Bluhm Sensei at Camp; Tango!

Dynamic class with Bluhm Sensei of Siskiyou Aikikai at Summer Camp — his uke above is his son Jason. Find more videos from Bluhm Sensei at the BiranOnline channel on YouTube. (I’ll be posting more as soon as this East Coast heatwave lets up — dripping sweat is not good for keyboards.)

And below is another Summer Camp highlight: A tango performance by Coryl Crane Sensei of North County Aikikai and her excellent partner. Crane Sensei has been studying tango for several years and says it has many parallels to her Aikido practice. Watch for a Biran article on the subject soon!

Update: Crane Sensei’s partner in the tango is Florentino Guizar. Thanks again for the wonderful performance!



A Summer Camp to Remember

We’re all home now from 2013 Birankai North America Summer Camp, nursing bruises and sore knees and folding laundry. We’re also reflecting on a memorable week of training and community. Chiba Sensei, Arnold Sensei and DiAnne Sensei were sorely missed, but the energy and enthusiasm on the mat this week in every class was a testament to their inspiration. A big thanks to Nomura Sensei and Aikido Institute of San Francisco for a great organizational effort (thanks for the ride to the airport, Cesar!).

Check back over the next week as I post more videos and photos from camp. Linked are some great clips from Miyamoto Sensei, Drake Sensei, Lynn Sensei and Flynn Sensei. You’ll find more at My apologies for the late video posts – uploads had slowed to a crawl by the end of our stay at SFSU.

See you all on the mat soon! L. Klein



Intensity continues at Birankai Summer Camp

Great classes today, starting with Zazen with Rodger Park Sensei, then Iaido with Boyet/Flynn Heins senseis (classes were split by level), then Aikido with J.D. Sandoval Sensei of Hayward Aikido. The morning finished with dan weapons with Flynn Sensei and Kyu body art with Miyamoto Sensei. Then softball!

Testing tonight, then another full day of classes and a final class with Lynn Sensei of Eastshore Aikikai. See you on the mat — just don’t throw me too hard first thing in the morning!

A highlight from yesterday: P. Vargas Sensei of Aikido of Albuquerque.


Softball samadhi

The long-awaited East Coast-West Coast Birankai North America Aikido Softball revenge match-up of 2013 concluded this afternoon, and a mighty victory was won by… but really, are winning and losing really that important? Why the attachment to results? Why be deluded by dualities?

Fun was had, masterful hits were delivered, death-defying catches were made and rivalries fueled until next year. See you on the diamond!

Day Two at Camp

Great day at Birankai NA Summer Camp — staring with Zazen at 7 a.m., then Iaido with Nomura Shihan — see the image above of the Iaido students bowing in. Then classes with Dave Alonso Sensei of San Diego, George Lyons Sensei of Bucks County, Penn., and Miyamoto Sensei of Hombu Dojo. The day finished with excellent weapons sessions with D. Bluhm Sensei and Coryl Crane Sensei. See you on the mat tomorrow!

Diagana Sensei launches Summer Camp at SFSU

Great turnout tonight and dynamic practice for the opening of 2013 Birankai North America Aikido Summer Camp at San Francisco State University. Thierry Diagana of Singapore taught the first session and led some high-energy training.
With the end of the BART strike and some beautiful cool weather, we’re ready for a week of intense Birankai Aikido!


See you at Summer Camp!

We’re meeting in San Francisco this week starting Friday for Birankai North America Summer Camp — see you there!

All dojos and Birankai members will be getting print copies of our latest Biran newsletter, including a never-before-published letter from Chiba Sensei on the topic of failing a promotion test and some excellent essays and seminar reports.

Watch this space for updates to the print newsletter and supplemental videos and photos, along with regular updates from Camp. See you in SF!

New Videos: George Lyons

George Lyons Shihan of Bucks County Aikido led a seminar at Green River Aikido in Greenfield, Mass., on Saturday, May 18. Thanks to Kathy and Dave Stier for hosting such a fun event – Aikido in their beautiful dojo, weapons on the main drag of Greenfield, then a feast of pulled pork and brisket!

See the BiranOnline channel on YouTube for more videos from Lyons Sensei and recent seminars with Yamada Sensei and Didier Boyet Sensei.


The sempai–kohai relationship

R. Heins taking ukemi for Miyamota Sensei at 2009 Birankai Summer Camp.

By R. Heins, Northwest Michigan Aikikai
(From the Brooklyn Aikikai blog)

Excerpt from the essay:
The Japanese terms “sempai,” “kohai,” and “dohai” may be misunderstood in Western dojos, if they are used at all; likewise, cultural concepts of seniority can be misinterpreted. Literally speaking, “sempai” means “earlier/previous member [of a group]”; “kohai” means “later member”; and “dohai”—used far less often—means “equal member,” and refers to someone who joined the dojo at the same time as oneself.
In a martial-arts context, the use of these terms depends heavily on circumstances and the culture of the dojo itself. But it’s important to understand that they relate to relationships within a given group, and that certain expectations and obligations are attached to them.
Read the full essay here.

Register for Summer Camp now

From the Aikido Institute of San Francisco: We are pleased to announce that online registration for Birankai North America Summer Camp 2013 is now open. For more information and online registration, please click this link: Birankai North America Summer Camp 2013

The Fourteenth Annual Birankai North America Summer Camp will be held from July 5th to July 10th, 2013 at San Francisco State University in San Francisco, California.

Please note that online payments will be processed through PayPal (credit cards and debit cards are accepted). To secure a place at camp, all registrants (except International registrants) are requested to include a 50 percent deposit upon submission of their registration. Those who choose to send payments by check or money order, rather than PayPal, should ensure that their deposit is received within two weeks of registering. All checks or money orders should be made payable to Birankai North America.

See you at Camp!

Please share your thoughts

I apologize for the delay on this but we’ve finally adjusted the settings for BiranOnline to allow for reader comments. All comments are moderated, but approved comments will be posted in a timely fashion. Please include links and identifying information where appropriate. Comment are especially appreciated on postings like the recent obituary for Genki Roshi: I’d love to read some Birankai members’ memories of Sesshin and Rohatsu with Genki Roshi. Comment away!

— L. Klein, Biran Editor

In Memorium: Genki Roshi

Genki Takabayashi Roshi, who played a major role in Birankai’s Zen training, died on Feb. 24, 2013. Our sincere condolences to Genki Roshi’s family and friends and the members of the Chobo-ji Zen Temple in Seattle.

The following is a remembrance by Genjo Osho from the Chobo-Ji website:

Genki Takabayashi Roshi, Chobo-Ji’s founding abbot, dropped his body five hours after returning home late last night to be with his wife and cat in the town of Victor, Montana.

I was with him the weekend before last when he was in a rehab hospital in Missoula. At that time Continue reading “In Memorium: Genki Roshi”

Welcoming adversity

By Jon-Paul Oliva, Multnomah Aikikai

On Friday afternoon, May 25, 2012, we discovered a water leak in the women’s bathroom at Multnomah Aikikai that had gone undetected for over 12 hours. Despite member’s best efforts to shut off the water and clean up the affected area, the leak had overrun the bathroom, spilling out into the women’s dressing room and a portion of the dojo foyer.

To make matters worse, the water had permeated behind the bathroom vanity and much of the drywall was a total loss. In the days that followed, members helped to triage the affected areas, removing carpet Continue reading “Welcoming adversity”

In Print: An uchideshi’s tale

Edward Burke

The following first appeared in the Summer 2012 print edition of Biran, the Aikido Journal of Birankai North America.

Most uchideshi, or live-in Aikido students, leave San Diego Aikikai with only lots of memories, sore joints and worn-out hakamas. But Edward Burke of South Africa left with notes for a memoir, The Sword Master’s Apprentice: Or How a Broken Nose, a Shaman, and a Little Light Dusting May Point the Way to Enlightenment.

Burke’s book was published in 2012 and stirred lots of interest in the Birankai community. Burke lived at San Diego Aikikai for three months as a direct student of T.K. Chiba Shihan.

Starting with a vivid description of getting your butt kicked in class, the book relates Continue reading “In Print: An uchideshi’s tale”

Mind, energy and strength

Dharma talk given by Meido Moore Roshi at Brooklyn Aikikai, Dec. 15, 2012. Moore Roshi is chief instructor at Shinjinkai in Chicago.

Since most of you are martial artists, I thought that I would say a word about Zen from that perspective.

You’re doing Japanese Budo – the “Martial Way” – and many of you are also doing Zen. In both disciplines, which are “Ways” of developing the human character, we work with three things. These are the mind, the energy or energetics and the physical strength: Shin, Ki, Ryoku.

We say that these things should function as one. That is, Continue reading “Mind, energy and strength”