From the 2nd to the 4th of November, Hitohira Saito Kaicho was teaching a seminar in southeastern France, in Chartres de Bretagne. The place was quite with nice accommodations and good infrastructures that satisfied everyone. There were many north European countries represented in this seminar : France, Germany, Denmark, United Kingdom… The southern part of Europe was less represented since Sensei had taught a bukiwaza seminar in Sicilia few weeks before that. But still, the tatami was filled with people and good will to train under Sensei’s directions.
Also, we were lucky enough to have Charles Durand as a translator for the seminar, a French long time friend of Olivier, from of Yoyogi Uehara dojo in Tokyo. With his experience of the Japanese culture he could grasp all the subtle things sensei meant and made them clear for all the French speaker.
During this seminar sensei was eager to teach and explain many technics, from basic to more advanced ones like during a hanmi handachiwaza special keiko.
During the Bukiwaza keiko Sensei taught Aikiken suburi, happo giri (basic and also roku and shichi no suburi no katachi), go no awase and kumitachi with some interesting variations that ended up with sensei smiling and demonstrating a few henka we couldn’t reproduce. For the Aikijo, sensei taught the suburis, 31 no jo alone and with a partner (complete) and some kumijos.
All along those bukiwaza keiko, sensei underlined the relation between the Iwama shin shin aiki shuren-kai logo, the square or the triangle to the forms of our aikido, showing us the importance of a good body structure that implies balance and stability.
The taijutsu keikos were oriented by the type of attack (ushiro waza, morotedori ) or the type of technique (kokyunage). Sensei showed us a wide variety of techniques and took time to explain each one several times if we needed him to as he went among us, correcting everyone.
During those classes, he made clear the importance of the kiai, saying that real training starts with the kiai. He also underlined the importance of the spiral in aikido, relating it to the movement of our blood inside of us or the stars around the earth.
The mood on the tatami was to exchange, many sempai were training with white belts from any level in a mutual will to improve. This is the spirit that we have to keep in these seminars where we have the opportunity to receive the teachings of Sensei in our own countries.
The seminar ended as usual with questions that sensei took time to answer as well as he could. We had the chance to hear about Morihiro Saito sensei’s life after the war, both working in the railway company where he spent several way working in a row to be able to spend more time in the field and training with O sensei.
Sensei also told us about the power of kotodama in the kiai and the way it affects the partner, as an invitation to train or as something to stop him, making us able to act first.
Once again this seminar was a great opportunity to recieve sensei’s teaching in our home country around several subjects, from the basis to more advance forms, with all the indications we need to keep in mind every time we train. As sensei said during the seminar, we can only train a few times on each techniques during those short seminars, and he invited all of us to come to Iwama to train under his teaching for more.
Account by Victor Detrez
Organization by Olivier Eberhardt