This section contains a number of interviews of influential Aikido instructors and notable practitioners in which they tell us about their journey through the art created by O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba and explain the concepts underlying their respective practice.
This is the second part of the interview I conducted with Ellis Amdur, instructor in traditional Japanese martial arts and crisis intervention specialist. In this section, Ellis and I discuss about his work as a de-escalation professional, his strategies, the effect of his martial arts training on his interactions, and the role, if any, of martial arts in terms of dealing with violence and morality. This was a very challenging interview that hit close to home on several crucial scientific subjects. I hope that it can serve both as an in-depth introduction to Mr Amdur's views, as well as a starting point for those interested to know more about the brain's response to fear, anger, and violence. For that purpose, I tried to reference all the work that we are citing throughout this discussion. To ensure that you are familiar with Amdur's background, make sure that you read the part 1 before starting on part 2.
Ellis Amdur is one of the most prominent and prolific writers in the martial arts world. He has spent many years living in Japan and learning traditional japanese fighting systems, and he is one of the few westerners who hold teaching certificates, in not one but two koryu (traditional schools), namely, Araki-ryu and Toda-ha Buko-ryu. Ellis has also studied Aikido with pioneers such as Yamada Yoshimitsu and Terry Dobson. Ellis Amdur received his B.A. and M.A. in psychology from Yale University and Seattle University, respectively. In this series of interviews, I will try to introduce this complex character, starting from his martial journey in Japan, then tackling on his views of the martial arts world, and finally, in part 2, covering his activity as a crisis resolution professional.
Miyamoto Tsuruzo shihan is a 7th Dan senior instructor at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo. He has been traveling every year to France since 2006 to teach in its main Southern cities. Every year, more and more students attend the class in order to grasp Sensei's virtuoso technique and benefit from his highly refined pedagogic approach. We took the opportunity of a class he gave in Montpellier to have a chat with this kind and thoughtful gentleman and ask him about his technique and his views on teaching Aikido.
André Nocquet 8th Dan Aikido, 4th Dan Judo, was one of the pioneers of Budo in Europe. He was the first ever foreign uchi deshi of Morihei Ueshiba and the training partner of Tamura Nobuyoshi. This interview was conducted for the French radio station France Culture in 1988, following the publishing of Master André Nocquet's first book entitled "Morihei Ueshiba - Presence et Message". For the occasion, the journalist asked Nocquet about his experience in Japan, learning for almost three years as a live-in disciple of Morihei Ueshiba Sensei, and his subsequent work to develop Aikido in France and Europe. I have published here the full length audio interview with added subtitles in English, as well as a full transcript of the piece for your reading convenience.
Olivier Gaurin is one of the most well-known French Aikido practitioners. His atypical path and his ease with words have made him one of the prominent voices of our martial art in France. Olivier Gaurin has been living in Japan for many years and he got the chance to practice with some of the greatest masters such as Seigo Yamaguchi and Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei. He speaks Japanese fluently and has a deep understanding of the Japanese culture, which he enthusiastically shares with other practitioners through a series of books that he wrote about the practice of Aikido. I met with Olivier Gaurin on a summer evening at his Tokyo apartment and we discussed during several hours about his martial journey and his views on Aikido while sharing a homemade pizza cooked by the "Captain" himself.
Michel Erb is an exemplary practitioner. He belongs to a generation of Aikidokas that were instrumental in getting our art through the 21st century. He constantly travels the roads of France, Switzerland and Germany through the numerous seminars that he teaches and he is invariably present whenever his Master, Christian Tissier Shihan travels through Europe. Michel accepted to share with us his vision of Aikido and of the techniques that he forged in the crucible of the teaching of Christian Tissier.
I met Sébastien Heurteau at the All Japan Embukai last year. He was there as a spectator but also as the uke for Yukimitsu Kobayashi Sensei from the Hombu Dojo. We very quickly became friends and I got very interested in his practice. Sébastien Heurteau is one of those exceptional individuals that are totally dedicated to the practice of Aikido. He spent seven years at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo, training every day and more particularly under the direction of Yasuno and Endo Sensei. Sébastien has also served as uke for teachers such as Kuribayashi and Kobayashi Sensei during demonstrations in Tokyo and throughout Japan. Sébastien is currently preparing his final return to France with his Japanese wife and he agreed to talk to me and share both his experience of Japan and his path as an Aikidoka.
Luc Mathevet, 6th dan Aikikai, has been practicing Aikido for over 25 years and he is now the technical director of the Rhône-Alpes region for the FFAAA. This sought after technician and sophisticated teacher accepted to talk to us about his art and his role as a teacher. Let's meet this quiet, discreet man who is however one of the most active people in terms of pedagogic research and Aikido development.
Last December, the beautiful city of Rome became the theater of an event that is to mark in our Aikido calendars. This course was in fact the occasion of a visit by William Gleason, 6th dan Aikikai and close student of Yamaguchi Sensei for his very first seminar in Europe. We took advantage of an informal lunch in the Italian capital to ask him many of the questions that had been going through our minds for a while. Rather than going through his Aikido journey, we decided to orientate the discussion towards more universal issues in terms of Aiki.
Joe Curran is the current president of the British Aikikai, the only remaining organization under the technical supervision of Kazuo Chiba Shihan after his departure from England. Joe Curran spent more than 30 years practicing Aikido and he is one of the most dedicated students of Chiba Sensei in Britain for putting us into contact during a seminar Curran Sensei gave in Tunisia. Sensei. He accepted to talk to us about his organization and his personal views on Aikido in and abroad. Many thanks to Mrad Medsouheil from the Association Sahéliènne d'Aikido.