“Each year the Budokan hosts a series of enormous, day-long, martial arts training events for children. The martial arts are Sumo, Karatedo, Shorinji Kenpo (Japanese Kung Fu), Jukendo (way of the bayonet), Kendo, Naginatado (way of the glaive/halberd), Judo, Kyudo and Aikido. On Sunday, swarms of Aikidoka from elementary school age through junior high (US 8th grade) crowded the Kudanshita train station outside the Budokan. Many wore their keikogi on the train, others carried bags and furoshiki crammed with gear. Here and there sensei from different schools with little flags herded their troops to appointed meeting areas. This year the chaos was much more contained than last year when we had to parade around a bit to kill time before being allowed in. This time everything went smoothly and the kids were in their seats minutes after arriving.
To open the event, there were speeches praising the kids for their choice of Budo and thanks to teachers and organizations and then the kids did warm-up exercises en masse. The sea of arms and legs moving not-quite-in-sync was beautiful and disconcerting. Each age group then did about 30 minutes of training led by a different Sensei. After a technique was demonstrated the mass would split into five blobs each centered on different Honbu Shihan who would then repeat the demonstration for their own group to see more clearly.”
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