Yesterday evening we were once again honoured to have spent the evening with Aikido teacher Ishizaki Yoshiyuki from Fukushima, Japan. He was on business here in West Cumbria and had personally requested that we meet up again to mutually share our martial arts. We were only to pleased to host him and his colleagues on behalf of Sellafield Ltd.
Ishizaki Sensei took to the tatami first and gave everyone a skillful demonstration and accompanying lecture on the fundamentals of Aikido. He talked about basic techniques, manipulation of the receivers energy through subtle body movements and focused heavily on breathing and relaxation to help develop the seika tanden (body core). He emphasised that Aikido was an art of peace and aimed to cause only the minimum of discomfort to the opponent necessary to make good your escape in self-defence.
Our Chief Instructor, Chris Denwood, followed Ishizaki Sensei and along with fellow Toku Sei Kan members, presented a similar demonstration and lecture on the underlying principles of Koryu Karate. In particular, he aimed to emphasise a relationship and what he felt were key similarities between Aikido and karate - two arts that are often considered very different. He and his team performed basic techniques, kata and bunkai, power generation, hojo undo and finished with a demonstration of karate's joint attacks, throws and take-downs from a tactile-based muchimi-di (sticky hands) framework.
The key message conveyed through both demonstrations was that although on the surface these look like diverse arts, Aikido and Karate still share a number of common principles and methodologies central to the way in which they are expressed and utilised.
Like our first experience with Ishizaki Sensei last year, we were once again able to see his wonderful and graceful art of Aikido and also showcase some key aspects of Toku Sei Kan (the derivative of Okinawan traditional karate we practice at our dojo).
Ishizaki Sensei seemed very pleased with how it went and needless to say, so were we!
The exchange of gifts and photo session afterwards brought out huge smiles on all sides and Ishizaki Sensei’s parting words eloquently reflected how we all felt. He said:
“We may be geographically separated by thousands of miles, but we are nevertheless joined in spirit through our mutual passion and devotion to martial arts”
We all agreed with his further sentiment that "Martial arts reflect and impact every aspect of our lives, not just what we do in the dojo, and that our martial arts journeys are a life-long endeavour."
We have, without any doubt, strengthened the bond of friendship we forged when we first hosted Ishizaki Sensei last year. And whilst it remained very formal and within the expected etiquette, there was still a very palpable warmth to the visit this year and Ishizaki Sensei's sense of humour also shone through. Smiles do not need a translator for us to understand!
Special thanks go to David Forsythe, Peter Hinde, Claire James, Bernie Coombe and David Glaister for helping to organise the event, ensure a suitable venue and making sure that tatami mats were collected and delivered in good time. Thanks also to E.S.K.K members for taking time out to support the event, being part of our demo team and representing our dojo with the high standards we've come to expect.
We hope that Ishizaki will once again leave the country with a positive impression of our approach to traditional karate here in West Cumbria, we wish him and his colleagues a safe flight back to Japan and we are all looking forward to seeing them again in the near future!