The 2009 International Aikido Festival and 8th International Aikido Tournament

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《Sunday, Sept. 20th》

An Aikido seminar was held by Shihan Fumiaki Shishida and Shihan Tetsuro Nariyama.
Participants gathered closely together to watch the demonstration, then they used the full floor to practice with other participants from various countries.
The International Referee members, who supported the tournament, held a meeting and seminar in the afternoon.

《 Monday, Sept. 21st 》

The first day of the tournament.
There were group embu demonstrations held by several hundred participants after the  opening ceremony.
The first event in the afternoon was a special demonstration of Sumo, which is a national sport in Japan. It started from basic movements but gradually moved up to show the competitive style as well.
Spectators gave a round of applause when they showed “Matawari”, the practice of spreading the legs 180 degrees. The softening of the hip joints is done to prevent injuries in heated sumo bouts.
The embu competition started after that. The event went very smoothly with the help of the excellent staff members and the cooperation of all the participants.

《 Tuesday, Sep 22nd 》

Randori day. The characteristics of each of the players, clubs, and countries were easy to see. Although it was the “tanto” competition and there should have been more separation between players, there were teams that played as if they were doing judo or wrestling by holding or grabbing the opponent. At the very least the rules should be followed, but some players who even though they understood the rules, tried to bend them to their advantage.

Perhaps a person watching aikido for the first time would not be able to understand what the sport is all about. As it is a competition, it cannot be helped to a certain extent. However, even though there are no weight divisions, there were many great players using aikido principles like body movement power and so on.
The special embu for the day was Kendo, demonstrated by
Kyoto-Ichiryukan. They introduced from basic action of kakari keiko. Various participants from little boys to instructors showed a great embu.

《 Wednesday, Sep 23rd》

The finals and semifinals were held at the Kyu-Butokuden, which is a national heritage. It was heart warming to watch the players, who had made it through the preliminary rounds, perform their techniques in such a historical martial arts landmark.
The special demonstration of the day was Naginata. The beauty of the movement stood out, and it was embu which was good for the moral tone of the Kyu-Butokuden. They introduced the old style form of competition. Sensei Shizue Funahara, who explained the demonstration, practiced Naginata at Butokuden before the building became the important cultural property that it is today.

Many aikido friends from inside and outside of Japan participated in the event, even though there was a sudden global recession and the menace of swine flu was lingering in the air. Many staff took important roles and supported the event for the participants. This festival was a substantial event consisting of not only a tournament, but seminars, international meetings, and special demonstrations as well. Although players were opponents on the mat, they were friends after the match. I think that this is the splendor of international events.
Thanks to all the participants and staff and see you at the next tournament.