Different Aikido interpretation and educational systems do exist. Aikido is taught in many different ways. At our dojo, we refer to the Aikido World Headquarters in Tokyo, the Hombu Dojo, founded by Morihei Ueshiba in 1940.
In 1964, the Hombu Dojo sent Hiroshi Tada to Rome, where he founded the Italian Aikikai. But since the early 50s there already was an Aikido movement in Italy, when prof. Salvatore Mergé, judoka and teacher at the Eastern Institute of Rome, returned from Japan after having studied Aikido under Morihei Ueshiba. Motokage Kawamukai arrived in Rome after a while. He came from New York, where he had started the local Aikikai that Yoshimitsu Yamada took in his hands. Kawamukai himself wrote to Tokyo asking for an official representative, but from nearby France Tadashi Abe and Nobuyoshi Tamura had already visited Italy for some Aikido seminars. Morihiro Saito’s Iwama school also had a number of followers, led at the times by Takeji Tomita. Other great Japanese masters had a fundamental role in spreading Aikido in Italy, among which Hirokazu Kobayashi, Hideki Hosokawa and Yoji Fujimoto. In the 90s, the technical influence of the French federation FFAAA headed by Christian Tissier made its way in many dojos of the Italian peninsula. The main inspiration of this teaching style come from different freanch masters who followed the Aikido genious of Seigo Yamaguchi (top right). His fluid and tensionless Aikido is pretty different from what many other direct students of the founder did. Maybe this is because Yamaguchi distrusted imitations and believed in everyone’s freedom of searching his/her own Aikido. This is maybe the hardest thing to do or teach.
At Katsu Dojo
At Katsu Dojo the training is inspired to suggestions from Philippe Gouttard of FFAAA.
His techniques are performed according to the natural movements the human joints are designed to perform. This ensures the partner’s safety as well as the healthy development of the human joints through the exercise, so that they remain functional during time. The correct posture is paramount, starting from the position of the feet, from the way our knees work, so often forgotten and therefore damaged by apparently subtle and insignificant mistakes. This is a very intense, hard work, since it reaches for everyone’s physical and psychological limit. This Aikido is a practice to stay young longer, to learn how to breathe, how to use our bodies in a smarter way, to learn how to face our own fears.
The exercise on the mat is designed to put the trainees in front of hardship but at the same time teaching how to get around it with no harm. The odds on the mat are an allegory of life, so are the techniques to overcome them. To achieve this we need to put passion, grit, feeeling, intensity into our practice, otherwise it becomes a futile drill. This is not to be confused with aggressivity, rage, physical power – but a “lifeless” technique has no meaning. The analogy between Aikido and real life is fundamental for the practitioner’s growth, at any age. The techniques are nothing but a means to obtaining that. They must not become the goal to be achieved, a mere formal perfection. Devoided of their own spirit, Aikido techniques are woth nothing.