The first Aikido Cruise sailed January 22nd-27th, 2005 for ports of call in the western Caribbean aboard Carnival Cruise lines INSPIRATION.. Included on the ships manifest were and august group of Aikidoka and their families totaling just under 200. The group represented 7 different countries and multiple organizational affiliations. This international gathering joined to make the first Aikido Cruise a successful event. A great training experience was accompanied by family time, entertainment, excellent cuisine and exotic ports of call.
Mitsugi Saotome Sensei and Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei provided the primary instruction to 135 Aikidoka under the sun lit canopy of a cloudless sky and the brisk wind of the open sea. In addition, special guest instructors Patty Saotome Sensei, Dennis Hooker Sensei, Kevin Choate Sensei and Dan Linden Sensei provided special classes on Aikido principles, connection, breathing and conflict resolution.
The weather cooperated throughout the cruise, while providing a constantly changing environment for our training. The first full day everyone shared in the unique challenge of training as a ship moving at 26 knots sailed into an apposing wind of 20 knots. On that day our Hakama tried to metamorphose into functioning sails. I think we slowed the forward motion of the ship. It was great fun. Hearing instructions was also challenge with the wind that first day. The training required heightened observation, which seemed to enhance everyones experience. We were rewarded for our efforts by being treated to Ikeda Sensei's before unmanifested talent for expressive mime. Everyone also enjoyed Saotome Sensei's impersonation of Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie Titanic. King of the world indeed! Training took on a new dimension every day with one common characteristic … it was all fantastic! The on deck training was punctuated by early morning indoor seminar time. And, in addition to his marvelous teaching, Saotome Sensei gave special lectures on budo and his time as Uchi Deshi with O'Sensei.
What made this seminar unique and a well balanced Aiki experience was the time we could spend in addition to the training with our families and friends. Family members who generally experience the world of Aikido through our our absences, esoteric explanations and occasional dojo functions were drawn in to extended contact with our Sensei, friends and training partners in a fashion never before possible. Outstanding evening meals and excursion times reverberated with the laughter, conversation and the unique perspectives of the diverse assemblage, all brought together by this floating seminar. The end result was great training and the overwhelming endorsement of all who came.
In 2006 we will repeat this event with the addition of Saotome Sensei's Winter Camp. The Winter Camp in years past has been held in Washington DC the week between Christmas and New Years. It is our hope that this affordable and comprehensive event will become a annual gathering point for Aikidoka from all over the world, accompanied by their significant others. Information and details will be forthcoming at www.shindai.com
and on the AikiWeb.