Aikido folk often pay lip-service to the fact that their art derives from Daito-ryu, but not many get the chance to actually train in aikido’s parent art. I was fortunate enough to be able to share a mat with Howard Popkin and Joe Brogna at the Aiki Connections seminar recently, and the experience was eye-opening.
Here are two immensely skilled martial artists – masters of their craft – who can not only chuck you about effortlessly, but who will also explain to you exactly how you can achieve the same effects in your own techniques. Their zero-bullshit teaching (you won’t hear anything about how to focus your ki through your chakras here) shows you precisely how to move to affect your uke’s balance and posture with minimal effort, and the first time you get it half-right and chuck someone across the mat without really feeling like you did anything is immensely satisfying.
Combine their skill at teaching with their endearingly humble and open approach to their art (and the fact that they are, frankly, extremely funny guys) and you have a course which may well be the best experience I‘ve ever had on a mat. I will be studying the lessons from Aiki Connections for months to come, and will be counting the days until next year’s seminar. I really can’t recommend the experience highly enough.