Whenever I go abroad, I always take with me a keikogi and try to find new places in order to practice and meet people. In this respect, Aikido is truly an art of communication. I often write about these experiences and the following section regroups the resulting articles.
This is the second part of the series of articles on my first trip to Japan in May 2008. It is day two, the night has been short and full of surprises (not the least of which was an earthquake shaking their bed for a whole minute in the middle of the night) and our group is heading in jolly mood for its first practice at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo.
The beginning the month of May 2008 saw the realization of a very old dream of mine. As far as I can remember, I have always been interested in Asian countries, in particular Japan, and always had the wish to travel there. The way things turned up, it ended up happening much later than I had hoped, at the age of 27 and after 12 years practicing Aikido. In fact, things happened quite quickly and without me giving it much thought. A group of students from the Dublin Aikikai Aikido led by Cyril Lagrasta had been planning a trip to the Aikikai for some time and quite spontaneously, I ended up buying myself a ticket along with them, never mind my PhD thesis that I was supposed to be working hard at completing.
Bruno Mathis, 4th dan Aikikai has been practicing and teaching for over 30 years. His numerous travels have allowed him to practice all around the world and to discover the richness of our art with the human bonds that it allows us to create, beyond social and cultural differences. From Beijing, his current residence, he talks to us today about his Aiki journey around the world.
In a previous article I talked about my wanderings in San Diego (California) and described my time in Chiba Sensei's dojo. Always looking for new experiences, I decided to use the little free time I had within my tight conference schedule to train at the San Diego Aikikai. Indeed I could have given in to the relaxation, the sandy beaches and the sun of the Californian coast but instead I decided to take the "Trolley" (tramway that crosses the city from north to south) and put on my keikogi (which due to the infernal heat and the tough training, was starting to look rather miserable) once more. This time, my choice settled on the Jiai Aikido dojo, affiliated to Mitsugi Saotome Sensei's organization, the Aikido Schools of Ueshiba.
There are some days I really love my job. Apart from banging my head on the walls in my lab because of some non-working experiments, I do get to travel a bit for scientific meetings everywhere in the world. It is nice because I also get to meet individuals as miserable as myself and we discuss the conditions of our respective failures. I can already hear you say "but what does it have to do with Aikido?" Let me explain...