On the last weekend of March, the Aiki
Budo Centre hosted the 1999 Yoshinkan Aikido Festival
in London, Ontario, Canada. The featured instructor was
Amos Parker, 8th Dan
Pictured above left to right:
Ashley Hennessy 2nd Dan of London, Jim Stewart 5th Dan of Georgetown, Steve van Mannen of
London, Amos Parker 8th Dan of Houston Texas, Kevin Blok 6th Dan of Windsor, Dr. Fred
Haynes 6th Dan of Georgetown, and Jaimie Sheppard 2nd Dan of London
The weekend started on Thursday evening with a
private session for members of the Aiki Budo Centre. The dojo was jammed with sweaty and
excited aikidoka who eagerly participated in "kihon dosa", the basic warm up
exercises which address body movements. Shumatsu dosa ichi for example is a kata like
movement, whereby a practitioner simulates the body movements employed in shiho nage
techniques. Amos Parker's style and teaching methods emphasized deep stances, a focus on
hip placement, and committed follow through.
The following day Amos Parker conducted a
session for serving Police officers at the London Police Department. He was assisted by
several IYAF instructors who acted as partners for the officers, eager to learn non-lethal
controls, locks and holds. Most techniques ended in pins, whereby handcuffs could be
Friday evening commenced the first of a series
of seminars that took place throughout the weekend at the University of Western Ontario.
In attendence were some of the most senior Yoshinkan Aikido instructors in North America:
Alister Thomson, Kevin Blok, Jim Stewart, Fred Haynes, Enore Gardonio (all 6th Dan) were
ablaze on the mat.
Mr. Parker allowed each of these instructors time to teach for a short period throughout
the weekend. Each senior instructor took their turn, sharing aspects of techniques that
fascinated them and of course, us! It was truly inspiring. What impressed me was the
way in which Mr. Parker shared the limelight so these teachers could also share and
demonstrate their love for the art.
A great representation of yudansha were present
from Canada, the USA, and there was even one practitioner from Europe who attended.
Alumni Hall at the University of Western
Ontario, provided ample mat space for the large numbers of avid aikidoka. The entire
gymnasium was covered with mats which allowed over 130 practitioners to "play
aikido" comfortably. A large number of spectators also attended over the three days
of the event.
A pioneer in the art of aikido, Mr. Amos Parker
has only recently become a name known in the western world. Mr. Parker recently returned
to the USA having spent 34 years in Japan as a student of Kiyoyuki Terada. Sensei Parker
born in Houston USA, was one of 14 children. He
joined the US navy when he came of age, and luckily for us, was assigned to the Pacific
fleet. He enlisted in the submarine service and while en route to a posting in Japan, he
witnessed another sailor employing aikido to control a violent mariner. That incident
sparked his interest, and on arrival he immediately went looking for this
"thing" called aikido. The first dojo he encountered was run by Kiyoyuki Terada.
Terada sensei (9th Dan) is presently the most
senior Yoshinkan practitioner alive in the world. Just as Terada sensei was featured in
Gozo Shioda's book, Dynamic Aikido, Mr. Amos Parker, is featured in Kiyoyuki Terada's book
of Aikido techniques.
Above, Amos Parker 8th Dan Yoshinkan
As Mr. Parker, spoke about studying Aikido and
demonstrating his techniques, it was obvious that Aikido is still a passion for him after
all this time. He recalled how many techniques which in Yoshinkan have a #1 and #2
version, (based on whether the partner pulls or pushes),
originally had only one way of being carried out!
Amos Parker demonstrated many techniques which
are set out in Kiyoyuki Terada's book. Although this book is only printed in Japanese and
difficult to obtain, it illustrates movements in a very orderly and concise fashion, and
since I do not read Japanese --- the pictures are excellent! Parker's method of
instruction, which is no less methodical, is just as precise and orderly!
Amos Parker ended the seminar with a
demonstration featuring jiyu waza with one, then with several uke(s), which brought down
the house. He was rewarded with a thunderous ovation, which is not an every day occurrence
in the strict Yoshinkan world!
Parker stated that he was very pleased to have
been invited to London and considered himself fortunate to share time with so many
students who came to celebrate their fondness for the art of Aikido. Regardless of age,
walk of life, or country of origin, sweat and hard work are
contagious. It allows for training to be a true joy in one's life.
Every attendee received a certificate
"signed" by Mr. Parker thanking them for their participation. Each and every
dojocho (or their representative) received a commemorative plaque thanking them for their
support. Each senior instructor received hotel accommodations for
the weekend, at Windermere Manor (a worldclass hospitality facility), compliments of the
Aiki Budo Centre. All Yudansha were invited to dinner on Saturday evening compliments of
the Aiki Budo Centre.
Why did Sensei Parker leave Japan and return to
the USA? He came home to America to care for his mother who is thankfully doing well and
is being looked after by her wonderful son Amos, in Houston Texas. A percentage of the
proceeds from the seminar were donated to the
Breast Cancer Society in the name of Mrs. Edna L. Parker.
So for those who missed it, not to worry!
Kiyoyuki Terada, several of his senior Japanese instructors and of course his most senior
instructor, Amos Parker will be coming to London Ontario for the Y2K Yoshinkan festival
being held March 31, April 1, 2nd, 2000 ! That ovation called for encore!
Hope you can and will come and play!
Jaimie Sheppard, Aiki Budo Centre-Aikido
Permission to display all photos from Aiki-Budo
Centre-Aikido London, given by Jaimie Sheppard.
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