This section gathers several video galleries displaying Aikido practice. Some of these propose exclusive archive footage that was never seen before, demonstrations by famous Sensei during seminars around the world, and a selection of my own favourite videos found elsewhere on the web.
Okamoto Yoko Shihan is among the best known Japanese Aikido instructors in the world today. Moreover, she is also one of the very few women to have accessed this status. Her extremely rich and varied Aikido journey, spanning over almost 40 years and on three continents, has made her a symbol of the universality of Aikido beyond genders, cultures, and nations. This documentary attempts to introduce this exceptional practitioner through her dojo and students, for Okamoto Shihan always prefers to put forward Aikido practice rather than herself.
This series of new videos was filmed in Arcachon (Gironde) circa 1980 in the aim of producing an instructional video with master André Nocquet. Unfortunately, the final video was never completed because of the declining health of master Nocquet. I would like to thank the uke of André Nocquet, Mr Bernard Boirie (6th Dan) for allowing me to publish these videos.
I am pleased to present the first of our new series of archive videos. This footage was shot in 1957 on top of the Japanese Ministry of Defense demonstration which was located at the time in Tokyo's Akasaka area. During this event, several professors of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo succeeded to each other and demonstrated Aikido in front of the cameras. This video was brought back from Japan by master André Nocquet who at the time was living with the founder of Aikido and his family and trained daily at the Hombu Dojo.
This section contains exclusive Aikido videos featuring some historical footage shot by master André Nocquet, 8th dan, the first foreign uchi deshi of Morihei Ueshiba at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Masters featured include Morihei Ueshiba, Minoru Mochizuki, André Nocquet, Kawaishi Mikonosuke, and Nobuyoshi Tamura. The music was scored by Guillaume Erard.
Like every year, the Hombu Dojo was closed for a week over the summer. Hombu students usually take advantage of this free time to gather in order to train informally, even though the heat of Japanese summers can be pretty exhausting. On one of these days, I met with at the Shinjuku Sports Center my friend Nicola Rossi, a 4th Dan student of the Hombu Dojo, and we proceeded to throw each other while taking a few videos. This video is pretty interesting for me since it was the first time that I made use of a Glidecam to film some Aikido practice. I wish we could have included all of these shots in this video but both both our lack of experience (leading to some jerky footage) and the fact that the Glidecam is not necessarily the most appropriate tool on subjects that turn and rotate quickly (as opposed to those that move on more or less linear patterns), we had to include some larger static angles in order to stabilize the overall feeling and help the viewers get a sense of where in space we were. Still, the result is pretty promising and I look forward to using the Glidecam again for Aikido videos!
I recently took part in a Taiwanese documentary dealing with life in Japan since the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. The journalist, Hsiu-Ching Airy Hsiao, kindly sent the whole footage that they shot on that day, including a short Aikido demonstration that D.j. Lortie and myself improvised for the documentary. I have edited it along with a few words that we exchanged afterwards regarding Aikido and its practice.
This section contains a selection of my favorite Aikido videos on the web. I was fortunate enough to be able to train with these Sensei quite extensively and in spite of the obvious differences in their respective styles, I learned a lot from trying to find the common point rather than the differences. Also, more than trying to reproduce what they all did, I tried to understand the reasons as to why they did things in their specific way. I hope that through this selection, you can get an appreciation of how Aikido fundamentals can be expressed in a variety of ways.
This section contains videos of Aikido seminars and classes that I have shot and edited over the years. I have also scored and performed the soundtrack music for most of them. I started shooting these videos as a way to remember these courses but also in order to perfect my ukemi in comparison to other practitioners. This proved invaluable and I thought I would share these videos rather than keep them on my hard drive. It was also an opportunity to use some of the music that I wrote over the years to accompany these performances.