I trained in Gunma Prefecture at the Numata Budokan from the August 24th 2000 until July of 2003. The art form was the mother art to Aikido, Daito Ryu AikiJuJutsu. I trained under Ota Ikuo Sensei. During my stay there Ota Sensei's teacher (Maeda) died, so he broke off from the Renshinkan Branch of Daito Ryu and formed his own school, the Shofukan (place of windy pines.) During this time period I logged in more hours than any other student. According to my records I logged between 376-400 hours of training time during this time period with Ota Sensei.
Here is a copy from the log at the Shofukan Dojo Daito Ryu AikiJuJutsu club at the Numata City Budokan. This was from 2002 or 2003. it shows the lineage of teachers and major students going back to the time of Takeda Sokaku.
|Ikuo Ota and Eric Pearson 2003|
Ota Sensei is one of the best joint lock practitioners I have trained with. He never thought much of Aikido. He said Aikidoka use too much strength and pain compliance. His technique was very slow and soft. He moved me around easily despite my obvious size advantage.
In 2001 I had the chance to go down to Tokyo and meet Kondo Katsuyuki, the widely regarded head of what is refereed as mainline Daito Ryu. When I told Ota Sensei about my conversation with the head of Daito Ryu, Ota Sensei looked sour and waved his hand dismissively in front of my face. He made it clear that he cared nothing about the idea of "main line". That being said I enjoyed my short conversation with Kondo Sensei. My Japanese was particularly poor and he was patient with my grunting.
|Certificates 2002 - Numata Budokan, Gunma Prefecture|
|My shodan certificate|
When the summer of 2003 came around it was getting time for my contract to end with Mumbusho and it was time to head back to the USA. I had a talk with Ota Sensei about the continuation of Daito Ryu training in the US. He told me that he felt like his study of Aiki was small and focused, and I saw it in a much larger way. He encouraged me to keep studying and to start a group in the United States. He issued me a "jun-kyouju" 準教授 rank or associate professor and granted me the right to have a Daito Ryu AikiJujutsu - Shofukan line dojo in America. I am truly honored to have been given the opportunity to receive such an title. To my knowledge I am one of two people outside Japan that Ota Sensei honored with this title. The other is Andrew Deluna who currently trains in Katy Texas.
|My jun-kyouju 準教授, associate instructor certificate|
|Training at the Shofukan 2003. 'Saka Tekubi Osaedori'|
|Training at the Shofukan.|
|My Obi. Embrodery reads "Daito Ryu AikiJuJutsu and Shofukan" (Pine Wind Place)|
Edit - September 2012
Since my return from Japan I started in 2006 a small club in Austin TX to study Daito Ryu, Tomiki Aikido and Judo principles. The club has had a small and devoted crew that continues to train.
|One of the small Daito workshops I held|
In the summer of 2012 I attended the multi-discipline seminar hosted by George Ledyard Sensei in Seattle. I met Daito Ryu AikiJujutsu teachers by the name of Howard Popkin and Joe Brogna. I enjoyed their lesson, and was excited about having Daito Ryu people to train with again.
|Popkin Sensei dropping me Seattle 9-2011|
I decided to attend an intensive 4 day seminar in July 2012. It was the spark I needed to reawaken a lot of the old training. I filed an application to join their growing organization called Daito Ryu Ginjukai based on the Kodo Harakawa lineage. While the Daito Ryu lineage is different from the one I came from (Matsuda Toshimi), the feel and mechanics seem to have been preserved in both lineages.
|Seminar in Seattle 7-2012|
In March 2013 I attended a three day seminar in Oklahoma City at Windsong dojo. It was a blast and I really hit a new level of understanding the mechanics in this art form.
|Windsong Dojo in OKC 3-2013 .|
|Popkin sensei making fun of our comparative head sizes|
Winter 2013 I was asked to share Daito Ryu with the Kaze Uta Budo Kai in Oklahoma City.
|Budokai at Windsong 6-2014|
|Howard Popkin, Eric and Peter Boylan|
In July of 2014 I returned to Japan to study with Ota sensei. I learned a tremendous amount. It was interesting to see how much sensei's technique evolved in the last decade.
|Eric and Ota - 7-2014 at the Shofukan|
I got to rekindle some old friendships and learn a lot about the Renshinkan, Shofukan history and kata.
|Tsutsuni sensei and Eric|
In January 2015 Andrew DeLuna ran a workshop on Daito Ryu principles at the Austin Budokan. It has been his third or fourth visit over the past few years.
June 2015 Seminar at Windsong
|Seminar at Windsong 4/29-5/1- 2016|
In May 2017 I picked up the phone and it was Roy Goldberg from the Kodokai coming through Texas. He offered to do a 4 day workshop at my place. He stayed with me and generously poured as much Daito Ryu information into me as I could handle.