Traditional Aikido of Sonoma, Santa Rosa California – Nathan Feileacan Sensei

When I first noted on Google+ about my intention to take Leah to different dojos, Sensei Feileacan commented, inviting us to train with him. I am really glad he did. We trained on Thursday morning after we dropped my son off for school. Traditional Aikido of Sonoma is located in Northwest Santa Rosa in the spacious Seika Ryu Martial Arts facilities.

Traditional Aikido of Sonoma belongs to the Takemusu Aikido Association. The organization traces their lineage From O Sensei and then through his longest direct Student, the late Morihiro Saito Sensei, whereby they follow the training and teaching philosophy of Saito Sensei.

There were 4 people that attended class. Leah, myself, and two younger students, one of which was his first time on the mat. We started the class practicing the first three ken suburi strikes, both as a solo practice and as a partner practice. After we warmed up with weapons practice, we stretched then went into taijitsu, empty hand practice, with our partners.

From what I know of Saito Sensei, he was a big proponent of drilling fundamentals. Sensei Feileacan had us practice kihon waza, (from static) and gently corrected us when we sped up into ki no nagari (flowing practice or attacks from movement). Sensei Feileacan also asked us to put a little bit more pressure in our attacks to gradually give our partners the opportunity to find different ways to create technique and find those places we can allow our bodies to move through out the added pressure of a firmer attack. We worked through several techniques for our class, starting with Tai no Henko, then onto morote dori kokyu ho, katate dori kokyo ho, tenchi nage and finally suwari waza kokyu ho. He also stressed the concept of “riai” the relation of our empty hand practice to our weapons practice, demonstrating this with the use of one of the jo suburis, and then back into an empty hand technique to show us the relation of movement between the two.

I found this practice extremely helpful. Training in this fashion, we don’t have the ability to rely on the torque from added movement and really need to concentrate on moving our partners center. For me, training in this manner reminds me that I can allow technique to happen when I connect with my partner. I don’t have to rush through it, just connect, blend, execute.

Sensei Feileacan has beautiful and solid Aikido. I’ve known him and his wife through some friends of mine on facebook. It was a real joy to train with him and, watching his sword work, his impeccable form can be seen even in the few sword practices that we did. His movement on the mat is inspiring. He is kind and seeks to instill good solid technique for the students that attend his class. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to train with him and will look forward to training with him in the future.

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