This was the 3rd Rising Dawn Seminar to be held in Ireland .There were a few changes this year. The venue changed to Queens University
PEC as the event was hosted by Queens University Club and we had a dedicated matted area for Youth students. The venue has a permanent matted area that was appreciated by all as we did not have to take the mats out or put them away. The committee from Queens University Club were well organised and the weekend went off without a hitch.

The line up of instructors was confirmed as Bob Jones 7th Dan BAA, Satoru Tsuchiya 6th Dan (Shodokan) and Vanda Fairchild 5th Dan BAA.

As a result the turnout was excellent with 57 people attending the event. This was the first time that Tsuchiya Sensei visited Ireland and it was great to see that both all Irish affiliated BAA clubs and Shodokan clubs were represented at the seminar.

Once the registration, welcome & introductions and safety briefing were out of the way our Vanda Fairchild Sensei took everyone through a rigorous warm up for twenty minutes. After the warm up, the Youth students headed off to their venue with Bob Jones Sensei where he introduced them to the idea of Open Kata. By all accounts our young students had a great time during this session with Bob. They were dying to show me the new kata’s that they had created.

Our first session began immediately after the warm up with Vanda explaining the principles and ideas underpinning the tanto kaeshi waza. In doing so all students were able to get a comprehensive understanding of the mechanics of the kaeshi waza. She then demonstrated the kata as a whole and we managed to get through the first two techniques by the end of the session. There was a great buzz in the hall as people got the opportunity to train with old friends and to also make some new ones. Vanda emphasised the fact that Aikido is a social martial art and ensured we all introduced ourselves before training together. I was afraid I would forget my partner’s name and have to do some push ups!!

After a short break Tsuchiya Sensei taught some applications and variations of techniques from the Goshin Ho. The content centred on
using a relaxed wrist and arm to make the techniques more effective, Tsuchiya Sensei explained the importance of always turning your
wrist just before it is grabbed in order to generate torque and in doing so, this makes the technique more effective. He also spoke about the importance of the tandoku undo/ tegatana dosa and their relevance throughout the syllabus.

Whilst the adults were training with Tsuchiya Sensei, the Youth students were being coached by Vanda Fairchild Sensei. She explained the rules of competition tanto tai sabaki and allowed the students to get plenty of practice as tanto and toshu as well as refereeing bouts.

It was lunch time before we knew it. Time does fly when you are having fun. We all re-hydrated, ate some food and enjoyed some laughs during the break. We were back on the mats at 14:00 and rearing to go again.

Bob Jones Sensei took the adult class for a very interesting lesson on understanding the differences between the different Koryu No Kata. He used the story of how in Japan, the wrapping of the present is more important than the present itself, and that sometimes the ornate wrapping is the present as the box may be empty. It was at this point that I checked with the organising committee that they had wrapped the instructors’ gifts with care! As always, Bob Jones Sensei had his audience captivated as he explained and demonstrated the different concepts among the Kata.

Vanda Fairchild Sensei was being kept busy again, this time teaching our Youth students about Ninin Dori. Again, they all loved it. This was the last session of the day for our Youth students.

The last two adult sessions were Tsuchiya Sensei continuing with Goshin Ho again followed by Vanda Fairchild Sensei continuing with the Tanto Kaeshi Waza. Mat activity halted at 16:30.

Bob Jones Sensei then made a special presentation to Karl Higgins Sensei. Karl received his 5 Dan through the meritorious system for his dedication and commitment to promoting and teaching the art of Tomiki Aikido in Ireland over the past 38 years.

There was short break followed by a Youth & Adult BAA grading. All candidates performed well on the day and they were delighted when all of their hard work and dedication paid off. I was extremely proud of our Youth students as Bob, Tsuchiya & Vanda commented on their enthusiasm, their work ethic and their technical ability. In fact, all of the adults were highly impressed by their standard. I am hoping that as a result of this, more clubs will begin teaching kids as they are the future of the Art.

A second full days training started again at 10:00am, with Tsuchiya Sensei teaching some bokken exercises and techniques. He demonstrated the tegatana dosa and their relationship to the bokken and then he continued onto demonstrate some techniques from the Tachi Tai Tachi of the Koryu Dai San. This session was appreciated by all as there were no break falls. We were all feeling the effects of the previous day.This was a very enjoyable session and something slightly different to start the day.

After a short break Bob Jones Sensei demonstrated some techniques. Everyone had to decide if they were Judo techniques or Aikido techniques or both. This exercise led to lots of debating among pairs. The idea of the lesson was to show the connection between both arts. In the end, the techniques were all from a Judo kata that was developed by Kenji Tomiki. Bob Jones Sensei’s excellent technical direction and wealth of knowledge no doubt improved every ones understanding of the origins of Tomiki Aikido and its relationship to Judo.

The next two sections were taught by Vanda Fairchild Sensei & Tsuchiya Sensei. They both continued on from the themes of the previous sessions, Vanda with the Kaeshi Waza and Tsuchiya with Goshin Ho.

The final session was taught by Bob Jones Sensei. It focused on free play and the concepts that underpin good free play practice. Although everyone was tired at this point there was still a lot of energy and enthusiasm on the mats. Who does not like flipping their friends on a Sunday afternoon?

Unfortunately, the weekend had to come to an end. We finished up with a formal bow and a few words.I would like to sincerely thank our
guest instructors who gave their expertise, knowledge & time freely and to the Committee of Queens University Club who gave up their weekend and made the event possible. We had so many laughs, made some new friends and learned an awful lot of Aikido. The hard part is trying to remember it all.

Keith Mc Clean