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.
D.j. Lortie has been practicing at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo for many years and he is one of the close students of Yokota Yoshiaki Sensei for whom he serves as uke every year during the All Japan Aikido Demonstration at the Budokan. D.j. and I were introduced to each other by no other than Olivier Gaurin during my first stay in Japan back in 2008. I then got the chance to practice with him at the Aikikai but also under the direction of Kobayashi Kiyohiro Sensei during my first Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu seminar. Despite our different references in Aikido and different journeys, we got along straight away, both on and off the tatami.
Aikido demonstration with Guillaume Erard and D.j. Lortie
This demonstration was the first opportunity that we had to practice freely and without restrain. Obviously, I could not have dreamed of a better partner for this demonstration; those who have witnessed the demonstrations of Yokota Sensei with D.j. can testify of his feline agility. When we take into account our stylistic difference and our even more important weight difference however, I am quite happy with how this demonstration turned up, particularly the harmony that transpires. We explained that to the journalists after the demonstration (see part of this discussion at the end of the video): using some common basics and a mutual respect, Aikido allows us to totally express ourselves without the need of prior preparation. This is one of the great beauties of our Art.
Yokota Yoshiaki Senseï and D.j. Lortie at the Budokan