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Video Interview: A Visit to O Sensei's Dojo with Isoyama Shihan

Kei Izawa (Chairman of the International Aikido Federation) and I recently traveled from Tokyo to the Ibaraki prefecture in order to conduct an interview of Isoyama Hiroshi Shihan, 8th Dan Aikikai, and direct student of O Sensei Ueshiba Morihei for twenty years.

Guillaume Erard and Kei Izawa interviewing Isoyama Hiroshi Shihan in Iwama

Isoyama served as the head instructor of the Aikikai Ibaraki Dojo and while retired, he still acts as an advisor. Like many of us, most of what I knew from Isoyama Sensei was through his very intense demonstrations, and the fact that his practice has been a very strong influence of American actor Steven Seagal. When I eventually met him, and during subsequent private conversations with him, I realized that behind the strong practice, there was a very intelligent and thoughtful individual. We connected very quickly and I like to think that he saw in a positive light my attempts to understand Aikido's history.

erard izawa isoyama iwama

In the Aiki Shrine with Inagaki Shihan and Isoyama Shihan

I was also fortunate enough to be offered a very detailed tour of the Iwama Dojo and Shrine by Inagaki Shigemi Shihan, another of O Sensei's last direct students. Inagaki Shihan described to me the various changes that the site underwent, and showed my O Sensei's private living quarters, which are still full of his memorabilia.

Interview with Isoyama Hiroshi Shihan - Part 2

Interview with Isoyama Hiroshi Shihan - Part 3

Guillaume Erard
Author: Guillaume Erard
Founder of the site in 2007, Guillaume is passionate about Japanese culture and martial arts. After practicing Judo during his childhood, he began Aikido in 1996 and Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu in 2008. He currently holds the ranks of 5th Dan in Aikido (Aikikai) and 3rd Dan in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu (Takumakai). Guillaume is also passionate about science and education and holds a PhD in Molecular Biology. He lives in Tokyo and trains at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo.
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