Hello From Finland
Hi everyone, the name is Kristoffer Lawson and I've been following this forum off and on since starting aikido 3 years ago. I have recently been graded to 3rd kyu which, in Finnish tradition, means I have now started to work my way through the folds and straps of a hakama. Having quite an affinity for traditional arts and handicraft, I was bold enough to acquire a heavy indigo one from Iwata. It is still bleeding everywhere, although it is perhaps slowly becoming a little tamer. The knees became a metallic type of shiny after the first practise (we always do shikko during warmup), and I do wonder if that is normal? Perhaps the extra dye being effectively polished on top of the fabric, as surely it cannot have worn out so fast?
My most frequent teacher has been Tom Granström sensei at his small club near my home called Ryushinkan (mostly following Endo-sensei's lineage), although I play the ronin and regularly visit other places, and am also currently a visiting member of Machikara in Helsinki (Nishio-sensei style). In addition to those I have, during my travels, frequented SF Aikikai and 11th Street Dojo in San Francisco, and also said hi to almost all the other dojos there (as well as those in the Helsinki region). Last year I also had the fortune of briefly visiting the Ibaraki dojo in Iwama, with none other than doshu leading practise. To add even more chaos to my mix, I have semi-regularly dipped my toes into Daito Ryu.
I've found aikido to be a fascinating and profound art, but am constantly mindful of the ways it can keep its budo foundation and to remain a true martial art. Every now and then I return my thoughts to my time doing karate as a young teen to consider ways in which aikido practise could also evolve (and some day I would like to regain my yellow belt in karate!).
Everywhere I've been, clubs and people have been receptive and — thankfully — patient with my incessant curiosity. My only regret is not having started earlier.