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Gary's Malaysian trip 2008

On my recent trip to Malaysia I was very fortunate to be allowed by Low Thian Seng Sensei (4th Dan Aikikai) to train with him. The first session I attended was Low Sensei's class at the Malaysian Aikido Society Dojo in Kuala Lumpur. This was on the day I arrived in KL and I wasn't fully acclimatised to the conditions but hey....I wanted to avoid jet lag so what better way to ensure my sleep pattern was correct than to be tired and sleep properly on the first night?!

The First Session

We started off with breathing exercises and then moved on to Tai Sabaki exercises which consisted of the various stances, various ways to Suriashi and various ways to Tenkan. We also practiced Happo no Sabaki which is slightly different from the way we do it in our club but no less relevant or effective. We then practiced a little Happo No Kuzushi before moving on to the techniques for the night which were centred around the aforementioned Sabaki exercises. The techniques were practiced Go No Sen, Sen and finally Sen Sen no Sen before finishing off with a little light Jiyuwaza.

The main, but by no means the only lesson I took away from that session is:

During practice when Tori extends his hand to Uke, Tori should treat it as if it were a strike. That extension should be done when Tori is ready and grounded. When Uke goes to grab it, Uke should treat his own initial part as an exercise in his reflexes - ie he should move as soon as he sees the hand being extended. (Tori could treat this initial exchange as Oyo Henka Waza).

The second session

Of course, what better way to end the Malaysian trip than with a second training session with Low Sensei the night before I was due to fly back to London. This time it was at his dojo in Klang Valley on one of the hottest nights I have ever encountered in Malaysia. Again we started off with the breathing exercises and then moved on to several techniques. We then spent the last quarter of the training session practicing three bokken kata which are different from the tachi no tachi kata we normally practice in our dojo.

At the end Low Sensei very graciously demonstrated the remaining two bokken katas in the set which we were unable to practice because there was insufficient time - it was almost midnight by then and the class had started at 8:30pm! By the end of the training session I was completely drenched - hakama and all! Then it was off to a midnight meal (food is very important to Malaysians - as those who know me will attest to!).

Low sensei is an extremely humble man who is willing to share his vast experience and knowledge and I am very grateful for his permission and time in allowing me to train with him. I am also very grateful to his students who patiently put up with this pseudo 'gwai lo' training with them. I had a fun time training with them.

Next year (2009) will be the MAA's 15th anniversary and they will have a seminar in July which will include many eminent Shihans from Japan and if any aikidoka needs an excuse to visit Malaysia then this is it! Couple a fabulous holiday destination with an aikido seminar with various sensei who have trained directly under O Sensei and you will have an unforgettable and invaluable experience. For more information go to the Malaysian Aikido Association website at www.aikido-maa.com and also Low Sensei's website at www.aikido.net.my.

Gary Leong - Shodan



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