After more than five years spent practicing and teaching Aikido in Ireland, I gave my very last class on Monday, May 18, 2009. Practice took place at the dojo Foley Street that I had founded two years before at the request of my friend and teacher Cyril Lagrasta. Many practitioners from Cyril's dojo in Phibsboro kindly made the trip and practice with us. It was a great opportunity to share with all of them one last time.
It is with a knot in my stomach that I walked to the dojo on that warm spring night. Upon arriving at the dojo, I got pretty excited to see that so many people had come. Teaching is special in that it creates a strong link via the act of transmitting something. Cyril and I have always had a very flexible approach to teaching but one thing that we were adamant on was the total investment during the two hours of each class, to hold nothing back, to give everything. Beyond the technical level of the teacher, I think that this is that freedom and honesty that practitioners are essentially seeking, rather than a guru or a master. This is in fact probably a common cultural notion shared by the French and the Irish, in that they have strong revolutionary instincts in their respective histories and a general distaste for hierarchy. I do not know to what extend I have managed to transmit a technical body of knowledge to the students who started with me, but I am sure however that I have given them everything and provided them with a passion and a taste for effort that lasted until the last session.
The last class of Guillaume Erard in Dublin
Another sign of this strong bond that had formed between me and the students was the fact that a group of them decided to come over to France in order to take part in a seminar that I instructed at the Gonojukan dojo in Besançon.
I am really grateful to have been given the opportunity to teach and I was very lucky to have had a dedicated group of people who decided to join me in that adventure. Even though our paths have separated, I keep an eye on their practice via the pictures and videos that the post and I am very pleased and impressed by the progress I am seeing.