Late last year my Dad suggested that a group of us from Ren Shin Kan travel to the Friendship Seminar in Brussels, I’d not had the chance to practice Aikido outside of the UK before and considering the instructors on show and my Dad’s friendships with them I immediately said yes.
For me and I think the other 9 people the main draw making us willing to travel through three countries late into the night was the chance to meet new people and see how differently Aikido can be done.
In all honesty it was one of the most enjoyable weekends of Aikido I’ve had. The fact that you can step into a dojo knowing next to nobody and only being able to speak a few words of the local language yet still be able to train for five hours a day before enjoying a meal and a few drinks in the bar is testament not only to Aziz Belhassane Shihan and his students but also to the inclusive style of Aikido we all subscribe to. Everyone was extremely welcoming and the Seminar itself was a truly world class event.
Whilst most of the weekend could be seen as pretty special there were a few highlights and surprisingly, an expensive meal at the Marriot Hotel which included 6 Shihan (including Dad) as well as 2 embassy officials and a couple of NATO representatives wasn’t top of the list. Personally having Philip Lee Shihan teach two classes was pretty special and I think most of the other people over the weekend would agree that Aloyseus Lee is exceptional to train with but perhaps the moment that will stay with me the longest was crashing into the floor shortly after my Dad had told Obata Shihan that I was his son and bounced well.
Most importantly of all and despite the fact it was a long time before I got the tune to “Bring Me Sunshine” out of my head and that drinking in the bar until well after 2am is not the best preparation for for a full day of Aikido I have to say a big thank you to everyone who traveled with us; Sam, Mark, Keith, Adoni, Marketa, Kevin and Romaine with a special thanks to Dad and George for doing all the driving. I hope they all had as good a time as me and I can’t wait until the next road trip.
When it happens I’ll be sure to say a little about it.