AiShinKai - Harmonious Heart Association - Achieving Peak Performance in Daily Life
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Ikebana Flower Arranging
“A close observation of Nature is essential
to realizing full human potential and
our place in the World

- Dr. Jonathan Bannister, Aishinkai Headmaster

The natural deceleration and acceleration of a ball thrown in the air, the way water flows around rocks in a stream, the regular shift of the seasons, . . . these illustrate more profoundly than any words the natural rhythms to which we must adhere if we are to achieve our full potential as human beings.  We are bound to this world, yet free to observe and learn, and achieve the greatness promised to us by Nature.  At the urging of his first teachers, Bannister Sensei studied traditional Japanese cultural arts in addition to the martial arts.  In addition to performing demonstrations at local schools, businesses, and community groups, and accepting numerous commissions and supplying local galleries, he offers instruction to Aishinkai members who wish to enjoy these wonderful arts.  A visit to the Aishinkai's headquarters in Edmonds, WA reveals a collection of beautiful, old bonsai and rows of calligraphic paintings available for sale.  Bannister Sensei uses the funds raised to support his passion for sharing Budo and Japanese traditional arts with the community.  Those for sale tend are small and inexpensive, but others are obviously labors of great love and meant only for his personal pleasure.  "These are my friends," he declares while gesturing to bonsai and paintings alike.  "They have taught me important lessons about humanity."  In a corner of the headquarters is a fine woodshop, used to repair swords and build projects (much of the dojo's major construction was done by Bannister Sensei himself).  Shelves high on the walls hold a large collection of ikebana vessels.  "I like the ephemeral nature of flower arranging.  Holding a balance of the colors, directions and shapes of the flowers is an exercise in concentration.  Yet the whole effect appears spontaneous, just as a disciplined person lives."  Whether by tree or brush, flower or sword, Bannister Sensei strives for beauty and personal intregrity.  "I'm always looking for opportunities to share my understanding with others.  Every time I go out to demonstrate or teach one of the Budo arts, I discover something.  Usually it's how much more I need to study!" he says with a hearty laugh.  That is surely true, but one can't help but be impressed by the breadth and depth of Sensei Bannister's studies and the sincerity with which he offers to share.

Ikebana: Flower Arranging
There is a famous story about a Japanese martial arts master meeting a new martial arts teacher for the first time.  He surprised the young teacher by inquiring what style of flower arrangement he practiced in his school.  There are countless special events and circumstances in the life of a martial arts dojo when beautiful flower arrangements are needed.  Flower arrangements can subtly celebrate or comment on ideas, or events, or simply be seasonal wonders.  Bannister Sensei has always loved to garden, so Japanese flower arranging was a very natural addition to his martial arts studies.  Each of his dojo have a traditional tokonoma, or display alcove, where beautiful Shodo masterpieces are usually coupled with appropriate flowers to stimulate the students or commemorate a topic.

Bannister Sensei creates these ephemeral artworks in the large format, semi-formal, upright Seika style, or in Nage-ire "dropped-in" style when something more spontaneous is called for.  In each case, he balances the three major design elements called Shin-Tai-Soe - representing heaven, earth, and man - to create the characteristic assymetrical balance of Japanese flower arranging.  He reports that part of the fun is choosing the right vessel to complement the arrangement.  In all cases the natural flowers soon fade, so this traditional art is always a reminder of the temporal nature of the world.

Bannister Sensei periodically teaches workshops in Japanese style flower arranging, and for many years has provided gorgeous arrangements for special events at the Pacific Northwest Budo Association and the Aishinkai.  He is pleased to offer instruction to schools, businesses, community groups, and interested individuals.  Contact AiShinKai or call 425-771-6816 to inquire.

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Serving the communities of Seattle, Everett, Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Mukilteo, and Edmonds
with high-quality, low-cost instruction in Aikido, Iaido, Aiki-ken, Aiki-jo, Ki Development,
Ki Meditation, Kiatsu Ryoho, Bonsai, Shodo, and Ikebana.
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