allergic to wrought irony (transentient) wrote in aikido,
I just finished up a four-day randori and weapons intensive with George Ledyard Sensei.

George is an amazing instructor. He's got world-class game, like many of the ASU's rokudans who came out of Saotome Sensei's early Shobukan dojo days. But what sets him apart is that he has a total no bullshit personality and has developed a teaching pedagogy that is designed for westerners. There is nobody out there doing what he is doing now. (Please let me know if you think there is because I want to check them out.)

Class went from 9am to about 6pm for the last four days. We did about a fifty-fifty mix of sword and randori stuff.

The weapons stuff was fun and was transformative for me. He brought twenty of these helmets that were like kendo men protectors but were a bit more compact. Everybody had to bring a pair of kendo kote, or hockey or lacross gloves. We did a series of excercises with fukoro shinai that were full-power, full-speed. The excercises were carefully designed with specific goals to keep them from erupting into bonkfests. For instance, we did one where one person took a gedan stance, and the other person moved through all of the kamae that he or she knew. If any OPENINGS were presented, such as weighting the back foot too much or something, the person waiting in gedan had to bonk you. There were excercises to show how to make various components of the Saotome Sensei sword katas really "work," (or how to practice them with more integrity) and a lot of stuff about sensing when your partner is forming their intention to attack. The cool part about that last thing is, you can really do that.

We worked on some aiki stuff, which George really has figured out at a level that is surprising. He's very soft and doesn't use any of his own strength to move you. This is totally important to a real good randori.

George has developed this entire randori theory, which is very technical and impressive, and he shows you what he thinks you need to know. We did hours and hours of randori. Twice, he had little "showtime" randori sessions where everybody got off the mat except for nage and three ukes, and he ran everybody through it, stopping as neccessary to make a point or show something.

I got a lot of really good, personal criticism from George. I am not used to that at a seminar: George was personally invested in every person on the mat, all day, each day. I'm used to seeing shihans or high-level people teach classes, maybe show us their skills, maybe give us some new ideas or soemthing to think about or investigate in our regular training, but this seminar was a real intesive. Everybody got what they were doing completely dismantled and out for all to see.

Consequently, I highly recommend attending one of George Ledyard Sensei's Randori Intesives if you are at a level where you have some strong basics in weapons and randori and want to see where the next level is. It was the best seminar money I have ever spent.
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