Seminar Review: Charlie Page Sensei at Beecher IL 10/21-22:
Well, it’s time for me to write my review for the seminar my
husband and I (and 4 others from our dojo) attended last
weekend. Let me preface this by saying that I am really not
very good at remembering details (especially correctly).
I’m more of a “just train and listen and absorb” kind of
learner. So with that in mind, don’t be disappointed if I
am vague in what was specifically taught. Anyway…
We drove up to Beecher on Friday night. It is a 3-4 hour
drive depending on traffic. It took us 4 hrs on Friday
(some in rush hour) and 3 to get back on Sunday afternoon.
We stayed at the Red Roof Inn in Lansing, IL, about 20
minutes north of Beecher. It’s a nice place to stay,
relatively cheap and close to good food. Beecher itself is
rather small and has maybe 2 restaurants – none of which are
Got up Saturday morning and drove to the dojo. Wendy Whited
Sensei was there (she is sensei for the Beecher dojo and is
a 6th dan in the ASU). There were several people from
Missouri, Bloomington IN, Purdue and other places. I didn’t
count how many people, but a good number showed up. Enough
that that mat was full but not too crowded except for big
throws (which we did in lines). It was great to see people
we know and meet new people. Wendy’s dojo is very pretty
and has a very nice canvas mat. It is a very friendly,
personal environment and we always like going there for
seminars. Some of the other seminars get too large and
impersonal. Her dojo is just the right size for a nice
group to train in but still keeps the personal feel. When
we go to a seminar there, we feel like the person leading
the seminar is more part of the group and not some distant
entity that we have little contact with.
We had not met Charlie Page Sensei before. He is from
Baltimore and is (I believe) a 5th dan in the ASU. He led a
great seminar and was very clear and conciencious about his
teaching. He was clearly capable of doing very powerful,
difficult things but made a real point of keeping it simple
and of working to the ability of his uke (and he used a
large number of people as uke, not just the people he
knew). I appreciate it when the person leading a seminar
doesn’t just try to wow their audience, but instead, works
at a level that most people can understand and try to
emulate. He was also really nice and made a point of
working with anyone who was the “odd man out” and of
watching what we all were doing and giving a lot of
personal, hands-on attention to each person. I never felt
that he was inaccessible or that I felt uncomfortable
talking to him or working with him if he came around. He
had a natural feeling of accessibility and I appreciate that
very much. In other words, he seemed like he didn’t hold
himself above us, he seemed very accessible and friendly. I
personally, like that very much and do appreciate it.
It was very hot in the dojo! We were all sweating up a
storm. I was drenched and was glad that I’d bought a gi for
each class. There was no way my gi would have been dry for
any other classes. Some of the people from our dojo only
brought one gi and I felt sorry for them having to put on a
cold, clammy gi that quickly heated up and turned into a
steam bath. My hakama remained damp for the entire weekend
and I had to wash it when I got home. I don’t even want to
talk about how stinky and soggy some of our dojo members
knee pads were! :^) Suffice it to say they could classify
as toxic waste by Monday.
The first class was mostly all katatedori techniques. The
second class was mostly kosadori techniques. The third
class was a mix. Some of the main points I remember was
that when we did katatedori, we mostly started with our palm
down and then turned it up and out to catch uke’s balance by
turning their arm and “locking” it. We did an iriminage
where we turned the palm over and led uke down and around
and then turned back into them and raised our arm up and
over into them. Similar to iriminage that we do, but the
palm down, then up and out was slightly different, as was
the distance and arm position when finishing the technique.
The distance/arm thing was a repeating idea and Charlie
sensei explained it as when you are grabbed and doing a
technique, you form an upside V. If you raise your arm up
higher and move in close (closing the open part of the V),
you are able to engage more of your body to do a technique
and not just your arm. It is sort of taking the arm out of
the equation and using your body instead. This had a feel
of some of the things I have seen Doran sensei do. We are
not so used to raising the arm straight up and closing the
distance so it was really interesting to feel the difference
it made. I really wasn’t sure about how well it would work
for a short person like me against a large person but I was
wrong. It was really quite effective, surprisingly so.
We also did a kosadori ikkyo where you atemi as the person
comes in. Then when they block you use their other arm for
ikkyo. He showed how if they were too strong and blocked
the ikkyo, you could turn and turn it easily into a
tenbinage (or I think it is also called mai-otoshi).
We did an interesting kosadori shionage using the
distance/arm thing where they grabbed and you moved into the
shionage position with your arm straight up, spun under
their arm, and came around behind them using the arm they
grabbed to snag their collar and take them down.
Sean also got an interesting lesson from Wendy sensei after
a class when he asked her about shomenuchi ikkyo and she
showed him how it was a more powerful position to meet their
arm with the blade of the hand, hand perpendicular to the
mat rather than with the palm up or down.
And we did an interesting sankyo with and without a tanto
from munetsuki where we went under the arm and around ending
with the blade pointing at their midsection. Especially
with the tanto, you really moved back when the blade started
coming at your belly!
After the last class on Saturday, those who were staying
over went to Wendy’s house for pizza and a bonfire. She has
a great house out in the country with horses and dogs and a
beautiful stable. Kay was excellent at guarding the veggie
pizza until the vegetarians all got theirs. I don’t know
why it is, but everyone seems to go for the veggie pizza
first and the vegetarians sometimes end up without. Not
The bonfire was interesting. It was very large and warm,
but the wind was blowing towards the dry brush so we had a
“fireman” (he might have been a real fireman in real life –
I don’t know) constantly spraying the scrub. Actually, it
did just fine. It just looked a little iffy at first with
all the sparks drifting directly into the brush.
We had a nice drive back on Sunday. 5 of us went back
Sunday, one of us just came for the day Saturday. In
ending, it was a really great seminar and I would definitely
look up the Baltimore dojo if we were ever out that way.
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