Sunday, 21 June 2015

Aunkai Study Day - a review by Gray Gillespie

Last weekend I was fortunate to attend an Aunkai Study day conducted by Liam O’Donoghue and hosted by Filip Maric of the Jikishin Dojo in Auckland. During the day, we focused on core fundamentals of Aunkai, including stepping and kicking to name just a few.
Gray tying a knot into participants at the
Auckland Aunkai seminar in Nov 2014
But what is Aunkai? Aunkai is new training method founded by Minoru Akuzawa Sensei. Akuzawa Sensei has an extensive background in martial arts. It is clear that internal martial arts has had the most lasting impact on him as he has made this the sole focus of his training. So while Aunkai itself is new, the ideas and skill sets go back many centuries.

To many, the term internal martial arts brings to mind images of supernatural abilities and chi blasts. For the most part however, internal martial arts are simply the correct use of alignment and body mechanics to produce force far more powerful than what you would otherwise be able to achieve by overtly muscular force. Aunkai is effectively a ...

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Chest is clean - Systema RMA Seminar with Vali Majd

Last weekend was the second time that I had the pleasure and benefit of being able to train under the guidance of Vali Majd from Roots Dojo - School of Warrior Arts (Denman Island, BC, Canada). First time I met Vali was on his first visit to Auckland a little over two years ago and I can say I've been looking forward to his return ever since.
As I am already busy writing a thesis as it is, I won't make another one of this blogpost, but will keep it short and to the point. What I will say is also no different than what I have said in the roundup following the weekend and comes down to 4 points...

On the first day, on the first exercise and in one of his very first few bits of instruction regarding what we were doing Vali said: "Don't breathe because you move, you move because you breathe." The response in my brain was equally succinct...

Sunday, 19 April 2015

David & Hisae Lynch - Pioneers of Aikido in New Zealand

Last week I met a remarkable man, a remarkable couple I should say, namely David and Hisae Lynch. I had heard and read about David and Hisae a few years ago already and had always wanted to meet them, but somehow the stars just never aligned. Well, now they did and I couldn't be happier about it.


On Thursday last week I made the trip along the coast of the Coromandel side of the Firth of Thames and across the beautiful Coromandel Forest Park, which seemed to be just the perfect road trip prior to meeting David and Hisae. 


About 18 years ago...they moved out to Coromandel and sometime after started building an adjacent dojo next to their home, surrounded by 67-acres of native bush...

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Intersections & Synergies (Seng-Yew, Melbourne/AUS)

Hey all, I am delighted to share this guest post by my friend Seng-Yew whom I first met in person in mid-2014 at the Melbourne Systema Seminar with Martin Wheeler, following a brief exchange of emails in regards to our Aunkai seminar later in the year. Seng-Yew is a kindred spirit in more ways than one I believe, even though we have not known each other for very long. He is also a long-time practitioner of Aikido, an Instructor-in-Training in Systema (Vasiliev, Toronto) and maybe most importantly just a very reflected yet open mind. Not wanting to give away the 'moral' of his post, I am very grateful for it, as it perfectly expresses the notion of Budo Kenshu that is the foundation of our practice at Jikishin Dojo Auckland. So with that I leave to enjoy Seng-Yew's reflections..
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My journey began with my first love, Aikido. For several years, that had been my sole focus. Whilst researching about the art in those early days, I would intermittently come across a strange, and bizarre art called, Systema. My fascination about this Russian system grew, but any hands-on exploration was limited due to my isolated geography. After moving interstate several years later, I was fortunate enough to learn more about it from a brilliant instructor. Side-by-side with my first love, I began my foray into Systema. My infatuation grew into a passion, and eventually developed into a firm commitment. At times, I questioned about their compatibility, but for the most part, I was able to compartmentalise my training, and use each to build upon the other's strengths. Whenever others asked how I perceived the two seemingly different arts, I would give the analogy that...

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Frankfurt - City of Philosophers

Ever since I moved to New Zealand I have been visiting friends and family back home in Frankfurt and based from there in other places in Europe about once every year. Time in Frankfurt is special in more ways than one. The city of Frankfurt is largely known and overshadowed by two things (other than its murky weather) - banking and its airport - often to an extent that makes it very difficult to see any of its other facets. Nonetheless it undoubtedly has these facets. 


For me personally, it was particularly one facet that has always stood out and one that I always return to when I come here, visiting certain places, traces and memories. To be precise, for me Frankfurt has always been most importantly a city of philosophers. It is the city in which I read my first philosophical books - Erich Fromm's Having and Being and The Art of Loving, and which so strongly  sparked my enduring interest in all things philosophy, psychoanalysis, Aikido and Zen. Learning about Erich Fromm it was always somehow special to me that he was originally from Frankfurt and...