On February 1, Aikido students of all styles, and the public, had their first opportunity to see a unique new arts form at The First US Open Taigi Competition and Demonstration for the Western Region, sponsored by Midland Ki Federation and The Seattle Ki Society. The competition was the culmination of a two-day seminar and workshop at the University of Washington led by Koichi Kashiwaya Sensei, the Chief Instructor of Ki Society USA. The weekend also featured a celebratory dinner given in Kashiwaya Sensei's honor of his recent promotion to Hachidan by Tohei Sensei. The weekend's events were attended by over 60 students and instructors from across the USA and Brazil. Students of Ki Society Aikido took part as well as students of other Aikido styles. It was a unique opportunity for the public and students to see one of the first demonstrations of this new arts form performed by students from across the country, and a wonderful way for all to join in appreciation of the arts of Aikido.
Taigi, or arts of harmony, have been practiced in Japan since 1978. Taigi is based on the traditional movements of Aikido, and is used as an exercise and expression of Ki movement through a series of techniques with a partner. They are judged by balance, rhythm, and grace of dynamic motion. There are a total of 30 Taigi, 29 of them have been practiced in individual dojos across the US. They have become one of the core parts of training for Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido, a.k.a. Ki Aikido. This was the first time that Taigi were performed in a large group by students from across the USA. Taigi were developed by Koichi Tohei Sensei, the founder of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido. They have been taught in Ki Society dojos in Japan for many years and they have held yearly Taigi competitions as part of their training. In 1996 the first International Taigi Competition was held in Japan with students from all over the world. The next International Taigi Competition will be held in Japan in 2000. The competition and demonstration at the University of Washington featured past winners of the Taigi Competition in Japan and students who will be competing in the next one in 2000.
The seminar/workshop took place on Friday and Saturday with participants from 14 different dojos including, Arizona Ki Society, Austin Ki Society, Northern California Bay Area Ki Society, Belo Horizonte Ki Society, Kansas Ki Society, Maui Ki Society, Midland Ki Society-Kansas City, Rocky Mountain Ki Society-Colorado, St. Louis Ki Society, Seattle Ki Society, South Carolina Ki Society, Southern California Ki Society-Santa Barbara, Southern California Ki Society-Torrance, and Virginia Ki Society. The workshop was taught by Kashiwaya Sensei covering all aspects of Taigi in preparation for Sunday's competition and demonstration.
The competition and demonstration on Sunday was kicked off with an opening ceremony featuring all 56 pairs, representing their respective dojos. Master of Ceremonies for the day's events was Ed Grover Sensei of the Southern California Ki Society. The competition was judged by 5 pairs of judges, with Kashiwaya Sensei serving as Chief Judge. Other head judges were George Simcox Sensei (Virginia), Kirk Fowler Sensei (Arizona), Clarence Chinn Sensei (Southern California-Torrance), and Chris Curtis Sensei (Maui). Each main judge had an assistant judge to help with the technical points of the judging criteria. Assistant judges included: Russell Jones Sensei (Rocky Mountain Ki Society), Pietro Maida Sensei (Northern California Bay Area), Lael Kean Sensei (Belo Horizonte), Vic Montgomery Sensei (Midland-Kansas City), and Eric Harrell Sensei (South Carolina).
All pairs were required to perform Kitei Taigi, the compulsory Taigi. It consists of the 6 basic arts of: Shomenuchi Kokyunage, Yokomenuchi Shihonage, Munetsuki Kotegaeshi, Katatedori tenkan Ikkyo, Katadori Nikkyo, and Ushirotekubidori Sankyo. After Kitei taigi, the Sentaku taigi were performed, and these were followed by partners competing in the Weapons taigi. All taigi were judged by each pair's comparison to a set of specific criteria set up by Tohei Sensei. Performer's scores ranged from 5.0-8.5, each pair being judged not by comparison with the others, but by their own performance on a scale of 1-10 as judged on Tohei Sensei's criteria.
An awards ceremony was held to honor the partners with the highest scores, and to honor participants for special recognition. Two awards were given that were not based on actual scores but voted on by the 4 main judges. These were The Cascade Award for Outstanding Performance, which went to Scott Bohart and Craig Krohn of Seattle. The Bumbrella Award, a special award given for Most Inspired Performance, went to
Fred Monzaki and Geoff Minerbo of Seattle. The pair with the highest accumulated points went to Catherine Dea (Northern California Bay Area), and Raina Takumi (Maui).
A demonstration capped the afternoon's events. Susan Grigsby, co-ordinator of this event and past winner of the All Japan Taigi Competition, demonstrated Jyo-nage Taigi with Alex Korn, both of Seattle. Other demonstrations followed, with Lael Kean Sensei (Belo Horizonte and Rocky Mountain Ki Society), Eric Harrell Sensei (South Carolina Ki Society), and Pietro Maida Sensei (Northern California Bay Area Ki Society). The final highlight of the day was a special demonstration by Kashiwaya Sensei, Chief Instructor of the US, performing a series of taigi and randori with multiple uke. It was expressed by many that this weekend was great fun, as well as highly educational, and it is hoped that this event may be done on a regular basis, perhaps annually or bi-annually.
When asked for his comments on this the First US Open Taigi Seminar and Competition for the Western Region, Kashiwaya Sensei had this to say:
"In Midland Ki Federation, we have done this type of event informally on some occasions, but I'm very glad we could do it this year on this type of grand scale. Some people may be confused about competition in Aikido, thinking this is against the Aikido philosophy, it all depends on how it's done. No matter what, some people might object to a competition, but it's something to be experienced. In participation, you find it is not against anyone or anything. It is how much you can explore your arts with others that is encouraging to students. My goal in having this competition is to bring the student's skill and understanding in Ki Aikido to their highest level. By participating with others, we inspire each other, not for winning or losing; everyone who participates is a winner. If anyone wonders about the question of competition, just try it, and join in, and you may find it's different. It's definitely not for everybody, but for anybody who wishes to polish their arts this is one of the best opportunities to refine, and be inspired in the arts of Aikido."Back to the top