The 5th International Aikido Championships, Leeds 2003

### The 5th International Aikido Championships in England ###

「Summer 2003 Aikido Championships」 Alan Smith (Shodokan Honbu)

The 5th International Aikido Championships was held in England, this past August. Players from around the world participated. Although there were many problems during the tournament, such as the level of the referees and record keeping members, I think the staff worked hard over a long period of time every day in order to make the tournament go well. The following are reports of those who participated in the Championships

The Fifth Aikido World Championships Tournament was held in Leeds, United Kingdom from 5th August 2003 – 11th August 2003. Over the five-day competition more than one hundred and twenty players from more than seven countries competed in eleven events. Players travelled from as far away as New Zealand and Japan to attend the event. The Championship was possibly the largest Aikido competition ever held in the UK. Over the course of the competition, approximately two hundred spectators viewed approximately one hundred Aikido matches. To fully appreciate the background to the summer 2003 competition, it may be best to elucidate how Aikido was introduced to the UK and how Aikido practice was started there.

Speaking from my own point of view and from how I think I would have seen the competition had I never seen Aikido before, I think the greatest disappointment concerning the competition was the lack of affability amongst players. Aikido exponents at the competition often seemed impolite and reluctant to participate with other players depending on their perceived political affiliation. Obviously, where a large communication barrier exists, Aikido players from different countries may be unable to mingle at ease. However, there was a very large number of people who seemed unwilling to participate inclusively, despite the relative lack of communication problems.

I still feel embarrassed about the treatment of some guests by the British hosts. It has already been stated that there were some problems concerning the accommodation. Perhaps there could have been a greater attempt to make foreign guests feel more welcome. I also felt highly embarrassed at times by the approach of certain players towards the judges/ referees.

A major disappointment for me was the refereeing. This is not because I lost my single match but because I hoped to clarify in my mind the role of refereeing. Those judging and refereeing matches, did, at various times, seem to lack any confidence regarding decisions they made. Games were often stopped for extended periods whilst judges and referees consulted. This slowed down the pace of some matches and left spectators bored or unimpressed. I have personally been trying to promote competition Aikido amongst Ulster Aikido exponents but the majority of practitioners are still unimpressed by the spectacle of competition Aikido; although they still enjoy competition training. As a result of the refereeing, I am still unsure as to the rules regarding the catching of an opponent’s leg.
There were numerous occasions, including my own match, where uke (tanto holder) was thrown or unbalanced with some sort of atemi waza whilst his/ her leg was being held (usually behind the knee) by tori. I also noticed that many players who performed this type of technique put a great degree of emphasis on catching the back of the knee.
Tori would perform some sort of kuzushi to bring uke forward and then as uke takes a large step forward to neutralize the kuzushi, tori would grab uke’s front leg behind the knee before proceeding to push the head back with a powerful driving atemi waza. Thus some players were putting more emphasis on the leg catch as they would attempt this first, rather than the actual atemi waza. Such players were not penalized for performing this
technique.

「The 5th International Aikido Championships」Justin Gallagher (Shodokan Honbu)

This is a report concerning the International Aikido Championships held in England, August 2003.

This was my first competition, hence my opinions may be superfluous.

At first I was happy that my home country had the honour and privilege to hold such an event. I had no relations with the Aikido associations in the UK and did not know who would be in charge organising the tournament. As the event approached I became disappointed in the method that was being taken by the organisers in Britain, and the lack of communication between them and the hombu dojo. Later I found out that the Shodokan members and the BAA were slightly different, and certain hostilities were evident between them. As I know nothing of the history it is not my place to comment, however if the tournament were ever to be held in the UK again it would be nice if the British Shodokan members had more to do with the organisation.

For such an event I thought that there was very little publicity and advertisement that I was aware of. Of course media such as the Internet is an invaluable source and I would like to have seen some more publicity here. Especially as emails only take seconds to send I thought there could have been a lot more hype about it.

The organisation of the tournament itself was a little disappointing. I know it must be difficult to organise such activities, especially when different event are being held at the same time. On some occasions names were being called simultaneously on two different mats, and generally the organisers were a little confused themselves.

At an event like this a decent PA system would have been useful. The one used was a little weak and many people had trouble hearing the announcement. Putting up papers on the wall about the forthcoming events was a good idea, however they tended to be inaccurate. Some kind of large notice board would have been a useful aid so that all could see what was happening.

I was happy to attend this tournament as I was able to meet some people that I had only heard about. It was also important for me because when I eventually return to the UK I want a solid teacher, and this was my chance for me to find someone I would like to train with. The location of a good teacher and dojo may affect my future quite substantially. As yet I am undecided.
It was great that I was able to participate in such an occasion with the Japanese team and especially Shihan. It was a very educational experience for me and I learnt a lot from it.

I especially look forward the next tournament in Tokyo, and hope that I will be able to participate. This means that I must train hard for the next two years and I am glad for the challenge. Also I believe after Japan the next tournament will be held in America, again this should be a great experience travelling around the world to take part in the International Aikido Championships.