Quick Recap of the Kaze Uta Budokai Summer Intensive

Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals...

Instead of heading to the North Carolina camp this year (which is consistently awesome, and one of my students was able to go), Jacob and I decided to head out to Oklahoma City.  "Why?" you may ask.  Perfectly reasonable question.  I love tornadoes and excessively flat terrain.  And the Kaze Uta Budokai Summer Intensive!  Basically, it's a 3 day training camp that looks at the various martial arts practiced there, including Judo, Aikido, and Jodo (the way of the medium-length staff, roughly translated).  It, too, was awesome.  All of the instructors were phenomenal, I was exposed to some cool arts in which I had limited or no exposure, and HOLY GOD, the mats were the best I have ever experienced.  Everyone seemed to focus on fundamentals and bring in lessons that were good for the novice as well as the expert.  This was nice, as I was definitely a novice at most stuff.

Nick Lowry and Brent Zurbriggen taught the Judo.  Honestly, it was mostly an Aikido crowd, which turned out to be a bit of a downer because there tended to be a mass exodus from the mats during the Judo sessions and the classes got put at odd hours.  Redheaded stepchild or no, the Judo was awesome.  We'll be working the drills I got over the next several classes, but they can be summed up as "One Entry, Many Exits."  Effectively, you key off of the synchronization you get when your Deashi doesn't work, and learn to attack whatever Uke's next move is.  We did that a lot, and got drills that can give us the foundation for the light, flowing sort of Ashiwaza Randori-esque thing that you see here:  

Brent also went over the same concept from a Newaza perspective:  Basically, start with a decent shrimp, and then learn to attack the various responses to that, from various positions.  Cool stuff.  I all of it, we spent a decent amount of time making sure to get the fundamentals right, which I greatly appreciated (especially since they do a very different style of Deashi than I am used to).

The Tomiki-style Aikido (I've got my yellow belt, so come at me, bro) was taught by L. F. Wilkinson.  He looked at a set of techniques familiar to anyone who has been to a few classes, and focused on how to practice them to ensure that you were getting the most from your practice and not letting bad habits creep in.

George Ledyard taught "Traditional Aiki."  I didn't really know what that meant, coming in, but it definitely wasn't what I expected.  The best way I could describe his lessons was that they focused on using subtle movements in your core to create off balance.  It was... weird.  Not like anything I had been exposed to.  And difficult.  But doable.  Mind you, it would take me 30 seconds of standing there trying to break their balance ("Push my elbows down and in... don't use my biceps... Ack!  Stop using the biceps!), never mind completing the rest of the technique.  George, however, could do the techniques quickly and effectively.  He was a good teacher, and luckily for me, a patient teacher.  Keeping with the theme of the seminar, though he taught for several hours over the course of the thing, he didn't try to teach a million things.  He focused on the core idea, and gave us a number of variations on the theme to practice.  Good stuff.

Howard Popkin was brought in to teach Daito Ryu.  I didn't know what that was, either.  From what I experienced, it seemed conceptually similar to what Sensei Ledyard was teaching... except he almost never moved his feet.  I think Jacob summed it up best: "If I just saw this on Youtube, I'd think it was bullshit."  Honestly, the stuff looks like the Ukes are acting.  It looks like a dude is standing there, while another dude craps himself for no reason.  But he's not acting... there's a reason behind the self-crapping.  Howie Sensei is able to create awesome Kuzushi and manipulate his Uke with *very* subtle movements.  I wasn't very good at this, but again, he focused on reinforcing a couple of core concepts, and so now Jacob and I have something we can practice until he teaches his next seminar in DC. 

So, this is starting to get long... I'll look to write another post on some of this...



kodokanjudo said...

Interesting stuff.

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Patrick Parker said...


That's the sound of me spitting out the cobwebs I just walked through here at your blog ;-)

I've been craving more of your insights and updates from your fantastic group of judo players!


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