My 1st Aikido Sensei Dr. Philip Chenique of Atemi Ryu Ju Jitsu and Chendokan Aikido

My 1st Aikido Sensei Dr. Philip Chenique of Atemi Ryu Ju Jitsu and Chendokan Aikido

In the beginning

For almost 20 years now I have been training in and teaching Aikido. I have made every effort to keep current and train with what I consider the best Senseis. I have been quite fortunate to have had great influences since the very beginning of my Aikido training. My first sensei, was Philip Chenique, of Atemi Ryu Ju Jitsu and Chendokan Aikido, he is an accomplished martial artist and although he is not recognized by the Aikikai Aikido World Headquarters he definately knows what he is doing. I remember like it was yesterday when I ventured out of the dojo to my first non-dojo seminar the ASU Winter Camp. When I walked into the gymnasium where the seminar was being held, everyone I saw (about 50 people) were all wearing blackbelts. In the Men’s dressing room guys were greeting each other like they had known one another for years and reminicing about past Aikido seminars they’d attended in Tailand, Japan, Germany and other far away locations.

I had just earned my Sho-dan (black belt) and felt so intimidated surrounded by all these seasoned Aikidoka. As I stepped out of the dressing room and into the main gym my breath was taken away upon seeing the Gym (basketball court) covered with tatami (mats), and what seemed to me like a million people all stretching or sitting waiting for the beginning of the class. There must have been 3 to 4 hundred participants on the mat. To say that I was nervous would be an understatement, my heart was beating like a Taiko drum and I did everything possible to keep from looking like the only person on that mat that wasn’t nervous. I had been involved in martial arts since I was 6 years old and competed in Judo and Karate tournoments, but had never seem such a huge area covered in tatami nor hundreds of black belts in one place in my life. 

I began to doubt my abilities and knowledge, I would look around for a familiar face and saw that the only other person I knew on the mat was Jason Masters, one of my dojo mates that had many years of Aikido training under his belt and had trained at various dojos. It was jason that had invited me to this seminar. As Saotome Sensei the head of the ASU (Aikido Schools of Ueshiba) and direct student of the O’Sensei the founder wlaked onto the mat we all sat silently, I was sure everyone could hear my heart beating hard and fast. Sensei bowed the class in and began the warm-up excercises. I nervously looked around as we warmed-up, there were excercises I had never done or seen and everyone else seemed to be very comfortable and relaxed.

Saotome Sensei the demonstrated the first technique to the class and I watched intensly. I recognized the technique and immediately began to relax. Saotome Sensei motioned to the class to choose a partner and as I turned to Jason, my heart stopped, Jason was nowhere to be seen, I looked around and started to get nervous once again to my surprise I felt a touch at my arm and when I turned to look there standing before me was a guy, he asked me if I would practice with him, I look at his gi and worn hakama and could barely answer. My first thought was this guy is probably going to make me look like a beginner his hakama and gi alone looked like they had more years of Aikido training than I was old.

I began the practice of the technique that had been demonstrated in the role of Uke (attacker).  I was able to flow with the technique. The one thing I did realize immediately was the my partner’s abilities were nowhere near that of my Sensei’s and I began to regain my confidence. After a few goes as uke it was my turn at Nage (reciever of the attack)and for just a second I began to doubt myself, that was until my partner initiated the attack and I moved effortlessly and without thought right into the prediscribed technique. It didn’t take but one or two minutes of practice for me to fully appreciate all that my sensei had taught me. I immediately thought to myself Professor (as Philip Chenique was called by his students) is a really good sensei.