Harry sensei was a guest instructor for Shiju-kai’s 5th All Aikido Demonstration and Seminar. Typically, when Harry sensei is present to teach a class, I will always make a point to turn up.
Aikidokas are always in awe, as to how Harry sensei move. He moves in such a way there it is difficult for a person to resist him, as I’ve said before, the harder you catch him or resist him, the easier you make it for him to displace you.
He can do this with literally anyone. He has a keen sense of feeling and touch that he knows how to get to your centre, without you knowing. That means he is very connected and open to receive his partner.
“I have no ego! I am already so old!”
He said something to that effect recently in class, and it shows in the way he practice Aikido. There is no need for him to defend himself in any way against an ‘attack’, he is so well practiced in aikido, that he is perceptive understanding how people work. He disarms the attacker, by being disarming.
There is a certain poise and grace in the way he moves, the circle is so small that it is difficult to counter. When he pivot, he does it so subtly that you cannot possibly expects that. Recently, I held him in a Gyakyu Hanmi, Katate tori grasp, hard, he flipped his wrist down, and swing his hands up, I went down, up and down again. All done so fast I barely had time to do anything else than to follow and take a ukemi.
While all this seems very simple, you cannot understand his thinking and philosophy, until you follow him for a long period of time. Even with so many years of training under him, there is still much to learn, so much more that I can learn from him.
During a seminar, it is only for a hour, at most. With that limited time, that is only so much anyone can absorb from him, in fact, it is almost nil. You will need to hold his hands for long, long time to really feel him, and understand how he moves. While he is earnest in teaching, there is only so much he can verbalize; Aikido is a physical movement, and you need to train WITH your sensei to understand Aikido from his perspective. That kind of transmission from sensei to student is one of the most difficult challenges in any martial arts.
Fingers and Hands
The chief mistake any students make in watching him was to miss out his hands, he moves his fingers in a very subtle way and he can displace even the largest uke. His fingers are centrally connected to his one point and when he moves his one point, his fingers and hands becomes an extension of that one point, if you hold him, his one point will extend into you, and you too, will become an extension of his one point.
People see how smooth he move people, but most fail to notice that subtle twist of his wrist.
His demonstration is a very simple affair, and it is nothing dramatic actually. He doesn’t make any effort to move in a dynamic way, and this is sometimes very deceiving, people always seem to that it is staged in a certain manner. It is not. His throw is for real and you will fall.
I always enjoy seeing Harry sensei in action, in seminar, as he carries more than 40 years of Aikido practice. There is a hush of aura, when he takes a class, and that twinkle of joy in his eyes when he displaced a surprised uke. People knows him by his reputation, but not many understands how he moves.
There is a sense of joy in him taking a class, and he is spreading bliss and peace through Aikido, in the most disarming manner.