The last dojo we visited was Aikido of Cotati, the school of Senseis Ginny and Pete Breeland. Ginny and Pete are students of Hans Goto. Sensei Goto recently attained the rank of Shihan, having been awarded his hichi (7th) dan in 2010. Aikido of Cotati belongs to the Takemusu Aikido Association as does Traditional Aikido of Sonoma and Aikido of Noe Valley.
Sensei Breeland is the person behind the facebook page “Aikido Advice for Women and a few Men” and frequently posts videos and quotes and thoughts on Aikido on her facebook page.
Although she co teaches the class with her husband, she was the only one that was there teaching on Saturday. Her morning class was a small class that included two of her regular students, Leah and me. We did some warm ups, rolling and Taino Henko exercises, then we went outside with our weapons to practice the first 5 of the 20 jo suburi, and some partner practices with the jo.
The Takamusu Aikido schools heavily stress the concept of “Riai”, the relationship of weapons techniques to empty hand techniques. The partner practice with the jo prepared us for tachi waza techniques when we went back onto the mat. Our first technique back on the mat was katate dori ikkyo, where she demonstrated and accentuated the movements with the bokken. As she would move through the technique she demonstrated the sideways and downward arm movements with sword cuts. Then we went onto a variation of the same technique using the same movement we used with the previous partner practice outside with the jo.
Sensei Breeland is a woman that is maybe 5’, but she has the ability to move one of her students, who looked to be 6’ 4” and easily 270lbs. When you grab her wrist, she is as solid and you can feel the energy within. She was very welcoming to the both of us, and shed new light for myself and Leah on techniques we’ve done time and time again. She is very warm and very welcoming. Her Aikido is very solid and she has a very clear and succinct way. When she instructs, she instructs joyously and encourages everyone on the mat. We had a great class and although I enjoy working fundamental techniques, it was really nice to have some new light shed and new perspective given to teqhniques we do frequently.