During the third weekend of October (15.-17.10.2021) the traditional autumn international seminar organized by the Ticino Association Ki Aikido was held in the municipal gym of Balerna.
Until October 2019, the seminar was always led by Yoshigasaki Sensei.
This year Maurizio Volpe and Bernhard Boll took on the role of teachers.
Already on Friday evening we were able to welcome many Aikidoka from Switzerland, Italy and Germany.
In order to access the gym and practice, according to health regulations, participants had to be equipped and show a valid Covidpass.
Unfortunately, probably due to a recent buggy update, the Swiss Covidpass-Controll App was unusable and paper certificates had to be used.
As if to say: paper is sometimes more reliable than apps !
After Kenkotaiso and Aikitaiso, Maurizio has well directed the 7 techniques of Tsuzukiwaza 6 (ushirodori) from the program of the second Dan.
As always, he explained the geometries and intentions very precisely and also how each subsequent technique (tsuzuki waza) develops from the previous one.
Despite the long break due to the Covid pandemic and therefore without the possibility of practicing the art on the tatami mats, the participants performed the exercises without problems as in previous years.
After an intense practice, at the end of the lesson the participants were able to cool off in the cozy shower room and then sit on the stage of the gym to enjoy the traditional dinner offered by the Dojo: they ate with appetite the excellent pinse prepared by Mery's Pizza, the spring rolls, a rich spelt salad and puff pastry stuffed with dried tomatoes and pistachios.
Maurizio had brought a nice piece of gorgonzola from Novarese and some bottles of Pignoletto. And finally, the two homemade cakes, apple and pear, were also appreciated.
The participants were in a great mood and talked about the current situation in which Ki Aikido finds itself in Europe following the death of the Doshu and how it could continue.
Now late in the evening, the dinner ended, not without leaving everything tidy and clean.
On Saturday morning, other practitioners from Stuttgart and Turin arrived at the gym.
On the tatami mats there were 23 practitioners.
Yvette recalled with a short speech the Doshu Yoshigasaki Sensei and Maestro Gianni Gioconto, who this year unfortunately left us prematurely following a serious illness. Both were not yet 70 years old and had a tatami experience of 50 years and more.
They were two masters of considerable technical and pedagogical experience and they transmitted their knowledge to us with passion and dedication. To them goes all our gratitude for what they have given us in so many years of practice and for their unconditional trust, which we will treasure surely in the years to come.
The participants commemorated our Doshu and the master Gianni Gioconto with a minute of silence.
Subsequently, Maurizio presented two exam certificates that Yoshigasaki Sensei had still drawn up in 2019: Chuden for Matteo and the fourth Dan for Yvette.
In honor of Yoshigasaki Sensei, Maurizio read the text of the 4th Dan diploma in Japanese and of course Yvette was very excited by the courteous attention.
Bernhard started on Saturday morning with the techniques of Tsuzukiwaza 14 (suwariwaza) as some aspirants for the first Kyu were present on the tatami mats.
In the techniques of this Tsuzukiwaza, the didactic concept of "changing form – changin position" developed by Yoshigasaki Sensei can be applied very well.
Later Maurizio proposed the Tsuzukiwaza 22 (Tantodori 2) from the program for the second Dan. For the participants, who had not yet practiced these complex techniques, it was an interesting task.
In the warm autumn sun, we walked to the Grotto del Mulino in the Breggia Gorges (geological park) for a good lunch of risotto alla parmigiana, ucelli scapati and luganighe with onion sauce. The length of the lunch break was well measured and there was still enough time for lively discussions in front of the gym or for a nap on the tatami mats before resuming practise.
At the beginning of the afternoon training, Bernhard had some relaxation exercises SOTAIHO performed. We then continued with Bokken 2 Kumiwaza.
Bernhard clarified the procedures and recommended being clear about the meaning of the movements and different techniques and then implementing them by extending Ki.
After the break, Maurizio explained in detail some Ki tests of the DEN exams and then moved on to the first techniques of the Tsuzukiwaza 8 (Yokomenuchi).
The intensive training ended as planned at 18:00.
After the shower and the change of clothes, it was already a little too late to attend the international Zoom meeting of Ki no Kenkyukai International, which unfortunately overlapped with our seminar.
For dinner at Osteria Ul Furmighin in Sagno we were welcomed by Anna, Giorgia and Andrea.
Waiting to taste an excellent dinner based on chestnut and mushroom soup, local polenta with ossibuchi and for Yvette gnocchi with gorgonzola, all followed by an excellent dessert with vanilla ice cream, the group composed of Maurizio, Bernhard, Yvette, Geraldina, Volker and Hans-Jürgen relaxed and quenched their thirst on the porch with a good draft beer.
On Sunday, there were still some other participants from Italy.
Bernhard repeated some passages of Tsuzukiwaza 14 (suwariwaza). Laura and Christian then presented it completely.
He later proposed Bokken 1 Kumiwaza.
After all the techniques of this Tsuzukiwaza were practiced individually, Giuseppe presented the entire kata with Michele as Uke.
Maurizio then resumed directing, explaining the techniques of three Tsuzukiwaza from the program of the fourth Dan: Tsuzukiwaza 19 (Katadori Menuchi), Tsuzukiwaza 29 (Kumitachi), Tsuzukiwaza 30 (Shinken).
Francesco and Giuseppe then presented them.
The seminar ended on Sunday after 12.00.
Yvette thanked all the participants for coming to Balerna after two years of absence due to the pandemic, the teachers for the beautiful lessons and announced further seminars to be organized in Balerna with younger teachers in order to promote teaching in the context of gatherings, as suggested by Sensei on the occasion of one of his last seminars.
The tatami mats were quickly removed from the gym and placed on their special trolleys, the spaces were then returned clean and tidy for Monday school lessons.
The Ticino Association Ki Aikido sincerely thanks the Municipality of Balerna and the School Management for the trust granted and all the people who have made themselves available to help in the conduct of the seminar.
In a bright and sunny autumn weather, a small group of Aikidoka returned to the Grotto del Mulino for lunch. Other practitioners returned home. For some there were 700 km to go, for others 500 km, for many Italian friends they were "only" from 100 km to 150 km.
We hope to meet again for an upcoming seminar in Balerna in the spring of 2022!
Photos Christian B.; Text: Yvette