Japanese sensei reveals Aikido secrets in Moscow

Young Muscovites have been enjoying a unique opportunity to learn about the Japanese discipline of Aikido at a three-day seminar in the capital.

Aikido in Russia has come a long way since it was first made famous by Hollywood actor Steven Seagal. Although the Japanese martial art is not as big in Russia as Judo; the country's federation does everything it can to raise the sport's popularity – such as inviting a famous Japanese Aikido master.

Sensei Akira Mitsuhasi is certain that practicing Aikido will create a safer environment for humanity. After all, neutralizing a hostile enemy is the martial art's prime philosophy, one that should be taught from a very young age.

“I enjoy teaching kids and grown-ups alike. Young children are taught differently to adults because a child's health is the most important thing. This is why we omit certain details in their course and concentrate on their etiquette, discipline and, most importantly, their health,” Akira Mitsuhasi said.

Many Russian parents prefer to send their child into competitive sports. When it comes to martial arts in Russia, Judo, Karate, Sambo or Wrestling (Greco-Roman or Classic) are traditionally the top choice among parents.

Perhaps its non-competitive nature is the reason for Aikido's lagging success in Russia.

“I love Aikido because I can learn how to protect myself. I began my course four years ago when my friend recommended it to me. I wasn't good at first but then slowly I got better,” Maksim Prokofyev, Aikido student, said.

Maksim is just one of 40 lucky kids aged between 4 and 14 who got to witness 5th Dan Yoshinkan Aikido master Akira Mitsuhasi at work.

A three-day seminar is obviously not enough for these kids to grasp the beauty and philosophy of the Japanese martial art, though there may be an unexpected upsurge in more mature students of Aikido in Moscow.

Ludmila Orlova, the grandmother of an Aikido student, inquired, “I asked the sensei if people my age could practice Aikido. He said that they have family sessions where everyone can come, including old babushkas like me.”

While Aikido is an official martial art of Japanese law enforcement, their special techniques are not taught at such seminars. Regardless, it is hoped that the cultural ties and learning through a real Japanese sensei can give the kids an edge for the rest of their lives.