On May 17th, 2001, seven Aikido students from Corpus Christi, Texas flew
to Ventura, California to test under Larry Reynosa, Chief Instructor of Makoto Dojo. He is also the senior disciple of Shihan Steven Seagal and
the President of the Ten Shin Aikido Association under Seagal.
The day after we arrived was most exciting as we found ourselves in a
van headed for Seagal Sensei`s personal home where the annual Black Belt test
was to be held. I was very honored to be chosen by Reynosa Sensei to
participate in the black belt practice and uke for the students that were
testing in the randori.
The practice was held in his backyard in a small grassy area beside a
beautiful Tibetan stupa. Although the weather had been hazy all week the sun
appeared just as Reynosa Sensei called for the testing candidates to sit in
the front. The students displayed an awesome array of techniques against
jabs, punches, chokes, and several kicks. Seagal Sensei then explained that
this had to be real or else we were wasting our time. He wanted the nages to
use everything at their disposal, which included the rose bushes, water
sprinklers, fences, his home, the orange trees...everything around
them . . . no bounderies. Thus began the randori part of of the tests.
It was fast and furious. The ukes were attacking with everything they
had. Gone were the shomens and yokomen strikes. Instead, the ukes kicked,
tackled, and choked nage in every attempt to take him to the ground. There
was no holding back on any part of the ukes and was as real as any fight I
have ever seen. Gerrit Green, who was testing for Nidan was awesome.
he was taken down, he managed to escape and left his attackers in a bundled
heap on the floor fighting amongst themselves. It was a great display of pure
Aikido techniques used "in action" and proving how valid it is as a martial
After the tests, Seagal Sensei then lectured about how in a street
situation, attackers will have knives and sticks and guns and therefore it
still was not as real as it should be. He wanted no one to walk away with the
false sense of security that they could handle ANY situation.
The highlight of it all was when he demonstrated a bit of randori himself. He spoke of the
importance of learning our angles in order to be able to properly direct
three people coming at you at full speed. He also spoke about dissolving
before our attackers, offering nonresistance and remaining empty.
In all, three of the four students testing passed. A special
congratulations should go to Paulos from Brazil who is now the first shodan recogonized and
ranked by Shihan Steven Seagal. This makes him the first foreigner with such
credentials since Sensei`s return from Japan in the 80`s.
I would like to thank Seagal Sensei for allowing us into his home and
sharing his time with us. It was obvious that he is a VERY busy man and it
was great that he took time to teach us. I would also like to thank Reynosa
Sensei for allowing me such an honor of being allowed to practice in such an
advanced class and being such a great instructor and example of Seagal Sensei`s
More info and pictures can be found at the Ten Shin Association
website and the Makoto Dojo website. Thanks-Hector Chavez
thank you to our friend Hector Chavez, for being so thoughtful and
supportive of Aikido World with his article and generosity by sharing
his wonderful Aikido pictures with us!
thank you to Larry Reynosa and Steven Seagal!