View Full Version : The 10th IAF Congress in Tanabe City

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10-09-2008, 05:31 AM
Anyone going, gone? I'm on my way on saturday. I would have liked to stay the week, but with work it's not possible. Maybe it's early, but I'm interested in what people think.

10-14-2008, 06:47 AM
It was my first IAF Congress, so I was pretty impressed. I only attended the embu on Saturday and the Doshu seminar on Sunday. The embu took place at Hongu Taisha, which has significant meaning for Osensei. I would go into it but I'm not sure I have it straight myself. If someone has the details please share. This shrine is in the middle of no where literally in the mountains of Wakayama. So far, it is my favorite place in Japan, maybe my third visit this time. The embu was on the shrine grounds outside. It started at 3:00 with some shinto ceremonies, and was followed by a few too many speeches. I was impressed the only person who could do their speech in both Japanese and English was Peter Goldsbury. I was a little disappointed to see that what I see at the main part of my practice, flow and avoidance of sudden movements, was not exactly a universal principle for the people demonstrating. Of course I realize that there is no one form of aikido, and that's one good aspect of the art. I guess that's why it's good to go to events like this, to remember not everyone has the same values.

I was very impressed with Jorge Rojo from Chile.
In this video his kiai is great, but I don't think he was that loud last weekend.

Of course it was also exciting to see Christian Tissier in person. I hear so much about him on this forum.

I thought it was interesting that there were no performances by american or german shihan. I'm interested how those who participated are chosen.

I have seen Doshu in person and on video many times, but I was very impressed by Hiroshi Tada. I know he's famous, but I had never seen him before. He has a special kind of presence.


On the way back when it was dark, the torii was lit up. (couldn't attach, the file is too large)

The Doshu seminar was my first to actually participate, and there were about 1500 people on the mat. As expected it was difficult to move. But I practiced with people from so many countries, that in itself was very cool. two hours went very quickly.

I am very envious to those who got to stay the week, I'm sure it was unforgettable.

Ron Tisdale
10-14-2008, 07:38 AM
Thank you Ani for this review. I'll take a look at the vids next. It sounds like a wonderful time! Wish I could have seen and or trained with Tada Shihan, I hear it's quite a pleasure, and that he has some very interesting methods.


Peter Goldsbury
10-14-2008, 09:39 AM
Hello Ani,

Well, I spent most of my time in Tanabe listening to people, chairing Congress sessions & meetings and, again, listening to people. For an art that prides itself on the principle IHTBF, the extent to which people feel the need to talk about aikido is simply staggering. However, I think that part of the need to talk on this occasion was to seek reassurance. Many people came to Tanabe to demonstrate that they felt part of a large extended aikido family and also to be reassured that the aikido they were doing was 'authentic', in the sense of being close to the Aikikai Hombu mainstream. In this respect the IAF has a very important role of transmission.

Considering the enormous anxiety that people had in staging such a large event in such a remote corner of Japan, the event was very successful. The City of Tanabe had estimated that 200-250 visitors would come from abroad and another 200-250 from around Japan. The actual figures were over triple the estimate, with some 750 overseas visitors and a slightly larger number from around Japan (for the weekend sessions). The dojo was located in the biggest place they had, with 600 mats. (So I kept gently telling the Mayor that a hall with a 1,000 mat capacity would be ideal for such meetings in the future.) The city government had offered to be responsible for transportation in and around Tanabe, so a fleet of buses was on hand for transporting congress delegates and seminar participants to and from the dojo & congress center to hotels scattered around the city. People kept telling me that the organization of this aspect of the event was very efficient. There was also a program of trips to the places that O Sensei loved to visit, like Koya-san and the Nachi Falls. This, too, was very successful.

As for the demonstration, the location was truly spectacular. It is not often that an aikido demonstration is held right in the center of a World Heritage Site. Actually, I do not like demonstrations, ever, and I have not changed my mind as a result of the demonstration in Kumano. You might have noticed that I was billed to give the first demonstration of the 'international' part, but did not appear. Some demonstrations were very good; others were, frankly, awful. But it is difficult to gauge the quality beforehand.

Given the practical problems involved, we (the IAF, Tanabe City and the Aikikai) decided to promote the event as a sort of 'pilgrimage' to O Sensei's birthplace. Actually, the cities of Tanabe, Kasama (Iwama) and Engaru (Shirataki) maintain a close connection, in order to promote the memory of O Sensei. Holding an IAF event, with at least 1,500 participants, would be a major logistical headache for Iwama. It would be an enormous challenge for a place like Engaru (Shirataki), especially in the middle of winter.

The next major IAF event and training seminar will be held in Moscow in August 2010. The 11th Congress and Seminar will be held in Tokyo, Japan, in 2012 and we will return to the established custom of having congress, training seminar and accommodation all under the same roof.

Best wishes,

Nick P.
10-15-2008, 09:27 AM
Very interesting reads, thank you Dr Goldsbury and Ani.
I will admit I had to google IHTBF...

10-15-2008, 09:51 AM
Pitty I could not be there! Maybe 2012! If I can get time off...)


10-15-2008, 10:47 PM
Peter, thank you for your reply. I'm sure it was a lot of work to put this together. I can only speak for myself, but it is really appreciated.

Considering the enormous anxiety that people had in staging such a large event in such a remote corner of Japan, the event was very successful.

I think this was one reason I went, wakayama is relatively close, and the idea of having it there was very attractive.

Some demonstrations were very good; others were, frankly, awful.

Well, it's something I don't feel like I have enough experience to say, that people higher ranked than I were awful, but honestly I felt that way at times. On the other hand, people who weren't famous or that highly ranked had the opportunity to participate, and that had to be a real honor.

Other people who went probably haven't recovered yet, hopefully other people will share their experience.

10-17-2008, 03:12 AM
i was there!!!
all the week.. and the week before in Tokyo..

we were a big group from Norway and i was one of the 6 in the Norwegian Aikido Demonstration..

Basically we were one of the few groups with no high graded or "famous" person from our federation (if there is any :) ), but we were 6 people ranking from 2.dan to 2.kyu also changing uke/tori every few techniques.

Different than most of the other groups, we wanted sort of show the different levels of Aikido in our group.. and those 90 seconds lasted forever! An amazing experience!

I will recollect the feelings and emotions in my blog.. but I am still elaborating.. both from the wonderful experience of Tanabe congress (I managed to attend ALL the aikido classes) and from this tour altogether.

I was also impressed by Mr. Goldsbury bilingual speech and by the demo of the group from Chile, very much "Tissier-style", more than Tissier sensei himself!
Well done!! ;)

Congratulations to IAF for the great organization!!!
Everything, except the training space (a bit too small, already during the week: you have been lucky to have only few serious injures!), was perfect! A huge thanks to the great volunteers (amazing to see Kobayashi sensei from Hombu dojo, in his orange jacket, directing busses and people!) and the translators!

Many greetings from Norway!!!

Peter Goldsbury
10-18-2008, 06:16 AM
Perhaps I should add that the new IAF General Secretary lives in Boulder, Colorado, USA. As a result, (1) The administrative office of the IAF will move from Japan to the USA; (2) There is a good chance that I will visit the USA in the near future.

10-18-2008, 10:52 AM
I was also there all week and had a wonderful time , the people of Tanabe were very friendly and could not do enough to help , as Peter has mentioned the setting for the demonstration on Saturday was spectacular. Training with so many different people of different levels and different nationalities made the week very special indeed and I am planning to attend the next congress in 2012.

Ethan Weisgard
10-23-2008, 05:35 AM
I was honored to have been a part of the 30 person group from Ibaraki Shibu Dojo that came for a weekend of visiting O Sensei-related sites and also enjoying the final IAF party. Inagaki Sensei, Watahiki Sensei and Isoyama Shihan had put together the tour - and it was fantastic. Isoyama Shihan was unfortunately not able to take part in the tour, being very busy with the IAF activities. We finished the tour by paying our respects at O Sensei's grave. It was a wonderful way to finish this great weekend tour.
The IAF party was wonderful. It gave me a chance to meet so many fine people from our world of aikido. I was also able to finally meet Dr. Goldsbury in person - a pleasure, indeed! Speaking of speeches: Dr. Goldsbury's speech at the IAF party was also great - much in the spirit of aikido: simple yet eloquent!
Kudos also to the new IAF General Secretary Kei Izawa Sensei, whose translations were spectacular. Apart from Isoyama Shihan, no one else remembered to make pauses during their speeches, to let him translate part by part. He had to somehow keep notes and round everything up at the end of people's speeches. An amazing feat!
I only wish that people who attend events like these, in Japanese settings, could be better prepared culturally speaking. In Japan, you don't start eating or drinking until all the speeches are done, and the first "kampai" has taken place. This is very basic Japanese etiquette. There were many foreign guests who jumped the gun, both regarding the drinks as well as the food.
I am looking forward to the next events in IAF, and Moscow is a great city to have the next events in. I look forward to seeing as many as possible there!

In aiki,

Ethan Weisgard

Stefan Stenudd
10-24-2008, 02:40 AM
Hi Ethan,

It's great that your federation is now a member of the IAF. Danish aikido's creative cooperation across borders of style sets a good example.

Ethan Weisgard
10-26-2008, 12:33 PM
Hi Ethan,

It's great that your federation is now a member of the IAF. Danish aikido's creative cooperation across borders of style sets a good example.

Hi Steffan,

Thank you for the kind words. And thanks also for the support from our Swedish colleagues. It is most appreciated. I understand also that Isoyama Shihan very kindly supported us as well. It is nice to know that we have people to give us this support. I am looking forward to our being an even more integral part of the international Aikido family.

In aiki,

Ethan Weisgard