Dominique’s Story

When did you start Aikido and why?

I started Aikido when I was 16 years old because I was bullied at School since I was a teenager. I thought about doing Judo or Karate but finally I chose to do Aikido because I thought it was somewhere in the middle. Since that I have known better but that was my idea at the time. I thought I will train until I grade 1st dan then I can do some kung fu as I was a big fan of Bruce Lee and Jacky Chan. Finally I never did kung fu but I practised other martial arts to enrich my Aikido. When I started we were following Andre Noquet who has been Uchi deshi with O-Sensei for a few years. He was very old at the time but I still managed to do 2 long seminars with him when I was 5th and 4th kyu. I have very fond memories of that time.

What are some of your main memories in Aikido?

When I was young I was training 3 to 5 times a week and I had a very close relationship with my fellow practitioners. We met a lot of people during the seminars, some at very high level, so I can say that was my main focus at the time and I have a lot of good memories. Then I left France and I’ve been able to train different styles including some closer to the original Daito Ryu. I went to the UK, China and Singapore and met a lot of different people, which was very interesting.

What are your personal goals in Aikido?

I’m old now and I have my own style, which is a mix of what I like. I like to think Aikido without context is like an empty shell so I like to vary the distances and apply techniques or principles from other arts, mainly Japanese or Chinese. My first goal is to practice interesting forms, whatever my style or others. I also like to teach but this is secondary and the main purpose there is to practice and perfect my own style when I teach it.

Why do you think Iwama Aikido is so unique?

I don’t really know Iwama so I cannot really comment. Of course I like Saito sensei techniques and I’m mostly interested by the Aikido as it was done before the war but I still like Yoshimaru and what he has done with Aikido, I also like very much Tissier Sensei and Endo Sensei, who I think are the best around now. 

What can Aikido offer people, in your opinion?

Aikido is a martial art so the main purpose is self defence. Now it’s also a great way to work out and make friends.

How long have you been training?

I have been training for more than 40 years now.

Where have you travelled?

I trained in Aikido in France for almost 20 years, during that time I also practised a bit of Karate, jujutsu, Kendo and Iaido. I graduated nidan in 1996. Then I moved to the UK where I practised Hakko-Ryu Aikijujutsu for more than 1 year then back to Aikido. Then I moved to Shanghai where I practised and taught occasionally in an Aikikai foundation dojo for 3 years, at that time I also graduated shodan with Endo Sensei. I also tried the other clubs around. Then I moved to Singapore for 6 years where I tried all the clubs there and especially the Shin-ju kai then I settled with the Mumei shudan. Then I moved back to Shanghai for 3 years where I practised taekwondo and Wing Chun for a few months then back to the UK where I am now.