Reflections on Sensei Tres Hofmeister’s Chicago Seminar

Overcoming the inertia of my ‘busy’ life, I made a choice to go to Sensei Tres Hofmeister’s seminar in Chicago the first weekend in June.  It is so easy to make excuses to stay home. I am really glad I went.

There were four of us from our Indy dojo there.  If you asked us each what the seminar was about, likely you’d hear different versions.

I like to capture what I experience so I can refer back after a time, here I share with you.

What ‘shape’ do you bring to your aikido?  This is classic Tres Sensei.  When we are ‘working on’ technique our shape can be pretty jagged.  For example, we might have our total focus on our wrist or our feet – leaving out large parts of our body.  When you think of your shape it changes your posture, brings unity to your form, and movement comes easier.   As I approach three decades of training, I realize ‘shape’ is really important for maintaining physical health.  A bad shape usually means there is extra stress on a joint or two. 

Tres Sensei also talked about the ‘do’ in aikido – the way.  Reflecting on your practice what is “your way” that you bring to your training?   For me, that informs the ‘why’ I continue to practice.    My ‘why’ is to study how and if I engage with others.  While my early training told me, “Uke is always right,” I know now training with control freaks is not what I choose to do whether on the mat or in life.  That’s part of my way.

I really enjoyed Tres Sensei’s analogy of aikido practice to a visual artist using paint.  He referred to the subtle elements an artist brings to their craft and how they experiment with adding a little more or less color.  I like that.  For me is about the quality of energy, ki, I bring to my technique and the focus on being present with my uke.

Tres Sensei is really good about walking around and practicing with everyone.  It reminds me of the importance of the feeling of aikido.  While you can watch a demonstration, it is really the feeling that informs what is actually happening.   It’s a real gift to practice with someone not using force.

There is such a great community in our larger aikido circles.  Another benefit of going to a seminar is practicing with people from other places.  They often do things differently than what we are accustom!  It wakes me up a bit! 

The technique we explored most of the weekend was two-hand grabs.  There was a tapestry of experience with just that one technique.  I’d be happy to share with you on the mat for the asking!

Tres Sensei models having fun with practice, I like that!  I am also reminded if your art is really important to you seeking out other teachers is very expansive! 

Thank you for reading,
Karen Sensei