Video Interview: Philippe Gouttard’s Yearly Trip to Tokyo
Philippe Gouttard is among the high-ranking instructors formed by Christian Tissier Shihan. Tough and uncompromising, he is surrounded by a very loyal group of students who appreciate his intense and constructive approach of Aikido. Philippe Gouttard is also one of the French Aikido teachers who enjoy the closest connection with the Hombu Dojo. At a time when some never miss an opportunity to avail of titles and qualifications, or try to take the center stage during rare and brief stays in Japan in order to build a over inflated picture of themselves, Philip Gouttard comes to Tokyo every year for a solid month and just trains just like any other practitioners. He has been doing so for the past 35 years. One only has to witnesses the level esteem that the Aikidoka of Tokyo, from the most advanced Sensei to the humblest beginner, to be convinced that something special is happening there. It was high time to go back in time and try to understand what Japan has brought to the practice of Philippe Gouttard.
The annual visit of Philippe Gouttard to Tokyo is always a very special moment for me since it is during one of those that I tagged along and made my very first trip to Japan. Since I have been living in Tokyo, we never fail to meet when he visits. These encounters give me the opportunity to, among other things, take analyse the past year of practice, Philippe’s advice serving me as a sort of compass which I analyze the orientation of my practice. This time, instead of talking about me, I asked Philippe to tell me about his experience in Japan to explain to me in which way it helped him build his Aikido, and perhaps also his own persona. I hope that I have been able to capture some of the essence of the man and his practice, and that of the Japan as he seen evolve over the past 35 years. The entire transcript of the interview is available here.