Summer Camp Blog Postings

Summer Camp in the Rockies 2012 will be held at CMC as planned - May 1, 2012

Thanks to the response from the extended group, we are happy to announce that we will hold camp again this year at the Colorado Mountain College campus outside of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. We thank everyone for their registrations, emails and other shows of support and we look forward to seeing everyone at CMC in July.

By the way, registration is still open, so please come join us! It's going to be an exciting, wonderful week of training.

As always, if you have question or concerns, please contact the Hotline; we're happy to hear from you.

The Boulder Aikikai Summer Camp Staff

To register or find assistance, please visit: or contact

Summer Camp in the Rockies 2012: A Special Request - April 15, 2012

This is a very important year for the Summer Camp in the Rockies and we are writing to make a special request: if you are planning on attending Summer Camp please register now.

On May 1st we must decide if we will hold the camp at Colorado Mountain College this year or at another venue. This decision will be based on the number of registrations we have received by April 30th. As you know the CMC campus outside of Glenwood Springs offers a beautiful setting that allows for a unique event. We are committed to continuing the tradition of our Camp and it's our goal to hold it at CMC as usual; in order to do this we need to confirm our commitment to the college on May 1st.

At this point every registration counts and we hope to hear from you soon. If you prefer to register with a deposit rather than the full payment required when registering online, please download a paper registration form and mail it in with your check. If you do, please drop us an email or give us a call and let us know that you've registered.

To everyone already registered, we'd like to thank you for your commitment and let you know that you'll be the first to hear from us if we must change our plans for the event.

As always, if you have question or concerns, please contact the Hotline; we're happy to hear from you.

The Boulder Aikikai Summer Camp Staff

To register or find assistance, please visit: or contact

Hiroshi Ikeda, shihan: 2012 Summer Camp in the Rockies - April 6, 2012

2012 Aikido Summer Camp in the Rockies
Hiroshi Ikeda, shihan

Here at Boulder Aikikai preparation is well underway for this year’s 32nd annual Summer Camp in the Rockies. Looking back, I feel that the past thirty years constitute a first generation in the camp’s history. As such, it is time for the old guard to step back, and for the next generation to apply their energy and creativity to start a new chapter, rich with new ideas and approaches to training.

When I began planning the first Summer Camp in the Rockies some thirty years ago, I had three goals in mind: to provide an environment for all participants to further their personal study of aikido, to create an opportunity to reflect on and reaffirm why we train, and to nurture the spirit of aikido through community.

Personal Aikido Growth
To grow is to evolve, and evolution entails transformation—transformation and discovery in turn being how we make progress towards our goals.

Over the course of the thirty years that I sponsored the Summer Camp in the Rockies, I had the privilege to host and study with a wide range of guest instructors from the US, Europe, and Japan. My aim was to expose camp participants—myself included—to training styles and principles that often differed from our normal approach, and to provide an opportunity to experience these wonderful teachers firsthand. Through these experiences, my hope was that we could all find new inspiration and ideas to take our training to the next level.

Why We Train
At its highest levels, aikido transcends the duality of strong or weak. At its most fundamental, aikido nurtures the true spirit of budo, imparting the values of benevolence and respect, and offering a true “path of humanity.”
That people from all walks of life can come together through practice to share their experience of the art of aikido, I believe, is in and of itself ample reward for our dedication to training.

The Spirit of Aikido
Through our aikido training we have the opportunity to meet and engage in a spirit of collaboration with young and old, men and women, often from very diverse backgrounds. This aspect of shared discovery is one of the greatest rewards we enjoy as participants in the worldwide aikido community.

However, I feel that we are still far from realizing the full potential of aikido to foster harmony and collaboration in society. In order to do so, awareness of this potential and a willingness to act on it are required from each of us. Without this broad level of collaboration, the ideal of a worldwide community, united together on a shared path, will remain just a dream.

Thirty-two years ago, I established the Aikido Summer Camp in the Rockies as a venue for aikido students from all affiliations to come together to train. From the start I was fortunate to have the support of Saotome Shihan and Frank Doran Shihan, both still in their forties. I was the youngster of the group, barely in my thirties. With that original cast of characters now well into their sixties and seventies, I feel that it is time to hand the reins to the next generation, and step aside to let them create a new stage in the evolution of the Summer Camp in the Rockies.

For my part, while others are steering the Summer Camp in the Rockies, I will continue with additional efforts at community building through the Aikido Bridge seminars, together with the support of leaders throughout the worldwide aikido community. Aikido Bridge started with a single seminar in San Diego in 2007, and today has expanded to seven seminars throughout the US, Europe, and Japan. The Bridge community continues to grow each year, and the seminars are an opportunity for participants from all organizations to come together to share training, insights, and friendship.

This year, 2012, truly marks the start of a new era for the Summer Camp in the Rockies, with a new group of instructors and a new generation of leaders. With the support of the aikido community, I am confident that this event will continue to evolve and thrive. My greatest wish is that it can provide another generation of aikido practitioners with another thirty years of discovery, friendship, and growth.

Summer Camp in the Rockies 2012: Instructor Introductions

Kevin Choate
Kevin has the unique honor of being the only participant who has attended our Summer Camp every year without fail for the past thirty-one years. Kevin is a dedicated student with deep motivation and the ability to set and achieve ever-higher goals in all aspects of his training.

In the world of Japanese martial arts, the term “Shu-Ha-Ri” is often used to describe the stages of personal development in training. In the first stage, “shu” (“protect”, “obey”), the student is focused on learning technical fundamentals and principles. In the next stage, “ha” (“breaking down”), the student moves beyond rote repetition to adapt the techniques to his or her specific needs. In the final stage, “ri” (“separation”, “breaking away”), the student can combine the now-mastered fundamentals with other influences to build an expression of the art that is uniquely personal.

I feel that Kevin is one of a handful of gifted practitioners in the U.S. aikido community who is well along the path of this second stage—moving beyond fundamentals and building on new influences and expressions. I am very pleased that he will be returning as one of the principal instructors for this year’s Summer Camp.

Tres Hofmeister
Since its beginning in 1981, Tres has been instrumental in planning and running the Summer Camp in the Rockies as a senior member of Boulder Aikikai.

Without his consistent support, I know that Summer Camp could not have been as successful or as long-lived as it has been. Thanks to his efforts, and the contributions of many, many members from the Boulder Aikikai community, we have been able to enjoy thirty-one years of the highest level training and instruction each summer.

Tres’ technique has been described as “origami aikido,” with exceptionally clean, clear lines. While Tres has devoted himself to Boulder Aikikai, I am pleased that he has traveled and trained freely in other dojo, and through personal explorations in aikido and systems such as the Feldenkrais Method®, has developed an approach to training and to teaching that is distinctly different from my own. I am pleased and grateful that he will be sharing his knowledge with the Summer Camp participants.

Under Tres’ leadership and with the support of the extended Boulder Aikikai community, I am confident the Summer Camp in the Rockies will continue to be a world-class venue for exchange and communication among aikido-ka.

Karl Grignon
Karl is the youngest member of this year’s teaching roster, and brings rich experience as uchi-deshi under Frank Doran Shihan at Aikido West Dojo, and most recently as a dedicated student of Christian Tissier Shihan.

His enthusiasm, diligence, and strong motivation to continually push the boundaries of his aikido are apparent to everyone who trains with him.

Watching him train over the years at different seminars, I have always appreciated his sincerity in attempting to follow as closely as possible what the instructor is showing—often much easier said than done. Karl’s ability to adapt readily to different teachers and styles demonstrates both great physical talent, and a flexibility and openness to new ideas and approaches that is critical for personal growth in training.

Having Karl as this year’s invited junior instructor at the our Summer Camp will give people the opportunity to experience firsthand his enthusiasm and dynamic approach to training. My hope is that all camp participants will come away inspired to look for more in their own training as well.

Final Thoughts
The United States is fortunate to have a great number of talented instructors in this next generation, and I look forward to seeing many of them at future summer camps. With their help we can continue to strengthen the network of collaboration and friendship in aikido.

The following chapters in the Summer Camp story will be written by the next generation of teachers and students. With everyone’s support we can create new models for training and continue to promote an environment for the respectful sharing of ideas and experiences. I am looking forward to seeing this new chapter unfold in the coming years, and I hope you will be inspired to contribute your energy and ideas to the event that this new generation creates.

Hiroshi Ikeda
Boulder Aikikai

Thanks to Neville Nason and Jane Nason for translation assistance.

To register or find assistance, please visit: or contact

Reflections on the Summer Camp in the Rockies, by Laurie Nusbaum - March 19, 2012

Reflections on the Summer Camp in the Rockies
Laurie Nusbaum, Boulder Aikikai

Every year on the summer camp timeline, there is a turning moment for me. Until that moment I am engaged in the planning process-getting the logistics set, having meetings, coordinating, sending communications, and so on. But then there is a distinct point at which my perspective shifts, when I can “see” and feel what is about to happen and I am, after that moment, completely excited and engaged.

What am I looking forward to? Why so excited?

For me, the images that come to mind are all of the rich, fulfilling interactions I have with my training partners, ones that are informing, fascinating and revitalizing. I get to experience the practice of my long time aiki friends again, but to sense them anew. With them and with the new friends I make each year, I have the chance to feel what they are working on, to learn from it and to allow what I feel to transform my own practice. This is where the juice is for me—in the paired and shared training experience, investigation and discovery. The act of practicing itself rejuvenates and recreates the practice for me. Sensing this, even ahead of the event, makes it begin.

I think I see this occur for others. As the week goes on, connections, sometimes unexpected ones, develop and deepen. What happens between people on the mat is engaging, challenging, nourishing—and becomes part of what happens in a conversation, or in quietly sharing lunch, which then becomes part of the next experience on the mat. Learning is occurring on so many levels—in class, in discussion certainly, but subtly as well—perhaps just in noticing and appreciating how someone walks, how they stand in line, how they express themselves. I think I see, in people’s faces, their appreciation for every other participant in the camp, and appreciation for their own development. I feel a sense of connectedness among us all, mutuality and a commitment to our own and each other’s practice. I wonder how many Facebook “friends” each of us has eagerly added to our list after camp. How many for you?

Although this all can be the case every time we step on the mat, it is different at camp. We are sharing a unique event, in a unique setting and set of circumstances. It provides us the gift of letting the rest of the world drop away, at least to some extent and for a brief time, so we can learn in this unusual way, alongside and with each other.

I am different when I leave from camp. On the training side, sometimes I am more confused, sometimes more clear but always more intent. I also always feel more joined with others. It is my wish that everyone be nourished by and benefit from the camp experience. I hope you will join us this year.


To register or find assistance, please visit: or contact

A letter from Kevin Choate on the 2012 Summer Camp in the Rockies - March 12, 2012

A letter from Kevin Choate on the 2012 Summer Camp in the Rockies
Kevin Choate, Chicago Aikikai


I would like to invite you to join me at the Boulder Aikikai Summer Camp in the Rockies to be held at Colorado Mountain College, Glenwood Springs, Colorado, July 22-29, 2012.

Now, what I need to explain is why you should attend, and why I have, for longer than I would like to admit. That’s not true. I am proud to have attended and grateful for the opportunities the camp has created for me over the years. I have met people and made friends and had insights I don’t believe would have happened anywhere else.

In 1980, when I started attending camp, I thought I was doing pretty well—I was Saotome Sensei’s student, up in front all of the time, taking lots of ukemi, enjoying all of the “show time.” It took years for me to figure out that the rest of the time, which was the majority of the time, was as important, if not more important than show time. Over time my brilliance faded and Saotome Sensei and the camp taught me the value of instruction and training and the difference between the two.

There was this guy there, losing hair, from California, teaching jo. “Hell, I know jo and that doesn’t look like jo,” I thought. Even now, I remember him walking up and saying a phrase that included the word “eyeballin.” I learned a small lesson from him then and so many more over the years to come. Frank Doran Sensei, for thirty years and more, year in and year out taught classes and spent time with us. Looking back, I remember the classes as confusing, contradictory and sometimes something just to be gotten through, but over time, I realized it was the time that mattered. Over time I came to appreciate more and more the patience and dedication of Doran Sensei; behind the beautiful and precise technique was a loyalty and integrity that can’t be learned in an hour. The camp gave me the time to learn that more valuable lesson.

Ikeda sensei told us that first year, during a rained out class, that from every camp you should take away one idea to work on. Brilliant. I went from class to class picking, parsing, evaluating, and more other “ings” than I have time to mention. I was collecting details, meanwhile Ikeda Sensei was building, slowly, quietly, not always perfectly, but building. He took his idea, developed his people and worked at creating a camp where students and Sensei could come and train. I don’t believe he was creating a venue. I sincerely believe he was creating an experience.

Years went by—there were talent shows and golf outings and parties, a guy who rolled the wrong way (that’s an inside joke) and lots of good times. People came and went and came back again. Various Sensei came and went and some came back again; some I liked, some I didn’t, some I didn’t appreciate 'til much later but the camp was there for us, and we were there for the camp.

After a number of years I had my first one point experience. I was off at the edge of the mat… maybe I was late, maybe I was bored, maybe whatever… anyway… I don’t remember who was teaching, and it doesn’t matter, a friend, well at least someone I knew was sitting on the side.

You gonna train, says I… Don’t think I can, says she, just don’t have the energy… Aw, come on we’ll go slow, and so we did, watching out for each other all the time. Next class… Herbert… those of you who know him, know what I mean. Herbert is a pleasure to train with but shall we say… vigorous. A few days later sitting in the Denver Airport, nursing a beer and a few bruises (Herbert) I thought to myself, Self, wouldn’t it be great if those two experiences felt the same… If I could be the same person in both situations… What would that take? How would that feel?

I’ve been working on that one a long time.

My teachers didn’t give that experience to me; the camp they created gave that opportunity to me.

No one person or any small group of people can create that kind of experience. Over time my teachers and more importantly my friends used this camp to create an opportunity for me to train and grow. I owe all of you a great deal. We are in a time of transition; the teachers I came to see before are gone and cannot be replaced, but along with uncertainty comes opportunity. There will be missteps and false starts and there will always be changes. Details will be considered and reconsidered and decisions will be made. In the end I am sure we will seize this opportunity to create a truly unique training experience. I am sure of this because I was fortunate enough to know the people who did the first year and the ones who did last year and all of those in between. The faces change; the commitment does not—a commitment not to teaching and being taught, but to training, sharing, and spending a week with old and new friends.

I look forward to seeing you in July… you can find me in my usual spot (or two) at the brew pub.

See you at Summer Camp.


See also: An open letter from Tres Hofmeister on the 2012 Summer Camp in the Rockies

To register or find assistance, please visit: or contact

An open letter on the 2012 Summer Camp in the Rockies - March 5, 2012

An open letter on the 2012 Summer Camp in the Rockies
Tres Hofmeister, Boulder Aikikai

By now everyone has heard about our plans for the 2012 Boulder Aikikai Summer Camp in the Rockies. We are in the process of building a new future for this, our annual training event, and are really looking forward to this year. We will continue to look at all aspects of future camps and you can expect changes as we go along. But today I'd like to offer a few words on our decisions for this year and the thinking behind them.

First, let me be clear about a change with obvious impact on our event. Ikeda sensei made the 30th anniversary of the camp in 2010 his final one as a regular instructor; a change he planned expressly to allow for a new future for the event. Doran sensei had also made clear his plans to retire at that time, and 2011 was his final year at our camp. Finally, Saotome sensei has also withdrawn from the event in 2012.

Please take a moment and consider a central question we had before us: how do you replace your teachers of thirty years? On deliberation the answer became clear: you do not. The constant presence of these teachers over decades, and the relationships and depth this implies are, quite simply, irreplaceable. We have also considered a message Saotome sensei and Ikeda sensei have always made clear: the importance of self-reliance and of finding one's own way. Both of these matters have deeply affected our decisions for this year.

At this juncture we believe that our future together is best served by a bold step forward. It's time to take responsibility for our own future: to practice what we've learned and to find inspiration in one another. How will we do so? Experienced teachers are invaluable, of course. But so is our broad and deep community of fellow practitioners, our friends and peers, our seniors and our juniors.

In the process of coming to this understanding we reflected at length on other factors that will allow us to take advantage of the great value the group brings as a whole. We've decided on an intensive format with focused and consistent instruction to facilitate a deepening of the learning experience for everyone training. This decision informed our choice to limit the number of instructors—in 2012, we will have three instructors responsible for the core classes, as in the early days of our camp.

I'd like to briefly mention a very personal feeling. To see my teachers' inevitable aging has been at turns moving and difficult. At the same time, I've begun to find both hope and inspiration in the efforts of junior teachers and practitioners. While they can in no way replace the experience and understanding of senior teachers, they have an important role to play as we look toward the future. Looking ahead, a capacity to learn from our juniors as well as our seniors will be of increasing importance.

The value of seasoned perspective and long experience is of course unquestionable and is behind our decision to have two senior instructors for the event. This year, these are Kevin Choate and myself. It is my experience with Kevin in recent years as well as our long association that informs this choice. His current approach focuses deeply on individual experience and this is consonant with our vision for this year's camp. I am excited about and looking forward to Kevin's role this year.

During our deliberations about camp this year, we came to the conviction that our mutual capacity to support and encourage the development of junior instructors is one key to the long term success of this camp. To support this conviction, we decided this year to include a junior guest instructor position. Many of us have known Karl Grignon over the years and are aware of his love of training and his strong connection with Doran sensei. Beyond these, he and I have been in regular contact in recent years and I feel that, while he will have a different role than Kevin and myself, he will make a great addition to the team for this year's camp.

The Summer Camp in the Rockies offers an ideal setting for looking to ourselves. Living and training together as a group for a week, in a beautiful and private place, offers unique strengths for intensive training. We are really looking forward to this opportunity to deepen our relationships and to emphasize the value of our group to our ongoing practice. Another aspect of this emphasis will be our schedule. As last year, the schedule is structured to allow everyone to train together throughout the week.

I hope this has helped everyone better understand our vision for this year's Boulder Aikikai Summer Camp in the Rockies. We have planned for a camp that will be a positive, challenging, and rewarding experience for everyone attending, as it has been since Ikeda sensei first began it years ago. We invite you to come and share this experience with us!

I would also invite you to contact me directly if you would like to talk about any of this further. I thank you for reading, and would like nothing better than to see you this summer in Glenwood Springs.

P.S. You can find ongoing updates on camp at the Boulder Aikikai Summer camp blog:

To register or find assistance, please visit: or contact

Please also look for us on Twitter, and like and share our posts on Facebook!

Tres Hofmeister

See also: A letter from Kevin Choate on the 2012 Summer Camp in the Rockies