Aunkai workshop with Robert John

Rob is one of the very first students of Akuzawa sensei, and one of the three who obtained the highest license of teaching, Hanshi, and we were extremely lucky to have him around on Sunday. Aunkai is a method that can seem relatively austere as it requires a couple of years of proper body conditioning to really start feeling results. That’s where pedagogy kicks in and Rob is unmatched when it comes to breaking down a teaching into its essentials.

In this 3-hour workshop, Rob brought us through “entry point” exercises where everyone could already get a sense of what a properly conditioned body is about: where the load goes, how force goes out, just how different it feels compared to our usual way of moving.  Don’t get us wrong, this “Aunkai for Dummies” approach is not meant to replace the hard work of Tanren and Kunren, but to shed light on what’s hidden behind apparently simple exercises such as Maho, Shiko or TenChiJin,

Rob explored very deep principles, showing how to flatten the chest, drop the hips, use the inside of the hands, remove intention of the point of contact and much more. It was a fantastic session and we are all very keen to go further in our exploration.

“Aunkai is not easy physically or mentally. It demands of the new practitioner to see what they can’t see, do what they haven’t done, feel what they can’t feel and understand ideas which initially seem nebulous at best. Robert John introduces the opening concepts of Aunkai in a way that allows the beginner to immediately feel the benefits of the discipline and develop awareness of the rewards that practice and contemplation will bring.” – Hugh Stanley