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9 Apr, 2010 08:46

Aikido – aggressor’s power turned against him

Most people associate martial arts with sophisticated combat skills, but there is one branch that can teach you how to placate your opponents. This is the Japanese art of aikido.

RT went to a three-day seminar in Moscow, held by one of Japan's top masters, to find out more.

With the slightest effort and elegance of touch, the opponent is lying on the ground – helpless, and under his control.

Akira Mitsuhashi is a true master of the Japanese martial art called aikido. The 32-year-old has been practicing the art for half his life to reach the highest level of skill.

The discipline remained almost secret for eight centuries, but became more widely known after World War II. The essence of aikido is to use an aggressor’s power against himself, but without doing any harm.

“The art of aikido is first of all about harmony. You should not be seeking a fight. Having faced your enemy or rival, you should make him cease his hostile intentions. That's why we do our best to promote aikido all over the world, as it can bring peace to all mankind,” Akira Mitsuhashi said.

Every day, the venue, located in the center of Moscow, hosts hundreds of aikido students, grown-ups and children, beginners and experts. Some of them were lucky enough to attend the three-day masterclass held by Akira Mitsuhashi.

“He's amazing! I'm lucky to be an Uke – that is a permanent opponent or assistant – for Mitsuhashi at this seminar. His technique is brilliant; you can see with your own eyes that we can't repeat his moves right away. You need years of training to reach that level of skill,” Viktor Rudakov, an aikido student, said.

The Japanese master seems pleased with the way he is accepted in Russia.

“I'm glad to know aikido is so popular in Russia – and surprised to see so many people attend my masterclass. By studying the art of aikido, they gradually get to know our culture and traditions. This helps us spread the philosophy of peace all over the globe,” Akira Mitsuhashi said.

President of the Russian Aikido Federation, Nikolay Zherdev, is keen to promote the sophisticated Japanese martial art in his native country. He is one of the most skilful Russian instructors in the sport and, to become so, had to learn first hand in Japan what aikido is all about.

“I've known Mitsuhashi for quite a long time. He often comes to Russia as an assistant to our head curator – Master Tsuneo Ando – and they have held a lot of masterclasses in St. Petersburg and other Russian cities. Not long ago, I myself went to Japan for a month, where we lived and trained shoulder to shoulder, and had six training sessions a day. It was tough, but invaluable experience for me,” Nikolay Zherdev said.

Like many other eastern martial arts, aikido is represented in a wide range of styles.
Yoshinkan is considered one of the most efficient in terms of training, and is used by Japanese police.

“The Yoshinkan style is not widely known in Russia or worldwide, as it had been held back by Japanese masters for quite a long period of time. It had been a national secret! They just taught their own police and special forces. But in 2000, they held their first masterclass in Russia – and that's how it started here,” Nikolay Zherdev added.

After sharing his skills with the Russian students, Akiro Mitsuhashi left for his homeland.
But the precious knowledge he unveiled will never be lost.

And anyone interested can find out more about Yoshinkan aikido as the detailed training videos from Akiro Mitsuhashi's masterclasses will be available on www.rt.com in a few days' time.