What a wholly remarkable weekend! First, we got Rob properly and officially married off to Nikki. Congratulations to the new Belote family! All the wedding details were perfect. Just as they should be, thanks to great attention to detail by the mothers and the wedding planner and the proprietor of the tour home where the event was held. The weather was perfect and Natchez was beautiful.
But an added bonus was that the groomsmen got to meet and work out for a couple of hours on top of Roth Hill in natchez overlooking the Mississippi River with Bram Frank, grandmaster of Modern Arnis and owner of the Common Sense Self Defense (CSSD) knife methods. Truly a masterful teacher. It was wonderful. I am so excited about the stuff I saw because of the explicit overlap between it and the aikido that we do. Bram was talking directly about many of the principles that I preach so much, including:
- get off the line
- natural motion
- centered, strong arm positions (i.e. unbendable arm)
- same-hand-stuck-foot (he didn't talk about it but he was doing it)
- working from the worst predicaments first
- covering the opponent's face with your hand to block his vision and get startle reactions
The first of his modular knife things (similar to our chains) that we did was almost directly analogous to our kata versions of shomenate/aigamaeate.
This stuff that I saw really was aiki-knife at it's finest. One thing that I have to admit - and this was probably the finest lesson I got that day - although I could see that the motion was common to aikido, and although I know that theoretically the addition of the knife shouldn't make much difference - it did! While I didn't absolutely suck, I was much worse than I should have been. It was similar to when I show my students something slightly new and all their previous stuff falls to pieces and has to be rebuilt into a cohesive system with the new thing. That's really why I thought the lesson was so fine - it highlighted a weakness in my aikido. I'm really excited about working this stuff a lot more. Fortunately, we have a great CSSD instructor right here at Mokuren dojo - Rob Belote.
Pictures of the weekend coming soon...