Sakamoto-Sensei (bio) came to Ontario in the summer of 2011 and it was with great excitement that we awaited the chance to train with him again. We have been working on the concepts he had shown us in 2009 relating to hip movement and increased power with less energy. Of course as is often the case we had missed some of the simple things he had been showing, instead getting caught up with the names shime-goshi, neri, hakkei etc…
We had wondered what do these mean, in reality they have simple names when translated such as hip turning, kneading and explosive power. The real challenge was not knowing what the words meant but how to make them our own and demonstrate the power and fluid connection between the upper and lower body.
Sensei spent the first part of his trip in the Grey-Bruce area of Ontario, and conducted clinics in Chesley and as a great privilege in my home dojo. During this time he showed us the evolvement of the hip technique he had been working on and introduced us to the Kata Niahanchi which teaches this hip technique. We also worked on the kata Seisan and Kihon, zen shin kotai and shi-ho-wari using the advanced hip action which uses continuous hip tension or elasticity.
Sensei also combined advanced foot work concepts to accelerate the delivery of strikes, punches, and kicks. As an encouragement to us when we seemed to be getting the technique Sensei would grin and encourage us, although he also laughed a lot.
We trained in a private class at my home dojo and were honored to have, Roland Figgs head of the United States Ryusei organization, Matt Mannerow head instructor for Grey-Bruce Ryusei and Brian Burgee from the Koshin-Ha Chito-ryu from Pittsburgh, as well as some of our black belts.
After being in the Grey-Bruce area, Sensei then travelled to Barrie and then off to Ottawa to instruct at the annual Canadian Ryusei summer camp hosted by the Ottawa Ryusei dojo. He was an inspiration to us all and as such we have tried to embody his ideas and make them our own. The one thing that became very apparent was that the ability to increase power and technique is not limited by age but by the ability to embrace new ideas and own them. At 62 when Sensei was here he was faster more powerful and skilled then when he was 30 years younger. This is something to strive for.