Updated: Apr 24
2023 Aikido Seminar this year was hosted in Adelaide for the first time.
Decided to go on a road trip for 8-hour drive from Melbourne which was a pleasant drive through the hazard reduction burn offs and stopping by a random Vietnamese country bakery for some bánh mì. Made it to Adelaide during their pre-Easter traffic jam.
First training session was on Good Friday, it started raining. Finding the seminar entrance was a little confusing with obscure gate numbers but quick to spot the white gi pants from a mile away. A familiar face greeted me at the gate and there was lots of hugs and well wishes at the door. Signing in as protocol, finding a place to dump your gear, locate change rooms - done.
There was some nervousness about from the younger students which would be their very first seminar. Being socially awkward, these events are always stressful. Scanning across the floor and finding a friendly face you trained with from previous seminars helps to relax any nerves, they are all feeling the same.
We are all lined up ready for our first class. Peter Sensei gave us an introduction and there was an Ackowledgement of Country. Then it was time. Ulf Sensei walks in, and you could feel the silence on the mat. Ulf Sensei spoke about what was to expect and things to focus on for the next 4 days. Naturally my mind went straight into aikido training mode and whatever nerves I had subsided.
First session was bokken class. It's been a while since hearing so much ki on the mat. I gave my best but kept up at a steady pace. Don't want to pull a blister on the first session like I did last time. Need to warm up.
Great to see the enthusiasm from the white belts willing to give it a go. There were some who only just recently started in aikido. At times the techniques got complicated or that you're off centre or some foot or hand position gone wrong which needed some correcting. But that's okay, we're here to learn.
Made it through the first day. Time for nom-noms by Glenelg famous Ferris wheel.
The next few training sessions was much easier as you get to know most people on the mat by now. There is always some techniques and variations that felt different. But never enough time to get it right. However, staying with 3 other girls was great extra training opportunity.
During our lunch breaks we would use the time to debrief on the techniques and work on the finer details that you might sometime miss. This was my first all-girl aikido chat. It was comforting to be able to express my aikido and see all the girls being very open with their interpretation that you might not hear the same if it was on the mat with so many prying eyes, let alone the gazes of so many senseis.
The friendship dinner towards the end of the seminar was another great opportunity to socialise. The food was great, the parma was bigger than the plate, Adelaide had the best red wines. Couldn't ask for a better night with my new aikido friends.
Coming to the end of the 4-day seminar and my energy level is still okay after 6-5 hour sleep each night all thanks to Bananagrams and Mayhem game nights. But I could feel fatigue is creeping into my mind. Last training session was the 1 to 10 kumi jo kata. Almost there at number 10. And when it was over, strangely I didn't want it to end. It was time to pack up.
Another 8hrs back to Melbourne with a DJ in the backseat and a wine connoisseur in the passenger. Finally caught up on some sleep.
Thank you, Ulf Sensei for teaching us your vast Aikido knowledge and Takemusu Aikido, for hosting a successful seminar. Can’t wait to train with you again next year.
writer: Thao, 3rd dan at Kihon Aikido