Aikido comes to Port Waikato

Aikido comes to Port Waikato

The first of Riai Aikido’s roadtrips, in what’s hoped to become a strong Riai tradition, was held at Port Waikato the weekend of 23rd and 24th February.
Port Waikato, where the mighty Waikato River meets the ocean, proved an ideal place to play aikido. The weekend was a real family event hosted at Sensei Danny’s hideaway – We now all understand his regular announcements Thursday nights after training that he’s heading to the Port for the weekend! – What a gem. Danny and family shared bedrooms, sleepout, garage and their backyard for tents and the odd bus.
We all managed to find our way there Saturday morning, most in time to enjoy a coffee or a tasty bakery treat from the local farmers’ market before training. Two aikidoka couldn’t believe their luck when, travelling down the southern motorway and contemplating directions to get there, they came across an ‘Aikido’ sign right in front of them – The sign (a wellknown numberplate) promised a leisurely drive in convoy until further into the journey the driver pulled over, admitted confusion, and handed them his map to be led!
Saturday’s training was a couple of training sessions split morning and afternoon at the local Community Centre which sits just up from the Port’s ocean beach –This provided a great space for our training. The theme for the day was ‘being the best you that you can be’ (as both uke and nage), with some weapons practice aiding our efforts. Some epiphanies emerged – Training with a jo compared to without, seemed similar to playing a golf shot with a driver instead of a putter as shared by Dan;
Any tiny imperfections in technique are amplified by the jo and become obvious in the same way that a technically imperfect shot played with a putter might not veer far off course, while one played with a driver would end up well off-target in the rough or the trees.
The surreal experience of having someone launch themselves in ukemi from the palm of your hand was Sensei Henry’s latest addition to the Aikido grading syllabus. It proved a winner, taking us all to greater heights.
Jenny captured some great on-the-mat shots Saturday afternoon which you can check out here: (link to follow)
Gorgeous weather meant soaking up the sun and joining the waves for most of us at some point in the day. We feasted well breakfast, lunch and dinner enjoying barbequed gourmet sausages from Pukekohe’s Franklin butcher, and delectable freshly smoked fish falling off the bone and straight into our mouths courtesy of Danny and Jenny’s neighbours Saturday night.
Some well-oiled discussions and contemplations went on into the wee small hours. One sensei, refreshing himself in the ocean the following morning, was drying off afterwards enjoying conversation with a fellow aikidoka when he missed a close shave with a finely directed Frisbee.
The Frisbee threatened to strike at bullseye zone between the eyes but the ninja speed of his companion in conversation next to him saved the day, not to mention her husband’s skin (his being the energy behind the Frisbee throw). Sensei was obviously most grateful to his well-trained aikidoka who disabled the oncoming attack with effortless finesse and without even a break in their train of conversation! Sensei’s response to not seeing the frisbee until it was just inches from impact, and in Kristana’s hand; “When I’m talking to a woman she’s got ALL my attention.” See how we save your bacon when you have an attitude like that guys!!
A fantastic time was had by all with an opportunity to relax and share amongst family and friends. Joining us from as far afield as Tauranga was Vance and family. A big thank you to Danny, Jenny and Sean for sharing their awesome space and organising everything to be enjoyed, and here’s looking forward to the next. Apparently the Community Centre’s already been ear-marked for a dojo sleepover with burgers on the beach – Sensei Danny will keep us posted.