Back in 1990, after training in Yoshinkan Aikido for only four months, I was extremely fortunate that my first teacher’s dojo was included during founder Gozo Shioda’s visit to Canada. Among Soke’s uchi-deshi on this trip was a young, but impressively memorable, Jacques Payet. Who could predict that those precious few days of training were to set in motion a lifetime of searching for a greater understanding of Yoshinkan Aikido?

Throughout the next few years and even after my first Dan gradIng, I still dreamed of training in Japan to learn more about the intricacies of this endlessly challenging, beautifully frustrating martial art. However, like many young Canadians, my debt accumulating university years were followed by a demanding career so studying Aikido overseas remained just a dream.

It was not until 2015, following years of Yoshinkan training and teaching wherever my career postings allowed, that I had the chance to learn from now Shihan Payet during his visit to Canada. I immediately realized that Sensei Payet’s tireless dedication to the Art had resulted in not only his effortless ability to demonstrate both basic and advanced techniques, but that his superior understanding and communication of underlying principles exemplified his skillful mastery as a teacher of Yoshinkan Aikido. Perhaps I must finally make time to train in Japan and it should be to learn from Shihan Jacques Payet?

Arranging the trip, accommodation and a training schedule with the guidance of Shihan Payet and his assistant instructors was simple. So before long, I was training at the Mugenjuku Dojo in morning and evening classes while enjoying the sites and culture of Kyoto during the day. As each class progressed, many old questions regarding basics, techniques and principles gradually dissolved away.

Similar to those early impressionable days of Soke’s 1990 visit to Canada, this one month trip to Mugenjuku has also now set in motion a new, unforeseen direction toward greater understanding, practicing and living Yoshinkan Aikido. The challenge ahead is to retain Sensei Payet’s teachings and continue to improve my Aikido upon returning to Canada.