From March 7th to the 22nd, I was in Sweden and Norway to teach, in the Swedish capital, Stockholm's Iyasaka Dojo, then on to Oslo, the capital city of Norway, in the Sunyata Dojo and Aikikan Dojo, all Dojos under the Aikido Kobayashi Dojos umbrella.
For the past 40 years, I've gone there every year either in summer or at Easter, but this year because of Urban Shihan's Iyasaka dojo circumstances, I went on March 7th.
During this period I had two new experiences, one being my absence from the Kobayashi Dojos March tests. This was the first time in the 50-year history of Kobayashi Dojos that I missed the testing. There were over 100 people who took the examinations, including four for 4th Dan, two for 3rd Dan,four for 2nd and five for
Shodan, as well as many for kyu ranks. Kodaira dojo, Tokorozawa dojo, and Higashi Murayama dojo high-ranking students were taking tests and Henrik from Sweden came especially to test for his 4th Dan, all of which I'm sorry I missed.
In Stockholm with my granddaughter, Kaho
Another new experience was traveling with my granddaughter, Kaho, who graduated from high school and will be entering university this April. Kaho started Aikido when she was three, and practiced in her home, Tokorozawa Dojo and at her high school where she got her shodan. When she graduated, she received a superior commendation from her school. Together with Kaho I journeyed to Nordic region for two weeks to instruct seminars and to sightsee.
Relaxing at the house of a member in Oslo
At Easter, people connected with Aikido groups and organizations from Russia and all over Europe would come to the seminars. This time, I was there at the beginning of March, so actually the seminar didn't conflict with Easter events held in other countries, so we had quite a turnout of people from all over Europe at the Iyasaka Dojo in Stockholm. The first day saw 70 people on the mat and by the end of the weekend, that had swelled to over 120. It was the biggest showing for any of my seminars to date.
Seminar in Oslo
As for Oslo in Norway, it had been six years since I had been there. The person who is in charge of the Kobayashi branch dojo Sunyata dojo in Oslo is Shihan Moriko, who is Swedish. When I gave a demonstration for the first time in the Finnish capital of Helsinki in 1977, it was Moriko who took ukemi. He was in the army special forces and underwent severe training for that. With a wide interest in religions, he travelled abroad and for a time, served as a bodyguard to the Dalai Lama in India. He often displays a harsh exterior and it seems unbelievable that for so long he has cooperated with Hiroaki Dojocho and us in promoting Aikido Kobayashi Dojos methods. He works with Otto Shihan in Oslo, as well, in these efforts.
Danto-dori demonstration with Kaho at Iyasaka dojo, Sweden
In the two weeks we were there, the sea stayed frozen. For forty years, every time I'm in Stockholm, I stay in a hotel and only go out for practice and meals, because I don't like the cold. And even though it's been six years since I was in Oslo, Moriko Shihan graciously took care of me, guiding me to the Munch Museum and the Palace, as he knew I'd prefer these indoor activities.
I could write so much more, but Kaho also wrote of her impressions of the trip for the Kobayashi Dojos homepage. Please read her comments. (Translation coming soon).
In front of the famous "The Scream" by Edvard Munch