“Every year in a city nearby Iwama is held the anniversary of our organization – Iwama Shinshin Aiki Shurenkai. This year, on the 9th of June, was the celebration of the 14th year since the founding of our school.
This ceremony included an opening speech from Saito Hitohira Kaicho along with official guests and of course, a demonstration or embu, which was the main event.
At the entrance were handed small gift bags for each guest, bottles of water, tenuguis and the schedule for the morning of demonstrations. Along all this, we could also find a pamphlet with news of the organisation and an extract from a book, chosen by Sensei: “Aikido Kaiso – Ueshiba Morihei Seitan Hyakunen”, a book written by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and published for the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of O Sensei’s birth, in 1983.
In the pamphlet, various information and stories were shared by Sensei to the members of the organization. He mentioned again the changing of name of Waka Sensei, from Yasuhiro Sensei to Nidaime (the second) Morihiro Sensei and also announced that Mitsuyoshi Sensei will receive the name Hitohiro Sensei when our Kaicho will pass away.
After stating once more than this year, according to the Japanese religious calendar, was the 17th anniversary of Sensei’s father’s passing and the third after his mother’s, Sensei reminded us that it was also the 50th anniversary of O Sensei’s passing (gojyu kaiki).
After recalling his early memories from the time when overheard his father getting the news of O Sensei’s death, Sensei put a lot of emphasis on the passing of time and reminded us that is was more than 70 years ago that Morihiro Sensei received his name from O Sensei. In that spirit of time flying, Sensei stated that this was the beginning of the 15th year of this organization, and emphasized on how we should all live every second with intensity.
We could also read in this pamphlet about the name of our organization and how the Shin (god, 神) and Shin (believe, 信) were chosen as a way to remember the attitude of O Sensei toward the Kamis (Shinto gods), every day through hours of prayers and rituals. Sensei mentioned his own daily schedule of early morning meditation, prayers and training, with always the feeling of the great masters’ presence. He then encouraged all of us not to forget all of this and to train hard with enthusiasm.
In his opening speech that will be deepened in an upcoming article, Sensei mentioned among many things the importance of the Kiai and Misogi, giving more perspective on those concepts through a “Kotodama” perspective.
The demonstration lasted more than 2 hours and was split in several parts, first the Japanese dojos presented as groups, then soto deshis from the Tanrekan dojo, then came the Japanese instructors, followed by the foreign students (uchi deshis). The morning of demonstrations ended of course with our Kaicho Hitohira Saito, followed by a closing address.
This year, 12 Japanese dojos joined the event and the foreign students came from all across the world, among these Russia, Italy, Taiwan, Australia, France, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil were represented.
Two camera crews joined the event and documented the demonstration. Most of you must already have seen some parts of this event by now.
The mood that day was relaxed, and in the audience all faces were friendly and familiar. Some members brought their family along. We could see a bit of anxiety here and there, right before getting on stage but it would quickly fade away in the moment of action. Everyone was here to participate at this event and enjoy the display of numerous techniques and atmospheres… and of course, eager to join the big party held at Tanrenkan dojo after the formal ceremony!
This demonstration day is the yearly opportunity for all dojos that desire (from Japan and abroad) to witness the state of Iwama Shinshin Aikido and demonstrate their way of practice and spirit in front of our Soke, and all the other members of our organization… It is a day of sharing and celebrating.
See you there next year!
Article by Victor Detrez, a French (Paris Tenchi Dojo) long time uchideshi of Saito sensei, with the cooperation of Miki Nakajima from Kyoto and Thomas Jessen from Denmark.
For movie of the enbukai, please click here!