In this article, Kevin van Balen explores his journey in Aikido
Aikido for me represents a path, after getting familiar with the foundation of Aikido as firmly laid out by Osensei and Nishio Sensei and our sensei Jarko Lapinlampi, I belief a personal path is to be created by experimenting with different; sized, shaped and coloured bricks .
Throughout my life I have done several other disciplines, including; basic Judo and Taekwondo it wasn’t until my trip to Japan before I was introduced to Aikido.
I do not belief one discipline is superior to the other, I do belief however that a certain discipline (or a mix of disciplines) suits a certain person(ality)/body. In my opinion the difference made, is not particularly between disciplines but more in the areas of; commitment level, sincerity and mind state of that individual towards a certain discipline and the training involved.
After coming to London I found Sensei Lapinlampi, to which I am grateful for providing an eye opening and an overall great experience of Nishio Sensei style Aikido over the last 1.5 years of training. I came to think that Aikido is a vast puzzle which takes time to solve, however each training brings to light certain aspects that allow for putting pieces of the puzzle together. Having done other disciplines I find it fascinating how Aikido seems to integrate with these other styles and ads to the understanding of defence and attacking forms.
Also the dynamics of how to move the body and how to perform technics by using forces/movements generated by the opponent are truly fascinating to me.
I recognize there is yet a lot to learn and many details to uncover however the challenge in doing so is what drives me to train hard and commit, to what some people say is “a lifestyle”.
If someone would ask me how to describe the training style in the dojo I would sum it up by saying;
A diverse, highly technical and substantially exhausting physical and mental training by cohering with traditional Japanese influences mixed with present day thinking. The training as experienced so far provides insight into effective execution of techniques from multiple attacking forms including, but not limited to; punches, grabbing, starting from basic form to free dynamic and multiple opponents focussed training.
One of the best parts I find is that, Sensei Jarko Lapinlampi provides detailed insight into applications of “Atemi” and real life application of the techniques studied, being it facing a punch from a boxer or someone with a karate background. This for me makes it less abstract and more realistic by bringing the self-defence and martial aspect alive during training. Also the diversity of the training, being it training with or without weapons or practising Aikido Touhou, gives a rather layered and interwoven experience of the discipline of Aikido.
Last but not least, a manic, returning round of fitness at the end of the class supports the fitness level required for a “beach look” student of Budo.
Kevin van Balen