I have practised aikido for 28 years now and truly believe that it does offer ‘a way to reconcile the world’. However, if that transformation is to take place, I think that as a community we need to recognise that we need to find ways of communicating the principles that are embedded within our art to the public at large. It was for this reason that I chose to work closely with Aiki Extensions, an international group, registered as a non profit in the USA. Their mission is to connect people of like mind and use aikido as a tool to do exactly that. There are people out there working hard in the fields of business, education, schools, government, therapy, and generally in their local communities. (If you want to find out more, then visit www.aiki-extensions.org). In simple terms, we are aiming for the stars and it may come as no surprise to learn that our progress is slow. It can be very frustrating to spend so much time and energy working for the cause and often getting so little response from the very community that I feel should get it the most. That being said, some of the projects that AE have initiated or supported have been really important and for the people involved, have had significant benefits, so I am glad to have played my part.
One of the more surprising and recent outcomes of my work with them was a recent trip to the San Francisco bay area. It’s quite a story in its own right, but a tour of some of the local legends was organised and I got to train under and with some amazing people and also taught in some great dojos. Also, I was privileged to get a lot of ‘off the mat’ time with teachers who had been there with O’Sensei and who were able to connect me to the roots of our art. One of these was Sensei Robert Frager, who for me was a real example of what a good aikido teacher should be all about. He was gracious, warm, humble, giving and wise. At his suggestion, I am now seeking to put together a book of aikido tales about how students have used what they learn on the mat to get a positive outcome when perhaps they least expected it either on or off the mat and so affirmed the value of what they have learnt. Most of us, who have practised for a while, will have heard such tales and probably have a few tales of our own to tell.
From what I have received so far, I know that such a book will provide great inspiration for any aikido student and ultimately will be a celebration of our art. This being said, I want to stress that this is not a personal commercial venture, but a project I am undertaking to raise funds for Aiki Extensions. If you can help by telling a tale of your own or simply publicising my mission the I would be incredibly grateful. You can contact me via email, and if you would like a poster to hang in your dojo, then all you have to do is ask.
Chair of Aikido for Daily Life (affiliated to Yuishinkai International)
Director of Aiki Extensions