Going back to Tōkyō for Aunkai training is a favorite of mine, as it’s always a rare occasion to see Akuzawa sensei and his students, feel how their practice evolved and try to grasp a bit more the complexity of Aunkai’s biomechanics.
Aunkai is simple. Not easy. This statement to me is one of the best ways to summarize what one feels when training in Aunkai. Most martial arts focus on adding: adding techniques, adding power, building towards complexity. As students grow in ranks, they learn new kata, new forms, new techniques. Aunkai just took the opposite road, and it’s all a question of removing: removing tensions, removing force, removing everything but what is truly essential. That is simple indeed, as one just has to do what is needed. But that clearly isn’t an easy thing to do as it requires to re-wire our brain and body deeply, in the same way you would change the operating system of your computer or phone.
For this trip, I was accompanied by my good Aikidō buddy, Christian and I was extremely happy to have him experience first-hand what Akuzawa sensei feels like. If I can give an idea of the potential of Aunkai, and if Rob gave a much clearer on already in his previous workshops, touching sensei directly is an experience that marks someone, as only a handful of adepts can show this level of body skills.
Training-wise, it’s been relatively intense. Seminar with sensei and Rob’s students on Saturday morning, regular class in the evening, private class on Sunday, regular class on Thursday evening, training with Rob and his guys on Saturday morning and back to the Hombu on Saturday. That was just great, sensei showed us some elements we did not see before, or at least not this way, and that put light on quite a few other things he does. A strong emphasis was put on striking in the first weekend, and how punching and kicking in Bujutsu differ much from what is commonly done in modern martial sports, Punching typically in a Bujutsu context is all about transferring weight and power to the opponent body, which is very different from a jab that aims to maintain distance, reach, or snap. The last Saturday focused much more on the grappling element, with lots of partner exercises such as the free push out or kuzushi.
Going to Tōkyō is always a great experience as it allows us to train with sensei, but also his students, some of whom have been training under his direction for many years, twice a week, and hence are an incredible source of insights. As already mentioned, Aunkai is far from being easy. Akuzawa sensei has a quality of movement that only a handful of adepts have, and that goes with an extremely acute body awareness. As mere mortals, all of us get some bits and pieces of it, not always the same ones depending on our respective body, mindset or martial background and having this opportunity to hear insights from sensei’s advanced students such as Rob, Miyakawa-san, Gernot, Murata-san and the likes is always to me a great source of inspiration.