Author: Ron

Ron, Canada. March 2017

Too busy at home, too busy at work. How can I even think about going again? Why am I always thinking about going again? I still have too many questions, far too much yet to learn. How can I not go again…

So I found myself back at Mugenjuku Kyoto for the month of March. In 2016, I intended to improve my kamae and basic movements. In 2017, I had no precise plan; it was more of a faint hope that the past year’s efforts toward improving kamae and basics would lead to a new understanding of maybe a few techniques. To my surprise, what a difference a month at Mugenjuku can make!

After the first weeks of Shihan Payet patiently correcting my postures, prioritizing moving from centre and always stressing maintenance of balance to stay relaxed, I noticed he seemed to be taking us through a natural progression that incorporated these interwoven, underlying principles.

Familiar techniques were suddenly felt through a new perspective. If you initiated from your centre, maintained good posture and moved everything together, then you remained balanced. If you kept your balance, you kept an advantageous position and could relax deeper. If you were relaxed, then you were freely mobile while connected together with uke. If you were moving in synchronization with uke, then you could lead uke without strength. If leading uke without using your strength, you could keep tension out of your upper body while keeping your feet heavy and uke could not gain balance from shite. If you were leading uke off balance, then their desire to regain their balance was satisfied by either your final osae or nage. If osae or nage gave both shite and uke a painless resolution, then both were at peace with each other.

How do I absorb all these principles until they become natural reactions? Having returned to Canada, I can only continue to train and teach using the many methods and exercises employed by Shihan Payet and his assistant instructors. Now my hope towards improvement is less faint, but I still lack much of a precise plan other than more training. Perhaps another trip to Mugenjuku is in the future…

Ron, Canada. March 2016

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.

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