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Michele Quaranta Sensei 6th Dan Aikikai 29th,30th and 31st January 2010 Course Report


Course Report by Fiona Kelty, Heron Dojo.

Trevor Pigott, 3rd Dan, and his very enthusiastic and capable students at Athboy Aikido School, hosted another great Aikido Course in Athboy, Co. Meath, last weekend. Michele Quaranta Sensei provided us with an excellent weekend's training, as usual. He emphasised the importance of the role of uke, who should always be alert and active, not a passive victim for tori. Tori should perform techniques in a way that makes martial sense, not just "because the teacher said to move this way". A good uke can help tori to become aware of weak points in his/her techniques. Michele Sensei said that of the two roles, the role of uke is more difficult and requires much more skill.

He also said that although flashy breakfalls are visually impressive, they are really only needed for embukai, (demonstrations), and are not necessary for normal practice. The basic purpose of developing ukemi skills is to to be able to receive a throw without injury. If you have sufficient skill and confidence so that you are not afraid of being thrown, then you can give full commitment and plenty of energy when you attack. If there is no real energy in the attack, tori has nothing to work with and the techniques don't make sense. But whether uke takes the fall acrobatically or as a basic roll makes no difference to how well tori can perform the technique from his/her attack.

Michele Sensei also taught some bokken exercises, and showed a particular backward leap which can be used by an unarmed person for getting out of the reach of a bokken cut. He then showed another use for the same leap, when neither partner has a bokken. In this case it was followed by an entering step and Kokyu Nage.

Over the weekend's Course, the range of techniques and exercises was very wide, from movements which looked simple but required considerable skill to perform, to movements which looked very complex, but which when you tried them were not as difficult as they looked. The atmosphere was really good, and everyone commented on how enjoyable and interesting the Course was.