A New Project: Library of Aikido Techniques

Test requirement for Aikikai Shodan

A while back I started to produce 2-3 minutes short video clips of the most basic techniques required by Aikikai for shodan exam (according to standard aikikai Hombu dojo form). I will not include all possible variations, and the techniques might sometimes even differ from the ones I teach as basics according to Saito Morihiro sensei. I will continuously upload them to my YouTube channel, Jblom, until I’m done, and more specifically on my Playlist there called Shodan.

The focus is on quick and dirty edits (I mean really quick!) of recordings done mostly directly after class – beware of interfering sound and people in the backfround! Nothing fancy, no music or flashy intro.

The general idea of the videos is that they might be useful as a quick reminder of sorts, not a complete and comprehensive tutorial – that’s what the dojo is for! Therefore, few, rather than many, repetitions are included.

To make it easier for myself and others to find these clips I will add them also here in The Dojo under the menu “Videos” on the top of this site.

For now, enjoy a sample.

/Jakob Blomquist

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Sharing Aikido and Receiving Friendship

A Thursday the first week in March, 2018, I sat on a plane bound for Hong Kong, then Manila and finally Davao City, Philippines. I had previously been invited to teach aikido there exactly two years prior, and so this was my second time I travelled to the southern most major city in Philippines. Two years ago I had also delivered a donation collected from my many friends around the world through an online campaign I hosted. That time it was for an organization called House of Hope, and I had the privilege to visit the local branch, speak to staff, and briefly spend time with the wonderful Children of Hope. Unforgettable!

This time the host of the seminar, SNC Southern Mindanao Aikido, had chosen the organization Bantay Bata 163. It’s basically a nation-wide organization with a hotline – #163 – who for over 20 years have helped children in need of support and sometime protection from abuse. The organization do other things as well like education and community outreach, and they have offices in several places in Philippines. Like two years previously, I had this time again reached out to my friends, through my blog and social media, to ask them if they would like to support this cause. And they, that is you, my friends around the world, did!

Focused on the instructor. Photo: Ariessa Codilla

I want to take the chance to express my passionate congratulations, amazement, and gratitude, to the host Simon and his students Yeza, Don, Nat, and all the rest – none forgotten – for the success of the seminar and all of the activities surrounding my visit!

Nathalie and Herda connecting through aikido

I landed in Davao City airport, Friday afternoon, and Simon Cruz, my friend for many years, and his aikido student, Nathalie, picked me up and drove me through the massive rush-hour Davao traffic with their many colourful, and smokey, Jeepneys, crammed with people on their way home or perhaps out for a Friday drink. It was very nice to see them again, Simon and Nathalie, that is, not so much the Jeepneys. They drove me directly to Matina Square where more friends met up. Even if I had only met them during my last short visit two years ago it really felt like getting back together with long time friends.

Aikido does that: generate friendships that last a lifetime.

After a nice dinner I checked in for some rest before the seminar the following day.

The author blends and applies kuzushi at the point of contact. Photo: Ariessa Codilla

The actual aikido seminar had the theme: “Aikido for Peace in Mindanao”. Mindanao being the island in the south Philippines where Davao is the region capital of. The classes were alternately led by myself, and Herda, a 4 dan instructor from Jakarta, Indonesia. Further more, the sessions were split between children’s and adults classes.

Practice moving from one technique into another.

The first class in the morning was a children’s class and Herda was teaching. Next I would teach adults, followed by a lunch break. As the temperature difference reached some 40 degreed Celsius between the unusually cold Sweden at the time, and the warm Davao, my body was having a laugh at my expense.

Herda leading the warm-up during one of the children’s classes.

After lunch I would teach two children’s classes and Herda would teach two adult’s classes. Sunday schedule basically mirrored the previous day’s except Herda and I switched places.

Herda makes uke smile!

The venue itself was Matina Square in central Davao City. This is a place with bars and restaurants spread around a square and parking lot. That parking lot is not used during the day, so in the morning puzzle mats were brought out, and cleaned, and after the last class each evening the mats were quickly removed. Outside seminar is an interesting experience!

Kids trying to pass the author and his assistant! Photos by Ariessa Codilla

During the lunch break the second day I was able to visit the local group of Bantay Bata 163. The location was inside the building of the local branch of the nation wide broadcast network: ABS-CBN. It was this network and the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation that initiated Bantay Bata 163 over 20 years ago and the organization still uses the broadcast network facility to this day.

Every Sunday the children and parent (often mother) meet with staff from the organization to discuss the week, receive supervision and other support, for example arranging for the children to get back into school or provide counselling to the children and/or the parent. A staff member I spoke to told me that the funding only allowed for 20 children at the moment, some of whom you can see in the photo below. Therefore, it felt extra nice to be able to help them with that by handing over the envelope of donation you, my friends around the world, gave.

Visiting Bantay Bata 163 and the wonderful children.

As a pale male outsider pushing himself into these children’s lives, some of whom might not have favourable history with adults, particularly men, it was quite a challenge to keep ones composure. As a parent I might also have been particularly sensitive to these issues… yes… most definitively! No matter the reasons, it was emotionally a tough situation with feelings moving like a roller-coaster between “happy and proud to help and even be in their presence”, and “hard to even look them in their dark all-too-experienced eyes”. Still, they were all amazing, and so were the staff.

Let’s be clear… I’m a privileged person. I grew up privileged. I have been privileged to be able to start my aikido path in a dojo with many classes every week, with lots of great training partners and great instructors. I have been privileged to be able to meet, train, and befriend many hundreds, even thousands, of people around the world; the great majority of them on the aikido mat.

Ariessa, myself and Nathalie. Photo: Ariessa Codilla

One of these people is Simon Cruz and two years ago, because of him, I was privileged to make new friends in Philippines and extend my aikido family even more. Because of this I was privileged to do some good for the children of House of Hope. This year I was privileged to meet my friends again, make even more friends, including the lovely and talented Herda. And, just maybe, make a positive impact for even more children with the help of the people of Bantay Bata 163, your generosity and, of course Simon and his amazing students.

The author, Herda, and Simon. Photo: Ariessa Codilla

If you want to read more about this and my first trip follow the links below.
Post about doing this trip

Post about my first trip and House of Hope

/Jakob Blomquist
Photos by the author and Ariessa Codilla. All rights reserved.

Going to Philippines again… will you join me again? Ver. 2: How to Donate!

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

So in my previous post I wrote that I’m going back to Davao, Philippines, early in March next year to teach Aikido at a seminar hosted by my good friend Simon Cruz and his students over at SNC  Southern Mindanao Aikido. Like the first time, the seminar 2018 will also be an event to help raise money for a charity – you just have to show up and pay the seminar fee. The excellent aikido is a great bonus! – Last time it was House of Hope (read about it here). This time around the seminar will benefit the organisation Bantay Bata 163.

In short: Bantay Bata 163 offers several services and programs, for example a hotline – you just dial 163 – where anyone can report cases where children are in situation of crisis or imminent danger/risk of exposure of trafficking, sexual or physical abuse, and/or other forms of serious neglect. The organization can act on the information they receive and arrange for rescue operation whereby children are removed from danger and placed in a safe environment. They also provide families with legal assistance, home visits, counceling and family service as well as community outreach services. Here is a Wikipedia link where you can more about their history and amazing work.

Basically it’s about helping children who have had, or are at the risk of having their innocent lives destroyed. Children who have been exposed of, or in the risk of being involved with, trafficking, sexual abuse, neglect and… other unimaginable things. Unfortunately, as hard as it is to believe but the fact is more and more children are exposed to these things and therefore an increasing amount of help is needed.

If you live in Sweden and read this you might realize that it is the very same theme as this year’s Musikhjälpen, and if you, like I did, felt very emotional about these things and want to help some more, then you have a chance now.

That goes for all of you who read this around the world. Last time so many of you around the world really pulled through – you helped me deliver a whopping 30000 PHP to House of Hope! – and I would love to feel that love again this time.

This is what you can do! Like last time I have a designated PayPal account where you will be able to donate however much or little you feel like into. All of your contributions will be added to the money brought in during the seminar and delivered by me, and my friend and local host Simon Cruz, to the representative of Bantay Bata 163 in Davao at the conclusion of the seminar.

You simply click on the PayPal button below and follow the instructions on the page you are directed to. It should work for the whole world. You have the option to add a small message to the donation and that would be appreciated.There is no minimum amount and every single donation will make a difference.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

If you don’t have a PayPal account the link above will help you to set one up for free, or you will have the option of just using your credit card directly. Please let me know if something isn’t working.

Being able to do something… anything… for children going through things they absolutely should never have to means the world to me, as I’m sure it does to all of you.

Let’s make difference together!

/Jakob Blomquist

Photo: From the author’s last visit when we helped the Children of Hope at the House of Hope.

Going to Philippines again… will you join me again?

Edit: New post HERE with more info about how to help

First week in March I’m going back to Davao, Philippines to teach aikido again. Although teaching the art I love to people around the world is great on its own, it’s almost secondary in this case. The reason is that not only will I be able to see my friends there again, after two years apart, but, perhaps more importantly, I will have the honor to, yet again, be able to do something truly good:

Help children

The seminar 2018 will benefit the organisation Bantay Bata 163. Here is a Wikipedia link where you can about it.

Basically it’s about an organisation helping children who have had their innocent lives destroyed. Children who have been exposed of, or in the risk of being involved with, trafficking, sexual abuse, and… other unimaginable things.

If you live in Sweden and read this you might realize that it is the very same theme as this year’s Musikhjälpen, and if you, like I did, felt very emotional about these things and want to help some more, then you have a chance now. That goes for all of you who read this around the world. Last time so many of you around the world really pulled through and I would love to feel that love again this time.

Like last time I will set up a PayPal account where you will be able to donate however much or little you feel like into. All of your contributions will be added to the money brought in during the seminar and delivered by me, and my friend and local host Simon Cruz, to the representative of Bantay Bata 163 in Davao at the conclusion of the seminar.

Stay tuned for more posts and updates where all the relevant info about the PayPal account and what YOU can do to make a difference.

/Jakob Blomquist

Photo: From the author’s last visit when we helped the Children of Hope at the House of Hope.

Good intentions sometimes end up as personal attacks. 

The title doesn’t appear to have anything to do about science, but in this case it does. In an excellent New York Times article, When revolutionary came for Amy Cuddy, Susan Dominus uses the back story of Dr. Amy Cuddy to display and unravel the complexity of a recent trend within, but not exclusive to, academic circles: that of good original intention — in this case better science — and hot headed personal attacks — even bullying — taking place within social media. On a deeper level the article shows us how social media has change the rules and play-field even among scientists; not only for the better.

Dr Cuddy headlined one of the most viewed TED-talks produced about the proposed psycho-somatic link between adoption of so called power poses on the one hand and change of real ability to solve problems on the other.  Her land-mark scientific article about said link shook academia. Next, Susan Dominus brings into the story a new group of academics, like Dr J. Simmons and Dr. A. Gelman and others, interested in the use of statistics, more specifically how statistics are used and misused. What’s special about them is that they too shook academia, mainly within social science, medicine, biology, and economics. They became poster names of their own of the fresh movement where they highlight studies wherein statistics have been “hacked”, or just wrongly interpreted, by the authors in order to show positive results. Gelman even started a very famous blog about it.

And this is where social media comes into the picture, and the personal attacks and bullying.

By Jakob Blomquist

Featured image by: Jonathan Cohen under cc-by-nc 2.0 licence

I have in previous posts, here and here written about science and statistics in science, and the connection with social media.   Enjoy the read!

Summer on the aikido mat – and a video…

It’s been a great summer for me in many ways, not the least when it comes to aikido. As usual I have clocked several hours at New York aikikai and Aikido North Jersey.  I cannot convey how much these places, and the people therein, have meant to me over the years – you know who you are Harvey, Steve, Sharon, Crystal, Jerry, Chris, Kazuko, Brad and all the rest! This summer I was honoured to surprise the ANJ summer camp kids and teach them the weapon form called “ki musubi no tachi” – what a hoot! They were great students, of course – Crystal, you are brilliant!  

A side from the regular training, this year I finally managed to get some days in at the annual USAF summer camp. What a treat!  So many classes, great people and friends, both new and old. It was VERY hard to leave early but I had a plane to catch.

Osawa Hayato Sensei teaching at USAF summer camp 2017. © Jakob Blomquist

I do love to come back to my home dojo, Lunds Aikidoklubb, though. As the summer schedule came to its end I was teaching the final two classes this week. The light from the windows filled the dojo beautifully so I turned off the ceiling lamps and decided to snap off some photos and videos while teaching. With those I mashed together a short video of sort – nothing fancy – as a token of my love for the place and the people there.

Maybe you will enjoy it!

/Jakob Blomquist

Don’t train perfect forms once in a while

Train something every day.

The video below is an example how this can look, for me. Not perfect. Suburi stitched together, adapted and naturally altered in the moment to work in the confined space of the home. Just solitary training with the focus on working on things important that day. Every day.

/Jakob Blomquist

Video by Author under Creative Commons CC BY-license.