Renshi aikido instructor
Time in Japan:
My first exposure to aikido was when I was thirteen, while studying Chinese kung fu in
Canada. I picked up a book about
?the way of harmony,? and was mystified by
the pictures of people flying through the air. The movements looked like choreographed
stunts or illusions. I couldn?t understand the technique and frankly, I thought it
was all a hoax. For a long time it remained a enigmatic and mythical art.
I studied martial arts throughout high school and college, primarily kendo and
competitive kickboxing. When I was twenty-one, I saw a TV documentary about aikido with
footage of its founder, Ueshiba-sensei. I was so impressed by the fluidity of the moves in
the film, I was inspired to take a closer look. I decided to visit an aikido dojo (martial
They had me all over the mat. I quickly (and painfully) discovered how subtle yet
effective the techniques were. I limped home with a new respect for aikido. I was still
studying kendo at that point, and came to Japan for a year to teach English and study the
martial arts. I went back to Canada to finish college, then returned to the aikido school
to study for about nine months before settling in Japan for intensive study.
I became a shodon (first degree black belt) within one year. I would have been
satisfied with that until I discovered that getting a black belt was rather easy in Japan.
Also, you don
?t really start learning aikido until you become a shodon. Now I am a renshi
(fourth degree) and just started teaching at my school in Tsurumi. My days are spent at
the dojo, and in the evenings I teach English to make ends meet. I live in Yokohama, where
I am just close enough to Tokyo to enjoy the excitement of this multicultural city. Life
is an adventure and every day is a learning experience.
Aikido has made me more aware of my surroundings and the moods of people around me. It
has also helped me deal with difficult people, because you can apply aikido to any
situation. You can even use the techniques verbally to get yourself out of an altercation.
Studying in Japan has enriched my life in every way, and I look forward to what I have yet
to learn. This art has become my life and passion. I plan to stay here for three or four
more years, when I will go back to Canada to open my own dojo.
Barry spoke with Anne Bouyssounouse
INFO: Aikido Shohokai Dojo in Ikegami 3751-5812, in Tsurumi 045-504-7723.