Off Time No. 4
by Kenta Shimizu
Tendoryu Mexico was founded 1995 by the present head of Tendoryu Mexico, Alfredo Corona, and others. After about 8 years their heartfelt desire was realized, and the first seminar with Shimizu Shihan took place in Mexico. At October 10th we went by airplane from Narita International Airport via Los Angeles to Mexico-City. The traveling time from takeoff in Narita came up to about 20 hours, and we arrived at 8pm in the evening. We were greeted first by the night sky of Mexico-City, which was scattered with luminous points, and such an imposingly huge sparkling night view I had never seen before. This should be the spirit of the atmosphere, and we were able to take a look into far distance.
Well, what kind of picture we may have regarding Mexico? A region, which can be watched in Western films often, which is totally dusty and covered with cactus, people clothed with ponchos, Tequila … and so on. In fact in the city of the capital Mexico-City groups of present day buildings are lined up, and the scenery is in no way different to Europe or the US. And what was even more different to my previous picture was the human nature of the Mexicans. I was very impressed by the politeness of the staff in the restaurants, which showed a very service oriented manner. I thought that the Japanese service is excellent, too, but here I had the impression that customers are served with so-called heart’s delight. It was not only just a cheerful behavior, but as well in case of fast actions they bend their heads with a smiling face, which comes from natural behavior. Every time when I enter a new country I come into contact with people, and I become aware of my considerably wrong prejudice.
October 6th was the seminar’s opening day, and training time was one hour and 15 minutes. There were about 40 participants. Certainly there was a great interest in this seminar with Shihan Shimizu, but this time only selected members of the Tendoryu students participated. They told me that they purchased new Tatami for this seminar. The atmosphere in the Dojo was very calm, Dojo rules were met, and I was able to feel that the local trainer communicate the rules of conduct of Budo forcefully. Every year the trainer from Tendoryu Mexico visit the Tendokan, and I heart that they pass all things, which they see and study, to their students exactly.
First of all I had difficulties when breathing during the training. There is no specific unpleasantness, and you are able to live quite normally, but Mexico-City lies about 2300m above sea level, and during fast sudden movements I could feel even a lack of oxygen. It was a feeling as if the windpipe, which runs from nose to throat, would be tied up. I was able to get used to it gradually, and by this way I had to recognize again that there is Aikido at various unknown locations. And in this said Mexico, a country with different culture, language, history and so on, Budo is practiced, which is a part of traditional Japanese culture. And this again made me think about the fascination of Aikido.
Compared to Western standards the average size of the Mexicans is smaller, and I would say that they are similar to the Japanese. They do not work with physical strength, and I thought that they practice quite a good Aikido. As I mentioned before, the Mexican Aikido teacher, who gained experience in the Tendokan, have understood that Tendoryu Aikido is not only about techniques, and they go deeply into the roots and they take great effort on manners and mental attitude. During the five days seminar I was able to practice in the same way as in the Tendokan in Japan.
I intended to go to Mexico quasi in the position of a trainer, but actually I rather was able to relax completely when I watched them training seriously on the Tatami. The gave me the impression of a high level of expectation during the training, of an attitude of not missing even a single word of the Shihan, and of the feeling that they wish to take in all learned things completely, i.e. that they were glad learning firsthand from a teacher, who came from Japan. And we had a feeling of thankfulness regarding Aikido training.
After the five days of seminar in the house of a student a large Sayonara party took place, and every one of the students said that this seminar was excellent. I had the strong feeling that at the location Mexico a new chapter was written down.
And I will remember the words, which were told me by the head of Tendoryu Mexico, Alfredo, (in the picture on the right): “Although the nationalities are different, still all Tendoryu students are equal!” very impressively.
© translated by Peter Nawrot, September 2006