Work in progress

Patrick Cassidy Sensei - I went to high school with Patrick Cassidy and haven't seen him since graduation. During that time he's transformed himself and lived a life I wish I had the courage to live. His growth, his wisdom, the amazing decisions he's made...This man is truly an inspiration. I can say I knew him when...I wish I could say I know him now. Maybe after I put this page together, I can contact the man and tell him how proud I am of him.

This page is an attempt to piece together some of Patrick Cassidy Sensai's accomplishments. To learn a bit about what my high school friend has done with his life since graduation. What an inspiration.

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My initial interest in Aikido started with a wish to find something comprehensive. A practice that impacted every aspect of my life. I had been doing Judo on and off for more than ten years since grade school and as I entered university I wanted to explore something else. I started both Yoga and Aikido at this time. My first Aikido instructor was Robert Blackstone, a nidan who had studied with the late Rod Kobayashi Sensei. After about two years of training, I became very inspired. This training created a shift in my perspective and prompted me to ask myself a question:

"If I had only a year left to live, how would I live it?"

Soon after that question, I found myself leaving school and moving to Japan to study with my primary teacher, Saito Morihiro Sensei. During my 7 years of living and practising Aikido in Iwama, Japan, I also trained in the practice of Ura Senke Cha No Yu, the tea ceremony and took a number of trips to India to pursue studies in Yoga and meditation. Sometime in Japan, another shift occured in the relationship with the practice and it became "clear" how it all can make sense. This experience lead to spending time with some incredible spiritual teachers, Swami Chidanandaji, Sri Poonjaji, and Andrew Cohen. I include mentioning these teachers as they impacted my practice as much as my Aikido instructors have.

After returning to California, I encountered a number of wonderful teachers, Peter Ralston, Vernon Turner, Richard Moon Sensei, and Robert Nadeau Sensei. With a return visit to Japan, I also was able to study with Takeda Yoshinobu Sensei. All of these instructors offer pathways to discover what lies beyond form and technique. Their message combined what I had experienced in Meditation with what I had learned in Aikido. This type of training/inquiry has helped to merge the practices of Aikido, Yoga, Tea, and Meditation into one real experience.

Attach:1_PCassidy.jpg Δ

When I arrived in California, I returned to my home area and founded Aikido of Fresno in 1994 from an informal club that had been there previously for about fifteen years. Aikido of Fresno has expanded to a wonderful community of people with a full time uchideshi program, yoga classes and meditation sessions. The total membership now numbers about 120 with 40 youth, 60 adults, and 20 yoga students. Since our beginning we have had over 30 live-in students visit and stay from countries like Sweden, Holland, Switzerland, Brazil, Ireland, and Canada. Our dojo offers 5 evening classes, 3 daytime classes, 3 morning weapon classes, and 5 youth classes held weekly. We also have one advanced class each week. Our meditation classes follow the morning weapons and the yoga class is offered once a week. I instruct most of the classes with assistance from my senior and live-in students. ''' Currently Aikido of Fresno''' is in Division 3, under the supervision of Robert Nadeau Sensei. As of November 2001, the dojo will be run by one of my senior members Florian Tan, nidan. It is my intention to take a break after 7 years of teaching and spend a year travelling. Following that year, I am planning to move to Switzerland and continue with this work.

My most Memorable Aikido Experience

It is difficult to point to one experience as being the most memorable. The training process seems like one non-ending moment. But if I had to point out some experiences, my time with Saito Sensei before I left Japan was very special. I had the chance to sit with him in his "tea room" near his son's home. He stopped for a moment and spoke of how great it was to sit, be still and enjoy this chance to relax. That expressed a lot for me. Another experience that sticks in my mind was a class taught by Richard Moon during an AANC gathering. He had spoke of feeling, listening, and sharing. His demonstration expressed a spontaneity that I had never witnessed before. The final memory that I wish to mention is about a time during a class that I was teaching. A realization ocurred for me that I will never forget:

The desire to protect ourselves is what stands in our way of being fully able to respond.

From this place outside of fear, there seems to be a greater movement that takes care of the moment without conscious control. This hit me with a tremondous strength and clarity.

Interview with Patrick Cassidy

I think this is part 2, need to find part 1

technique against a person.

I feel my exploration of these ideas is unique to a dojo, but it has been inspired by similar work done by Peter Ralston, Richard Moon, and Robert Nadeau. Itís not that basic techniques arenít relevant; itís just that they are not used by the conscious mind. You just let yourself go. Techniques come out naturally and effortlessly as you become able to be in sync.

The last 15 minutes of class, you set the lighting and music. What was the purpose of that?

When you get in the light, you start to rely less on the eyes and have to start feeling more. When the rhythms of the music are in sync with your movements, you have the experience of something moving through you rather than something coming from you. That is the experience we are looking for Ė that sense of being connected to something larger, coming into touch with a context that contains both uke and nage. The music is a catalyst for that.

Besides music is enjoyable; it gets people to relax and become less self-conscious. Aikido is not dance, but it contains many elements of dance. It is not meant to be a cooperative, feel-good practice, but an exploration of what it means to face the unknown in a way that develops awareness.

You are moving to Switzerland? Why?

I spent seven years in Japan and then seven years teaching, working full-time, while running a dojo and a live-in student program. I feel that the art is evolving, and I want to be a part of that. It doesnít necessarily have anything to do with Europe, but I feel that, for me to move forward, I need to take some time off and start fresh.

I have the opportunity to move to Switzerland in March 2002. Before then, Iíll be taking a year off to travel around Asia. I want to focus on being a student again.

A senior student of mine from Holland, Florian Tan, will become the chief instructor of Aikido of Fresno when I leave.

People will be able to reach me though through my website, http://www.aikidooffresno.com, if they want to stay in touch. I also plan on returning to the US in January 2002 and 2003 to conduct seminars in California.

Do you find the European students to be different from American students ?

California is a very lucky place for Aikido. Students are able to train with many extraordinarily talented instructors with a great deal of understanding and a huge amount of variety Ė people like Doran Sensei or Nadeau Sensei. In Europe, the training options are much more restricted. The European students who have come to study as live-in students have been very hungry for Aikido, and the best student is a hungry student.

Will you maintain an uchi-deshi program in Switzerland as you have in California ?

Yes, I really enjoy working with people one on one, in a close, intimate way, and I probably will continue that type of practice.

Philosophy

http://www.aikidomontreux.com/teachings.html

This entire section should be read carefully. Patrick expresses something I've pondered for years: the need to be in the moment, spontaneous, at one with change, a co-creator.

Attach:1_cassidy_aikido_class.jpg Δ To give a perspective of the direction that the dojo takes in regard to the training and exploration, here are some excerpts done by Cassidy Sensei:

"I feel that there is a need to define a difference between seeing the form of Aikido and the inherent beauty it contains and the potential that Aikido itself offers as a way and expression of liberation. They obviously are not the same. To be interested in looking at Aikido as ultimately something that will take us beyond our self preoccupied personal image and ambition is something I am sure you can see is not very commom."

"Recently I have looked at what I see as being an inherent dilemma of the traditional training in Aikido. From my perspective, Aikido is meant to be the practise of learning how to resolve conflict in a way that is harmonious with the other and with Life as a whole. Life and the objects in Life are unpredictable by nature. There are patterns and rhythms but fundamentally, each moment is unknown and the elements in that moment are new.

"But in Aikido we approach learning how to harmonize with the unpredictable, the unknowable, by learning formulas, techniques, patterns. Learning formulas can be rewarding and help to stabilize the individual but it will not give the individual the ability to respond to the unpredictable.

"For this to happen we need to become Spontaneous. We need to be at the place where the moment is created, with the moment in its creation, co-created so to speak, in a way our response is part of that creation. In this way we are ďIN HARMONYĒ, we are that Harmony, we are with Life. This, from my perspective, is the issue of training, the Jewel of the art, the reason for our work. It can not be measured, or grasped, or owned, it is very elusive and can not be stored like memory. Either I am spontaneous or not, either I am willing to be naked with Life or not, either I am taking the risk of embracing the Unknown or not.

"Which is why we are attracted to the knowable, the formula, because with formula, we can measure our improvement and rely on the past training to face the conflict and perhaps find a way to deal with unknown, but we will never be In Harmony with the unknown this way. That path does not lead there." 

Aikido Montreux

Attach:1_patrick_aikido_flow.jpg Δ Our chief instructor at Aikido Montreux is Patrick Cassidy 5th dan Aikikai. Cassidy Sensei has studied art of Aikido for over 20 years. He spent seven years living and training fulltime in Iwama Japan with the late Morihiro Saito 9th dan. Saito Sensei was the longest disciple of Morihei Ueshiba, OíSensei, the founder of Aikido. Iwama is the home of the Founderís dojo and the Aiki Shrine, a pilgrimage site for the world community of Aikido. Cassidy Sensei has also continued his study with other wonderful instructors such as Takeda Yoshinobu, 7th dan, Robert Nadeau, 7th dan, Richard Moon, 5th dan, Peter Ralston, (the founder of Cheng Hsin), and Vernon Kitabu Turner Roshi.

Cassidy Sensei also has committed himself to the practice of Yoga. During his stay in Japan he studied with Junko Tomonaga (Founder of the Tomonaga Yoga Institute). He also spent periods at the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh India. His study has taken him throughouté“rŰa spending over a year and a half travelling through India, Nepal and Tibet.

The aspect of self awakening and evolution are important themes of the work done at Aikido Montreux. The teachings of Andrew Cohen, Vimala Thakar, Ajja, Eckhart Tolle and the Dalai Lama have inspired the dojoís approach to the question of what does it mean to be alive and awake. Along with his own experi9)ú≠s and insight Cassidy Sensei offers a framework that gives students the chance to pursue the path of their own self transformation.

The Japanese Art of Tea offers a path of tranquillity and peace to those that practice. Cassidy Sensei has been a practioner for 17 years and has studied in Japan with Fukuda Satchiko Sensei and in California with Fujimoto Sensei. In the year 2000, Cassidy Sensei received his Chamei, (tea name) through Fukuda Sensei from the Ura Senke Hombu in Kyoto.

Aikido Montreux also has Dominique Cassidy M.D. 2nd dan Aikikai as an instructor. Dominique has devoted herself to the Arts of Aikido, Yoga, Tai Chi, and Tea Ceremony for the last 6 years. She has spent over 2 years travelling and stumberg throughout India, Tibet , Nepal and Japan. She is pursuing the practices with the aim of discovering the path of self healing. Being also a medical physician, she has a unique perspective of both the Western approach to Health in contrast to the Eastern approach to Healing.

Durward Burrell is currently a second degree blackbelt P. Cassidy sensei and D. Burrell, 06-2005in the art of Aikido and is also an instructor in Sunyata Yoga. He has been studying Aikido and Yoga since 1998 and has spent two years as a full time apprentice under Patrick Cassidy in the United States. After his apprenticeship, he spent over two years leading the yoga program and teaching as an assistant Aikido instructor at Aikido of Fresno in California. Photo: P. Cassidy sensei (left) and D. Burrell (right), in Cully, June 2005

The Essence of Aikido: Spiritual Teachings of Morihei Ueshiba
The Art of Aikido: Principles and Essential Techniques

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