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48th All Japan Aikido Demonstration

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‘48th All Japan Aikido Demonstration 2010’

On Saturday I attended the 48th All Japan Aikido Demonstration (第48回 全日本合気道演武大会) at the Nippon Budokan, commonly call the “Embu”. It’s the biggest event of the year for Aikikai, with people coming from all over Japan (and from overseas) to attend. It’s even professionally recorded by NHK, and you can buy a 2-disc DVD set covering the teachers demonstrations (get the 2009 edition here). Eric wrote a bit more about last years event, and again this year. I thought I’d post some photos and write a little about my experience.

Updated: I’ve added another post with videos of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo Instructors.

Updated 2011/07/02: I’ve uploaded a video of the Hombu Dojo Intermediate Academy – 48th All Japan Aikido Demonstration

‘Doshu doing kotegaeshi’

Intermediate Class Demonstration

For the second year running I’ve also been lucky enough to participate in the demonstration, as a part of the Aikido Gakkou at Hombu Dojo. This year I was part of the demonstration for Intermediate Gakkou.

‘Me at the 2009 All Japan Aikido Demonstration’

The upcoming Embu had been the focus of our training in Intermediate Gakko for about the last 3 weeks or so. We were told our demonstration would be 2 minutes, and held at the same time as the Beginners Gakko and Advanced Gakkou classes. We were asked to pair up, and I was very happy to have Shishido san, my partner for the demonstration last year, as my partner again this year.

‘Me with Kan (my partner for the demonstration).’

We spent a large part of our preparation time in the Gakkou classes on the appropriate etiquette – where and how we were to line up to enter the floor, the correct bows before the waza, waiting for the taiko drum before starting, where to position ourselves on the mat, bowing correctly after the waza, and where to leave the tatami.

Our teachers also prescribed the techniques we would be performing, and our classes have been mostly restricted to those techniques for the last few weeks:

正面打 入身投げshoumenuchi iriminage
横面打 四方投げyokomenuchi shihoge
両手取 天地投げryoutedori techinage
片手取 内回転投げkatatedori uchikaitennage
突 小手返しtsuki kotegaeshi

We found it pretty hard to get through that list in 2 minutes, but the practice gave us a good chance to “polish” our techniques a bit, and in our final week of practice my partner and I had been getting fairly consistent at finishing the final technique around the 2 minute mark while hopefully not looking too rushed. We were also told that someone would be video’ing the demonstration, which provided a little extra “incentive” to practice hard.

Intermediate Demonstration – The Mixup!

Despite all the instruction on etiquette, or perhaps because of it, things didn’t quite go as planned on the day. We had been explicitly told by both teachers that we were not to start our waza until the taiko (drum) to sound after we had bowed. We dutifully filed onto the tatami and lined up in seiza as instructed, waiting to be told to bow to shomen (the front). Unfortunately the taiko sounded before we were told to bow to shomen, and not after, leaving our entire class sitting waiting while the other groups had started their demonstrations. Finally someone yelled out that we should start, and a confused bunch of Intermediate Class students scrambled to start. I’m sure it looked a little ridiculous from the stands. Due to the delay starting Kan and I didn’t quite finish, I was just about to start my final kotegaeshi when the Taiko drum went. I think we also managed to perform okay, especially given the distraction of the late start.

Updated: I’ve uploaded a video of the Hombu Dojo Intermediate Academy – 48th All Japan Aikido Demonstration

‘Aikido Gakkou 2010 Intermediate class’

More Demonstrations

After our demonstration everyone hurried back upstairs so we could watch the demonstrations of the Hombu Dojo Senseis. I got a couple of photos, so I’ll make another post and including some from last year. After the Hombu teachers, a couple of us went to look at the dogi and hakama which were on sale. I’ve been training 4-5 times a week and having only 2 dogi has been a bit awkward, so I bought a summer dogi which should help a bit, not to mention be more comfortable in the upcoming heat – there’s no aircon at hombu dojo! Quite a few of my classmates stayed until the final demonstrations by Tada Shihan (9th Dan) and the Doshu (the head of Aikikai).

‘Doshu giving a speech - 2009’

‘Doshu doing ikkyo - 2010’

It was a great day, although it seemed to go far too quickly. Not only were the teachers amazing, but the ukemi was superb.

Some More Photos

‘Nippon Budokan (on a quiet day, not the day of the embu).’

‘Nippon Budokan Sign. Note that it’s written right-to-left!’

‘2009 All Japan Aikido Demonstration’

‘2009 All Japan Aikido Demonstration’

‘2009 All Japan Aikido Demonstration’

‘Kids practice session 2010’

‘Suzuki Koujiro Sensei striking the massive Taiko’

‘Fujimaki Sensei (left) with Nishimura Sempai (right) as uke’

‘Friends from Hombu Dojo’