Winter Retreat in Pictures

Aikido Republic Winter Retreat 2014A wonderful weekend away, a time to regroup, spend time with families, do some excellent training and cogitating for the future.

Many thanks to Sunter and Nicholls Sensei for guest instruction, the naughty chef for excellent fare and everyone for making the trip away. Sadly it was a time to formally farewell Eric and Alison as the prepae to move to new Zealand . We love you guys, come and visit us often!
A weekend in photos courtesy of Simon, Neil, Charlie and Dan. Please enjoy and let us know if you would like any taken down

Instructor accreditation programmes

Australian-Sports-Commission-BlueThe next NCAS instructor accreditation course is coming up. The National Coaching Accreditation Scheme (NCAS) is a program of the Australian Sports Commission and recognised by the Australian and all State and Territory Governments. The Australian Jujitsu Federation offers this accreditation for Jujitsu and related arts, of which Aikido is one. beyond being a good practiocner of your art, this course helps fill in some of the gaps. The course  includes: learning and development,  risk management,  appropriate legislation,  biomechanics,  physical development,  group management,  health and safety,  principles of skill analysis,  and more.

If your dojo or organisation doesn’t have an equivalent, then this isn’t a bad way to go. The next course in Qld is coming up in Augest. See


The Australian Sports Commission also offers a free online community coaching course as a starter




Winter Retreat (2wks away) and upcoming seminars

winter-retreat-2012-kumijoAfter our winter retreat fix in July the aikido calendar is really starting to fill up. Here’s a few goings on…

July 25-27th Aikido Republic Winter retreat

Yup its just under 2 weeks away so if you want a space in a bunk room and to book for the catered Saturday dinner, better book in soon! Day trippers welcome


August Internal Strength Seminar in Brisbane

Steve Seymour is here again from Sydney to Brisbane (at Brisbane Aikikai and Bayside Budokai) for an internal strength session with Michael Dyer (Tasmania Kenkyukai). We got our Internal Strength baseline  early last year in Sydney and a satisfactory report card in Brisbane recently.  (see Union of Opposites for his last visit)


October 4th weekend,  Sydney Aikido Friendship Seminar

Andrew Sunter is hosting a friendship seminar in Sydney with a really interesting lineup, we’ll be driving down for that one! Last time was a blast (See Sydney seminar 2013)


Our friends at Redlands dojo have advised Michael Williams sensei will be visiting the Brisbane area (Redlands) in October

Maruyama Sensei will be visiting the country of Tasmania, details on


Takeaway snacks for Aikido from a big week in Elite Sport

bentoIt was a big week this week at work much of it by coincidence a chance to revisit the much vaunted 10,000 hours to expertise (See earlier article )…if you do the math this means training twice a week, with the boat that brings = 50 years to some sort of expertise.
Can we do better?, yes argues Malcom Gladwell of ‘Outliers’ and David Epstein of ’The athlete Gene’ as they challenge the 10,000 hours, arguing the original research was highly variable from as short as 3,000 hours…to as long as well never. David gave a great TED talk on the subject you might enjoy.
Of course Aikido is a Budo and not a sport perse, but there is much dialogue and synergy in the pursuit of expertise and excellence.
What we learn from elite sport (See Aikido as an elite Sport ) can help us get there a bit quicker. Sometimes technology has a role to play (sometimes only as intellectual curiosity though). Here is a sword my lab instrumented a few years back, to which were added some biofeedback to improve learning outcomes. See the story on ABC Catalyst 
Anyways I caught up with some leading skill acquisition people last week at the QAS and Cricket Australia’s conference and a had a quick lunch with David Epstein which really got me thinking. See the full story here

Encountering the Spiral Downunder and in Middle Earth with Gleason Sensei

vlcsnap-2014-06-27-13h07m32s40Encountering the Spiral Downunder and in Middle Earth with Gleason Sensei by Michael Nash

In a small change room in Sydney is my first encounter with a humble yet genius martial artist. We shake hands, like all really great artists he is engaging yet unassuming and down to earth.

I think to myself that is Bill Gleason I just meet…. no entourage…. no fanfare, no star dressing room. We had come a long way to meet him and the engagement never stopped from that point onwards.Sensei Gleason was in Sydney for a 3 day seminar hosted by Steve Seymour from Aikido Kenkyukai Sydney in Balmain. Steve was generous enough to let the Queenslanders come to the “secret Friday night session” prior to the main event over the three day weekend.

This simple gesture was well received as many of us were a little nervous venturing into enemy territory during a State of Origin campaign.


The Balmain venue was perfect for the twenty odd we had on the mat and the regulars to the dojo were extremely welcoming. With the smaller numbers Sensei Gleason was able to review some basics that he wanted us to grasp so we were up to speed.

You know that feeling when you break up to attempt to recreate what Sensei has just spent five minutes explaining and demonstrating, and he walks toward you, but before he gets to you he says, ” Ok, Ok” and we all stop………  only for the concept / technique to be demonstrated again.

He then proceeds to say something like “Not like this”, and you know that it was you doing it ” NOT like this” rinse and repeat …….. ” DO like this”.  That happened a lot.




Despite our inadequacies the basics of  where the power comes from, rotating femurs was relentless, it sunk in a little. It had not struck me then, but now a few days post seminars I know the message. How many times have you been told be soft, …………don’t use your shoulders………. don’t push…….. don’t pull. Well, many of you may not have been told as many times as I have, but NEVER are you told HOW to achieve this state. !!!!!!

The message is a simple one, the power comes from your legs specifically your rotating femurs generally in opposing directions, keeping the hips square, working with a connected upper body. Sounds easy … isn’t…. but it is formidable. Keeping it very simplistic, this allows you to relax the shoulders completely and your opponent cannot tell where the power is coming from.


There is of course much more to this and the attendees are expected to have a basic understanding of  what is termed internal power.Sensei is creating opposing spirals within his body through his hara, and this gives birth to aiki…….. now where have I heard that before ?? Once you discover this reality you are free to relax the upper body and the driving force becomes the lower body, it is the answer to being soft yet powerful, the quest all Aikidoka seek.


It is not for me to elaborate or attempt to explain this in more detail, but be sure it runs very deep and the combinations are endless. What is clear to me though is that a simple explanation can now be offered to those who want to be soft yet powerful……. it takes the art beyond technique and therefore allows you to move into a mode of training without restriction…….. never endingly so!


I had the pleasure of doing it all again in New Zealand this time under the invitation of  Henry Lynch and Riai Aikido in Auckland. You could not find a more friendly and welcoming group, I will be forever grateful to Henry and Danny for there hospitality. Some of us need to be shown things more than once,…. that is why I backed up again in New Zealand, you never know how many opportunities you get in this life to encounter people like Bill Gleason so I jumped in again, along with quite a few of the Sydney crew.

As the Thai’s say “same.. same but different”,  Sensei’s Gleason’s explanations were similar but each time you here him he has a slightly different anecdote or reference it helps embellish the main points. His grasp and back catalogue of information in our art is breathtaking.


The quotes : “never retreat’, “technique comes about if uke is skilled enough to avoid the atemi”,  “mind is in the hands”  are all very descriptive and help solidify his principles. Watching Sensei it seemed all things were a spiral, they all began to look the same, they are !!  Why is it so difficult then to master?


I think I made small steps in grasping some of the principles as the… “Ok Ok’s ”  coming from  Sensei Gleason were less a result of my efforts as the seminar progressed. This meeting for me helped me see the principles I had been exposed to last year in Hawaii with a man who is equally driven to get Aiki back into the martial arts.

At some points it was a little like deja- vu, watching Sensei Gleason in action, the movements are universal.  Only this time it was specific to Aikido, and connects a lot of the dots. Sensei Bill Gleason is especially passionate that the art continue in all its technical aspects and traditions, just that it be done including all that the founder intended.

His mastery of Aikido is something everyone should encounter at some point in their journey and his acknowledgement of past and current influences coupled with the classic beginners mind, is an inspiration.

The other aspect that Sensei Gleason made comment on and is indeed a change in thinking was the fact in Sydney we had eight different “styles” on the mat and I believe five or more varieties co -habituating in New Zealand. This co-operation and adoption of key principles across multiple styles is a refresher that needs to be congratulated and encouraged.

Many thanks to Sensei Gleason, Evan, Steve, Henry, Danny, and all those great people who took the time to taste real Aikido in a modern context.

Michael Nash





Winter Retreat July 25-27 with Guests Sunter and Nicholls Sensei

Bell Misogi - Winter retreat 2011

Bell Misogi – Winter retreat 2011


Kumijo Winter retreat 2012


Pre dinner fireside Winter retreat 2013

Hi Everyone,

An open invitation to our 4th Winter retreat. Winter retreat is just a few short weeks away. This year we will have both Andrew Sunter and Jim Nicholls Sensei as guest Instructors. This years retreat will examine the purpose behind Kata, weapons training and the meditation disciplines as well as on Sunday morning a led open discussion on Budo and community in the West

You are welcome to come for the full weekend of a day. Camping should be booked via the Biggriggen website. Bunkrooms through the dojo,  Costs are $15/bed/night which you can pay to me on arrival. The Saturday night dinner err.. feast is $25 which i’ll need before so the Naughty Chef  can do all the shopping.


Bill Gleason rocks Sydney

aikido-sydneyI was down in Sydney for the long weekend visiting family and friends. It was very nice time to catchup with a few sisters and the obligatory lounge room tanninzygake err… Rumble with nieces and nephews too. Whilst out for a stroll I spied a beautiful dojo set in the rural environs of Terry Hills. Imagine my surprise to find an aikido seminar underway and none other than Bill Gleason Sensei – who I visited 2 years ago in Boston, leading the instruction. At the half time oranges err… mandarin break I had the good fortune to catch up with what is possibly the broadest cross section of the Australian Aikido community gathered in a single place, well done to Balmain dojo and Seymour Sensei!.

Gleason Sensei, of the Yamaguchi lineage was putting the Aiki back into aikido in what was less about technique and more about the feeling. That is about building Aiki from within rather than through technique. It was for me the next step in following the internal strength movement in aikido circles ( see). Bill sensei speaks highly of Dan Hardens method and brings a translation of it to the aiki arts.

He combined effortlessly the traditional terminalogies like earth, fire and water as analogues for the familiar square trianle and circle. He spoke his own work of tate and yoko combined with spiraling where one must use ‘just eough power but as much as is required’. The vertical and horizontal aspects together with entry resonated strongly with an emerging picture with toppling seen in biomechanics and then some i.e. to freeze the base and topple through up and through. Its a dangerous assumption to make to though fitting everything to an existing paradigm – every the trap of the tyro

I was also reminded of some of the teaching of my former school such as a) Kotai, Jutai and Ryutai levels of practice and the importance and b)  insights that can come from the Kashima sword school, really liked the neutral /support points being exlored through the sword.

For an in-depth review this by way of the Aikido Sydney Facebook page from Bill Sensei’s seminar in Auckland

One night I also managed to catch up with some budo buddies too for dinner…it brought out the boof in all of us :)


Sadly there wasn’t opportunity to get onto the mat this time, maybe next time