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Interview with
NICK LOWRY, 6th Dan

 
nick_lowery-pic4.JPG (31206 bytes) Nick Lowry, 6th Dan is Chief Instructor of the Windsong Dojo, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He holds the following ranks: rokudan (6th dan) in Aikido, godan (5th dan) in Judo, and rokudan in Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo.  

 

He has trained under Shihan Karl Geis for Aikido, Jodo, and Judo. He was also a student of Shihan Tsunako Miyake for Jodo, and the advanced Judo katas - goshin jutsu no kata (kata is of Kenji Tomiki influence)  and koshiki no kata (Kito Ryu kata techniques). In addition, he is quite educated in weaponry (Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo).

Nick's Aikido education is Fugakukai Aikido, a branch of Tomiki Aikido, developed by Shihan Karl Geis. This style of Aikido is rich with Kenji Tomiki influence, from his direct study under Geis. (Geis is considered a very respected martial arts figure because of his most extensive Judo backround, Jodo training, and instruction under Kenji Tomiki, Shihan.)   

Nick began his martial arts training at the age of 18, at the Windsong Dojo, under Shihan Chuck Caldwell, 7th Dan. His student status at that time was uchideshi.

When asked what inspired his study and choice of Aikido, as a martial art he replied: " . . . love at first sight". He was smitten.

His interest in martial arts stems from reading Lao Tzu's "Tao Te Ching" and the "The Book of Five Rings" by Musashi, which he read as a youth.

I asked him some interview questions via e-mail:

Nick explains that his style of Aikido differs from others in that:

"We follow a rational and verifiable curriculum that maintains a very strong technical basis -- not much into the more esoteric or abstract ideations of aikido --strong on the ethical basis."

Some details of his early experiences in Aikido:
"I had left competitive stick fighting (ala SCA) behind and was looking for something "real" -- I walked in the dojo and "real" just jumped out at me. I became a nearly full time student in aikido, later in Jodo and in Judo as well,
eventually an uchideshi and assistant to my sensei. We spent many years together."

Who was influential to you in Aikido?
"Chuck Caldwell, Karl Geis, Tsunako Miyake -- many many others. "

What was the most memorable moments with your Aikido study?
"Randori training with Karl Geis and Kata training with Ms. Miyake"

What was the most valuable lesson or actualization in your Aikido training?
"Aikido is making Order out of Chaos"

What prompted you to do start a dojo?
"Commitment to continual training and passing it on."

What have you learned so far in Aikido instruction? "Teaching is the begining of learning."

What would you tell other Aikido instructors?
"Treat your students right -- make the white belts the most important persons in class -- never allow yourself to be abusive or manipulative -- be honest -- be real -- no phoniness allowed and leave your ego in your shoes -- The sensei is the servant to the student -- be sure you clean your own toilets and take out your own trash."

What would you ask other seasoned instructors in the way of advice in starting a dojo?
"Is doing it as a nonprofit worth the hassles?"

Where do you think your Aikido training has taken you?
"A few more steps up Mt. Fuji."

Where has your martial arts training taken your Aikido?
"The mix of judo, jo and aikido have been particularly beneficial -- my aikido has taken on a sense of incredible detail from my work in jo, and judo has helped me to develop a keen eye for kuzushi."

Where do you see your current direction in martial arts and specifically Aikido?
"I don't worry about it -- I stick to what I know are the realities, true ethical training and true technical excellence -- the trends do not matter to me."

What do think of today's Aikido? Are there weaknesses? Can we remedy these weaknesses? What can we do?
"Too many people today are playing dress up -- playing japanese -- playing who gets to be called shihan games -- and missing reality-- aikido is a form of budo -- it is a martial art and it is based in renshu (refinement through repitition) -- it must stay reality based to be relevent. All the windowdressing -- cult of Ueshiba, shinto mysticism, ki meditiation etc. all the politics of who's who and what's what, and my sensei is better than yours stuff -- all of it is just so much nonsense. If aikido gets bogged down with it it will sink."

What are current Aikido's strengths?
"If you follow its principles -- it really works. Not because you're big or strong, or even because you are spiritually enlightened -- but it works because the principles are real
testable physical facts."

What can Hombu Dojo or some of the more influential Yudansha and/or Shihan do --- to improve Aikido's weaknesses?
"Drop the windowdressing -- drop ego -- return to real principles."

Is Aikido "hard" or "soft"? Is this a bad term to describe one's Aikido practice?
"Not bad, not good, in terms of hard and soft it is both."

Do you have advice for everyone on good practice habits?
"Find a teacher you like, a system of training you can trust, and never stop training."

What type of behavior do you disallow in your dojo? (i.e.. such as bullish, negative, obnoxious or outright physical abuse).
"No abuse allowed -- physical, emotional, mental -- stress can be usefull -- abuse is not."

Where do you see yourself are right now in Aikido? In martial arts?
"A beginner."

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?
"A beginner."

What would you like to see in your Aikido students? "Honesty and joy in training."

What would you like them to accomplish from your instruction?
"The development within themselves of true self confidence that comes from facing reality in a principled way."

What is your class format like? Is it structured?
"Very."

If so, what sort of structure is it?
"Warm up, ukemi, tegatane no kata,hanasu no kata, junanahon kata , lesson time, free time for kata or randori."

How much time is spent in basics? (tumbling, rowing exercises, etc.).
"20 min per class."

Do you see yourself as disciplined?

"I am both disiplined and relaxed."

Are your classes considered disciplined?
"No they are fun and relaxed -- sometimes hard work -- but still fun and relaxed."

How has your instruction changed in the last 20 years? In the last 10 years? In the last 5 years?
"The level of technical understanding has grown
exponentially over the last decade. We are seeing much quicker development of high skill levels. What took me 10 years to accomplish is now taking 3 - 4 years in terms of real technical progress.
"

Do you use atemi in class?

"Yes"

If you could ask O'Sensei a question, what would it be?
"Onegaishimashita" ( may I have a lesson?) or (respectfully) "would you care to randori?"

Congratulations to Nick Lowry's new book on Aikido titled:

AIKIDO: PRINCIPLES of KATA and RANDORI
by Nick Lowry

nlowery-book3.JPG (46920 bytes)

My sincerest thanks to Nick Lowry for his interview and allowing me the opportunity inform our readers about his system of Aikido.

Windsong Dojo
400 South Vermont, Suite 100
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73108
(405) 943-6246

louise-rich@ouhsc.edu

Permission to display the picture and graphic, given to Aikido World Journal by Nick Lowry for this interview only.


Literary materials, film clips, and pictures are copyrighted by their respected authors and owners. Permission in writing must be made for any duplication, display, or reprint.

  
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Michio Hikitsuchi 10th Dan 1978
(C. Matrasko as uke)
1978 C. Matrasko

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1/4/2002