Annual national aikido camp with Shuji Maruyama
For the 27th time, the founder of Kokikai Aikido Shuji Maruyama Sensei came to UNSW to lead the annual Spring Camp.
The Spring camp is an event where kokikai aikido practitioners from all across Australia come to Sydney on the October long weekend to train together, do senior level gradings, and listen to the new insights from Maruyama Sensei, who turned 81 this year.
It is part of the tradition at UNSW to sweep and mop the mats before each regular training session. At camp time, this dojo preparation goes to the next level. The main dojo is cleared, swept, mopped, and wiped with hand-cloths. White belts (usually) line up with their hand-cloths, and, in one unbroken line, move forward together wiping and disinfecting the dojo mats.
Spring camp means Maruyama Sensei comes to Australia from Japan and shares his latest insights and into aikido techniques, principles, and philosophies. At camp we get introduced to higher concepts and refinement of the martial art that we can take back to help inspire our regular training sessions. One of Sensei ‘s discussion points this year was about reducing power in your opponent. Another idea was being relaxed. Not a limp, sleepy “in the onsen” kind of relaxed. But a conscious posture that is free of tension and stiffness.
As well as the insights and demonstrations from Sensei, camp is a great opportunity to train with people from all around Australia. This year there were about 70 attendees from 10 different dojos. At camp we get to train with people of all levels and we get to experience the subtle variations in technique and style that seems to naturally emerge from within each individual dojo. It is an amazing group of people, a warm, welcoming community of martial artists.
Another great part of camp is the social events. Social dinners are fun and relaxed and we can have great food, enjoy a couple of drinks, and get to know each other in a non-dojo setting. Sometimes it is hard to recognise each other when we are not wearing our gi. It is always interesting to realise the huge diversity of people who do aikido. There are many uni students from various disciplines, from undergraduates to PhDs. Among (often) the more senior aikido practitioners, there are lecturers, doctors, IT engineers, painters, accountants, business managers & executives, researchers, and many more. The common thing we have in common: Kokikai Aikido.