It is now about 2 weeks back from an Aikido tour in Japan. The time flies and the post got delayed by different events, among which my laptop hard disk suddenly decided life stinks and took a turn to the dark side.. The situation involved a quite large amount of anger and several attempts to recovery, all failed, leading to the only solution of paying for data recovery, luckily successful.
Anyway, from the 26th to the 30th April I was in Tokyo followed by the 20th Anniversary of Saku dojo in Saku (Nagano-shi), home of Endo sensei. Again a wonderful time over there, not only because the great Aikido (both in Tokyo and Saku), but for the people I met (old friends and new ones), the food, the weather, the time, the places.. after a few days back, I was already missing it (and I started organizing my trip there in June for Yasuno sensei seminar in Kyoto!!).
In Tokyo I focused my practice with Irie sensei, happy that I will also meet him again in Shanghai in June (and then again in Japan). Managing to attend his classes both at Aikikai Hombu dojo and at Aikido Shinagawa Kouyukai dojo (品川区合気道交友会), I had a chance to work longer on his Aikido way and especially focus on the movements and feelings that make his practice so fascinating and interesting to me. This is probably one of the aspects about being an Aikido “tourist” at Hombu dojo in Tokyo: always interesting meeting as many senseis as possible, but then in 1 hour practice I get almost nothing out of it, except the usual great practice feelings. But since we normal travellers have a chance to visit Hombu maybe once per year and for at most 1 week – 10 days, the chances to meet more than once any teacher (except for doshu and Ueshiba sensei) are extremely limited.
I enjoy every time I attend Irie sensei‘s class, but also being his Aikido closer to Yasuno sensei Aikido, I have strong interest in learning more and at the same time I feel every time I haven’t understood a thing and/or forgotten all since the previous session. Most difficult for me is the tori part, while as uke I think I manage quite well thanks to Endo sensei Aikido. But the wat to strictly perform a technique is quite different from what I am used. Still extremely interesting for the different direction, much more toward uke‘s center, taking him off balance straight from the first contact. Or at least, these are my feelings the lucky times sensei applies the techniques on me.
In the Kouyukai dojo practice we had the chance to use also jo both for technique and for aid to understand better the directions in the technique. This is something impossible probably when practicing only at Hombu dojo. And as appreciated before, especially thanks to my beloved Vanadis instructors in Stockholm, using the jo for understanding directions and body position and rotations in the technique is really useful. At least I can see better what the instructor does naturally, without thinking.. then doing it myself it is completely another matter!!
I wish I had a deeper and better understanding of several aspects of the techniques in order to be able to transmit it to others just with my body, no words needed. This is the kind of feeling I receive when I am lucky enough to partner up with any sensei or soom good practitioners in Japan. When there is a linguistic barrier it is so important to be able to transmit the proper feeling. Recently some of the Chinese people I used to practice a lot together in Hangzhou made me quite happy saying that even if I do not speak Chinese I usually make it quite clear what I am talking about by showing the techniques, finding easy examples/comparisons and then practicing together with the people. I am happy to hear that (people praising me as an instructor might come as a shock to some people!) but at the same time I know I have to work much harder (and much much more often with some instructor I am really missing!).
At Hombu dojo I managed to get one session with Yasuno sensei and it was quite nice to see him throw around a nice group of international senseis like Frank Noel, 7th dan from Tolouse, and several other high graded on the way to Saku dojo. Practice with Irie sensei does help to understand a little more of Yasuno sensei Aikido (and also Irie sensei was among the people thrown around). This was a session where you can change partner, but I met after some time a good Aikido practitioner from Italy, close to both Yasuno sensei and Endo sensei, so we decided to practice the full hour together, and for me it was really good (probably boring for him!).
The pace at Hombu dojo is much higher than at a normal practice or seminar session: people push full energy, especially if it is the only practice they can have that day. No reason to conserve energies.. lucky them they have in average much more than me!!
In June I will spend there more time and I will be again quite selective on the session choices. Mostly because I never had before and certainly I don’t have now the energy for practicing 5 sessions per day, many days in a row!!
During the days in Tokyo I realized there are 2 kinds of people I really dislike:
• people that never takes risks about anything, holds silently back in the second lines just waiting that someone makes a mistake and then start making fun of him/her;
• people that always think to know everything even if it is clearly impossible they know about that! still they have to say their piece and they usually do with confidence and attitude as if they knew.
I have also realized that probably I enjoy more traveling alone and make random meetings with people on the way, even if I would not be as effective and organized like other I know.