Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Old flows, present dangers and new friendships – Liam Keeley Sensei and the Koryu Kenkyukai Melbourne Australia

Sometimes I think you have to be a special kind of lucky to experience all the things that I get the chance to experience and it really makes my head shake in disbelief. That said, it is of course also not all just luck, but would be impossible if it wasn’t for all the supportive people that are helping along the way and so the feeling of luck is paired with much gratitude. This time round, my trip to Melbourne gave me much occasion for such headshaking and gratitude, as I have spent an extremely impression intensive 1.5 weeks there. Following my time at the SSBD Seminar with Maul Mornie, I spent two days listening, talking and sharing two conference days with an amazing group of critical autoethnographers that has been truly inspiring and hopefully the final kick to finish my PhD, so that is not what I will be writing about here.

Liam Keeley Sensei, Koryu Kenkyukai
Melbourne Australia
In between the seminar and the conference, as well as after, I was fortunate enough to meet, observe and participate in a range of classes taught by Liam Keeley Sensei at the Koryu Kenkyukai Melbourne Australia. Liam Keeley is an extremely accomplished, skilled and knowledgeable martial artist and teacher, and rather than reiterating his extensive bio here, I will provide a few links and leave it up to you to click your way through the web, search and enjoy the searching and reading if you are so inclined.

At his Melbourne school, Liam teaches two Koryu styles – Tatsumi Ryu and Toda ha Buko Ryu, holding teaching licenses in both (and in fact being one of a very small and select number of Shihan in the latter), as well as Chen Tai Chi. Outside of that, he also has an extensive background in Goju Ryu Karate and many other arts and is a Board Member of the International Hoplology Society that was founded by no other than Donn F. Draeger. He has lived and trained in Japan for 23 years and travelled the world researching the martial arts both with and without Draeger, before moving to Australia 14 years ago, where he now lives and teaches. ...

Sunday, 16 August 2015

There's a first time for everything (or, everything for the first time) - Maul Mornie & Silat Suffian Bela Diri Bruneian martial art seminar in Melbourne

The last two days I've had the pleasure and honour to meet and train with Guru Maul Mornie at a Silat Suffian Bela Diri Seminar held in Melbourne, AUS. First of all I have to say there was an outstandingly positive vibe (you might be able to tell from one of the pictures below..) throughout the whole seminar and both Maul and all the participants were incredibly friendly and open throughout, so many thanks to all for that. 

Maul Mornie & Filip Marić
Silat Suffian Bela Diri Seminar, Melbourne, Aug 2015
The title of the post holds true for me for many reasons. It was my first encounter with Maul and SSBD, my first encounter with any Silat, my first training with the emblematic Kerambit, and my first training with the Machete (yes, you heard right, Machete, just like the legend Danny frikkin' Trejo himself, only sadly minus Jessica Alba and Michele Rodriguez). And there was more firsts still..

Another 'first' that I really enjoyed was training and fighting with tribal wars/fights in mind that brings a whole new perspective to what we're doing that I haven't explored much yet and that I really enjoyed. Specifically, I really liked the notion of fighting in a team, as opposed to the 1-1, or 1-x approach that is more common in martial arts training, and how it is the strength, skill and spirit of the team that count as opposed to the notion of the individual fighter. Paired with the idea of a first row/wave preparing what (sometimes literally 'parts' ;) ) they leave behind for the second row and so on, this really...

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Koryu Budo (mini-challenge!!) - Ancient arts for modern times? (Jules Robson & Filip Marić, part II)

To follow up on Jules Robsons' take on the topic of Keiko Shokon in part I of this blogpost last week, I will start by saying that I have long struggled with the question what I might learn from Koryu Budo. Whatever the reason, I am generally not very good at being a spectator while other people are moving around, so the entire world of spectator sports has always been pretty much closed to me. Of course I can watch a martial arts movie, but the movement better be quick and involve lots of the 'wham bam thank you mam' stuff that Jules mentioned last or I will get bored very quickly. But even if I don't I just want to get moving and do it myself, which has led to more than one post-martial-arts-movie skill test / altercation with my big brother back in the days and even now drives to punch, kick, grab, jump and so forth whoever is sitting next to me when I am watching a movie that involves any of that.

Anyhow, the point being, watching a Koryu Budo/Bugei demonstration can still be outright painful for me, mentally and physically, even now that I have quite some interest and admiration for them. It usually takes the people presenting about 5 minutes to walk onto the bloody presentation space, then another 5 minutes until the first two people have narrowed down the distance between them to about 3 meters and look at each other for another 2minutes. Then one of them will do some kind of attack to which my brain will say 'pfffffff baaahhhhhh whaaaaat the....???' And this attack will be answered with an even more cryptical something and...  I am looking at the youtube sidebar for something along the lines of 'Jackie Chan best stunts compilation' (which I have been looking at during the first 10minutes of the 'demonstration') aaaannnd see you later Koryu Budo. 

Let's try the following challenge together if you have a few minutes.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Koryu Budo - Ancient arts for modern times? (Jules Robson & Filip Marić, part I)

It is no secret that I am enamoured with the traditional martial arts. I have mentioned this on more than one occasion (e.g. here and and there) before and of course wouldn't be practicing them otherwise. Nonetheless, the question that always comes up in regard to the traditional martial arts and maybe especially with the Japanese Koryu Bugei is: What point is there in practicing them today? Are they, or at least can they be relevant for us today? Simply put, are the ancient traditions relevant for today? And if yes, then how so?

Having recently read the highly recommendable three part series on the Classical Warrior Traditions of Japan edited by Diane Skoss, the term Keiko Shokon came up repeatedly, quintessentially emphasising the importance of asking these questions, and seeking to answers them through practice and study, rather than exclusively the latter. These question and search are actually quite central in my life, be it in my martial practice, my practice as a physiotherapist and Shiatsu practitioner, my philosophy studies, or my (ongoing...) research between all of them. Luckily however, I am far from the only one asking and researching these questions and so I am quite excited to post this two-part blogpost with you that I am sharing with Jules Robson, a good friend and co-conspirator when it comes to Keiko Shokon efforts, though we tread on slightly tangential paths. So without further ado, here is Jules' bit (followed by my two cents worth and a little more about Jules and some other interesting info in part II, which I will post next week): 

Keiko Shokon 
"I still vividly remember the day I first walk onto a tatami almost 30 years ago:

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 ...