An Art that Loves the Enemy

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Kunio Yoshimoto from Japan helping a participant loosen up

International Aikido Seminar brought a Shihan to the stage

Imagine holding a black belt in a martial art and you take a shortcut through the dark alley casually and confidently. A delinquent mistook your nonchalance as complacence, and swifts through you, attempting to swoop up your bag. As a black belt holder, your five senses are sharper by discipline and training. You turn around and pin the felon down, but you were also careful not to injure him. That was the philosophy behind the martial art you practice, Aikido: you do not harm other people, even those who try to hurt you.

Picture of the founder of Aikido, the “Great Teacher” Morihei Ueshiba put up at very front as a form of respect

“Love your enemy,” is key in Aikido, explained Aw Man Keen, Chief Instructor of Aikido dojo (space) in Taman Sutera Utama and Mount Austin. Aikido does not focus on throwing punches or kicking opponents, but instead emphasises on motions and dynamics of movement. Practitioners learn to use their own energy to control their ‘enemy’, and how to “borrow” the energy of the opponent to throw them off while maintaining self-balance. He added that their lock and throw technique of demobilising opponents is graceful and practical, but could also be lethal.

Host, Aw Man Keen, with his guests from Japan – senior practitioners of Aikido

The International Aikido Seminar 2019 was recently held in Perling, Johor Bahru with Master Kunio Yoshimoto as the guest of honour. He is a Shihan, the highest title awarded to a high-ranking teacher, having trained for more than 55 years. The event saw participants from Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, and travelling locals learning from the Sensei.

Demonstration of Aikido – looks like a dance in harmony. Aikido means “The Way of Harmonious Spirit”

Currently, Aikido classes are held for children (4 – 12 years old) and adults (13 – 70 years old) in private schools. Their centre, Kentoku Budokan, is recognised by the HQ of Aikido in Japan and they are authorised to grade their students with Aikido standards. They hope to be able to share their activities with more local schools in the future.

Participants group picture with Kunio Yoshimoto and Gerald Woo

The event was made possible through the funding they applied for, Iskandar Malaysia Beyond Boundaries Programme by Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA). Gerald Woo, Vice President of Social Development at IRDA, was present to give his support, saying “Aikido, is a good, non-aggression martial art.” He applauded the effort to promote the sport and concluded that they will support them as much as they could.

For more information, check out their Facebook page: Kentoku Budokan Aikido Johor Bahru