This section contains reports I wrote about the latest Aikido courses that I attended around the world.
Some of us Aikido practitioners often dream of going to Japan in order to perfect our skills in the art created by O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba. Many actually eventually make the trip for a few weeks, some for a few months. Fewer of these individuals decide to settle there for an indefinite period of time, that is my case. This long term pilgrimage allows us to explore the roots of Aikido, make the acquaintance of many masters and, if we are lucky enough, to establish solid and enduring relationships with them on and beyond the tatami. However, the normal order of things is that we always find ourselves assuming the role of the student. In fact, one would never think in Japan to transgress this position. There are some cases however when, a bit in spite of our own will, this situation can change quickly and dramatically. The account I am going to give today describes precisely one of these occurrences. During several months training intensively at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo, I have had the opportunity to make a lot of acquaintances and I even got the opportunity to develop real friendships. It is from one of these precious friendships that the adventure I will relate today started.
I had just returned to France after several years spent living and teaching in Ireland when I was invited by my friend and former colleague at Aikidoka Magazine, Aurore Mamet. Sh asked me to give a special course in France at her dojo in Besançon (Franche-Comté). Aurore founded the Gonojukan with her partner Stéphane Gaiffe in May 2006. From humble beginnings in the shadow of the older, larger dojos in the region, the couple associated with Julien Henriet and the team greatly expanded the club through a very hard work and an open mind. The club now has over 150 licensees and is one of the most active in the region.
On this first weekend of February 2008, Christian Tissier came to teach a seminar in the beautiful city of Brussels. He was invited by the French Association of Aikido (AFA); it had indeed been a few years since Christian Tissier had not stepped on the Brussels tatami. The practitioners eagerly were waiting of course and for many other reasons, this weekend was to be quite exceptional.
For its final seminar for 2007, the Dublin Aikikai Aikido welcomed Marc Bachraty, 5th dan FFAAA. Marc is a part of the rising generation of French Aikido teachers and his technical and human qualities make him a very thought after instructor in France, Europe and beyond. The last time we saw Marc in Dublin was last June when his own Sensei, Christian Tissier Shihan, came to the Irish capital for his first ever course on the island. The Irish Aikidoka had been since eagerly waiting for Marc Bachraty's return as a teacher this time.
It has been a while since we have had news from Dublin. Now is time for an update as the Irish capital just welcomed the technical director from the Rhône-Alpes region of France for the FFAAA, the discrete yet very accessible Luc Mathevet (6th Dan Aikikai). Luc Mathevet has been coming to Ireland for over a decade now and each time, he goes through great efforts in order to share his technical advice and explain to the attendees the mechanisms of his sharp movements. Luc Mathevet also shares with Philippe Gouttard the function of technical director of the Dublin Aikikai and it is thanks to his help that the group has managed to occupy an important place in the Irish Aikido landscape.
At the beginning of July, just like every year for ten years running, a group of fanatical aikidoka went to Mèze (Hérault, France) for a week of intensive training under heavy sun. The Taurus site, near the lake of Thau, is once again welcoming over a hundred aikidoka trainers on over 1000m² of mats.
After Brighton in England where Tissier Shihan gave a seminar four months ago, it was now Dublin's turn to host a two days course with the French master. At the Dublin Aikikai Aikido, we had been preparing the event since last October and it turned out to be the largest ever Aikido seminar to take place in Ireland! Here is an account of this fantastic weekend.
Saturday the 3rd of March 2007 was the date of the very first Aikido seminar conducted by Christian Tissier Shihan within the United Kingdom. The organization responsible for making this event happen is the Brighton Aikikai and this seminar marks the twentieth year collaboration between this group and the French Aikido Federation (FFAAA). This event was a magnificent opportunity for over 230 practitioners originating from multiple styles and organizations to practice together. We came especially from Ireland in order to share this moment with our British friends and we did well because this event was inspiring on many levels.