Apr 2022 - Shin Kaze Aikido Alliance Newsletter

News from Shin Kaze
April 2022

Shin Kaze Aikido Alliance is an organization dedicated to the practice and development of Aikido. It aims to provide technical and administrative guidance to Aikido practitioners and to maintain standards of practice and instruction within an egalitarian and tolerant structure.


By Liese Klein
Dojo-cho New Haven Aikikai, USA

April is a month of renewal and new life in the Northern Hemisphere, and it is also a time to look back in appreciation for the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei. In this newsletter, we speak of the meaning of April 26 as O-Sensei's Memorial Day, along with remembrances of Mitsunari Kanai Sensei. March 28th, 2022, is the 18th anniversary of Kanai Sensei’s passing, but his spirit and his Aikido continue to be very much alive in Shin Kaze.

We are also grateful in this newsletter to visit with many Shin Kaze teachers and students in Latin America, where strong Aikido training continues despite many challenges in recent years. We are all looking forward to more exchanges between Shin Kaze dojos across the world in coming years as we keep the spirit of our teachers alive!

Please enjoy this newsletter and be sure to send your suggestions and essays as we strengthen our bonds across continents.

Memorial Prayers and Offerings: Part 1

By Jo Birdsong Shihan
Dojo-cho Aikido of Austin, USA

April is the month that Aikido practitioners Memorialize Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei. April 29th is the start of Golden Week, (April 29 to May 6). During this week the current Doshu, his family, and Aikido representatives visit the Aiki Jinja (Shrine) and attend the Grand Festival of the Aiki Shrine held to commemorate the deaths of O-Sensei (April 26, 1969) and his son Kisshomaru, the 2nd Doshu (January 4, 1999). This memorial consists of a Shinto ritual, ritual felicitations, offerings of sacred sprigs by the Ueshiba family and representatives from around the world and the local community. Everyone joins a ritual prayer and memorial service offered by the Ueshiba family and other dignitaries. A special Shinto prayer is recited before the current Doshu gives a speech and a demonstration of Aikido. The festival closes with a celebratory meal. This is a very elaborate memorial to keep the spirit of O-Sensei and his son's spirit alive in the hearts of the Ueshiba family and the extended world Aikido family.

Making prayer and food offering to the spirits of ancestors, friends, teachers and others remains one of the most universal practices of longstanding civilizations regardless of their varied "religious" traditions. Making prayers and food offerings is a way of maintaining peaceful relations with important people in your life who have passed on. Doing this practice directly following the passing of a loved one can assist the grieving process, console the spirit of that person and reinforce our connection with them even after their passing.

How do you or your dojo commemorate the passing of dojo members, teachers, and O-Sensei? There are many ways to honor those who have passed: a moment of silence at the beginning of class while members face the direction that symbolizes that person; a dedicated day of practice held on or before the memorial date of the person's passing; a multiple day memorial camp dedicated to the person where stories, tales and memories are shared. In addition, a student may dedicate their training to O-Sensei, Doshu, or a passed teacher. You may also want to take this deeper and make a personal shrine at home where prayers, offerings, and homage takes place.

I will write about this in Prayer and Offering: Part 2 in our next edition of the Shin Kaze Newsletter. Peace and progress along the Aiki path.

Memories of Kanai Sensei

By Kathy Joynt
6th dan, Framingham Aikikai

Editor’s Note: March 28th, 2022, is the 18th anniversary of Kanai Sensei's passing. Kathy Joynt is a longtime student and admirer of Kanai Sensei. Here are a few of her memories.

When I began practice at New England Aikikai in 1978, I could not have imagined the profound influence Kanai Sensei would have on my life. Sensei not only gave me wonderful memories that have lasted all my life but I have come to appreciate that he was a person like no other. Sensei was an Aikido teacher and a friend not only to me but to all his students.

As an Aikido teacher, he was without question dynamic in technique. And beyond that, his students loved him. Everyone was so happy when he unexpectedly showed up for Sunday morning class and just joined the class. Sensei would come onto the mat and practice with everyone. The atmosphere was electrifying. He of course threw everyone with ease but to throw him was like trying to throw a brick wall.

Another memorable time was when Sensei taught the more sparsely attended noon classes on Thursday and Tuesday. There was no way that I would miss those classes. Usually there were about 12 people and it felt like a private class with Sensei. When he demonstrated techniques to do in a group, he would also join in the line with us and take ukemi like everyone else. Often at these classes, he would teach weapons, for example a jo kata, which was an awesome experience for us.

I always tried to fold Sensei's hakama. Not only did I enjoy it, I felt like it was an honor, a small gesture to thank Sensei for teaching. After folding his hakama I would go to his office with it and the class book. We would review the techniques from the class and I would write the technique names in the book. This was a great Aikido education. Sensei was very specific with the techniques and the names of the techniques which I believe gave a deep understanding of the movements.

New Year's Day was a special event every year. Sensei would start practice with a beautiful chant. He would call on his senior students in turn, each demonstrating a technique for the students to practice. After practice, Sensei would toast for a happy New Year.

Sensei 's Aikido was legendary and his company was most enjoyable. Sensei often liked to dine out or sometimes make food for his students. At those times, we would learn about his generosity, his humorous side and his Aikido philosophy.

As time passes, I am grateful for my memories of Kanai Sensei and also consider myself fortunate to have a small piece of his legacy.

29th Anniversary Aikido Dojo Central University of Venezuela Campus Maracay

By Rafael Pacheco
Dojo-cho Venezuela Aikido Kokyu Ho Dojo, Venezuela

On March 10, 1993 in the state of Aragua in Venezuela, three Aikido practitioners, Luis Troya (RIP), Vicente Iglesias and Rafael Pacheco united "paradigms and illusions" with "action" and opened an Aikido Dojo in the sports facilities of the Central University of Venezuela, Maracay Campus. We never imagined how long we would be open and the impact this space would have on the lives of many people. Our practice has served us to integrate discipline and dedication in our lives and the dojo is where we learned to respect the ethical and moral values of Budo.

Because we were inspired to open and with the support received by the university in regional and national activities, we gathered a large group of practitioners. We were able, in the first decade, to develop and expand on our original ideas and objectives. Twenty-two years later, we celebrated the opening of this space. Active and non-active practitioners gathered with new practitioners and friends who closely follow our path in the world of Aikido. Over the years, some of these practitioners retired, others moved away from the practice of Aikido for a while, returning with great enthusiasm and renewed energy. Today, practitioners of the initial group, regardless of the organizations to which they belong, maintain bonds of friendship and communication with active practitioners of the UCV Aikido Dojo, a result of the good fruits of what was sown in yesteryear. This cordial atmosphere of fraternity, an outstanding feature of this space, has been maintained unchanging over time, giving rise to a harmonious coexistence between two schools to carry out activities in such an important and emblematic place, the first belonging to Ecole de Budo Raji International, Instructor Jorge Monsalve, and the second belonging to Venezuela Aikido Kokyu Ho Dojo, Instructor Erick Tovar.

We celebrate one more anniversary, the opening of the UCV Aikido Dojo, generating feelings of great rejoicing. Looking back, we see how our existence has been molded around the world of Aikido. This allows us to objectively assess what has been achieved and at the same time allows us to project ourselves into the future of Aikido. We need to train Aikido practitioners who have deep respect for the traditional foundations of this noble martial art and train with discipline, total dedication and deep love. The environment has not made this easy, but we know we can continue to face these challenges. We know this because of our conviction that we serve the objectives we have set for ourselves as practitioners of a martial art. In training and teaching, we make a real contribution to the progress, development and dissemination of Aikido.

Throughout its history, the UCV Aikido Dojo has adapted to challenges and provided Aikido practitioners with the best learning experiences. We will support and advance Venezuela Aikido Kokyu Ho Dojo. As proof of this, today we are active members of Shin Kaze Aikido Alliance which allows us to have the support of an Aikido organization with which we fully identify, Shin Kaze represents the same objectives as we have followed for years and in a very special way, for more than a decade, Shihan Robert Zimmermann (Toronto Aikikai) has honored us with his teachings through annual seminars. We hope that for the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the UCV Aikido Dojo he can visit us again.

We are adapting to the challenges currently prevailing in the world. After two years without consistent training in the dojo, we are planning to restart in the UCV Aikido Dojo. It will be a challenge. We are aware that one of the constants of the world is that "the world is always in constant change." This is both an inspiration and can be an obstacle. Faced with this, we can only strengthen our capacity for adaptation, bearing in mind that our behavior and intentions will survive and, in time, will speak for us.

Celebrating our 29 years of practice in the UCV Aikido Dojo, we continue to face each challenge positively and we learn to become better people, individually and collectively.

Aikido in my experience

By Francisco Matamala
Dojo-cho Andes Aikido Dojo, Chile


If I remember correctly, the first time I heard about Aikido was from Steven Seagal in his renowned film "Above the Law" or "Nico". While it was fascinating to see the skills of the policeman who threw or broke his opponents, this form of "combat" sported an exaggerated and acrobatic style of defense. Aikido back then, was just a strange and choreographic style that did not arouse my attention since, in those years, Karate was my north.

Over the years, and after adding a brief experience in Hapkido, I began to turn my gaze back to Aikido, but this time, with the intention of living it from practice. So, I began in 2005 to experience this method from the most physical, going on to deepen in its philosophy and history. This way I understood that more than a method of defense, Aikido is a life option since it integrates values and visions that transcend the tatami and that you can adapt on a day-to-day basis.


And what things do I get from Aikido? Personally, the most significant contribution in my life is the state of calm in the face of adversity. Aikido allowed me to develop a "peaceful" state of alertness, as a conscious meditative state, by which I can maintain inner peace and think of the best solution of the moment, something that is so necessary and contrary to what is lived today: passion and impulse, the instinctive.

But this is not something that happens immediately. The personal challenge lies in building patience, tolerance with one's own defects and above all, learning to overcome frustration. Aikido is a long-term path and that is why few of us are those who, despite the difficulties, continue to grow in the virtue of our own convictions, of our desire to improve through practice, not only the physical or technical, but also the mind and heart.

Present times

In our country the difficulties began in October 2019 with the social outbreak. Chile from that moment on changed from tranquility to uncertainty. For everyone there was a before and an after.

The normal functioning of the school was affected, so we had to close, waiting for everything to change. We never imagined that what was happening would have a component that would make the scenario worse, the pandemic. There was no possibility of continuing training physically, since within the measures that were taken by the State, it was the closure of the city confining us about for 8 or 9 months.

For us it was a reorientation of the continuity of training, and we adhered to telepresence. It was difficult as not all practitioners were attracted to the idea. Of the whole group (10 in total) only 4 people continue to this day. Over time, we also incorporated the practice with the ASAK Central Dojo (Uruguay), which helped us to keep the spirit and practice alive, since their support was crucial in the most difficult moments.

Mid way through 2021 we were able to go out to parks to train, the closed spaces were still limited in their operation and the practitioners afraid of contagion, were not interested in returning.

Today in 2022 and with the appearance of the new variants in the pandemic, we return to the point of uncertainty regarding what will happen to practice in the Dojo. For our part, we continue to apply, as far as possible, virtual training combined with outdoor practice, which although it is not the same, allows us to give continuity to the activity and above all, maintain a strong spirit to overcome what we as humanity are living.

In the words of the practitioners who are still training: "Aikido has helped us to face in peace and harmony the difficulties that the pandemic has produced, not only from the point of view of physical practice, but also for mental health. We have lost the spaces to meet, to share, to feel free and that affects emotionally."

Shomen Uchi when you are shorter than your uke

© Aiki Comics by Orit Shilon - Used by permission.
Click on the image to visit the site.

My point of view

By Maykell Torres
Dojo-cho Aikido Fujisan Dojo, Panama

Thank you for your questions. Here are my responses.

What does the practice of Aikido mean to you?
It means staying connected to myself and the truth of who I really am. It means happiness and family!

Why did you get on the mat initially and what made you come back?
I got on the mat to look for myself. I always come back because if I don't, I get lost along the way. Aikido is light, warmth and guidance for me.

How has the pandemic affected your dojo and how have you managed to keep it afloat?
The situation of these past 2 years has strongly affected us. Since 2020 we lost more than sixty percent of our active students. Zoom has helped us stay afloat. We also offer private classes at people's homes and have progressively resumed regular classes at our dojo. Fortunately, our core of sempai continues training, not as frequently as before, but they still attend classes regularly.

Perspective from Brazil

By Baruc Hunck
Dojo-cho Shidokizen Dojo , Brazil

Thank you very much for the attention and acceptance of our group. Here are my responses to your questions.

What does the practice of Aikido mean to you?
I learned about Aikido when I was studying in Europe. I was interested in Aikido, but it took time to find a dojo where I could begin.
Since then, the practice of Aikido has brought me a universe of studies and a lifestyle. My training in Aikido has taught me how I want to live. Aikido is an icon in my life.

Why did you get on the mat initially and what made you come back?
I always liked martial arts, but it was not until I found Aikido that I realized what I was really looking for. Aikido is my practical philosophy of life.

How has the pandemic affected your dojo and how have you managed to keep it afloat?
Currently. our dojo is comprised of one adolescent and three adults. One of those adults is blind and a paralympic athlete representing the municipality and state. We are developing a project to teach Aikido classes to people with physical disabilities.
Our dojo is in a modest space and I have recently had the opportunity to buy land to build a new space so that we can have our own place to train.
I am still in the process of buying the land and getting permits to begin construction. I am a political exile from Venezuela in Brazil, and I feel it is a great achievement to be able to acquire this space for all of us.
I do not have many resources and that is why I will be building the dojo step by step. At the moment, we are training in open areas: beaches and parks.
Above is an image of the cleared land ready to start construction. As soon as I overcome the bureaucratic issues with the mayor's office, I will start work as soon as possible!

A few lines from Uruguay

By Enrique Silvera
Dojo-cho Asociación Samurai Aikido Kawai, Uruguay

What does the practice of Aikido mean to you?
Aikido crossed my life and transformed me mentally, leading me to a path of peace. For me, Aikido is like the word "samurai", which in Japanese refers to serving. So for me this martial art must always be serving, showing that there are other paths, not everything is violence.
My Sensei once told me "I light up a way. If you want to follow it, follow it. The other is dark and I don't know it". Aikido is my flashlight, that martial art that guides me along the best path, and directs my life in all aspects. Under its philosophy I raised my children, and tended my friendships.

Why did you get on the mat initially and what made you come back?
My interest in Aikido arose in the years 1974-1975, when I used to practice Karate. My brother and a friend of his began to practice Aikido and they invited me to start training with them. From the first time I entered the dojo I was fascinated by the movements, techniques and projections, which "changed my mind". Since then I knew I wanted to continue studying and training in this art.

How has the pandemic affected your dojo and how have you managed to keep it afloat?
It has been very difficult. We lost many students and we had to close two dojos, which were part of a project we had had for years, to take Aikido to the interior of the country. We dedicated many hours of classes and trips to this, spent time away from our family, but at least they got to know the art.
Currently, we have many infected students, luckily they are improving and wanting to return to the dojo. We are calm and with great faith that this will be over and we will be able to rebuild and continue doing what we like most: Aikido.

From Cuba

By Leonel Sánchez
Dojo-cho Kan Sho Ryu Dojo, Cuba

What does the practice of Aikido mean to you?
The practice of Aikido represents my continued growth as a human being. It allows me to learn another culture and its peoples' history (especially the history of Japan). It also provides me with a deeper perspective on martial arts and why we train.
Aikido benefits my physical and emotional well-being. It offers me the opportunity to meet other people and exchange ideas and practice with them, confront different points of view, and emerge stronger from that exchange.
Finally, it gives me the opportunity to help others, to share my knowledge and skills and helps me to reveal Aikido's benefits.

Why did you get on the mat initially and what made you come back?
My grandfather, my role model, was a retired soldier. In 1997, he tried to teach me a defense technique against a knife attack. After this lesson, he told me, "if I were born again I would train in Judo...", an art that together with karate were the best known in Cuba.
After his death in 1998, I decided to internalize many of his ideas and make training one of my goals.
Aikido was one of the few martial arts that was taught in my province, but I did not know of its existence in my municipality. It was not until I started secondary school that I discovered a group of young people, almost all of them with a hair bun (imitating Steven Seagal) despite some of them being bald. They met in a place loaned by the school to do those strange techniques which I was very far from understanding. When I asked what art it was, they told me Aikido.
On October 12, 1999 at the age of 13, I decided to join the group and start my practice. Initially, my main motivation was to know how to defend myself, but shortly after, I began to get more interested in Aikido's philosophy. I wanted to grow spiritually and become a better person.
Since the day I started I have not stopped practicing and consider Aikido vital to my life.

How has the pandemic affected your dojo and how have you managed to keep it afloat?
The pandemic has affected all spheres of life, and Aikido has not been an exception.
In March 2020, the first patients testing positive for Covid 19 were diagnosed in Cuba, and in April there was a marked growth in the number of cases. The government immediately took severe measures to restrict movement to try to control the contagion. The sports facilities were the first to close, so we were left without a venue. It was forbidden to train in parks or other open places, and for this reason we decided to stop practicing completely. In addition we already saw the seriousness of the disease, which was causing a large number of deaths in other countries.
Initially I started training in my back yard with my daughter, who has been practicing Aikido since she was four. I am a doctor and I joined an epidemiological surveillance center. Because of my work, I was at a higher risk of contracting Covid so I stopped training with my daughter to keep her safe.
In mid-May, three members of the dojo, with different professional profiles but all dedicated to the same mission of fighting the pandemic, decided, despite the risk, to restart practice. We saw how many organizations decided to hold events online, which we could not follow or imitate due to technological limitations. As we were quite exposed, we partially isolated ourselves from our relatives and since I was living alone, we started training three times a week in my living room.
By July, we had more practitioners who joined and we had to divide ourselves into subgroups of three, so that each one trained twice a week. At the end of 2020 the epidemiological situation improved and we were able to reopen the dojo but not for long. In January 2021, there was a new outbreak and we had to return to training in my home.
Between the two dojos I run there was a significant drop in enrollment, something that has been common throughout the world. We had eight members who got Covid, but no one got it at the dojo and no one died, thank God.
Today we are training again in our dojos, taking measures to avoid contagion. We intend to recover the enrollment and operation we had before Covid, which is a lot of work.

Tech Corner

By Shin Kaze's Technical Committee

As communicated in March, the Technical Committee, after consultation with the Technical Advisory Committee, has completed and issued Shin Kaze's Test Requirements and accompanying Additional Rules.

Two alternate but equivalent versions of the Test Requirements are available at the links below.

Test Requirements English - version 1

Test Requirements English - version 2

Additional Rules

The Test requirements come into effect immediately, but a reasonable adjustment period is acceptable.

Kanai Sensei Memorial Seminar update

By David Halprin Shihan

Framingham Aikikai is sorry to announce that it is canceling this year's Kanai Sensei Memorial Seminar which had been scheduled for June 10-12 due to continuing concerns about the pandemic.

The seminar is being rescheduled to June 2023. Thank you for your support!

Thank you for your generosity

By R. Zimmermann Shihan
Dojo-cho Toronto Aikikai, Canada

I would like to extend my and Misha Korozey's thanks to everyone for the generosity expressed in response to the article in the Special Edition of the March 2022 Newsletter concerning the sad situation in Ukraine. All funds collected have been forwarded to Misha, who is very thankful.

I am also happy to report that Misha, his family and students are safe, adjusting as best they can to their new conditions.

I find it truly heartwarming to see and live the response of the Aikido family in times of distress.

Thank you.

Dear Dojo-cho and Supporters:

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