you into Captain America, the other way is closed, and turns you into a Ninja Turtle. (I loved this, reminds me of my own superhero post that’s been halfway done for a while).  Keep your thumbs in line with your elbow creases as long as you can. Practice rotating your torso. Rotate the torso while keeping the hips forward. (Tenban Chiban anyone??) Rotating your femurs in your hip sockets will help do this properly. One of the goals is to rework the fascia. Practice, practice, practice!

Reference uke only secondarily.
Your primary focus is on expanding and your own mechanics. These are the lane markers on the road you are driving down. The goal is to get to a point where they are the only thing you reference, but realistically, you can also secondarily rate your progress by what happens to uke. Remember though, uke is the flowers on the side of the road, your own body mechanics are your primary reference. My thoughts exactly.

Something about the yoke – yolk? : )
I missed Friday. Will have to go back next time…

That’s all for now. When I get more time I’m planning to revisit the Australia footage with an eye towards constructive self-evaluation rather than lobbying. Don’t hold your breath though.

From → Quick hit

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: