When did you start Aikido and why ?
It was 1996, I was practicing Taichi, my teacher at that time she had to travel for a seminar. At the same training centre was an aikido teacher that gave lessons and instead of practicing Taichi I decided to follow his class, the only thing I knew then was what I had seen on Stevens Seagal’s movies.
The dojo was primitive instead of tatami he used massage mattresses, it was really hard to take ukemi. If I remember, his style was Tohei’s ki aikido.
I believe it was my fate to meet aikido this way. The reason that I entered the world of aikido, was a combination of different ambitions that I had.
It had always been intrigued to discover the boundaries of the human mind and body, my thinking was that I believed a big part had to do with my ego, I wanted to feel special and thought it would help to conquer my inner fears, or even make me invincible. The main reason of course was the same reason that I was practicing Taichi it was different. Because we all have more or less the same fear of death in the back of ones mind is kind of a refreshing thought when you practice an art with no end, that can evolve you constantly and doesn’t have to do with your youth or your physical strength. It feels like there is no end to the learning, was the same reason I choose to practice Taichi, I choose Aikido because it suited me best, and those early days it was more difficult for me to slow down, my mind and body like Taichi required.
What are some of your main memories in Aikido?
My main memories from aikido is when i first meet aikido by accident via a Tai-chi club i was practicing at. I remember it was all a puzzle to me at the begging .
After that i found a regular dojo next to where I lived, it was like life lead me to this path without effort.
The most important memories was when i first met Sensei Tony Seargent at an uchi-dechi camp on the greek island of Kefalonia. I had already done 15 years practice in aikido, I was a first Kyu and i had to change every single thing i knew until then .That meeting also came like destiny, i had no doubt that I had to give up every thing i knew for the last 15 years and start from the begging. From the first time i saw sensei Tony I just knew it was my future path, even though was a very rough process after so many years of thinking of Aikido in an other way. The precision I wanted demanded I change.
What are your personal goals in Aikido?
Hopefully by now, i have no illusion anymore. I believe that every human being in this world, strives for happiness, like the ancient Greeks used to say the “ΕΥ ΖΗΝ” the good decent happy life. In order to archive this kind of life first you need to know your self. The ancient Greek poet Pinadros said Γένοι’ οίος εσσί μαθών,”become who you are”, or a freer translation, discover your true nature, use your gifts and the potential that have been given to you in this life.
Aikido is a path that gives us the possibility to discover ourself and our true nature. The Japanese call this this Chinkon-ki- shin, returning to our Kami mind/heart, to go beyond thought and be one with the divine, we can then return to our Kami mind.
My personal goal is to fullfill my destiny using aikido as tool among other things .At the same time as an obligation to my teacher i do have the duty to preserve the teaching of Saito Sensei that pass to me thru my teacher Sensei Tony with his unconditional honest teaching.
Why do you think Iwama Aikido is so unique?
A very tricky question. It may be unique to me i don’t know about others, I definitely don’t know if it is more unique from other martial arts.
The only thing i can say about is my experience. Before i met sensei Tony and Iwama aikido, i was practicing 14-15 years in the mainstream (Aikikai style) teaching’s with variations. I remember also watching videos with Saito Sensei at the same time, although i had no idea they were both from different aikido styles, the teaching and expatiation of Saito sensei always made sense to me. It seems more scientific than the style i was practicing, more logical, more strategical.
So when the dojo i was practicing in shunt down i knew that i had to follow one of Saito sensei students, this is when I searched out and met sensei Tony. From the first lesson i realized that this was the real art.
What can Aikido offer people, in your opinion?
First of all, it is so important the intention we put into what we are doing,.The intention need to be the right one and comply with the approach that O Sensei implemented and change budo after world war II and if the training is based on the principal of a pure martial art, like iwama aikido does and there is consistency, then aikido can be a very useful tool to know ourself, and make peace within and with the rest of the world. I believe that if we put the principals of aikido in our life, it can be a pathway to consciousness .
How long have you been training?
I started training back to 1996 , but i consider as a starting point 2013 when i met sensei Tony.
Where have you travelled?
I have traveled to UK, Russia, and to Switzerland to train with Sensei H.Tada teaching at the age of 88