Kumamoto Bridge 2012 by Paul Denne

On my first ever visit to Japan to experience Aikido, in the country where it began from O-sensei’s teaching, I planned to attend this Aikido Bridge seminar in the beautiful Kyushu city of Kumamoto. Before leaving Australia my search for seminars on the Aiki-web website showed only one hosted by Sakabe-sensei. When I read the details I saw that Shimizu Kenji-sensei would also be teaching. I considered it a stroke of good fortune as I had already introduced myself to Tendoryu-Aikido dojo and was allowed to practice there before the Japan Bridge seminar. Some more internet research on Sakabe-sensei and Ikeda-sensei made me more than happy to come to this event to experience their teaching.

My background: In Australia Aikido has many different styles from very soft to very hard. My own military and boxing background made me search for something practical that had that true budo, and so it was that I started Aikido with John Langley-sensei in Perth, Western Australia. Langley-sensei was taught by the late Hayden Foster-sensei in England then Yoshiaki Unno-sensei in Perth and is in his 40th year of practice. Langley-sensei is also a former soldier so his understanding of budo in application is very apparent yet his Aikido is soft with power. For those that don’t practice Aikido that “soft with power” description usually gets a look of bewilderment. Anyway, I have been practicing intensively for 9 years myself and have started another dojo, since Sept 2011, with a senior colleague at a university here in Perth.

Once I had arrived at the Kumamoto Budokan after a few minutes of looking around the large gymnasium, hoping I was at the right place, I was greeted warmly by Sakabe-sensei and shown to the dojo area to sign in. From lunchtime that Friday the seminar started with Sakabe-sensei then Ikeda-sensei. Throughout the next two days we were taught by mainly by Sakabe-sensei (with that extraordinary centre), Ikeda-sensei (demonstrating how small a circle a technique can have), Shimizu Kenji-sensei (blending and flowing power) with other lessons by Shimizu Kenta- sensei, Ayhan- sensei from Turkey and Jim Alvarez-sensei. It was a lot to take in but in every lesson there was something new to experience, from varying perspectives and individual forms of Aikido.

The Japanese, Turkish and other overseas attendees at all levels were very enthusiastic so training was very enjoyable, even when tired and sore after three weeks of continuous Aikido already. To  paraphrase Shimizu Kenji-sensei (through his interpreter) “Continuous training is hard but you need to keep practicing even when you are tired with the body is aching…” and “…it is good to see so many people here with an open mind.” . That pretty much summed up what I felt about the seminar, people with open minds, sharing training and endeavoring to improve their Aikido. In the evenings after training most people went to share a meal at a local restaurant and engage in friendly conversation about Aikido and other many things.

I have told my sensei and other people in our Aikido school (Institute of Aikido Australia) about the open accepting nature of the Japan Bridge seminar. So this year in October 2013 I hope to bring my sensei along with a few other uchideshi from Australia. I look forward to seeing many familiar faces again in Kumamoto and encourage others reading this to try and make it to this event if you are in Japan at this time.


私のバックグラウンド:オーストラリアでは、柔から剛と様々な異なるスタイルの合気道が存在します。私は軍隊とボクシングのバックグラウンドがあるので、何かしら実践的な本当の武道を目指したいと思い、西オーストラリアに位置するパースという町でJohn Langley先生のもとで合気道を始めました。Langley先生は、イギリスでHayden Foster先生の下で修行した後、パースで宇野先生に師事し、あわせて40年の合気道経験があります。Langley先生も元軍人であり、その武道への見識は明らかに実践的でありながら、先生の合気道は力強い柔のようでもあります。合気道を知らない人は、「力強い柔」という表現にはやや困惑するようですが。とにかくも、私は合気道を始めて9年、2011年9月からは、ここパースにある大学で合気道の先輩と共に支部道場を始めています。

熊本体育館の道場へは、大きな体育館の中でここが正しい場所であることを祈りながら数分探しましたが、いざ道場についたときには、坂部先生が暖かく迎えてくださり、受付を案内してくださいました。セミナーは金曜日の昼から坂部先生と池田先生のクラスで始まりました。続く2日間、坂部先生(並外れた中心力)、池田先生(技の中にある小さな円の動きを教えてくださいました)そして清水先生(融合と力の骨頂)を中心に、清水健太先生、トルコから来たAyhan先生、そしてJim Alvarez先生も指導してくださいました。短い期間で非常に多くの内容でしたが、すべてのクラスにおいてそれぞれの合気道の形や様々な視点など新しいことを経験することができました。


セミナー後、私は私の先生と道場の皆(Institute of Aikido Australia)にJapan Bridge の組織を越えた開いたセミナーであるコンセプトについて話をしました。本年のセミナーでは、オーストラリアの私の先生とその内弟子も連れて来れたらと願っています。そして去年に会った方々とまた熊本で再会できることを楽しみにしています。また、今このエッセイを読んでいるその他の方々も、もし日本にその時期に来れるのであれば、ぜひ参加することを薦めます。

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