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Doing my Aikido Nikyu exam this summer

This year I had the rare luxury of a proper summer holiday so I could dedicate my time to something completely different from music. Last time this happened, I went to an archaeological excavation as my readers might remember. This time I decided to revive an old passion of mine, which is martial arts. I've been interested in them since I was a little kid, and I eventually chose Aikido and Tai Chi as my disciplines and pursued them actively for several years. Going abroad to study and later to work made it difficult to continue them, but since my return to Finland two years ago I have been warming up my aikido skills little by little.

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Aikido weapons training camp in Vantaa with Jukka Helminen shihan

My plan this summer was to take a look at the event calendar of Finland Aikikai and enroll on as many aikido camps and seminars as possible. I ended up going on four of them, plus one special day of strength testing for aikidokas. I also did my second kyu graduation at my home dojo Sandokai during the summer.

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Another Aikido camp with Jukka Helminen shihan, this time in Riihimäki

Aikido is considered a "soft" style of a martial art, but it is also done in full contact with your practice partner, so the throws and the joint locks can be risky at times. It all depends on your partner really - if you have a good mutual understanding and sincerely want to help each other to learn, and don't engage in childish testing of strength, then there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. Unfortunately it is possible now and then to run into a partner who has a distorted view of aikido and who would be better off competing in WWE instead.

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Aikido summer seminar in Sastamala with Kazuo Igarashi shihan

To get instruction from a high ranked Japanese instructor is a privilege, and I was lucky enough to meet two of them this summer. First I attended the seminar of Kazuo Igarashi shihan. He was an excellent teacher in the vein of a traditional Japanese budoka, and we did a lot of practice with aikido weapons bokken and jo during the camp. The atmosphere in his class was really good and I managed to make many new friends with my fellow aikidokas.

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Aikido seminar in Vantaa with Hiroshi Ikeda shihan

The last seminar of the summer was even more interesting, since we had Hiroshi Ikeda shihan visiting from the US. He was teaching in English so no interpreter was necessary, and he proved to be a master pedagogue with a very analytical mind. The seminar was very intense, lasting five days with two long practices each day, and still we were basically practicing just one thing over and over again. Words "musubi" and "kuzushi" became very concrete during those days. I will leave it to you to figure them out! All in all it was a very refreshing and action-packed summer holiday.