Hiroshi Ikeda, shihan: 2012 Summer Camp in the Rockies

06 Apr 2012
Posted by scblog

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: http://boulderaikikai.org/sc or contact hotline@boulderaikikai.org