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Friendship Course 15th/16th March

Barbara Moss

On Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th March 2014, a very special aikido course was held at the Phoenix Aikido and Fitness Club which will remain in everyone’s memory and in the history of Yama Arashi Coventry. We were indeed blessed with a visit by instructors from Belgium: Sensei Citti (7th dan aikido kyoshi and 2nd dan jodo), Sensei Hauzeur (6th dan judo and 5th dan aikido), and the long-awaited visit by Sensei Thielemans (6th dan aikido and 4th dan judo) and his wife Joelle. Sensei Hannoset (6th dan aikido, 6th dan judo) was also due to travel to Coventry but had to cancel at the last minute due to illness. It was a privilege to witness long-standing aikidokas share their knowledge and expertise with the rest of us. Our Belgian visitors set off on Friday 7th and travelled on the Eurotunnel to sunny England (it was actually a glorious sunny weekend!) and were welcomed by Barbara at the Village Hotel, a few minutes down the road from the Club.

The course started on the Saturday and teaching was shared by Senseis Tony Thielemans, Pierre Citti, Rene Hauzeur, Barbara Moss, Ric Costigan and Brian Kennedy. It is worth noting that Sensei Thielemans said about Barbara’s aikido that is graceful, flowing and wonderful to watch. Ric was described as a bit of a character and Brian, well, he was the other one! Sensei Thielemans emphasised the basic points that are essential in aikido: turning your head when doing tai-sabaki (without turning your head, you can’t turn your hips and therefore you can’t move your feet, and so your tai-sabaki isn’t fully performed). He emphasised also that it is important to turn your hand, palm up, from gyaku katatedori when doing tai-sabaki. Iriminage is a circular movement with the arm finishing with the little finger up. We also spent some time working on ikkyo finish.

Sensei Citti emphasised the martial side of aikido demonstrating various arm locks, nikkyos and sankyos. You were literally kept on your toes (physically and mentally!) He explained that he also does some very flowing kokyunages.

Sensei Hauzeur’s aikido was along the same lines as Sensei Citti’s aikido although possibly slightly softer. After the course, a few went out for a well-deserved meal at the Wing Wah restaurant.

So back on the mat on Sunday morning with the same teaching format. At the end of the course, Barbara presented the visiting senseis with beautifully engraved trophies, without forgetting a gift for Sensei Thielemans’ wife (Joelle). The weekend ended with a nice meal at the Old Mill in Baginton.

Throughout the weekend, the atmosphere on and off the mat was very friendly and it was great to practice with other aikidokas from Bob Sherrington’s club in Kettering, and students from Western-super-Mare.Our Belgian visitors left Coventry on the Monday to catch the 3.30pm Eurotunnel train from Folkestone, while the rest of us went back to work for a rest!

Christelle Kennedy

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