Kagamibiraki 2018 - Promotion to 5th Dan

It is now somewhat of a tradition that I write a report on the occasion of the Kagamibiraki taking place at the beginning of January at the Hombu Dojo of the Aikikai. This time though, things are a little different, because in addition to the usual rejoicing about the promotion of my teachers and friends, it is my turn to move up the ranks.

The year 2017 has been very busy for me, on all fronts. I first obtained the permanent resident title in Japan, and in the process, I bought and moved with my family to a beautiful new home. In addition to these logistical aspects, the Youtube channel has also celebrated its tenth year of existence, and reached 30,000 subscribers and 11 million views. I also published the interviews of two of Ueshiba Morihei's last living students: Tada Hiroshi Shihan and Isoyama Hiroshi Shihan. The special moments I spent with these teachers have fundamentally enriched my practice and my understanding of Aikido. I also had the opportunity to make an acquaintance that brought much to my practice of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, that of Akuzawa Minoru Sensei, the founder of Aunkai.

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Tada Shihan, a well of martial culture

Unfortunately, the year also brought its share of sorrows, especially due to the disappearance in October of my Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu master, Chiba Tsugutaka Shihan. A few years before, Chiba Sensei had awarded me the 3rd Dan in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu and entrusted me with the responsibility of transmitting the Daito-ryu of Shikoku Hombu to my students in Europe. I will try to be trustworthy, despite his physical absence to guide me.

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Chiba Tsugutaka Sensei dispensing his advice with the good humor that characterized him

More recently, it was my other teacher, Kobayashi Kiyohiro, who in turn awarded me the 3rd Dan Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Takumakai after an examination taking during a visit to Tokyo last December.

erard kobayashi sandanKobayashi Sensei awarding me the third Dan Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Takumakai

It turned out not to be the end of it since a few weeks later, Miyamoto Tsuruzo Shihan informed mejust before the Hombu Dojo winter break that he, Osawa Hayato Shihan, and Philippe Gouttard Shihan, had recommended me for a promotion to the 5th Dan Aikikai Aikido to the Doshu, Ueshiba Moriteru, and that the latter has accepted it.

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I had the opportunity to interact with Doshu again this year as part of the activities of the IAF

Like each year, I was present at Hombu Dojo Kagamibiraki to film the ceremony and the demonstration for the International Aikido Federation, and it is with more than a little emotion that I saw my name written in the list of people promoted. This promotion marks my 22nd year of practice and more than the road traveled, it represents the considerable influence that Aikido had on my life.

Demonstration of the Doshu

According to the Japanese conception of titles, grades are the representation of a master-student relationship, and a given grade holds its true value only for the one who receives it, in relation to those who awarded it. The grade highlights a technical filiation and a vertical relationship within a given organization, nothing more, and so it is not meant as a standard for comparing people to each other, even within that same organization. Grades are associated with a number of responsibilities in relation towards our teachers, our organization, and our students. As I said above, Chiba Sensei expected from me that I transmit his Daito-ryu, and Kobayashi Sensei made me understand the same thing. It is also my duty to act in accordance with the principles upheld by my umbrella organizations, the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, the Takumakai, and the Shikoku Hombu. Finally, my most important responsibility, perhaps, is that which links to my students. I must continue to the old and to keep to the strictest requirements to honor the legacy of lineage that was kindly transmitted to me. It is therefore with renewed energy that I will go once again in Europe this summer [program available here] to transmit what I have learned.

I would like to thank all the teachers and friends who have guided my steps during the past 21 years, especially my first teacher, Michel Desroches, my masters who are no longer with us: Alan Ruddock, Henry Kono, and Chiba Tsugutaka, my current teachers Miyamoto Tsuruzo, Osawa HayatoKobayashi Kiyohiro, Sato Hideaki, Philippe Gouttard, and finally Christian Tissier, whose path and benevolence are still a source of inspiration today.


Budo is present in every aspect of my life, here during my wedding in 2013. From left to right: Miyamoto Tsuruzo, Kobayashi Kiyohiro, Komai Kentaro, Sato Hideaki.

Thank you also to my Sempai Olivier Gaurin, Didier Boyet, Komai Kentaro, my friends, especially Jordy Delage, and all those who make my martial landscape so rich a place.

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List of the Hombu Dojo members promoted this year

I would also like to congratulate all the graduates this year (the full list is available here), especially my Hombu Dojo colleagues: Kinoshita Etsuko for her 6th Dan, Jean-Christophe Driot, Iino Takashi, Yoshizuka Tadashi, Umetsu Shou (Hombu Dojo instructor) and Gabriel Weiszman who were also promoted to 5th Dan, and Kurokawa Mitsuru and Gianfranco Scimone for their 4th Dan. Note that Yokota Yoshiaki Shihan, one of the instructors of the Hombu Dojo has been promoted to 8th Dan this year.

Yokota Shihan receiving the 8th Dan

Guillaume Erard
Author: Guillaume Erard
A resident of Japan for nearly a decade, Guillaume Erard trains at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, where he received the 5th Dan from Aikido Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba. He also holds a 3rd Dan in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, the secretive art that Morihei Ueshiba learned from Sokaku Takeda. Erard is the Information Director of the International Aikido Federation and the Deputy Secretary of International Affairs of the Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Shikoku Headquarters. He is also passionate about science and education and holds a PhD in Molecular Biology.
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