Friday, September 05, 2008

Hal Lehrman

Friday afternoons at 12:15 at the Aikikai are usually taught by Hal Lehrman. Hal has his own dojo in Brooklyn, Aikido of Park Slope.

There's something very special about Hal's aikido, though I can't really describe how that is so...

He's extraordinarily relaxed, for one thing. When I watch him, I realize just how relaxed one can be.

He's also extremely powerful. Sometimes even dangerously so. He's demonstrated for me/on me a few times and I learned quickly that I'd better expect a hurricane, though to look at it, his movements seem utterly smooth and quick. Hardly anything at all, it seems.

He has a way of putting his center in the action without being overly obvious about it. Subtle, that's the word. It may be moving a quarter of an inch, but some how that motion generates a huge amount of power. I just don't know how he does that.

So, I keep going and hoping it'll rub off someday... Since his class is filled with yudansha, I guess I'm not the only one who feels so. A lot of heavy hitters don't miss it. Even Kjartan Clausen of the great Aikido FAQ fame practices with Hal in Brooklyn, so at least I'm in good company.

UPDATE: Kjartan read the above post and commented: "BTW, Hal is generating that immense power by not using any power when he throws. He just moves in a way that's natural for both him and you. Soft techniques can feel incredibly hard and powerful if done right."

Though I agree completely with the above statement (in fact, those were the words I was looking for), I still say he's very powerful. The natural moving stuff is more in the opening, I think, where Hal is a master.

We are told always to blend with the attack and to redirect an opponent's ki, etc. But how often do we try to force the issue, if only accidentally or unconsciously? Well, Hal's the master at blending. However, after that, when it comes to the actually throw, there's a ton of power. Like grabbing a moving train. I felt that, anyway.

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